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Haven 2014: Yep, That Happened (Vol. 2)

The second day of the Haven Conference kicked off with a welcome ceremony from the fabulous Haven organizers.  These women work their little tails off to bring us a fantastic event year after year, and they knocked it out of the park as always!

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2014 Haven Organizers (L to R): Tracy from Beneath My Heart, Beth from Home Stories A to Z, Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chick, Rhoda from Southern Hospitality, Kristen Stockdale (wonder woman event planner), and Chris from Just a Girl.

Exhibit A of Haven Organizer Awesomeness:  Traci from Beneath My Heart asked some bloggers to send her clips of us dancing along to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” and she put it all together into a video for the Haven welcome!  (You can see me at the 24 second mark dancing on a walking path near our home - so much fun!)

Our keynote speaker was Chip Wade from HGTV’s “Elbow Room.”  I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with Chip or his show, but after his presentation I’m a fan!  The innovation and ingenuity that goes into his designs is jaw-dropping.  Time to set my DVR!

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Next, it was time to present!  I was so thrilled to be asked to attend Haven as a presenter this year, and couldn’t have been teamed up with a greater group of gals!  Our class was “Blogging Trade Secrets: What We Wish We Knew Then…” and I was joined by Jen from Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Erin from DIY on the Cheap, and Laura from Finding Home.  The four of us had been exchanging emails for months, working hard to get ready for this presentation - and it paid off!

Photo courtesy of On Fern Avenue.

Collage courtesy of On Fern Avenue.  (I’ll give you one guess which of these slides is mine.)

We were worried we wouldn’t have many people in attendance on our first day because Mike Holmes from HGTV was presenting at the same time (his only appearance at Haven), but boy were we surprised – our session was PACKED!  Every chair was filled, people were sitting on the floor wherever they could find a spot, and our guests even spilled out into the hallway!  It was pretty amazing to see.  Even more amazing?  All of the people who took the time to stop us, Tweet us, Instagram and Facebook us to tell us how much they loved our presentation.  I had one blogger tell me in the elevator that our presentation was the first one she attended and she added, “If it had been the only thing I did at the conference, I would’ve felt like I got my money’s worth.”  WOW!!  Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who came to learn, laugh, and support us.  I’ll be doing a blog post highlighting part of my presentation (blogger media kits) soon, so stay tuned for that!

After lunch I paid a visit to two of my favorite girls to show a little #brandlove – Gillian and Amber from Homes.com and ForRent.com!   As always, they (and their booth) were looking as cute as can be, all decked out in their signature orange and blue.  I first met these lovely ladies two years ago at Haven, and we’ve kept in touch ever since.  Now that G and I are getting our house ready to sell I’m so proud to take our relationship to the next level as Homes.com’s newest blog ambassador!  You can see my Homes.com articles (and videos, coming soon) featuring helpful tips and how-to’s for selling, buying and maintaing a home at Homes.com’s Idea Gallery.  While you’re there, take the Homes.com & ForRent.com Neighborhood Survey, and share what you love about your local area for your chance to win $500!

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Hanging out with two of my favorite girls – Gillian and Amber from Homes.com and ForRent.com!

I spent the afternoon learning from Jen Staag from withHeart and Jon & Katie from SewWoodsy about Creating Video Content for Brands, YouTube and Television.  They shared so much great information that I cannot wait to incorporate.

Afterwards, I snuck away for a much-needed nap.  When I woke up I joined Kim from Sand & Sisal, Jessica from Four Generations One Roof, and Laura from Finding Home for dinner.  (Sidenote:  Having a glass of chardonnay within minutes of waking up feels like vacation.  You should try it at least once.)  I wish we had thought to take a picture at dinner because I adore these girls and miss them already!  I met Kim a couple of years ago at a Delta Faucet event, Jessica at last year’s Haven conference, and I’ve been saying ever since that these girls are my kind of people.  They’re funny, sharp-witted, and I love that when we’re together we can just breathe, relax, and talk about anything – no censoring necessary.  This year was my first time meeting Laura (who was also my co-presenter) and oh did I fall in love with this woman!  I swear we were cut from the same cloth, and I was so happy to have this chance to spend more time with her.  That’s probably why we didn’t get a picture of the four of us – we were too busy laughing!

After dinner I hit up the Rustoleum Cocktail Reception, followed by a Haven dance party (no Haven is complete without a dance party) and spent the rest of the night seeing, dancing, and chatting with so many wonderful women (and Jamison) that I can’t even list them all!

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Ending Day 2 with these wonderful women:  Ann Marie from White House Black Shutters and Sarah from The Ugly Duckling House; getting handsy with Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chick and Chris from Just a Girl; catching up with Megan from Honey We’re Home; and kissing on Chris.  (Because I love her.)

This is a good time to remind you that all my pics were taken with my iPhone.

My final Haven recap is coming soon!

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Homes.com: Creating a Home Face Sheet

In the market to sell your home?  Stand out from the real estate competition and help potential buyers remember your beautiful abode long after they leave by creating a personalized “face sheet” for your home.  Wondering what a face sheet should include?  Check out my latest article on Homes.com (Creating a Personalized Face Sheet for Your Home) for details!

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Example of a four-page home face sheet. {Source}

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Calphalon Cookware Giveaway

When is the last time you looked at your kitchen pots and pans?

I mean, really looked at them?

A few months ago I realized ours were not in good shape. Their surfaces were getting rough and starting to peel – definitely not my idea of healthy eating for my family. I was in search of a new set of pots and pans, and with so many options out there I wasn’t sure which to choose.

Enter Calphalon.

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Calphalon’s Contemporary Nonstick Cookware is simply amazing.  It has all the features of a nonstick pan, the durability you’d expect from Calphalon, and it’s dishwasher safe!  Our old set of pots and pans were hand-wash only, so to find a high-end set that was dishwasher-safe was quite the perk and time-saver.  In addition, Calaphon’s Contemporary Nonstick Cookware also features:

  • Heavy-gauge, hard-anodized aluminum to ensure even heating
  • Triple layer, PFOA-free nonstick for lasting release
  • Durable, cast stainless steel loop handles
  • Oven safe capabilities to 450°F / 230°C
  • A beautiful, contemporary design
  • A full lifetime warranty

And did I mention they’re dishwasher safe?!

Not that you ever even need to wash these pans, by the way.  They’re so super nonstick that we’ve found they rarely even need a wipe down after cooking, let alone a thorough washing.  Depending on what I’m cooking, I’ve been able to get multiple meals out of our large skillet before needing to wash it because the food releases so cleanly that there’s nothing to wash!

Photo courtesy of Calphalon

Photo courtesy of Calphalon

Want to get your hands (and spatula) on a set?  Enter this All Things G&D and Calphalon Giveaway for your chance to win a fantastic 8 piece set (pictured above) with everything you need to fresh your kitchen and your dinners!  Simply use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter multiple times this week for your chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, everyone!

Disclosure: I received Calphalon products to review at no cost to me. All opinions are my own.

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Haven 2014: Yep, That Happened (Vol. 1)

I’ve just returned from the 2014 Haven Conference in Atlanta – a nationwide conference for home decor and DIY bloggers.

Okay, that’s lie.

I got home on Sunday, but it’s taken me this long to wake up from the post-Haven sleep-a-thon my almost 35-year-old body required.  I’m now somewhat rested (and mostly detoxed) so let’s hit some highlights, shall we?  In no particular order, while at the Haven Conference, I:

  • Introduced myself to Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl by saying, “I’m going to stand here and not move, so you can punch me in the face.”
  • Did not dance on any tables, bartops, beautifully styled coffee tables, or hotel parking lots.
  • Did, however, “get low” (from the windows to the walls).
  • For the first time ever, went to bed on the same day I woke up (once).
  • Took all of my photos with my iPhone…even though I packed my DSLR.
  • Talked too much about Mini Coopers and Toyota Scions.
  • Learned A LOT about things I didn’t already know.  Broke out in a cold sweat.
  • Met so many awesome bloggers – some of whom I’m convinced are my soul mates.
  • Presented!

I’ll get into all most of that, but first thing’s first.  I have the honor of sharing the Haven experience each year with Beth Bryan from Unskinny Boppy – one of my very best friends in the whole wide world.  Beth and I have been friends for nearly a decade…long before Haven, long before we started our blogs – hell, back before most people had even heard of the word “blog.”  She threw me an unforgettable surprise baby shower when I was pregnant with Kate, got me started on the word “y’all,” made me try my first fried green tomato, and has stayed up with me for many a late night phone call, chat or text session.  In short – I love this girl, I love that we’ve grown in this blog world together, and I love that we get to share in our Haven experience each year.

Every year at Haven we say we’re going to get a good photo of the two of us together and every year we miss the boat.  We forget, we get sweaty, there’s a weird shadow blackening out the picture, we’re blurry…basically, we’ve been cursed.  Until now!  This year we made sure to get a picture together before the kick-off cocktail party:

2014 Haven Conference Recap | www.allthingsgd.com

Me and Beth from Unskinny Boppy – Mission Accomplished!

Since Beth and I arrived in Atlanta a day early, we had all day Thursday free, so we decided to treat ourselves to our very first visits to Drybar – a hair salon that only does blow-outs and stylings.

2014 Haven Conference Recap | www.allthingsgd.com

Drybar Befores…

2014 Haven Conference Recap | www.allthingsgd.com

Drybar Afters

2014 Haven Conference Recap | www.allthingsgd.com

Drybar, 2 Hours Later

Atlanta Humidity: 1
Drybar: 0

Lucky for us, we bounce back.  We re-curled, hairsprayed, and were ready to kick off Haven!

2014 Haven Conference Recap | www.allthingsgd.com

I had the pleasure of chatting up lots of lovelies, including Jamison Rantz from Rogue Engineer (a talented new blogger on the scene who also happens to be my dear friend Emily’s brother-in-law…which, in my mind, means we’re now related) and the always adorable Kim from Newly Woodwards.  After the cocktail party I joined Beth, Jamison, Roshel from DIY Show Off, Carrie from Making Lemonade, Karah from The Space Between, and Diane from In My Own Style for dinner.  Unfortunately, I was battling one hell of a headache and wasn’t much for company, so this party girl ended the night early.

But not before a selfie:

2014 Haven Conference Recap | www.allthingsgd.com

Selfie girls:  Jenna from Rain on a Tin Roof, Beth, Jamie from So Much Better with Age, and me.

You know this isn’t the end.  More Haven recaps coming soon!

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2013 Haven Highlights

I’m currently on my way to Atlanta, GA for the 3rd annual Haven Conference – a nationwide conference for DIY and home decor bloggers – and I couldn’t be more excited!  Haven has been a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old blogging friends, meet some new ones, and connect with amazing brands.

Haven 2013

Haven 2013

This year I’m also a presenter!  Me, and three other “veteran bloggers” are teaming up to teach our keyboard colleagues our Blogging Trade Secrets.  I’ll be waxing poetic about media kits and partnering with brands, so if you’re sweating around Hotlanta this weekend come and check out our session!

It’s hard to say what this year’s Haven Conference has in store for me, but if last year is any indication it’s limitless fun on limited sleep.  I’ll be back next week to tell you all about it.  Need your fix sooner than that?  Join me for a walk down memory lane with recaps from last year!

2013 Haven Conference: Part 1

I arrived in Atlanta one day early to spend time with my friends Katie and Sherry, their handsome hubbies, and a house full of seriously cute kiddos.  We’re not afraid to get a little wild and crazy when we’re together (we like Dusty Sandwiches and parking lot dance parties) but we kept it chill this day since I’d been up since 3:30am and Katie had a bun in the oven.

2013 Haven Conference: Part 2

The blogger reunions continue!  I met up with one of my best friends, Beth from Unskinny Boppy, and a whole hoard of other fabulous women who always bring smiles to my faces.  We pitched in with some behind the scenes Haven help, and later kicked off the weekend’s festivities how I like to kick off every weekend – with a cocktail party.

2013 Haven Conference: Part 3

Ever have that nightmare that you’ve overslept and missed something super important, like the first day of school, your wedding, or the premiere of Project Runway?

That’s what happened to me at Haven.

(And by “happened to me” I mean I set my alarm but hit snooze 426 times so I could sleep in.)

(And by “sleep in” I mean I was over-served the night before and unwilling to peel myself off the mattress.)

(And by “over-served” I mean…well, you get the picture.)

Details of my massive miss in Part 3.

2013 Haven Conference: Part 4

If you’ve read the recaps to this point and majored in math, sleep deprivation, hangovers, or over-packing you’ll have noticed by now that I’ve logged about 5 minutes of sleep, 5 barrels of wine and 5 outfit changes over the past 3 days.

It’s okay, though.  Bacon made it better.

Or did it?

2013 Haven Conference: Part 5

The Haven Conference was officially over, but I had the honor of spending the morning at Heather’s house (from At the Picket Fence) for a beautiful little blogger’s brunch.  It was the perfect end to a wonderful week, topped only by the amazing welcome home I received from G and Kate at the airport.

So much fun.  So many memories.  So little sleep.

…and here we go again!

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter for all the details of Haven through my eyes, live from Atlanta – you know I’m going to spill it!  (The details.  Not my wine.)

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Our 9th Annual 4th of July Party

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

This year we teamed up with Mike’s Hard Lemonade for our best 4th of July party yet!  With more than 60 people in attendance, there was no shortage of friends, family, and fun.  Read on to see some party favorites carried over from last year, new ideas that were quite the hit, and a recap of our great, all-American weekend.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

The G&D backyard, all decked out for 4th of July.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Our lower deck and patio.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

This year’s kids’ table featured glow bracelets, red, white & blue star necklaces, and a patriotic tattoo station.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Our patio.

Rolls of plastic tablecloth stapled to deck beams are a cheap and easy way to add color and drama to your outdoor party! | www.allthingsgd.com

I used rolls of plastic tablecloth stapled to our deck beams for a cheap and easy way to add more color to our outdoor space.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

A view of the fire pit and build-your-own s’mores area in the background.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Plenty of refreshing Mike’s LITE Hard Lemonade to go around!

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

DIY Patriotic Denim Bunting tied to our kitchen pendants.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Mike’s LITE Hard Lemonade & DIY Patriotic Painted Glass Vases.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Our 4th of July BBQ Sandwiches are a hit every year!

New this year – yogurt pops!  I chopped up some mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries and raspberries hand-picked by Kate) in our food processor, mixed them with yogurt and – just like Mike’s LITE Hard Lemonade – sweetened them with honey instead of sugar, for an all-natural, healthy, LITEhack alternative.  I poured the yogurt mix into paper Dixie cups, inserted lollipop sticks, and froze them overnight.  To enjoy, guest simply ripped off the paper cover and they and a delicious, healthy yogurt pop!  (Check out my Mike’s Hard Lemonade LITEhacks post for even more great recipe ideas!)

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Homemade Yogurt Pops – sweetened with honey for a delicious and healthy #LITEhack treat.

My Mike’s LITE Hard Lemonade “LITE-aritas” – a 3 ingredient, lower calorie alternative to a traditional margarita – were a huge hit at this year’s party!  I wasn’t about to let our LITE-aritas get watered down, so I also made LITE-arita ice cubes to keep our mix cool and refreshing.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Mike’s LITE Hard Lemonade “LITE-arita” and LITE-arita ice cubes – the perfect addition to this year’s 4th of July party!

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

The kids have always enjoyed a slip & slide in our backyard, and this year G took it to the next level with this huge, DIY slip & slide, made from industrial plastic – so much fun!

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Another view of G’s oversized, DIY slip & slide.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

There was no shortage of smiles, laughs, and cheers from the kids as they enjoyed the slip & slide – it was definitely a hit!

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Our daughter Kate – age 4 1/2

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

My sweet, fun girl!

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays for more reasons than one!  Fifteen years ago, G and I had our very first date on the 4th of July.  Exactly three years after that – on 4th of July weekend – he proposed.  (Had we been thinking we should’ve kept the streak rolling and gotten married on 4th of July, too!)  We love being able to celebrate our nation’s birthday (and the start of our relationship) in such a wonderful way – surrounded by lots of laughs and loved ones!

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

15 years ago on this day, Greg and Dusty became G&D. Happy anniversary, baby!

G purchased paper lanterns for our guests to light and release.  This was our first time doing this and it was a huge hit with all the kids and families.  Each family made a wish before they released their lantern, which was really neat, and I heard several excited little ones exclaim, “This is just like Rupunzel’s movie!”

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

G along with Anthony and Carter, getting the first lantern lit and ready to release.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Each family made a wish before releasing their lantern into the night sky.

Every year I say I’m going to get pictures of the fireworks from our yard, and every year I forgot – but not this year!  Our neighborhood fireworks ended up being the night before our party, so this time I wasn’t too busy or distracted to catch them.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Our city’s fireworks show, as seen from our backyard.

All Things G&D 9th Annual 4th of July Party - lots of decorations, food, and DIY party ideas! | www.allthingsgd.com

Our neighbor’s fireworks show, as seen from our front porch.

Thank you so much for checking out our 4th of July party recap and sharing in the fun! I hope you all had a safe and wonderful holiday weekend!

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Homes.com: Deep Cleaning

Getting your home ready to sell? It’s time to tackle those little nooks and crannies that have accumulated years of living, and show buyers how your squeaky clean house can be just the fresh, new start they’re looking for. Read my recent Homes.com article on Deep Cleaning for a Major Impact and you won’t miss a spot!

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