The Haven Conference: Day 1

Other titles considered for this post included:

  1. Socializing After Only 4 Hours of Sleep
  2. Is It Legal to Buy This Much Alcohol in The South?
  3. The Rudest Introduction EVER!
  4. Thank Goodness for Clara
  5. Can I Still Call Myself “A Blogger” If I Don’t Take Pictures?

I’m back from the first ever Haven Conference and am so excited to tell you all about what an amazing time I had!

Have you ever walked away from a conference thinking, “I really wish I had gotten more out of that” or “I really wish I would’ve taken more time to network with people”?

That was SO. NOT. ME.

I told G when I got home that I honestly believe I made the most out of every second of Haven 2012 – and if that meant sacrificing sleep, so be it.  My experience was so full, in fact, that I’m breaking my recap up into several posts, one for each day.

Are you ready for this?!

Put down your paint brush, pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of wine, and let me tell you all about it!

My flight left Madison, WI at 6am on Wednesday morning, I stayed up packing until midnight the night before, and my alarm went off at 4am telling me it was time to get ready to leave.  Four hours of sleep?  Not my favorite thing.  Arriving in Atlanta for the Haven Conference a few hours later and being greeted by my beloved friend Beth from Unskinny Boppy?  Totally worth it!

Our ride to the hotel was joined by Aimee from  Project: Aimee and Terri from Crafty Workin Mommy – two girls so cute and chatty that my excitement for my first blog conference grew even greater!  As Beth checked us into our hotel room I noticed a couple more cute and chatty girls in the lobby and couldn’t resist asking, “Are you girls here for Haven?”  That’s how I met the fabulous Erin from How to Nest for Less and Chelsea from Two Twenty One – two girls so cool they later knocked on our hotel room at the end of the night, beer in hand, looking for an after-party.  Love that!

After check-in Beth and I unloaded our bags in the hotel room (can you believe I carried-on?!), checked in for the conference, and got some fabulous swag bags and this kick-ass name tag lanyard:

Look for this on Vogue’s next Top 10 Must-Have Accessories list.
You heard it here first.


After check-in we met and chatted with a few other Havenistas in the lobby, and after enough awkward silences and blank faces of people not recognizing each others’ blogs, Beth and I decided it was time to make a little trip to the Publix grocery store across the street.  Forty-five minutes later anyone still sitting in that lobby would’ve seen me and Beth wrestling a heavy cooler filled with ice, wine, beer, and a cheese tray up to our room.

Time to kiss that awkwardness goodbye and get this party started!

The Haven Conference officially kicked off that evening with a fabulous Welcome Reception hosted by Oreck and Frog Tape.  Beth and I were all dolled up and looking fantastic that night, but you’ll just have to take my word for it because I didn’t take a single picture.

What kind of a blogger am I?!

I did, however, snap a photo yesterday of the super cute outfit I wore on Wednesday night (you’ll just have to picture it on me instead of my closet door):

You know I was the hotness in this, right?
(For real. It was like 100 degrees there. I was sweating my ass off.)


The first person I spotted as Beth and I strolled to the reception area was Clara – the adorable daughter of John and Sherry from Young House Love. For those of you new to the internet, John and Sherry are A Super Huge Deal in the home decor/DIY world.

Here’s how our introduction played out:

I walked up to Clara and her parents, pushed through a crowd of people to tap Sherry on the arm and get her attention – which in turn interrupted her conversation with a woman I would later discover is Ana White, DIY furniture superstar (could I be any RUDER?!  Yes I can.  Read on…) – and spoke my very first words to Sherry:

“Hi.  I’m going to steal your daughter now.”

Seriously! Who does that?!

Thankfully Sherry has much better manners than I do (she’s a 10 on a scale of 1-10; I’m about a 2 on a good day) and she had the most gracious and sweetest reaction to meeting me, giving me the most wonderful smile that I’ll never forget, followed by a great big hug.

Then, on my continued Rampage of Rudeness/I Have No Boundaries, I turned to John and asked, “Have you been showing Clara pictures of me so she won’t be freaked out when I kidnap her this week?”

(No, “Hi John, I’m Dusty from All Things G&D” with the requisite pause while I wait for a sign of recognition – or at the very least, a sign that he’s not going to call security.)


(I’m signing myself up for etiquette classes just as soon as I’m done clubbing baby seals and budging to the front of long check-out lines.)

John (who didn’t even flinch by my rude non-introduction, by the way) simply scooped Clara up and so nicely replied, “Of course!  Clara – you remember your Auntie Dusty, don’t you?”

Seriously – how cool is that?

John, Sherry, and I instantly began talking nonstop like we were simply picking up a conversation we’d been having for years.

And in a sense, we were.

I’m not sure when or how I found their blog, and I’m not sure when or how they found mine, but I feel like we’ve always been friends – we just hadn’t met yet.  And our introduction required no introduction…and I kind of love that.

I spent the rest of the Welcome Reception going between mingling and meeting other fabulous bloggers, checking in with my dear friend Beth, and chatting with John, Sherry and Clara.

It’s hard for me to be away from my 2-year-old daughter Kate – and ridiculously harder when I’m not with her and I see another little girl her age.   John had already given me a heads-up that Clara was going to be there, and I had already give him a heads up that I was going to need my Clara snuggles.  I just couldn’t stay away!  By the end of the night Clara and I were total buds as we danced in the hallway – all smiles and giggles – holding hands “Clara style,” twirling around, and dropping to the ground.  We did this dozens of times, and I could have done it all night long.  She is just the cutest little thing and I was thrilled to spend some time with her!

My other highlight from this first night of the Haven Conference was meeting my friend Kate from Centsational Girl* – another Super Huge Deal in the home decor/DIY world, and one of the organizers of Haven!  And just like my non-introduction with John and Sherry, Kate and I looked at each other, screamed, hugged, and picked up our conversation as if we’d been having it for years.

In the months leading up to Haven I fretted that since it’d been so long since home decor and DIY projects had been the focus of my blog that I didn’t belong there.

I was quickly proven wrong.

I had the most spectacular time, met the most wonderful people, and was so glad I decided to attend Haven 2012 – and the workshops hadn’t even begun yet!

Check out my Day 2 recap of The Haven Conference HERE!

*I know there was at least one picture taken this night of me and Kate by a male photographer going around the room, snapping shots.  I’d love to get my hands on it if anyone knows how!  


  1. 1

    You’re confusing me! There are pics on your Facebook page. One of you and Kate. Another at dinner. One of you, Sherry and Katie. Ha! Glad you had fun!

    • 2

      Oh yes, Jen. Those pics are from Days 2 and 3. It’s just on this day that I forgot to snap pics. I learned my lesson after that!

  2. 3

    How cool is meeting everyone like that? Totally jealous!!

    I am sure that the outfit looked super great on you too.

    Have a great Momday with Kate today…wouldn’t it be so cool for her and Clara to hang out? :)

  3. 4

    Love hearing all of the recaps…wish I could have been there! And I loove that dress D! Where did you get it?

  4. 5

    Love that you just busted in and said you were kidnapping their daughter. She’s so cute-how could anyone not want to give that cutie a hug!
    Let us know where you got that awesome dress and necklace! I’m sure you rocked that dress!

  5. 6

    Yes, ditto on the dress! We must know where it came from!

  6. 7

    AHAHAHAHA!!!! You’re gonna give me a bad rap telling my late night adventures to everyone! I had such a blast hanging out with you girls and can’t wait until Haven 2013! Definitely keep in touch. You’re such a rad girl!!

  7. 8

    Sounds like such a great experience. You know you’re having a good time when you forget to capture the moment with pictures.

    Too bad they don’t have gatherings for people who just lurk on blogs and leave comments. If they did, I would so be there! 😉

  8. 9

    Hahahaha :) I love this post. You made me laugh out loud. And seriously? Where’s the video of you breaking it down in the front entrance :)

    :) me

  9. 10

    Thank you for your comments everyone! For all who asked – my dress is from JCrew (bought a couple of months ago) and my necklace is from Francesca’s Collection (bought about a year ago). Thank you for all the compliments on it!

    @Jill: Yes, it was so wonderful for Kate and Clara (and Will Bower!) to hang out and play together. Hopefully someday we’ll make it happen!

    @MSHammond: She is the cutest!

    @Erin: No worries – this is all I’m saying, hahaha! So glad I met you; I’m already looking forward to our Haven After-Party 2013!

    @Alison: Oh my goodness, so true! And you’d be surprised how many people attended Haven that don’t even have blogs – I’m thinking it was maybe even as high as 1/4 of the people there! They just loved reading blogs, and came to meet their favorite bloggers and learn more about home decor/DIY projects. I thought that was really neat. You should consider it for next year!

    @Thistlewood: Ahem…that was Day 2, lol! That video is now on lock-down, never to be seen by the public*. We have reps to protect, ya know! 😉

    *Unless that security guard has already YouTubed it. Oh dear.

  10. 11

    So so sooooooooooo great to finally actually meet, I was so happy you came to Haven and LOVED hanging with you girl! Until we meet again! xoxo

  11. 12

    So fun! I did a terrible job of taking pictures, too. So happy we met and already can’t wait until next year. :)

  12. 13

    Well, that sounds like an amazing time so far and that was only the welcoming session! Crazy!

    I’m so happy for you! What a great feeling!

    Love that orange and turquoise! Gorg!

  13. 14

    I was thisclose to heading to Haven before I chickened out. Plus I’m a brand-new baby blogger. Thanks for the play-by-play. Your dress is awesome! I need to scour J.Crew I think. :)

  14. 15

    so cool to see some of my fave bloggers all hanging out together! i loved the dress and necklace as well. i’m sure you looked great.

    glad you had a good time!

  15. 16

    Ah! Those late night beer-and-cheese parties are exactly what I was worried about missing by staying at my house in the Atl area. Sounds like so much fun! I have a two-year-old too, and I was dying to get him there to play with clara. I was SURE it would be love at first sight. :)

  16. 17

    I can’t wait to get to the part where we squeal, run in slow motion, and jump into each others arms because we were long lost friends who finally found each other. What? Didn’t happen? Bummer. Maybe next time.

    It was SO good to meet you and I’m bummed I haven’t been reading all this time. I have a lot of catching up to do 😉

  17. 18

    Great recap!! You are too funny!! I’m going through the cards from all the peeps I met and soak in all the Haven’ness still. :)I’m ready to go again!!

  18. 19

    It was great to meet you! Love your recap :)

  19. 20

    Haha! Loved your recap! Haven was an awesome experience.I left so filled with inspiration! I carried my DSLR around but ended up using my camera phone and did not take as many photos as I thought I would. I was so caught up in the moments to stop and photograph them all!

  20. 21

    This was so funny! I truly enjoyed reading your recap. I enjoyed Haven and look forward to next year.

  21. 22

    Hi! I’m Maury from Life on Mars and i found you from Young House Love. I wish I’d met you at the conference! But we’re meeting now… this was so funny! Can’t wait to read more!

  22. 23

    You are too funny – I just love your blog. It’s like sitting down and having a conversation with you. Follow your blog – yes please!! :-)

    P.S. – I’m too am a farm girl from a family of 7 (yeah you got me beat there) and am new to blogging. Totally love this and am having a blast doing it.

  23. 24

    Great recap! Thanks for the shout out! Wasn’t it ridiculously hot in that room for the meet and greet? I told the girls around me that I was about to be known as the blogger who took off her pants at the Haven meet and greet because she was dying of heat exhaustion. So glad I had the chance to meet and chat with you!

  24. 25

    I jumped over here from a YHL link and my first thought was, “Crap, another blog to read.” You got me somewhere around “I joke about kidnapping other people’s children.” Also doesn’t hurt that you’re a fellow Madtowner. I don’t blog, I just stalk bloggers online. Looking forward to doing some more loitering.

  25. 26

    @Centsational Girl: Finally getting to meet you was one of the highlights of my trip! You are the sweetest cutest thing and I’m pleased as punch that we got to hang out over those 3 days. I miss you already and can’t wait until next year!

    @Karah: I’m so happy we met, too! Next year is going to feel like a reunion with all of us getting back together again. I can’t wait!

    Thank you so much Jill!

    @Erin: Oh, you should’ve been there! There were actually quite a few new bloggers – and even non-blogger! – at the conference. You would’ve been right at home, girl. Next year!

    Thank you Bridget!

    I don’t know, Kelly – lil’ miss Clara is already taken by that adorable little Will Bower! 😉 I feel the need to mention that our cheese tray also included apple slices and grapes. Yeah that’s right.

    @Ann Marie: You felt it, too?! For real. I think we have something. I saw the way you were looking at me. Hopefully you caught those eyes I was flashing back at you. (If not, let me know b/c this means I need to up my game.) We will definitely commence with Operation Slow-Motion Running Into a Hug the next time we see each other! Any chance we can make this happen on a beach? Maybe Lake Michigan? Hmm, I think we’re on to something here…

    @Candice: I’m still going through them all, too. It’s overwhelming! There are still so many people I want to check out. Hopefully I can get through them all by the end of the week!

    Thank you Debbie – it was so great to meet you, too!

    @Donna: Most of my pics are grainy, shoddy pics from my camera phone, too. Bummer. But you’re right – we were having a blast and that’s all that counts!

    Thank you so much Shabby French Country!

    Thank you Maury – so glad you stopped by!

    @Gabriella: Thank you for such a sweet compliment! I consider myself a “recovered” farm girl, hahaha! It just wasn’t for me, as I’m sure you read. So happy to hear you’re enjoying blogging! It’s such a wonderful outlet.

    @Chelsea: That would’ve been funny! You in no pants, Beth in no bra, me in no makeup. We could’ve gotten our little after-party stared right there in the main conference room, lol. So glad I had a chance to meet you, too!

    @Megan: So glad you came over for a visit – I love “meeting” other Madtowners!


  1. […] the experts behind squeaky clean, crystal clear windows and glass – at last year’s Haven Conference, and was thrilled to pieces when they offered to come to my house to clean my windows for me […]

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