2013 Haven Conference: Part 4

Catch up on all my 2013 Haven Conference recaps here:

2013 Haven Conference Recap: Part 1
2013 Haven Conference Recap: Part 2
2013 Haven Conference Recap: Part 3

For those of you who 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.

I set my alarm to wake up in time to catch breakfast and almost opted for a snooze button slapfest, but a quick check of the @havenconf Instagram feed showed someone eating bacon.

“THEY HAVE BACON DOWN THERE!” I exclaimed to my longtime friend and Haven roommate, Beth from Unskinny Boppy, as I threw back the blankets and grabbed for my glasses.  “Let’s go!”

Minutes later I was wandering around the hotel dining area in my pajamas and crooked glasses, hair uncombed, bra-less, shameless and makeup-less, getting loads of interesting looks from my fellow Havenistas while I convinced myself I was the Clark Kent of the blogosphere – unrecognizable as long as I had glasses on.

There was no bacon.

I was no happy.

I don’t know who posted that Instagram picture, but you owe me 3 strips of bacon and 9 minutes of sleep.

(Let’s add that to our tally up top.)

An hour later, glasses removed and hair shampooed, I was ready to embrace the day!  I decided to start my day by meeting with some of the vendors I didn’t get a chance to see yesterday, and had some fantastic chats with amazing brands like Home Depot, Ryobi, and 3M!

I loved this DIY

I loved this DIY Kerplunk game at the Home Depot Haven booth – I think it’s a must-have for our next backyard Fourth of July party!

Hitting up the Ryobi Tools coffee bar for a much-loved latte!

Hitting up the Ryobi Tools coffee bar for a much-loved latte – thank you!

After meeting with a variety of very impressive vendors, I was joined by Sarah and Tiffany from Offbeat + Inspired.  I met these girls last night during our late night patio party by the pool, and it was like meeting my soul mates.  Not only do we all share a love of DIY (us and every other blogger at Haven) but we bonded BIG TIME over our love of all-natural, chemical-free foods and products.  I’ve always said I could talk about nutrition and the benefits of “clean” eating for hours, and that’s exactly what we did!  I introduced them to Wildtree – a line of chemical-free spice blends, oils and marinades that make it quick and easy to prepare all natural, nutritious, and delicious meals (more on this coming soon!) – and they introduced me to value and benefits of homemade soap making!  I think we could have sat there all night talking about our food, DIY, and blogging passions!  I absolutely LOVE these girls and predict they are the next big thing in blogging.  Check out their blog at Offbeat + Inspired and see for yourself!


Me with Sarah and Tiffany from Offbeat + Inspired – my two newest friends!

It was our last day of the Haven Conference and I was so happy to snag some photos with a few other friends of mine before it was too late!


Some of the lovely ladies of Haven:  Rhoda from Southern Hospitality, Anna from Ask Anna,  Beth from Unskinny Boppy, and Gina (whom I first met at the Delta Faucet Blogger’s Event) from The Shabby Creek Cottage!

The first afternoon workshop I attended was Brands & Blogger Relationships put on by Home Depot and Rust-Oleum, where they gave helpful suggestions of different ways bloggers and brands can partner, how you can most successfully approach brands with sponsorship and advertising requests, and what they’re interested in seeing from blogger relationships.


Brands & Blogger Relationships – an afternoon workshop by Home Depot and Rust-Oleum.

The next workshop I attended was Publishing Like a Pro – Magazine Magic, presented by Kelly Peterson from Hearst Media Corporation and Erika Hollinshead, blogger at BluLabel Bungalow.  Kelly and Erika walked us through tips and tricks for pitching articles and projects to magazines to get published, as well as how to prepare for a photo shoot and create desirable spaces magazines are interested in featuring.  I left with tons of great ideas, a desire to be featured in Better Homes & Gardens, and a girl crush on Erika – that girl has charisma!


Publishing Like a Pro – Magazine Magic – an afternoon workshop by Kelly Peterson and Erika Hollinshead.

The 2013 Haven Conference came to an end with a farewell address from the incredible team of Haven organizers, partners and sponsors…

The 2013 Haven Team: Beth from Home Stories A to Z, Traci from Beneath My Heart, Chris from Just a Girl, Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chick, and Rhonda from Southern Hospitality (who also gets credit for this cute photo!)

The 2013 Haven Team: Beth from Home Stories A to Z, Traci from Beneath My Heart, Chris from Just a Girl, Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chick, and Rhonda from Southern Hospitality (who also gets credit for this cute photo!)

…and a closing speech by Bob Johnson from Habitat for Humanity that brought tears to every eye in the room:


Bob Johnson from Habitat for Humanity

Bob spoke of the power of social media and blogger influence in times of great social need by taking us back to the days of devastation left after tornadoes ripped through Alabama in 2011.  It was one of the most devastating and destructive series of tornadoes in our nation’s history…and one of the first displays of how social media can have a major impact on helping others.  People wanted to help but didn’t know exactly how to help, what was needed, or where to go.

Enter social media.

Someone would tweet “We need diapers at the shelter at [address here]” and within an hour someone with a stockpile of diaper donations a county away would arrive.  Days before FEMA would come on scene to offer some relief, nonprofits, churches, shelters and other community organizers used Twitter and Facebook to create an organized, almost instant effort of matching donations and helpers with where the need was.

Even though I live in Wisconsin – a thousand miles away from this devastation in Alabama – I remember it well.

My dear friend Beth from Unskinny Boppy (pictured above), who lives just outside of Birmingham, AL was in the center of it all.  She and her family were safe, thank God, but so many of her neighbors were not.  She used her community connections and social influence to do anything and everything she could to help her fellow Alabamians, and I followed along from a thousand miles away reposting, blogging and shipping needed supplies to a Birmingham, AL nonprofit organization, using an Amazon shopping list that Beth had created.  I was so proud of Beth during this time, so proud of our country, and so proud to be a part of such a ground-breaking social media movement.

Bob’s speech brought us back to those tearful days and reminded us that everyone in that room has the power to help in BIG WAYS by harnessing our social media influence to promote causes and support people in need.  His words resonated with the blogger in me and the social worker in me, and when his last word was spoken I jumped from my chair and gave him a standing ovation.  Thank you so much, Bob for your wise and impactful closing presentation!  Of all of the moments I’ve treasured from this year’s Haven Conference, this one is the most memorable.

With Haven officially over, our eyes wiped dry, and exhausted yet energized, Beth and I switched gears and were so excited to have a chance to see our friend Kent who lives in Atlanta!  Kent picked us up at the hotel and the three of us went out for a delicious, low-key dinner where Beth and I tried hard to not talk about blogging for at least an hour.   Afterwards, Kent joined us back at the hotel for Night 2 of our low-key patio party by the pool with a small group of our closest blog friends.


Me, my local friend Kent, and some late-night relaxing during my last night in Atlanta.

For everyone planning to attend next year, please be sure to do this at least once during the hustle, bustle, excitement, and information overload that is Haven:

Find a quiet place.

Find your people.




  1. 1

    Dusty- Your recaps from last year are what made me excited and less nervous about this year. Your recaps this year have made me laugh, given me a chance to relate (how did I not get bacon?!), and remember and get motivated all over again. So glad to have met you, see you propose to Christina @ Homemade Ocean (ohhhhh, Ryobi party), and to see what blogging will continue to bring your way. Also- love your love of natural foods! Can’t wait to hear more about Wildtree!

    • 2

      Thank you so much, Jessica! I’m so happy to have met you, too! You girls are adorable and I’m so glad we shared a few minutes (and a proposal) together!

      I’ll be doing a post about Wildtree soon. In the meantime, feel free to contact me through my website (www.allthingswildtree.com) if you have any questions or would like to learn more about booking a party – I can host it no matter where you live!

      Hope you’re having a great weekend!

      (PS. I’m still pissed about that bacon.)

  2. 3

    HI, sweet Dusty! I have loved reading all your recaps. I think you get the prize for the most of them. Loved your enthusiasm for all things Haven, so glad to get to spend a little time with you this year. YOu’re a doll! Can’t wait for next year.

    • 4

      Thank you so much, Rhoda! You are such a sweetheart, yourself. I truly enjoyed spending more time with you this year and cannot wait to see what you and the girls have up your sleeve for next year. What a thrill!

  3. 5

    Loved reading your recaps. Misty eyes, smiling and laughing all over and I was mad that you found bacon…until you didn’t. It was lovely to see you again!

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