Haven 2013

Last week, I spent 3 days in Atlanta at the Haven Conference.  You would think that a 3-day conference would be easy to sum up into a few words and pictures, but it really isn’t.  Haven is the one time of year that I don’t have to explain what a blog is, or what DIY and home blogging is all about.  It is a wonderful opportunity to be with so many like-minded people.  Bloggers come from all walks of life, but at Haven we have the common bond of primarily blogging about our homes and projects we call DIY.  I was so much less nervous going to Haven this year, because I could actually introduce  myself as “Leslie from Puddy’s House”.  I felt like I belonged.  It also helped that I have a great traveling companion, who could also introduce herself as a blogger this year, “Amy from Always Never Done.”

Haven 2013 - Leslie and Amy

The Haven Team puts on a great conference.

Haven 2013 - Haven Team

I know they put forth tons of time and effort to make it great, and it shows, and it is appreciated!  We arrived Thursday to register, which is a fun time because we pick up our swag bag.  The Haven Team and Sponsors had it filled with goodies.

Haven 2013 - Swag Bag and Name Tag

Thursday evening, we opened the conference with a cocktail hour to give everyone time to meet and mingle.  After that, Amy and I headed out to dinner.  We were staying at a Hyatt for the conference and they have a shuttle driver that will take you anywhere within a few miles for free.  We said we wanted to go to dinner and the driver recommended The Buckhead Diner.  I think he saw the look on our face, and he said it wasn’t what we normally would think of as a diner, so we said we’d try it.  We pulled up and it certainly looked like you average diner.

Haven 2013 - Buckhead Diner

But, inside it was very nice.  The staff was great and it was delicious food.   The driver’s recommendation was right on target.

Haven 2013 - Amy at Buckhead Diner

Friday morning, the day started with Ana White as the keynote speaker.   She was educational and inspiring, which are two of the four things she said she always tries to have in her blog posts.  If you don’t know Ana White, I recommend you check out her blog.

Haven 2013 - Ana White

After the keynote, there were many sessions to choose from.  Most sessions were repeated on Saturday too, so Amy and I went to a mix of sessions to help with blogging and also hands-on DIY sessions.

Haven 2013 - Emily A Clark  -Design Mistakes

Emily A. Clark teaching us about The 5 Most Common Design Mistakes.  We also learned about the components to layering design with this real bedroom example.

Haven 2013 - Bedroom design

In another session, we learned from Sawdust Girl and Pretty Handy Girl about molding, trim, and wall planks.  After they taught us, we had time for hands-on.  I shared some pictures of Amy and I on Facebook using the tools.  I really liked learning how to install crown molding.  Sawdust Girl showed us her templates she uses and then we each had the chance to make our own templates.

Haven 2013 - Sawdust Girl and Pretty Handy Girl

In another hands-on session, we got the chance to work with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Wax.  I had used Chalk Paint before on my corner shelf in the basement, but this class was great to learn more techniques about application and layering and waxes.

Haven 2013 - Chalk Paint session

Some of the other sessions we took, but I don’t have pictures of included photography, blogging basics, and advertising.  My head was swimming at times.   Maybe that is why Amy and I took crazy pictures like this in the bathroom!

Haven 2013 - Leslie and Amy mirror reflections

The conference ended with more giveaways from the sponsors, and a very motivational closing speaker from Habitat for Humanity.  He challenged us to do good on a grand scale.

Haven 2013 - Closing presentation

After two full days of learning and a few evenings of fun, I think we all left inspired and I’m pretty sure that is what the Haven Team hoped to accomplish with the closing speaker.

Overall, Haven was even better than it was last year.  We learned, we networked, and we had fun!  Oh, and we took home a whole suitcase full of our free swag!!

Haven 2013 - Swag packed

I’ll be sharing some of the swag soon as I know I will be using a lot of it in upcoming projects.  One project I didn’t anticipate is a technical one.  I learned in the blogging basics session that I should make the change from wordpress.com to wordpress.org.  I have already started the process, but I just wanted to warn my readers that if you visit my site in the upcoming days and see anything strange, or maybe don’t see anything at all, please try again…it is just me trying to make the transfer on my own.  I hope its seemless, but I can’t make any guarantees.



This weekend I really began to reflect on the simple word “balance”.  Last year, I focused on balance when it came to my exercise.  I had previously just focused my workouts on running, but I wanted to change it up and balance my workouts better.  And, last year I felt that I was finally able to accomplish that, and I have managed to continue it.  Now, I do yoga twice a week, a cardio/body weight exercise class once a week and then run one or two times per week.  This is in addition to my daily walks with Puddy and my somewhat regular lunchtime walks.  So, even though I have been able to find balance with my exercise, I am still struggling with balance in the rest of my life.  When I found this picture on Pinterest, it seemed too perfect for the thoughts I had in my head and felt compelled to share here.

Balance- The key to life


When I started blogging, I was better at sharing glimpses of what was happening in my life.  But, then something changed and I focused much more on just the projects.  I want to get back to sharing life again, because the truth is, the projects I complete are just a small part of life.  And, if I don’t try to balance and focus on enjoying life more it won’t be good for me or this blog.

Note: The rest of the pictures have nothing to do with the topic at hand, but are just pretty pictures that I wanted to share.

Balance - daisies up close

I have realized that the balance struggle becomes more difficult each year when the weather becomes nicer.  There is so much that must be done, as well as so much that I want to do.  The calendar starts to fill up and soon it seems that summer passes by.  So, since Summer has not officially started yet, I am going to try to focus on balance more this summer.

Balance - nest of eggs

A bird laid these pretty eggs in the driveway at my mother-in-law’s beach house.

I don’t think I’ve talked about my job, probably because I was trying to separate blogging from work, but in reality I need to balance the two.  My full-time job is as a Human Resources Manager.  I love my job.  I work at a great place and work with wonderful people.  But, my job is also very demanding.  So, at times it leaves me a bit drained, which means I don’t have the time, energy, or creative initiative it requires to have something to blog about.  I’m going to try to do better at this, as I focus on balance.  But, I also need to be realistic.  For many other bloggers, blogging is their job (at least it seems that way for a lot of them that I read).  It is very unlikely that blogging will ever be my job.  But, I do really enjoy having blogging as an outlet for me.  I enjoy sharing my projects and life with whoever is reading, which most of the time seems to be only my family and friends.  I hope to balance work and blogging, while staying true to myself, and hopefully gaining more readers to share my life and projects.

Balance - peony up close

As part of balancing, I need to figure out how split my free time with yard sale and thrift shopping and with working on the projects I already have sitting around the house.  This is most difficult in Summer time because I really enjoy Saturday morning yard sale shopping.  It is such a short season that anytime I have a “free” Saturday, I try to go to yard sales.  The balance struggle then occurs, when I get home in the afternoon and don’t have the energy to work on anything that I’ve bought.  And, most of the items I buy at yard sales need some work.  So, I’m going to try to get better at splitting my  time with shopping and creating.  Weekends are just too short!

Balance - butterfly from st maarten

Another part of my goal to balance is all the other things that have to be done: cleaning, grocery shopping, yard work, etc.  Fortunately, most of the major yard work for the year is done, but it still needs to fit in the balance.  However, all of the other routine things must be done each week, and I still need to find time to do it.  I’m lucky to have a husband who helps out with all of it (other than grocery shopping), but he’s busy too, so it’s a balance for both of us.  The last aspect of my goal, is balancing my quality time with Bob.  Since we are both so busy, we both have to work on the balance, but we are both conscious of the need to work on it and enjoy life.  With that said, I’m going to put away the laptop and enjoy the rest of this beautiful evening on our patio.

Does anyone else struggle with balance?  Any suggestions for improving balance?