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Haven DIY Blog Conference

I’ve now been to 5 different blog conferences in the past year and a half (one of them twice), and though they’ve all been different in the classes offered, dynamics, and people, this is what I’ve found constant: the amazing-ness of chatting, sharing stories, talking “blog shop” with others in the exact same position you are. I’d experienced it before with photographers. I’d been to a few photography workshops over the years, and got the same vibe.   We would chat about: Client complaints, pricing, camera usage, creativity, location, props, etc. I guess I’d only been to one “overnighter” photography conference with 15 people total under the tutelage of one “all knowing” photographer.  It was pretty amazing to talk late at night after the planned stuff was over.  I have been blessed over the past 3 years or so to have several close photographer friends that we can talk to about anything, and it is SO fabulous to bounce ideas off of each other.

But as blogging about anything and everything has become more of a passion, my photography business has taken a little side step.

Blogging Friends

{The girls I hung out with the most and my heart grew ten-fold just talking with them: Lindsey, Brooke, & Beth}

In comparison, the blogging world is SO much more involved. So many more dimensions. Maybe because it’s fairly new territory, and most people don’t “get it.” At nearly every conference, we’d run into someone just walking by, who’d ask us what type of group we are, and we’d proudly says, “bloggers” and people are like, “what? you people really exist? And there is a conference for all of you? What on earth could you do at a conference?”  It’s kinda fun to educate and teach those strangers, here are some of the topics that we could get lost for hours talking about, and classes are often built around:

  • writing style
  • advertisers
  • working with brands
  • sponsored posts
  • wordpress vs. blogger
  • photography
  • SEO
  • site design
  • giveaways
  • pinterest
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • google +
  • Instagram
  • Food/Recipes
  • Home projects
  • Painting
  • Building
  • Power Tools
  • link parties
  • sidebar organization
  • other blogs we love

And that doesn’t even cover getting to know each other’s personal lives, and the person behind the blog!  Which is something I love so much, too! This time around was different for me because I brought my husband along. I thought he needed to get to know this world that I’ve been experiencing, and I thought a DIY/building conference would be right up his alley, since he is the braun behind all of my projects. I’d introduce him saying, “I tell him all my crazy ideas, and he executes them.”  I was excited and nervous to bring him, but I’m really glad I did.

Ryobi Nation

There were only a small handful of friends there that’d I’d known from other conferences, and a bunch of bloggers whose blogs I’d heard of and been to a few times, but wasn’t super familiar with them. As someone who WRITES a blog, my time is much more limited with READING blogs, even though it’s something I love to do so much.

This conference was sponsored by many brands, but Home Depot and Ryobi and Rustoleum were the biggest ones. Maybe 20 sponsors total, they have booths set up and a little punch card so that we stop to each one, and entered to win prizes for a full punch card. So it was geared towards bloggers who use those types of products that were represented!  I am so delighted that Ryobi Power Tools sponsored my husband and I for the trip. We’ve got lots of their amazing (and cool green tools) that we are using on a very special family project of which I shall share very soon!

Ryobi Power Tools

Strangely for me, I didn’t take a whole LOT of pictures! I snapped a few with my phone, took some head shots for others with my “big camera” but just not a lot. So I’ll highlight with links who I enjoyed chatting with.  I spoke on Photographing rooms and Projects (posts coming up about that). My husband took the one of me, and a bunch of the class took others and posted them to Instagram.  I thought it would be fun to make a little collage of me talking…not the most pleasant, but still fun to document.

photographing rooms and projects20130807_5510 20130807_5512

Then, right in the middle of my presentation, I thought I needed to take pictures of my awesome and attentive class! (I stitched two pics together)

haven class

haven collage

Here are some of the blog friends that I was excited to chat with again that I consider good friends {Click on their links and get to know them}:

  • Lindsay from Better After (my roommate at SNAP/awesome and hilarious and shuts down the dance floor with me)
  • Brooke from All Things Thrifty (One of the sweetest most thoughtful gals out there)
  • Allison from House of Hepworths (we drove to Blissdom together, she’s local and I hardly ever see her!)
  • Cassity from Remodelaholic (Our interactions were brief in the past, but her smile always brightens my day)
  • Ana White (She started Knock Off Wood, and I took some pictures of her for her Handbuilt Home book)
  • Mandi from Vintage Revivals (Funny friend who always has so much pizzazz and energy)
  • Jessica at Mom 4 Real (she gave me the biggest smile from across the room when I saw her!)
  • Shanty 2 Chic Sisters (They are just the sweetest, and offered to come help me with a BIG projects, they are in Dallas)

Here are the gals that I was looking forward to meeting and chatting with and DID actually meet up (several friends I wanted to meet, I never even saw):

  • Ashley from The Handmade Home (probably the one I was most excited to chat with, and I was excited she spotted me out of the crowd! Her home is my home crush, she decorates each room with pictures as I tend to do and it’s so colorful and fun!)
  • Beth and Nick from Sawdust and Embryo’s (We’d emailed some in the past, and it was SO fun to have our husbands bond over being the minority there)
  • Kelly from A View Along the Way and her husband Andy from AdThrive (check this out for ad monetization). They were both so down to earth, and it was fun for Mr. Duke to have another guy to chat with!
  • Jenna from SAS Interiors (We’ve emailed for several years, and her site is pretty fab!)
  • Stacy at Not JUST a Housewife (we went to the same Jr. College in Idaho but didn’t know each other there)
  • KariAnne from Thistlewood Farms  (she ran and hugged me from across a table when we met, and it made me feel so special. She is a riot, and told me all about moving from Dallas to a very very small town)
  • Sandra from Sawdust Girl (I’d seen her blog before, and at the last moment at the end of the conference, I introduced myself to her and we gabbed for several minutes, and she was just the sweetest!! We also taught classes at the same time, so I couldn’t go to hers)
  • Marian from Miss Mustard Seed (She and I taught classes at the same time, so we couldn’t go to each others, but when we met, we verbally exchanged notes)
  •  from The Lilypad Cottage (she is a newer blogger, we had emailed some and I LOVE her site/home)
  • Anna from Ask Anna (I told her my neighbor Staci loves her blog!)

Here are a few blogs I was not so familiar with, but enjoyed meeting/love their site:

Hop on over to their sites, and click the follow on your favorite social media so you can see their stuff from time to time.  I know I missed so many people, this is off the top of my head!


Dare I say, I think the man had fun

ryobi tools


Below, I was reminding the Ryobi guy, Brian, about how my friend Kelli jumped into his arms at SNAP when she won the sliding miter saw. Oh, he remembered;)

ryobi friend

There was a dance party, and you better believe I danced (below in the hot pink jeans). Ryobi hosted the party, and it was a rockin’.

ryobi dance partyryobi party

Below is a very hazy after midnight picture of this fun group. We danced (well some of us) and when we didn’t want to hear the loud music, we sat outside and chatted. We had a deep, emotional conversation about religion, prayer, and what drives us in life. It was spectacular, and I felt blessed to mingle with such great people. I was also very proud of Mr. Duke staying up so late!


Below, a few of my friends and fellow Mormons that I’d met before and got to re-unite with: Mandi, Lindsey, & Brooke (links in the first list above). There was a fun photo booth from the sponsors.

Haven photostrip

It takes an amazing staff to put together conferences like this, and having coordinated with them ahead of time as a speaker, they were exceptional and very prompt at getting back to me with my questions!  Check out their blogs and learn more about them and their DIY style!

haven team

Southern Hospitality//Stockdale Design//Home Stories A to Z//Just a Girl//Beneath My Heart

Below are just a few fun pictures of Mr. Duke and me. We hiked Stone Mountain in Atlanta before the conference began. I hadn’t been to Atlanta in 21 years (wow, that makes me sound very old). When I lived in New Orleans as a youth, Atlanta was the nearest temple for our church, and we’d have youth temple trips to Atlanta, and we also went to Stone Mountain.

20130807_5562 20130807_5564 20130807_5566

 I love hanging out with Mr. Duke. It’s so easy, enjoyable, and rare that we get that alone time! I love that he enjoyed the conference, too, and now he knows a lot more about this online world and me!

p.s. If you want to hear even more about Haven, click on the links above, or this link party of attendee’s.

Kristen Duke

Kristen Duke

Thank you for stopping by my little spot on the web! If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to my future posts via RSS, Facebook, and if you are looking to improve your photography, see my beginner books HERE.
Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
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  1. Ahhhhh! Did you just give me a shout out?! Girl, you crazy! Seriously loved your session, meeting you, putting a face to “Matthew”, etc! I can’t wait to keep following you! :) see you at Haven 2014, I hope! Love!
    Jessica recently posted..Engagement-aversary: The day I screwed up all of my husband’s plansMy Profile

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Yes, you made me feel so special each time I saw you –thank you for that! I think Mr. Duke felt pretty special, too;)

  2. Great post! Your oldest son is the spitting image of his dad! A few months ago we went to Atlanta and went up stone mountain (I didn’t hike ’cause I was 6 months pregnant) and we loved it! I left saying I have to go back and do it on foot. :)
    Aline recently posted..Baked Polenta Fries {Recipe}My Profile

  3. Raelene hill says:

    Loved hearing about your Atlanta adventure. Love that “crafts” have become a part of your life as they always were something I enjoyed. You are a great example of embracing a variety of what life has to offer, learning an sharing. Your posts keep me connected to “home”. Thanks for sharing! You are a great example of filling your day with lots of good things as well as being a great, involved mom. I don’t think your lines are blurred at all! Love you!

  4. What a FUN recap!!! Man, it just makes me miss everybody even more seeing all those fun pictures. You and Michael were a blast and I’m so glad we’re close enough to be on texting terms. :) Somebody needs to start a blogging conference in January so we can all have a mid-year reunion… a year is tooooo long!
    Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos recently posted..Strawberry Pretzel Jell-O Dessert {guestpost by Cupcakes w/ Sprinkles!}My Profile

  5. Such a great recap! I am SOOOO happy I took your session and have already been playing with lighting and styling :) It was so nice to meet you.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Thank you, Christina, so glad I met you. Love your blog, and I hope to check in (if I can stay on task writing mine)!

  6. GREAT recap! It was so fun to spend time with you and your husband! Thanks for letting me be the third wheel. ;) Can’t wait until the next conference, whenever that will be for me.
    Lindsey@BetterAfter recently posted..GMC Hidden Treasure Adventure – part 1My Profile

  7. Kristen, It was so fabulous to meet you and take your class! I actually missed the flash mob dance after the keynote, because I wanted to get to your classroom and find a good seat. For the rest of the day I told everyone to put your class on their agenda for the next day. Thanks so much for all the great photography tips!!
    Jackie recently posted..Be Inspired: Prime and PolishMy Profile

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Hooray, I’m so happy to hear that you loved my class and it was helpful! Thanks so much for telling me, and glad you got there early–even if the dancing was missed (I missed it, too).

  8. Mandy Wilder says:

    Some how I randomly ran into this site. I seem just like you ladies . What can I do to get involved? I am in Utah. Ready for an escape and a new career / hobbie. Please let me know what I can do. Sounds like great peop,e here that I need in my life.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Hi Mandy! Send me an email, and I’d be happy to tell you more. I know there are several blog conferences in Utah, one I went to is called SNAP, search for the post on my site and you’ll get a link to where you can sign up:)

  9. Hi Kristen – Enjoyed your recap! So glad you were able to attend the Haven Conference! & enjoyed sponsoring the event and hope to connect with you even more! Be sure to take a look at the photos from the event on Facebook, tag yourself & share with family/friends! :)

  10. Thanks for the great class.It was great getting to meet you! I hope I get better at this stuff! lol Can you tell me when you will have the headshots you took?

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  1. […] Though Ryobi did not fund our Treehouse project, they provided tools, and also sponsored Mr. Duke and I to go to Haven.  […]