My 2nd Year At Haven Conference

Haven 2015 Pic for Blog edit #3



I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Haven blog conference for design and DIY held July 16-18,2015 at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead, Atlanta.   My 1st year was in 2014 and it was quite the new experience for me – immersing myself body and soul with all things DIY, design, blogging, marketing yourself, SEO, sharpening photography skills, and writing, just to name a few. I had no idea what to expect for my first year but the second year, knowing the treat I was in for was all the more transcendental in nature!  If you’ve ever been to a blog conference, you know exactly what I mean!

The first evening (Thursday) was registration and a meet-and-greet. I spent the better part of Thursday preparing (i.e. styling my hair, applying makeup, figuring out what to wear and changing my mind ten times! – Because after all, first impressions are almost everything…. right?!! )  And in between times trying to take care of my little munchkins. I was making pretty good time considering I’m chronically late for everything and was on my way for the hour drive into town, thanks to the notorious Atlanta traffic. I was almost to my target location when I saw there was a TJ Maxx going in the opposite direction and thought, I’m doing pretty good with time so why not stop in there and buy an evening clutch (which, for the love of all things, DID NOT have — What??!). Well, as fate would have it, [traffic be damned] that proved my undoing and I ended up at my destination rather late after all. Somehow my GPS wasn’t pulling the signal quick enough for me to make the right turns and I was forced to go around in circles so as to not agitate the flow of the other drivers. I really do not like driving downtown anywhere because of one-way-only streets combined with heavy traffic. It irritates the life out of me!                                                                                                    

The good thing is, I arrived surprisingly non-frazzled and the whole incident hardly dampened my high spirits.  

1st Day-Haven 2015

Haven Meet And Greet Outfit
























I loved how beautifully set up all the decorations were for Haven.   All the design elements were just stunning!


Haven Letters Table Decoration

Yes, I certainly did add a little extra “sparkle” in this photo! That’s how I roll.

Wooden Arm Chairs

Beautiful color-washed wooden chairs courtesy of Home Decorators Collection




Blog Conferences, as a general rule are JAM-PACKED with so many people (bloggers, sponsors, and brands) to have the pleasure to meet and network with.  I love all the great opportunities to make real-life connections and the shared love for all things blogging, diy, home decor, and creative outlets. The conference lasts usually 2-3 days and it is definite information overload; it (more or less) takes me the better part of an entire week to recover! Thanks to the perks of being an extroverted introvert. Haha!

My 2nd year, I had the honored privilege to take a few classes from bloggers I admire and am highly inspired by:

                                                                      Ana White  Ana White & Me #1

                                                                    Lucy Akins

                                                                    Liz Marie



                                                                 Mandy Rose

                                                                 Jen Woodhouse

There were so many others that I interacted with that I wish I had had a chance to capture a shot with but again all the hustle bustle makes it near impossible to get a photo moment with all whom you encounter! It was surreal to actually be meeting these awesome brand creators in the flesh and who just “get you”! 

I love all the hands-on workshops, and informational classes that fuel my desire to take my blogging to the next level. There is so much to process and catapult you forward in this wonderful world of creating your brand!   

Here are a few clips of some that I chose to take – (I wish I could take almost all of them but time doesn’t allow for that 😳)



From Liz Marie’s Instagram class ~



Ana White demo of a mosaic tile tray which we each got to make – This was such a fun hands-on class!

All the LOOT! – Swag Bag and extras



Since this time, the blogosphere has changed significantly so these conferences are even more beneficial in navigating the ever-changing cyber world in respect to influencers. Even though real life has taken over front and center and put my blog life on the backburner, my longing desire to blog and take this on a real ride is not ever far from my mind.

This year, Haven was held for the first time since its inception (2012) in Charleston,South Carolina. I really wish I could have gone as I love that city and have not been there for many years. But time and budget did not allow for it to happen this year unfortunately. I am aiming (and keeping fingers crossed) to attend again next year! It will be back in Atlanta.

Hope you enjoyed this several-years-late (haha!) recap of my time at the Haven Design & Blogging conference ~



Fireplace Makeover

This past year, while the kids and I took a trip home (Ohio) during Spring break, Mr AW Exquisite Design decided to tackle a quick weekend project: making over the fireplace in our living room! I believe he spread it out over the course of the week since he also had to work.

The past 2 years have been insanely busy with transforming our home to look more like our style. It’s been fun but wrought with plenty of angst, trial and error. It is exciting to see marked progress with all the projects so far.

Okay, so let’s go back. Wayyyy back to the beginning when we first moved in to get a clear picture of what it originally looked like. We didn’t do much of anything to this space until recently. Starting with this fireplace.

*Please kindly forgive the grainy photos and decorating; I had a very difficult time rummaging through tons of old photos to find anything decent that shows how it was before. It continues to evolve into a more pleasing aesthetic-

Christmas 2012

Because of the lack of vision for the space partly due to the bare bones structure , there was a severe absence of real design. Read: BORING! Even Christmas decor didn’t do much to dress it up. At least my cute kids made for something interesting to look at in the picture. ?

This winter has been an exception but we love nice, cozy fireside time when it is bitterly cold outside. Yes, even here in Atlanta it seriously gets too cold some winters. This one has been the mildest that I’ve ever experienced in all the time I’ve lived in the south. So I don’t believe we’ve even lit the fire once this winter. For good reason too since we are currently putting in hardwood flooring! That was a long time coming and dream come true for sure! If you follow me on Instagram, you will see some of the progress peeks. It is definitely exciting!!!

Fireplace warmth

Okay, so Michael took a few shots but hardly as many as I would have taken to document the process. I give him a hard time about it since I know how easy it is to forget certain things unless there was a picture taken or written down. I wonder if he could be coaxed to join me in writing posts on this little blog of mine to give his educated insights and angles that would prove resourceful to others. ?   I’m glad he did get some “during” shots so I have a blog post to write about. Haha!  It’s all in the details and start to finish in my book! I like to see ALL the good, bad, AND ugly. That is real, unglossed-over life!! Some of you just care to see the after and that’s okay. But in the end the important thing is if the end result is a big difference and wows you!

The demolition:

Layering on the stone veneer flats and clamps holding 2×4 wood in place

While tackling this job, Michael also decided to install a couple recessed lights above the fireplace. He attempted to see about installing more throughout the outer edge surrounding the tray ceiling but because of the hvac duct system running right above we can’t. ? ?


We are so glad to have this small but significant change in the main area and now are you ready for the – AFTER – ?

Funny thing about this picture though? It is actually a “before” since this was taken just prior to beginning the major living room makeover ! ? We were actually removing everything from this area hence the stacked pillows on the couch, no curtains on the rods, and dvds in the basket. 

                                STAY TUNED for more transformations of this living room!


 Thanks for stopping in for a little visit!


A New Year And My Word For This Year & A Printable

                                             Here we are in the new year – 2017!     

There is a preponderance of expectancy, hope, dreams, and reflections that abound on most peoples’ minds when a new year comes around. There also may be regrets and disappointments thrown in. For me personally, I intentionally try to keep my focus on the former rather than the latter negatives. Why? Because as most know, when we allow ourselves to stew and grovel in the ills of the past year, we can impede on the potential possibilities that lie before us in…

  • Making progress
  • Moving forward!
  • Facilitating change to make our world a better place for me & others

So….. what does this look like?

For me, it comes in the form of a word (or rather, a phrase) to help define and color my decisions, thought processes, etc. so that no matter how small, another leaf was turned. A stone was moved. A bridge was forged. A door was open or closed. A mountain was climbed. And so on and so forth….

The inspiration for this years’ word hit me right on the eve of New Year’s like a sudden light bulb moment. I was quietly surprised. Usually, one of two things happen.                                                                                  I, a) do not have a specific word speak to me, or b) it comes much later…. like months later.  Last year was a good example of a year when I didn’t have one particular word but looking back there was definitely a theme. Overall, it was upheld. It was to reduce the busy, the clutter, the excess of living a more effective, quality life.

To say that word we dread to say to things and others – “NO”.

And, oh, all the prunings were not pretty, people.

It was a hot mess. It almost made things come undone. Like, irreparable come apart….. okay, maybe not quite that bad but seemed like it.

It caused some misunderstandings, emotional distance but it was a definite necessity in order to move forward, to reach another threshold of growth and development. To be still in a world of calamity, chaos, and crazy is a vital step to reach the efficacy of impacting the world around you and effectively accomplishing your goals.

Listen, you will do nobody (least of all yourself) any favors if you don’t care for yourself properly (not just physically but emotionally,mentally, & spiritually too!) and that may take longer than some of you would like. Yeah, here’s talking to you, oh impatient, restless, antsy, overly ambitious, type A. extroverted one!
Did I use enough adjectives?!


I’m happy to report…. that we are stronger and more intact for all the tribulation we went through this past year. We’ve *hopefully* learned a few valuable lessons along the way AND progress HAS been made!

                                                                 So…… about the word of the year for me is this: 

                                                                                Intentionally Fearless                                            Word For 2017                                                        


I tend to always want to control things & people (don’t we all? but some more than others). Because of that obsessive need to be in control, I often find myself criticizing how others do things then try to correct them. That it has to be my particular way or it’s not done right (I’m an idealist by nature). Feeling so pressured that I project extreme agitation over small inconveniences. Because of this feeling of needing to control and be in control, I in turn give in to fear.

  • Fear of being truly real
  • Fear of what others may think, say, or do
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of showing vulnerability
  • Fear that I’m too sensitive
  • Fear that I’m too cruel
  • Fear of saying or doing the wrong thing which may (and often does!) land me in hot water
  • Fearing the worst in many situations
  • Fearing for my kids
  • Fear from media-induced neurosis [hard NOT to get sucked into that vacuum!]     
  • Fear of loss of control    
  • Fear that it’s not perfect enough [this really relates to one of the main reasons I haven’t been active on my blog; this needs to change ?]              

Instead of allowing fear to dominate my life and thoughts, I will be intentional in NOT giving those fears a foothold to keep me in shackles. I will deliberately move forward through the fear and in spite of the fear.     This may be painful at times but like Rachel Platten sings in her song “Nothing Ever Happens”, we need to get out of our own way.                                                                                                                     Dreams and visions can’t become reality by playing it safe and giving in to our fears, big or small.                                                                     Yikes. Did I just say in essence to take a deep breath and jump??!  

I think I did! 

Oh man, what did I just get myself into? 

That is why I juxtaposed the word “intentionally” with FEARLESS – because the fear may still be present but you can consciously choose to not let it cripple your potential or keep you from a call to action.

So this year, I purpose to “lighten up” a bit and choose to make the best of a less than ideal (in my mind) situation. Even if my posts aren’t what I think they should be, just publish them anyway;so at least there will be some consistency.                                                                                To let go (a little, haha….. baby steps, y’all) of trying to micro-manage every tiny detail of all the joint projects we need to accomplish.                  To be okay with not-quite-perfect (bear with me, those of you who just want to grunt impatiently because you think it’s just fine and go “next!”).                                                                                                                                                  
Below is a free printable I decided to make for all of you to remind ourselves that we do not have to live by fear.                    

This is actually a photo my husband, Michael, took on one of his snowboard trips out west (I think this is Utah?). He is an example of not letting fear stand in the way of enjoying life to full capacity as he plunges down those formidable depths!

For Personal, Non-Commercial Use Only. *You MAY NOT sell, redistribute, or claim the original or derivative (redesigned from the original) design as your own without written permission.



Here’s an original song that fits well with this post- written and sung by my sister, Graceanne ~

– Oh, and this post only took a month (singular) instead of month(s) to put out to pasture! I think I’m making progress already in putting my word into action! Yay! ?

Have a fantastic week! I hope you leave feeling inspired in some way!