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!


First Day Of School Sign Tutorial

First Day Of School Sign Tutorial

Back To School Chalkboard  

School is back in full session and I wanted to share with you guys a little tutorial for creating a cool “first day” school sign.

I cannot believe the school year has started already!   Georgia starts early. Like too early. The beginning of August is really not a good idea for kids to be heading back to school. I mean, c’mon! Summer is still going strong and many schools do not implement enough physical activity that most children require. I know I may be treading on dangerous territory here ….. BUT….. I have to say it.  Cutting their summers short in the name of shoving more academia down kids throats is not [necessarily] in the best interests of these children. They NEED a full 3 months of Summer-          To enjoy liberating and non-structured days to regroup for the highly-stressful, demanding, and very little spare time during the remaining [should be] 9 months of the year.

How many of you remember once upon a time school didn’t begin until *after* Labor Day?  Maybe it still does in some regions but not here in Georgia.  I remember having the full months of June, July, AND August free from school-related activity. Those were the days!

And need we be reminded we are only kids once. ONCE!

Yeah? Amiright??! Who’s with me?  In case you didn’t pick up on it…… {wink, wink}, I’m TEAM SUMMER!!! Whoopee!!! Okay, now that I got that off my chest………

I wanted to share with you, my friends a little project that I’ve started to do at the beginning of each school year-  Making 1st-day-of-school signs for my kids to happily hold up for their first day back to school pictures that I take every year since they’ve started school.  

  • Oh, and please excuse some of the photos…. grainy, a bit blurry, and/or poor quality are in play. Always aspiring to improve my skills but sometimes even with decent edits, the photo still is lacking in perfection. Many were taken with my phone so we all know how phone camera quality is!

Close Up Of Kids 1st Day Of School 2015

Really though, my kids don’t mind. Most of the time. We all have our bad days mixed in with the good, if we are honest to admit. Actually, since my little princess started preschool I’ve been snapping a daily shot of both my kids for each school day. If you follow me on Instagram, you will see that I post a daily photo of the kids at the bus stop just to memorialize the day in their school years. I also like to switch up their outfits to showcase everyday kids fashion. They rarely wear the same outfit throughout the entire school year.

Here is last years’ conglomeration of bus stop pictures:Paid HIGH Quality Insta School Collage photovisi-download

This was actually last years’ 1st day of school project but took me an entire year before I could get this post together ~ Uh, yeah, I’ve [reluctantly] accepted that this is how I roll…… years behind everyone else.  Better late than NEVER has become my motto.


First Day Of School Sign Tutorial

First:   Gather all your supplies.

  1. Scrapbook papers, cardstock (any light color – I used a cream colored one), and  regular copy paper
  2. Canvas rectangles (I used 11×14 panels)
  3. Glue
  4. Pencil (to trace)
  5. Scissors
  6. Craft paint
  7. Assorted artist paintbrushes
  8. Letter and/or number stickers (if not using a painted cutout, like I did)

Now, we are ready to get started:

School Outfit and Sign CoordinationChoose your theme colors to go with your child’s outfit. Now, this is totally optional but adds a nice touch. I played around with different patterns, colors, designs before I got my final idea.

Using a piece of copy paper, trace the frame.

School Outfit and Sign Coordination - Girl

School Sign Instructional 1

 After you’ve traced your frame, put the cardstock paper on top of the traced frame and trace the final shape to cut out.

School Sign Instructional 10 - Brighten

Next, choose your scrapbook papers:

Use your imagination here. I decided to have a large background piece and 2 thin contrasting, complementary strips for the edges…

School Sign Instructional 2 Sharper Img
School Sign Instructional 8

Lay the bigger piece where it will be on the canvas then take your contrasting scrap paper and follow as shown in picture below:

School Sign Instructional 5

School Sign Instructional 4

School Sign Instructional 3

 Here’s what it looks like before applying the cardstock inner frame:

School Sign Instructional 8

This is what you should have so far, before you write or apply stickers:

Blank Frame Positioned

Cream colored cardstock cutout frame

I decided to use stickers since it was easiest and I had time restraints ( I did this project the day before they started school; Yes, I always love pushing things til the very last minute for some reason) but you could write/paint in the words instead. I will say, even with stickers, it was kind of tricky to get everything proportionate in the frame. It helped to draw (very) faint lines with a pencil which I erased after everything was done.

Close Up 1st Day School Signs 2015

School Numbers Close Up

Freehand painted number cutouts

School Sign Instructional 6

3rd Grade Sign

20150810_085332-1st Grade Sign watermark

So, there you have it. My twist on all those popular “First Day Of School” signs.  Okay, let’s keep you here just a tad longer and give you a few more shots of the kiddos sporting these signs!

 3rd Grade Son School Sign

1st Day of School Year 2015-2016- K-1stG

Picmonkey Edit Both Kids 1st Day Signs

Picmonkey Watermark- AJ Closeup 1st Day Sign 2015

Picmonkey Watermark-Kaiya 1st Day Sign 2015

Kids w1stday School Signs 2015 #3

Here is this years’ First Day (2016-2017 school year):

 1st Day Of School 2016

The comparison of last year (August 2015) & this year (August 2016):

Transparent background -PicMonkey Collage





Hope you found this tutorial enjoyable and/or inspirational! I hope you also had a satisfying Labor Day!!     ❤
Initials Signature 2

IKEA Chair Brings Frugal Comfort To The Bedroom


{{ Guest Post }} From Ilona :


Assemble Your Own Economical Bedroom Chair

An Armchair For The Bedroom

bedroom chair

Source: Ilona Erwin

My cozy little setup for reading: the Poang chair and footstool, a reading lamp, and small bookcase.

Great looking black and white print is an ideal partner for the white, red or black cushions.

Wouldn’t this be the perfect accent for the chair?

I was looking for a bedroom chair


My inspiration for drawing your attention to my bedroom chair? My husband, recently laid up with a bout of sciatica, remarked that it was the only chair he could comfortably sit in. Heretofore, it had been my own exclusive place to sit, and I am presently sitting in it right now as I write this review. I wanted others to enjoy what I have found to be the benefits of this widely available, inexpensive, and comfortable chair for many uses in your home or apartment.

Need Design Ideas?

Need a chair to tuck into your bedroom? That is how I have set up this versatile piece of furniture.

New apartment? You might want a pair of these for you and your guests, they will also move easily when you do.

What about your guest bedroom? Your guests will feel right at home and you can afford to add the extras that make a guest room extra nice.

A den? This might become your favorite TV watching chair, or you might like it for rocking the new baby.

Two things were on my mind

For me, two things were on my mind when shopping for a new chair to fill a space in the corner of my bedroom.


…The fact is that a reading chair in a bedroom is a requisite, in my opinion. Every bedroom needs a place where you can sit to put on your shoes, curl up with a good book, or pull out your organizer and create a list of what needs to get done that day. Or just sit and dream with a cuppa.


If I had been younger, during the days when I had young babies and night feedings, it would be the place that I could gently rock while sitting in the flexible Poang Armchair, but nowadays I like to put my feet up and work on my laptop or read quietly. Tucked away from the the other areas of the house, able to look out my bay window, it is perfect for me.

Back to those two factors that a new bedroom chair had to fulfill:

  1. It had to fit my fairly small budget. This was not as important to me as a family vacation, and not a necessity for anyone in the family except me.
  2. It had to be comfortable. Actually this requirement outweighs the first one of price. So I went around sitting in lots of chairs.

On a visit to IKEA, I sat in this chair and fell in love…with the price AND the comfort.


  • The modern, sleek look ( even though I usually go for bulky easy chairs-I just love this)
  • The matching footstool which gives good leg/foot support, and is lightweight (easy to move when vacuuming)
  • The seat cover pad which adds to the comfort and makes cleaning easy, too.
  • The flexible rocking motion
  • The comfort of the design

But now… my husband has discovered what a nice seat it is, so will I need to buy another?

Look! A New Nursery With the Best Seat In The House

Zoe gets a modern, clean bedroom! With a Poang rocker and a bookshelf seat- how cute!

Zoe gets a modern, clean bedroom! With a Poang rocker and a bookshelf seat- how cute!

This Is A Classic

Have you been to IKEA lately? So many great items that won’t break your budget, and like this piece, many will be classic in thier simple design. Fit it into any room- and it works!

What Color Cushions? Choices!


The cushions are sold separately from the chair. This is not a problem since the chair looks great on its own. I like having the extra padding, and it extends the color and design choices.

There are many colors and a number of styles available for a cushion set that will fit into any room scheme.

I’ve even seen custom seat covers sold on Etsy for this popular chair.

Easy To Assemble

IKEA Poang Chair

Ikea Poang Chair Armchair with Cushion, Cover and Frame
Ikea Poang Chair Armchair with Cushion, Cover and Frame

You can get this great seating from Amazon “delivered to your door” service!

Kid Friendly
I raised ten of them- so I appreciate it when furniture is kid friendly. The cushion covers can be washed or replaced easily.