BlogPodium 2013: Why Canada's Design Blogger Conference Blew Me Away!

This weekend was the big BlogPodium conference that I have been looking forward to all spring and summer - heck all year!  I was lucky enough to work with the amazing Jen Flores of Rambling Renovators on the marketing of the event, and not only did I have a blast and learn a bunch, I also found so much inspiration in watching Jen take on this huge project and knock it out of the park.  That girl is a quiet dynamo.

Jen and her team, photo by SmugMug

All the things I love about conferences happened at BlogPodium

  • I spent the day hanging out with people who immediately understood why I spend way too many hours writing, editing, styling, photographing, photoshopping, tweeting, instagramming, and web-surfing.  No explanations required, no rolling of eyes in my direction.  These were my people, and there were almost 300 of them.
  • Everyone was as happy and excited to be there as I was.  The mood was celebratory, the smiles contagious.  It was an amazing day before it even started.
  • The speakers and panelists were inspiring.  I filled my iPad with quotes and ideas, and had many 'AHA!' moments, nodding my head with all the other bloggers in synchronicity.  These guys knew their stuff, and our stuff to boot.  I have a resulting to-do list that is for sure going to light my blog on fire.
  • It was like a big ol' family reunion.  The nature of blogging means that many, many of my friendships and relationships are built online, through comments, tweets and instagrams. I talk more often with these ladies (and Tim) than I do my friends down the street, and as a result, I feel like I know them just as well, if not better!  So it is a joy to put faces to Twitter handles and be able to back up blog comments with great big hugs. (I'm a hugger.)
As an added bonus, I got to feel a real sense of accomplishment as I looked around at the sea of grinning faces.  I am under no illusion that my efforts brought them all there (the name 'Sarah Richardson' might have had a little something to do with it) but it felt kind of awesome to know that I was able to use my non-blogging skills to bring in a table or two of tickets.

My biggest BlogPodium take-away

The best part of the experience, however, was seeing a beaming Jen Flores floating around the rooms.  Unlike most conferences I have attended, I had watched the organizer work her tail end off with passion, poise, and purpose for months on end building up this experience.  She arranged the speakers, booked the venue, scheduled the sessions, oversaw the menu, brought in the big name sponsors, coordinated the blog contributions, and oversaw the marketing, social media, website development, event coordination, and all logistics.  Jen threw herself into this day with everything she had; refused to get knocked down by any of the setbacks or disappointments that arose; diligently worked through meetings, emails, conference calls, presentations, and every other task required with inspiring determination.

Through her vision and effort, Jen created an epic day that will fuel and inspire not only the 300 people in attendance, but their readers, clients, and colleagues.

To have been able to watch all this happen was the biggest gift of all, and was to me more inspiring even than Sarah Richardson's amazing keynote speech (which was awesome!).  Through this process, I learned from watching Jen that having a vision is just the first step.

If you truly believe in something, and are willing to invest yourself completely into making it a reality, not only will it happen, it will be a massive success.

Jennifer Flores Photography by Annawithlove

Not surprisingly, this philosophy seemed to be thread running through the day for me.  I heard it in Sarah Richardson's beautifully honest, sincere, and motivating keynote address.

I heard it in Margot Austin and Rhonda Riche's articulate contributions to the lunchtime keynote panel.

New, Old, and Online Media panel, photography by Annawithlove

"I learned everything on the job, by being willing 
to pick up new challenges and work hard." Margot Austin

"When shelter magazines were shutting down 
we saw an opportunity to make our own fun, in the way we had always wanted but couldn't do before. " Rhonda Riche, Covet Garden

I heard it in Keka DasGupta's charming and energizing session on working with agencies, and I heard it in Karen Bertlesen's frank and hysterical session on monetizing your blog.

Keka DasGupta, photo by Annawithlove

"State of mind matters.  Be confident, be sure. 
Recognize what you are bringing to the table!" Keka DasGupta

Karen Bertelsen, photography by Annawithlove

"Creativity is the key to success - 
when you can do whatever you want and have fun doing it, 
you will be your most authentic." Karen Bertelsen

All in all, it was a thrilling Saturday, and I am exhausted!  I met so many amazing people, doing so many amazing things - I wish everyone could have that kind of soul-enriching experience.  I can't wait to see what other great things Jen can dream up for next year!

Is champagne gold the new brass?


I love my iPhone - probably too much (especially according to some people who shall remain nameless).  I have the ancient iPhone 4, and considering I use it almost constantly every single day, it has held up pretty well.  But the home button is going, the memory is full, and my contract with Bell is up.  Lucky for me, it is just in time for the launch of the new iPhone 5c and 5s!  I haven't decided which one I am going to get (any advice?), but I can't help but admire the new champagne gold colour Apple has introduced.

Brass has been everywhere the last couple of years, and although I admit it took me a bit to get over my 80's brass associations, I have embraced it wholeheartedly. I love a warm, patinaed brass - it gives a sense of history, a connection to things past.  Lately, the trend seems to be turning to more of a shiny gold, and I keep seeing rose gold accessories everywhere.

I think the champagne gold chosen by Apple is going to be popular, because it is almost the perfect halfway point between gold and silver.  It has the sleek sheen of stainless, the warmth of gold and brass, and the novelty of copper.  In googling 'champagne gold', it seems that the wedding industry still has an almost complete monopoly of the colour (shudder), but I managed to find a few items that would be perfect pieces to add that subtle shine of this very neutral metal to any room.

1. Silver leafed boxes from Studio A  
2. Faceted paperweight from Living by Christiane Lemieux  
3. Gorgeous metallic foil cushions from Caitlin Wilson  
4. Morrocan-inspired side table from Zinc Door 
 5. Hollywood Regency drum table from Kathy Kuo Home  
6.  Mercury glass table lamp from Kathy Kuo Home  
7.  Serving bowl from Pier 1  
8.  Champagne chevron rug from Ralph Lauren Home

Of course I had to do a style board as well, cause... why not?

1. Champagne long puffa coat from Dorothy Perkins 
2. Bookclub glasses in Champagne from Madewell  
3. Parker Blue eternity scarf from Barneys New York
4. Champagne gold metallic leather wallet from Gift Shop Brooklyn 
5. Vegan sequined smoking slipper from Arisa 
6. Classic Metro watch from Kate Spade

I still love me my brass, but there is something very fresh and clean about this shade of gold.  I think it could be great as a statement colour, like in the kitchen, or just as an added bit of sparkle in the accessories.  Here are a few inspiration rooms that incorporate this colour:

Elle_Decor_jean-louis-deniot-paris-apartment-design _Champagne_silver_gold
Jean-Louis Deiot's kitchen as featured in Elle Decor.  Photo by Simon Upton.
Suzanne Kastler's Atlanta Home featured in Architectural Digest April 2012
Vancouver kitchen designed by Natalie Culter featured on Marion House Blog.  Photography by Janis Nicolay.
Staircase by Based Upon.

Bestlight wall sconce as featured by Studio Number 19 Blog

Bathroom design by Greg Stewart as featured in Interiors Magazine.

I think I like it as long as it steers clear of the pinker version... so basically, I like light brass or gold.  As soon as it heads silver or pink, it gets a little 'ruffles, bedskirts, and tiaras' - which is fine, but just isn't for me.  What do you think?  Will we be seeing more of Champagne Gold?

And what iPhone should I get??

The dawn of a new reality

Did you all like that one post I put up this summer?  It was awesome, wasn't it? Yeah...

Well, I did write many more of them in my head, usually at 2 am, but obviously none of them made it into the computer.  I even took photos specifically for blog posts, and then sort of shuddered at the thought of opening Photoshop and ran outside.  And that is where I spent pretty much every day this summer - outside (see photos above)!  With the boys, of course, and family either Out East or Out West - and yes I realize that my life is kind of ridiculous, and I am spoiled absolutely rotten.  I thought I would throw together a few of the look-how-awesome-my-summer was shots into one big clump to get them out of the way. :)

My comeuppance has come this week, as both boys start full days at school.  Suddenly I am none too fond of Mr. McGuinty and his full-day kindergarten (the very thing I was crossing my fingers for when I was a working mom paying for childcare).  It's like the end of the most glorious, happy, unbelievably-amazing vacation - a two-year vacation at that.

Two years of being at my kids' every beck and call, of crafting, colouring, drawing, breaking up fights, kissing owies, twisting the chicken timer on the time-out spot, and developing an amazing respect for the phenomenon called 'quiet'.

Two years of days at the park (feeling incredibly guilty as I facebooked and instagrammed my brains out), listening to toy cars discuss red lights versus green lights, denying TV, and then binging on 10 episodes of Max and Ruby (usually with a chaser of Caillou).

Two years of tantrums at the grocery store, book store, cafe, halfway to the park, halfway to the car, in the car, outside the car, upstairs, downstairs, and especially on the time-out spot - many of them thrown by yours truly.  Two years of spontaneous hugs, puzzles, stories, bike rides and snuggles.

You get the idea.  It only hit me last week that days like these will now be confined to two months in the summer, if they still want to hang out with me that is.  For the rest of the year I will have to make due with those fun hours around dinner and weekends, like regular folks.  It was a tough realization to come to terms with, but being grateful for those two years really, actually (Cam's favourite word) did help.  There some sobbing, gulping-for-air tears (all mine) last week to be sure.

But this week things seem to be shaking into some sort of new reality.  I am trying to take it easy on myself and not demand that I find a job STAT (which is how I feel).  I am happy to report that I am still gunning to do interior design, I will keep up with the marketing consulting, and the encaustic project is still a go.

So there you have it, my life in a nutshell.  I am sure you really didn't need to read it, but for some reason I needed to write it!  I seem to have been putting off blogging until I had all this stuff squared away, and now I hereby give myself permission to get back into it. :)