The Reason I Love Speaking at Home Shows

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When I had won the Home + Garden 2016 Trendsetter of the Year award earlier this year, I was hesitant to accept the title. I knew it would be a lot of travel and time away from home and the blog. I also wasn’t sure how it would benefit this blog.

However, last weekend, as I was recovering from a whirl-wind trip to Jacksonville, Florida for the Home & Patio show, I finally realized that being a “home show celebrity” was just the branching off that I needed.

Let me tell you why it was the best decision I could have ever made.

The Reasons Why Being a Home Show Celebrity Was the Right Decision

If you think my blog traffic has skyrocketed from doing home shows, think again.

Often times, when I’m given press and media opportunities before each home show, very little attention is given to my blog name. People sometimes have no idea who I am. They only know that I’m some “trendsetter.” LOL

In fact, in the Jacksonville show guide, which is printed thousands and thousands of time and distributed to all attendees, to my dismay, my blog URL wasn’t even listed correctly! Yikes!

Heaven forbid people actually tried to find me this way!

(Ahem…my site is actually https://thriftdiving.com).


Jacksonville Home and Patio Show Recap Thrift Diving


But I can look past the mistakes and errors because the benefits soon revealed themselves.

What has been the most amazing part of speaking at home shows is seeing the looks of inspiration and excitement on people’s faces! 

It doesn’t get any more real than being 15 feet from a person, looking them in the eye, and telling them:

“Hey, I understand if you think you’re not creative, but I’m here to tell you that you are creative, and let me tell you how to get started!”


During a presentation, I can see who’s super engaged and those who are just coming early to get a good seat for the headliner.

For those who my message of creativity and upcycling really resonates, it’s a joy to see them nodding, laughing at my jokes, and waiting for the next nugget of ideas!

It’s quite an experience to witness!

Because when I’m sitting here behind my computer, writing a blog post with my same message, I can only guess how you’re receiving that message. At the home show, it’s pretty clear!


Jacksonville Home and Patio Show Recap Thrift Diving Blog


If you recall, at the Raleigh Home Show, my presentation often followed Matt Blashaw’s presentation (the HGTV host of Yard Crashers). Having me come on after him is like going to a concert and having the opening act come on after the main act.

Makes no sense at all, right??

This time, however, twice I presented right before him, and the other two times I presented a couple of hours before him.


Jacksonville Home and Patio Show Recap Thrift Diving Blog


So imagine my delight when my audience was full!

Imagine my excitement during the times when people clearly weren’t there hours ahead of time to see Matt; they were there to see me!

The set-up of the venue helped create a large audience because the Inspiration Stage was right in the middle of foot traffic, so people couldn’t help but stop and have a listen to this chick wielding power tools on stage!

That was awesome!

This gentleman was the President of a furniture company and after the talk wanted to speak with me. Maybe we will collaborate in the future…?

Jacksonville Home and Patio Show Recap Thrift Diving Blog

But the best part is giving free stuff away!

I’m thankful to work with amazing sponsors!

RYOBI Power Tools is a Thrift Diving sponsor and I’ve started working with Rustic Brands, which sells the prettiest hardware, knobs, pulls, etc.

They both provide prize packages to give away to people during my home show presentations, and the audience loves it!

An audience member winning a new RYOBI drill set! I think she was in shock! LOL


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I usually don’t tell people that I’m giving stuff away. I like to see the genuine looks of surprise as they come up to receive a prize!

This woman, Pam, was so excited to win some pretty knobs from Rustic Brands!!


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Rustic Brand Knobs - Thrift Diving


(P.S. You can save 20% off your first order from Rustic Brands by entering the code TDRETAIL20!)


Need new knobs? Enter TDRETAIL20 at checkout to save 20%!


This woman, Holly, didn’t have a RYOBI jigsaw, so I was excited that she’d won one!


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This man and his wife won the RYOBI 18-Gauge AirStrike nailer! He’s said that they had all the other tools, but this was the one thing they didn’t have yet.


Now they do!


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The Chat

I think it’s awesome that I’m given the opportunity to do local news shows to promote the home show and Thrift Diving!

One of the best experiences in Jacksonville was meeting a woman named Henny (one of several hosts of a local Jacksonville talk show called The Chat, which is reminiscent of The View).

I wanted to make her something that she could take back to the studio with her, so I took some boards, nailed them together, stenciled the with the words THE CHAT ROCKS, and added some Rustic Brands bling-bling colorful knobs.

She loved it!


Rustic Brand Knobs on a pretty craft project


Serena and Henny from The Chat


Our LIVE demonstration with power tools….WHEW! She had never used a power tool, so I showed her on-air how easy it was. But you can see in this little snippet below that I nearly had a hard attack! LOL

You can just watch for yourself here. 😉

I’m crackin’ up laughin’ over here! Look at my face!!!!


And just for fun, if you’d like to watch the first chat session where I’m just sitting around talking the ladies, you can watch that here. These women seem like soooo much fun! I’d love to go back to Jacksonville and connect with them again in front of the camera again!


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The Best Compliment!

After one of my presentations, I got the best compliment from this woman!

She came up and confessed that she is that person that always tells herself she’s not creative, but after hearing my talk, she felt so excited to get started with DIY and crafting!

It’s people like this that make the home shows worth it. Those people whose life you touch with your words and your passion. I can’t wait to see what she creates!And isn’t she gorgeous?? You’d never be able to tell she was 7 months pregnant, can you?!

And just for the record…isn’t she gorgeous?? You’d never be able to tell she was 7 months pregnant, can you?!


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But Wait…There’s More!

If you think my trip ended there, you’re wrong!!

It was just getting started!

Another big highlight was meeting Janice!

For those of you that don’t know Janice, she is a fellow reader here at Thrift Diving.

When she heard that I was coming to her neck of the woods, she asked if I wanted to meet up. Well, of course, I would!

It’s not often I get to meet actual people that read my blog!


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We went to Carrabba’s for dinner, and actually, saw each other the whole weekend, which was pretty awesome!

I love that Janice attended my talk and connected with other people in the audience that lives locally and made some new friends!

But the weekend was full of many more adventures, too….

I Met Up With A Friend From High School!

Well, let me take that back–

I’ve actually known Sheila since 4th grade when I moved to a little town called Maugansville, Maryland. The funny part is that I literally haven’t seen her in 20+ years. (Except for being FB friends).

She’s been reading my blog off and on, and when she heard I was in town, she also wanted to link up.


And there we were–sitting across from each other at Metro Dinner (a long way from Maugansville) at a happening spot known to the locals, stuffing our face with things that were sure to sit a moment on the lips, but a lifetime on our hips!


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Stuffed pumpkins waffles for her, French toast pound cake for me!


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Sheila was so much fun: energetic, encouraging, and full of “chipperness.” LOL She was a joy to hang out with this weekend!

I told her over breakfast, “I don’t really remember you from high school….”

She replied quickly that she purposely kept out of site, was quiet, introverted, ate lunch in the library…


Me, too, I confessed. I also ate lunch in the library, too!

Why hadn’t we linked up sooner??

Two social outcasts like us–we could have created a bunch of teenage memories…

Oh, well… Some friendships are meant to be adult friendships, I guess! 😉


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Sheila and I also checked out one of the best salvage shops in Jacksonville called Eco Relics!

I would love to share those pics with you, but this post is long enough (who’s still reading???). I’ll have to share that in another post.

Wait until you see all the amazing stuff we saw!

Sheila found this amazing lamp for under $15!

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I Met Up With My Pen Pal From 7th Grade!

Yes, my friends…

The story of my weekend gets even better.

Since I was 12 years old in the 7th grade, I have had a pen pal named Ayana who has lived in Orlando for the past 15 years or so.

(I have this thing for meeting “strangers” and befriending them. HA!).

Hard to believe that in these 26 years since we’ve been friends, we have only met in real life THREE times.

And if you can believe it, the second and third time happened this past week!!

Well…when she heard that I was going to be within hours of her, we made a plan to meet in St. Augustine, FL, which I learned is the oldest city in the nation!

So I hopped in my little rental and drove nearly an hour to meet up with her!


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You’d think it would feel “weird” hanging out with someone I’ve known my whole life but have never met more than a handful of times.

But it wasn’t like that at all!


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We ended up eating in this amazing restaurant that had such a beautiful entryway.


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It opened up into this garden area that reminded me very much like one of my favorite shows, Parenthood, doesn’t it??

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If you’ve never been to St. Augustine, it’s such a quaint little place.

The architecture was amazing!!!

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Gorgeous stain-glassed window at night!

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There were some funny moments in gift shops…


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…and a little pretending to be Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid


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Ayana and I kept stopping each other in our tracks and saying, “OMG, look at that door!”

It was refreshing to be with someone who else is a “picture freak” and appreciates beautiful architecture. This was an ice cream shop.


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We tried to get a picture in front of it, but the pictures couldn’t do it any justice! It was a mass of heavy, gorgeous steel.


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A Great Weekend!

I came home from Jacksonville feeling rejuvenated!

How I felt when I came home:


Available for fun…available for inspiration…available for my next adventure!

Bring it!


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St. Augustine Was Hit By Hurricane Matthew

I’m so sad to hear that St. Augustine was hit so hard due to Hurricane Matthew!

We had stopped at this bar to grab a drink.


Dinner in St. Augustine


Imagine my shock when I saw that same bar underwater just 6 days later.

Hurricane Matthew in St. Augustine

I can only hope that everyone is okay and that the damage can be repaired quickly! 🙁



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  1. Melissa Olson says:

    Hey Serena, I joined your blog a bit ago, this year i think, yet was overwhelmed with emails I was trying to limit and cut myself off…WHAT a mistake! I still received some of your info on Facebook, so clicked away. Watched your vid on cleaning your garage and here I am. Wishing I had stayed the course and letting you inspire me, wanting to learn of the amazing opportunities you have found. Blogging, branding, public speaking all speak to me. Keep on keepin on! Im a believer!

  2. Donna M. Dominick says:

    It was good to read one of your blogs again and feel your enthusiasm for life and for what you do. Maybe one of these days, you’ll be presenting close enough to western New York State that my hubby and I can attend and meet you in person, too.

    So happy you had such a great trip.

  3. Oh Serena! I wish I could have attended your show in Jacksonville, FL! I don’t live that far from there. I know you had a blast. I am so glad you were not in the Hurricane. Made it out in time. And you looked great! jean,….

    1. Hey there, Jean! Awww…too bad you weren’t able to make it. It was a lot of fun! I may be back in the spring for that home show, too. If so, we can meet up then! šŸ™‚ Thanks for the compliments!

  4. Diane Davis says:

    That is so awesome that you had such a great time. I always read your blog, I might comment, but you are definitely my hero from the beginning. Keep up the good work and I like you will keep your friends and my family and others that were in the way of H-Matthew in my prayers. You are an awesome gal. Maybe one day I will win one of those Ryobi toys too!

  5. My gosh you’ve been busy! I’m so impressed with all the friends and bloggers you managed to see on your visit to Florida. I know first hand how much fun that can be.

    I’m so happy you’ve found success with these shows. I’m not at all surprised though. You inspire everyone.

    You look terrific, so clearly your lifestyle suits you well.


    1. Awww…thanks, Alys!! Busy is an understatement! šŸ™‚ I only hope that the next show will be just as entertaining! šŸ™‚

  6. Hi Serena, Glad you had a good time in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. We were in St. Augustine in May when my sister and her husband visited us, here in Florida. We moved to Cocoa, Florida last Dec. from Buffalo, NY. We were under mandatory evacuation, so went to Sarasota on the west coast. We returned yesterday, and are very blessed that our home had no damage and we never lost power. My daughter has a house in Cocoa Beach. Their house is fine but are cleaning up all the debris in their yard and pool today. They do not have power back yet. So sorry to see the pictures of St. Augustine and all the flood damage. It is such a beautiful city. Enjoyed seeing you on the Chat!

    1. I’m glad your home and daughter’s home were fine! That must be very scary to have to evacuate and not know what you’ll be coming back to. Yeah, I really enjoyed St. Augustine and can only hope they’re able to clean up quickly! What a gorgeous city!

  7. Well, of course you’re going to be in Richmond this Sunday. Because, I’m not at home, where I could come to your home show. I’m in CT, celebrating a family friend’s birthday tomorrow and my 13th wedding anniversary on Sunday. As much as I’m excited to be here, with our friends, I’m totally bummed that I’m not home to be able to attend your show. šŸ™ šŸ™ šŸ™ šŸ™ I would have loved having that as my anniversary gift.

    1. Awww….I hope you have a good time, Kim! Don’t worry about missing the show! The presentation was good but the show itself could have been better. The electricity had cut off right before I arrived, LOL, and then when I got there, I ran into a bunch of problems with getting my presentation set up. But it was still good!! šŸ™‚ Sorry to have missed you!

  8. Glad you had a great time and glad you are home safe now! Also sure send out best wishes to all those affected by this terrible storm. I sat through a hurricane in 1970 with a 6-week old baby and felt my house literally sway in and out – good thing it was an older home and it made it through pretty good. Corpus
    Christi, Texas 1970.

    Prayers are with those in Florida and up the coast.

    Love your blog, always learning something even at 73 – those power tools are amazing now that I’ve finally gotten around to using them.

  9. So happy to hear that you’ve been pleasantly surprised, and are having an awesome time doing the shows! I admit I’m jealous of the folks who have gotten to meet you! ???? Know that if you ever come to Minneapolis, I’ll be there, grinning at you from the front row, nodding enthusiastically. Glad you weren’t in Florida when the hurricane hit, and praying for the safety of all who are there now.

    1. Hey, Lindsay! You know what?? I was just in Minneapolis a couple of months ago to shoot a Duluth Trading commercial! I wasn’t there long because we were shooting elsewhere, but I did fly into Minneapolis. šŸ™‚ I’ll let you know if I come there again!

  10. Nancy Maiaro says:

    I am so glad my husband and I were able to catch your last presentation in Jacksonville. You were so inspiring, and had such great suggestions and information to share. Thank you, and I hope to see you in person again. The demos really did give me some ideas, and the tips both on creativity and on basic power tool use were so inspiring!

    1. Hey, Nancy!! It was great meeting you and your husband, too! I’d love to see some projects that you do! šŸ™‚ Let me know if you ever have any questions about anything, too, okay? šŸ™‚

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