(Well, technically, this was my second…)
Earlier this spring, I stood on a stage in Denver, Colorado at the Denver Home Show, forcing the ugly cry to not well up on my throat in front of a crowd of on-lookers.
Two other DIY bloggers and I fought to the end trying to earn the title of 2016 Home & Garden Trendsetter of the Year.
It all came down to that final moment when they unfolded that slip of scrap paper with my name written on it.
I knew I was going to win.
From the moment that I saw the call to action for bloggers to enter the contest weeks before, I knew the title would be mine.
Losing my day job and blogging full-time had happened for a reason. Everything that’s happened to me since has only reinforced the belief that I’m doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do: to create, inspire, and teach.
Winning the title of Trendsetter of the Year was another testament of what was supposed to be of my career and life.
As I accepted the bouquet and the plaque, I knew what I was accepting.
You see, the prize was a speaking contract at upcoming Home Shows worth about $30,000.
But I had done my research, asked the right questions, and knew that there was no real pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.
Even though I knew the prize was very arbitrary, I embraced this opportunity for what it was: an opportunity to branch out, to try something new, and to go somewhere I had never been before: on stage.
I Was Ready to Go!
When the first morning of the home show rolled around, I had no idea what to expect, but I was ready.
I slipped on my RYOBI Nation shirt and was looking forward to teaching people a few things about upcycling, furniture makeovers, and power tools.
Everyone at the Home Show thought I worked directly for RYOBI, so I decided that for the next home show, I’ll be sure to wear more of my own tees, too, so I can make sure the “T” to the “D” gets some love! LOL
Let the Problems Begin…
The very first presentation that Friday evening came with setbacks! HA!
First, I couldn’t find the box of pallet wood that Crates & Pallets shipped for me. I had planned to make a simple wall hanger with pretty knobs from Rustic Brands that would look similar to this rustic wall art.
I knew the wood was there somewhere; they just couldn’t find it.
So the home show folks hunted down a pallet for me so that I’d have some wood for my demo on stage.
With tools in hand, I rushed to cut pieces of wood in time for my presentation!
Then “Uh Oh #2” happened.
I realized that I had the wrong nailer!
Typically, I’d use a brad nailer for joining pieces of wood, but I only had a finish nailer at my disposal.
I tried to use a hammer and nails from another vendor at the home show, but the nails were so thick and would have been a nightmare trying to demo that and still look like a lady on stage. HA!
So for the first show, I just did a demo of cuts and drilling and the show still went on. 🙂
The audience wasn’t huge during Friday’s show. In fact, many of the home show folks commented that attendance was slow that day.
Regardless, my audience was engaged.
And this guy was stoked to win a RYOBI drill kit; he even asked his wife to take a picture with me and his new drill!
I realized that it doesn’t matter how big your audience is; it only matters if you’ve inspired the people in that audience.
I Went on the Local Raleigh News!
I’m not a newbie to the morning news.
In fact, I’ve done several segments for WBAL in Baltimore.
Getting up at the crack of dawn to be at the WRAL Raleigh station by 7:15 a.m. wasn’t a problem, either.
The problem, however, was walking into the studio and being mic’ed up and literally going in front of the camera in less than 5 minutes.
I had zero prep time.
As they called us to the area where the cameras were, they said, “Okay, 1 minute…..!”
And I’m thinking, “Are you kidding me?! You’re not going to give me time to set anything up?!”
I threw the power tools on the counter, I tossed the furniture knobs down, and put a pretty smile on my face as they counted down “5…..4…..3…..2……1”
“I’m joined with Serena Appiah who’s going to be at the Raleigh Home Show…..”
Leyla, the newscaster, introduced me and the Raleigh Home Show, and the rest, my friend, was a 2-minute blur.
I do know that I made sure the audience knew 1) I was using RYOBI Power Tools and the batteries work in over 70 tools, 2) That the pretty furniture knobs came from RusticBrands.com, and 3) that I can be found at ThriftDiving.com.
Anyhow, I must have done a phenomenal job because once the segment was quickly over, Leyla looked at me and said, “Wow. That was really good. Not many people can do that in such short amount of time!!”
She doesn’t know who she’s messin’ with. 😉
Off to the Home Show!
Later that day, I had two shows to do–one at 2 p.m. and the other at 5 p.m.
I arrived a bit early so that I could walk around and check out the cool stuff.
These doors were to die for!
I couldn’t even imagine having a house so nice that I could have something so fancy-dancy.
There was a vendor there that had the nicest stuff–some painted, and some untouched and perfect, like this mid-century modern desk and chair. Isn’t it fabulous?!
I posted a picture of this bathtub on my Facebook page and someone rightly so said that it looks like a urinal. HA!
Wouldn’t you agree? 🙂
My favorite part of the whole home show was giving away free stuff to the audience members!
The way their face would light up at the unexpected treats was pure joy!
I gave away several sets of these gorgeous Rustic Brands knobs (by the way, you can receive 20% OFF your first order when you enter TDRETAIL20 at checkout).
One little girl was so sweet that I gave her a set of pretty glass knobs and made her promise to do a project with them and then email me a picture of it when she’s done! I really hope she does!
And I gave away a bunch of power tools, too!
Since I can’t travel with them on the plane, I gave away my own set on the final day, Sunday.
I Met My Online Friend for the First Time in 11 Years!
You’re not going to believe this….
Okay, meet Sandi.
Eleven years ago she and I “met” online on a chat board for new and expecting moms.
We were newly pregnant with our first babies, looking for other moms to connect to, and she and I ended up with a group of about 15 other pregnant moms. We were all due in the month of July 2006!
Over the years, we’ve all posted about childbirth, breastfeeding, diapers, ear infections, Kindergarten, and now, 11 years later, our oldest kids have just entered 5th grade!
Sandi has been living near Raleigh for the past few years, and when I realized she was in the area, we planned to meet up for the first time in 11 years!
How freaking cool is that?!
That Saturday evening, we had dinner and I got to meet her kids in real life–the same kids that I have watched grow up online but never had the joy of meeting until that night. They were the cutest, sweetest kids!
Funny how you can be so comfortable with someone you’ve only ever met online, huh?
The Final Day of the Show!
The final day was going to be a breeze–just one show to do and then head home to my family.
Since it was the final day, I ran through my presentation and then was able to box up the power tools and hand them out to the most unsuspecting audience members. 🙂
The Host of HGTV’s Yard Crashers
Oh man….this cutie.
What can I say?
I was just happy to share the stage with him.
Matt Blashaw, host of HGTV’s Yard Crashers, was easy on the eyes, funny, and….ahem….single. Not that that sould matter to this old 21-years-married woman, but I just thought it was interesting info to pass along….LOL
The awesome thing is that he’s also going to be the Jacksonville Home Show with me in a couple weeks.
And as I finished my final presentation and invited people to text to subscribe to my blog, I was happy knowing that I had done a good job, and that inspired people to get started with do-it-yourself, paint, and power tools.
Because as I explain in my presentation, if it weren’t for DIY, I don’t know how I would have created a home for my family without going into 5-figure debt.
Returning Home Felt Great!
Completing my first home show felt like an accomplishment!
And as much as I love traveling (I’ll be gone for half of this month with home shows and blogging conferences!), there’s nothing like coming home to your family and to your familiar surroundings.
The day was gorgeous and the sky was picture-worthy!
In less than two weeks I’ll be at the Jacksonville Home & Patio show, doing it all over again!
I definitely learned some things this time around that I’ll change for the next show, which I’ll share with you in a separate post.
But it feels good to add “Public Speaker” or “Home Show Celebrity” to my DIY resume.
I’ve come a long way from the chick who confessed to slowly killing herself a couple years ago.
As I said recently, there’s no turning back now!