When I say I had the time of my life, I really mean I had the grinning-from-ear-to-ear and can’t-wipe-the-smile-off-your-face-no-matter-how-hard-you-try kind of fun. Today, I’m going to spill on my absolutely incredible, far too short of a trip to NYC for the 2017 Better Homes and Gardens StyleMaker Event! Warning: this post is photo-heavy because we had David Keith, the fabulous photographer catching our every move (even the not-so-glamorous moves) and because when 70 bloggers get together for less than 48 hours of fun, there is more selfie action than you can possibly imagine! Well…maybe you can imagine!
[*Affiliate links were used in this post.]
Let’s rewind back a bit. The Better Homes and Gardens event has been on my #bloggergoals / Blogger Bucket list for several years now. It’s an annual, invite-only event that BHG puts on to recognize style and talent, celebrate accomplishments and inspire to continue creating. It was one of those events where I watched on social media as my friends packed up to go and then post all the fabulous moments of their amazing trip and all I could think was…Someday. I hope.
And then it happened. I received my invite via email to this year’s event over the summer and thought, “Oh my gosh!! I’m going to the BETTER HOMES & GARDENS STYLEMAKER EVENT!“
But then…my Mom brain / House Manager mind kicked on.
It’s in the middle of the week! Who will watch the kids?
Can I really sneak away for a couple days?!!?
After I go the A-ok from T and the confirmation that my mom could come in to take care of the boys, I was booked and ready to roll! It became even more real when a special delivery arrived with a few styling props, the booklet of attendees and a copy of BHG’s Stylemaker edition.
The countdown was on!
The actual BHG event was only one day, so I arrived the day before, met up with my soul sister from the South, Heather at La Guardia and we hopped in a taxi and headed to Brooklyn. That one hour ride was not nearly enough time to catch up on all the current happenings in our parallel lives, but we gave it a shot. Our driver can probably attest to that!
We stayed at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, where the event was being held and I tell you what, BHG pulled out all the stops. The place was modern and trendy with this super cool, earthy vibe. There were fresh green everywhere you turned as well beautiful wood tones and rich metals throughout the lobby and into the rooms.
We even had a wooden room key! So cool, right?
And the view? Well, it just didn’t get much better! Here was the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from inside our room.
So, no. Two nights was definitely not enough!
After literally oohing and ahhing over the hotel venue for a bit, we made our way to the Rooftop bar on the 11th floor to meet up with some other gal pals for drinks and appetizers.
Since I typically only get to see my blogger girlfriends once a year at Haven Conference in Atlanta each summer, seeing them for a short and sweet mid-week getaway in September was such a treat!
Dinner, drinks and this view of the bridge on our way back to the hotel from dinner.
Our first night was complete!
Thursday’s events kicked off with a specialty coffee bar, a lovely breakfast and plenty of time for mingling. Seeing friends and making new connections throughout the day and night was truly the best part. As bloggers, our normal form of communication is via text, email and FB messenger, so being together in real life is rare and so special!
Everyone at BHG who prepped for this event had their i’s dotted and their t’s crossed. The details were certainly not an afterthought. Everything was beautifully set-up and styled. I mean, how cute are these little fruit and yogurt cups?
Wait, quick photo!
Off to the Welcome Speech and kick-off led by Better Homes & Garden’s Editor-in-Chief, Stephen Orr.
Sort of a “pinch me” moment to be in the same room with him! Then a day of learning and loads of laughs was officially in session.
We spent a large majority of our day in this room listening to incredibly passionate speakers, including Oma Blaise Ford, Executive Editor, and Nancy Hopkins, Food Editor who shared some behind the scenes scoop on their roles and experiences with the organization and how the issues actually come to life – starting with an idea, to the shoot and finally to print.
Next up was Grant Schneider, Author and Founder of Fox Meadow Consulting, who spoke on Building your Brand and finding your voice. He was animated, funny and fabulous, which are all traits I personally enjoy in a speaker. Like I said, we laughed ALOT!
Like right here when I realized I’d been busted by David Keith taking a selfie in-between sessions. I mean, I told you selfies were being snapped left and right allll day and night, but in that moment when I saw him standing there facing me, camera clicking. I just knew this moment was going to pop up. And it sure did. It’s the cover photo of the BHG Stylemakers “Candid Photos” section on his website!
And the selfie that I successfully executed…
The sessions were packed with so much positive and inspiring energy. We learned about food styling and photography tips and tricks from Senior Food Stylist for BHG, Greg Luna, and Design Director for BHG, Stephanie Hunter.
And then we got to work! Our small groups were tasked with an “Avocado Toast Photo Styling Challenge”…
Yes, we actually did this!
We took this challenge VERY seriously.
Later that day, we also baked [and ate!] with Joy the Baker, heard about what’s trending and hot in the market right now from Dayna Isom, Etsy Trend Expert and then learned how to craft our very own finger-knit necklaces with Etsy Seller and Maker, Brandi Harper of PurlBKnit. She is local to Brooklyn and her story was so incredibly powerful and inspiring!
You need to check her out. Her work is beautiful and she actually sells kits for you to learn to create at home! Our little finger knitting activity was actually sort of therapeutic and a bit nostalgic for me. As a child, I took sewing and knitting lessons. I do bust out my sewing machine every now and then to make throw pillows or curtains, but I hadn’t done any actual knitting since I was 10 years old. Way to long!
With some basic instruction and a little focus, I did end up with a necklace!
We had a FULL day, so after a couple great meals, a tablet of notes, breaks with specialty popcorn, a soda bar…
and bloggers being bloggers [our phones are never far from us ha!]…
We were in our final session…
…getting ready to wrap up for the day!
We jetted out to take in some more of the city views before a quick wardrobe change and then off to the cocktail party.
Oh, did I mention the views?!
Better Homes and Gardens certainly knows how to throw a party! Time to celebrate and let loose! From signature cocktails crafted by dapper bartenders in their manly leather-strap aprons to the open-air venue overlooking the city and plenty of time for gabbing, sipping and yes, more photos!
These babies were delicious!!
And of course it wouldn’t be a true blogger event without an epic boomerang.
Yes, we orchestrated a massive boomerang situation. This may or may not have been directly following the moment when my heel got stuck in the opening in the floor where they slid the glass window/doors open. It was a gap in the flooring just big enough for my ENTIRE heel to get stuck in. I actually received help from 3 people – 2 to hold me up while the third unstrapped my shoe from my foot to set me free! I was positive there was going to be a candid shot of this moment, but I guess they saved me the embarrassment!
Can you tell we didn’t have much fun? So much laughing!!
Our version of Girl’s Night Out, BHG style was a huge success! There were more “Cheers” and “Say Cheese”‘s than I dare try to recall! Another BHG Stylmaker highlight moment was the pleasure of meeting Cassie of Hi Sugarplum and Megan of Honey We’re Home, two bloggers I’ve admired and followed for years! They were just as sweet and stylish as I knew they would be!
There we all are gabbing the night away about blogging and mamahood until last call came around.
Don’t worry, last call was only 8 pm! Plenty of time to squeeze in a few more selfies before the sun went down!
Loved finally meeting and chatting with Erica of Designing Vibes. Wish we would have had more time together!
And then this one of me sandwiched in between 3 beautiful blondes…
We *almost* forgot to take a roomie pic and I actually couldn’t remember if we even did! Thanks to Charlotte for digging through her phone to retrieve this cutie pic so I could include it!
Our night ended at a hip Mexican spot a short walk from the hotel over margaritas, queso fundido, tacos and street corn that was everything. Me and Mexican food equals pure happiness.
Friday morning rolled around and just when I thought I couldn’t smile any more than I had been the last 48 hours, we made a game-time decision to grab a quick breakfast and hit the Brooklyn bridge on foot to get an up close and personal viewing of this fabulous bridge we had been eyeing the last 2 days.
We came. We saw. We laughed. And we jumped!
If you could only see the chronological order of this jump in progress. We laughed so hard we cried while jumping and then again when we flipped back through the photos!
The air was finally brisk and fall-ish in the city and we were happy. So happy! The trees hadn’t started to change colors yet, but to actually see and feel a Fall September morning in New York City was definitely part of our ideal scenario when booking this trip. The days prior were still a sizzling 90 degrees, so this was exactly what the doctor ordered for our last day!
Our Brooklyn Bridge adventure ended in just enough time to grab our luggage and head to the airport.
It was the perfect end to a blissfully perfect trip.
Truthfully, I don’t know how to wrap up this post. What I do know is that I am eternally grateful to Better Homes and Gardens for extending the StyleMaker Event invitation to me. It was an honor to be included and among some of my idols and many of my friends.
And to you guys…my readers…you all are truly the ones who give me a purpose. An audience to create for and write for. The ones who encourage me to keep creating and sharing and inspiring others. I literally do this for you and will be forever thankful for your support over the last 3.5 years. If it weren’t for you, this little ol’ blog wouldn’t be what it is today. Your comments and pins and shares mean the world to me and I read each and every one of them!
And last but not least, I want to thank my fellow bloggers. This community of creative, inspiring, supportive men and women has become like a family. So many people still don’t quite understand what a blog is or what a blogger does, but to those of us that call this our hobby, our passion, our profession, cheers to us all. Let’s keep doing and making and sharing whatever it is that we love! Inspiration is all around us and I most certainly find my inspiration from the talented people that surround me in this place we refer to as the blogosphere!
I hope you enjoyed this peek into my 48 hour BHG trip! Do you know what I mean now? Like I said, I had the time of my life!
Again, thank you, Better Homes and Gardens. You certainly made one of this girl’s dreams come true!
*Many of the photos in the post were taken by David Keith Photography. Thanks for the memories!