OTTAWA-HOME-+-DESIGN-SHOWIf you’re 34-64, a working professional (or retired), and own a home, chances are you’ve been to the Ottawa Home + Design Show at least once.  Now in it’s fifth year at the Ernst + Young Centre on Uplands Dr., the show brings together over 200 exhibitors from the design, decor, and home improvement industries. Whether you’re renovating, landscaping, or replacing key systems – the Home + Design Show is your one-stop shop.

It can also be crowded.  And exhausting.  And downright overwhelming.

Roaming aisle after aisle, confronted with too many choices, it doesn’t always feel leisurely.  So, here are a few tips for making it through:

Stop + Talk:  At any trade show, there will be the hyper-aggressive sales types that accost shoppers, relentlessly pitching there wares.  This is inevitable.  In a crowded space, with so much competition, it’s no wonder some try extra hard to stand out.  Most of the time, I wish they would stand down instead.  I prefer to say hello to vendors exuding quiet warmth, friendliness, and just a hint of confidence  – based on knowledge, experience, and expertise.  These are the conversations that eventually turn into relationships.

Approach Methodically:  There is a lot to see, and much of it won’t be relevant to you and your circumstances.  You might not need a new furnace or roof, and be tempted to cut your visit short.  However, try to resist skipping rows. Instead, take a methodical approach – so you don’t miss a thing. I find the newest vendors are in the smallest booths – and often, these are new businesses with interesting, innovative solutions.

Take a Seat:  With 200 or so vendors to take in, you’d think they were the main event.  Except, the Home + Design show also features special programming, including seminar presentations, interactive events, and contests.  Learn from local experts, meet an HGTV celebrity or two, and yes – take seat.  There are plenty of chairs.

Enjoy the Treats:  Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy a few treats.  Many vendor booths include food-related enticements to encourage customers to stop and talk.  Candies, chocolates, and even cookies are shamelessly displayed, so why be shy?  These yummy tidbits are great conversation starters, and yes I confess, sometimes prevent me from walking by…

The Ottawa Home + Design Show runs until 5pm this Sunday, September 29.  For more information, click here.



BLOGPODIUM-2013Wowza.  What a weekend!  I’m just back from a whirlwind trip to Toronto, where I attended BlogPodium – Canada’s Conference for Design + Lifestyle Bloggers.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be processing all I learned for awhile to come, but for today, I’ll cut to my immediate impressions.

First, let me state unequivocally that I should NOT have waited five years to attend a blog conference.  If you write a blog – in any category – and have not thought it necessary, you’re missing out.  Not only are you passing up a chance to meet like-minded bloggers in person, you’re overlooking a huge opportunity to better your blog.  From improved design and editorial style, to monetization, and even saving time –  there is no better way to learn than live from those who really know.   Like I said, I should have done it long ago.  Sheesh.

Anyway,  there is so much swimming around in my head, I may have to come back to it again in future posts. Who knows.  In the meantime, here’s what is top of mind:


It goes without saying that Friday afternoon “Tea with Sarah Richardson” was a highlight.   Myself, my fellow Pinterest winners, and the amazing BlogPoduim crew were invited to join Canada’s most-loved celebrity designer for a face-to-face meet-and-greet.  What a treat!  Sarah was as delightful and gracious as one would expect, and shared her insider perspective on running a thriving design business, premiering her latest HGTV series Real Potential, and the process behind creating a line of fabric – also recently debuted by Kravet.   We toured, talked, and sipped on a variety of lovely teas, supplied lovingly by Jennifer Commins founder and chief sommelier of bespoke tea service Pluck.  Apparently, it’s Jennifer’s tea that fuels Sarah and her genius design team!




With four full sessions, a keynote by Sarah Richardson, and a fascinating lunchtime panel discussion –  all jam packed into just one day, you can imagine how full my brain feels.  Needless to say, there were plenty of valuable takeaways.  I focused on growing a blog to the point of earning, by taking in sessions about working with brands and advertising.   That said, I most enjoyed the following insights offered by Sarah Richardson, veteran magazine editor Margot Austin of House & Home magazine, and lifestyle PR pro Keka DasGupta.

“Make it last.”Sarah Richardson, in reference to creating great spaces.  Using images of her earliest work, she wisely proclaimed the best rooms are timeless, and retain their classic appeal in spite of trends.

“We might be running for different reasons, but we’re all in the marathon together.”Margot Austin, when describing the convergence of traditional, new, and social media.  She used this powerful analogy to articulate an emerging sense of community among content creators – absent old fashioned competition – and encourage everyone to enjoy their journey.

“What do you fight for?”  Keka DasGupta of Precision Marketing Group, as a way to define your value as a blogger.  If you know what you’re fighting for, it’s easier to attract loyal readers and identify the right collaborators.


If you haven’t already come across the TBB’s, then let me introduce you.  This group of lovely decorating ladies has taken the blog world by storm with their jointly-written journal covering the fine life here in Ottawa and beyond.  “Wine, Dine, and Design” is their motto, and I can now say from experience they definitely walk the talk.  Heading to BlogPodium solo was no big deal, as I was sure I’d connect with plenty of people, but I did not anticipate how much fun I’d have  hanging out with Maureen, Donna, Lisa, and Sonya. Woo hoo!  Not only are these ladies a talented bunch, they’re the real thing: warm, generous, and absolutely hilarious.PHOTOBOOTH

After a long drive home (with a car full of TBB door prize-winnings) and a full day of catching up with work, I can honestly say I’m still buzzing.  I have so many ideas its a bit crazy. That said, I know from experience that my head often moves way faster than my hands, so implementation will likely be slow.  You know what though?  That’s ok with me.  I have to keep it all in perspective and do what I can, when I can.  It may be a marathon, but I’m in it to enjoy.

Group shot at Sarah Richardson Design courtesy of Jillian Murphy of The Happy Space Project.
For more hilarious shots from the photobooth, check out the Blogpodium pages at Snapshot Photobooth.