It was early—really early for a Saturday morning—when I left the hotel, jumped in my car with my laptop, and hopped onto Highway 280, a four-lane that runs through Birmingham. Expecting more traffic on this normally busy highway, I sailed through the early morning quiet, and watched shadows and sunlight chase each other across the mountain to my left and right.
When I pulled in to the vineyards, I stopped in the middle of the driveway to take some photos. The driveway led between rows of vines on either side, then emerged in front of the owners’ house, its front porch hanging with ferns, as well as the building where the conference would be. Next to that sat another building with pretty landscaping in front and the gift shop and wine tasting room inside.
Morgan Creek Vineyards' specialty is muscadine and fruit wines.
The word muscadine takes me back to my childhood, to the home of a kind elderly lady who taught my mother how to crochet afghans. In addition to crocheting advice, she provided home-spun wisdom for my mother and handfuls of muscadines for our family. Now, every time I eat a sweet muscadine grape, I feel like that little girl tasting summer again.
So, I was thinking about muscadines, beauty, and blogging as the Home Grown Bloggers event started. The next several hours flew along as I learned more about social media, especially Instagram (follow me here), about photo editing with Lightroom, and about email newsletters (if you haven’t signed up yet for the Glimsen newsletter and received your free printable, click here).
The Home Grown Bloggers event was small, on purpose, with a limited number of bloggers—just 25 of us—so it was easy to get advice specific to my blog. There were hands-on sessions where we immediately put into practice what we were learning and could ask questions of the experts at any point during the day.
We ate delicious food—not standard conference fare—prepared by local caterers, The Pantry and Eugene’s Chicken. Icebox Coffee and Southern Breeze Sweet Tea kept us caffeinated, and snacks from several vendors also kept us going. Our swag bags were filled with lots of other good stuff from sponsors Erin Condren, Star from Afar, and Dreamhost. (For a full list of all the swag sponsers, click here.) I even won an Erin Condren giveaway package with a custom LifePlanner that I can’t wait to start using for next year.
On our breaks, I stepped outside into the hot, early fall day and wandered the grounds. The fresh smell of still-green grass followed me. A pond shimmered in the sunlight, a rowboat ready to ferry someone across. An old flat-bed truck with a sign announcing a recent grape-stomping made me wish I could have smelled it as that summer-full muscadine fragrance was released.
It was a beautiful setting—fitting, really, that I would be in that place, learning more about how to bring a glimpse of beauty to you.
My thanks and applause go to the founders of Home Grown Bloggers: Kirsten Thompson and Heather Brown. This was their first event, and it far exceeded my expectations. If you're a blogger, you can get your own virtual ticket, which is packed with two live sessions, four webinars, and extra bonuses. Also, they're planning more events in the future, so make sure you get on their list or join their Facebook group. And maybe I’ll see you at an event someday soon.
When have you attended a professional event in a beautiful setting? Did you have a chance to enjoy your time there? What did you do? Leave a comment below or let me know on the Glimsen Facebook page.