I discovered the most delightful Eastern European “fusion style” food blog recently called Kwestia Smaku, which roughly translates to “Matter of Taste” in Polish. The food on this blog will make your mouth water! I just lost 20 lbs from pregnancy illness and can barely eat a thing, so all I think about lately is when I can eat again and all of the healthy, wonderful food that I will cook for me and my growing baby. For now, I can only look and not touch. But for the rest of you, feast your eyes and try out some of this blogger’s delicious recipes. Such a gorgeous collection of foods both savory and sweet.
Behind this blog sits a talented team. First there is Joanna, a lady who simply LOVES to cook and who attributes her passion to her mother who taught her how and gave her the cooking bug at an early age. She developes the recipes and the overall concept. As a young girl, Joanna was involved in preparing family meals and has now become so much more as she and her partner produce all of her own recipes, photos and content for her stunning blog. About her focus on Eastern European food she says, “I live in Poland and while my heritage is Polish I do like to experiment with the tradition a lot. Being a fan of the modern Polish fusion cuisine, I try to take our traditional recipes to the next level. I believe that culinary art should constantly evolve. While we mustn’t forget about our culinary roots, we should also adopt new techniques.” Well said! Then there is Tomasz, the other half of her team, who does the photography and assists in video production. What a great team they make!
By the way, if you open this blog in Google Chrome, it will give you the option to translate it into your language. And a bonus is that if you go to this page and click on the recipes that interest you, they also come with a gorgeous video!
(images: Kwestia Smaku)
Hello everyone! There is this blog I’ve been reading lately in Germany called Nicest Things and the blogger, Vera, takes the prettiest photos of things she cooks or items she uses to decorate with around her home. It’s so nice to peek into her life and see what she’s cooked up next or what she is interested in using in her home currently to spruce it up. She loves to decorate, a lady after my own heart! I know most of you don’t read German, but you can always translate the blog using Google Translate or simply pin and drool over her pretty photos.
I love all of the color palettes that she plays with – she’s definitely not stuck in a color rut which I think is the most inspiring thing about her blog since so many of us have a particular palette that begins to almost define us – but Vera just explores and explores and the results are so interesting. I also like her various projects and where she shoots, from a picnic at a lake to a country field to making some homemade peach tea ice cream pops in her cute little kitchen, these types of creative bloggers – the super personal ones that provides peeks into the blogger’s life, are so special to me. I find myself going back to them time and time again. It’s nice to feel a connection with strangers and to feel like you could instantly like them if you’d ever met in person.
Blogging is so beautiful like that, isn’t it? Through a person’s aesthetic and writing alone, you can feel something that reaches the heart. Vera has created a special blog and I think it’s just lovely.
(images: vera/nicest things)
I’ve been thinking more and more about healthy living and thought I’d mention it as part of my ongoing series of Blog Tip posts on decor8. What does healthy living have to do with blogging? Everything! Becoming a blogger definitely made me more sedentary than ever before and with sites like Pinterest showing tons of cupcakes, brownies and carb and sugar-loaded foods everyday, I have to say the eye candy hasn’t just been on my screen – I’ve felt compelled to indulge more than I should and it’s just not the lifestyle I want to live anymore. And it has nothing to do with being thin – I know lots of thin people who aren’t healthy and who look 10 years older than they are because of poor nutrition. It’s not about what the scale says, it’s all in your complexion, your level of fitness (can you run up the stairs without heaving?), it is in your eyes (are your eyes glassy and tired or bright and radiant?), etc. One of my new year’s resolutions for 2013 was to become more healthy and active but I got off on a bad start. Then I decided to change that. So I did.
One downside to blogging and book authorship is that you do a lot of it sitting down and this can definitely impact overall health, back health and even emotional health if you are not balanced. People who are active tend to battle less with negative feelings, too. I personally just want to glow. I want to radiant health and energy. I want to feel great as often as a I can. So I recently hired a nutritionist and life coach who is working with me to change my lifestyle around and who is coaching me with my career plans, too. For instance, after writing this post, I’ll go do something that requires standing – I’ll make a healthy juice smoothie with protein powder, drink it (not sitting, standing), and go use some hand weights for 15 minutes (also standing), then stretch a little, and finally return to my desk to work on some emails.
For my own resolve to live healthier, I’ve started walking regularly again (not strolling, covering 12 miles a weekend- really walking) and have plans to get into running eventually and I want to start spinning classes. I don’t need to be perfect but I want to be my personal best, whatever that “best” will ultimately be, I’ll have to decide that. Each of us has a personal best – the size we looked and felt the best at, the weight we felt the best at, the number of miles we could run comfortably, the amount of time we can swim laps before exhaustion, etc. No one can tell you what your best is and no one can tell me. And no one can do this for us – it has to be something motivated by the individual. We have to want to feel better and really live life instead of just existing, moving from project to project like a hamster in a wheel, and making money but not making a life.
For me personally, due to food allergies and sensitivities, I’ve been making lots of changes to my diet which includes adding only healthy food choices, salads, smoothies, loads of veggies, lean protein… I replaced milk and soy milk with almond milk, replaced my 2 daily coffees with 1-2 coffees per week and am avoiding fatty snacks, sugary foods and “comfort” food. I also only eat out once weekly – we started this months ago and it’s been great for our budget but also our health (my husband and I). In the summer, I’ll eat out more because we tend to do a lot with our friends and we have tons of festivals here in Germany in the summer, but that’s not a problem because their are always salads and grilled meats and other things to choose from without going for the fried or fatty stuff. I’ve allowed myself one indulgence a week (within reason of course), but ice cream or something like that, just to keep it real because sometimes your out with friends and you really want the mojito right? Or you’re at your parents home and you want to enjoy the nice home cooked meal. I’m trying to approach this with a view to HEALTH and HAPPINESS. I’m already seeing results and the great part is, I’m not stressing out over any of it. It’s funny how your body can change from bad habits to good in such a short period of time. We can easily get out of ruts – it’s the beauty of being human and having mind body control.
I hope that bloggers everywhere will start to think more about healthy living. I already feel so much better and it’s not even been a month yet since I embraced being more conscious of my health. I hope together we can raise awareness when it comes to healthy living for writers, bloggers, graphic designers and others who primarily use their computers for work. We do so much good in the world through our work, but we need to do good for ourselves too. I have some friends who work morning, noon and night and can barely chase their kids on the playground without getting irritated and tired because they’re just not active anymore. I know the feeling – it’s so easy to fall into your desk chair and grow roots and live through the pages of the internet and Pinterest without consciously thinking about LIFE, as in YOUR life.
How would YOU and YOUR life look on a Pinterest page? Would it inspire you? For me, just eating a bit healthier and taking frequent standing/walking breaks, and incorporating mini workouts into my work day (if you are writing a book like I currently am it’s so important), try to stand up and stretch every 15 minutes or get on the floor and do some crunches or a few yoga moves and then go back to writing. It’s all really good and every little bit adds up.
We don’t really know what the “after” will be for those of us always working online because most of us haven’t been doing it for long enough to really see how it has impacted our health. But for me, I’ve been blogging for over 7 years and definitely can see that it really does affect your vision, your emotional health and your back health – not to mention numbers on the scale, if you aren’t active physically throughout the day. Thankfully, I have no major health issues or nothing prompting my lifestyle change – just the will to feel great and vibrant and of course, to have a better quality of life. We only live once, right?
What are your thoughts on healthy living? How do you maintain good health if you are doing a job that requires a lot of sitting? Any eating tips, exercise tips, etc. are welcome below!
(images: holly becker)
It’s time for another Blog Tip post, this time I want to talk about the importance of sharing, linking, pinning, reblogging (no, it’s not a cop out if you do it right) or whatever else you’d like to call it, the point is we have to keep the conversations going for blogs to survive and thrive! Caroline from 91 Magazine recently sent over a bunch of questions for me to answer regarding craft trends and only a tiny bit of it was published since she didn’t have a lot of room and I wrote a ton about it (hey, it’s a subject I’m passionate for) in their Spring/Summer issue. I thought I’d share a revised copy with you today (below) because I a lot of this will really spark ideas for bloggers but most importantly, encourage you while also helping you to see why I think certain things are important about how we blog and why we blog – I get really opinionated in this piece but I felt like some of this really needs to be said.
This is a really long post, so bear with me!
A growing concern to trend forecasters, whether they be individuals, companies, magazines, etc. is to lose their “edge” to those online, like bloggers, who can quickly spot and write about trends and feed that information to thousands of people instantly. There are people who are hired to start and to predict trends and they do so by detecting patterns in thinking, spotting the beginning stages of a movement, noticing a shift in mindset or opinion, etc. Noticing what people value both more, and less, plays into this. Those who have been trained as trend forecasters use an array of techniques to understand emerging and current trends – including psychology, scenario planning, etc. Their investigative research is highly valuable to companies who lack time and resources to watch for these things on their own. You even have companies like Pantone who dictate color trends – and their color forecasts influence entire markets, particularly fashion and interiors.
One additional point worth mentioning is that a trend isn’t always a product or something tangible, like a color palette. It can be a trend in thinking, emotional trends, spiritual trends (yoga is trending in western societies), food trends (juicing and green smoothies are popular), etc. Many trends in thinking and in lifestyle ultimately dictate the products that are being sold. A trend in yoga means more companies manufacturing yoga mats and a green smoothie trend will definitely result in a higher volume of sales for juicers as well as more manufacturers stepping up with new and improved models.
Are bloggers trendspotters? Since so many bloggers are constantly on the look out for the latest thing, it’s not uncommon for them to be considered early adopters of what could become a trend. Their predications are largely based on observation – bloggers see and hear it all – we are the fly on the wall. Bloggers and anyone online spotting patterns are definitely helping, in some cases to spread and develop trends and in other cases, to kick-start new ones. Blogging itself can be called a trend; but to me, it’s more of a movement because it has become “the” way to connect online for thousands of people globally. Blogging ties all of us together. I’ve spotted many things first on blogs and a year later, every magazine was showing those things like they were brand new – but my blogger pals were showing them first. The thing is, until a magazine editor says It’s A Trend, it may not become part of the mainstream.
Can one blogger alone start a trend? Few bloggers have the ability to influence mainstream trends singlehandedly – maybe a handful could, but very few and honestly, I’ve not seen this happen and I’ve been blogging for nearly 8 years. For instance, if I blog about plants being hot decorative accessories in the home, the entire world isn’t going to run out and start buying plants and it won’t automatically become a trend. BUT. This doesn’t mean my opinion doesn’t have weight, reach or influence. A few top editors may read my opinion, then a few large companies, and they may think that I’m onto something because they know I am very in tune with what people are thinking, doing, talking about online… Later, when they see more bloggers talking about plants because they are reblogging or pinning what I wrote or simply thinking more about plants now too, they may decide to pay more attention to plants – so perhaps in their magazine they write a piece about plants in the home. In most cases though, unless an influential magazine or trendsetter or trend show clearly states that plants are the new black, my post won’t like cause the idea to go mainstream on its own. Alone few of us have power. If no one bought Apple products, Apple would have no value, no power. We are not islands, we all need one another, we are all part of the big picture. I think we forget that there is no such thing as independence in blogging because in this arena, it’s all about interdependence.
Who can quickly start a trend? In many cases, the people with the big power are those at the time, the Anna Wintour’s of the world, and the celebs. The moment a “name” wears a designer bag, it’s suddenly trending and everyone everywhere WANTS. THAT. BAG. Until then, bloggers may have been talking about the same bag for 10 months, but the second that celeb wore it and was photographed, that celeb singlehandedly had the power to turn it into a trend overnight. Funny thing is, she may have discovered the bag on her favorite blogs but we’ll never know… The point is, unless you are a blogger with a certain celeb status, you most likely cannot influence mainstream trends BUT together, oh together my friends, we are a mighty, mighty bunch. Ka-pow! Let me explain why.
Do bloggers have influence? YES! Those on the “outside” who recognize our influence pay attention and tap in to what we are doing continuously. I personally know magazines that pay their staff to surf Pinterest all day and read blogs to find story ideas. Big, major magazines. I know trend forecasters who comb Pinterest for ideas for upcoming collections – which, let’s face it, most likely was pinned from a blog. I know craft authors who use Pinterest to find projects for their books. Blogs are influencing a lot of what we see in mainstream culture – trust me – our opinions matter because we are ultimately the consumers and so naturally companies want to tap into us because we are their customers.
Why ALL bloggers MATTER: All of this (and more) is why I feel so strongly that bloggers should really take their role seriously – so many downplay their blog posts like their opinion doesn’t really matter because they’re not part of the “big” blog posse out there. Not true! Just because you’re not [insert pro blogger name here], doesn’t give you a free pass to not care about your blog content or to complain that your blog content doesn’t matter because you only have 500 readers. You rock with 1,000 followers or 100,000 – trust me, there is strength in numbers when it comes to what becomes popular online (or not). While one blog may not be able to launch a trend alone, if lots of others in the blogging community re–blog that post with their own opinions, talk about it on Twitter, Facebook, etc, share it on Pinterest, then together we have influence and that can cause real change to occur – yes, even in the mainstream.
Why does sharing matter so much? I’ve long been a champion of sharing and not so much in support of this new idea that every blogger must only blog custom content with projects and photos produced by them. Some blogs only accept exclusive content. Other blogs won’t share what another blogger posted no matter how much they loved it because they are scared to upset someone or appear like a copycat. I’ve been teaching blogging classes online and workshops for over 4 years and most of my students are terrified to blog about something if another blogger already covered it. This can ultimately lead to the death of blogs as influencers and early adopters. Really gang. While I’m all for columns, exclusive stuff, taking your own photos, etc. I think balance and caution is needed.
How can we influence something or adopt it if we fear writing about it because another blogger already covered it? How can we discuss trends if no one has images to share supporting those discussions unless they take these images themselves – and because they don’t have the images they clam up? While it’s important to get permission from photographers and to link back, credit sources, etc. These discussions need to take place and should be taking place for the sake of our community. Many voices combined can start a wave of change; launch a new idea, etc. To be innovators, we have to share our ideas with our tribe and our tribe, in turn, must share with their tribe, and so on. This is how popular trends are kick–started.
What made us strong should be embraced still: This is why blogging became popular in the first place. We talked, we shared, we made noise. If we all become fearful or run our blogs like they are magazines where only exclusive content is featured and we refuse to share something another blogger covered, what will that mean for blogging?
We aren’t magazines. We don’t need to be. We are in our own class and that is how it should be because we can spontaneously share and create a very specific energy that can only be shared spontaneously. Planning out every post, organizing shoot days and complicated videos for every single post, and constantly stressing over “exclusive content” and “columns” can really hold lots of bloggers back. If you can do it, great – I am aiming for sharing 30-40% decor8 content and the rest from the products and people I review here. If you can blog 100% exclusive content photographed and written by only you and your contributors, great – but let’s not force others into thinking that our standard should be the only way to blog because there are so many types of bloggers and levels and topics, there is no ONE way to do it. I’d say that in the end, we should strive to share in a way that is considerate and fair to others while also opening up the way for conversations can take place. Link back, credit photographers, credit the source if you know it, shoot your own photos if you can but use others with permission when you can’t, talk about topics others may be talking about. SHARE! I hope bloggers really think about this more and value not only their contribution online, but also value sharing what others are blogging about too – we have a pretty responsible position when you think about it.
In fact, SHARE this post – I’m happy for you to talk about this on your blogs and leave your links below in the comments section.
You can also join the conversation here on the Patchwork Harmony blog, too. I WELCOME your thoughts and opinions below, so please leave them, okay? No one will bite ya!
So what do you guys think about all of this?
(image: 91 magazine)