Hello friends! I’m in one of those writing moods today where words just bubble forth like some kind of crazy fountain! It’s a great mood to be in because now I’m home and no longer traveling so I CAN write on decor8 regularly again and it feels wonderful. I always miss blogging and the practice of writing daily when I’m on the road, writing is total freedom for me. Another freedom, or shall I say creative release (sounds weird but it really is), is when I pull together things visually into handmade books. I’ve been doing this for ages, since I was a little curious kid, and it started by pulling pages from teen magazines and Highlights magazine then collecting them into photo albums with those giant clear pages… You know the ones that you peel to stick in your pages on that strange adhesive so when you lay stuff on it the paper sorta sticks, then you press the clear page on top. Yeah, those old school albums, woot!
I filled those things with inspirations from magazine pages to stickers, letters from penpals and labels from things that I liked. I also used blank journals and diaries or handmade books that I made by stapling together copy paper with a stapler to form a gutter down the middle. I started doing those in the late 1970′s when I was maybe 6 years old and I continued making them my entire life – writing in some, sticking things in others – I had sticker books, inspiration books, books I wrote and illustrated with my own stories, and diaries filled with secrets and wishes and how I imagined my “adult” life to be — which usually involved becoming an author, marrying a cute boy, having a baby and living in another country in a really nice house.
Well… Little me ended up wanting the same goals as I grew older and I often wonder at times if that clarity came through the consistent exercise of capturing my imagination and dreams into something more tangible like the books that I made over the years? I believe that the more you either write down or visually share with yourself and/or others, the more you capture your imagination in a sense and freeze it, perhaps it helps put you on your way to gaining a bit more clarity as you make your way through life. Interesting to ponder, right?
I almost want to challenge you to test this theory on your own life and to see if, after a year of consistently maintaining private journals and books, whether or not you start to gain a better sense of self. We’re constantly evolving so there is never an end point to all of this since we’ll be growing as long as we live (or at least lets make that our goal!) but the act of conscious “slow” living vs. hectic “speed” living IS something we really want to do, at least that’s what I find most attractive these days as I see the hectic path is ultimately reallyyyyyyy boring and makes time go by much to quickly.
I’m wondering now if all of this tapping in and recording our inspirations, goals, heartaches, lessons learned, ideas, etc. is what enhances the experience of living in a way. What do you think?
This is a capture of fabrics and ribbons that I collected while in London for a project from various stores like Liberty and VV Rouleaux. I wanted to pull them all together in one place because now I’ll always remember them in case I want to work from this palette in the future on another project.
I thought to go along with my words that I’d share a few images that I took with my iPhone today of these mood board pages that I made in a book over the past six weeks – they show some of the impressions that I’ve had on the road while I’ve been working on my next book. I didn’t feel like writing my impressions from each trip in a diary because I have to write so much as it is INSIDE of the actual book and on this blog that the thought of writing a diary during this time made me a bit tense. I still, however, wanted to keep track of my inspirations along the way so I thought to do it in a visual way instead. Plus, it ended up inspiring me through a bit of a creative challenge. This book gave me a chance to record things with a glue stick and a few minutes of my time. I shared this with our Blogging Your Way Road Trip students recently in New York and they seemed to be very inspired by it. I hope you are too.
This was pulled together based on the same home in the English countryside that had inspired me so, so much. I used found items, washi tape, paint swatches, buttons, clips, etc. to pull together a paper that reflected the mood of that home.
Creating visual records can be very inspiring while you’re doing them but also to look back on them, for me at least, I inspires me all over again. For instance from this book I am able to recall the exact things that struck a chord with me on certain trips — seeing them again gave me some new ideas for the future.
Remember… Mood boards don’t have to be on actual boards on your wall. As I taught last year in the series of Mood Board Workshops in the US and London for Anthropologie, mood boards can be on a wall, in a book, in a manilla folder, in a mini mood board book (aka portable photo album with clear sleeves) or an inspiration wire which is horizontal and hung across a wall, window or above a sofa or bed – anywhere that you want really – where you can tack on what catches your eye at the moment. Visual recordings like this can be enlightening, especially as you begin to see patterns in your thinking, spot a theme or discover new ideas.
This is a spread that I created using tears and bits that I’ve been collecting in my desk drawer for several months. I noticed everything I had collected there fit together in a strange way so I decided to put them in the book so that I could refer to this later. I love seeing how gray, cream, goldenrod, industrial elements, strong graphics (like numbers, silhouettes and maps), polka dots and a bit of olive green can work with a touch of a floral fabric that is a bit country. Again, it’s all about capturing moments and collecting them someplace outside of our own heads (or a desk drawer).
What I love about the books that I’ve been creating at home since I was a kid is that, unlike a board or string or something that’s a bit decorative and public in your home that others potentially see, you don’t have to edit out anything or hold back in your books. It’s also different from a blog or Pinterest because your book can be private and a total immersion into self. Often when you compose mood boards at home or online you tend to hold back for some reason whereas a book that you can store can be less about sharing with others and more about sharing with yourself, personal growth, learning and saving to look back on for years to come. You can include themes that may be too embarrassing to share publicly or explore topics that you may feel are too private to pass around within your online social network. It’s a very nice way to bookmark your life visually and I love it.
I hope this post today inspired you somehow to be a bit more active when it comes to recording your thoughts in a more visual, organized but still fun and freestyle way. Always take time to absorb your surroundings, then collect them into something tangible so that your inspiration can be tapped in to during those “creative rut” periods…
What do you think of this idea to collect visual notes into small books at home? Do you do make these too? If so, post them on your blog and share the link below if you’d like so we can see them!
(images: holly becker for decor8)
I recently had the pleasure of dining at ABC Kitchen in Manhattan not just once, but 3 times in the span of 11 days! I know, right!??! Amazing. It’s a hard place to get a reservation but it seemed I knew the right people or had a stroke of luck. I want to tell you about it because I was so deeply inspired by the interior and from the exquisite organic meals that I enjoyed there. Here are some of the things you can expect to see in this space that are also sold in the adjacent ABC Home store in case you wanted to get this look at home…
Above: 1. Jan Burz porcelain 2. Vintage plates from your local flea market or antiques dealer 3. I loved the mugs – I ordered tea and was immediately impressed by these. I was told they sold out but now I see them on their website and am sad because I wanted a set of 6 for my home here in Germany. They were the absolute best mug ever. 4. Clear glass egg lamp, 5. Integral tables, 6. Basic white chairs you can find anywhere – these are the Steelwood chairs but they no longer stock them at ABC so try something like the Arper instead, 7. Elena Lyakir fine art photography, 8. Integral bar stool.
Amazing chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is also the mastermind behind this gorgeous eatery, who also happens to be an author of a cookbook called, “Home Cooking with Jean-Georges,” and I just bought a copy after visiting his restaurant because the food was that good. I’m so smitten by ABC Kitchen that I want to shout out to the world that if you ever get a chance to eat at this place, DO IT. These photos that I found online don’t even do this place justice, it’s even better in person.
ABC Kitchen is heavenly – the service was great and the crowd was completely free of pretentious creeps – you know the ones that normally flock to these types of foodie places – this was definitely a cool crowd but without the attitude which made the atmosphere even nicer. The food was top notch – fresh, organic, locally grown and amazing and the price point for what you ordered was excellent. Everything from their wine to cocktails, desserts and breads, brunch and dinner, salads and entrees – it was all impressive and exquisite – it’s a real farm-t0-table experience.
The interior design is equally delicious with white brick walls, mercury glass behind the bar and in the bathrooms, exposed beam ceilings brought in from old barns, gorgeous furniture and lighting, lots of recycled elements… There was nothing about it that I would change. The design was mostly done by Paulette Cole, CEO and Creative Director of ABC Home, and felt cozy, unique, delicate and intimate. I also loved the vibe and that no matter how packed it became (and it was always packed), it was never too loud and the music never overpowered the conversation, it was there but subtle and the lighting made everyone look their best – it was always beautifully illuminated day or night. There are no windows in the dining space so there was no natural light, which definitely made it an ideal place for dinner but not idea for taking photos and definitely not ideal for brunch – I enjoyed brunch but it feels more like a nighttime spot for me and I totally loved it.
Another highlight of this space came down to the attention to detail – like the place settings. Brown eco-friendly kraft paper place mats, vintage linen napkins, petite flower arrangements in tiny square glass vases, vintage silverware, mismatched floral-patterned vintage china, handmade porcelain dinnerware in white by Jan Burz — nothing was too precious yet everything felt so, so precious – how did they do that!?
Some of my favorites on the menu included: Roast Carrot and Avocado Salad with Crunchy Seeds and Citrus, Cookie plate, Shaved Fluke with Blood Oranges, Roasted Kabocha Squash Toast fresh ricotta and apple cider vinegar, Crab toast, Roasted Beets with Homemade Yogurt,Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Eggplant Toast with marinated peppers and lemon , Pear Bourdaloue Tart, Birthday Cake, Salted Caramel-Peanut Ice Cream Sundae, Grilled Chicken Waldorf Salad, Roasted Eggplant Toast with marinated peppers and lemon, Still Warm Fresh Mozzarella olive oil, sea salt and black pepper, Black Sea Bass with chilies and herbs, baby market potatoes and spinach and of course a glass of Riesling trocken, Sybille Kuntz 2008, mosel, Germany!
Yes, all of that – whenever I went I was with several people and we just ordered lots of plates and shared everything tapas style which I highly suggest doing because then you can try a little of everything. What a special space and a new favorite place to eat in Manhattan. While in NYC, I also ate at Il Bagatto (sat next to Kirstie Alley! ha ha!), La Esquina (great Mexican food in a really cool underground “hidden” space), The Standard Grill (ate undercooked fish and got deathly ill for two days – spent a lot of money to get sick), The Breslin (nice place but severely overpriced and very salty food, incredibly rude waitstaff – we were all shocked.)… Also ate at a few random places in Koreatown that were excellent and ate at a little cafe above Kinokuniya book center which had great sushi and Asian desserts and ate at two different locations of Le Pain Quotidien which has really good food for a “fast food” eatery.
Can’t remember all of the other locations where we ate – but had breakfast a few times at egg in Brooklyn and that was fine but I still don’t understand why Biscuits and Gravy had one biscuit on a plate with a bowl of gravy on the side – the waitress promised me that it only came with one biscuit, maybe I was just hungry or daft but I thought for $10 that was quite pricey for one biscuit! I noticed this happened a lot in NYC though with waitstaff, most acted totally disinterested when you had something to say that wasn’t super positive and gushy. Oh well.
But ABC Kitchen rocked – loved my experiences there and I’d definitely go back and hope you’ll check it out too!
A special thanks to my dear friend Leslie for sharing this gem of a place with me in the first place!
(images: 2nd image: holly becker, all others: abc home)
Hello dear friends! I must say that being in NYC is nothing less than energizing as my head is spinning with ideas and I feel very excited about the road ahead of me since I’ve been able to build out some ideas since coming here last week. I’m in New York until Sunday night, tomorrow I begin working with Debi Treloar, but for the first half of my trip I was with Leslie Shewring working on our class called the Blogging Your Way Road Trip.
For those of you familiar with Blogging Your Way, it is a class I founded three years ago online as a virtual workshop that takes place a few times each year and it is where I teach, along with my friend and biz partner Leslie, about taking a creative approach to blogging, photography, styling and many other topics that relate to all of that. Our goal is that once you learn the technical aspects of blogging in those dummies guides, you’ll come to us to learn the creative and fun stuff. Of course, we teach some nuts and bolts too about copyright law, how to deal with copycats and template ideas but over all our approach is that if blogging is looked upon as less of an exercise of writing and more as a creative pursuit, your time online will count more and you’ll reach more people. I believe strongly in using your blog as a catalyst to live your best life, meaning let the blog motivate you to do things that you love so you can then turn around and share them with your readers. Your blog should be a motivator, not a chore.
When I thought about teaching this class offline I wondered often how it would translate but after this weekend I can tell that it translated quite well! I felt very honored to be among so many talented and creative woman on both Saturday and Sunday, some flew in as far as London for our workshop and others from Seattle, Kentucky, Ohio, Boston, D.C., it was quite amazing really. Leslie, who taught the class too, was amazing in her execution of her materials previously taught online through our class. Taking all of that material offline to teach hands-on was exciting for me to see her do so effortlessly and very well. She rocked it and if you were at the class I am sure you will agree with me. Saturday was more of an intense learning session and Sunday was more about interacting and moving around the room – working hands on.
Overall, I felt the class gave students something very special in a small learning environment that just isn’t offered that often out there – most classes as huge or part of conferences and while those are great – many of our students commented that they preferred working in and learning with smaller more “niche” groups and this is exactly what Leslie and I were shooting for – to provide our students with a very special learning environment where they could work closely with us and one another.
I’ve been teaching and lecturing for 15 years and same with Leslie, but this was a very special weekend and we enjoyed taking BYW offline and hope our students did too. We really bonded with loads of our students and want to thank Melissa de la Fuente, Michelle Verdugo and Julie Cove for helping us stay organized – these ladies were so critical to our success – and also to thank the very dear, dear Alex at Divine Studio for the gorgeous light studio where we taught. I also must thank Paul Lowe from Sweet Paul for being an inspirational drop-in guest on Sunday – his message was, “Just keep blogging, you never know where it can take you”. With his online magazine about to become a print version sold exclusively at Anthropologie stores, he is a stellar example of someone talented who was able to find their voice and audience through blogging. I must also thank my publisher, Chronicle Books (Peter and Lorraine!!!) for supplying our students with lovely notebooks from Jill Bliss, Rifle Paper and for sending out the French General books for our students on Sunday.
THANK YOU STUDENTS for coming out to meet us and spend time learning together – we hope so much that you enjoyed it and will forever remember this road trip – it was wonderful!!!!!
Hello dear friends! I’m happy to be back on decor8 today because I’ve missed you very much this week. I love working on projects outside of my blog but I always find myself missing the exercise of blogging daily and connecting with all of you. The consistency energizes me – it’s like I’ve pulled the plug whenever I walk away from my blog for more than a day or two and it bothers me so much. Much of this has to do with being so regular as a blogger for so many years, it’s like a good eating or exercise program — once you stray you just don’t feel as good, do you? Blogging is such a creative endeavor but also makes me feel better emotionally. I can pour out my passions and in return, you share with me, and this symbiosis keeps me going.
Today I thought that since I’ve been working in Paris this week that you may enjoy some of my inspirations from the road consisting of mini travel notes and little snaps that I took on my iPhone along the way. I am back home now, but leave again tomorrow morning to work in London so I’ll be there blogging as well… but mostly working along with some shopping and girl time with the very dear Sania Pell. For now, let’s talk about Paris though…
While there, we shot four locations and I was able to meet some very creative people who had spaces that reflected their rich inner world. I spent time with photographer Debi Treloar and book publisher Jacqui Small and we had such a nice time. It’s always such a pleasure to be with them but also to meet homeowners and have a chat about their space and inspirations but more than that, to become completely immersed in their world playing with their things and setting up the shots – it’s very creative hands-on work and I find a lot of pleasure in it. I cannot reveal the homeowners just yet but I can reveal little notes along the way which I will below. All of these thoughts will carry with me for years to come and I thought to record them here publicly may be nice as I won’t be writing these into my book.
I notice, no matter where we shoot, that every home has it’s own scent – mostly good! In one location I fell in love with the most wonderful candle by Christian Dior called 30 Montaigne. The scent was in every room and was quite warm and masculine, spicy, calming and exotic. I think this scent would be perfect at a home party with great cocktails, good music and 30 Montaigne burning in a nearby room. Funny enough, as I thought about how great his flat would be for a party, I discovered his wonderful little DJ nook tucked away in a hidden corner with tons of great music and that he had a disco ball laying nearby so I think my instinct was on target. This guy can throw down when it comes to doing a great home party. All of these things came from a scented candle but it’s true, the way a home smells can be so closely tied to what the homeowner loves or loves to do most at home. His Parisian flat had the best light by day, the natural light was so pretty streaming through the vintage glass windows.
I also spotted and sampled a room fragrance spray in another home that we photographed, this one was by Diptyque called Feu de Bois which smelled exactly like burning firewood. It was remarkable and is now on my wishlist. In that home, which had a lot of texture and was very, very French I think the scent matched perfectly to the interior.
While in Paris we had lunch at Merci with American stylist and editor James Leland Day whom I’ve long admired (some of his work is shown below). I had heard that he lived in Paris so I looked him up and I’m so glad that I did. We had a nice time chatting over lunch.
While at Merci I was able to see new installations for Spring going in but was too busy to walk around the store so I missed the whole retail experience of being there – I didn’t even see the interiors floor (shame!). The dresses that were being installed in the main entry were stunning though and made from tissue paper, can you see them below? So lovely! Also at Merci I had to snap a photo of their famous book cafe and a random pic of the floor in their ladies fashion section. I know it’s an odd photo but I love the mix of pastels with copper at the moment and this smattering of paint on the floor was so random and beautiful that I had to snap it. The shoes are cute too.
In Paris I had breakfast with French stylist and author Emilie Griottes, a lovely lady who is barely 30 years old and has already authored two cookbooks, styled some craft books and she produces a gorgeous blog. She just started styling and taking photographs one year ago and already has so much solid work to show for it. It’s unbelievable really, but so inspiring and encouraging. This is her immediately after we had breakfast shown below. She was a cheerful and enthusiastic as she looks – I really enjoyed our time together. She will be a columnist on decor8 beginning in March, too! I’m very honored to have her on board, here are the details in case you missed my earlier announcement.
Another friend that I was able to see again in Paris was Nichole Robertson from Little Brown Pen. We’ve hung out before – the first time we met was when she visited me in New Hampshire at my home in 2009 and then the following year I saw her in New York City working on Decorate, then last year she came to visit me while I was signing my book at Anthropologie in SoHo and later that night, we all got together for drinks and eats. This time around, I got to see her in Paris which seemed so appropriate as she is about to see the release of her first book, Paris in Color, also published by Chronicle Books (my publisher in the US as well). We shared an evening of food, wine and a stroll around Rue Montorgueil then over to the Notre Dame Cathedral to snap photos and enjoy some girl talk. Nichole is refreshingly honest and positive while still being realistic with both feet firmly planted on the group. She’s whip smart, funny and truly an inspirational modern mom and woman in general. I admire what she has done to grow her business online.
Now back to some notes from the locations. In one home I found the word TRUST on a window in small lucite letters. I love understated things in a home like this that are random but meaningful. Seeing that word daily must be a great reminder — to just TRUST things in life – trust others, trust the process, trust your vision, trust your faith, trust that things will work out, trust that if they don’t that it may have been for a good reason, just TRUST. As I was working in Paris and putting together ideas for my next book, the message of TRUST displayed on the window rang very loudly when I saw it. I spotted it immediately following a moment when I was starting not to trust. Let me explain… I was there working quietly while Debi and Jacqui were chatting in the adjacent room and while they were talking, I blocked out their conversation to have a bit of a think. You know those moments when you go inward and just sort through ideas and feelings? That was what I was doing. I was processing stuff. I had this feeling wash over me as I was doing it that felt very unsure. Suddenly, something invisible seemed to direct me over to the window to look out upon the beautiful homes across the street. As I approached the window to think further, I suddenly saw these letters stuck to it spelling out TRUST and felt this amazing calm wash over me combined with a renewed confidence in myself. It was as if this message had been delivered on a swirling, sparkling breeze carried in from a faraway land, meant entirely for me at the very moment when I needed to be reminded to TRUST the most. As I looked at it feeling almost shocked by it, I imagined that it may have been carried upon the air falling upon that window only seconds earlier, quickly arranging themselves to say what they needed to say and viola! TRUST was the message. I needed that reassuring message so badly at that moment. Perhaps I heard them gently land (tap, tap, tappity tap tap) which is why I looked over to the window in the first place? I often have these magical thoughts as I go about my day and wonder if they are just whimsical, imaginative ways in which I cope with very real adult problems or if some of these magical things really do happen and that the world isn’t so boring after all with things always needing to make sense and be practical.
After spotting TRUST, later that same day I came upon another word in the same home – SLOW. When I saw it, white blown glass that was once part of a sign, I took it from the pile of artwork it was placed upon and brought it in the living room to style it into a shot as I was trying to communicate a message through the arrangement of things I was putting together. In the book you will see how I used this word SLOW and perhaps you will remember this little story as to why I worked it into the shot. After seeing the word TRUST, I was fiddling around moving things and thinking about how I needed to trust my gut more and to stick to my vision and to really OWN certain things in my life because every human being, no matter how confident or successful, has doubts. And as I was fiddling about, I found SLOW laying around and thought of the messages that were being sent to me that day and perhaps SLOW was really important somehow and so then I started to consider why this word was important, what did it mean to me? What was it trying to teach me? I instantly remembered the story of the tortoise and the hare and how the slow win the race. In the world of interiors people can be so nice but also so competitive, often at any cost, and the same is true in any “world” really… whether it be blogging, decorating, crafts, the film industry… you name it, competition just exists. I view most of it as a very good thing because it drives the talented forward and pushes the creative out of their comfort zone so progress and movement can be made within the field. Things would quickly stagnant without a healthy dose of competition, right? However, often this race to be on top or stay fresh can also be a monkey on your back. We naturally need to evolve without always feeling pushed to do so. Often periods of hibernation can give birth to evolution and a creative soul may find enormous bursts of fresh ideas and a renewed, contagious enthusiasm during those slow moments.
While considering all of this, I also thought about the Slow Living movement. Have you heard of this way of thinking before? Here is the definition according to Wikipedia,
“Slow Living is the choice to live consciously with the goal of enhancing personal, community and environmental well being. Slow Living recognizes the role that time plays in shaping the quality of our lives. By slowing down we make time to savor our experiences and to connect more fully with others. The process of slowing down involves simplifying our lives and minimizing distractions so that we have more time and more energy to focus on what is meaningful and fulfilling. By consciously choosing to do less, we contribute to reducing some of the negative social and environmental impacts of our actions.”
In my opinion, those who don’t take a creative time out risk watering down their ideas or worse, start imitating what they see versus what is coming from deep down inside. I think SLOW applied to me as I was working in Paris because I’m on very strict deadlines at the moment to finish my book and things are feeling very, very fast. The idea that perhaps thinking too quickly and being too spontaneous may not be best, that to slow down at night and on the weekends immersing myself in activities that I love so that I can pour all of that good stuff into my project is better. I don’t need to think about my book 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’m hoping the message of SLOW will allow me to savor the experience of pulling my book together in the first place. The journey is as meaningful as the destination, often more-so upon completion. While I’ll still deliver on deadline, perhaps my SLOW approach as well as the message of TRUST, when combined, will make for a nice second book and an enhanced experience of creating. I guess we shall see.
I wonder how you can apply TRUST and SLOW to your life somehow? Perhaps you can take a moment to consider this and how these words, if applied to something in your life, could add value somehow… Maybe a way of thinking about something, the way of doing or being or believing… perhaps SLOW or TRUST can carry over as meaningful to you today as though they were carried by a soft breeze landing upon your computer screen to give you a little message, too.
So those are some notes from Paris. Perhaps not the typical notes – I saw the Eiffel Tower! I shopped at the best stores! I ate tons of macaroons! No, not the typical travel notes I’m sure but they are mine and I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading them. Through the ramblings of others we often find pieces of ourselves along the way…