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How To Regain Creativity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about inspiration and creativity and how to regain it. I’ve thought about the importance of refueling and recharging so we have something left to give. Not only to ourselves but to others. Especially to others. I’ve also been thinking about how we typically go about it. We surf the internet, pin on Pinterest, buy stuff, zone out on fluff television. But are those things really going to help or add any value to our life? Hmmm. What do you think?

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Growing up in the south, I heard lots of advice from friends, family and neighbors over the years. I remember being told often as a child, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back”. This is not just a biblical teaching but also happens to be a common belief in Buddhism and many other cultures have shared similar advice. No matter how religion seems to divide people these days, such very basic teachings often unite and are handed down from generation to generation. They hold so much truth and weight. I was thinking about this the other day, the idea of giving, because I haven’t felt that inspired in a few months. I had a really hard pregnancy the first 18-20 weeks which left me bed-ridden and sick all summer. It’s hard to feel anything when your body isn’t responding to food, a good film, a sunny day… I felt nailed to the bed. This really hurt my creativity. The world seemed to be passing me by as I stared at the bedroom ceiling and in a way, it was.

Which gets back to the thought on practicing a giving spirit. I’m currently teaching my online class about blogging, styling and photography, which began on November 1st. We have hundreds of students and a very vibrant, lovely classroom filled with eager students who work hard and want to blog their best. They want to inspire themselves and others just as much as the next blogger. I wondered, when I started teaching at the beginning of the month if I was biting off more than I could chew. I have so much going on in my life, I was feeling rather selfish. Like I just wanted to conserve my energy and withdraw and not bother teaching until next Spring. As emails kept rolling in asking me, “When is your next class, I’ve been waiting for you to announce the dates”, and “Holly you have to teach again, I need my Holly fix!”, my first thought was to take care of ME first and postpone until after the baby arrives. I didn’t want to give. I wanted to save my energy and even go out and find friends and family members who could give me some of their energy and encouragement.

But I didn’t.

I thought about each email that came in and though I felt exhausted, I pushed myself to just do it. You may say, “Of course you did it, you earn a living this way”, but honestly, that’s not entirely the motivation. I teach a few classes a year and can schedule them anytime I want. So whether I did this class in November or April wouldn’t matter financially. It’s the same money. What mattered was my intention.

I intended to stop feeling sorry for myself and to go teach.

That’s where the giving and receiving took place. This Friday ends the class and I feel like a completely different person than I did this time last month. My personality is back, my energy is back and I am ready to take on the world. I want to learn more about Photoshop, Lightroom and photography in general thanks to my students and co-teachers. They all became like medicine to me. They didn’t realize it, but by encouraging them by hosting the class and motivating myself to give, they in turn encouraged me and my cup became full once again. Reading through their comments in the forum, interacting with them through the materials, etc. put aside my feeling of being so self-absorbed and turned my direction to others. Giving. Receiving.

I know that lots of people suffer during periods when no creativity or joy seems to be found. Let me reassure you that there is hope during times when you have hit a creative rut and feel there’s nothing left in your heart to give.

Give what little you have. Give anyway.

Because what you give may seem so small to you but to the next person, it can be so great. And through this interaction alone, things change. Clouds part. Sunshine and light stream back in and before you know it, you are glowing, radiant.

And then you can decorate, work better than ever, whip up a beautiful meal, arrange a stunning bouquet and enjoy your life, your home, your job, your kids all over again. The veil lifts.

So when you feel like giving up, don’t.

Instead of giving up, just give.

Find someone who needs you and give.

How have you dealt with periods when you felt like your creativity was at an all time low? I’d love to know your tips!

(image: holly becker)

Posted in real talk on November 27, 2013

Wool On Canvas: Artwork by Jane Denton

I love unique artwork that isn’t on everyone else’s walls, don’t you? That’s why I’m so drawn to original works from artists and also those random vintage paintings found at flea markets – they really become your own. When I heard from Jane Denton recently, a textile artist and designer from New Zealand, I fell in love with her contemporary, colorful artwork which predominantly uses wool on canvas. It’s so happy!

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cropblog Circles up close

If you are interested in inquiring about her work, you can contact Jane directly or work with either Allium Interiors or Small Acorns. If you worry about shipping expenses, I’m sure she can send pieces unframed and flat packed for international post so then you simply need to have your lovely piece framed locally. Easy!

To learn more about Jane, you can read a fab interview on The Design Chaser here.

Such lovely and unique work! I particularly love seeing a grouping above a sofa – don’t you?

(Photos: Kirsty Gibson Photography)

Posted in Arts + Crafts on November 27, 2013

Rugs I Met And Liked

Hey gang! How are ya? I’m doing well – just insanely busy with our renovations on the new apartment and now, of all things, I’m shopping for rugs when I should be packing my entire house. So let’s talk about rugs. I’m all into the fuzzy plush throws at the moment because it’s freaking freezing over here. With hardwood beneath my toes, I decided to buy three rugs to cozy things up so that I could enjoy being at home this winter just a wee bit more. The first of three is a Flokati rug in cream for our baby’s nursery. Allow me to introduce you…

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I’ve been wanting one of these since I started blogging in 2006 (yes, really!) because I saw it way back then in Domino magazine and thought it was the best looking rug in the world. I really have no clue what took me so long… Here is the rug above (shown in someone else’s home that I swiped from the seller’s store). It will look super cozy against the new hardwood flooring that will be installed first week of December. I bought it from a seller on eBay Germany called easy carpet, 140 x 200, for $235 with shipping and tax included. Cha-ching. Affordable and the right size. The seller may or may not be a total jerk and the rug may or may not show up looking great or awful, so this is by no means a review of the product or seller. But with a 100% rating and a swanky rug photo (above), I’m thinking it will be just what I was looking for. Plus, if I were a baby, I’d vomit on this in a hot second so it will be perfect for my wee one to laze around on while mama blogs. The beauty of this beast is that it’s neutral so If I don’t end up liking it in the baby’s room, because I’m like that a lot lately (ask my husband), it may end up in my bedroom or someplace else. But for now, it’s destination baby room.

Okay, moving on to my second rug. This one may make you a little jealous. My apologizes in advance.

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In 2010 I was introduced to vintage Beni Ouarain carpets while in Marrakesh on a retreat where I was teaching students about how to find their style and inspiration which ended up being a big 10 day slumber party with lots of booze and food with a bunch of amazing women. We ate, shopped and gossiped our way to insta-friendship and we’re all still friends today… We stayed at the fab Peacock Pavilions owned by the author of Marrakesh by Design and blog goddess, Maryam Montague (who was one of my first blog readers from wayyyy back in 2006!). It was Maryam who turned me onto these Beni O’s. Before that, I’d seen them around but never knew what they were called.

A few years prior, in 2007, I bought a gorgeous Moroccan wedding blanket off of Maryam and cherished it so much that when the trip of a lifetime came for me to lead a class in Marrakesh for Ace Camps, I raced for the nearest airport because I wanted more of where that blanket came from. And wow, when I arrived, I was in Moroccan bliss. Souk after souk, rug after rug, pouf after pouf and spice after spice, I was seduced by Marrakesh and it’s loot and three years later, I still wished I had listened to my gut when I was drooling over Beni Ouarain rugs with Maryam one afternoon. I nearly settled on one in particular but I walked. And I’ve been wanting it ever since.

I remembered what it looked like thanks to my photographic memory and my amazing skill of never forgetting when I do stupid things… But I’d not found anything even remotely like it since, until a few days ago when I spotted it on Etsy (of all places). I instantly realized that this was my big chance to reclaim my lost purchase in time. I could, after three long years, own the rug that got away. So I contacted the seller, Pink Rug Co., frantically  measured my space, and clicked PURCHASE.

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Ah yeah. I am the proud owner of this rug shown above. This sexy lady will lay perfectly beneath my dining table but she may end up getting laid elsewhere as the mood hits. I always buy rugs and most everything else that can be used in any room to suit my decorating ADD.

Another carpet I bought recently, for the baby’s room (I know, baby, baby, baby! martha! martha! martha!), is this Olli Ella round felted gum ball rug. With one catch… I had it custom made because neither one shown below fit my scheme 100% and they were nice enough to create one for me (aka put up with my crap)- which, honestly, was the nicest thing in the world because I didn’t expect it at all. Most companies tell me to bite it. But listen up (this next bit requires a cup of coffee to understand), the color palette is a combo of both rugs so imagine balls (!) in gray, mint, yellow, pale beige and I think a darker yellow (I can’t recall what I ordered anymore). Can you envision this? It’s a bit of both of these rugs below minus the pink? I don’t know. It’s just going to be pretty and that’s all I care about.

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Yeah, so there are some of my new rugs. When I get ‘em in place in the brand new space, I’ll show you the pics and give ya some tips. Word. Stay tuned.

Any rug crushes you’ve had lately? Any rug purchases made that you’d like to share? With cooler temps, rugs are all the rage in my world at the moment. I have all of my sheepskins out and on chairs and floors and I’m doing the whole rustic thing at the moment. You too?

(images: linked to their sources above.)

Posted in inspiration on November 26, 2013

Food In Motion: Healthy Vegetarian Side Dish For Thanksgiving

Hello everyone, are you ready to learn how to make a lovely, healthy side vegetarian dish for Thanksgiving this year? This is Jewels (Liz and I alternate months on decor8) with another episode of Food in Motion! So tell me, are you guys already thinking about what to make for Turkey day? I grew up in Germany and Thanksgiving had no meaning in my family’s life. My German family is looking forward to Christmas and can’t wait to have me and my new little family including my tiny daughter Clementine come visit. Over here in the US though, Thanksgiving is so important that I almost feel like it’s a trial run for Christmas! My husband’s mom has been browsing through food magazines for weeks to find inspiration. I am a vegetarian, so a shiny bird is not going to float my boat. I need some tasty alternatives that are a little more exciting than just mashed potatoes and sautéed carrots. I want to contribute something to this meal and of course also impress my American family with something that is healthy and super delicious at the same time.

As I learned Thanksgiving is supposed to be all about giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest. Good thing I am blessed with a beautiful farmers market that conveniently offers me their harvest every Wednesday. So I chose some winter veggies that I usually eat cooked but that are also edible raw. When I know that I will photograph something later, I always think of color, too. So I picked only white vegetables and then some green micro radishes for contrast. They are full of flavor and vitamins! For some excitement I decided to make a vinaigrette with sparkling wine. I have never made that before but I had heard of it and it always sounded like a great idea to have some bubbly in a vinaigrette. Mmmh.. and it turned out to be true. But try for yourself!

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Here is the recipe for 2 portions:

1/4 of a small cauliflower
1/2 fennel
1/4 of a small white cabbage
1/2 shallot
1/2 small apple
juice of half a lime
1 small handful of micro radishes

Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoons of sparkling wine
3 table spoons of olive oil
3 table spoons of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of agave
juice of the other half of lime
salt
pepper

How To: Shave all the veggies and the apple into thin slices. Pour the lime juice onto the apple to keep it from browning. For the vinaigrette put all liquids and the spices in a small jar and shake well. Pour the vinaigrette of the salad and enjoy!

Next month, see what Liz will make for a Christmas sweet treat! Bye for now – Jewels.

(text/copy/video: julia “jewels” cawley)

Posted in Food In Motion on November 25, 2013

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