Books + Magazines

6 Ways To Decorate With Plants + Urban Jungle Book Review

September 20, 2016

Before our guest authors share 6 fabulous ways to decorate with plants, I simply must tell you about their beautiful new book for plant lovers called Wohnen in Gruen (German) and in English, Urban Jungle. Who wrote it? Igor Josifovic (from The Happy Interior blog) and Judith de Graaff (from Joelix) with photography by Lina Skukauskė and illustrations by Saar Manche! What a great team! This lush, green beauty came about three years after Igor and Judith initially formed their online community, “Urban Jungle Bloggers” with a blog under the same name. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

6 Ways To Decorate With Plants + Urban Jungle Book Review

Urban Jungle (the book) is fabulous guide to decorating with plants and the focus is really on the plants – from the best to use to proper care, DIY projects and so much more. If you love plants this book is definitely going to make you smile. I have the English copy and it’s a beautiful book filled with green inspo for every corner of your home and office. The 5 European homes inside are so fresh and very natural, not fussy, and don’t intimidate – the focus isn’t on fashionable high style or over budget decor and properties – it’s on the plants and how people use them to create a home filled with the beauty of plant life.

6 Ways To Decorate With Plants + Urban Jungle Book Review

In Urban Jungle, you’ll meet the homeowners for each of the five stories who are based in Turkey, France, England, Germany and the Netherlands, and tour their homes to see how they style and live with plants. There are 18 bloggers who also took part in the book sharing their own nooks filled with green style. AND, if that isn’t enough, you will also learn all about (and how to care for) Cactus, Succulents, Aloe Vera, Monstera, Oxalis Triangularis, Ficus elastica, Calathea, Palms, Sanservieria and Pilea Peperomiodes under Plant Portraits along with 6 crafty DIY projects and loads of plant styling tips throughout from 18 bloggers who contributed to this book, too.

Here are some of my favorite images from the book with tips on living with plants beneath each from authors, Igor and Judith.

6 Ways To Decorate With Plants + Urban Jungle Book Review

1. Airy and playful: The plant arrangement in the living room of the French blogger and creative professional Morgane Frimane in Toulouse features a charming Oxalis and Pilea plant in hanging planters among other houseplants in this green corner.

6 Ways To Decorate With Plants + Urban Jungle Book Review

2. Mix your pots. Dutch blogger and vintage expert Marij Hessels waters her plants in the hallway. Marij loves to combine vintage plant pots with contemporary versions and adds her own twist with DIY-planters.

6 Ways To Decorate With Plants + Urban Jungle Book Review

3. Across a window. Labofem is the lush plant studio of Istanbul local Fem Güclütürk who runs her plant business close to her home and both, studio and home, boast with an eclectic mix of plants of all kinds and sizes, such as these wonderful hanging plants in her studio. It’s a great way to use the vertical space for hanging plants when your room is too small for bigger plants.

6 Ways To Decorate With Plants + Urban Jungle Book Review

5. Mix plants & matching art. In the home office of German blogger Pepper Schmidt in Heidelberg, her style aesthetic mixes Scandinavian influences with ethnic patterns and handcrafted items. Extra visual effect for your plant styling: Match your plant with the adequate botanical illustrations!

6 Ways To Decorate With Plants + Urban Jungle Book Review

6. Go Non-Toxic for the kiddies. The bright kids room at the home of German blogger Pepper Schmidt features among soft toys a few plants too. In kids rooms opt for non-toxic plants without spikes or keep the cacti out of reach of your toddler!

6 Ways To Decorate With Plants + Urban Jungle Book Review

MEET IGOR AND JUDITH: Watch Igor and Judith present their book and do a signing at Meet The Blogger in Amsterdam on October 1 (tickets available here).

Good job Igor and Judith, thank you so much for sending me your book to review and I can’t wait to see your presentation at Meet The Blogger!

(Photography: Lina Skukauskė with permission, Book cover photo: Holly Becker for decor8)






From The Heart

Thoughts On Depression

September 19, 2016

Hello everyone, it’s Monday so we are naturally looking at a new week with plans to set into motion, right? Feels good. I normally face Monday with a bit of hesitation at first but now, it has changed because I’m doing lots of positive events around my new book, I’m on the road meeting friends and fans, making new business contacts, and it’s very, very invigorating. I feel alive again. The last time I felt this good was at the beginning of the year when I went to Paris and then London. After those trips, I hit a very low point in my life – I felt really inspired and happy but returned to a reality that I didn’t really want to face.

Thoughts On Depression

The thing was, I had to be an “adult” in some things that I’d been putting off. I needed to REALLY fix things in my personal life, with my health, with childcare (lack of), with my career (felt a bit directionless), and with a few friends. Most of all, I had to learn to be more kind to myself, to really put myself first which has always been hard for me.

All of this reality put me in a depression period that I didn’t know how to get out of. I kept it hidden from most people and on my blog, but it was really a hard time. Fortunately, my good friends stuck around to help. I confided in them and they’ve lovingly listened, provided a shoulder to literally cry on, and have acted as strong and willing when it comes to jumping in and just caring for me. I didn’t have to beg my good friends to be there through my hard times.

I’m happy to say that the depression period has let up now, the dark shadow passed over. FINALLY. I have new goals and am doing a lot with my life that I don’t think a lot of people will believe or even recognize as coming from me in the months ahead but I’m gonna just go for it. I’m gonna jump and just do things with a sense of “screw it” because really, life is too short and precious to live a fake life or a life that you aren’t really happy with.

I have childcare now (lots of it). My nutrition and self care are on point. I have plans in place to take care of the bigger stuff in time but for now, I’m not feeling held back or scared anymore. I’m not frozen. The depression period has ended. And I’m out again doing events and scheduling workshops and my calendar is full until the end of this year and I love it. With each event, I am allowed to share and receive positive energy in return and that give and take is so healthy and beneficial.

But wow, that depression period. Shit, man. Yuck.

It was horrible.

Thoughts On Depression

Sure, I had felt the blues before, you know, days where you just can’t seem to make progress. Days when you don’t want to get out of bed but you do anyway. Everyone has those. But I’d never known sinking depression on that level since I was in my early twenties and experienced a really big break up with someone I thought I had loved.

I’m always very hopeful and optimistic. With that, you almost become responsible to be a light to everyone. You become known as a light. And then you just shine and shine and shine and even when you have nothing left to shine, you find something and shine anyway. And then you get drained after a long enough time. Then you start to fake or pretend that you are fine, because you don’t want to let anyone down. And of course, your ego is involved at that point. You are known to be shining and encouraging and motivating, you can’t possibly show people that you feel like shit inside and wish you could run away and go live on a secluded island for a year.

For me, it all started in March after my birthday and by end of May, I was hitting bottom. In June, I had a momentary lapse of “I’ve got this!” and then, boom. I didn’t have anything, I was a mess. The dark clouds came in fast and furious. And stayed.

July and August were horrific.

I didn’t want to get out of bed for TWO MONTHS. I have a toddler to care for, so he was my motivation to shower and get up and get the day started. But boy, I didn’t always want to be responsible. I wanted to go to sleep at 8pm and a lot of the time, I did. I felt guilty giving in to my feelings at first. “I’m strong”, I told myself, “why am I giving in to these feelings, I’m a mom for god’s sake, how can I be such a wreck, my son needs me?”.

But after awhile I stopped pretending to be strong and I started to allow myself to be vulnerable. Through the help of friends, I realized that I needed to drop the act and tell people how I was really feeling because I had built a WALL around me and it was not helping my friendships. I needed to learn what I craved the most in my life – intimacy – wasn’t what I myself was giving to others. I wasn’t open and working towards intimacy in my relationships yet I expected this from my friends. How about that?

What I realized is that I always thought I was so open – I have a blog, I write a lot of stuff here that I’d consider pretty revealing at times. I share my life on the internet, in the press, in my books… But this isn’t really being OPEN. Sure, I’m more open than the average person who would never dare write about their child birth experience online like I did, or they’d never show their home online, etc. But I still am open in a way that I am safe with. In other words, and I think a lot of us do this online, I am open when it comes to showing the good stuff in my life. I’m open with all of the positive things. Not to show off, but because I really want to inspire people to be happier and I think that sharing that I’m in a dark place isn’t going to help anyone else. So I stay quiet and I hide.

Yet, one thing I crave more and more, and maybe it’s because I’ve been writing professionally online for over a decade, is greater authenticity. No, I don’t mean showing my ugly disorganized closet or me not wearing makeup. What I do mean is being a bit more open to how I feel and expressing it openly. Sharing that yes, while we enjoyed our trip we also had to deal with a screaming toddler and 100 melt downs and I almost missed my flight because I was too busy texting someone. Or yes, our house looks great but before the photo was taken, it was a giant mess of toys and I decided to clean it to a take a nice photo for the internet. You know, just being more natural and more normal and stop fearing judgement because all of that can ultimately suck our life out and make others feel like crap too.

First world problem. I know. But it’s causing a lot of people to ultimately experience burn out, depression and a lot of other unnecessary problems because all of the perfect we see. It’s nice to hear the stories behind what we see online and to open up about our very human experiences. That is the definition of being open and authentic.

Now that I’m beyond the darkest darks, I’m doing a lot to change my life for the better. When I make my mind up, I really make my mind up. And for many things in my life that I’ve sat idle on for a long time… Well let’s just say I made my mind up to do several things very differently.

How about you, have you ever hit a period of depression? How did you end it? I’m glad my time is over with this but it was NOT FUN. But I learned so much, mostly what I learned is who my real friends really are. That was so revealing… To see who sticks by you when you’re not your best self and need help. Also, I learned what wasn’t working in my life and what needed to change. I’m taking steps each day to change those things and that movement alone, the new flow of energy the movement is creating, has helped tremendously.

Love you all.

xo Holly

(photography Holly Becker)






Objects

Beautiful Ways To Add Fragrance To Any Room

September 16, 2016

Today the weather went from summer to autumn just.like.that. And I am inspired now by the moody things. Moody light, atmosphere, shadows, dark, a little sexy, romantic. Black lace and cigarettes. Leather. Velvet and wood, candles and the smell of the forest in autumn when the leaves are falling and people have their chimney’s on. And so I thought to bring a little bit of my moody mood into these photographs today of the most gorgeous products I recently received, botanical wax curiosities, from the Botanist collection by Peacock Parfumie and candles with packaging designed by Paris-based artist Nathalie Lété.

Beautiful Ways To Add Fragrance To Any Room

Beautiful Ways To Add Fragrance To Any Room

Beautiful Ways To Add Fragrance To Any Room

Beautiful Ways To Add Fragrance To Any Room

Beautiful Ways To Add Fragrance To Any Room

Beautiful Ways To Add Fragrance To Any Room

Beautiful Ways To Add Fragrance To Any Room

Do you remember years ago (maybe you were a child) when potpourri was all the rage? People had bowls of dried petals and spices all over the house and you could find it in every scent imaginable. Then, it became hugely uncool and most of us wouldn’t be caught with a bowl of it in our entryway. That’s why we have room sprays, scented candles and incense, right? Now add these botanical wax curiosities to the mix, they are scented and lay discreetly in your room, and give a lovely smell to the entire space. I placed one of the Bourbon Rose Flowers in the hallway and the room smells just gorgeous now.

“Peacock Parfumerie Botanical Wax Curiosities are handmade objects of art. Each figure is carefully filled with real botanicals and perfumed with our botanist fragrances. Lovely displayed on a dresser, bathroom vanity or placed in a drawer to scent delicate underthings.”

In addition to the pretty forms and nice, natural scents, the packaging is just gorgeous with a black box and illustrated sleeve. These make for the perfect gift. In fact, I gave the Prince Orange Geranium Hand to my dear friend Gabrielle and she has had it for a month now and still raves about how much she loves it.

I also love the tin candles with packaging designed by Nathalie Lété. Cathedral and Apple Tart are my favorites.

Just beautiful, right? Happy Friday everyone!

(Photographs: Holly Becker for decor8)






Events + Markets

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

September 15, 2016

Hey everyone! I was just in the beautiful port city of Hamburg where I launched the German edition of Decorate For a Party (which JUST released in America and the UK!) in partnership with Blickfang, “the” International Design Fair that has events all over German-speaking Europe supporting new and established independent artists and designers, and our German publishers, Random House/DVA. I still can’t believe I’m with Random House, a real dream come true as I’ve always wanted to be represented by a very large house. So thank you DVA for working with us on our book and being so supportive with the latest title which is called FEIERLAUNE (available here).

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

I really love Blickfang, I had the honor of dining with their CEO Jennifer Reaves and was so fascinated by her ability to keep her cool and be so approachable and warm despite all of the pressure to manage so many fairs plus having two children (a baby and a young son) and a husband at home. In addition to being a power woman and a great mom, she’s extremely supportive of the design community in Europe and really enjoys giving them a beautiful platform in which they can have an almost “pop up shop” for a weekend at a beautiful location and not only meet the local press and journalists but also get in close touch with bloggers who are invited and of course, the local community who shops at Blickfang.

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

For this fair, I was invited to be on a jury with two others, French Industrial Designer Inga Sempé and German Photographer, Star-Stylist, Magazine Founder of TUSH magazine and Makeup Artist Armin Morbach.

It was such a nice joining, us three, because we are all coming from different backgrounds and places in our careers, and countries – a German, French and an American – which really gives us such an interesting perspective when we were gathered together. One thing I noticed though is that despite our differences, we all know good design when we see it – well made, thought through, a good story, etc. We didn’t argue at all about the winners – we all were told to walk the floor separately and then regroup a few hours later to show our 3 favorites in each category – fashion/accessories and home design. We all chose the same designers as our finalists so it was easy to determine the winner from there. However, to be fair, we went back to the booths of all of our finalists giving them a chance to “sell themselves” to us, the jury, as to why they deserve to win. That was most fascinating. It’s always so interesting to see what people have to say about their own products and how well they can give, what we Americans call, an “Elevator Pitch”.

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

In the end, we chose Dubaruba for Fashion because of her necklaces and bracelets by Pichulik and Lieblings Licht for Design. I personally loved the story behind Dubaruba because she is giving work to Africans to make and design jewelry for her label. The winner for home design easily went to the lighting from Lieblings Licht which was just exquisitely made – both form and function were equally strong and I really loved what I saw plus the designer, Markus Ranft, was a charming man and knew how to pitch his product which was impressive because being an independent designer is more than just making things, you have to also have a strong business sense and not be afraid to speak with conviction about your brand. After the winners were selected, we presented the awards before the fair attendees and each was given 500, Euros cash. It was really fun to take part in this presentation and to make other people so happy!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

The next morning, I was the star of show which was really fun but also scary, since I’d not been in the public eye doing an event since October 2012. I took time off to be pregnant and then, spend that time writing books (I wrote one during pregnancy and then one last year) and I wanted to stay close to home with a new child and I’m glad I did it. But he is 2 1/2 now so I decided it’s time to get out and start meeting my friends and fans again.

It wasn’t hard after walking in for the breakfast launch party on Saturday morning – we had a full house and it was invigorating, beautifully styled and planned, the food was excellent, and it was gorgeous – the space, all of it. Happily, Blickfang and my German publishers, Random House/DVA, along with one of my favorite drinks – Charitea, sponsored this gorgeous event for FEIERLAUNE and I couldn’t be happier! I only missed my co-author Leslie Shewring.

All of the photos in this post, so beautifully done, are by Photographer Johannes Zettel (with permission) and were taken mostly during my event. You can see the nice guests and splendid breakfast buffet and my youngest fan, Charli, who is only 14 years old and a blogger for teenagers – she completely melted my heart when she called me her idol. I nearly cried from happiness to know that my blog has influence over people of all ages and backgrounds, maybe it is because I have a child now and want so much to be a good role model to young people now more than ever before. It was very touching to meet her and motivated me to keep going full steam ahead with my career.

The two photos below show her and I – she asked me to sign a copy of my book and of course, I did. I really loved meeting her, her talented father took these photos below of us.) I got to meet her parents and they were incredible – so supportive of their daughter and her creativity.

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

Blickfang + The FEIERLAUNE Book Launch!

So, to wrap up I have to say a few things: Thank you from my heart to Ami, Johanna, Astrid and of course, Jennifer for EVERYTHING. I am still so impressed by this amazing party in my honor. And thank you to DVA/Random House for the support in this, too. Also, thank you to everyone who came, it was so nice to meet all of you – truly a pleasure.

Also, if any of you are interested in Blickfang, either visiting or being a part of it, I highly encourage you to check out this video. It’s from last year (I’m in it!) but it really shows the fair and how well done it really is.

I’ll be on the jury at Blickfang Zurich and teaching two workshops and sharing my book at Blickfang Zurich 25-27 November, so I hope those of you living in Switzerland or nearby can attend. I’ll be working with Blickfang and Switzerland’s most influential woman’s magazine, Annabelle, and can’t wait to meet all you there.

xo,
Holly






Books + Magazines

Decorate For a Party + Olive Box!

September 12, 2016

Great news for those of you who cannot come out to our book events… Leslie and I have partnered with Grace Kang from Pink Olive in New York City to offer you a very special box-of-the-month on her Olive Box website! You can order exclusive signed copies of our book (not available anywhere else online) as part of the Lifestyle Box subscription. You can sign up here and each month, you will get a beautiful box of goodies but your first book will contain a signed copy of Decorate For a Party from Leslie and I – we hope you love it!

Decorate For a Party + Olive Box!

Thank you Grace for your support and to all of you who would like a signed copy, remember to order from Olive Box because we won’t have signed copies available online elsewhere, only if you come to our in-person events.

Upcoming event locations:

London, 28 September at Anthropologie (register here, includes a workshop with us!)

Amsterdam, 1 October at Meet The Blogger (register here, includes a 45 teaching lecture from me!)

Victoria, BC in October, date TBD, with Leslie Shewring

Berlin in November for WestWing (date TBD)

Zurich, 26 November at Blickfang (info here, includes a workshop with me for Annabelle magazine)

Hannover in December (date TBD)

If you can’t make these events above, you can get your signed book copies through Olive Box and she will ship to you right away. xo

(image: olive box)






Recipes

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

September 12, 2016

Hello everyone and happy September! I hope you all had a wonderful summer full of lots of fun memories. Every year my husbands family has a huge baking weekend to make Christmas cookies, (which isn’t until December obviously), but we have started to make our own vanilla sugar months in advance to ensure it is well infused for our favorite vanilla crescent cookies. (My husbands family background is Czech so I am sure there are a few of your out there who make Vanilkové Rohlíčky over the holidays!).

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

So it is time, and we have made a big batch of vanilla sugar for the holidays. We also whipped up a batch of chai infused sugar and lavender sugar to add to our favorite baked goods over the coming months. They make for wonderful DIY gifts if that is your thing. Those foodies in your life are sure to appreciative!

Each recipe makes a cup of sugar, and you can either make a big batch now and store it for a couple of months then divide into little jars for gifts closer to the gift giving season. Or add straight into the jars you intend to give. (Which ever you have space for storing I guess!). Any of the recipes can be divided up once the flavors have been added. If you intend to split up the vanilla sugar, just divide the bean up into 3 parts and add the seeds and pod to the sugar. I would stick to 3 small jars for each bean so as to get maximum infusion!

You can totally eat the lavender buds, but I would remove the chai spices before adding the sugar to any treats. I like to keep the chai spices mostly whole so they are easy to remove before using. You can however use a mortar and pestle to break the spices up if you wish. Time to start collecting jars!

Chai Sugar
Ingredients
1 cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon whole cloves
4 teaspoons cardamom pods
4 whole star anise
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Chai Sugar
Gently crush or break the cinnamon stick into half. Add the cinnamon pieces, cloves, cardamom pods, star anise and ginger to the sugar. Stir and store in an airtight container for a few weeks. Remove spices before adding to your favorite cookie recipe.

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Lavender Sugar
Ingredients
1 tablespoon culinary lavender
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Lavender Sugar
Add the lavender to the sugar and stir through. Put into an airtight jar and shake. Store for a couple of weeks up to a couple of months. For finer sugar and lavender buds, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor. Add to your favorite cookie recipe for a floral palate.

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Vanilla Sugar
Ingredients
1 vanilla bean
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Vanilla Sugar
Slice the vanilla bean lengthways and remove the seeds. Stir the seeds through the sugar. Store in an airtight jar with the vanilla pod for a few weeks or until ready to use. For finer sugar, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor. Add to any baking recipe or holiday cookies (or your coffee or tea!).

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

What’s your favorite infused sugar flavor? – Rachel

TIP FROM HOLLY: These also make for great party gifts for your guests to put near each plate on the table with a little tag with the guest’s name on it – they can take it home and it serves as a seating card.

(Photography, Styling, Recipes and Text: Two Loves Studio)






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