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)
Hi everyone, it’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites column. A few weeks ago a friend invited me over for a family dinner. We have a standing agreement — she provides the main course while I bring along the dessert. One of the family members has loads of likes and dislikes when it comes to food, which means dessert has to be either lemon flavoured or made from apples, or it won’t be eaten. I don’t like bringing the same dessert twice and as I’ve already brought along a classic lemon tart, a lemon drizzle cake and lemon squares, so I needed to come up with something new.
I looked through my fridge and saw the pot of lemon curd leftover from last month’s brown sugar meringues. I don’t like wasting food so I started thinking of ways to use the leftover curd and decided to make lemon meringue tarts. I made 4 lemon meringue tarts with the leftover curd and they were such a hit, even with the children, that the other dessert I brought along was completely ignored. It’s a bit involved but I thought you might like the recipe.
The tarts themselves aren’t complicated to make, it’s just lemon curd spooned into tart shells topped with a cloud of meringue but the whole process is a bit time consuming. There’s lots of cooling involved so I would make the tart shells and lemon curd the day before you plan to make the tarts and you could always cheat a bit by buying ready made tart shells.
I’m not a fan of uncooked meringue so I baked the lemon meringue tarts in a hot oven for about 10 minutes. n the first batch I made, the high temperature melted the regular lemon curd so I’ve added a little cornflour to the lemon curd filling to stop that happening. If you brulee the meringue with a blow torch instead of baking it, you could leave out the cornflour (cornstarch). I’ve also dialled back the sugar content in the curd as there is plenty of sugar in the meringue topping. The crumb layer idea came from an old Dione Lucas lemon meringue pie recipe I found in one of my cookbooks. You can’t taste the cardamom but it seems to add a depth of flavour.
Here’s my recipe for you.
Lemon Meringue Tarts (makes twelve 8 cm tarts)
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Put to one side.
110 gm (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1/4 cup almond meal
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients and the lemon rind in a food processor and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and sufficient cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade. Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface (I use a large sheet of greaseproof paper) and roll out thinly with a rolling pin. Grease twelve 8 cm tartlet tins. Cut out circles of pastry large enough to fit the tart shells. Line the tins with the pastry and trim the edges of the tart tins with a sharp knife. Lightly prick the pastry surface with the tines of a fork and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes. Line the tart shells with muffin liners and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes or until the tart shells are golden.Take the tart shells out of the oven and sprinkle about ½ teaspoon of the breadcrumb mixture over the base of each of the warm tart shells. Place the tart shells on a wire rack to cool. If you want, you can make the tart shells a day ahead and store them in an airtight container.
Lemon curd filling
4 large egg yolks
Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
150 ml (2/3 cup) strained lemon juice
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch), optional
120 gm (4 oz) unsalted butter
Place the egg yolks, the lemon rind, juice, cornflour (if using) and sugar into a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Keep whisking for 10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the butter in small batches until well combined. Set aside to cool. When completely cool cover the bowl and place the curd in the fridge and allow it to set. The curd will keep for a few weeks in the fridge in a sealed sterilized jar.
4 large egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar
Additional caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Fill each tart shell about 2/3 full with the lemon curd. In a large clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until thick and gradually add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat until the sugar dissolves. Using a spoon, decoratively swirl the meringue over the filled tart shells or you can pipe the meringue over the top, sealing the tarts completely with the meringue. Place the tart shells on a baking sheet and lightly sprinkle a little extra caster sugar over the meringue topping.
Bake the tarts in the preheated oven (190°C/375°F) for 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown. If you prefer, you can use a brulee torch to colour the meringue. Take the tarts out of the oven and cool the tarts on a wire rack.
Once the tarts have cooled, return them to the fridge for a few hours to allow the filling to firm before serving.
I hope you enjoy the lemon meringue tarts. I’ll be back in June with a summery Delicious Bites treat for you. See you all then – Jillian - and have a lovely Saturday!
(images: jillian lieboff for decor8)
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)
Ok let’s drool together over this Danish stylist, blogger and her beyond lovely photographs because, well, isn’t that the job of a good design blogger – to give you some eye candy and inspiration? So that shall be yours, dear friends. Meet Line Thit Klein, a 35-year-old Copenhagen-based photographer who specializes in lifestyle, travel and food photography who has been seen in popular magazines and books here in Europe and beyond, including Kinfolk mag, Liebe ceramics and NOMA restaurant. You can catch a glimpse below.
And oh yes, more tufted sofas with buttons popping up huh? I told you, I’m addicted and want one soooo bad!
(images: line klein)
I was happy to see this beautiful home we shot for Decorate Workshop, which belongs to a friend of a friend of mine (how I found out about it in the first place), pop up as a location for hire today over at Light Locations. I loved working in this home. In fact, you can take your copy of Decorate Workshop and compare the photos we took with those on this page and then you can clearly see what a little before and after styling fun – you can see what I did to bring in a little Holly style to the mix.
Some homes require little styling, some way more, but this one kept me busy as it was very spare so I needed to really collect from other rooms and rearrange things, including furniture, in order to make it feel more lived in since it was only a summer house. Working in this home for a day was a dream come true, I wanted to move right in, I never connected to a home as much as I did this one. It was in the middle of nowhere – in a forest about an hour or two outside of London and we got SO lost getting there but once we arrived, I didn’t want to leave. In fact, I barely missed my flight home that night. I remember the two buckets of flowers we loaded into the car that I bought earlier that morning in Chiswick before we ventured out and how excited I was when I arrived on location – I hadn’t seen the home previously – only a few rooms and vignettes, so I wasn’t sure what was in store for me but wow, it was a pristine gem of a place. It made me so happy “playing house” for the day – and the best part was that the home owner wasn’t around so the photographer, Debi Treloar, and I could really relax and go at our own pace.
I love when homeowner’s are around to, don’t get me wrong, but I find it less tense when they’re not – I always worry about moving things and rearranging stuff in front of the person who lives there and they can easily get offended or worried you will drop something or they can also spend a lot of time explaining where this or that object came from and while those bits of history are wonderful, it takes so long to shoot a home like this one. This house was massive on two levels so it took some time to work through. Also, when the homeowner is there, you usually are asked to stop and break for lunch and Debi and I like to work straight through so we can get everything done and leave before the light is gone. We were shooting late winter, so we had to wrap up by 3:00 – and it takes about an hour to clean the house after, put everything back into place, back up the photos and pack the car, so you get a lot more shots when no one is home. This was such an enjoyable shoot… I remember the fresh country air, the singing birds and that feeling like this home would look extra gorgeous in my book and well, it did. Here is one shot from my book below – to see more, I guess you have to get the book (wink). :)
To the lovely lady, Emma, who owns this home, thank you. I loved working there for the day and pretending it was my own!
(images: light locations)