I want to quickly tell you about a few things that have inspired me lately. I think you guys care about this stuff, because I know when you tell me what’s on your radar I find it quite interesting. But in addition to the inspiring stuff I need your travel trips on how to deal with a mom who is terrified to fly. So terrified that she could possibly have a full blown panic attack on the flight and I’m not even kidding. But first… I’m inspired by:
MY STUDENTS + MY BLOG REDESIGN
Okay my first inspiration of the moment, other than my baby, are my current students in my Blogging Your Way e-course. I’m so inspired by these wonderful men and women! In fact, before class began I decided to map out my own blog redesign, which I’m currently tackling like a bull charging towards its goal. I’m so excited to soon have this blog made over! It needs updated and I have some surprises with those updates, so decor8 will be a little different in a few months from now… You guys will love it though and I’m happy to say that I’m going in a bit of a different direction with it so it will be much more interesting to us all in just a few months from now.
I think all of our local friends have been by to visit us since the baby arrived. We are so happy and feel so loved and supported by this! I was also inspired by our friends who visited us from afar – well not too afar but still, they flew in from London just to meet little Aidan and spend time with us. It was very loving of them, a most caring gesture. Sania, Mark and their beautiful children Leila and Luke, came for a four day visit. This was a very beautiful gift for us – and being parents to older children, they really helped us with advice and also showed me how to loosen up a bit and encouraged me to go out with the baby more and do stuff with him just as I would if I were still living without a child. I was terrified to take the bus or subway with the baby. But Sania quickly got me out of that and told me we will do it together and so we did and now I’m on the train with Aidan frequently. I feel free! While they were here, we took Aidan to the art museum, zoo, flea market, shopping, out to dinner, to the beer garden, for a forest walk… He was a busy baby! Here is their son Luke with an ice cream that just happened to have a heart show up in the center. The moment I saw it I asked my husband to snap a photo because I like unexpected surprises like this but also since I felt so much love having them with us at such a special part of our life. Thank you Sania, Mark, Leila and Luke. We love you guys!
DOING A LITTLE OF NOTHING
And below, here we are at the beer garden in the forest behind my house. Doing a bit of nothing, really. We sat on the outskirts of the beer garden so we could be close to the playground (not shown), not because we’re anti-social! It was a chilly day, this was taken 3 weeks ago, but it was really nice to be huddled together around that table with our children doing nothing in particular. Too bad Mark isn’t in the photo, he took it so… But yes, time spent with visitors are cherished times indeed. That’s me, Sania, Leila, Luke and my husband Thorsten. In the stroller was a sleeping Aidan.
THE COURAGE OF OTHERS
Speaking of visitors, my mother is leaving the country for the first time in her life to fly over here to meet Aidan in less than two weeks! This takes tremendous courage, especially at 65 years old with very few flights under her belt. She lives in Boston and the moment I had Aidan, she decided to put her fear aside and fly over. I’m excited to soon see her again and to hand her Aidan, her first grandchild, and watch her eyes light up. She is so anxious to fly but her excitement to meet Aidan is helping calm her nerves. She’ll be here until July so we’ll get plenty of time to catch up and do fun things like drive up to the coast and show the baby the beach for the first time. By the way – any good advice for me to give to my mom who is terrified to take an international flight? I upgraded her seat and booked her on a day flight so she’s not half asleep when she lands in London (I’m flying to London to meet her and she’ll fly here with me), but other than that I’m not sure what else to do to make her less fearful. I love to fly and always have. It’s hard for someone like me to give advice in this case.
YOUR AMAZING REVIEWS
And finally, I have to thank EVERYONE who has been spreading the love about our book, Decorate With Flowers. In fact, I’m linking every review HERE so if yours isn’t listed, please comment below and let us know! Leslie and I are so proud of it and how well it’s doing. Tonight in Vancouver at The Cross, Leslie will be signing books and sharing some beautiful floral arrangements she has made for guests. In the Fall, we’ll be doing a little book tour in Europe during the month of September. It’s been really fun to read all of the gorgeous reviews in magazines, on websites and those that have been blogged by some pretty wonderful people. The only thing we’d like to ask is that if you blogged about our book or bought it and have a few moments, if you could leave a review on Amazon. We’d be truly grateful for that! Oh and the book is going to be released in Dutch, Japanese, Italian and French in addition to the two English language versions and the German edition – 7 editions total so far!
(images: 1/holly becker 2/thorsten becker 3/mark wilson 4/leslie shewring)
Hello dear friends, how are ya? We’re sleep deprived as hell and I feel like I’m on a mix of speed and downers, but otherwise we’re doing great in our little baby cocoon! I have many Aidan updates to share but first, I want to get something out of the way. I’ve not been blogging daily. I know, bad blogger. But here’s why: I’m kinda busy with this cute little critter below. I want to eventually have something called work / life balance but I’m finding it really fun not thinking about schedules and deadlines. I’m liking this whole chillax rollin’ with whatever the day brings lifestyle. It’s not how I usually roll, that’s for sure, but it is what it is right now. Funny, after my son was born my midwife encouraged me to take the first year a bit like Alcoholics Anonymous, “One day at a time”, encouraging me to not think about tomorrow. I laughed. Me? Not think about tomorrow? Yeah, whatevs.
I’m totally strategic, big picture, a million ideas, and I don’t just have ideas, I execute on a lot of them because when I don’t, I am pretty hard on myself. She must have sensed that. Whenever she’d stop by to check on the baby, she’d remind me to take one day at a time. She told me my house was much too clean and I didn’t even look like I just had a baby and that was 10 days after I gave birth. I think she could see that I am a bit of an overachiever. (You think?!) After a few weeks, I totally GOT what she meant. I needed to chill. The baby drives the schedule – he is BOSS. So I am cruising along with him for the moment. Once I got the hang of living for today (I have never been so unscheduled in my life) I have to admit: I’m kinda loving it. Of course, we have a sleep schedule in place, I shower each morning and get prettied up (I was raised a southern girl after all), my husband and I eat at set times, but at his age in his baby life, everything else is totally unpredictable.
Having a baby made me really appreciate that some of the best moments in life are the unrehearsed bits and his birth also made me love running my company from home even more. I’m confident that I’ll always have work to do and new things to build on so I’m not worried about missing a little work time right now. I just don’t want to sit in front of my Mac all day or constantly be running off for work stuff – I want to be with my husband and the little bug as much as I can to soak it all in.
I know every mom is different and I know many don’t have the luxury of working from home as I do… So I appreciate what I have. I really wonder how moms who working full-time do it now that I have a baby. MAD PROPS to you ladies. It must be so hard. I decided to keep our baby by my side for the first few years because I want to experience his firsts with him but this is only possible because I have my own business and since I’m willing to take the pay cut. We don’t have a mortgage, it’s possible for us to live with a little less for a few months. It’s just how it has to be. When it comes to money, the more you have the more you spend on stuff you don’t need anyway, right? I also feel more creative than ever since having a baby. Challenges always make me more creative, when my life is too easy I lose my edge… Having a baby presented crazy scheduling and sleep challenges but I feel super-charged on a creative level and this is great. My health has been great otherwise but I’ve not really slept more than 5 hours straight in 3 months. Even when I’m sleeping, since his crib is nearby our bed, I am still “on” hearing his sounds and waking if he starts fussing. But yeah, I have crazy respect for women with children more than ever now.
Despite the current scheduling and sleep challenges I do feel GOOD though. I mean, I’m really happy and feel totally centered somehow even though I’m walking into doors and constantly forgetting stuff. During all of his naps I’m constantly thinking about my family life and business and where I see it in a year from now (okay so I’m not 100% taking it one day at a time, but I try). I’m making concrete decisions and I believe that being a mother is already forcing me to make some important career changes for the better. I’ll get better. And I needed that because frankly, I was getting bored and boredom (like passion) starts to show after awhile. For the past three months, my passion has returned and is only growing stronger. In fact, I’m putting together a new direction for my work life and over time, you’ll start to see my plans take action. I hope my new adventures inspire you as I go.
I have to quickly tell you something funny. It’s about a thing that is totally unrelated to career stuff. It’s what I call the mommy mafia. I have some great friends in my life who dropped in very suddenly because they too have babies and we just met and connected. I love going out with them here in my hood – coffee in one hand, babes in the other — it’s a fun new social network I’m part of and I really love it. If someone had told me that I’d say all of this a year ago, I would have laughed in their face. I always looked at these women, the baby mamas out there, as being from another planet as I watched them run around chasing their kids. Now, I’m right alongside sharing stories from the changing table, burping my son as I listen intently to their secrets and tips that cover everything from post-pregnancy vagina workouts (yes, really!) to the latest baby gadgets. These women as so cool though and it’s been super helpful to have other moms to talk to about baby stuff instead of boring my friends to tears (the ones who don’t have kids and see me now like an alien from another planet). Together with the mommy mafia as I call them, we visit cafes and farmers’ markets, go for forest walks and soon, regular swim class with the babies. I never thought I’d love being part of a mom club but I really, really do. And I’m not just friends with these women because we have children – we click on other levels too so it’s been a great new adventure in friendship for me.
By the way, our baby boy, Aidan Benjamin, turned 12 weeks old on Sunday and today, May 9th, he is officially three months old. THREE MONTHS. It feels like much longer though – seriously, it is like he’s always been here with us. He is just as darling as ever, too though he’s not a quiet super easy sleepy baby like some of my friends brag about as they tell me how perfect their kids are. Aidan is fiery, just like the meaning of his name. He has a very big personality, he is always making noise, very interactive, is already trying to tell me stores – it’s the funniest thing to have a baby so young that is so intense and “on”. I guess, in many ways, he’s just a little version of me. He never shuts up just like his mother. And I love it. But at the end of the day, I collapse. I’ll admit that. Thankfully though, he sleeps through the night so I’m getting back to a normal sleep schedule myself. I will have to thank him someday for this. I have so many mommy friends with babies much older that keep them up all night still. Someday when he comes home with everything pierced and a girlfriend who scares me, I’ll remember that AT LEAST HE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT AS A BABY. I’ll be more forgiving as a result. I’ll try to like his girlfriends.
A little about Aidan so far: He loves people, loves being outside, he adores children, is always giggling when we play with him (he sounds so cute too), he enjoys having lots of kisses (yay!), enjoys dancing with us, is easily startled (just like me), loves having his photo taken (he looks right at the camera and sometimes, smiles), really likes going for walks, finally will wear his hats (he battled me until week 9), loves cuddling us and is very, very active in the morning and late afternoon but then gets sleepy in the evening and crashes. He isn’t that keen on any of his toys or books yet because his focus still is on mommy, daddy and milk. Oh and everyone who meets him falls in love.
By the way, if you care, I post photos of him on Instagram quite a lot so if you want to see please visit my IG account. It’s such a precious time for us, you guys seriously, it’s the best. I sort of wondered if I’d ever have a baby or not, I was living a bit of an eternal adolescence and time slipped away quicker and quicker once I hit thirty, so the fact that I had him later in life makes him so much more amazing to me. So yeah, I’m not blogging full-time right now but don’t worry, I’ve got plans up my sleeve… And you’ll still find decor8 an inspirational space – in fact, even more. OK whew! Enough! So that’s my little update for now. I’ll post another when he turns 6 months, okay?
Love, Holly xo
Would you like to try a yummy Zucchini Lime and Pecan Cake Recipe? Hi everyone, it’s Jillian here with another Delicious Bites recipe for you this month. This time last year, I asked Holly’s readers for some recipe suggestions. A reader, Gillian, suggested a recipe for a courgette and lime sponge cake and I went to work in my kitchen.
I love cakes made with vegetables and nuts, so I made a zucchini, lime and pecan cake, photographed it and took it into work to be evaluated by my test audience. They loved the cake but when the time came to post the recipe, I’d mislaid it. I made my way back into the kitchen to create the recipe which I adapted from the carrot and almond cake recipe from ‘Marcella’s Kitchen’ by Marcella Hazan. I scribbled the recipe onto the back of an envelope and stuck it to my fridge for safekeeping.
The addition of the zucchini makes this a lovely moist and nutty cake. Please don’t skip drying out the grated zucchini on kitchen paper or a tea towel before adding it to the batter. I did that the first time I made the cake and the batter was very runny. There’s no fat in the actual cake recipe but I couldn’t help myself when it came to the icing.
I just love cream cheese icing/frosting and adding zingy lime to the mix only makes it better, in my opinion. In the first version of the cake I topped it with some lime glace icing, so if you’d like a lower fat version of the cake that also works really well. For decoration I added some toffee pecans which I found on this lovely Australian food blog, The Food Department. Here’s the recipe for you – Zucchini Lime and Pecan Cake – makes one 8 inch cake…
275 g (9 oz) zucchini/courgette, grated and dried on kitchen paper
5 eggs, separated
250 g (8 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
2 limes, rind grated
250 g (8 oz) ground toasted pecans
100 g (3 1/2 oz) sponge finger crumbs or dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1 20 ml tbs lime juice
45 g (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
90 g (3 oz) cream cheese
1 tsp grated lime rind
1 1/2 cups sifted icing (confectioners) sugar
1- 2 tsp lime juice
1/2 cup sugar
30 mls (2 tbs) water
12-18 toasted pecans
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F (conventional oven). Line the base and sides of an 8 inch round tin with baking paper. In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks, sugar and rind until light and fluffy and trebled in volume. Mix the ground pecans, the sponge finger crumbs and baking powder together in a bowl. Gently fold into the egg yolk mixture along with the lime juice and the grated zucchini. In a clean dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites through the zucchini mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 50 – 60 minutes in the centre of the oven or until the cake is well risen and tests cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely before icing. The cake will sink a little as it cools.
Cream together the unsalted butter, cream cheese and grated rind until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and sufficient lime juice to form a soft icing. Beat for about 3 minutes.
This makes sufficient icing to ice the top of an 8 inch cake.
In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil steadily until the toffee turns a golden brown. Take the toffee off the heat and using a skewer coat each pecan with the toffee. Allow to cool on baking paper. Coarsely chop the pecans and use to decorate the cake with a little extra grated lime rind.
I hope you like the recipe. I’ll be back again next month with another Delicious Bites post. Bye for now, Jillian
(text/images: jillian leiboff)
Hello friends! If you are living in or around Vancouver, Canada I have a very special surprise for you! Our friends at The Cross will throw a party in honor of our new book, Decorate With Flowers, in their gorgeous shop on May 9th. They were such a huge help when we shot some of our Vancouver locations, lending props and providing location help, so for them to go and throw a party for us is just too kind. We are really excited! Leslie will be there signing copies of the book and she will make custom bouquets, too!
Decorate With Flowers Book Launch Party
Friday, May 9, 2014 from 3:00-5:00 pm
The Cross, 1198 Homer Street, Vancouver, Canada
To RSVP for this very special event and to make sure you reserve your bouquet, please CLICK HERE.
Leslie and I are working on a plan to do more events. We had originally agreed to do a North American tour with Chronicle Books sponsored by West Elm because they so nicely offered to put us on a book tour, but then I got pregnant and now, I have an infant to care for and since he is still so young, I simply cannot break away to do a tour in the states at this time. Leslie may do a few events in California and maybe a NYC stop but we’re still trying to figure things out. We will definitely do a big launch party together in London later this summer with Anthropologie on Kings Road and we hope to also throw a party in Germany and possibly others countries since the book will release in Italian, Dutch and French in September in addition to German and our two English language editions. (Here is where you can learn more about our publishers and publicists in case you would like a copy to review.)
Oh, and we just found out that Decorate With Flowers will be available in Japanese at the end of the year, so I’m thinking to perhaps go to Tokyo next March to launch the book there and meet some lovely fans and friends – and bring my baby and husband, too! So that’s the update on the book tour for our lovely book.
(image: chronicle books/the cross)