Ramblings

Hello 2015

January 11, 2015

Hello and happy new year! I’ve not been in this space to blog since December 26th, the longest blog break I’ve taken in years! Crazy! It’s nice to be back since blog breaks aren’t as fun for me as I guess they should be… I’m always so super eager to get back to blogging! For instance, on Friday I had two lovely things happen in my life. This blog celebrated its 9th anniversary since I’ve been blogging since January 9, 2006 (read my first post). I seriously can’t believe that I’m now into my 10th year and that this time next year, I’ll be a blogger for an entire decade. I never imagined this would become a company and a life altering path for me. This fantastic journey has been so rewarding in countless ways but most of all, I’m grateful to you for joining me.

Hello 2015

Also on Friday my dear little son turned 11-months-old. It’s a very lovely feeling to have a baby, so new and helpless in many ways, and then to watch him grow so beautifully, become strong, handsome, clever, spirited, even develop his own likes and dislikes in mere months. He began crawling at 6 months at top speed, walking at 10 months and he has 6 teeth and is already eating solids (in addition to milk) — and is in perfect health. He has a beautiful personality too – a real mix of colors – he will definitely grow up to have strong opinions and a love for people – I can clearly see this already.

Our pediatrician told us she is so impressed by him, that even she isn’t used to babies his age being so bright and ahead of most other babies. Though, honestly, she could have said nothing and I wouldn’t have cared because I’m not invested in making him better than others, I simply want him to follow his own path naturally and on his own terms. Though, of course, being new parents we couldn’t help but to feel very pleased to be praised by our doctor for our dedication. This gave us both a very proud parents moment, and when you are so new to parenting, you need those confidence boosters because it’s a very unknown and long road to embark on – having a child – and an occasional cheering squad is nice from time-to-time. I’m so happy that all of the love and care we put into our son is paying off like this – with both of us home with him full-time, we may be struggling for work balance and trying to squeeze in everything while he’s napping or asleep at night, but it is soooo worth it to see him this healthy and happy. He looks a bit serious in the photo above, he was tired when I shot this on Saturday, but I prefer these quieter moments when he’s not clowning around because I love capturing his silence, his beauty, how lost in thought he appears because I feel like I’m catching a glimpse of “future” him and it really warms my heart.

Hello 2015

But enough about parenting. How are you? I hope you all had a very restful and joyful holiday season. Ours was such a delight, we spent it with good friends and family and ate far too many of my homemade cookies and cake, but now I’m off of sugar doing a bit of a detox and my energy is coming back again and I feel like I’m getting my mojo back, slowly, after the lag of the holidays, celebrating a little too much, and chasing an 11-month-old who already looks and acts like he’s 2 or 3!

It’s all so good though – life – and to think that this time last year I was unpacking boxes in this new home with my huge belly and my due date drawing closer and closer. And today I’m talking about my energetic baby who is already walking. Yowser! So much can happen in a single year. In fact, I think that is what my dear little boy has taught me among a slew of other important things – how every moment should be felt and experienced, good and bad, and that so much can change about a person in such a short period of time that nothing is impossible if we will it to be.

Happy 2015 to everyone – I’m so happy to be back to give you another year of (hopefully) happiness, inspiration, creative ideas, support and community.

Love,
Holly x

(Photos: Holly Becker for decor8. Please do not use these images without my written consent since they are of my little boy, thank you. Just pop me an email. Thanks!)






uncategorized

December Greetings + A Big Kiss!

December 26, 2014

Hello dear friends! It’s the holiday season which means that most likely you are home, or at someone else’s home, or maybe if you’re not in Germany (today is 2nd Christmas), you are shopping the big sales or enjoying some relaxing down time. Whether you celebrate the holidays or not, whether you have family or are alone and whether this time is special to you or simply “meh”… I simply want to send you many warm greetings and lots of love as I sign off until the new year. You have all been such an inspiration to me and next month will begin my 10th year of blogging… I still feel, in many ways, the same as I did when I first started, “Why do people even read my posts!?”. I’m so glad that you do and for those of you who take the time to comment and share what you find here, thank you.

December Greetings + A Big Kiss!

It means so much that I can support my family doing what makes me happiest – reaching out, sharing, writing and growing alongside all of you because no matter how “seasoned” or “pro” I may be, we’re all in this together and I often feel as overwhelmed and unsteady, inspired and eager, drained and filled with anticipation by this whole blogging thing as you do. I may inspire you by my work but you’ve inspired much more in return because I simply couldn’t keep all of this up without the incentive = YOU. I’m signing off for the next 10 days for some family time, but I’ll be back again during the first week of January after New Year’s, most likely the 5th. But since I didn’t take maternity leave this year or vacation, I may linger a little and return a few days later. I’ll have to see. If you’d like to keep busy, here are a bunch of great things for you to enjoy in my absence like…

My personal top 12 posts this year:

  1. Resolve To Be Happy
  2. Our Baby Aidan Benjamin Is Here!
  3. Our Birth Story + Newborn Photography by Christin Lange
  4. Can Full-Time Bloggers Live Off Of Rainbows & Hugs?
  5. Our Baby Boy’s Nursery Before + After
  6. What Do Babies Play With?
  7. Baby Essentials For The First Year
  8. 22 Hard To Kill Houseplants
  9. The Future Of Blogging – What Do You Think?
  10. Blog Trends: Slow Blogging
  11. 10 Ways To Create Hygge At Home
  12. Our New Book Has a Website

Now for 9 blogs that are really lovely…

  1. Tell Love and Chocolate
  2. Hanke Arkenbout
  3. Freutcake
  4. Jeanie Micheel
  5. Two Loves Studio
  6. Sugar & Cloth
  7. Carnets Parisiens
  8. Mokkasin
  9. Anna Malmberg

15 favorite design finds (or purchases) this year:

  1. Floyd leg
  2. Muuto Stacked Shelves
  3. Superfront
  4. Jonathan Adler Owl Bookends (still on my wishlist!)
  5. Anything from Menu A/S
  6. & Other Stories
  7. Kauniste in Finland
  8. This amazing cabinet
  9. Fujifilm INSTAX Instant Smartphone Printer
  10. Copper foil tape
  11. Matte white washi tape
  12. Band.do iPhone cases
  13. Hubble & Duke baby mocs
  14. Ali Edwards December Daily kit (I’m nearly finished with mine!)
  15. My amazing pineapple Aimee Wilder wallpaper

And…

New Year’s Eve inspiration for you – a whole lot of it… —Click here

Thank you, dear readers, for another rewarding year on decor8! And a big thanks to those who help me on this blog like Jessy, Flora, Liz & Jewels and Holly and the teachers who worked with me on Blogging Your Way this year – Tina, Fiona, Nichole along with my husband Thorsten. Also, a hug and thanks to Leslie because our book launched this past Spring and it’s so lovely and super successful thanks to her – it looks like Decorate With Flowers will soon be in 12 languages/editions with Japanese releasing in January. Woo hoo!

Love, Holly xo

(credit: trimming)






Arts + Crafts

Crushing On Inaluxe

December 24, 2014

Have you heard of Inaluxe? Fine artists Kristina Sostarko and Jason Odd formed this design studio in Australia and have collaborated with some very impressive brands including Kate Spade, Bloom Cosmetics, Land of Nod, IKEA and Urban Outfitters. Kristina launched the brand in 2006 online to share her projects but later, Jason joined in to help take the brand further which eventually landed them a studio space and many new projects. These make me happy!

Crushing On Inaluxe

Crushing On Inaluxe

Crushing On Inaluxe

Crushing On Inaluxe

Crushing On Inaluxe

Crushing On Inaluxe

Crushing On Inaluxe

Crushing On Inaluxe

Crushing On Inaluxe

Their work is just lovely. My wish list includes the Birds of Australia, Blue Winged Kookaburra, Odyssey, Laser Beams, Garden Party and Float prints.  Garden Party and Float would be PERFECT in my new work studio. I also love the paper products they are creating for Earth Greetings, like this gift wrap above.

What do you fancy? You can shop online for these vibrant, beautiful prints here and they offer shipping worldwide.

(images: inaluxe)






Blogging

Earn Money Without Guilt

December 23, 2014

Let’s talk about another trend in blogging – or at least a trend I want to see very soon – Earn Money Without Guilt! Oh and remember, if you’ve missed the first two posts in this series, you can catch up by reading them here: Slow Blogging and Become Your Own Blog Star. And if you’d like to continue this discussion elsewhere online, including Instagram, you can link to this post (shortlink: http://wp.me/po210-3iu) and use hashtag #20blogtrends. Ok, good. Let’s get started!

Earn Money Without Guilt

See this lovely lady above? She is a mother, a wife and a blogger. She works from home. She also just won her first blog award from a prestigious Dutch design magazine. Her name is Holly Marder and she writes once monthly on decor8 (her column is called Homes With Heart) and on her own beautiful blog called Avenue Lifestyle. She has high hopes to do more and with her talent she is likely to reach her dreams and even soar beyond if she keeps at it. Her goal is to earn a living as a blogger, stylist and photographer. That is the goal for many bloggers currently.

The question is, as readers will we allow that? Or will we stand in her path?

A blog doesn’t just have to be about sharing pretty things for free, day in and day out, with no financial reward for the effort poured into it. We all need to eat and pay rent. And most of us really do love blogging and feel a genuine passion for it first and foremost. Yet, when you add up the hours and resources involved to produce beautiful blog content, no one can keep at it post after post, year after year, without eventually needing to earn some money to sustain it all.

It isn’t nice or even fair to demand from talented people who write beautiful blogs to just pump this stuff out for free and to get upset when they start online shops, publish books, produce downloadable content (for a price), etc. Sure, it wasn’t this way in the beginning for all bloggers but also remember, in the beginning, blog content wasn’t where it’s at today. We didn’t see magazine-worthy recipes, professional-looking styling from weddings to interiors and beyond, gorgeously shot food, amazing travel stories, expertly crafted DIY stories. It was mostly text and tiny images and since blog platforms, templates, even digital cameras weren’t where they’re at today, the average blogger couldn’t produce magazine-worthy content at home.

Time changed that. We all learned and grew together. We bought books, we took classes, taught each other tricks and tips, bought the latest cameras and software programs for photo editing. We leveled up.

When I started blogging nearly a decade ago, we didn’t have a crystal ball to predict all of this.  But with a lot of drive and enthusiasm, we moved blogging to where it is today – into a new form of media, the people’s journalism, a community of inspirers who, together, have a strong global conversation on topics every single day in which our passion and often our talent, flows. When I hear readers complain that they see so much of the same stuff on blogs lately I think that we really are influencers because if we can get so many bloggers to pick up a topic and write about it, my god, how amazing to join voices in this way! How amazing to have this kind of social influence! Woot!

But one problem still exists – the stupid elephant in the room…

MONEY.

We don’t need to stay stuck in the mindset of the past when everything online was free so it should always should be free, do we? Are we really selling out if we earn a living by doing what we love and through sharing our talents online? A sell out is a person who compromises their values for money. That’s clearly wrong. A sell out isn’t a person who earns money without compromising their values and does it with class and integrity.

See the difference?

Everything shouldn’t be cheap or free, because often you get what you pay for (or aren’t paying for). I’ve taken a lot of $10 e-courses that gave me nothing more than some pre-recorded content and not much interaction from the students or teachers otherwise. They were the online equivalent of reading a how-to book in most cases. I’ve also taken some online courses that were a lot more money (like $100+) and the videos were top notch, I learned a ton, and I felt a part of a larger community. I definitely got what I paid for with no regrets.

I’m frankly so bored with this old-fashioned mindset of everything being cheap or free. While, as a reader, I may not want to pay to read individual blog posts, I may be happy to support the blogger in other ways. Maybe they have a shop, products, books, podcasts, videos, exclusive content, online magazines or other things that enables them to earn a living. If the content is exceptional and there is great takeaway, paying for that is a non-issue. Or perhaps your favorite bloggers have some sponsored posts from time to time (of course with full disclosure in the opening paragraph and at the bottom of the post), or some ads. Is that really so terrible? Or are we being a bit judgmental?

Let’s stop guilting our blogger friends. Most of the blogs we read are not run by wealthy people looking to take advantage of us. They are run by people just like us, who want a better life for themselves and their families and are willing to work very hard for it, by working for a living in an ethical way that brings value to OUR life. Because the truth is, for blogs that spend hours on creating meaningful content, our appreciation has to run deeper than merely pinning their images to our pinboards.

Currently, I see a big burn out “mass exodus” on the horizon, bloggers posting less or giving up altogether, if we don’t get clever and new find ways to support what we do (monetarily) without audience push back. The “everything is free on the internet” mentality has to go because only then can the quality of content drastically improve, which drives competition, change, innovation and new ideas.

For 2015, let’s all join forces and support this trend of earning money as a blogger but beyond that, let’s spread a new way of looking at blogs – as the new media they really are – and as a righteous path for career seekers to explore and to not be shamed if they earn revenue in ethical ways while blogging.

So there, I’ve put it out there. Discuss if you’d like. I’d love to here your thoughts, of course. #20blogtrends

(image: hanke arkenbout)






Color Inspiration

Winter Styling With Metallics + Pastels

December 22, 2014

Dietlind Wolf has been on the blog before because she’s a huge inspiration to me. Whenever I need a creative lift, I dive into her blog and soak it all in. In fact, she is one of the best interior stylists in the world in my opinion – so forward thinking – nothing ever looks stagnant and I never feel like I’ve already seen it a million times. Several years ago we had a long chat on the phone about doing a workshop together and I’m still considering it because I’d love to be a part of any classroom experience with her. Have a look at some of her recent styling work which appeared as a supplement recently in Brigitte magazine. Isn’t this all just so fabulously inspiring?

Winter Styling With Metallics + Pastels

Winter Styling With Metallics + Pastels

Winter Styling With Metallics + Pastels

Winter Styling With Metallics + Pastels

Winter Styling With Metallics + Pastels

Winter Styling With Metallics + Pastels

Winter Styling With Metallics + Pastels

Winter Styling With Metallics + Pastels

Winter Styling With Metallics + Pastels

I don’t know about you, but seeing these pretty things and this fab color palette really made me smile today. This makes me think of Kirsten Dunst in the 2006 film, Marie Antoinette… I loved that film — the set design, costumes, all of it.

Winter Styling With Metallics + Pastels

Heavenly!

(images: dietlind wolf except for kirsten dunst, courtesy of fan pop)






Decorating Tips

10 Ways To Create Hygge At Home

December 22, 2014

My friends at Skagen invited me to share some views on Danish life and culture since they consider decor8 a great source for Scandinavian design. I decided to write about a Danish word that has meaning that is very close to my heart. Let me give you some background as to why I choose to a single word as my topi and how it applies to the home in particular.

10 Ways To Create Hygge At Home

When I began traveling to Germany over 15 years ago (I met a guy, fell in love, and have been with him ever since), I picked up on German words that quickly became a special part of my vocabulary based purely on phonetics – most how funny they sounded. I laughed a lot back then because the language is tricky and to a foreigner, words can feel like massive tongue-twisters especially when coupled with a deliciously thick German accent — well, it all seems almost comical. In American English, our goals over the past 20 years have been to abbreviate everything. Americans generally call me “Hol” instead of “Holly”. Americans are the king of short cuts, and not just when it comes to language. We like everything fast, we eat fast, work fast, live fast and relax fast. Germans are so much different – some things here can take forever and the very complicated language is no different, there are no short cuts. Germans work incredibly hard to protect their language and when they do dream up new words, the goal is make them longer and more difficult, not to shorten them because they pride themselves on their ability to be the most clever in the room when it comes to word games – the longer the better.

Since moving to northern Germany in 2009 (I’m a few hours south of the Danish border), I’ve built quite a vocabulary which I’m so proud of… So when I’m interviewed by German journalists, many ask what my favorite word is. I always say Gemütlichkeit which is from the word Gemütlich and means, “a space or situation that is warm and cosy, that induces a cheerful mood and peace of mind, without a need to hurry or worry, and with a connotation of belonging and social acceptance”. Journalists usually laugh or tell me how cute that is, that this word is so old-fashioned and sweet, etc. Even though it’s a wonderful word with an even more beautiful meaning, younger Germans don’t seem to embrace it like the old-timers do. Everything is “sweet” nowadays, not “Gemütlich” and honestly, I think that’s a pity because this is one word that just embodies everything I love about strong families, friendships and even communities. Plus, there is no English equivalent which makes it even more special to me. Some say it means cozy but Gemütlich or Gemütlichkeit is far from cozy because you can get cozy beneath a warm blanket. It’s a state of mind. It’s being at home around friends and family sharing a meal and unconditional love just flows in that space, a feeling of warmth, a sense of belonging, come one, come all.

Germans may not embrace Gemütlichkeit as much as I think they could in modern times, but the Danes certainly do. The Danish have a word that means the same but to them, it’s embedded in their culture, in their DNA, and goes much deeper than in the German culture because to the Danes, Hygge has a much broader social component.

The word is Hygge.

Hygge is a comrade, an affectionate teamwork. For a country that has long, cold winters with little light after 3pm, I guess this comrade works well. Hygge is a cozy pulling together but also a state of mind where Danes just know the weather is horrible but they still make the best of it. So why not fill the home with friends and family, light some candles, bake cookies and sit around the fireplace?

I thought that, in the spirit of winter, I’d create my top 10 ways of how to create Hygge at home. My neighbors and close friends downstairs are Danish, I have lots of good friends from Denmark and my husband’s sister is partnered with a Dane… Oh and my aunt was an art teacher for a Danish school outside of Copenhagen, so I do have some insight into life and culture up north. Not to mention, I work with a lot of Danish firms and my home is filled with interiors objects from Denmark. I also have worked in Denmark styling homes so I’ve experienced a lot of Hygge from the homeowners first hand.

10 Ways To Create Hygge At Home

10 Ways To Create Hygge At Home

1. Make interior design important to you and your family. This means considering what you have, edit when needed (try to avoid being a pack rat!), and decorate with intention and style. Not all Danish homes look like those you see in their magazines BUT they definitely are very aware of design and many families put a lot of care and attention into their home. It’s a source of pride. It’s a statement of who you are, at any income level.

2. Don’t wing it or buy something just because it’s on sale. Danes aren’t known to be wasteful. In fact, they tend to save up for that favorite design piece vs. running out and buying a knock-off or something they don’t really like just because it’s cheap.

3. Instill a sense of respect in your children for the home and the things in it. While kids will always trash their rooms, contain their mess to their space. I noticed in Danish homes, kids don’t run the household. Parents still had stylish interiors and the kids are still kids. It’s all about letting them know early on that a home needs to be shown some respect. This carries well into their adult years, too.

4. Always ask your guests, upon entering, if they want food or drink. To me, this is SO Danish. I can’t enter a Danish home without the second question after, “Hello How Are You?” being, “What can I get you to drink or eat, we have….” It’s a great way to show manners but is also caring and warm. This means to always keep a few bottles of wine or a favorite beverage in stock and something to munch on – so no empty refrigerators! I’m thinking to have a shelf in our closet that is reserved for guests – munchies, drinks, etc.

5. Linger. This is HARD for most Americans. We often clean up the plates the second guests finish! Danes linger. Dinners in Germany are the same, they go on for hours and hours, especially at someone’s home (but even in a restaurant). Lingering affords time to relax and unwind, have deeper conversations and enjoy the moment. I think that is why “mindfulness” is such a huge trend in thinking currently in the states. Most of us aren’t so important that we can’t take time out to eat and enjoy being with those whom we love. It’s hard to slow down at first, but if you practice mindful eating, you will learn to linger, and lingering is very “Hygge”.

6. Enjoy what you have. The grass is always greener. A Hygge home is the greenest to the owner. Sure, they may love to have the latest kitchen or a newest sofa, but you better believe what they do have is cared for and they’re still entertaining family and friends whether the sofa is perfect or not. A sense of contentment is important.

7. Perfect is boring.
 Don’t invite friends over only when you’ve created an elaborate spread. A simple wooden bread board topped with cheeses, some olives, fresh bread, butter, a glass of wine… Or maybe a cake you’ve made that may not look amazing but it tastes great and took you only a few moments to make. Those kinds of gatherings are beautiful too.

8. Sharing is caring. Don’t just invite over your friends and let them sit there while you slave in the kitchen. A true Hygge home says YES when guests offer to help. Let them help with the salad prep. The cookie decorating. Setting the table. Community and sharing is something I always see when I hang out with my Danish friends.

9. Light candles and cozy up! Often the most inexpensive things can create a cozy space – like candles. Candles are always aglow in Danish homes the moment the sun goes down, especially in the winter. Even at cafes, you’ll see people sitting outside in late Fall all the way until March with candles on their tables, lap blankets and a cup of something warm. Candles on the balcony, the patio, on the windowsills, in the fireplace, on the table, they instantly create a mood. Natural daylight and candlelight are two of my favorite ways to light a home and both require little to no money which is even better.

10. Embrace who you are. This is hard to do when you are constantly running back and forth and even at home, constantly tidying up or running after the kids and never really pausing. Embrace that you are only human and deserve to take time out each day just to have some tea, do yoga, read a chapter or two of a book, whatever works. This is very Hygge, and very Danish, to pause and sit inside of yourself for a moment, to let your soul catch up to your body as I’ve heard some say.

10 Ways To Create Hygge At Home

I could add so much more to this list. Would you like to add some thoughts? Please do so below, I’d love to hear your take on this.

Note: This post is in partnership with Skagen. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting those who help me to maintain this blog that I love so much.

(photos: holly becker)






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