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Catching Up: Being a New Mom

Hello everyone! How are you? I’m rarely at my computer these days, thankfully my iPhone keeps me very well connected to all of you and your going-ons so that’s a good thing. I’m not only busy as a new mom but I’m working on pitches for new books since I have a meeting with my publisher soon and I want to wow her with great ideas! More than that, I want to wow myself because I can’t do anything in which I have no genuine passion for. Are ya feelin’ me here?

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I can’t perform for others without it being a genuine expression; I never could. I have to please myself first and then the projects I take on have more meaning and weight to me and then they seem to do really well and others respond to them too. When I lack all of that, stuff just feels odd and disconnected – which is never good for me personally.  Being a new mom has given me a clearer understanding of self and others, my purpose, and where I want to go career-wise and with my family. I wouldn’t say I’ve become totally clear as I believe clarity is fleeting – what seems clear today can be hazy tomorrow depending on a million different things but I do think that new responsibilities in life can, at first be complex and present challenges but then after you’ve gotten into your new groove those responsibilities can mean even better things for your life overall. Before having a baby, I was beating to my own drum and had all of the time in the world and could do as I please, when I wanted to. With that also came a sense of, “What does all this mean ultimately?”. Sure I have achieved a lot professionally but how about having the best of both worlds, a happy career and a happy family life with a baby who wraps his hands around my neck and coos as he smiles, drools on me and looks into my eyes with utter joy.

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To add to this, and wow this is really personal but I need to tell you about it… A week before giving birth I was out with my husband walking to a fave restaurant and he could sense I was stressed about  labor and birth but also about other things that I won’t detail but we’ll call it “stuff” – that which we all have that seems to creep out of the closet right before your life is about to change (wedding, childbirth, relocation, new job, etc.). My husband was listening as I rambled about this “stuff” and suddenly he stopped on the sidewalk, grabbed my shoulders, looked deep into my eyes and said, “Holly you deserve to have what everyone else has. You DESERVE it, you deserve to be a mother and have a chance to have a baby”. Tears immediately flowed down my cheeks as I held him and after that, my anxiety over the “stuff” ended. In fact, being a mother came so naturally because that wall was removed and my good energy could flow into my new life with a baby which resulted in feeling happier than I’ve ever been before.

Everything has come full circle but thing is, I’m ready to make more circles! I once thought in life that we had one puzzle to put together, one circle to complete, but now I’ve realized we can reinvent ourselves, change things we don’t like, add to what we love, and make many puzzles and many circles so once one feels complete we can move to the next. This gives me a sense of freedom. Things feel lighter in my heart now that I’ve realized that options are limitless when you stop thinking you have to be complete as a person or complete some big, profound circle. Complete to me equals THE END. So I’ve accepted the evolution of my life as being composed of many circles and I will continue to make them and complete them and move on. And on. And on. Life is much calmer again that Aidan is four months old – he has his routine (to a degree), we are learning ours (!) and it’s slowly all coming together. And I’m making a new circle with him and my new role.

Living as a childless couple for so long made me a bit self-centered, which I didn’t see until I had a little one. I’m learning the gift of giving again in a very selfless way along with patience and how valuable what I do with my son really is to him – the most tiny things – and how he looks to me for love and care and how much joy I reap from providing these things. I often wonder how long it takes the average first-time mother to get into the groove with a baby but I guess it depends on the baby, doesn’t it? I quickly adjusted to having him around and had everything pretty pulled together right away, which I thought was a miracle – but then it all sort of fell apart after I got on a new birth control pill around the 9th week of his life. My hormones went wacko bonkers and I wanted to sleep constantly - I even felt asleep though I was awake. I thought I may be depressed but the doctor said I wasn’t – no way – that this was a side effect of the pill that she put me on and that it would lift over time.

I finally pushed through it and now things have stabilized naturally – but man, I was starting to wonder if I’d be tired FOREVER and WHERE WAS MY PERSONALITY HIDING?! From week 9 to week 15 I was a hot hormonal mess – damn birth control! I’m glad THAT is over. It feels good to be ME again which means now I’m starting to revisit home decorating projects, my blog, future books, joining some fitness classes, hiring a good nutritionist, planning a Fall book tour here in Europe with Leslie, maybe a Spring one next year in America (YES!), teaching a local workshop, etc. It’s a NICE feeling to have HOLLY back again. And to be able to hold my head up for more than an hour without it crashing to the table. ;) So for those who have been asking… This is what being a new mom has been like so far. I’m doing really good! But it’s definitely been a MAJOR life change. I must add though that it has been only for the better.

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Also, on the work front I’m happy to report that our book, Decorate With Flowers (UK) (US) (DE), is doing great and that on September 17th we’ll be in London (Leslie and I) to have a party at Anthropologie to launch the book (our Canadian launch party photos at The Cross are shown here). We’re so happy! We’ll also be doing a little European tour – but only a few cities, nothing crazy because my boy is still just a little one and I want to spend as much time with him as I can during his first year and even into his second year… I didn’t have a baby to put him on the back burner though I definitely still must work not only for the financial reasons but for the emotional ones – I get so much joy out of my work that I can’t imagine NOT doing what I do.

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 (photos: outtakes from Decorate With Flowers photographed by Leslie Shewring and Janis Nicolay. Shown in photos, Leslie Shewring and Jessy Senti on location in Vancouver at the home of Kate Horsman)

Posted in uncategorized on June 11, 2014
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Delicious Bites: Ricotta Pancakes with Passionfruit Syrup Recipe

Would you like to try some Ricotta Pancakes with Passionfruit Syrup? Hello, everyone, its Jillian with another Delicious Bites column for decor8. Normally I write from Sydney but this month I’m writing from Europe, currently Paris, where I’m on vacation. I’ve been eating a pastry a day, purely as research for Delicious Bites of course (wink).

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Do you like pancakes? Yes, of course you do! I’ve always loved pancakes yet I don’t make them that often. Blueberry pancakes are my favourite closely followed by ricotta pancakes. Ricotta cheese is one of my all time favourite ingredients. I use it all the time as a spread and in some of my favourite pasta dishes. I’ve even tried making ricotta at home just to see if I could. I mainly use ricotta in savoury dishes but this time I’m using it as the main ingredient in these light and fluffy pancakes.

Ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit syrup

This pancake recipe was inspired by Aussie cook and restaurateur, Bill Granger. I have one of Bill’s cookbooks at home and the recipes are easy to follow and taste great. Bill is famous for his ricotta hotcakes with honey comb butter and this is my take on his classic dish. Instead of honeycomb butter, I topped the hotcakes with labne and sliced banana then drizzled over some passionfruit syrup. If passionfruit are hard to source, honey or maple syrup would work well or any other of your favourite pancake toppings. These pancakes are at their best when freshly made. They still taste great when reheated but they do lose their fluffiness. Here’s the recipe for you.

Ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit syrup

(Makes 15 hotcakes)

Ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit syrup

Ricotta Pancakes
1 cup self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Two 20 ml tbs caster sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind
4 eggs, separated
250 g (8 oz) ricotta cheese
1 cup milk or buttermilk

Ricotta Pancakes
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Stir in the sugar and lemon rind. Gently mix in the egg yolks, the ricotta cheese and the milk. In a large clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites through the batter. Grease a small non stick pan and place over a medium heat. When the pan is hot, spoon in a few tablespoons of the mixture just enough to cover the pan. When bubbles form on the surface and the undersurface is golden brown, it’s time to flip the hotcake over and cook the other side. I like to lightly grease the pan in between each hotcake, to prevent them sticking. Once cooked, keep the pancakes warm.

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Passionfruit Syrup
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
2 passionfruit, pulped

Passionfruit Syrup
In a small saucepan combine the sugar, water and the juice. Bring to the boil and lower the heat. Simmer the mixture for a few minutes. Gently stir in the passionfruit pulp and simmer for a further minute. Remove from the heat. Serve hot or cold. If the syrup gets too thick as it cools, just dilute it with a little hot water.

Ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit syrup

 

Ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit syrup

 

I really hope you get the chance to make these as they are just delicious. See you all again next month with another Delicious Bites post, – Jillian.

(text/images by jillian leiboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites on June 09, 2014

Now Hiring e-Teachers!

Hello everyone! I’m quickly dropping in to wish you a happy weekend with hopes that the weather is as beautiful where you live as it is here… Feeling so blessed! I also want to tell you about an exciting online teaching gig.  I thought I’d cast a net to see who replies because we’re currently hiring, yippee!

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But first, some personal updates… We are all doing really well, Aidan will be 4 months old on June 9th so I’m already preparing an outfit for him to wear for his monthly photo shoot because I’m a crazy in love mommy like that! Thing is, he’s such a doll, I’m totally smitten! I’ll write a big post all about Aidan with updates and photos when he turns 6 months old so you can expect that in August, but if you want play-by-play footage until then, please follow me on Instagram @decor8 because I post lots of pics from my daily life there which often includes my little sweetheart baby boy.

Okay, now to the really cool job stuff. I shot this photo of my mood board above just last week after we just wrapped up another Blogging Your Way e-course and it was a huge success – we had lots of fun, I helped design some prints that you can see on my mood board which we gave away to our students that said, “Blog what you love, love what you blog”, and we also had a final exam in which students could earn a bonafide certificate – I know, so cute, right!? You can see mine printed out (top right) on my mood board. Anyway, we’ll be teaching again in September with a VERY SPECIAL and quite famous designer who will solely lead an amazing class for us then in October/November, I’ll lead another blog class online with two guest teachers. Blogging Your Way is the web’s first e-course about blogging and we’ve been growing and going strong since March 2009 when we launched, with over 7,000 students taught worldwide so far. I can’t believe we just celebrated our 5 year anniversary!

If you would love to teach for Blogging Your Way, please write to our project coordinator, Jessy Senti, with topics you’d like to cover and tell us why you’d make a great teacher. You can send a video submission, a sample teaching post, a list of topics you’d love to cover, etc. Her email is jessy [at] decor8blog [dot] com. This is a very well paid opportunity and for the most part, a one-time teaching gig as we like to switch up our teachers with each course, but this doesn’t mean we’d never call you back to work for us again – we always keep the doors open. We are currently seeking teachers for the October/November 2014 intermediate/advanced blogging class in which a co-teacher would teach two Fridays online and you’d need to be available to answer questions in our forum for a two week period. We can give you more information via email… I can’t wait to see who writes in, maybe you?

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

xo
Holly

(photo: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in blogs on June 06, 2014

Homes With Heart: Dutch Design Duo Family Home

Hey guys! Hope you’re ready for some Dutch interior design inspiration because today I (Holly Marder, your Homes With Heart monthly columnist on decor8) am taking you through the home of an inspirational young design couple’s home filled with pastel tones, unique one-of-a-kind finds and lots and lots of heart. Let’s go!

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Design duo Tineke Beunders and Nathan Wierink, behind the Dutch label Ontwerpduo, live within meters of their design studio, making their Eindhoven, Netherlands, family home as practical as it is pretty. With a flair for design in all it’s forms, the couple have infused their modern home with quirky details and pops of colour, exercising restraint when it comes to the details. “We both love a clutter free home. The workshop is already enough mess during the day, so there shouldn’t be too many things in the house,” Beunders says. “We like things that have a function and are beautiful at the same time.”

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The couple began their design label while they were still studying at the Design Academy Eindhoven and having built up a network in an around Eindhoven, they decided to stay put and love the creative energy that surrounds their home town. Having worked together for 10 of the fourteen years they have been a couple, the duo’s home is testament to their refined and perfectly aligned sense of style. “We developed our style more or less together. In fact, design choices at home is something we never argue about,” Beunders says.

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At home, they endorse their own designs as well as the work of fellow designers. “All of our belongings have a story attached to them. Rather than just buying stuff, we have traded work with other designers, searched long and hard for the right pieces on Marktplaats or at second hand fairs, made things ourselves, or had things given to us by friends.”

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When it comes to colour, the couple prefer to go all out in their studio using signature hues of dark grey, blues and pastels in their designs, keeping colour in their home sporadic and spontaneous. “Colour in our home is less important than it is in our work, as our use of colour is something that people recognize us for,” Beunders explains. “The colour in our house is less thought-out than in our work. Of course colour needs to be there, but the house also needs to be light and white.” The couple painted the concrete floors of their newly built home a subtle shade of pink, which slightly offsets the white but doesn’t compromise on the natural light on their interior. In their bedroom, they prefer neutral tones and natural materials, while the children’s bedrooms are a little more outspoken. “We like archetypes, so used reddish/pink for our little girl, and blues for our baby boy.”

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The couple combine their design know how to come up with their own unique ideas at home. “While living in your house, you notice things that would be more convenient, functional, cosy or light, etc,” Beunders says. “And because we can make so much ourselves, we can really make the house work well for us.”

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All over the house are concepts they devised out of a particular need or desire, such as their built-in bed, a favourite for the design duo. “We have a very weird bedroom. The 2×5 meter space was the only room in the house which would accommodate a double bed and a wardrobe, so Nathan built our bed between two walls, with curtains at the end of the bed for privacy and also a kind of luxury,” Beunders explains. “It feels very large, despite the size, but it also turns out to be a very useful bed because the baby can’t fall out of it. In the weekend we love to spend our morning hours all together here.”

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The couple also enjoy meal times together around the dinner table, the Slim Table by Bertjan Pot for Arco, which is surrounded by industrial style dining chairs. When not conceptualizing design at work, Beunders enjoys nothing more than preparing wholesome meals in the family’s contemporary kitchen. “The house came with the kitchen. We are lucky it is white,” she says. Warm wood tones, pops of colour and striking earthenware vessels brighten up the simple, white and grey modern affair.

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A penchant for industrial style continues to the living room, where the couple display all their favourite knick knacks in, on and around a cabinet filled with old zinc boxes from the metal industry in their surrounding neighbourhood. Above the cabinet hangs the couple’s most prized piece of art, a self drawn map illustrating all of the bike routes they have taken together over the years through Europe.

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Quirky and original design combines with vintage and second-hand finds, while products and prototypes from their own collection have also found their way into the savvy young couple’s interior. The coffee table configuration is their own design they came up with for the dutch brand Pode. The rug in the living room was an Etsy find.

In their newly built abode, pastels, muted tones and the odd shock of dark colour breathe life into what is now the warm and bright home of a fun-loving family of four.

So tell me: what did you love about Tineke and Nathan’s home? I always love to read your comments. I’ll be back for another Homes With Heart later this month. See you then! – Holly

(Photographs, styling and text by Holly Marder)

Posted in Home Tours, Homes With Heart on June 06, 2014

Books:

Available now on Amazon

Further editions available include: Portuguese, Danish, Czech, Slovak, French

Courses:

Next dates

Blogging Your Way for Beginners
e-course, April 17 – May 15, 2014
Find out more and sign up now.

Styling With Holly Becker
London, May 2014 (Date TBD)