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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Book Review

You know how I was talking recently about buying a little home, a sweet cottage, somewhere in Germany, Denmark (or possibly the Dutch/German border near the coast) that we could visit some weekends and in the summer? I still haven’t decided where and when yet, but I stumbled upon this sweet and very tidy example of a cottage that could be a nice option only this one is for rent via Red Cottage Inc. and it’s a tad far from home now because it’s in Freehold, New York! But wow, doesn’t it look so European, like it’s been plucked straight from the French or English countryside? And so simply decorated.









Seeing this place and thinking further about buying a cottage has made me think that when I do find the perfect place, it needs to be decorated very simply and definitely uncluttered. In fact, I’ve been reading a great book about organizing and removing clutter from the home that my former book publicist, Lorraine Woodcheke, sent to me now that she’s working for Ten Speed Press called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Japanese de-cluttering expert and cleaning consultant Marie Kondo and I just love it. I’m working currently to apply it to my great annual spring clean that I’ll soon get started on.

This little book is already an international bestseller with millions of copies sold and is a best-seller in many parts of the world like the UK, US, Japan and Germany. Wow, I can see why the moment I started reading it back in October! It’s so easy to follow, compact and you get through it quickly — plus the most important part is that I found so much of what Marie said both practical and necessary.


Marie’s tips on sorting papers and storing books are ones I really need to listen to. Marie believes that, “Letting go is even more important than adding,” and “The fact that you possess a surplus of things that you can’t bring yourself to discard doesn’t mean you are taking good care of them. In fact, it is quite the opposite”.

She also believes that the things that we own, when we look at them, evokes emotion within us and that these very real feelings give us the energy for living and that putting your home in order can create a vibrant and happy life. I absolutely agree. Her book is so popular in Japan that it was turned into a television series. I had no idea that Japanese society had a problem with clutter!

Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? What did you think?

(images: red cottage inc. and seattle refined)

Posted in Books + Magazines on February 16, 2015

Seattle Home of Interior Designer Brian Paquette

I’m a fan, like everyone else, of Berlin-based online publication Freunde von freunden and of course, their two very cool books are prominently displayed on my bookshelf. I particularly love this newish profile they have up on their site sharing Rhode Islander Brian Paquette who is now Seattle-based and working as an interior designer. His home is so cozy and warm, a mood I’m really into at the moment and not so much light, bright spaces with bright colors… More moody, deeper hues, very tactile, lush plants and definitely a smell of wood burning in a nearby fire complete with crackling timber. The crocus may be popping up here in Germany, and yes we are quite lucky as it’s nearly 50, my bones still feel very much like it’s the dead of winter and though spring is in sight, I crave the warmth and seclusion of a warm winter interior with masculine touches.








As a New Englander myself, I could tell right away that Brian was from the northeast before reading his FvonF interview. Something about his home feels very familiar to me. My mother is from Rhode Island and I went to school and lived in Boston for ages though I was raised in South Carolina. But still, I can sense a definite New England flair to his Seattle abode and I love it. He’s mixed the best of both worlds and has done it quite beautifully.

Thanks to this profile, I found Brian’s blog and I love it. He writes so well and shares so deep. I particularly found his post about love quite touching. He also shared a most beautiful thought on his blog about what we can each add to the creative conversation that touched me too, I’ll quote it below:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open… No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” – Martha Graham 

(Photography: Dorothée Brand / Belathée Photography via FvonF)

Posted in Home Tours on February 16, 2015

Cityscape Photography Crush

I’ve been really into cityscape photography for the past year. But not just any cityscape because I think the generic ones are cheesy (sorry). I’m dying for a print like this one below that I found at Yellow Bungalow (it’s sold out) and it has to be a landscape shot. Whenever I find something that I love though it seems that it’s sold out, impossible to source, too expensive or not available to ship abroad to Germany (big tears). I am completely, utterly hooked on owning a cityscape like this one, in these gorgeous clear blue and neutral tones… What a stunner.


It can be of New York, London, I’ve been to so many cities I really love them all, though this Manhattan photo takes the win – it captures the true essence of a splendid city that I spent a lot of time working and playing in for years. Living in Germany but being an American from the northeast, I crave a few visual connections in my current home, through objects, to create an invisible thread from here to my world over there across the Atlantic. This photo above the bed in the swoon-worthy home of Andy and Amber Bell can be found on the Design Files. Here’s a full view of it below.



From Tucci Brown.


Petra Bindel for Elle Decoration Sweden – see image far left on wall. It’s not Manhattan, but a similar cityscape that I also love.

PB_teatime2_0494_8bitHere it is again. Still sourcing. No luck yet.

Do you dig cityscape photography as much as I do at the moment? Do you own one? If so, who is the photographer and what city is proudly displayed on your walls?

(images linked to their sources above)


Posted in Shopping + Products on February 16, 2015

The Power of Newsletters

Hey there dear friends and welcome to the next installment of Blog Trends (#20blogtrends) where we examine 20 trends-of-the-moment in the world of blogging. If you’ve missed the first 3 installments of this 20 article series, please visit the links at the end of this post to catch up. Today, let’s talk about newsletters. Yes, newsletters. Those old school things you think you really don’t need. You do.


First, I don’t mean RSS feeds or subscribing to an email digest of a blog – those are essentially just delivering blog content to your inbox or feed reader without visiting the actual blog. And they work fine but from my experience, are definitely not the best way to reach (or keep) your readers attention and very difficult to monetize unless you write a lot of sponsored posts. One of my main problems with these types of subscriptions is that if a company decides to pull the plug like Google did with their RSS reader not so long ago, you can lose tens of thousands of your subscribers overnight, like I did, and there is no way to get them back. What happens if Bloglovin’ does the same? Also let’s not forget social media platforms like Facebook while we’re at it. For example, if Facebook decides to involve fees in maintaining a business page, or a community page, what then? They already have put the pressure on us to pay to extend our reach to those who have liked our pages, right? I’ve spent a lot of money on Facebook trying to reach all of my fans but does that really even make sense? It’s sorta stupid to be honest.

That’s why I believe that the old-fashioned newsletter is the best way to not only keep your your community updated but also retain it more or less indefinitely. How so? Because your subscribers’ email addresses are stored in a database, whether you use an internal newsletter, e.g., a plugin for your blog, or an external company such as MailChimp. This means that even if the newsletter service bombs out, drastically changes its fee structure or decides to inject their own ads or the plugin you’re using is no longer maintained, you still have your precious contacts.

I was the editor of my school newspaper for years and later, after high school and college, I launched several newsletters for the companies that I worked for and acted as Managing Editor for each. I’ve always loved reaching people by any means possible – and today, through my blog and social media channels. The point is, you do whatever it takes to reach your readers and potential new fans of your work. Not everyone wants content delivered in the same way or even through a blog, Facebook post or Instagram photo. So you have to try and try again until you land on a ‘sharing formula’ (as I call it) that works for you. Makes sense, right?

Look at goop. A good example of a newsletter (or lifestyle publication, as they call it) that works well. Once a week, you feel like Gwyneth Paltrow and her best friends are sending you an email sharing the best of the best. You feel like part of her “It Girl” club. And everything links back to her website so you are immersed in all thing Gwyneth. If you like that sort of thing, then it’s the best lifestyle newsletter out there. The thing is, she had to get smart about her business which is why she is building an Ad-Sales Team at the moment. This is something we bloggers could do well to imitate.

Remember the Daily Candy craze, particularly between 2004-2006? Oh my goodness, when the founder still owned that site it was the bomb and also just a newsletter with links to the site. Sadly, the wrong people got a hold of it and ruined the whole thing – it’s gone. But why not pick up where corporations are falling? Why not think of smarter ways to build and maintain a newsletter that will work for your brand?

In my last Blogging Your Way e-course, Nichole Robertson from Obvious State taught about the power of the newsletter so I want to include a few points from her lesson below in case you wonder what sorts of things you could talk about in your newsletter to make it different from your blog – and interesting enough for readers to subscribe to.

Weekly Roundup
Some people subscribe to newsletters via If you create an account there, you can send a personal letter at the end of the week to your fans that includes your favorite links, what you were up to that week and other goodies. Even if your fans didn’t read your blog all week, and they didn’t have time to check you out on social media, the once-weekly newsletter helps you stay in touch with your tribe.

Personal Newsletter
Our emails are jammed with marketing messages. How cool would it be to receive something that starts with a dear, ends with a sincerely, and feels personal? Seth Godin sometimes sends newsletters like this and I always look forward to them. Colloquial language is key here. No headlines, subheads or calls to action necessary. Go old school and stand out.

Behind the Scenes
Everyone loves bonus content. Share special content with newsletter subscribers only. This works well when you are launching a book or traveling, for instance. When Nichole from Obvious State wanted to share her new book, The Paris Journal, she sent newsletter subscribers the first three chapters for free several weeks prior to launch and they loved it.

Do you subscribe to any newsletters? If so, which ones? And do you have a newsletter for your blog and if so, what types of things do you share?

You may also like:

* 01  Blog Trends: Slow Blogging
* 02  Blog Trends: Become Your Own Blog Star
* 03  Blog Trends: Earn Money Without Guilt

(Text: Holly Becker, Nichole Robertson. Editor: Thorsten Becker. Graphic: Leslee Mitchell)

Posted in Blogging on February 12, 2015


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