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Apartment Therapy's Room For Color 2014 Contest

I was so honored to have been asked to be a judge for the Apartment Therapy Room For Color 2014 contest sponsored in part by . There were so many colorful entries. It was also so great when I saw that Janel over at AT put together a post announcing my participation (), it really made me happy. One of the questions that she asked me about color was fun to answer so I thought I'd share that with you now. She basically asked me what my thoughts on color are at the moment - what palette I'm digging. This is the collage I created below followed by my thoughts.

I love these four images and this fun, colorful palette – but the draw to me is that navy has replaced black as a strong accent color. Black and white is such a huge trend at the moment, yet I feel like I’m seeing it too much now and its losing it’s appeal. That’s why a nautical deep navy is a nice replacement and break from black while still keeping things deep and dark and providing a nice contrast amongst all of the light colors and brights that are trending at the moment. Plus navy (not cobalt or any other blue – strictly navy) and crisp white look stunning together, so a deep navy wall with white trim – well, you can’t go wrong!

Here were some of entries in Warm, Cool, Light, Dark, International that I found really interesting. Apartment Therapy readers judged what they liked the most (there were so many entries!) and the judges were sent the 5 most voted for rooms per category and each of us voted for our favorite without knowing what the other judges were voting for. It was done very fair and square which I appreciated. You view all of the homes . And guess what Germany? One of won the International submission!

So much fun!!! And thanks again Apartment Therapy for having me. , but in my eyes everyone won the moment they submitted their entry because that takes major courage.

I think I need to team up with some big company and have a decorating contest for cattledogs readers, right!? Wouldn't that be fun???

(Images in the top collage: , , , . Single image: in Delaware (winner!). Bottom collage: top left: in Montana (winner!), top right: in Ohio (winner!), bottom left: in Germany (winner!), bottom right: in the UK.)

Thoughts On Marriage

Today is a very special one because it's July 14, 2014 and 13 years ago today I got married! We were so young, so daring, so full of hopes and dreams... Today we're not the doe-eyed dreamers we once were as much as the let's-do-it doers and that's something age and marriage gave us both - gumption, courage, fire. We've had many good times but also hard ones like when we had to count all of the change in the house in order to procure enough to buy groceries. I remember when my husband sold all of his belongings to be able to afford my wedding ring and a flight to America to marry me. I remember our honeymoon in San Francisco and how exciting it was to be in a city I had only dreamt to see back then and how we looked at rental apartments while there because we were convinced we'd found our dream city. Only we were too broke to make that happen.

Marriage isn't easy but what relationship is? There are none without compromise, tears, joy, heartbreak and smiles that extend ear-to-ear. It's impossible to have a perfect life with someone, but it's entirely possible to have a happy life . Happy doesn't mean trouble-free. Life is hard and sometimes we grow together and other months, we drift apart. But we come together again. And we just keep going. One thing I've learned with my marriage is that the growing apart at times doesn't mean it's over. It only means that you have to keep walking ahead until your paths converge again. Humans evolve. We aren't going to be the same people we were when we got married. When I read articles about how couples "grew apart" I often wonder what they went into marriage expecting. That they'd always be the same and want the same things and just follow protocol forever?

To think of where we are today, and that we have a child now on our journey with us, is mind-blowing and beautiful. It's also hard to grasp that 13 years have passed because it seems like we've been together my entire life while it also feels like yesterday that we met online in a public forum where I was writing back and forth to a woman on the topic of masculinity vs. femininity and female objectification. And to think that a topic like that piqued the interest of a German journalist and computer science genius living thousands of miles away is just a riot. I remember back then (1998) I confessed to my mother that I was dating a man on the internet that I hadn't met in person yet and the first thing she said was, "How do you know he isn't a serial killer or rapist?", because back then that was what most people thought when they heard about online dating. We wrote back and forth for nearly a year before we met for the first time and we were engaged within two weeks. That was 15 years ago in the Autumn of 1999. Then we were married in 2001.

Writing online has brought me uncounted blessings like a beautiful marriage and a glowing career. No serial killers mom!

Today my husband sent me gorgeous flowers that I'm holding above. And champagne that I'll be holding in my tummy later on after the baby is snoozing. He also gave me the most beautiful ring to symbolize the birth of our son. I burst into tears the moment I opened the little black box with the exact same gold lettering on it that he gave me holding my engagement ring many years ago.

Thank you Thorsten for living with me, putting up with me, loving me and always being so loyal and caring. And for being the most wonderful daddy to little Aidan. I loved you from the first time we talked on the phone for 5 hours back in 1998 and I'll love you forever + ever. Happy Anniversary my love.

(photo: )

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?

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.

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.

Also, on the work front I'm happy to report that our book, Decorate With Flowers () () (), is doing great and that on September 17th we'll be in London ( and I) to have a party at Anthropologie to launch the book (our Canadian launch party photos at 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.

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

Happy Mother's Day

Hello everyone. I want to first say Happy Mother's Day to those of you who read this blog and have beautiful children that you cherish enormously, make huge sacrifices for, and do everything you can to make happy. You rock. As a new mother, I can relate to being a mom finally and it feels really, really good. It is the best thing that ever happened to me in my life to give birth to my little boy. But this post is also to other ladies out there who maybe had children and lost them (miscarriage, stillbirth, health problems, accidents, etc.) and to those other wonderful ladies who want children so badly but cannot have them due to health issues - of course you can adopt which is actually the most beautiful thing a woman can do in addition to having her own child, but some of you cannot adopt either because you aren't financially in that space or it is taking forever to find a child to adopt. In any case, I want to give you all a huge hug, tons of support and love, and much faith that things somehow work out in the long run, in some way, some how. I want to wish you all a happy mother's day. Let me introduce to you two sisters, one is my mother and the other, my aunt. One is a mother, one never could be.

This is my mother in her graduation photo taken in the 1960s. Beautiful, right? She is flying here to see us and meet her first grandchild, Aidan our son, in less than two weeks. We can't wait to welcome her! My mother only had me - she may have had more children but her marriage to my father wasn't a strong or loving one. In fact, I was born right after they separated (and got back together) when she was 24 years old. Within a few months after they jump started their marriage again, she was pregnant with me and then, I was born. If they'd hadn't gotten back together, I wouldn't be here today. So I'm grateful they gave it a second change. I'm an only child and though I would have loved to have had a brother, it just wasn't possible. I respected my mother's decision to just have me and grew up feeling very honored and happy to have her all to myself in many ways. She was and still is a wonderful mother. I can't wait to introduce her to my son!

See this lady above? This is my mother's sister. She passed away from cancer in her early 40's. She always wanted children, so very badly in fact, but her health wouldn't allow for it. Instead of letting it destroy her (she was so in love with kids!), she used her talent as a fine artist to also teach her methods to children and adults alike. She had her own school! When she died, her young students attended her services and made her beautiful goodbye gifts. She also treated me like gold and as her own daughter. She sent me lovely handmade gifts growing up from her travels, including things she made for me - art, a dollhouse, clothing, bears, dolls, etc. She and my mother put art, craft and a love for decorating and flowers into my heart as a wee little girl and today, my career is based around the very things she and my mother helped grow in me. I put her photo somewhere in all of my books, in fact - not in obvious places but I know they're there. She is always with me. I will always love her. She may not have been my mother, or anyone else's mother, but she was a born mother in any case - tender, loving, warm, giving and completely in love with little ones.

Again, I wish all of you ladies a beautiful mother's day. ALL of you, in whatever circumstances you are in. I say this because I remember when mother's day came and went each year and I still didn't have a baby to call my own. Sometimes I would sit on my bed huddled up in a ball and just sob in my pillow - I didn't understand how I'd ever have time to have a family, if I even could get pregnant once I did try, I wanted a little one so badly but the years rolled by and I thought I had plenty of time. Last year I realized I didn't and decided it was now or never and I very luckily, almost miraculously, got pregnant for the first time with no help. And now my son is 3 months old and purring nearby sleeping as I type this. I never felt so much love in my life.

So to all of you ladies out there: Happy Mother's Day.

- Holly xo

 

Blogging Your Way e-course Winners!

Did you win? You're about to find out! It's April 1st so for those of you who entered our contest you know what that means! Time to announce the 3 (I changed my mind, I'm giving away 5 seats!) lucky winners who will win a free seat in our ! But first, I want to thank everyone who entered, it was so encouraging to see the excitement this contest generated online and to read your comments and tweets. I'm so pumped and inspired to really rock the upcoming course with so watch out! :) For those of you who haven't registered yet, we are nearly sold out so please don't delay if you want in since once we close registration, it's closed for good, since we only reserved a set amount if seats for this particular class so the group is smaller. If you want to learn about our class, beginning online April 18, . If you want to join in on the fun, .

Okay.... Drum roll and envelope pahleeseee!

The winners are... .

If your name is listed below, please email Jessy Senti (Jessy at cattledogs.info) by April 15 to get your free seat! Seats are non-transferrable to other people or other classes that we teach or redeemable for cash value. Thank you!

Our 5 winners are:

#2 -

#16 Karolina -

#39 Sarah -

#77 Johanna -

#199 Eme -

image:

Touring Hospitals In Preparation Of Our Baby

Hello and happy Friday everyone! It seems most of us bloggers have stopped writing our final post for the week on Fridays, have you noticed? I'm guilty of this as well so I plan to begin them again because I miss it it's like NOT saying bye to a good friend and just leaving the room. No more naughty bad-manners here, I'm back to my Friday farewells. What will you do this weekend? I don't know how exciting this is to share... But we are going to hospitals tomorrow as part of a big "open house tour" so we can choose where I'll be giving birth to our baby in January. It's exciting but also very surreal and kind of strange, honestly.

Picking out a hospital? Thinking about a specific one for very specific reasons? Birth classes? Pregnancy yoga (which I just started doing today with )? There is so much to think about and do but I'm trying to stay zen and just enjoy the process and do only what I need to do and skip the rest. I think intuition has to be the drive in most things parenting-related, don't you? But picking a hospital is a must, so we're going to the one where Thorsten was born and to two others that were recommended to us. My husband is quite excited to tour hospitals tomorrow, which hey I'm not going to steal his thunder but I can't say I share his zeal... YET. Maybe once I see the maternity wards and all of the cute babies I'll be all up into that.  Another cute thing about my husband lately is that he loves to dance with me in the kitchen when we cook and he rubs my belly several times a day telling me how beautiful I am. It's like now that I look pregnant since my belly has really popped he's completely into it. It's like when cold weather comes, and it snows, and Santa shows up for photos then it FEELS like Christmas. In a way, I guess I'm the merry pregnant lady with rosy cheeks bringing joy in my sleigh complete with a belly that rivals Mr. Claus. Ho Ho Ho.

Aside from hospital tours, we're also going to look at a new apartment - yes, really and yes, we're crazy! This would mean that we'd move and renovate BEFORE the baby arrives so it would also mean we'll be working nonstop from November until January 1st to prep and then, move, unpack and decorate with our baby boy due on January 31st. Am I crazy? Is this baby hormones? Yes and yes. BUT if the apartment is right, we've decided to just go for it because it will mean that my baby will have a normal-sized, lovely bedroom vs. the current shoebox he'll have to occupy for as long as we live here. It also means wayyyy more sunlight since it's on a higher floor and a private balcony. So we'll see.

Outside of hospitals and housing (eek) I plan to have a really restful and peaceful weekend. More yoga, more candles and healthy foods, more nesting/organizing and maybe a Barbra Streisand film and a freshly baked cake to finish the weekend off on Sunday.

Next week on cattledogs, I have a gorgeous home tour for you, a trend report, some news on our apartment and whether we'll move or not and I have a HUGE surprise to reveal on Tuesday that I am SO PROUD to share that I can hardly wait. How's that for a Friday Farewell??? Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

xo, Holly

Psst: Registration for the next Blogging Your Way e-course is underway! Photography, Styling + Blogging! .

(photo: holly becker)