Posts in Inspiration
Table For Two: Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

Hi there, this is Anke with a new tabletop idea for you, dear decor8 blog readers. “Think big” is a popular motto in this day and age and there’s nothing wrong with it, but sometimes it can be relaxing and quite inspiring to think in a smaller dimension. For instance, what if you celebrate the holidays with only your very small family or just one other person. Is it not worth a celebration when less are involved? Do we need to set a lovely table and make something nice only when many guests will join us? Of course not! Why not do something nice for just you and someone you love? That’s also a beautiful moment, but even more, a last memory.

That is why I would like you to enjoy my TABLE FOR TWO story today. Maybe this is something you can do with a single friend who may be lonely this time of year, or maybe your elderly neighbor who has no one during the holidays. Invite her by for cake and coffee and make things look special.

Table for two

The wall decoration

I can’t help decorating with paper. I know I’ve made a lot of leaf-shaped paper table decorations in the past, whether it was a garland or confetti-like sprinkled across the table. This time I cut out big leafs using recycling print paper. It is was easy!

I did not even make a template as it is rather nice when the leafs turn out unique and freestyle. Fold the paper sharply and cut it so that it results in a leaf when unfolding. Afterwards I arranged the leafs on the wall with masking tape on the reverse sides starting with the largest ones.


The flowers

I shopped for these flowers at the farmers’ market recently and I went home with sunflowers, dahlias, chrysanthemums, asters and straw flowers. And though the sunflowers and giant chrysanthemums are the eye catcher in the bouquet, especially from a distance, I do have a crush on the little luminous yellow straw flowers looking like little stars. I guess I am trying to hold onto Fall. And for Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving this month, this palette is still on your minds so it may inspire you a lot to see the lovely oranges and golds.

Cake recipe

The cake

This cake screams EAT ME! I loved it and my family did, too. Even the neighbors got a piece. It’s a Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake and the recipe comes from Julie Gransee’s blog Lovely Little Kitchen. The cake is moist and heavenly aromatic and simply soul food. Same with the cream cheese frosting. As an add-on I topped it with a crunch made of roasted seeds with maple syrup and coarse sea salt! Try it!

Roasted seeds

The colors & props

Warm earthy shades are beloved companions in fall/ autumn and rightly so. I ordered a beautiful beige colored tablecloth which sadly did not arrive on time for the shooting and picked my white linen one instead. At least the curry colored napkins looked particularly beautiful forming a contrast with the white surface. Besides my plain white tableware I decorated with a wooden cake plate, a  stone-grey ceramic candle holder and amber colored tiny jar.

I hope you like this slightly different column story of mine and see you again before Christmas, maybe back on the big table then!

With a glass of sparkling prosecco I am saying cheers to Holly celebrating her fantastic magazine news! I am looking forward to the first issue of Living At Home x Holly in January so very much!

Love, Anke

 (Text, Photography & Styling: Anke Illner)

A Letter From Holly

Hello everyone, how are you? I hope well, and that you are enjoying a nice Spring/almost Summertime. As per usual, I am doing fine but feeling a bit like talking to you today since I rarely really TALK to you anymore like I used to.

And I'm missing that quite a lot.

In fact, I miss the conversations I once had online, period. The internet, with bloggers and influencers, in particular, has become so crowded - it's like the Las Vegas strip with arrows and blinking lights flashing constantly, "Look at me!", "Like Me!", "Read this!", and of course, it's distracting as hell. There are so many wonderful friends and blogger colleagues whom I rarely read anymore, not because I've forgotten them, but because I remember them and go on my phone to read their blog and within 20 seconds I become so distracted by a million other things that I forgot why I'd turned on my phone in the first place. Can you relate? Yeah, right!

Holly Becker

I guess I wonder where all of this will lead eventually. All of these people, all of these influencers, all of EVERYTHING. In the magazine world, there was always some kind of "cap", right? I mean, magazines are expensive and not just anyone can start one without a chunk of cash, which means exactly that: not everyone can start one. Which almost helped the masses to be able to find a favorite title more easily and to stay loyal to the content longer. Also, magazines fade and die if they're not relevant any longer yet bloggers and influencers tend to keep going even long after their popularity has waned. Magazines cannot buy followers and subscribers, Instagram influencers can. So much about the online world, with its lack of rules, prices, guilds, associations, and everything else that is lacking online (a lot!), also means anyone can and will be anything and say they are anything, even when they are still learning or perhaps, totally unqualified.


Or fake. Or not to be trusted. Not at all. I'm online and I consider myself to be transparent and honest. But, from my 12+ years working full-time in new media, I can honestly say that so much of what we are exposed to each day is not exactly realistic, honest, or even good for us on so many levels. So many reviews are dishonest or definitely hyped up because the brand paid for the trip or the hotel experience or the yoga retreat. And don't get me started on how many recipes I've used from "experts" online that forgot a core ingredient or that resulted in a lasagna that tasted like dog food.

I love bloggers and influencers and this whole online world namely because in the design/decor genre, I helped to form it. I was one of the first group of bloggers in the United States who had a design blog and today, I'm still part of the less than 1% of bloggers who can make a living from blogging. I am proud of the community and of the hard-earned success so many of us have found. Overall, I cannot complain too much. It's been an amazing journey and I plan to stay in it for at least another decade, if not longer. I love the friends and "family" I've made online, I wouldn't trade it for the world. But I also see a lot of bullsh*t and sometimes, l want to scream from the rooftops like my friend Sandra says so bluntly, everyone please, "CUT THE CRAP!".

Do you get what I'm saying here?

Like I just want more honest conversations, and well, conversations in general that aren't fluffy nonsense. And I don't want people commenting just to gain a comment from me in return on my Insta. And I don't want to see a blogger whom I respect online today only to learn that tomorrow, she bought Insta followers. I don't want to follow people who are show-offs, obsessed with their appearance, shallow, or who claim to be the best parent or super clean eater only to find out that in real life, they're just the opposite.

I also want more critical conversations too. In fact, my friend Stefan recently mentioned this on his blog and it really resonated with me because most conversations are always about what we love and support but how about saying that we went to a design fair and we weren't so impressed because things felt the same and looked the same as last year. What's wrong with saying we stayed at some hip hotel and it really wasn't what we expected? In some cases, bloggers can't and won't because that hotel or fair paid them to be there in the first place. But, isn't it sort of sad to think that the online world has become exactly what the early bloggers were seeking to break away from - namely, content that felt fake, sales-y and well, lacking real truth and/or a clear, honest voice, and opinion?

Maybe some of us should try a little harder to go back to our roots. What do you think? Maybe we should stop trying to mimic everything and everyone else and these antiquated models for doing business online and change things up a bit and get back to reality. To show more than the sponsored post and the paid-for stuff on Instagram?

Maybe this is going to actually kill blogs and even, in time, kill influencers. Have you ever thought of that, how this model may actually be what eventually weakens the strength of influencers and sinks the opinions of some of our favorite bloggers? Because eventually everything evolves and moves on. How can we evolve "this" and move on and become even stronger as, not only new media writers and content creators but as influencers, tastemakers, trend experts and all of the other things so many of us rightly are and have earned throughout the years?

How can we evolve? Any thoughts?

I know one thing for sure. Bloggers and influencers should get on board with providing paid content and try to break away more from always dealing with sponsored content from brands. It's okay to have sponsored content as part of our model, but why not consider new ways to monetize our sites and utilize our online influence in a positive way to strengthen our brand, gain greater respect from our followers and to also simply do work that we find a lot more meaningful to us personally.

There are so many brands that I love and want to support, but there are billions that I don't and they approach me frequently. I turn them down, but on a few occasions, because I needed to pay the bills, I accepted the work and always felt strange about it afterward. Not because I was dishonest, I picked and liked the product I reviewed or whatever... It was more because I felt like I didn't really want to do the job because I wasn't passionate about the overall brand and their philosophy or production or whatever. Again, I loved the product I shared but I didn't really love the brand and that's when I find it difficult and uncomfortable... And I know I could have avoided those kinds of jobs simply by being more clever, restructuring my revenue model and thinking of new streams that I've not tapped into yet that would have allowed me to simply say, "No thank you."

I've been thinking so much recently about the business of blogging and of this funny word, "Influencer", that I still think sounds so manipulative and strange, though I am an influencer and this is always listed next to my name as almost a title whenever I'm working professionally for fairs or in magazines, etc. I guess it is what it is, and I accept it and feel honored on one side, but is it what I really want for myself  - to influence people? And if so, how?

In many ways, I only want to influence people to be HAPPY and to LIVE A GOOD LIFE and to be honest and always realistic while at the same time, dreaming big and reaching for a better life, always.

I want to "influence" people to think in new directions, to stop following the crowd, to CUT THE CRAP and be honest to themselves and others (because that is when you really start to live and feel joy in your life) and to use the home as the base to build your wildest dreams and as the base to be loved, secure, happy and bask in the beauty there that only you and your loved ones have created.

I also want to "influence" people to take breaks away from devices and be closer to their family, friends and most importantly, their little children who love them enormously. You can NEVER get back the precious childhood years with little ones - so if you have your phone in your hand constantly remember that this isn't creating intimacy or a bond with them - it's creating distance, insecurity (in them) and also you are simply missing out on them and their cute little inner world, the things they say, and the sweetness and beauty that comes with youth - that innocence. It's gorgeous. And I'm a mom who is always close to my phone, so I'm #justsayin all of this because I'm guilty as charged, and I'm working on putting the damn phone down a lot more often.

So, my dear friends, this is my little, "Letter from the Editor", from me to all of you. I care for you all so much and I'm always so touched when you read and share my posts and follow my content elsewhere online.

If you think of some thoughts to leave me today, I'd love to read them. Did anything I say resonate? Have you been thinking similarly too?







Instagram Fave: Nectar and Stone

Ok so my last post sorta bummed me out so let's talk about creative handpainted gold leaf baked goods before the weekend hits. I don't want to end my blog this week talking about dead birds! Downer! I decided to launch a new column on decor8 that I believe I can actually stick to called Instagram Fave Friday because I find a bevy of great stuff on IG and I feel so limited when trying to share great IGers. And trust me, I find some amazing IG peeps because I have a baby and my iPhone is my best friend when he's asleep in my arms - so I surf and save constantly. I'm an IG machine. So I figured to just devote a weekly column that you can visit on Friday to end each week looking at beautiful things from talented people. Sounds like a plan. nectar7

I was thinking this morning that IG doesn't have a real way to share, does it? I mean, you can see some stuff in that News feed but it's not that great if you follow say, more than 50 people. You miss stuff unless you are refreshing the News feed every 10 seconds and I'm just not into that. Sure, you can fave images but no one can see your faves (which in all honestly I sorta like) but on the other side, when you WANT to share stuff you can either repost or regram it, which I just don't like, or you have to tweet it but still a tweet doesn't have much reach these days like a blog post. I still find that my blog posts go the distance when it comes to shares.

Yeah, so I'm going off topic slightly... But I'm going to take you on a little Instagram Fave Friday, my debut installment, right now. Today I'm highlighting IG extraordinaire, Nectar and Stone, who is Donna-Caroline Khoo a Dessert Designer with dreams to open a cakery someday in Melbourne. All I can say is MY GOD SHE SHOULD. Support this woman, people. If you live down there and have some leads for her, or ideas, or whatever she is someone that I believe could do beautiful things with a brick and mortar bakery. What talent. And hello publishers... Book deal alert!


On IG Caroline shares the things she makes and bakes, chocolate with gold leaf! Cupcakes! Girly Smoothies! Zebra cookies! Mini ice cream cakes in cones! Ice cream-shaped cookies! I know, I'm really living it up with these exclamation marks but oh! my! so! cute!



I love what she says about her growing brand, "Nectar and Stone - it's who I am, what I love, my passion and creativity. I tell a story each day with my designs, colours, photography, flowers and style - it's a collection of things from my past, present and future. I'm not here to make a quick dollar - my brand is about building loyal followers who love what I do and believe in me. I encourage people to find new ideas and concepts... " So nicely stated. Makes me want to support her even more. 


To view her instagram click here, and to check out her website, visit this link.

Yeah, this post is going to blow my diet too.

(images nectar and stone)


Style Me Pretty Living + In The Fun Lane

Have you ever stumbled upon something, discovered that it's actually been around for quite some time, and wondered how you could have missed such a gem? This happened to me today when I came across Style Me Pretty Living. I knew about SMP for years now as founder, Abby Larson, is also a Boston girl like me. But I didn't realize they have a "Living" blog that covers DIY, home tours, party planning, DIY projects and more. I will definitely be checking out this site more in the weeks to come for times when I feel a bit stuck in a rut. hollystylemeprettyliving2

This is a favorite home gallery from Style Me Pretty Living which profiles a blogger that I'd not known about until now either, the lovely Holly and her little girl, from In The Fun Lane blog. Her home was photographed by Jacqueline Elizabeth in Calgary. To pin any of these images below, PLEASE visit THIS page and pin to your little heart's content from there since I've grouped the images in this blog post to discourage pinning from my blog on this particular post since Style Me Pretty Living has their own gorgeous galleries in which you can freely pin, create boards, become a member, etc. I don't want to steal their thunder. But my goodness, this little home is super inspiring to me and really made me happy - so I had to share a brief glimpse.



To me, Holly's home has so much love, style and great decorating ideas. I love the wire lamps hanging in the corner, the Hell Yeah print, the sweet touches of baby photos above that pretty chair (I don't see a lot of family photos in homes anymore, why is that?), and the branches on the wall are so pretty. If you look at the full gallery for this home, you will see her gorgeous kitchen, daughter's bedroom with the lovely hearts above the bed, and more. This home really made me smile today and I hope that it does the same for you too. Makes me want to redecorate (again).

I hope you are all having a super duper day! The weather is gorgeous here so the baby and I are going out to hang for awhile, run some errands in his stroller, etc. Viva la Summer!

(images: jacqueline elizabeth/style me pretty living)