Friday, August 27, 2010


So can YOU shop for $21 per week? On groceries?
Penny knows how! Find out how it's done.

Monday, August 23, 2010

find them

Every day I read about people in business, people in creative endeavors, people in social media, people in mundane jobs, people that are successful, people who worry too much or people who have been so fortunate to make it to a ripe old age with their wits intact. It's not so much what they do, but what they decide on how to live their life, or how to react to their circumstance, that make them so special.

Once thing that I have discovered, and that has again become amazingly apparent of late is that: being a blend in figurine is not getting you the attention you require to increase your street-cred, your pay rise or your business expanding capabilities. The irony is that we become more successful, or better at what we do by being funny idiosyncranized beings who become ourselves. Fitting in does NO wonders, as it's not miraculous. At times it can be smart to lie low and fit in, but when you're in business: all that sets you apart is what makes you exceptional. Being our nutty special selves is what actually matters.

The key to exploring this yourself is to find a Partner in Crime. They understand perfectly and are ever so helpful in pointing hiccups out. I have a friend who is reminding me and teaching me at the moment. She can be loud, she can be crazy and most of all: she is so talented it's coming out of her ears. She knows what she's is talking about especially when it comes to her profession and she speaks like she thinks. There is no polished fluffiness to cover the rough edges. I appreciate that. I think that this genuine-ness and happiness about daring to be the rough cut diamond is what business nowadays is about too. When you have your own business especially, and when you have a product that has a great story. (Big cooperates can go back to their long term planning now. Thank you.)

I tried to explain to someone very dear to me that it would make no sense for me to do the blending in things, the being too careful things, the over thinking and waiting forever to see how things pan out things, because when you're in business: taking the risk and going with your guts, having that momentum far outweighs the cautiousness. Naturally one ways pros and cons as we're not stupid, but when the gut says GOOO we are out the door. 

The truth is that if we wait for things to happen, to become clear to us, they never will. Time is now. Sitting on your arse and thinking till your blue in the face will not make a difference. And I have to say: I rather get on with it. And I can happily say that I am. Life is good!
(Sorry I still can't tell you about the great projects and new websites and products that will be launched, they are all in the making. Shhhhhhhh.)

picture by Hugh MacLeod: Gapingvoid

Thursday, August 19, 2010

home steading

I am currently reading this book, which details about the lifestyle and healthy home made living a la farmette. A friend of mine posted this on my Facebook page which had me laughing: a chicken sitting service for the urbanites. I also know about a business that hires out goats to munch your lawn. So what's the story with the home ca-noodling?

Green, the Sloffood movement and all things yummy and nice are back on the cards for those who have had enough of the concrete jungle, the plastic micro waved dinners and being stuck in traffic. This is not new of course, but it seems back en vogue. In the Netherlands it's quite custom still to have a herbal and even veggie garden on one's tiny balcony on a high rise. Many dream of living in Italy (this I hear on a regular basis at work), sipping some wine, eating some wonderful breads & cheeses and staring at the olive trees sprawled out over generous hills and sloping meadows. Ah yes. The Good Life. So how do we get there?

My husband and I enjoy living on our 64 acre block, the "farm-let" and we are farmettes which is a bit different from the lifestyle block of a few acres and a big farm over say 500 acres. We work in the city mostly while also running our farm-let. While reading Jenna Woginrich's book mentioned above, I had to smile at her hilarious anecdotes! I recognized so much in the early boo-boos that she tells about.

Having a small farm or even a bit of a green blob of land in your backyard is really enough to get you started with a veggie garden, a beehive, or a chicken coop. And what you learn while starting on this fun enterprise is basically that making mistakes or being a doofus is all part of the experience. We now walk easily amongst our highland cattle and move them about without a fuss, whereas in the beginning with the meat cattle we had to jump the fence and the dog too as one bovine we aptly called "Loopy" starting chasing us around the paddock. Very in-dignifying. We seriously wondered whether we had the balls to go through all the motions that were required. We have now graduated from the initial newbie crispiness. We have the experience, know how to do the practical things and keep adding to the farm knowledge. I can clip the goatie hooves by myself without the use of proper yards which apparently is a great achievement.

So how can you get your slice of paradise, even in the smallest ways?
Decide what you would like to start with and read up! Nothing beats the look and taste of fresh veggies, the view of animals snoozing in the sun, and the privacy and tranquility that your own place gives you. What you need is knowing what you want to do and most of all: sheer determination! It is very rewarding.

To learn how to start your career at Homesteading:
Modern homesteading:
Homesteading forum:
Great website to read more:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Feng Shui

Today I am having a wonderful interview with an inspiring Parisian lady in San Francisco: Catherine Grison, Soul Artisan for People and Spaces. I have met Catherine through the inter-connective world that is Twitter. 
Catherine is a certified and stylish Feng Shui Master, and she implements this knowledge so she herself, and her clients and friends, can enjoy more joy, more abundance and also better health in their lives. Her credo is: "Life is not beige!" She founded Your French Accent, her “Decorator Extraordinaire and Beyond” consulting company in 2004.
She says: "When I moved to San Francisco, 10 years ago, and began to work in the furniture industry, I was shocked to see that most people were "matching" sofas and chairs, "blending" neutrals. The only real colors in retail were mostly dark reds on leather library chairs. I was then working at the brand new Crate and Barrel Furniture store downtown San Francisco, in the fine furniture department.  To this day, I still remember how happy one of my customers was when he came back to me and announced: "I made it Catherine! I listened to you and I went for color! You can be proud of me!" He was holding a dark chocolate velvet pillow. Dark chocolate. To go on his all beige furniture...  I had envisioned a more powerful combination like a hot pink or spring green to make the room happen... However it was a start and I congratulated him! “
Why did you move from Paris to San Francisco?
I moved to California to live with the (American) man I loved and met in Paris. It was heart breaking to leave Paris. It took me 4 years to feel at home here. We did not live in San Francisco but in Pacifica, a secluded coastal small town. Too much water… Pacifica is gorgeous but I am a city girl. I need Fire. At first I thought I will not survive when I came to Pacifica. I could not even look though the windows: all these small houses and the big ocean were so lonely too me. I was looking desperately for high energy, crowds, and tall buildings! Despite my job in San Francisco, I felt so isolated, dying inside. Then step by step, I met incredible people, developed new true friendships. I began yoga, enrolled in a 3-year Feng Shui program which I graduated from and uncovered my spiritual path. I founded Your French Accent, my “Decorator Extraordinaire and Beyond” consulting company. I learned so much during these Pacifican years…
As soon as we (happily) divorced, I moved to Potrero Hill in San Francisco. Here I could reinvent myself again, open myself up to possibilities.

How did you get your business started?
It's different here, how things work, compared to Paris. When I arrived I did not want to go back to coaching without knowing the culture; it would not have been ethical. I started exploring… In Paris I used to work in management, coaching, training. I have a master’s degree in Communication, Linguistics & Training. I used to design programs, coach store managers, and train sales associates. So when I started working in San Francisco I thought: the home environment is the best place for me to understand the culture. When people buy furniture, they tell you their story. If they don’t, you are not a good listener! In the meanwhile I had entered a 3 year Feng Shui certification program. My clients were asking me to furnish more and more homes; the logical next step was to start a business.
What is important to you?
I use an integrative Feng Shui to help other people improve their lives, their health, their level of happiness. I used to be a more black & white person, sure of how things "had to be". I was a personal development fascist! My vision is far more flexible now. I try to help others grow, and myself too, what is very important to me. My clients say I am honest and straight forward. I see people from the inside, I do not sugar coat. I have integrity and also humor. A lot of my clients have become friends. My best advertisement is 'word of mouth', which leads to work. I'm a very pragmatic person with her 3rd eye wide opened. I use my common sense and a pendulum too!

So what would be your Feng Shui advice for my readers today?
Any place is related to your life. Feng Shui means Wind and Water, the two elements which create life. Any place is a reflection of our own being. For example: I worked with a lady who had a 2 bedroom condo: she asked for decoration advice. The Lady did not want me to enter a particular room. Eventually I did see it and it was a disaster. It was filled to the brim with "stuff". It was very hard to walk around. The rest of the apartment was very tidy. It turned out that her father used to be living there, so she kept it closed, she didn't want to think about this room, let alone start cleaning it out.
The truth is that if you lock a door, the room is still there, and the emotions behind it are still there too. Blocked up areas will affect you mentally and your health, whether you realize it or not, whether you see them or not.
Keep only what is successful or enjoyable.  Always find ways to enjoy life. Many say it's good to do "this" after.... after what? There is NO after, there is just that what is now. I have a ritual called “The Past is over” to help people move forward, and step in their Present. Together we burn the past, literally. It is a very powerful ceremony!

My advice is that you need to use every room in the house, every object. You can't hide from yourself. Feng Shui and interior decorating is not about focusing on what's wrong, it's about improving spaces and thus improving your life in general. If you deny a piece of yourself, it's best to address it now, observe how you have treated your house and your rooms. It will tell you more than you think! So Feng Shui has a lot of hidden psychology embedded in the flow of the house. The key is to let the energy flow as best as it can. Avoid having sharp corners, add greenery, colors. Think symbols!
How can Catherine help us?
Now look around you! There is nothing quicker and cheaper than adding a layer of fresh paint to change the energy and the look of a room, whether in a home, an office, a business, a restaurant... And if you know somebody you love and who needs a lift, you can even gift my services. It may change a life!
Fortunately for all of us, Catherine does remote consultations. I thought it was a delight talking to her on Skype and having a real time conversation together. This means that you can email and skype her too, book a consultation, sending a floor plan and photos over for her to perform a full analysis and help you clear the areas of your life and your space that you have found troubling or difficult to organize.
Send her an email with any questions you may have, to ask for a quote:
Check out her blog too: which she reorganizes now to provide more quick services and to-the-point advice, including spiritual guidance and deco tips, building also more global community…
You can of course “Like” Catherine’s services on Facebook:
and follow her on Twitter:

Monday, August 9, 2010

not just about green

I can spot several today, for example:

Have to versus Want to:

  • food: I want to eat meat that has had a great life so I "want to" only eat that, as both Nico and I don't like supporting the meat abattoirs aka animal concentration camps (the horrors that happen in there are beyond belief, it makes me feel sick ). So hence we keep our own cattle and ALSO see them come to their end in our paddock. We care about our animals a lot. They actually die happily, if you can call it that. And we are sad when it happens, but at least we know what we eat.
  • vegetable garden: we "want to" eat veggies without pesticides and therefor can enjoy the bounty that comes out of our garden. The carrots are absolutely amazing.
  • home: we "want to" have the least impact on the environment so are working towards having a house that is self sustainable, and one that doesn't use diesel to heat the radiators. This choice makes things harder, but also more responsible and less wasteful in future. It makes us feel better!
  • work: we actually discovered that we "have to" less then we thought. We're doing our homework regarding what we really "want to" do in order to establish this reality. It is a lot of fun planning that future!
  • design-work: I "want to" use GREEN materials for my design products. Therefor I "want to" find them. It's not so much a choice for me as almost a requirement, a necessity. My tea towels at the moment are not eco so I am looking at other options. At least my future cushion designs will be printed on organic cotton, so I would like to find a tea towel material that is green too.
So in short: have you thought about what you have to do versus what you want to do? Do you really have to do or use all that stuff? Do you need to? Are there alternatives? 

And really: isn't it cool how other ways can actually work just as well, if not better?

Read Simon Mainwaring's excellent post too on: "Lessons from BP and bankers: The need for a more Sustainable Future".

Monday, August 2, 2010


Last week I have spent working on several projects, none of which I can tell you much more about right now, except that the design work I have done for them is great fun and looks wonderful! One is a collaboration project which has had surprising and absolutely kick ass results. So the trick is to be self propelling and self motivated to create. I find this aspect one of my greatest assets.

I designed a side table last week that is also a light. I am positively having itchy fingers to start making it. I had the sudden inspiration after having flicked through a commercial furniture supplier's brochure that arrived in the post. It showed many works from the latest Milan show and I looked at a few shapely curves on furniture that sparked the idea, but none of them were also lights. That only came about after I had started drawing up the table as we need one at home. 

As it was I ended up having to park my side table idea on the weekend, as we have a farm and responsibilities that come before any arty farty time. So now I am thinking on how to get the material for this side table to the farm and then when to start whipping it up. Exciting! My plan is to make one out of mdf or equivalent to see if the design works, and then to sell the plans of it so anyone with some DIY tools can make it too. Cost effective design piece and "green" as it's up to the 'builder' how to finish the design.

So how can any of us be more creative and also; find time for ourselves to make things?
I find this time thing the hardest: basically I'm currently left with only the evenings. (And that's how some people who know me say I am barking mad because I do too many things. I have too many ideas and I often feel like a gas bottle under pressure.)

I also figured out that in order to create "me-time" I had to get better organized. I bought a desk that now more effectively stores my paperwork. This way I can open the mail in the 
evenings for example and tidy the bills and information away quickly, taking only 5 minutes, which means I don't have to sit down and go through all that jazz one day a week which would cost me more time when I'd rather be doing something else. I also have an effective system with feeding the animals twice every day as that is my responsibility and I try to fit in other activities during the week as well so I don't have to in the weekend. It can be quite the juggling act, but really: instead of watching tv for 2 hours every night I could be doing something else instead.

Sparking your creativity:

  • get paper out on a table and any pens, paint or whatever you find easiest to work with and just get cracking. I have used ballpoints a lot in my day and it works for me. You don't need fancy materials to draw your ideas down.
  • is there anything in your house or room that you've been wanting a solution for? Write down a few things and make some sketches. Start drawing.
  • magazines and websites: create a clippings book and bookmark your favorite sites. Compile sketches. I see many things every day and my brain stores the images as I have a visual memory. Things can pop up at the craziest times, but it is handy to have an actual reference.
  • nature; there are so many things to see and admire out there in the world, whether it is the surprising and silhouetted shape of trees or a concrete jungle sparking graffiti.
  • collaborate: do you know any one who is as crazy as you? Talk to them and see if they're game to start up a project together. This way you learn from each other and it's simply great fun.
  • do a course if you feel that you require direction to focus your abilities. You also get to meet others which is inspiring in itself.
  • write down your ideas. I find if they're still cool after many months, you're onto something. I have a whole folder stuffed with ideas; ranging from bedlinen designs, to lighting, to rough cabin designs and interior design schemes. I am unable to work on them right now so I have to choose, leaving 90% sitting in this folder. They could be of use later down the track.
  • never say die. If you feel something bubbling inside of you, don't ignore it. Drag a notebook in your bag with you, store things on your computer if thats' easier for you, put clippings in your diary and add them to your sketchbook at home. Just keep at it. It's worth more to you then you may realize now.
picture above: a sketch design of mine: down-under cuisine 2010