Sunday, April 17, 2011

Holly Becker: Decorate


Although I still have not finished my catching up on Los Angeles, I now want to do a bit of UK catching up. In my last post I wrote about a book-signing by Alicia Silverstone in Santa Monica, and now I'm eager to write about one by blogger extraordinaire Holly Becker in London. Holly is the founder and editor of the groundbreaking blog Decor8. Although the main theme is decorating it covers many other aspects of life, helping one to enjoy one's environment- apart from in itself being a visual joy!

Together with author Joanne Copestick, Holly has just written an amazing, very personal book, Decorate, full of stunning photos by Debi Treloar.

Liberty- since I was an art student, one of my very favourite London stores- launched Decorate last Wednesday. As part of the launch, Holly organized a demo of table decoration in Liberty's new Dining Room, using their tableware and fabrics. She also held talks and book signings on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Having enrolled in her first Blogging Your Way on-line course in 2009, I felt I already knew Holly, who was a wonderfully generous teacher, so I was delighted to go to both the demo on Wednesday and the talk in Liberty's Heritage Room on Thursday. I will start with the Demo in the Dining Room:

Arriving early, the Table Setting was still being titivated:

This gave me time to wander round appreciating and photographing the details and the subtle differences in the elegant, stylish, very Decor8 layout:

Soon the room filled up with eager Bloggers and followers of Deco8. A glowing Holly arrived, proving to be the incredibly warm person that we knew on-line!

She gave a brief talk about the display, saying how thrilled she was to have Decorate's launch at Liberty's and how she wanted to incorporate their fabrics. Here she is describing how the collages in the notebooks under the napkins were made and how they served as both decorations and pretty gifts for your guests to take home:

She then introduced her colleagues, Sania Pell- photographic stylist and author of the Homemade Home:

and Leslie Shewring- photographer and stylist who writes Color Me Pretty, a monthly column in Decor8:

Holly handed us over to these two ladies, to describe how they had styled the Table Setting and made the decorations, including the Liberty fabric rosettes and this elaborate, exotic overhead piece:

Now it was Book Signing time. It was such a great pleasure to meet this lovely lady when she signed my copy.


The next evening I was back in Liberty's, this time in the Heritage Room. I felt extremely lucky as we were a very small group (20 maybe?) so it was an intimate gathering and everyone had a chance to talk- thanks to Holly's handling. I was really impressed yet again by her warmth and the fact that she clearly likes and cares for people.

She talked at length and in detail about the conception and structure of the book and about working with her colleagues- including co-author Joanna Copestick (who was there) and photographer Debi Treloar. It was very illuminating- such as when she said how she wanted it to be a book that you wanted to read, rather than just flicking through the pictures, so included quotes to draw you in.

The evening was next opened up for questions, starting with us all introducing ourselves. Holly's answers to questions were always thought provoking and she has many interesting ideas about fulfilling yourself- it was a fascinating evening.

And then a further Book Signing:

After which Holly took us to the Dining Room to see and discuss the Display:

Holly went into some detail about the development and construction of everything. Here she is showing how for the tablecloth it was necessary to have an under layer of linen beneath the thin Liberty print dress fabric:

And here talking of ideas for place settings:

Here she describes the concept of the mobiles above the area where she signed the books- how they introduced the neon ribbons as a foil to the subtle Liberty fabrics and to introduce a contemporary element:

On or way to the Dining Hall, Amy Butler- designer of exquisite fabrics- had arrived. Holly was delightfully excited to meet her in the flesh and here they pose together:

And here they are joined by co-author Joanna Copestick:

We finally left, all having spent an inspirational evening with the warm (I have to keep repeating that word!) and generous Holly Becker.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Alicia Silverstone

Following my post on Animal Acres, I have another Vegan topic: before I left Los Angeles at the end of March Alicia Silverstone- actress and writer of The Kind Diet, a vegan Bible- came to give a talk and book signing at Santa Monica Public Library. You might wonder what this has to do with trees, but Silverstone is known to be an environmental activist and one of the aspects of the book is how vegan-ism helps with "saving the planet"...

She has a lovely personality and is a very charming, sympathetic speaker who gave an excellent talk. Here is our Vegan gang with her at the book signing, including my daughter Molly, granddaughter Violet, son-in-Law Mike and friend Lisa. It was a pity Molly's vegan dogs- Bella and Gonzo- could not be there too , but I was able to show Alicia a photo of vegan Bella on my cellphone!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Animal Acres

Animal Acres is a wonderful animal sanctuary situated on a 26 acre hacienda ranch in Acton. a mountainous region about 45 minutes from Hollywood. There they rescue farmed animals and run a learning centre for their protection.

In March my daughter- a dedicated animal lover and Vegan- decided to celebrate her birthday there, making it a happy outing for her friends and their children. The farm caters for birthdays, providing a vegan birthday cake (and allowing you to bring your own vegan food) and including a two hour "meet the animals" tour of the farm, invaluable for both City children and adults.

Arriving, you are aware of the surrounding mountains in this peaceful (apart from animal noises!) setting:

And here Violet, my Granddaughter, arrives for a new experience:

You are met at the gates by a lot of pushy goats (as well as very friendly, welcoming staff) and soon find yourself surrounded by apparently hundreds of poultry, including turkeys who look as if they are animatronic, alien beasts from a sci-fi movie. What I really appreciated was knowing that these birds were not lying-in-wait to be roasted for Thanksgiving or Christmas...

Hungry, we ate right away from tables set out in the Rose Garden accompanied by this noisy, equally hungry, collection of birds- hens, geese, ducks and, of course, turkeys:

Unsurprisingly, some of the children- and adults too!- were intimidated by these pecking, scavenging birds, this goose in particular:

After lunch it was the birds' time to be fed and the children were encouraged to feed them lettuce by hand, under supervision:

Now it was time for the tour, led by Cameron- one of the team who was excellent with the children. First he led us to the cattle. Before entering the field he pointed out this very fierce looking bull on the far side, saying we should be prepared to make a fast exit if he approached!

Sure enough, he DID start to move in our direction, so we didn't spend too long stroking the cows there....

Needless to say, the donkeys were very popular and it was lovely to watch the children's faces as they made physical contact with them:

Pig time next:

Here we were warned to be cautious not to alarm these very large beasts. So we all stood back while Cameron supervised the semi-slumbering sow being given "belly-rubs". Again, it was a delight to see the children's expressions:

After this we wound our way to the Goat section. Personally, I have always been a bit wary of goats (inspite of being a Capricorn!) as I have known some pretty vicious ones in my life- but apart from a bit of butting these were all civilized- and some undeniably cute!

Now it was wind-down time:

Having seen quite enough animals today, how about just getting into a hole in the ground?

I have not mentioned all the animals we were introduced to, just the more memorable ones. What I have not told is the many horror tales we were told of some of the animals' previous lives before they were rescued by these amazing, dedicated people.

Post Script:

Before leaving I took some time out to look at the collection of photos displayed showing famous people who were Vegetarians: Tolstoy, Thoreau, Gandhi, Alice Walker, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Schweitzer, Albert Einstein, Bernard Shaw...surely these are all people worth listening to?! They all had great quotes attached to them- I will just show two: