Monday, May 30

Monday Moodboard

Hello and happy Monday! Have you thought about what to get for Father's Day this year? Check out these gift ideas I found on Etsy :)
Vatertag, zumindest in USA, fällt dieses Jahr auf den 19. Juni. Hier habe ich ein paar Geschenkideen, die auch für Männergeburtstage geeignet sind.  Alle bei Etsy gefunden. Schönen Montag!

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Friday, May 27

Japan Day [ Duesseldorf ]

Duesseldorf, the city I used to live and work in, is home to around 7000 Japanese nationals. The city has cultivated business ties to Tokyo since the 1950s. The Japanese Gardens are a pleasant place to visit in spring, and whenever I'm in the city I make sure to stop by the Japanese supermarket to stock up on snacks and miso. This past weekend the Japan Day took place on the river Rhine promenade, drawing approximately 750.000 visitors from all over Germany as well as neighboring countries. I have to mention that I felt sorry for the unhappy babies and dogs that people with obviously no common sense brought along. It was unusually warm that weekend and with hundreds of thousands of people in a confined area...need I say more? Aside from that it was a pretty cool, if exhausting event, although I had wished for more "culture" less "pop" ;-)
Der Japantag, ein beliebtes Kultur- und Begegnungsfest hat erneut 750.000 Besucher an die Düsseldorfer Rheinuferpromenade gelockt. In rund 90 Zelten entlang der Promenade vom Schlossufer im Norden bis zur Wiese am Landtag im Süden begegneten sich die rheinische und japanische Kultur. Auch aus dem europäischen Ausland sind viele Besucher angereist, um in die Kultur Japans einzutauchen. Bei solchen Menschenmassen auf begrenztem Raum sind mir gleich zu Beginn ein paar negative Aspekte aufgefallen. Die Sicherheitskräfte waren dünn gesät. Außerdem taten mir die unglücklichen Babys und Hunde leid, die wider alle Vernunft mitgeschleppt wurden. Nicht zuletzt störten mich die Pöbelei der vielen Betrunkenen, die auf dieser Veranstaltung nichts zu suchen hatten...Mittlerweile weiß ich, dass viele Besucher der gleichen Meinung sind und offiziell beim Veranstalter Beschwerde eingelegt haben. Ich hoffe, dass sie diese ernst nehmen. Abgesehen davon war es ein lustiges, wenn auch anstrengendes Event und zum Glück spielte das Wetter mit!

This festival-style event offers a wide-ranging programme, including traditional Japanese music, dance, martial arts, Japanese food, pop culture, manga and  anime, Japanese calligraphy, gift shops and the ever popular cosplayers. Japan Day 2016 culminated in a spectacular flower-and-animal-themed professional fireworks display, drawing even more visitors! When I arrived it was already packed. Plenty of people had brought blankets to spread out on the grassy area along the boardwalk.

Das breit gefächerte Programm umfasst traditionelle japanische Musik, Tanz, Kampfkunst, Japanisches Essen, Manga und Anime, Kalligraphie, Souvenirläden und die immer beliebten Cosplayer. Den Abschluss des Japan Tages 2016 bildete das grandiose japanische Feuerwerk, das in diesem Jahr "Bäume, Blumen, Tiere – die Welt der Natur" abbildete, und zu welchem noch einige hundert Besucher mehr angereist kamen.

The following photos are mostly candid shots taken with a 35mm prime lens. The cosplayers were out in force, some of them offering free hugs :) There's everything from Lolita fashion, fluffy Pokemon characters, geishas and various manga costumes. I really appreciate the effort made with some of the costumes and big thanks to everyone who indulged me by having their photo taken and to those who weren't aware. Being in the middle of the action taking street shots like these are always a bit iffy over here - you never know how people are going to react. Thankfully nobody complained. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them!
Die folgenden Momenaufnahmen sind alle mit 35mm Festbrennweite aufgenommen. Die Cosplayer waren zahlreich vertreten. Bewundernswert mit wieviel Aufwand einige der Kostüme angefertigen wurden! An dieser Stelle ein großes Dankeschön an alle, die sich freiwillig haben fotografieren lassen und natürlich auch an alle anderen ;-) Ich weiß zwar, dass hierzulande nicht so locker damit umgegangen wird wie z.B. in USA...aber wer zu solch einer Veranstaltung ein auffälliges Kostüm in der Öffentlichkeit trägt, dem sollte klar sein, dass er/sie von Besuchern abgelichtet wird. Dennoch, falls jemand sich hier wiedererkennt (und das nicht möchte), kurze Mail an mich und ich lösche das Foto.

Happy Friday!!!

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Tuesday, May 24

How to manage your instagram account

The other day I received an email from the folks at Iconosquare. This is what the message said:
On June 1st 2016 we will launch a new version of Iconosquare. The current version will no longer be available and the public Instagram viewer will be shut down.
This new Iconosquare is not just a visual redesign, but a whole new product with new features. Some major changes will accompany this release. You can keep using the current version of Iconosquare for free until the 1st June 2016. After that day the new version will only be available to PLUS and ELITE users.
Well, bummer.
Just when I got comfortable viewing my instagram feed chronologically and, although simple, the free version lets me manage my account in an easy, straightfoward way. Also, iconosquare makes managing comments easy too (btw, I get more comments on instagram than I get on my blog). But my lovely blog readers are way more loyal than my instagram followers. It's pretty common that instagram users will eventually unfollow once they hit 5k and you don't. But I digress.

So, I did a little research.
There are a number of alternatives out there, however, some seem to violate the TOS of instagram, so it pays to read the small print carefully.
*Update - just heard back that Ink361 will change its format. The version will no longer be available
Check out Ink361, where you can conveniently log in with your instagram account. It let's you view the instagram feed chronologically (yay) and manage comments, although the format does take getting used to. Published images automatically have Pinterest / Twitter / Google+ buttons, so you may crosspost easily. There's a backup function for your images / albums. You can also create circles similar to Google+. Useful if you want to check out certain topics, i.e. jewelry, foodpics etc.  Although the statistics aren't in depth, they are suffient for my purposes. Among others you can check hashtag popularity and most liked posts. The down side is there are a lot of ads within the feed itself and also in the side bars. In any case if you do not want to pay $$$ for iconosquare's Plus or Elite versions, then I'd recommend switching to Ink361.

As mine is a relatively small instagram account I currently don't need tons of data, however, Dasheroo seems like a decent place to start. I'm specifically intersted in their small business dashboard, which is also free. Dasheroo lets you configure your dashboard to your preferences and check your stats on multiple apps, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Analytics and Instagram. Seems efficient to me. I haven't tried out all the features yet, but it doesn't look like you'd be able to manage instagram comments. Rather it's an analytic tool for managing your account(s) and perhaps to check current social media trends. Something to keep in mind for when my account grows :)

Lastly, I wanted to share whether the changes to the feed on instagram several weeks ago have affected my sales negatively. Happy to report that this is not the case! With the right hashtags and a great photo you can still reach tons of potential customers. The only thing I've noticed is my growth rate has slowed down. I used to get several new followers per day. Now it's maybe one every three days. But as I mentioned it's not the follower count that's important, it's the quality of followers :)
I still need to figure out how to add a new instagram widget, since my current one will disappear once iconosquare's free version shuts down at the end of this month.

Do you use instagram for your business? Do you know of any other tools to manage your account?

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Monday, May 23

Monday Moodboard

Non-traditional brides-to-be will love that Fiesta red is trending in weddings this year, from dresses, hair accessories to invitations - this strong color will add brightness to any wedding. Here are my picks!
Nicht traditionelle Bräute werden sich freuen, dass Fiesta Rot in diesem Jahr beliebt ist - von Brautkleidern, Haar-Accessoires bis zu Hochzeitseinladungen - diese leuchtende Farbe ist auf jeden Fall ein Hingucker! 

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Wednesday, May 18

Wordless Wednesday

The earth laughs in flowers ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Monday, May 16

Monday Moodboard

Another wonderful thing about May are the gorgeous lilac trees currently in full bloom. I love their pretty blossoms in all shades from deep pink to the palest lilac and their delicate fragrance is divine. Seen any lilacs in your neck of the woods?
Im Mai ist wieder Fliederzeit. Ich liebe die kleinen Blüten in allen Farben von Pink bis Zartlila und wie sie duften...einfach herrlich. Meine heutige Collage habe ich dem Flieder gewidmet!

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Wednesday, May 11

[ Almost ] Wordless Wednesday

Okay, so the Blogger site was down several hours yesterday preventing me from writing a new blog post (not this one) or commenting on other blogs. Now that hasn't happened for a long time - the server being down, I mean. Plus it seems Photobucket had (still has) some technical issues, resulting in my about image and social media icons not loading. I sat there feeling increasingly frustrated until I realized I was wasting energy on something I wouldn't be able to solve anyway. I do have a tendency to get worked up about some things I can't change. I guess that's one of the downsides of working alone - there's nobody there to remind me not to worry about trivial things! So...deep breaths and fingers crossed that all will be resolved soon :)

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Monday, May 9

Monday Moodboard

May is traditionally the most popular wedding month over here, and as every year I've curated a moodboard featuring a few pretties I found on Etsy. I love creams and blush pinks, as these colors remind me of my peonies in the garden. Can't wait for them to start blooming :)
Mai ist hierzulande der beliebteste Hochzeitsmonat und wie jedes Jahr stelle ich gerne eine Collage zu diesem Thema zusammen. Diese wunderhübschen Dinge habe bei Etsy gefunden. Das zarte Rosa erinnert mich an meine Pfingstrosen im Garten und ich freue mich schon wenn sie wieder blühen :)

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Friday, May 6

In loving memory

With Mother's Day coming up this Sunday I've been feeling subdued all week. (For new readers - my Mom sadly passed away shortly before Christmas last year). Since I can remember this special day had always been a mother/daughter day. As a girl I used to craft a little something for my Mom  and when I was older I treated her to coffee and cake at a nice café. This was our tradition and we looked forward to it every year.

The above watercolor was the last thing we talked about right before her voice disappeared. At the hospice there was an art therapist that sat with us each day. My Mom's favorite season had always been spring, so the artist painted a beautiful tree with fresh green grass below and later added a little hedgehog, a kitty and birdies. We named it "Frühlingserwachen" spring awakening and we had hung it on the wall, so that my Mom was able to see it from her bed.
When my Mom passed and I went to retrieve her items the first thing I noticed was that the painting was missing. At the time I was so distraught that it really freaked me out, especially because it was the last thing we talked about, plus her final wish had been for me to have it framed! In hindsight I probably drove the entire staff crazy by having them search every nook and cranny for it. Somebody eventually found it in a drawer, which made me burst into tears. Everyone was sympathetic though.

my mom's cat Sumi
The weeks that followed were horrible. I had just lost my Mom, my best friend and confidante. All I wanted was to crawl into bed and grieve. Of course, this wasn't possible. I'm sure anyone who has lost a close relative can relate how tedious it is to cut through the red tape and having to deal with authorities, notaries, banks etc. I've encountered some tough situations before, but this was beyond awful. It took all of my energy to keep my shop up and running, especially since the first quarter is typically my busiest! With everything else going on I'm surprised I still achieved my sales goals. I'm currently tying up loose ends, but I can finally see a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel...

Sumi, my Mom's cat of twelve years has grown very attached to me. If it were up to her she'd love to have me all to herself! I sincerely hope that she will live a long and happy cat life despite her medical condition. P.s. she really, really loves that pink rug, which is already looking a bit frayed :)
My mother had rescued countless feral cats and two street dogs throughout her life, and at one point even took in a very sick and undernourished street kid, took him to the hospital to be treated, and then gave him a bed, fed and nursed him back to health. Too bad the kid's much older brother, a real bully, came and took him away one night. We never heard of him again. I sometimes wonder whether the boy remembers the loving care he received from my Mom all those years ago.

My mother was such a gentle soul and she always provided a safe and loving home for my brother and me. We were very lucky! My brother and I wanted to honor our Mom in a special and meaningful way. So we sponsored a cat condo at The Washington Animal Rescue League. It's now got a plaque with our mother's name on it. WARL, founded in 1914, a private non-profit is the oldest animal welfare shelter in Washington D.C. They have a neat search site for adoptable kitties, so if you live in the area and are looking for a pet, do consider giving a shelter cat or dog a loving furever home! #adoptdontshop

In the picture above (not sure what year this was, probably 80s judging by the perm) my Mom is busy at work in the little aromatherapy shop she shared with a friend. My mother was a trained aromatherapist and foot reflexologist. I learned so much about essential oils from her and am now the proud owner of Valerie Ann Worwood's The Fragant Pharmacy, an encyclopedic tome on the many diverse benefits of essential oils and which I reference often.

This Mother's Day I will buy a bouquet of my Mom's favorite flowers, put on some jazzy tunes (my Mom's favorite), diffuse her favorite aromatherapy oils (rose and geranium) and remember all the special moments we shared. I miss her dearly.

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