Friday, December 17, 2021

Time to let go

Dear readers, be warned, today's post is an emotional one. It's a bit painful for me actually seeing it in written and I'm communicating this to you with a certain melancholic touch. I'm ending this blog. I've been thinking about it for a long time now. I am not leaving the social media world entirely, I will just focus on Instagram now because it's easier for me and I feel more connected to my followers there.

Time to say Goodbye

Well, not every blogger turns into an entrepreneur. My blog was my baby for many years and I'm sad to let this story end here... maybe not forever but for now. I trust the timing of my life and I believe there is a right period of time for everything in life. For the past two years or so I just felt like the time had come to close this chapter called blogging. It felt forced, it didn't flow naturally, it didn't come easy. And even though it hurts and has a certain melancholic feel to it I'm closing this chapter today with a tear in my eye because sometimes you have to close a door to open yourself to something new or simply because it doesn't serve you anymore.

I set new priorities over the past few years and one of them is time! Time I want to spend with family, friends and myself. And a blog robs me of that time. Instagram is fun, quick and I can post on the go. But I don't have the time nor the motivation anymore to sit at home with my laptop, select and edit photos for hours or write longer texts for a blog. I rather spend my time with my partner, friends and family now, and outdoors, doing yoga, enjoying nature, just being.

And yet I'm so happy I have made this enriching experience. I'm proud of myself and my blog, we had a beautiful journey together and I will keep it here on the web so I can stop by once in a while and look at my “photo album”. My unforgettable memories of New York, photos of my travels around the world, personal thoughts and recommendations, and my adventures in Mallorca. So all my posts will remain here, all saved, so you and I can stop by once in a while and have a look at my older posts when we feel like it.

I will miss writing these kinds of posts that let me express myself, share my experiences and thoughts with you, communicate with you, my community, and open myself up to the world a bit more. But I'm not the same person anymore that I was when I started my blog. A twenty year old, curious, carefree young girl starting a new chapter in NYC and wanting to share it with the world. I have grown a lot over the past few years and rather share my thoughts and feelings with my journal, family, partner and closest friends now, than with online users. Strangers I don't even know.

My blog started out as a diary of my exciting years in New York City in 2010. I shared my experiences, NYC and travel tips with you and was surprised by how quickly my blog grew. You seemed to love my personal stories about the city and my trips through the USA. I was always happy to read your comments, answers your questions and felt your support. Thanks to all of you this blog has existed for many years and I truly want to thank you for all the interest, love, loyalty and support you have shown me these past years. For giving me the chance to share a bit of myself and my personal life with you. Thank you from my heart.

From unpaid, spontaneous posts to staged, profitable collaborations

The blogger world has changed so much during these past years. My blog was always personal. I shared my experiences, travel tips and things I really enjoyed or I was interested in instead of product recommendations. And even though I didn't post many family pics or anything too intimate I did share my thoughts and sometimes also feelings...

When I started blogging there weren't any influencers, neither Instagram nor paid collaborations or businesses around blogs. The blogger world consisted of only a few people sharing their thoughts, experiences, outfits and daily life on their personal blogs. No professional cameras, photographers, nor a team. Blog owners uploaded texts and photos that they considered inspiring, beautiful or fun, without considering any algorithms, likes, views, followings. No filters, no presets, no hour-long editing, no social media strategies, no concerns about whether their content would be liked by others or not.

What started for many as a hobby has now turned into a lucrative business that aims at establishing a dialogue between the blogger or influencer and the reader or follower in order to convince the latter to buy something. The blogger world has changed so much since I started, especially because of our increased social media use and the professionalization of blogs and social media. Blogging was a lot more personal back then. Closer contact between bloggers and readers, honest comments and page views, support. In the beginning a blogger was super excited for each comment a blog post got and instantly replied. Today influencers are treated like celebrities, doesn't matter if they have a real talent, are really creating inspiring content or are simply looking pretty and are good at selling things. Even though now these influencers can directly speak to their followers via messages, live videos, comments etc. I feel like they are more disconnected than ever from their followers.

Remember the time when Instagram, was an innocent platform and users shared snapshots of whatever they wanted, from mirror selfies to snaps of wild nights out and un-edited photos of a training session while content quality and likes didn't matter? Then brands and advertisers showed up on the block. People started retouching their faces, not showing any emotions other than happiness, taking 300 pics and selecting the one where they appear skinnier and more tanned, they started matching their food with the outfit etc... Bloggers or influencers started creating product posts and fake settings just like in a photo studio. They started thinking in photos to create the best possible content in order to get a brand's attention. And some really succeeded and now get paid millions and even have their own brands.

Over the years a question popped up: „What will happen to the hobby bloggers or Instagram users?“ The ones like me. The ones who can't provide highly professional content on a daily basis because their time is very limited working a full time job. The ones who just enjoy the blog as a hobby. A blog is very time-consuming but people will stop reading if they see you're not posting regularly or your content is not as valuable and your photos are not as professional as on other blogs. Blogging literally takes an army but you're only one person. Behind many bloggers and influencers there's a significant other or a supportive family member in the background helping to make the blog or Instagram profile grow. You can't do everything and you also lack some special skills maybe. Blogging or creating content for Instagram is nothing easy. You have to get people to know you, stand out from others in a highly competitive business, and constantly get new jobs to pay your bills while most companies prefer to offer you unpaid collaborations.

My blog basically became non-existent because I rarely publish any new posts and because all my readers and followers are connecting with me on Instagram now. So I decided to focus more on this platform. Some of my Instagram followers text me back 'wow you are so nice, I never expected you to reply'. I do reply, always, unless a person sends me just an emoji or inappropriate message. I know I can't compare the volume of messages from 6.000 followers to 500.000 followers, but still, I like to keep it personal. Because I'm just a normal person, the girl from next door, not a celebrity. And with this attitude it makes me even happier when someone writes me 'you inspire me so much', 'I love your energy' or 'may I ask for your help'. On Instagram I still feel seen and heard so I will continue sharing bits of my life there sporadically.

The Story continues...

Today I'm ending this chapter of more than a decade called blogging. Maybe it's because I'm so tired of consumerism and most blogs and Instagram profiles are just focusing on the follower as a potential client or buyer. Maybe it's also a little bit of self-doubt that keeps me from continuing this blog. While the blog and Instagram business has evolved, professionalized and gained more quality, my blog has pretty much stayed the same. The same humble, colorful, personal blog it has started out as. I feel a bit like I failed thinking of what this blog might have grown into with a bit more effort... But most of all I'm ending this blog because I don't have enough spare time, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, nor the ambition and motivation to keep sharing my personal life on a blog or social media too much.

No worries, I will not disappear. You can still follow my adventures on my Instagram @laurahlp. But on this blog I'm saying goodbye to you today, my followers who've read every single post of mine and commented so actively always supporting me during all these years. I wrote my first post on the 3rd of December 2010 and today will be my last.

I'm deeply grateful. For this experience as a writer and photographer, for the freedom to express myself, for my community here, for all the opportunities my blog has given me, for the people I've personally gotten to know thanks to this blog, for holding my memories of unforgettable times so dearly. And that is why I will close this chapter and end this post with tears in my eyes and only two words. A feeling that I have most felt during these years as a blogger.

Thank you.


Monday, May 17, 2021

Weekend at Only Summer Finca

Hey guys, I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! Today I'm sharing a few more snapshots from our weekend at the Only Summer finca in Llubi, which I already showed you in my last post. 

We used our second day at this stunning holiday home to enjoy a wonderful breakfast, pick some oranges, relax and shoot a few pictures. Since our friends Anna and Daniel joined us that day we decided to have a barbecue for lunch. Such a great idea since the Only Summer finca has a large barbecue area and several outdoor terraces which are just the perfect place to enjoy al fresco meals.
Later in the afternoon my friend Anna and I took advantage of the beautiful surroundings to shoot some photos for her luxury lifestyle brand A'Distraction. Once we were done with the shoot we enjoyed a coffee and curcuma latte in the beautiful finca garden. The mountain views from there are just stunning! The golden afternoon light at the finca is simply magical and invites you to read a book on one of the beautiful terraces or by the pool, go for a walk around the huge property to discover its breathtaking surroundings, or play a round of pétanque at the property's very own pétanque course. There's just so much to do at Only Summer that we didn't leave the property the entire weekend! 

The peaceful landscape, unique interior and charming atmosphere of this hideaway will calm your mind and make your stay truly unforgettable. Here the clocks seem to tick a little slower than elsewhere... So I'm pretty sure you will enjoy this holiday home as much as we did. You can book the Only Summer finca on their website. On request the finca is also available for weddings, events or workshops. Let me tell you, when staying at this dreamy home you will forget the world around you!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Only Summer Holiday Finca in Mallorca

Hello my dear readers, I hope you are all doing well and enjoying a beautiful spring season. I'm certainly making the most of these breezy and relaxed months before the summer heat and tourism hit our island. I have gone on some beautiful excursions, participated in a yoga retreat, renovated my apartment with my boyfriend and enjoyed two staycations here in Mallorca. One of the properties I stayed at with my family and friends was the stunning Only Summer holiday finca which I'd like to show you today. Come immerse yourself in a boho-luxe dream with me at this unique holiday home near the charming town of Llubi in the heart of Mallorca.

Only Summer Lifestyle Finca

Completely and tastefully renovated just a few years ago, the finca is a modern mix of design and artisanship featuring a unique interior design, a stunning outdoor space and breathtaking views over Mallorca's countryside and the mountains. The house perfectly blends in with the natural environment offering maximum privacy.

I arrived at the finca on a Friday afternoon, quite exhausted from work and our ongoing renovation. The lovely manager Max showed us around the huge estate and explained us some helpful details. The second we entered the property my mind was set on vacation-mode. The Only Summer finca in Llubi is the perfect spot to disconnect from the stress of daily life. You will find a sun-drenched pool there set in a lush garden of palm trees, exotic plants and herbs. As it was still a bit chilly during our stay we didn't get to enjoy the pool but we loved the beautiful outdoor dining areas where we enjoyed our lunches. On the property you will also find a unique table football that the owners brought from Senegal, a large barbecue area, numerous fruit and olive trees, beehives and an organic orchard which offers a variety of fresh fruit and veggies year-round. Only Summer even produces its own organic honey, olive oil and natural soaps!

The beautiful holiday villa can comfortably accommodate ten people and is perfect for a holiday with family and friends. The finca features a spacious and bright living and dining room as well as a large kitchen where you can enjoy breathtaking mountain views while preparing meals with your loved ones. There are three bright and stylish double bedrooms in the main house, and two more in the connecting guest house, all with en-suite bathrooms and walk-in showers. I slept like a baby in the high, comfortable bed and woke up each morning to the birds singing in the lush garden. The finca counts with all extras you can wish for such as floor heating, air conditioning, wifi and a sound system, all throughout the house.

Only Summer really is a unique holiday home. There is a lightness, harmony and peace to this place which I can't explain. The whitewashed walls contrast beautifully with the large black window frames that let in the Mediterranean light. The furniture and decoration is held in soft natural colours while wooden elements spread a relaxed natural flair. What I loved most about Only Summer, apart from its surroundings, was the unique interior design and decoration. Each piece of furniture or decoration is a work of art either created by the finca's owner or international artists. The lovingly selected accessories such as oriental lampshades, colourful vases, baskets, carpets and cushions provide a unique bohemian flair. You can tell that the owner of the estate has a background in professional furniture production. Only Summer is not only a private escape but a whole lifestyle concept. You can find most of the pieces that are exposed at the finca in the Only Summer online shop.

We spent most of my first day at the finca taking photos (the surroundings were just so inspiring), exploring the property and of course relaxing in the beautiful garden. But there are a lot more things to do at Only Summer, so stay tuned for my next post!

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Artestruz - Ostrich Farm in Mallorca

Hello everyone, I hope you're all doing well! Today I have a Mallorca excursion tip for you. I'm taking you to Artestruz, an ostrich farm in the south of Mallorca.

Ostrich Farm in Mallorca

Artestruz is a lovely ostrich farm and education center run by a friendly family since 1998. The farm brings some Africa feeling to Mallorca, which is not a big surprise since the family has lived in South Africa for many years. Artestruz offers both an educational and fun experience for all ages. You will enjoy a trip to the vastness of the steppe and get to know a lot of unusual birds.

At first I wasn't sure whether a visit to an ostrich farm would be a good idea since I'm not a big fan of zoos and other places that keep wild animals. However, Artestruz is one of the most animal-friendly places I've ever been to. It was so nice to see how the owners treat their ostriches, with so much love for the animals and passion for their job. They care about their animals and you can see they have a beautiful bond with them. The fascinating thing is that the guides, Johny and his brother Ohad who are the owner's sons, actually know all ostriches by name and could tell us their characteristics. At first, the ostriches looked pretty much all the same to us. We could only distinguish between males and females, of course. But at the end of our visit even we knew some of them by name. The ostrich farm itself is clean, organized and the animals look very well taken care of.

Guided Tour

Our visit started with an interesting and engaging tour. Along with a few other interested visitors we took a seat in front of the enclosure and Johny began to enthusiastically tell us about his ostriches. You could tell he has a lot of passion for his job. We were able to ask questions in between, which Johny answered very well and because of the knowledge we got, we became big fans of the ostriches! We learned lots of interesting and quite incredible facts about these beautiful creatures, about their history and extraordinary abilities. Did you know, for example, that ostriches are one of the most ancient animals on earth and are basically living dinosaurs? I mean, look at their feet!

Feeding the Ostriches

Once the informative part was over, we got close to the animals to pet and feed them in a safe and respectful environment. You can feed them however you like: with a glove, wooden spoon or with your bare hand, depending on your courage. Let me tell you, feeding an ostrich is a lot of fun. I went all in and fed the ostriches with the palm of my hand to get a better feeling for them. It was so interesting and funny to feel the curious ostriches peck the food with their rock-hard beaks. After getting to know the animals a bit better my boyfriend and I became much braver and even carefully stroked some ostrich's necks which were super soft.

Ostrich Ride

Apart from feeding and petting the animals you can also book an ostrich ride (only for kids). Jambo, a huge 150 kilo ostrich who takes the little ones for a ride, is such a superstar. He just walks around the farm and relaxes wherever he wants. Kids have the opportunity to ride the 2.50 meter tall Jambo who struts obediently at walking pace.

Artestruz Shop

It is no coincidence that the word “Art” is hidden in the brand name “Artestruz”. In the farm shop you will find exclusive ostrich by-products made in Mallorca and art pieces that are hand-made at the farm, for example unique lamps made from the eggshells. You can even purchase ostrich eggs to cook and try them on site. Did you know that in terms of quantity, one ostrich egg is equivalent to two dozen chicken eggs? And it contains less cholesterol than a single chicken egg!

All in all, I can say we really enjoyed our visit to Artestruz. We arrived knowing little about ostriches and left feeling like we had gotten to know lots about these wonderful and fascinating big birds. Artestruz is a great place for anyone who is interested in wildlife and nature, and fabulous for both adults and children!

Artestruz Mallorca
Tel. +34 639721735
Ma-6014, km 40, 07630 Campos, Islas Baleares
Find more information on the farm website

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