my week in objects (mostly).

December 19, 2014

five little things that made my week.

1. this sweater.
sweater {from sheep to stiches, made in the usa. a sweet gift from zady this holiday season.}

2. brown paper packages.
boxes {because we shipped off a few little treats for the holidays this week.}

3. napkins.
napkin {because feeding a child is…not not messy.}

4. these toes.
toes {just cause.}

5. this bread.
bread {but mostly the guy who made it.}

other things:
fake snow.
clementine & rosemary.
(snow) bunny.
trying this out.
without words.

me in other places:
last-minute gifts.

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  • Reply Anonymous December 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    I love your blog and just started reading it a few months ago. I love your minimalistic approach and the way you live frugally. But I was disappointed this week to see so many "gifts" that you have received from vendors. It is why I have chosen to not to follow other bloggers. I hope you will stay true!

    • Reply Erin December 19, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks for your note. A short reply below!

  • Reply Anonymous December 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Yeah, all the gifts are getting kind of weird…

    • Reply Erin December 19, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Hi there: Part of what I do on this blog is to promote and support businesses that are doing work that I admire. I'm proud of the companies that I work with and when I mention them here it's because I sincerely hope that readers will also find them useful/interesting/worth supporting. I am always discerning about what I write and photograph for this space, whether I have been given something as a gift, or no. I'm doing my very best to write honest, comprehensive posts, and to support my family at the same time. When posts are sponsored, I disclose that and the same goes for items that have been given as gifts. Trust that there are many, many more things offered to me than I ever accept and that I've never written about anything that I don't personally endorse.

    • Reply Anonymous December 20, 2014 at 4:37 am

      Trusted 🙂

  • Reply Jana | One Drawing A Day December 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    oh baby toes-so cute!

  • Reply Anonymous December 19, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I'm going to chime in with others on the gifts. I've been a reader for several years now and while I understand that the gifts you accept are carefully considered, it seems like every single post features a freebie now. I've tried not to let it impact my enjoyment of Tea Leaves but it is starting to rub me the wrong way – the West Elm one more than any others. I am glad that you are becoming so successful but I hope that you don't lose what sets you apart from the others.

  • Reply Hannah S December 19, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I love the gifts you have been putting up. I think it is almost better when you recommend something that you have tried first so I think its great (but thank you for disclosing what you get as gifts or sponsors).
    Those tiny toes are adorable! My boyfreinds sister is due to have a baby girl next week and we cant wait to spend some time around a little newborn with tiny fingers and that awesome milky smell.
    Have a great weekend!

    • Reply elizabeth December 24, 2014 at 5:24 am

      i agree with this, hannah!
      and cheers to you as you are days away from baby snuggles!

  • Reply Michelle December 19, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    A sponsored item in EVERY post is a bit much. If you limited it to maybe once a week it would be more palatable. However, sponsorship is jarring and ruins the homey, sincere, DIY feel that used to characterize your blog. For that reason I'm unsubscribing to the feed.

    • Reply Erin December 19, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      Oh man. You guys are giving me gray hairs! Sorry to see you go!

  • Reply Anonymous December 19, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I also wanted to write a little note regarding that delicate subject! I understand that you are now trying to make a living with your blog and that promoting ethical-organic-local companies is very noble (plus, we often like the same things). However, little stories (even if they are truly honest) used to promote products can, after a while, make you look like a "shopping channel". And it is fine if this is what you are trying to achieve since there is really nothing wrong with what. I personally enjoyed a lot the "old" Reading My Tea Leaves but things change…some people will be happy and some won't! I hope that you see my comment as constructive criticism and not as a personal attack. Humans are creatures of habit and it can be difficult to accept changes. I don't think that you should change what you are doing if it makes you happy…you are not forcing people to read your posts. Sadly, I might just have to say au revoir for now.

    • Reply Erin December 19, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      I totally agree with this comment (thanks, Anonymous, for being constructive!). Maybe the bigger debate here is the shift that seems to occur with many lifestyle and fashion blogs when blogs become a source of revenue, rather than a place to tell stories/show photos/are not revenue driven. There's nothing wrong with the former, but I've noticed a lot of pushback from commenters (not just on this blog!) who would rather have the latter.

      …haha, and we wish we could get beautiful gifts too 🙂

    • Reply Erin December 19, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      hi there: thanks for your notes. i'm going to work on a longer post to address some of these issues. warmly, e.

    • Reply Anonymous December 20, 2014 at 4:40 am

      Great idea!

  • Reply Anna | gone banannas December 19, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    I rarely comment but sometimes, I just feel compelled! Maybe it is just because I am an avid reader of all types of blogs, but it doesn't seem off-putting, or de-valuing to me for you to include links to organizations that are helping you to support your blog and ultimately your family. I still hear your voice in every single post and because of that, no matter what you post, I am always looking forward to seeing a new entry pop up on my feed. A lot of the stuff that you link to, I can't afford – but it doesn't mean I don't love to see what exists out there. Thank you for sharing your beautiful writing! I hope this comment put some color back in your hair 🙂

    • Reply Erin December 19, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      thanks so much, anna.

    • Reply Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Couldn´t say it better Anna, thanks.
      Erin, your work is lovely, open and honest.

  • Reply blog December 19, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    You have become a favorite and will continue to be so. It is the time of the year where gift giving is big and you are sharing ideas [you don't have to click on the links unless you are interested in the item] and promoting those who are in the business. It's not a good time for a minimalist. I am sure it will slow down next year.

    • Reply Erin December 19, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      thanks so much!

  • Reply Lulu December 19, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Look at those teeny baby toes – what a love!
    And having just seen the comments above, haterz gonna hate. If you make a living from your blog, then having sponsors and promoting their products is a given, right? I like that you only promote things you would personally buy and that align with your ethical stance. You should be proud of that! x

    • Reply Erin December 19, 2014 at 10:40 pm

      thanks, lulu!

  • Reply Anonymous December 20, 2014 at 12:45 am

    Homemade bread, a baby's toes, Christmas packages, cloth napkins…all such sweet and utterly non-commercial objects. Why a gifted sweater would wrinkle anyone's nose in the midst of all the rest of that decidedly humble, homemade, heartfelt jumble is a mystery. Keep doing what you do, Erin!!

    • Reply Anonymous December 21, 2014 at 5:52 am

      The sweater in this post actually fit in well, but if you read some of the more recent posts (e.g. where a cleaning product pops in out of nowhere) you'll see that it is much more obvious.

  • Reply Charlotte Rigby December 20, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Love that sweater, Ive been looking for one like that for a while now! And homemade bread! Its the best, for definite!

  • Reply Anonymous December 21, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Your disclosures prove your integrity and your suggestions are exactly why I am drawn to your blog.
    Love your honest, simple and streamlined posts and hope 2015 will see you personally and professionally fulfilled.
    For all the purists out there, try to spend few hours every day without reasonable expectation to make an honest living.
    Happy New Year everyone !

  • Reply alisha December 21, 2014 at 4:02 am

    I'm glad you're getting gifts and making blogging work for you. Plus, I appreciate your suggestions as I trust you only partner with companies you love and believe in. You can't please everyone but you're still delighting quite a few people with your gorgeous posts. x

    • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Thanks so much, Alisha!

  • Reply Anonymous December 21, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    It is a joy and a respite, always, to rest the eyes and the soul in this thoughtful, cheerful, artful, peaceful, gratitude-filled space. That it also offers pathways to carefully made, creatively crafted, and responsibly sourced products is no more objectionable and as greatly appreciated as the avenues you offer (at no financial benefit at all) to intriguing stories, articles, essays, and images. Thanks so much for every last tea leaf, Erin.

    • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Thank you, thank you.

  • Reply Anonymous December 22, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    This problem is plaguing everyone who works in media. You do work (great work) and deserve to be compensated for it. The two general avenues for this are 1. Advertising 2. Paywalls.
    I, being of limited budget, am more than happy to see sponsored posts on these tea leaves because it lets me read your words and see your photos. You also are very thoughtful in your sponsor selection and disclosure. I know is partly because you feel that you owe it to your readers, which is generous.
    Keep up the fabulous work, Erin. You deserve to get paid and I'm very happy that you are.
    Happy holidays! x

    • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Indeed. Thanks so much for the thoughtful analysis. So glad to have you reading.

    • Reply T December 23, 2014 at 9:42 am

      Agreed! Keep up the good work, Erin!

  • Reply Vanessa December 22, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I'm shocked by the criticism. Been reading your blog for years (although only commenting recently) and I wouldn't change a thing. I've read blogs who veer "off message" for sponsored content (like bloggers who only wear $$$$ high end designer clothing suddenly wearing Old Navy, but only in the sponsored posts). I have never gotten the impression that you've featured a product or company just for the sake of compensation, or that you've endorsed anything that you haven't deemed beautiful and high quality enough to bring in to your own tiny space. I appreciate that, because I too have a limited income and a limited amount of space, and I still sometimes need new things and want to make conscious decisions with my money. So please remember that for every anonymous critique, there are many readers like me who appreciate and enjoy what you're doing and who will continue to support your writing and your carefully considered sponsors.

    • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Thank you, Vanessa!

  • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Nicole, I see you've removed this comment. But I did want you to know that until now, I haven't made it my habit to delete abusive comments, but I will be doing so from here onward.

  • Reply Hannah Geyen December 22, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I second Vanessa's comment above! Keep up the great work! It makes me so sad that anonymous posters feel the need to be so negative. You are the definition of grace under fire! Merry Christmas!

  • Reply Annika Koiranen December 22, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Dear Erin, I'm a brand spanking new reader (just spent the weekend browsing your blog all the way back to 2010) and I love your blog! People need to be gently reminded that the only constant in life is change – can't wait for next year with you! Chin up lovely 🙂

    • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Thanks, Annika!

  • Reply Anonymous December 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Just wanted to leave a lil note saying how much I enjoy reading your blog. All of the products that you have endorsed & that I have looked into have been lovely…I never would have found them on my own. I appreciate your honesty & your heart. Merry Christmas & blessings to you & yours!

    • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Thank you! To you and yours, too!

  • Reply Anonymous December 22, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    I will admit that I was starting to notice a fairly sudden increase in gift/sponsored bits (especially spendy ones!) that were starting to irk me a bit, but I also understand the need to earn a living. Honestly, maybe it's a small tip, but perhaps leading the post with a gifted item was a bit off-putting. Regardless, I enjoy your blog, and consider me a loyal fan. Warm holiday wishes!

  • Reply Cynthia December 22, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Of course you should be paid for your work. It's silly that anyone would think otherwise. Remuneration, though vs. renumeration.

    • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      OMG. Fixed!

  • Reply Dana December 22, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    I think you handle gifts with grace, and it's a joy to read your posts. I have read for years and I think your transformation over the years has been wonderful to follow. I don't think an unsponsored/unaffiliated blog exits anymore. Unless we rewind to 2008, sponsors are a reality in today's blog world, and I'm happy you are discerning in what you share. Please keep doing what feels right for you and your family! Love, support and happiness.

    • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Thank you, Dana!

  • Reply Rachel Quednau December 22, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Just want to add that I have been reading your blog for several years and I completely understand the need to make money off your work. It is unreasonable for us as readers to expect that you will work all day on this blog for free. You have a family to support and an NYC apartment to pay for. So the sponsored posts don't bother me a bit. I love that you have introduced me to so many ethical brands. I am constantly on the hunt for ways to be an ethical consumer and you are one of my biggest sources of information for that. Thank you for everything you do!

    • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      So glad to hear that, Rachel. Thanks so much for reading.

    • Reply Anonymous December 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Rachel said it better than I could! I completely agree. It is clear that you think long and hard before posting about / supporting brands, and that, regardless of any overall changes in the blog, is inspiring.

  • Reply Anonymous December 22, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I enjoy your blog & appreciate your suggestions. I'm slowly trying to be more conscious about what I buy. I have a small apt was well & love your positive attitude.

    • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Thank you!

  • Reply Sarah December 22, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    As a reader from 2011(ish), I completely support your beautiful blog. I love that you mention sponsors because it allows me as a reader to broaden my horizons as you introduce different companies that I would never have found on my own. Your blog has stayed consistent with the original theme throughout the years and that is inspiring! Ignore the naysayers and please keep up the beautiful work!

    • Reply Erin December 22, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Thanks so much, Sarah. So glad to hear it.

  • Reply Cindi Brumpton December 22, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Erin, I am a new reader of your blog and enjoy it very much. Just chiming in to say that I understand the balance. I too blog and for a while I was an ambassador for a yarn company that I adore. No payment but we did get items to review and I would talk about what I liked and disliked. I don't earn a living from my blog but I also understand it is a balance and sometimes I felt I was becoming their mouthpiece in a way so for many reasons I am glad I resigned that role. At the end of the day, since 2009 you have grown and your life has changed and that is the way it is and should be. People have a choice not to read or to click onto links. I am a great believer in people exercising their choices 😉

  • Reply malbork December 22, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I love your blog! It's wonderful to be able to make a living from your passion. I think the hate is misplaced– if you're going to live cloistered away from sponsored posts, you probably either have to have some other job or you have to be very well-off to begin with. I find your work ethic inspiring, and your ability to have your own business via blogging to be quite ethically sound!

  • Reply liv December 22, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you for your lovely posts- I've appreciated your blog for some time and will continue to appreciate it. I personally can't wait to read it every day- I hope you make boat loads of money- you've earned it. Keep on keepin' on.

  • Reply villagecultureclub December 22, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    I love every single aspect of your blog and look forward to reading your book. Moreover, I've found products, companies, and other blogs through you which I now value and highly enjoy. Keep up the good work and thank you for having the courage to stay true to your style.

  • Reply Anonymous December 22, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    I love reading your blog and just wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Spectacular ew year! Xx

  • Reply Linda December 22, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    I really love your blog! It is here I learned about "fast fashion" and have come to really rely on the suggestions for ethical apparel retailers. Frequently I come back to look up their names whenever I am in the market for something new. Thank you for bringing them to our attention!

  • Reply lindsay williamson kindschy December 22, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    you go, sister! i discovered your blog about 1 year ago via 'cup of jo' and admire what you and all professional bloggers are doing. i am so glad you took the leap of faith to blog full-time. i think blogging is still such a new concept universally as a revenue stream and the potential to be a livelihood that i constantly see bloggers having to defend themselves. of course you have sponsors and affiliate links. you are an entrepreneur and this is your job! wouldn't it be lovely to be able to write and blog professionally and not have to worry about making money? Geesh.

    People don't tend to blink an eye when entrepreneurs in other professions (like career coaching; me) charge for their services. hopefully it is only a matter of time that blogging is recognized more universally as an entrepreneurial endeavor that supports not only the entrepreneur, but also other small businesses, strengthens the economy, and empowers individuals to pursue their true passions and to find ways to generate enough income for the bare necessities doing what they love. I admire what you're doing and congratulate you on taking the leap.

    happy holidays from the midwest!

  • Reply Jo in London December 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    As a long time reader, very rare commenter I'm popping in to say how great I think your blog is and how gracious you are with those who offer their criticism. I'm quite sure that it's hurtful to have such harsh words directed at you. Your generous spirit shines through in how you deal with them.
    We all have a right to earn a living as best we can. Your sponsored posts completely fit with your ethos and offer like-minded readers the chance to learn about independent companies. It's like a modern version of word-of-mouth!
    This weekend I made your brown sugar scrub and fire starters to give as Christmas presents. Both went off without a hitch and the results looked as good as in your photos. Thank you for the time you spend putting together your posts and for the gorgeous photographs.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours. x

  • Reply Kristina December 22, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Dear Erin, I just read most of the comments above and am happy to see that the positive, supportive comments seem to outweigh the negative ones. I think it is great that you can make a living from your blog because shouldn't everyone have the chance to get paid for what they love doing!? Also I just wanted to say that I did not even notice the change in your posts that some readers at the beginning mentioned. I've been reading along for a couple of years and love your blog just as much today as I did in the beginning.
    Thank you so much for the great work you do and I greatly appreciate every post that I get to read on these tea leaves! Merry Christmas. xo

  • Reply Daniella C December 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Oh my goodness, while it's probably not productive for me to also comment Erin (I read your most recent post), can I just say people need to get off their high horse and stop demanding what bloggers should/shouldn't do, lol. Geez louise! This conversation is getting so tiresome… in the grand scheme of things your blog is awesome, I've been reading since you posted that facial steam for colds years ago! But the readers who pipe in on every blog about "gifts" is getting to be a bit much. To them I say, "you try blogging full time!", and it's nice to get a little gift of appreciation from companies you like and want to share! You never post anything that's not relevant. I actually didn't even notice they we're gifts! That's how seamless it is. All things that are relevant to you and RMTL. It's like the whole pop princess can't grow up thing, your blog is allowed to change over years, i'd be worried if it didn't!

    Happy thoughts and blogging Erin!

  • Reply Jenna December 23, 2014 at 12:45 am

    Erin, as a longtime loyal reader, I want to chime in here. I think your product mentions are so seamless and natural, and you've evolved your blog into a compassionate and inspiring place of integrity. Creating stunning content comes with costs and loyal readers will support you as you grow regardless, as you've established an incredible level of trust. Keep trusting your instincts and don't let a few sour apples ruin your editorial point of view. This is your space! xo

  • Reply Isabella W December 23, 2014 at 4:35 am

    Yes, I think it is such a tricky balance that bloggers have to maintain! In the "old days" of blogging, it was so simple. People just shared their lives. Then suddenly, it became an opportunity to make some money, and the game changed. The blogger wants to be paid for their time, but the reader doesn't like the shilling and pop-ups, the ongoing catalog of items to purchase for which they have no money! What to do? The best blogger I know who navigates this well is Alicia at "Posy Gets Cozy." She does have her online craft store, but she doesn't really even promote it that much.

    Erin, I do think that your readers are giving some constructive criticism, and taking the pulse of that is something to wisely consider. Would unobtrusive advertising still bring in revenue from reader clicks? Love the sweet baby toes too!

  • Reply Rebecca December 23, 2014 at 6:40 am

    Dear Erin,
    I've been reading your blog for years now but I don't think I've ever commented. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your thoughtful writing and the fact that your personal ethics and aesthetic shine through in this lovely space. I'm so happy that you are able to make Reading My Tea Leaves work financially in an honest, authentic and creative way.
    Wishing you and your beautiful family a happy and peaceful holiday.
    With love from India,

  • Reply Taylor DuVall December 23, 2014 at 6:41 am

    I just stumbled on your blog from Hither and Tither – this is truly beautiful…what an inspired idea!

  • Reply tornyiildiko December 23, 2014 at 11:12 am

    most of us (bloggers and readers) are not like Mother Teresa (who only had 2 clothes and an half an hour daily prayer-time at dawn to call as "her own"). but even Mother Teresa had expenses: medicine, electricity, food… – all paid by someone else. such is life, it comes with expenses, even for saints…, and a life that is not absolutely 100% selfless comes with even more expenses. there is a difference between minimalist living and sainthood.

    the friendliness that is weawed into a blog is free – from readers and writers alike. the feelings, good intentions, the emotional sharing. it's free when I get it, free when I give it: to anyone: to the archbishop, to the golden retriever down the block, to my love or to the homeless man in the main square. yes, friendliness is free. but electricity, a web-site, my food…etc are not free. both these are realities.

    and besides: totally selfless individuals usually give totally altruistic help to the really helpless: who have almost nothing (like Mother Teresa helped the sick poor orphaned children of Calcutta). the readers of a quality blog usually are not in need of someone (a blogger) giving up all her life for them. what we readers need is a good blog (for which we pay for thru ads or directly), and we can afford this… as I said: saints tipically do other kind of relief work and a heartful "thanks heaven" that I am not in need of such totally selfless altruistic help in my life!

    • Reply tornyiildiko December 23, 2014 at 11:21 am

      (PS. and truth and income are two different notions: truth remains truth regardless if one gets paid for it or not. untruthfulness is when one says something she wouldn't say without money. everyone has to decide for themselves whether a blogger's words are to be believed or not. getting paid for work done: is not a marker for truthfulness however, it's a basic human right.)

  • Reply Anonymous December 23, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Can you explain why you've decided to start moderating your comments? I've always found the tone among your commenters to be quite respectful. It seems a bit odd and controlling of you to begin to do so. Maybe there's something I don't understand.

    • Reply Erin December 23, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      Explanation in my last post!

  • Reply Anonymous December 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    There are certainly many valid points in this discussion. Even if the blogger is up front about all remuneration, how does it sit with the readers? This is something that so many bloggers grapple with. If the perception is that the blogger has "sold out," it can affect readership. There are a million blogs out there. It is highly competitive and readers are very fickle. The blogger has to make the decisions. Does continual sponsorship affect the integrity of my blog? Am I alienating readers? Is this stuff just too expensive for the average reader?

    Erin has a lovely blog indeed. I have always loved visiting. In general, though, I think that weaving in a lot of product into blog posts is a bit disingenuous.

  • Reply Jennie December 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Erin, I am a 73 year old San Franciscan who delights in every one of your posts. Your photography is so simple but beautiful beyond words. I probably will never buy or make the things that you present but I delight in the beauty of all of them. I love your creativity, your courage, your simple way of life surrounded by simple beauty.

  • Reply Anonymous December 23, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    One thing I would like to point out is that Erin had referenced the above sweater in a previous post a few weeks back. So it's misguided to assume that her excitement over this specific gift isn't genuine. Second… to Erin, I want to say I have noticed an increase in sponsorship/gifts/etc., but I have been excited for you, knowing the value of your work is being recognized and you are being rewarded for it's quality! Most of the gifts you choose to sponsor are from companies you have already voiced your support of – even before receiving any benefit from doing so. I do not see such consistency and integrity in any of the other blogs I read, so I applaud you for that. And as others have said… unlike other bloggers, I trust the brands you reference, because I know they've passed your test. It's impossible to please everyone – but go with your gut and dream big. Be excited to grow as an individual and as a writer, and know that the majority of your readers are supportive.

  • Reply Laura White December 23, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Oh goodness… it's a sweater, folks!

    I'm tired of seeing this bullying on blogs over sponsored material… I'm particularly sensitive to it after Young House Love decided it was a better decision to close up shop than put up with the negative comments coming from their readers. So from now on, I'll always post support for the writers who's work we enjoy on a daily basis.

    Sponsorship is the way the world works, blog readers! You can't have your cake (posts every day) and eat it too (no sponsored material). These writers have families to provide for! Asking them to do their job with no paycheck for our convenience is selfish and thoughtless. Eventually, they will move on to a job that is no doubt better paying, and we will no longer have the joy of reading their blogs.

    Love the blog, Erin. Please keep it up!! You have inspired me to live a simpler, cleaner, more joyful life! And also gave me courage during my pregnancy when we resigned our lease for our 1 bedroom apartment. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have done that if I hadn't found your blog! But because I did, our bank accounts are happier and we have less "stuff" cluttering our lives. It's truly made a physical impact!

    • Reply jsdill December 23, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Love this comment – I entirely agree!

    • Reply Laura White December 23, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      Thanks! Also, I should add that I found my diaper bag through one of Erin's sponsors (moop) and it has been fantastic! So I, for one, and thrilled that she has such unique sponsors with quality products.

  • Reply Rachel Hokanson December 23, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    I poke around here every once in a while and had to chime in on this discussion. You write about WHATEVER you want to because it's YOUR space to do so! And if someone else disagrees, they can create their own space to do so in! And I agree- there's enough negative out there without you allowing abusive comments to be published on your blog. This should be a positive space. Happy Holidays!

  • Reply Anonymous December 23, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Unintended consequence of your new post: all of us are flooding over here to comment! I love the blog, and I think that the emotion sponsored posts have been inspiring more than any other is jealousy, not betrayal. An outsider can look at your blog and think "she gets to sit in her beautiful apartment, write a couple simple essays, and get beautiful, expensive things in return. I could do that, why isn't that me?" Of course, it's not that simple, not that easy, and the fact that even a small portion of your readership is thinking that way means you're doing a great job. You make it look effortless!

    Keep up the good work!


  • Reply Cindi Brumpton December 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Anonymous, why are you not posting with your name? And it's her blog and her decision. I do not click on links ever nor do I notice them. Leave her alone!

  • Reply Isabella W December 23, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Reading these comments makes me think that the world of blogging has run its course. It's like any business cycle–growth, peak and then decline. It seems that nobody is really happy! The blogger "needs" income, and the readers don't want products they "should" buy continually on the pages before them. Have you noticed how many people just prefer to look at pictures on Instagram now? Bloggers are acutely aware of this too. We are a society with a short attention span (thanks, social media!).

    Personally, I feel a visual overload now from blogs, Pinterest, Instagram etc. There is nothing new under the sun! Do you remember the "old days" when we would eagerly wait for that monthly decorating magazine and page through it until it was dogeared? Today, we are just plain saturated with everything we could possibly want to see!

  • Reply Angela S December 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Erin, I haven't been reading long, but when I do find a blog I truly enjoy I go back to the beginning to see how everything came to be, so to speak. That said, I love your blog for many reasons. Number 1 being that it is well written, short and sweet, and not bogged down by issues in your personal life. Number 2, I think the point people are missing here is buy quality and buy it once. Yes, some of the items are expensive, but they will last. Number 3, I truly enjoy seeing items/businesses I otherwise would not have found. Not everything hand/well made is on Etsy, folks. I don't understand why some people are fine with someone who writes a 400 page novel over 2 years getting paid is OK, but someone writing several times a week and letting us into their personal lives is a sell-out for being compensated.
    I will end with, I never, ever pay any attention to those who are too cowardly to show their name, but will attack someone who has put a great deal of their life and themselves out there. Keep up the good work Erin, its your blog and your time and I truly appreciate what you do. I only read 3 blogs BTW:) Merry Christmas to You, your family,and your readers (even the Scrooges)

  • Reply Anonymous December 23, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    I have been a long time reader and Im excited you are working on your blog full time b/c now I get to see more posts! I have to say as I read thru the mean comments, Im sensing a lot of envy & misery. I applaued Erin deleting these comments. You have a sweet way with words and let's focus on the positivity & not breathe anymore life into the negativity.

  • Reply Jennifer December 23, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    There's legitimacy behind the cynicism, and frankly, I'm fascinated by these responses. Long time fan, but I was beginning to worry I was the only one that felt this way. In my humble opinion, sponsorship kills the hunger that makes blogs like these so good at first. It's that very hunger – that drive to satisfy that itch that fuels the creativity – that the readers can feel. The absence of that hunger becomes instantly palpable, and it's the sponsorship that dilutes it. I think they're mutually exclusive. YHL is just one of the MANY perfect examples of what happens when a blog morphs into the two-headed monster of lifestyle/job/paycheck/source of income. There are so many others – it's the nature of the beast. I applaud your decision to hand-pick your sponsors and support those who are sustainable, fair-trade, artisan, insert-other-buzz-words here, but the 'sustainable lifestyle' movement is becoming trendy now, and I fear the results will be the same. Hopefully you can blaze a trail of happy mediums and middle grounds that make readers and writers happy!

    • Reply tornyiildiko December 23, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      "It's that very hunger – that drive to satisfy that itch that fuels the creativity – that the readers can feel. The absence of that hunger becomes instantly palpable,"

      I very much agree with this, but only partly with the continuation (and that's my opinion of course…)
      "and it's the sponsorship that dilutes it."

      I agree that sponsorship can cause a real hinderence to creativity, but only if there is a hidden fear behind losing a sponsor (=income): so it's the fear that's the real hinderence (and not the sponsorship itself). Or the same is true if there is too much sense of wanting to please the sponsor (which can come out of inexperience, the fear of losing income or the blogger's own inner – subconscious – rejection of "needing all this" vs absolute freedom).

      I think however that it's in the nature of life that everything new and fresh, (young love, friendship, a fresh hobby, and creativity too) : wears out and fades with time, and therefore everything needs to be renewed in several ways and several times in the long run. Enthusiasm must be revived again and again, and that's a life-long task: for everyone, in every important field of life.

      I can see that done marvellously well for example by Jane Goodall, who does do sponsorship work for her institutes, but does it seamlessly well, herself (even in old age) remaining beautifully enthusiastic, very elequant, humanistic, positive and focused: she is true to her ethics and higher aims and just shines from the inside (despite all the hardships she probably faces in her daily life).

    • Reply tornyiildiko December 23, 2014 at 8:03 pm

      "It's that very hunger – that drive to satisfy that itch that fuels the creativity – that the readers can feel. The absence of that hunger becomes instantly palpable,"

      I very much agree with this, but only partly with the continuation (and that's my opinion of course…)
      "and it's the sponsorship that dilutes it."

      I agree that sponsorship can cause a real hinderence to creativity, but only if there is a hidden fear behind losing a sponsor (=income): so it's the fear that's the real hinderence (and not the sponsorship itself). Or the same is true if there is too much sense of wanting to please the sponsor (which can come out of inexperience, the fear of losing income or the blogger's own inner – subconscious – rejection of "needing all this" vs absolute freedom).

      I think however that it's in the nature of life that everything new and fresh, (young love, friendship, a fresh hobby, and creativity too) : wears out and fades with time, and therefore everything needs to be renewed in several ways and several times in the long run. Enthusiasm must be revived again and again, and that's a life-long task: for everyone, in every important field of life.

      I can see that done marvellously well for example by Jane Goodall, who does do sponsorship work for her institutes, but does it seamlessly well, herself (even in old age) remaining beautifully enthusiastic, very elequant, humanistic, positive and focused: she is true to her ethics and higher aims and just shines from the inside (despite all the hardships she probably faces in her daily life).

  • Reply Anonymous December 23, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Erin, I discovered your blog about a year ago and I absolutely love it! I appreciate the fact that you post links in regard to the products shown on your blog. Because of you I have discovered a company like Tradlands from whom I have bought a few shits in the last couple months. You are doing these independant companies a great service. Keep up the great work! And remember it is YOUR blog!

    All my best!


  • Reply haylie December 23, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Whoa! So much unsolicited criticism here! Girl, you gotta make a living. Get it 😉

    In all seriousness, there seems to be a latent gender bias here, no? It's the age-old idea that women are supposed to give and give and give–of their time, talents, love, creativity, whatever–and never expect anything in return. You are a writer. You are an entrepreneur. You are a designer. This is your job! You have nothing to apologize for.


    • Reply Brady December 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Slow clap. (Love this comment, haylie.)

    • Reply Anonymous December 27, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      I agree, such a great point, haylie.

    • Reply haylie January 4, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      Thanks Brady and anonymous! That's nice 🙂 Get yours, ladies.

    • Reply haylie January 4, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      Ha! Although I shouldn't necessarily assume you're both ladies. Get it, folks! Friends! Fellow humans! <3

  • Reply Anonymous December 24, 2014 at 9:30 am

    I read this blog regularly. It's thoughtful, positive, well done and useful! (I love the recipes). Perhaps some readers forget that magazines are full of ads, celebrities receive many gifts and movies have product placement. Whether it's the latest pair of boots or a bottle of bourbon, it's everywhere and greatly influences the buying public. We should all be mindful of what we purchase and your emphasis on American made, small business and one of a kind pieces is great. I agree that you have nothing to apologize for and hope you have a thick enough skin to weather the storm. I will keep reading and look forward to whatever you do. Have a wonderful holiday.

  • Reply Suzy December 24, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I had no idea people were ganging up on you until I read your follow-up! I have so many things to say in defense of this lovely blog that provides me with thoughtful (and cheap) solutions to being a thoughtful (and cheap) human in this weird world, but I'll aim for concision:

    First, the reaction to the free gift situation can only be stemming from a serious lack of perspective. Blogging is your job, and bloggers get free shit. People seem to be forgetting that there are perks and otherwise to every job. I don't get free shit at my job, but I also don't worry about the security of my income or feel isolated the way many writers do. Search deeper, negative peeps.

    I do wonder if some of the negativity is in response to you finding your way in figuring out how to more seamlessly connect a thoughtful post to the product sponsoring it. Was I a touch confused at the end of that sugar scrub post when it became all about the undies you'd been paid to shout out? Yes. Did that confusion stop me from confidently stuffing jars of that amazing mother effing scrub into holiday packages this month? Nope! This sponsorship business is clearly newer territory for you, and I'm confident your writing will figure its way out.

    I have been sipping on spice syrup-infused lattes and taking luxurious breaks to scrub my cinnamon-scented hands all month. Those bayberry candles you linked to were actually made right here in Milwaukee, and I was able to pick up a large order to distribute this week. I have all of your mother-minded posts bookmarked for future reliance. In short, it would take a lot worse than a few sponsored posts to keep me from what has become a very favorite read.

  • Reply Anonymous December 27, 2014 at 2:00 am

    Erin, don't let the little people tear you down , keep going

  • Reply Traci December 28, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    That sweater! It's perfect! Anyway, I love all of your detail shots. They are so inspiring. Please keep doing them.

  • Reply Sarah December 29, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Medium-time reader, first time comment-er 🙂

    It always blows my mind when readers take offense to sponsorship on blogs (especially when it is delivered as elegantly as it is on this blog). I read blogs of people who I consider to be taste-makers who have taste in aesthetics which closely align with mine. I have no problem whatsoever with those bloggers being remunerated for mentioning products, etc. It's their right to do so, and our right as readers to either continue reading or not. As consumers of the blogs, we get the content for free. Use your reading time on the internet as you choose.

    One of the things I love about blogs like Reading My Tea Leaves is the opportunity to learn about products and companies that I otherwise wouldn't have heard about. What difference does it make to me whether or not the blogger has been compensated?

  • Reply Anonymous December 30, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Hi Erin, I know by now you've received a ton of comments and one more isn't going to tip the scales either way. And I’m probably going to repeat some stuff. But I wanted to chime in with my support. I'm not sure how long I've been reading your blog.. definitely a few years. When I first stumbled across Tea Leaves, I went back through the archives and looked at a lot of your old posts, finding them enjoyable, informative and well written. These qualities continue to draw me into your new posts.

    Some previous commenters have mentioned that the blogging world is changing. Logically, your blog must change over the years as well. Yes, you’ve started to feature more sponsored content. But you're being offered these perks because you've been doing your job well and companies recognize this. Out of all the blogs I read, I think you've been particularly skilled at presenting content that seems genuine (as I'm sure it is).

    Blogging may have started out as a fun way to unwind on the internet and share ideas, but it has blossomed into its own industry. Readers expect new content on a regular basis and in order to meet this demand, many bloggers decide to devote themselves full-time to their blogs, thus transforming the endeavor from a personal creative outlet into the source of their livelihood.

    It's not only selfish, but unreasonable for a reader to expect that they are entitled to dictate your blog schedule and content. I will never unfollow a blog because it features sponsored posts, so long as those posts are thoughtfully curated. Please keep showing us the brands and products that you and your family enjoy and don’t worry about the detractors. You’re doing a lovely job. (:

  • Reply missris January 5, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Whoa, haters gonna hate. I love your blog and am so happy you are able to devote your energy to it full time. I can hardly wait to read your book!

  • Reply Buccaneers and Ball Gowns January 7, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    I was going to leave a comment saying how awesome your blog is, and how you handle the sponsorship (which is necessary to have a full-time awesome blog) wonderfully, etc. But then I read all the other comments and people had already said all the things I wanted to say, but more eloquently. So just add up all those comments and put me down as a supporter!

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