Chair pairs

I've been a little demolisher lately. Last weekend I ripped out the dodgy fireplace in my living room. To be clear, it was not a working fireplace, it was made of cheap chipboard and it was a flaking eyesore. The upside is that my space looks suddenly much bigger. By eliminating an ugly feature I always felt compelled to orient everything around, I've gained an extra wall. And room for a pair of chairs. Like these from 1st Dibs.

I have it in my head that one of these days I'll walk into Queen West Antiques and happen upon some Finn Juhl-esque treasures. Maybe they'll need some sanding or upholstering, but they'll have that perfect Danish form.


Haberdasheries & hardware stores

Isn't haberdashery a great word? I love the very concept. I remember the haberdashery department in the old Dublin department stores like Clerys and Arnotts and even Brown Thomas. Of course, they're out of style now, since fewer people make or mend their own clothes and if they do, they'd rather shop at specialty sewing stores like Murphy Sheehy and Dublin Woolen Mills, thankfully, still around.


Hand-in-hand with haberdasheries (sometimes I interchange the two) are old fashioned hardware stores. Labour and Wait from the UK is a good example. Willow & Stone makes a good stab too. And in Canada, one can eek some decent stuff from Lee Valley.


Lately, I've found myself coveting these simple domestic objects: clothes horses, dish draining racks, enamel buckets and beautiful brooms. And I just can't find these products near me. But it seems odd to order them online; I really want stores like these physically around me.


Remodelista does a marvelous, jaw-dropping job of sourcing these kinds of products online (and much more). Want a post dedicated to laundry hampers or clothes horses? -This is your blog. And all with that sensible aesthetic: utilitarian chic rather than worked-over phony.

Imagine what fun it would be to run a haberdashery-come-hardware store? You'd get to call yourself a haberdasher (which is obviously epic). And it fits with the eco home in such a beautifully non-hokey established way. Or, am I the only one who romanticizes cleaning in this way?


(Last image of Murphy Sheehy from Annie White's gorgeous Dublin Flickr set...)

Gold Sign

Gold Sign's collection: Like somebody turned those irresistible Laduree boxes into clothes. The softest pastels, but not too too saccharine sweet. Available at Couture Candy.

The Forty Foot

The Forty Foot is a popular diving spot in Dun Laoghaire, a pretty neighbourhood just south of Dublin city. Beckett and Joyce used to both swim here (it's close to the Martello Tower Joyce lived in and from which some Ulysses characters set out). The spot used to be exclusively a gentleman's (nude) bathing place. The forbidding signs remain, but ladies and children are allowed to partake nowadays. I took this picture there a few years ago.

Working space

Toronto transit was striking this weekend, so my roaming was confined and some of my weekend plans were destroyed. But I did manage to get some epic cleaning done, rearranging my whole apartment and getting into those grimy areas to make things perfect (I have an obsessive compulsive streak when it comes to cleaning).

The rearrangement works and creates a lot more space. But, less fortunately, it highlights my need for more seating. I've oriented my desk in my window, which gives me a nice view when I'm working, which I seem to increasingly do. I really want a new desk. And am thinking of spec-ing something simple and streamlined and pairing it with a white Eames chair. I also need a filing cabinet, which I could put to the side of the desk. Something like this set-up would make me happy.


Recipe of the week: Grapefruit souffle

It's been a while since I posted a recipe. To be perfectly honest, I haven't been baking my trademark scrumptious treats as often (but I have been losing weight, so the sacrifice is worth it). Anyhoo, as far as scrumptious treats go, this seems *relatively* harmless (no flour or butter). The recipe is from Gourmet Traveller, March 2006.


Ingredients
- 500ml (about 3 fruit) grapefruit juice, strained, skins reserved
- Finely grated rind of one grapefruit
- 200g caster (superfine) sugar
- 30g cornflour
- 4 egg whites
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Sorbet to serve

Combine juice, rind and 100g sugar in a saucepan on a medium heat. Bring to boil, reduce to low-medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Combine cornflour with 2 tbsp cold water and mix until smooth, then whisk into juice mixture and continue whisking until it thickens. Remove from heat, transfer to electric mixer, whisk at high speed until cool and then refrigerate.

Remove any pith or flesh from the grapefruit shells. Grease with butter and dust with a little caster sugar, shaking out excess. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually add the other 100g of sugar. Keep whisking until peaks become stiff.

Remove grapefruit mix from fridge, stir to soften and gently fold in meringue in 2 batches. Spoon the mix into your skins and level the top with a palette knife. Bake at 180 C for 10-15 minutes / until puffed and golden. Serve immediately, with sorbet on the side.

Fryes

I'm definitely back in a shoe-shopping mood. I love these Fryes (available from Shopbop) and the price is irresistible too.


Amy Ross

Keep-Calm consistently knock my socks off. This is Bird Heart by Amy Ross.

Pretty sundress

Bodas bras and hanky-panky boyshorts are the mainstays of my lingerie drawer. On the Bodas site tonight, I also noticed a swimwear section and saw this little sundress. I love the fabric accent at the colour and on the waist. Pretty pretty!

Coyuchi

When I was at the Whole Foods yesterday, I stopped by Organic Lifestyle to feel the sheets (they don't seem to mind that I do this quite often). The sheets they stock are made by Coyuchi and I'm especially fond of the "birch" design. So... when it gets time to replace my bed linens again, I'm going organic.

Epice scarves

At Augustina they'd also laid out a beautiful table full of Epice scarves. I've been googling, but they don't seem to have a website - I did however find these images via Art Effect Chicago (itself full of temptation). I love this blue one especially, but was exercising reserve after splurging on shoes. There are more styles available at Auto.

Botkier

Today these caught my eye in Augustina... They're by Botkier and comfortable and that perfect Klein blue colour that I can't resist (it's the only real colour I ever wear). And - you can't see it here - but they're kindof pearlescent.

Book report: Pride & Prejudice

Need I say more than that I've spent the last week in the delightful company of Miss Elizabeth Bennett? Jennifer Ehle is still - by far - my favourite Lizzy on film. But even that excellent production fails to capture the humor and social commentary in Austen's writing. Austen is a marvelously intimate, modern  writer and her words shimmer on the page.

The funniest part is I have to resist the influence reading Jane Austen has on my sentence construction. Though it might be funny to all of a sudden conduct myself like that in meetings...


18 Karat

I featured 18 Karat in a piece last year about Canadian online shopping, but it's s store I long to visit in person. Located in Vancouver, their pieces are chic and streamlined. And their current collection shot amazingly in a post-wear split bungalow, renovated by Peter Cardew Architects and featured in Canadian Architect magazine. I found it hard to limit my image selections...

Alberta Badlands

I lived in Calgary, Alberta between 1999 and 2001. As a city, it and I were often incompatible. But, in terms of location, it only wants for a bit of ocean to make it the perfect mix of magnificence. One hour to the west you hit the Rockies, Banff and those picture-perfect turquoise and emerald glacial waters.

One hour east and you start to hit the prairie, and - just before that- the Alberta Badlands. While I'd seen mountains before, I'd never seen anything like the Badlands. The nuances of colour and texture were amazing to me. And on such scale as an Irish person could never fathom.


Comrags

Comrags is one of my favourite sleeper hits in Toronto. The design duo, Joyce and Judy are incredibly intelligent and authentic and I've had the joy of interviewing them and visiting their studio. My own Comrags pieces are so different to anything else I normally find, all made here in Toronto in their industrious downtown workshop. Every season they present an interesting shape, fabric or something so dramatically aside from any highstreet trend that I'm instantly captured. Here are some of my faves from their S/S collection.

Donkeys

I'm really sweet on donkeys. There's something so endearing about them, especially fluffy ones. I often log onto the Donkey Sanctuary website to look at pictures of them in all their hilarious hugability. This Flickr fave from Firda makes my heart melt...

But via Books at Home (blog after my heart) I've discovered a new kind of donkey from Isokon Plus. I literally cannot choose a favourite. I'm always looking for new ways to show off my favourite books, especially the ones I'm leafing through any given week.

Skiygarden

Ooooh.... I just found this and it's an instant qualifier for my ultimate ultimate wishlist. How perfect! Modern yet feminine. Clean but not cold. Painfully chic. It's called "Skygarden" and was designed by Marcel Wanders. From Flos.

Besana chest

Although I'm strictly sticking to low, streamlined pieces these days... I couldn't resist sharing this chest from Besana. If you're going for a baroque sort of minimalism, this would be utter perfection. And it looks fabulous in black too. I basically want somebody else to create a room around this piece, in either black or white...

Recipe of the week: Pizza with rocket and goat's cheese

I haven't made this pizza for a while, but it's utterly delish. The freshness of lemon juice and peppery rocket make this perfect for Spring. (Rocket is what we call arugula at home.) The recipe & image come from the River Cafe Cookbook Green.

Ingredients:

100g rocket / arugula
Pizza base (preferably home-made)
Olive oil
100g black olives, pitted
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 dried red chili
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 small goat's cheese roll
1/3 ciabatta loaf, crusts removed and processed to crumbs
1 tbsp fresh thyme
Maldon salt, pepper & lemon juice


Place olives in a bowl, add parsley, chili and vinegar and leave to marinate. Cut cheese into slices, coat with olive oil and then with breadcrumbs mixed with thyme.

Place the cheese discs on the pizza and sprinkle any remaining thyme & breadcrumb mixture on the pizza. Place the marinated olives on the pizza and drizzle the pizza with some of the marinating mix. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake pizza until cheese is melted and the crust is crisp. Dress with the rocket leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.

Alaska

I found this picture in an old photo album from Summer 1997, which I spent in Vancouver. At the end of the summer I rode the ferry from Bellingham to Juneau, Alaska and did lots of silly things only a 21-year-old would do (travelling to Alaska without a coat being one). Still, I was silly happy the entire time. This is the Mendenhall Glacier. The light and subtle colour shifts there drove me wild and I shot a gazillion pictures.

Finn Juhl

For those who, like me, love furniture designer Finn Juhl this online exhibition of photos by Roger Valentin Mandt, may just make your day. This desk set-up, staring at a wall of books, makes me incredibly happy.

Sophie Cook

It's rare I see something in a stylist shot (fashion or interiors) that I want to create verbatim. There's normally something I'd tweak, or something of my own I'd want to add or substitute. But I would definitely buy and arrange this collection of porcelain just as it appears here. By Sophie Cook.

Book report: Out Stealing Horses

It feels like I've been reading this book for a while, even though it's a short one... It's not the kind of tale you want to gulp down - reading it lulls you into a gentle countryside pace where there's no race to the finish. There are intertwined narratives: In the first, a 60-something man moves to the Norwegian countryside to see out the rest of his life and in the second, the same man recalls a formative summer in the countryside with his father.


There are doppelganger effects throughout the novel, even the book's title appears in two different guises. And the characters in each narrative are palpable in the most understated way. In fact the whole novel, including dramatic events of accidental murder, love affairs and resistance heroism are downplayed, partly by the naivity of the boy narrator and partly through the mellow maturity of the elderly man.

Out Stealing Horses
is a story with no great lightning bolts, but a spacious and steady Carver-esque rhythm that you palpably miss when you reach its end.

Dinosaur Designs

I was browsing an old edition of Gourmet Traveller (I lurve Australian food magazines) and came across a mention of Sydney-based Dinosaur Designs. It was really really hard to limit the number of pictures I put on this post. Their designs are fabulous - completely up my alley. I love the colourful resin Calder collection, but I'm also drawn to the serene Pearl and simple Dino lines. And they have jewelry too.

Moonstone

Whenever I visit a jewelry store or website lately, I've been searching for moonstone. Pearl is my birthstone, but I think moonstone counts for June babies too. I'm really drawn to it's milky mystical air. Here are some of my finds so far...



Row 1: Sundance Catalog, Arik Kastan, Kothari
Row 2: Becky Kelso, Temple St Clair, Suzanne Felsen
Row 3: Suzanne Felsen, Becky Kelso, Sundance Catalog

Spring wardrobe

Spring weather has me wanting some new lovely tops. I like all of these from Anthropologie. Perfect for my work wardrobe of jeans and a little jacket!

City or country?

I haven't blogged about it, because I'm assuming all of us city folk at one time or another feel the same tension: A latent yearning to move to the countryside. This desire is especially magnified by real estate options in the city. Do I want to buy a condominium that's two-thirds the size of my rental, in a worse neighbourhood and yet double the monthly cost? Or... do I want to move to the country and live in something like this...


I really shouldn't torment myself, but when I can't sleep I surf MLS looking at country houses, imagining another life, a rangy Irish wolfhound, a garden and space for a darkroom. This house is for sale in the lovely town of Paris, Ontario. And it's in that perfect state of liveable, but with work to do.

I increasingly crave an otherness that's the opposite of how I live and what I do today. I always think of the Unbearable Lightness of Being (my favourite book and movie) and the beautiful life Tomas and Tereza had in the country and how a lot of the bullshit just went away when they left cities...

Seriously though, I keep vaguely thinking about working towards a countryside migration (a five-year-plan kindof deal). Has anybody out there done it? I want to know your story... Or do you think I'm simply bonkers and I'd miss Starbucks too much?

Material dreams

I always was a dark wood girl. Everything in the family home is mahogany or rosewood and I loved the rich classic look of those dark pieces. But these days I can't get white oak off my mind. I love the subtler grain, the airy richness, the more omnipresent sense of the timber. I believe it started with that kitchen which I fell so hard for.


I think white oak would sit beautifully next to the Martha Sturdy resin piece I also want. As a third material next to the white oak and resin, I'm leaning towards clean-lined pieces lacquered in off-white for some sparkle and glamour.

Of course, I cannot resist thinking beyond the furniture. For walls, I think a natural wallpaper would add amazing texture and warmth. And for floors, I'm smitten with polished concrete combined with this chevron (as opposed to herringbone) white bleached oak.


And, in the dream, all this sits in perfect contrast to the period features of a small, but perfectly proportioned Victorian charmer... Okay, back to earth. Even without that perfect house, the furniture I'm lusting after adds up to a hefty shopping list, so it will be gradual, but I'll get there... The Martha Sturdy coffee table will, I hope, be my next large purchase...

New scarf

As well as amazing furnishings and home accessories, Hollace Cluny also sells jewelry and textiles, including scarves and this had my name written all over it. Plus, it's grey (my fave colour) and perfectly light for a this in-between weather.

Toronto shopping

I had a fun day off! We've had sunny days that were still crisp and chilly, but today was downright warm and the last of the snow is melting to vague memory.

I rode the Queen streetcar west for eons to visit Queen West Antiques (1605 Queen St W). They have lots of streamlined teak pieces and although I didn't have anything in mind other than a visit, it's always worth checking their affordable-but-unique inventory. For Design Inc. fans, this is a store the team often shop at, especially for their more modern rooms.


Afterwards, I hopped the streetcar and went all the way east to the Distillery and after a quick visit at Fluid Living (ugh... not an enjoyable place to shop...), got myself a coffee at Balzac's.


After my coffee, a read and a few quick snaps, I headed to Klaus by Nienkamper. A friend is considering the Tom Dixon spheres for her stair-well and I'm shamelessly egging her on.


Finally, back on my own turf, I hopped off at Rosedale to visit Hollace Cluny, where I spec-ed the Martha Sturdy pieces. For those interested, the resin is food safe, maintains its colour (doesn't acquire patina) and is, in general, robust and well-wearing. I also checked out the womb chair upholstery options and, in general, chatted the staff up about a lot of their merchandise. Have I told you how much I love this store, the people who work there and their impeccable merchandise selections?

Julianne Moore

My current lust-home is Julianne Moore's Greenwich Village townhouse featured in the May 2006 World of Interiors (all these mags survived my Vogue-purge).

Love this look

This is from the Trend section of the Shopbop site and I simply adore this look. I've blogged my lust for the Loeffler Randall boots before, but now I want this entire outfit head-to-toe.

Sarah Leahy

This is artwork I need to see in person. Sarah Leahy repeatedly sands Plexiglass and then applies layers of ink wash to create these vivid and atmospheric images. The paintings are screwed directly to a white wall.

From an old volume of New American Paintings "The illusion of light and shadow is depicted, and actually exists, in the ink and the Plexiglass. They are not just the thing, but also the contents of the object- they are the making itself". She is represented by the Kim Foster Gallery.