Friday!

Are you constantly reflecting on how you feel these days, self-evaluating every ache and throat tingle and headache? Wondering if you're hot because of the mild weather or if it's an inkling of fever? Irked every time somebody in the office sneezes or coughs. I'm simultaneously bored by flu-talk and completely paranoid.

But I felt really happy this week, filled with the quietude that stems from my decision earlier this week, letting myself make excited plans that aren't all hinged on a distant moving proposition, counting down the days to getting my new bed (secretly imbuing it with magical, life-altering properties).


It somehow feels like my apartment is new to me again - just letting myself think of staying here. I find myself daydremaing about painting and rearranging, hanging a pendant in my bedroom and fixing that window screen that bugs me so. And I'm planning to let my mind run riot with list-making and window-shopping this weekend. Immediate certainty about something is a nice feeling.

In the blog-world this week, I adored these blankets on Remodelista and images from Lyell on {this is glamorous}. I barely resisted buying one of Baggu's new Duck Bags (a matter of time, no doubt) and fell really hard for Wendy Bevan on {frolic!} And I treated myself to these shoes, which should arrive today, just in time for weekend happy feet!

Hoping you have a happy weekend too! And a Happy Halloween!

Image credits: 1. the wall through the hassie, 2. Untitled, 3. Untitled, 4. 27/05/2009

County Clare

Would you believe it, I'm still uploading photos from Ireland? I hope you're not sick of them! The last few nights, I've been working through some shots of County Clare, which happens to be my most favourite place in the country.


For me, nothing can rival finding the tiniest orchid bravely growing between the karst limestone of the Burren. Or the trees so bent by the wind that every branch reaches away from it. You wonder that life didn't just up and quit this place when the glaciers razed it.


And just when you think you get it, the sea pulls back and reveals more defiant lushness. And you breathe deep in the fragrance of it and feel at once its clemency and might.


But still beyond all that there's a mystical feeling to the place. Maybe it's more than the rocks, or the ever-changing skies, or the deep boom of the sea. Whatever it is, people past felt it too and left their marks, dolmens from barely comprehensible 3500 BC, castles and holy water shrines by the roadside.


And I believe the tourists feel it too, for there's a silent kind of reveried hush over most of the places you visit. And the locals seem to have a gentler grace too. Or maybe it's just my own fondness for the place, for childhood holidays when it seemed like another country altogether, that makes me feel these things. But somehow I don't really believe that.

More photos on my Flickr.

3 random dresses

I did a little blue-sky fantasy shopping last night (you know the kind when you pretend you have a different body shape, budget and social diary) and this is what I picked...


Left to right: Adam Tweed Metallic dress, Chloe strapless silk blend dress, Moschino jersey pleated dress. All from Net-a-Porter.

Alice Stevenson

There's so much to love on Alice Stevenson's site, most especially the superb patterns. But, in particular I fell for this pretty guache.

COS

I love these looks from the current COS collections, particularly the grey ombre coat. Swoon!!

Bright Star

Yesterday, after work, I went to see Bright Star and adored it. No doubt, you've seen the stills that have been doing the rounds. Believe me, the movie is one stunning, intimate image after another. But, beyond visuals, the story was poignant and earnest, moonstruck and tragic. It really makes me want to read Andrew Motion's Whitbread-winning Keats.

And as much as the movie stills themselves, I love the production, rehearsal prop and location pictures on this site.


Grace Sun

I love some of the slouchier looks and feminine details from Grace Sun's current collection.

Henrietta Street

Those of you who admired the recent Toast video, shot in Ireland, may specially enjoy a better look at one of the locations. I picked up the book Romantic Irish Homes on the weekend. I admit that prior to purchase, I cynically thumbed it in the bookshop, expecting the usual paddywhackery aimed at expats, but this book is very special indeed (click on images to see bigger).


The Georgian period house from the Toast video is located on Henrietta St on the northside of Dublin city centre. The street was originally laid out in 1729 and the houses are big by standards of the time, four or five bay wide. The residents were equally grand, including some of the wealthiest aristocratic families of Ireland.


The decline of the Irish economy in the 19th century led to the degeneration of this once venerated address and the homes were largely converted to tenements; Dublin slums. According to the authors, during this time a horse even lived at No. 14 Henrietta Street 9 (fancy stables indeed!) Thankfully in the latter quarter of the last century, the Irish Georgian Society strongly petitioned for the preservation of many such Dublin buildings.


The home shown here is being gradually restored by a private owner, as funds permit. I think it's clear from these images, that he will handle the restoration with respect for all the ages of the building and for its extremes of both grandeur and beautiful ruin.

Images from Romantic Irish Homes by Robert O'Byrne, with photography by Simon Brown, published by CICO Books.

Where we blog from: Darling Dexter

Where to start with Whitney of Darling Dexter? She's a dab hand with a needle and thread and has her very own Etsy store where you can buy her lovely creations. And she's just as talented behind the camera. And, as if that wasn't enough, she'll happily work on the other side of the camera too, modeling her lovely ensembles, projects and creations.

No wonder then that Darling Dexter has long time held permanent residence in my Google reader, inspiring me with all sorts of treasures and displays of creativity. This is where Whitney blogs from and what she has to say about it...


Though where I blog from depends on where I can cuddle up with my laptop for a few hours -- my home studio is the central hub for my blog. I just recently moved everything out of our office to convert it into my studio space where I surround myself with inspiration, sketches, and other random odds-and-ends. It's where I sew, design, and store my supplies.


Thankfully what I need to blog with consists only of an external hardrive that I use to go between my laptop and iMac so my supplies for blogging are pretty minimal -- the internet keeps everything so compact :) But I generally try to keep stickies close by for when ideas pop into my head.

Thanks Whitney!

11th hour resolutions

I have this idea that October is a good month to take stock of the year and resolve to squeeze in any 11th hour resolutions before New Year panic hits. I started off this year well enough, but catapulted myself into all kinds of bad habits and moods. In retrospect, I wonder if I didn't dwell in actual depression for a couple of months.

All year I've wrestled with one major question: Stay or go. I love living in Toronto for many reasons, but I miss living in a city with landscape that transports me. I've wrestled with the idea of moving planning to be closer to the sea (the west coast of Canada) and with the idea of living an altogether more rural existence.

But after my trip home, the thought of moving quite so far away doesn't feel right. Toronto is a sweetspot for travel and I can easily nip home for just a week, something I wouldn't consider if I was staring down the flight time and stopovers from the west coast. Instead of moving, I must figure out how to travel more.


With the moving question resolved, I want to set 2010 up to be a great year by nailing down some good routines now:

- Sleep. Easy to underestimate the importance of this one. When I was at home, I slept so much better and I'm pretty sure the bed played a huge part in that. My own bed is getting old and was never really great to start out with. So, today I ordered a lovely new boxspring and mattress.

- Exercise. My friend Kirsten is a Pilates instructor and converted me to the idea of it. I think I'm going to sign up for a class at Stott. Being in classes - especially exercise classes - always exacerbates my shy side, but hopefully I'll take to it.

- Diet. What can I say about diet? When I'm good, I'm very, very good and when I'm bad I'm horrid. I have this idea of a wholesome diet with lots of cooking (I love cooking) that encompasses my good diet without being as restrictive and that stops me spiraling into a no-rules indulgence fest.

- Stress. I am not going to let myself get so stressed that work e-mails make me cry. It's just not worth it. And it doesn't change a goddamn thing, expect for negatively affecting sleep, exercise and diet. It's easier said than done, but I'm going to really try not to let stress back in.

Image from variationsonthewordsleep's Flickr

Gap of Dunloe

Although Irish mountains aren't massively tall, our mountain passes feel very wild and treacherous, in no small part because of the scant road you cling to when you them. Not to mention, you're equally likely to come head to head with a horse and trap as with a motorized vehicle.


Lest you think I'm exaggerating, you can spot the "road" we were driving up in the top picture, on the right, barely visible between the big rocks. Still, once you steady your nerves and look around, the views are breathtaking. The landscape is so visibly glacial with its paternoster lakes and corries that it's hard not to recall geology segments from school geography class. More pictures on Flickr!


We wound all the way through the pass and then high-tailed it down to Cork to eat at Cafe Paradiso. I'd been dying to eat there for years, being a big fan of the cookbooks. The food was amazing by any standard, whether vegetarian or not, and although the prices are characteristically Irish (i.e. way more expensive than they need be), I would most definitely go back again.

I ate for starters: Grilled fig & leek salad with Knockalara sheep’s cheese, glazed pecans and a honey-pomegranate dressing. Dinner main: Gratin of roast squash, leeks, Gabriel cheese & herbed hazelnut crust with lemon cream, roast plum tomatoes and braised borlotti beans. Dessert: Finished it all off with a trio of mini-lemon desserts.

Friday!

A funny week; trying to piece together my headwrecked mind after traveling always takes longer than I feel it ought to. I'm still dreaming dreams set in another place and I go into work every day not quite understanding the banality of fatigue and repetition, taking in the same tired landscape on my daily commute.

I simultaneously feel like I'm not quite myself and that I'm more completely myself than I've been for months.


But, my mind and mood are definitely lifted somehow and I feel like I want to write for the first time in many months and this weekend I might pull out the old notes and see if there's anything there. And, if not that, I'll certainly start something new and try and wrap my words around my mind and give utterance to those things I feel compelled to.

And I'll try and capture some of this Ontario Fall through the lens, before it slips away entirely. And I'll think about what can be accomplished between now and the end of the year, so I end in a place that makes me happy. And I'll blog a little, because I'm still overjoyed to be back and happy to talk to you all again.

And I'll hope you're all having a lovely weekend as well.

Image credits: 1. Untitled, 2. Untitled, 3. stacked, 4. Untitled

Glendalough

Glendalough is a glacial valley in the Wicklow Mountains and the site of an ancient monastic settlement that dates from the 6th century. The graveyard at Glendalough always makes me think of the opening scene of Great Expectations, but there were no convicts to be seen skulking around during my visit...

Glendalough and nearby Sally Gap, are beautiful in any season.
Though when I was there, we had just sadly missed the heather blooms, which would have covered all the mountains in a soft, purple haze. More images on Flickr.

Eckersley Garden Architecture

The advance of autumn has done nothing to lessen my garden lust. Walking around Powerscourt Estate, I marveled at the wild and mossy parts of the gardens. And tonight I stumbled upon the website of Eckersley Garden Architecture and discovered so much more to feed my fantasies. Maybe not an estate, but I'll have a garden yet! Some day, my friends, some day.

Kim Hargreaves

Any knitters among you will roll their eyes at this "discovery". But, while shopping for a knitting gift, I stumbled upon the pattern books of Kim Hargreaves and swooned. Even though they don't always flatter my hobbit-proportions, I'm a huge fan of chunky knits and these ones are right up my alley. And the styling of these images reminds me of Brora or Toast, which is always a good comparison to draw.

Aisling Farinella

I discovered the work of Aisling Farinella while browsing Eilis Boyle's blog. Aisling's styling is phenomenal, so many inspirational shoots. I'm so happy to have discovered all this Irish talent while at home!

Industrial chic

Love this place from Marie Claire Maison. It has all my essential elements; space, light and dark, industrial chic and lots and lots of books. Divine!

Saltwater

Okay, I admit it, I'm just as smitten with this model's hair and eyes as I am with the clothes from Saltwater's new collection. What a stunner she is! I don't know whether to try harder or quit the game entirely when I see women this beautiful!

Where we blog from: From the Right Bank

One of the best thing about the blogosphere (for me) is that you'll find people who completely get the things that you thought were idiosyncratic quirks nobody would ever get. Alek of From the Right Bank to the Left Coast and I very often find ourselves in magical agreement and that is always a special feeling.

But beyond that, Alek exhibits the most incredible innate style, a blend of Parisian chic and Westcoast au naturel that is hard to put down. It's no wonder she is lauded as one of the great tastemakers of the blogosphere and newly-appointed Apartment Therapy Seattle contributer! So I'm delighted to share a sneak of where Alek crafts her amazing, inspirational posts. This is where Alek blogs from and what she has to say about it...


This is a corner of my studio in our house. I recently moved my giant wooden worktable here so I could look out of the two corner windows while I'm working. It looks out onto our and our neighbor's garden and it's especially nice this time of year because everything is so green out there. I wanted a really big table as opposed to a desk because I tend to have a hundred different projects going at once and wanted a place to spread out. We found this one soon after we moved to Seattle and I like that it was made locally using local materials.


It's usually piled high with sketchbooks, magazines, art supplies, books and other random things. The table is also very deep and I've placed it so I can sit on either side, depending on whether I'm using the computer or not. I've turned the wall next to the window into an inspirational wall of sorts. I'll swap out images every now and then but I've had some of these pictures with me for years. I had big plans of covering the wall in cork or some other material but got impatient and just started tacking things directly onto the wall. I'll have a lot of spackling to do if we ever move(!)

Thanks Alek!

Eilis Boyle

One of the Irish designers I discovered while at home was Eilis Boyle. I absolutely adore the photography on her website! And there's much more beauty to be found on her blog too. Her designs, and everything she posts, strikes a perfect chord of vintage, romantic nostalgia. Photography by Patrick McHugh.

Powerscourt... and the roses!

Dad and I meandered around the gardens at Powerscourt Estate last Sunday. It's one of my favourite places, a perfect day-trip from Dublin and overlooking the Sugarloaf Mtn, which was a landmark from my childhood, when we lived in nearby Greystones.


When I did this (silly, but accurate) quiz, the Pegasus was my mythical spirit animal. I loved that because I've always been a horse-lover and thought a flying horsey was just about the best creature you could imagine. The Pegasus statues at Powerscourt are my favourite thing and I was really happy to get this shot.


But on this particular visit, it was the roses that blew me away the most. I didn't expect roses to be blooming in October and they were all so fragrant. Irish gardens have a wild and rangy feel, even when they are fairly coiffed. I think it's the sheer lushness of vegetation there. Everything seems to have something else growing on it, moss or lichen or ivy or heather. I love that sense and the fragrance it creates, at once earthy and sweet, damp and heavy. Many more photos on my Flickr!


I'm back!

I've been in my lovely Motherland for the past two weeks. And though vacationing wasn't strictly on the agenda, I was trigger-happy with my camera, knowing full well that "real" vacations are elusive mythical creatures in my corner of the world.

I have so many things to share, new things I discovered, new feelings about Dublin and love of Canada renewed. But, let's start with some snapshots... I have more than 400 to go through, so this is a mere random first selection.

Thanks for all your supportive comments and tweets while I was away. You truly have no idea how strange it felt not to be here every day. I missed you all and hope you've been well and have happy stories of your own to tell (do tell!)