Porter Grey

How about these colours from Porter Grey's winter collection? There's something about this whole look that seems instantly fresh. Oh, don't worry, I'll never tire of grey. But, you know the whole 80's thing was completely not for me - all those yellows and oranges would never call my name. But jewel tones, especially deep dark ones like these, I can definitely get behind. And check out her glam make-up. Oh, to be a such a siren!

 

Abigail Ryan

Abigail Percy, who I've blogged about many times before and shopped from just as many, has opened a new shop with her beau Ryan Bell, selling lovely handmade goods for the home. I'm particularly enchanted with these two tea towel patterns. See the rest of their collection here.

Thither

I made a book! It's called Thither. You can preview it here. You can even buy it too, if you're so inclined. That would make me very happy. But, mostly, I hope you just like it.

Where we blog from: Vintage Simple

What can I say about Maria of Vintage Simple? I could tell you how much I love her home. There's something so soothing and warm about it. It's one of those rare homes that makes me want to abandon my own style altogether and just let somebody else do it all for me. I know I could be perfectly happy there. Or, I could tell you about her blog. How it calms and inspires me and helps me articulate my own style.

But, much as I adore her home and her blog, I've warmed to Maria herself even more. So much of what we do when we blog is about putting our best face forward. I wonder sometimes how much of the true us we really show. But Maria displays such incredible openness and honesty, integrity and charm that I'm sure this is the real her - somebody I'm happy to count as one of my blog friends. This is where Maria blogs from and what she has to say about it...


For the most part, I blog from our kitchen... It has a large, butcher block island where I can spread out magazines, photos and little things that inspire me. It also opens right into the den - a very convenient thing, since no matter where I go, Noah seems to follow along... So, combined with the den, and the many windows and double doors connecting to the backyard, the kitchen is a space big enough for us to spend time together without being right on top of one another. Plus, the light is beautiful and it feels very secluded being tucked away in the back of the house... It's a really cozy place to write from - even with the rather constant interruptions from a certain inquisitive 5-year-old boy.


Thanks Maria!

Book report: Goldengrove

I think many of us know the feeling of living in the shadow of a death, realizing how alone we all become in grief. My own brother died when I was a child and I learned independence young. Grief took each of my family members in different directions. I was too young to know what was going on, but I certainly felt it, both in an immediate and permanent sense. And I know that everybody was doing the best they could. Blame is impossible in situations of shared loss.


Goldengrove tells the story of loss tearing a family apart, defining them forever and teaching one young girl that - even though she's not alone - there are some things that she cannot rely on other people for. It also explores how identity is confused by loss, as both the identities of those lost and those left grieving changes, both in reality and perception.

The NYT reviewer Leah Hager Cohen writes "Near the end, Nico says, “If I’d learned anything that summer, it was how essential it was to hold on to the here and now.” I couldn’t help thinking that Margaret would have wanted her to find something odder, more unwieldy, less pat." But, I wonder how many of us walk away from grief with observations that aren't pat? And I think it's at those moments of emergence from grief and loss that all those pat tautologies suddenly seem like revelations.

Foreign Affair Winery

I've been enjoying Ontario wines a lot lately. I guess, in general, I've been trying to consume more local produce and we're lucky to have some really nice wines from this province. WildAss has fast become a regular tipple. But, when I saw the labels on the wines from Foreign Affair Winery, I knew I had to get some. Moose!

Friday!

Another Friday upon us! This week, I really tried to tidy up as I went and run errands on my way home for work. All part of a master plan to keep this weekend as free as possible. I plan to do nothing more but stroll and sit and gaze and sleep. I hope your weekend is blissful and just as full or free as you want it to be!


Image credits: 1. day three hundred and forty eight., 2. Hope rises, 3. my grandmother's home, 4. Untitled

Cozy and clean

These nights are all about carving out a cozy little corner at home. My PJs go on nearly the second I get in at night. And I putter about and read recipes, make lists and pull blankets over my socked toes and watch some of the worst television, but read some very good books.

This home strikes me as the most perfect mix of clean and cozy - the kind of place I could curl up without becoming distracted or fidgety. And maybe tonight, I'll raise a fork of pie to toast Thanksgiving to my US readers and friends. Seems like the neighborly thing to do, right? Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Images from Bolig Magasinet.


All grown up?

I spent most of my childhood dying to grow up. I was eager to do serious things and think deep thoughts and read grown-up books and join in the adult conversations I sat silently rapt through. And I wanted to settle down. We moved so often and I dreamed and dreamed of finding one perfect house and living there for the rest of my life.


And I remember the hard parts too. Sometimes I still even cry about them. But, I do have some perfect mental snapshots of being little: Lying on my bed reading books. Chatting away to dolls, the fairies in my wallpaper, the mushrooms growing in the backyard (that's where the fairies live, don't you know). Sitting with table up to my armpits as I drew pictures of villages and farms and skies full of birds.


The world conjured in these photographs of this most perfect (and perfectly dressed) little girl unlocked my most unrestrained, optimistic and twinkling memories of being small. You know the best part? I still have moments when I feel like this, when I feel this unbridled and exultant a being-in-the-world. In fact, sometimes I feel more that than the grown-up me? Do you sometimes feel like the same little girl, or boy, you were then? Or are you all grown up now?


All images from liivia s' photostream.

Thomas Eyck

This post is about a cushion. This cushion. It's by Thomas Eyck and I think it's charming enough to warrant a post of its own. I hope you agree!

Book report: Invisible

Oh, Paul Auster. You fill me with wonder. Even though you constantly like to remind me that I'm reading a book, that I should not take the words on the page at face value, that you're going to tie me up in knots, I always get sucked in and let you do it. I always fall for your characters, I always love it when you debunk my expectations and hopes.

There's a coolness to your approach, but such a warmth in your stories and characters. They're full of foibles and insecurities. And though you keep warning me "this is just a character, it could all be lies", I feel with full force everything you put them through. Even though it took me just 3 days to read Invisible, I miss it like it like a homesickness. Oh, Paul Auster. You do it everytime.


A poem for Wednesday

When I started posting poetry on my blog, it was really to share some of my favourites, some of the works that resonate with me and that have become interwoven with my own stories and history. It never occurred to me that there might be a real poet reading and eager to contribute. So I'm very excited about this poetry post.

Joa Suorez lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. She studied poetry at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the College of Creative Studies, and at St. Mary’s College of California, in the MFA Program in Creative Writing. Her poetry has been featured in the literary magazine Spectrum and the poetry journal Into the Teeth of the Wind. Works in progress can be read at The Weekly Commuter, in the poetry section.

I asked her about this poem and think her answer will resonate with many of us who are trying to juggle a day job with more creative endeavors: She writes, "I work in an office during the day, so my best chance to concentrate on poems is in my walk to and from the train. This leads to quite a few morning and evening poems, which tend to feel kind of misty and in-between. The area all around me is pretty built up, but sometimes the quiet of the morning makes me imagine what it was like when it was a little less lived-in, more wild and new, in a soft, hazy, just waking up sort of way."

I hope you love this as much as I do. Thanks Joa!

Beforeglow
A softening of syllables,
a bright blur on the vegetables,
the humidity we listen in perceptible,
and the sky behind
dip-dyes to blue.

Concrete made a city
of our scenery,
but the morning
is yielding, otherworldly,
and the distance, however real,
thins
to see-through, interrupted
by the air between.

Lover the Label

Once we put them on, winter coats my not come off until March (ugh!) so it's important to have a few you love. And ones that are a little interesting too. I love the shape (and the shoulders especially) of the outerwear from Lover the Label.

Bartlett engravings

I found these Howth engravings by W.H. Bartlett on eBay (from this excellent seller). Perhaps you'll recognize the images from some of my shots of Ireland?


Though it must be said: Bartlett was a big fat exaggerator. Just check out how he rendered Lambay Island in the background (positively alpine!) Or Ireland's Eye, in the middle, more like some epic Tolkien stronghold, than the wee island it is.


Still, exaggerated or not, walking on the pier in Howth always puts me in mind of that critical scene in Jane Austen's Persuasion (Alice, I know you will relate!) Especially on days when the sea is really lashing and the winds whipping and blowing. Now, where oh where is my very own Captain Wentworth?

Crown nut roast

It's coming up that time of year when it gets really, really difficult to be vegetarian. Every magazine cover is a constant reminder that vegetarian guests are a nuisance (as these two MSL's show. Seriously is that the same prop turkey two years later?) I'm not a dogmatic vegetarian - I don't think get preachy and try to convert everybody. And, as much as anybody else, I like to sit at a big table and break bread with friends and family over the holidays.


But vegetarian lasagna just doesn't quite feel festive. Anybody with a restrictive diet will understand the awkwardness of standing out at a table. It's no fun to have to defend your food while you try to enjoy it. Or to hear those Tofurkey jokes for the fourth year running (no, we don't think it's very good either).

If you're catering for a vegetarian this year, this Crown Nut Roast my seasonal favourite. It's dead simple. It contains chestnuts and you serve it with cranberry sauce. What could be more festive? Believe me, everybody will want some, so the fact this serves twelve won't go to waste. And, if you can manage to keep some of your side dishes vegetarian too, your veggie guest will feel very welcome indeed...

Where we blog from: Sacramento Street

Most of the blogs I've featured on "Where we blog from" are ones I've read for a long time. But this week, I'm featuring a brand new addition to my reader. When Caitlin of Sacramento Street e-mailed me, I immediately checked out her blog and accepted her offer to participate in "Where we blog from". I was curious to see if her space was as elegant and lovely as her blog. It is and she is too! This is where Caitlin blogs from and what she has to say about it.

Welcome to a cozy corner of my apartment that I can ke
ep messy or neat (mostly neat). It’s located in the dining room of our small apartment, but because it’s in the dining room it reminds me of when I was little; I used to do projects and homework near the kitchen so I could talk to my mom while she cooked.


When I saw this desk at West Elm, I knew it had to come home with me. It’s the perfect size for the time being, even though it’s lately been covered with wedding contracts, sample invitations, ripped out pages of magazines and stacks of magazines to inspire me for the wedding.


All of the little items on my desk come from places I’v
e traveled to around the world; the vase from Paris, notebook from London, world calendar from Ashland, and the drawing from Portland. Every item on my desk has sentimental value. I find that decorating with things you find when you travel gives you inspiration and creativity.


I’ll tell you the truth; I find it a little hard to blog every day with a full time job, but with this cozy desk at home it seems to work out just fine.


Thanks Caitlin!

Sunday

Another impossibly lovely weekend here in Toronto. It's crazy that this is November! My weekend was equally perfect. I did a bunch of shopping, both online and instore, for gifts and think I've pretty much nailed all my Christmas presents. Mailing to Ireland on time should be no problem for me this year!

I even got cracking on one of my 2010 resolutions last week and booked a flight to Reykjavik for June 2010. Iceland has been on my want-to-see list for the longest time and I'm so excited to be spending my 34th birthday there next year.


I'm still deciding on hotels, but have been fantasizing mostly about staying here. I
think you'll agree the decor is right up my alley (oh, the concrete!)


And I've been busy thinking about other resolutions. 2009 was a hard year for me. So, I'm setting myself up for success in 2010.

Landscape images from Bob O'Connor
Hotel images from Hotel Thingholt

Friday!

Gosh, the weeks are just tearing by! I painted my bathroom this week. A bit like my mini kitchen reno, this was one of those projects that makes me rue living in a building with "character" (read: 1930's crumbling walls). Two days of prep and 6 coats of paint. My bathroom is probably smaller as a result of the extra paint layers, but it still feels nice and clean.

I made some headway on my other projects too and should be able to share something soon enough. And I had lots of fun writing my guest post for From the Right Bank. I've never been sou
th of NYC, so attempting to tap into Atlanta style was fun and I was chuffed to get the nod from real Atlantans!


Around the blogosphere this week: I found wedding gowns that I actually covet (yay for sleeves!) And Remodelista did it again with another perfect-for-me abode. On those walls, I would definitely hang some of these laser prints, spotted over at For Me, For You. I'd also display this 1876 solar system quilt. And on the table, I would place these pieces from the new Alessi collection - isn't the photography reminiscent of William Bailey's artwork?

I don't have much planned for the weekend. I might try out a recipe from Babycakes (inspired, as always, by Anabela). But, enough about me! What are you up to? Regale me with your plans for epic adventure and conquest!

Image credits: 1. peaches, 2. oh baby spoons, i love you., 3. fresh bed, 4. Untitled

Filippa K

I ask you: What's not to like about Filippa K? I expect you'll find there isn't one thing. Not an iota. These are clothes we want to wear!

Book report: Ordinary Thunderstorms

William Boyd's Any Human Heart is one of my all time favourite books. I laughed and cried over this book and shoved it into the hands of many book-loving friends and watched them do the same. So, when I was in Ireland and saw that Ordinary Thunderstorms was already out in paperback (the book isn't released in Canada until February 2010), I picked it up. (And about 9 other books too.) I hate to say a book disappointed. But it did.


Maybe I'm not fully appreciative as the thriller as a genre, but this book seems to continue down the same path as Restless. It makes me wonder where Any Human Heart came from. Was it a fluke? What a beautiful fluke it was. I still remember the pain I suffered when Logan Mountstuart suffered. I felt none of that empathy for Adam Kindred, the hero of Ordinary Thunderstorms. I think that was my problem. I really didn't care what happened to Kindred. I only read on to sate my curiosity. But once I knew, I promptly forgot about him. And, surely, in any genre, that is a problem.

But, what about you? Is it important to you as a reader that you are able to get behind the hero of a book (even when he behaves idiotically?) Can a story survive for you without characters who reel you in? Is plot alone enough?

Four Etsy faves

I was going through my list of favourites on Etsy last night, looking for some Christmas shopping inspiration. Alas, I saw only things I want. I'll have to take off my selfish hat when I really start shopping. Because, unfortunately, my budget does not extend to two of everything... Maybe I'll just buy that cushion first though?


Product info: Hold It / Customizable Destination Bus Roll / Wire Bread Basket / Lines & Arrows cushion

From the Right Bank

You may remember Ally's lovely blogging space, which was recently featured in my Where we blog from series. Or perhaps you spotted her amazing house tour over on Design*Sponge. Well, the latest exciting new is that our Seattle-based, former Parisian is on the move again! Ally is, as I type, preparing to move to Atlanta.

I'm so excited to see how she incorporates Southern charm into her already impeccable design repertoire So, when she asked me to guest post, I couldn't resist a little fantasy shopping on her behalf. Hop on over to From the Right Bank to see my suggestions for Ally's new Atlanta abode.


Image from Atlanta Homes Magazine

Graf & Lantz

I stumbled upon Graf & Lantz when I wandered into the Gardiner Museum shop yesterday. Their felt Christmas ornaments are completely adorable. When I hopped on over to their site, I discovered more treasures.

Shepherd England

Boy, I love a good scarf. And I'm equally susceptible to a nice blanket. So, a blanket-like scarf is bound to be a slam-dunk. No wonder then that I adore the voluminous scarves from Shepherd England.

The simple things

Christina of the beautiful blog Soul Aperture came up with a list of her favourite simple things in life and invited any other bloggers to create a similar list today. I love listmaking and I love Christina's soulful and at-ease approach to everything. Her writing all calms me and talks me down from my more highly-strung, frantic moments (I have many of those). See the list of other participants here.


My list is an old one. I wrote it when I was in Ireland, waiting to emigrate and trying to capture the kind of life I wanted to live. Whenever I'm feeling full of doubt or that I've gone off course I go back to it. It's my touchstone. The me I imagined when I had complete freedom to imagine. I tweaked it a tiny bit for today's post. But surprisingly, six years later, the vast majority of it holds just as true as the day I wrote it...

Water, horses leaning into the crook of my neck, wet earth & sweat pea, walking, galleries, shopping baskets, friends for dinner, markets, Beckett, clean sheets, old university campuses, solo dance parties, coffee pots, darkroom evenings, park benches, cookbooks, blankets, errand lists, ink and paper, housekeeping, musty bookshops, leaning my head back, magnolia trees, being kisssed on the mouth, bathtime, kitchen utensils, herb pots, smiling dogs, cracking the spine of a new book, fairy cakes, curling my toes with laughter.

Image from my Flickr

Where we blog from: Nibs

Anybody who has been blogging for a long time will know there are times when it gets tough. It truly takes a lot of work to do what we do. And though many deserve it, it's the tiny minority who are able to make a living off their blogs. Nibs was one of my favourite blogs for the longest time. Then Martha stopped blogging. We stayed in touch even after she shut up shop. Because that's what blog friends are like; it's a crazy supportive group.

There's no bitchy killer instinct in our corner of the blogosphere. Maybe it's a female thing (though I'm reluctant to exclude the (few) guys who I count as my blog friends too). Whatever it is, I think that means that we create highly individualized and uniquely inspirational blogs. Sure,
we have a lot in common. But we sing in our own voices. Martha's voice was one of my favourite. And so it made my day when she reopened Nibs. This is where Martha blogs from and what she has to say about it.


Initially I began writing 'Nibs' in our attic family room, but we had some work done on the sheet rock and I ended up having to move into the small guest room. A table was already there just right for my iMac. A wooden trunk holds the printer. It's a tight fit, but thankfully I'm not disturbed by the other members of the family... except for maybe Jasper (our dog) who likes to sleep under the table. The repairs were made in the attic months ago, but as you can see, I haven't bothered to move back.

In case you're curious-
a. & b. I love wallpaper. Here the walls are covered in two papers- a vintage Laura Ashley floral (top) that I bought when I worked for the company and the other (below chair rail) that mimics stenciled leaves.
c. A drawing my mother did in art school.
d. Grandma's framed needlepoint.
e. I can't stand spending money on something when I can do it myself. I made both the fabric-covered shade and...
f. ...the all-fabric roller blind using Stiffy.
g. This is just the 'tip of the iceberg' with my magazine collection. The rest are stored in the den and basement. God forbid when we have to move!
h. Jasper refused to pose. His mid-morning nap was more important.

Thanks Martha!

Simple Home

I'm a huge fan of Bailey's Home & Garden and loved the book Recycled Home. But, I suspect I'll love Simple Home even more. I found some images over on this blog. Don't they just whet your appetite?

Update: I did purchase the book yesterday. It is extremely beautiful. Definitely one to look out for!

Recent acquisitions

Sometimes, when I buy something and don't blog about it I feel like I'm withholding from you! Here are some of my recent acquisitions:

I'm doing a little mini-reno on my bathroom. Mostly this consists of painting the walls, but the prep on my 1930's wall is exacerbating. Once the painting is done, I'm going to put some pretty film on my huge window. I feel for this one by Emma Jeffs at Modern Karibou.


And, while I was on Modern Karibou I couldn't resist a little browsing of their Dwellstudio inventory. I'm tempted by this bath mat, but will hold off for now. And, of course, Dwell bedding is a constant fave. For now, though, I settled for these lovely napkins. Completely my colours!


Finally, don't you love this tote from Etsy seller Darcyart? My tote collection is ridiculous, but apparently there's no stopping me. And this shopping list is perfection. I do so love me a pamplemousse!

Friday!

How was your week? Are you as happy as I am that it's Friday?

I was crazy busy this week. Every night I had a to-do list as long as my arm and when I wasn't knocking things off it, I was adding more on. Most are projects I've taken on myself, so it's not that I'm not having fun. But there are so many hours in the evening and I get caught up in my projects and then look at the clock and I've had no downtime. This weekend I'm going to try to do both. I'm painting my bathroom and finishing one creative project that I'm really excited about. But I'm hoping to hang out with some friends and get up to high-jinx too.


This week, I loved Chelsea's neighbour's beautiful home and Stephanie's New York apartment. I really liked Kate Sheperd's work seen over on Dear Ada and (no shock here) I'm crazy for the new Heath collaboration blogged on Lovely Morning. I also admired these red accents, though I'm not sure I'm brave enough. And how stunningly pensive are these photographs from David Eustace, spotted over on Olivet? Finally, I'm so excited for Maria of Vintage Simple who had a photo shoot at her home this week. I can't wait to see the amazing results!

Wishing you all a lovely, and inspired, weekend!

Image credits: 1. .. remnant .., 2. Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space, 3. new, 4. Little Circles

PS: The giveaway winners are Geisslein and Laura Gunkelman. Congrats ladies!