Happy New Year!

I'm signing off for New Year's and will be back to regular posting on Monday. I don't want to dwell on what 2009 has been, but I'm really excited for things to come in 2010. And I look forward to sharing it with you.

Happy New Year, dear friends! I hope all your dreams come through in 2010.


You must be blue in the face from me blogging about resolutions (here and here) but this is the final, ultimate list of things I want to accomplish in 2010.
- Properly decorate bedroom
- Travel to Iceland
- Get driving license
- Work on some new blog features
- Take at least one photograph every day
- Go to a show, play or new restaurant once per month
- Don't dwell on jerks
- Do some chores on week nights so weekends aren't all work
- Plan a gallery-going weekend in NYC
- Integrate fitness into daily life, especially in winter months
- Try one new recipe per week
- Remain calm and centred in new social situations
- Save up before spending
- Do work that makes me happy and rewards me duly
- Get more houseplants
- Try to believe praise as well as criticism
- Reread more old books, as well as reading new ones
- Travel to Portland / San Francisco
- Do yoga minimum once per week
- Keep one eye on long term goals, beyond 2010

Image credits: 1. making christmas, 2. It's over yet I remember first day that I saw your face., 3. city of dreaming books, 4. I have to say something, I made up my mind, don't need look past your eyes.

Charmed, I'm sure

My Mum had a charm bracelet when I was growing up and I was always intrigued by the charms; like miniature toys for grown-up ladies. Annina Vogel fashions antique jewelry and charms into pieces unlike anything I've ever seen. Her creations retain their antique appeal while being transformed into ultra glamorous, updated pieces.

Plant pots

I get a lot of pleasure from a vase of flowers, but there's a different kind of pleasure that comes from a plant thriving in my care. I would love to have a few more plants around my apartment. Succulents are a true favourite (and unkillable), but I'm also thinking of filling my bullet planter with many orchids (wouldn't that be epic!) - I just need to do some research first so I can go forth confidently. Here are some other plant pots inspiring me...


Clockwise from top left: Crete planter from 18Karat, Plant Pod from Perch! Design, Tripod from Pigeon Toe Ceramics, Bigarra from IKEA

Bedroom 2010

One of my 2010 resolutions is to properly decorate my bedroom. First, I'm going to paint it white. And I've already made some purchases towards the new scheme (the Nelson pendant light). Below is a more detailed little look at what I'm envisioning. The jumping off point was one of the bedrooms from my 3 favourites post (I knew that exercise was a worthwhile one!)

The biggest stumbling block for me was choosing a bed. I didn't want anything too domineering, princessy, bulkily wooden (unless it was my ultimate BDDW bed, which it wouldn't be). It fast became apparent that I don't really want to see much of a bed, so I've selected this very lean base from Stylegarage. I'll dress it exactly like the inspiration image.


The other large investment will be the pair of Bestlite lamps. I think they're worth it and have started to save for them. I can't find anything cheaper that I like as much and that wouldn't constantly remind me how much I would prefer the Bestlites. Other things I already have: A similar kilim rug. And the chest of drawers pictured is my existing one, purchased from a local Toronto store many years ago. The drapes shown here are from West Elm.

The chair choice will probably come later, but I like the idea of a wing chair like this one from Ethan Allen to shake up the mix. The piece that is going to drive me nuts to find is the orchard ladder (for my scarf collection). The one pictured here is from Matter. I've wanted an authentic rustic one for the longest time and it would probably be easy to antique one outside the city (handy time to have that driver's license, Jane!)

So, I'm dying to know what you think? Please, be gentle.

Christian Wijnants

I love all the folds and layers in these looks from Christian Wijnants. And of course, the muted greys are my most favourite thing.

Obsessed!

I meandered down to Holts today, thinking there might be some lovely flat on epic sale. But the sale had been well and truly picked over, so I turned my attention to new collections. These lovely Spring 2010 Lanvin Leather Dance Shoes caught my eye and after wandering around I went back just to try them on. But they already ran out of my size! I'm completely obsessed now. I must have them.

Update: Found online at Kirna Zabete, after browsing 25 pages on Google images. Yes, I'm obsessed!


Top blogs of 2009

I read more than 300 blogs and I enjoy every single one. The minute I think I've captured the best of the best, another blog explodes onto my awareness, trailing with it an entirely new circle of blogs I can't believe I was oblivious to. So, narrowing down my Top 10 of 2009 is no mean feat. Nevertheless, I wanted to single out those blogs that blow me away and fill my days with inspiration.

The stand-out thing about the blogs on this list is the bloggers themselves and the connection I have felt with them over the last year. Not only do they blog beautifully. They also have a voice and distinct personality. And each in their own unique way inspires me. Whether it's for fashion, decor, poetic posting or a beautiful medley of everything, in unranked order, these are my top blogs of 2009:

Silent Storyteller
What beautiful happenstance: When I was in Ireland, I wandered into Bow Boutique in Powerscourt townhouse and picked up their store postcard and googled one of the names, Eilis Boyle. Her blog, Silent Storyteller has quickly become an integral part of my blogworld. Eilis is a stunning designer, a lively and intelligent blogger and has a profound and nostalgic sense of style. (Photography by Veronique Lujy, Paris / Knitwear by Eilis Boyle)



{frolic!}
How could it be a fave list without {frolic!}? This year, Chelsea gets special mention for her amazing Swedish adventure and her willingness to share it all with us, allowing those of us stuck in a cubicle to live vicariously through her. To give due credit, Chelsea works very hard so she can have this lifestyle, sometimes making big sacrifices to get where she's going. I admire her for this discipline and dedication as much as the beauty of her posts. (Photography by Chelsea)



Heart of Light
Fabulous crafts? Check. Pretty hairbands? Check. Friday flowers? Check. Recipes galore? Check. How does Rachel keep it together with all that on her plate? Well she shares that too. This is a beautifully written blog and each thoughtful post is accompanied by photographs with light so perfect, they'd make a grown man weep. Need another reason? - Terrier nose. (Photography by Rachel).



Camp Comfort
When I think about how I want to dress on a day-to-day basis, I always hop over to Camp Comfort. Roberta's blog helpfully deconstructs and reassembles looks that are wearable and chic. For me, the canvas tote bag embodies this style. I love canvas totes. And all of Roberta's looks would work with a canvas tote; casual and easy, but still hip and with a slight edge. (Look assembled by Roberta Jane)



Reading My Tea Leaves
If I needed a reminder to always carry a camera (I do, I'm useless about it), Reading My Tea Leaves provides the appropriate smack of the forehead. I was delighted to be able to share a bit of my downtown with Erin this year. But it's Erin's affectionate eye for her own downtown that reminds me to get more in touch with my city and arm myself so that I can capture those moments. (Photography by Erin).



Even Cleveland
I have to admit, where Stephanie is concerned I have a bit of a girl-crush. There's seemingly nothing she doesn't know about and share through her blog, Even Cleveland. She understands my obsessive little Beckett fixation. She can put together an ace ensemble. She's a wicked crafter. She even lived in Dublin! And in 2009, she moved to New York and has remained her same, wonderfully unaffected self. Could she be cooler? - No. Not one iota.




Katy Elliott
Renovating a 257-year-old house in Marblehead, Massachusetts is no mean feat. Katy Elliott is doing just that and sharing the process - warts and all - with us as she goes. If you've ever fantasized about renovating an old home, this blog is a must read. But she goes beyond that. This blog showcases some amazing products, local artists, artisans and food-producers. Because, of course, antiquing trips are bound to work up a healthy appetite for whoopie pies! (Photography by Katy)



Soul Aperture
Soul Aperture offers the blog equivalent of a big bearhug. Christina's posts leave you feeling enveloped with soulful warmth, complete calm. She brings out that "what a wonderful world" awe in me. Christina is my constant and much-needed reminder to slow down and feel the love. (Photography by Christina)



Forty-Sixth at Grace
Forty-Sixth at Grace is a blog of pure poetry. Nikole and I live in the same town and I sometimes think that if I experienced the city the way she does, my days would be a whole lot nicer. I tend to be incredibly introspective, always reflecting inwards, often knotted up in my own emotions. Nikole serves as a little reminder to look outwards more. And some of the beauty around me now includes her Dad's lovely turnings, which Nikole sells here. (Photography by Nikole)



Remodelista
In my humble opinion, Remodelista is the very best interior design blog out there. Super professional, super clean with a super consistent aesthetic (that happens to completely coincide with my own). Yes, that's a lot of "super". When I'm getting down to the nitty gritty of decorating, this blog is my be-all and end-all, for inspiration, style-checking and sourcing. (Image from Remodelista)



Thanks to all the bloggers who daily inspire me. And a special thanks also to all those bloggers who participated in my "Where we blog from" series. I loved getting to know you all better in 2009. And I can't wait to watch all your blogs go from strength to strength in 2010. I also can't wait to discover that next as-yet unknown blog just waiting to blow away my little mind!

Happy Holidays!

I wrap up at work today and am taking a couple of days to enjoy some merry-making. I hope those of you traveling make easy haste. And those of you staying make magical memories in your home. And those feeling far away from family and home, perhaps missing little Irish robins... skype and second helpings is my prescription.

Happy Christmas! Nollaig shona daoibh!


Image credits 1. winter berries, 2. Untitled, 3. Robin, 4. Untitled

2009 Homies

I got a happy tweet from Elizabeth today telling me that I've been nominated for the Homies over on Apartment Therapy! It's so nice to be voted for and YOU can add your vote here.


You can also see the amazing blogs I voted for here. (And, no, I didn't vote for myself;)

A gift from you, through me

I know many of us will soon be wrapping up for the holidays, so it's gift time! And while I would love nothing more than to have you all around for a glass of mulled wine, it also makes me happy to express my fondness for each of you by giving to a worthy cause.


This year, I've made a donation on our behalf to The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society as a small gesture to thank you all for visiting, reading, commenting and supporting my little blog. I'm excited about what will unfold in 2010 and look forward to sharing it all with you.
Happy Holidays!

Image credit: David Cartier's Flickr

P.S. Lest you worry about the fate of our favourite donkey, I'm also continuing my support of Cargo and his fluffy friends at the Donkey Sanctuary.

Red is rad

Red is not a colour I readily think of as a favourite. But when I saw the red picture frames in the current Elle Decor (photographed by Eric Piasecki) I immediately liked them. And then I recalled some other splashes of red that I have stashed away in my Tumblr. It turns out that, in the right quantity, I think red is pretty rad.


Images originally sourced from the following blogs / magazines. Please click through for full credit & more inspiration: 1. The Cottage Log / 2. Point Click Home, Elle Decor / 3. Remodelista / 4. Marie Claire Maison / 5. A Cup of Jo / 6. Skona Hem / 7. Absolutely Beautiful Things / 8. Design*Sponge / 9. Desire to Inspire

Generra

Love these looks from Generra's Fall lookbook. Great layering.

Where we blog from: Simplesong

Simplesong is one of those blogs that just makes everything in life seem a little lighter. Suann Song is not only a talented letterpress designer she also has a keen eye for objects with an easy and happy stylishness to them, from beautiful floral arrangements to adorable kids clothing. In a blog-world where I sometimes feel like I've seen the same thing twenty times in one day, Suann can be counted on to turn up something new and exciting. This is where Suann blogs from and what she has to say about it...

This is my home office where I work and blog from daily (I have a small design and letterpress studio). My office space is located at the front of our home where we get really good lighting -- probably the favorite thing about my space. There are a few must-haves I have for my space...


1. A lot of shelving, drawers, boxes, etc. to keep things organized. Having a paper-related business I have a lot of "stuff" and I try to keep it as organized as possible.


2. Notebooks. I love them and have a ton of them and keep them everywhere in my office and home so that I can jot down little ideas or tasks.


3. Fresh flowers. I try to have fresh flowers as often as possible, especially in the winter. Because I spend so much time in my office its a nice little luxury that can really brighten my day.


4. Bits of inspiration. I have little bits of inspiration.


Thanks Suann!

Lovely reading room

I love the built-ins in this space, the bookshelves flanking the balcony doors and the recessed cubby for storing fire logs. The only thing I'd change is the television over the fireplace (ugh! why do people do it?), but it's easy to ignore that and imagine myself curled up in that grey armchair with a blanket on my lap and a new book in my hands.

Speaking of which, I can't wait to get some serious reading done over the holidays! What are you readin
g these days?


Image from Elle Decor, No, 163 photographed by Pieter Estersohn

Christmas wishes

Reality-checking is not one of my strong suits and nowhere is this more evident than when I compile a Christmas wishlist. My first pass is usually completely oblivious to all those annoying details, like budget. So, it's without any actual expectation of receiving any of these gifts that I'll share what I would make me squeal with delight to find under the tree.


First row: Smokey Quartz by Carly Waito / Barletta Cordones by Tom's Shoes / Simone linen bedding from Area
Second row: All the times... by Darla Jackson / First edition of Ill Seen, Ill Said from Abebooks / Pouring bowl in onyx from Heath Ceramics
Bottom row: BL2 from Bestlite by Gubi / Subscription to Brick Literary Magazine / Arceau watch from Hermes / Snowflake drops from Windowsill

Friday!

Even though I'm working right through the holidays, today feels like the last work day of the year. I'm hoping the next fortnight is a clear and calm and that my work days settle into a more relaxed rhythm. This week my to do list beat me every single day. I feel like a huge failure when I can't accomplish everything I set out to do on a given day. So this weekend, I'm hoping to get caught up again and look a little more kindly on myself.

But some things made me happy this week too: One of my favourite things in the world is that I'm in touch with one of my undergraduate profs. He's one of the few people I've ever met who I feel I don't have to explain myself to. Throughout the year, he sends me papers he's written. I got his Christmas card yesterday and a paper on Conscience & Moral Psychology. I can't wait to read it over the weekend!


And my friend Laura came over and we cooked dinner and exchanged gifts. She made me this amazing Looped Loop (I had no idea it was for me when she blogged it, the sneaky devil!) and gave me a DVD of Wendy & Lucy, which I've only partially seen but know I will love in a for-all-time way.

I've been neglecting my blog reader this week a little (actually, I have been going through it, but starring the posts I want to come back and read or comment on), so I want to catch up on all the goodness around the blogosphere too. But, I do want to send a huge congrats to so many of my favourite bloggers who made it onto the 50 Best Blogs list from the Times Online. Bravo each of you! And, laurelled or not, blogger and reader, I wish you all a lovely weekend.

Image credits: 1. woah, glacier, 2. ... my deer Nature :)....., 3. 1..2...3...awakening of winter..., 4. nanook 2

A poem for Thursday

Just the poem today. No explanation or emotional backdrop. Except to say that it's by the wonderful Seamus Heaney.

The Wishing Tree
I thought of her as the wishing tree that died
And saw it lifted, root and branch, to heaven,
Trailing a shower of all that had been driven

Need by need by need into its hale
Sap-wood and bark; coin and pin and nail
Came streaming from it like a comet-tail

New-minted and dissolved. I had a vision
Of an airy branch-head rising through the damp cloud,
Of turned-up faces where the tree had stood.

The right mood

I love these two perfectly spare and calm images from this house tour on Hus & Hem. I've been collecting images that conjure the atmosphere I want to create in my apartment during the next round of decorating and I think these capture it precisely.

Loyale Clothing

Love these plaid dresses from Loyale Clothing. I especially love the neck detail on the centre image.

Christmas cookies

Do you have a favourite Christmas cookie recipe?

Last year, I made these Iced Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies, and they were delicious. I typically love a more rugged style cookie. But these Cream-Cheese-Lemon Bows are too tempting for words. And Lemon-Pistachio Wreaths? Yes, I think that's a yum too. Oh and check out these Walnut Cookies. Okay, maybe I'm just a big cookie monster. Damn you, Martha! Damn you! All images and recipes from Martha Stewart.


Antlers for me

I have mixed reactions to antlers as decorative accents. Sometimes they seem grotesque to me (you're talking about a girl here who can't stomach cowhide rugs). And other times they seem rustic, beautiful, sincere. This resin wreath from Oly? This makes all those reservations disappear into thin air. This, I want.

Fun resolutions

Isn't it a dreadful commentary on our lives that we have to make lists of fun resolutions. I mean, shouldn't fun things spontaneously just happen to us? Shouldn't we be actively seeking them out at all times? But the day-to-day can be so consuming and draining that the fun things that we work so hard for can often be left by the wayside. In 2009, I learned the hard way the consequences of too much work and not enough planning for fun. So, when Courtney tweeted yesterday that she was making a fun list of the things she wants to do, I promised her I'd share mine too!


1. Travel: My travel wishlist is growing again... Iceland (booked for June 2010!), San Francisco and Portland, weekends away (NYC, Chicago). Beyond 2010: Ireland (every two years minimum), New Zealand, Patagonia... and on, and on.

2. Take Driving lessons (I don't have my license - eep!) and then get Zipcar account and go gallivanting.

3. Write & photograph: I'm happiest when I'm writing, especially when I'm in a habit of it. I need to set time aside for routine creative writing. And I have six cameras for pity's sake. I should always have one with me!

4. Apartment: Paint apartment and properly decorate, especially neglected bedroom. Invest in some of those "will have forever" pieces I lust after constantly.

5. Socialize: My solitary inclinations bite me in the ass every once in a while. There must be a balance. I'm pretty sure this involves eating at nice restaurants with nice people and nice wine. Life is hard.

6. Let it all go: Sometimes the hardest thing for me is slowing down my heart and letting myself feel truly relaxed without nagging thoughts of the week to come or where I am in relation to the things I want.

The biggest obstacle to doing fun things is this constant feeling I have that nothing I do is as good as I want it to be. To really enjoy these fun resolutions, I really need to accept where I am and who I am. And stop fantasizing about this parallel Jane who has none of my silly little issues. This part isn't fun, but it will make or break the fun resolutions.

I do have some non-fun resolutions too. They mostly boil down to money and fitness. Oh so predictable and constant in those spheres! So now, your turn: What's on your fun to-do list? And what's standing in your way??

Image from pathings' Flickr

Cursive Design

A long time ago, Stephanie blogged about Cursive Design and I stashed their link away in my bookmarks at the time. I rediscovered them while doing a little virtual housecleaning over the weekend and think they've expanded their collection since I was last there. I love these pieces!

Where we blog from: 36 Shea

I first discovered Jill Bent through Mrs French's I heart Monday series and quickly nabbed one of her lovely tote bags. And, since then, I've followed her blog 36 Shea and thoroughly loved her aesthetic. Her Etsy store is one of my favourites (a Jill Bent scarf is on my wishlist!) and I'm completely jealous of the shelf in her workspace. One of my favourites so far: I'm so excited to share where Jill blogs from and what she has to say about it...

I usually blog from my sewing studio, which is also the guest bedroom, located on t
he third floor of my home. Because it's in the attic, the ceilings are sloped, the walls are textured by one hundred year old plaster, and the floor has wide golden pine floors. I have one south facing window, which gives me great light, especially on a sunny day.


My computer shares a table with my sewing machine and I switch back and forth from computer to sewing depending on what I'm working on. My work table originally belonged to my parents. We used it in our kitchen when I was growing up, and there are still scratches and letters my brother and I carved in at some point. I almost always have a mug of tea by my side when I'm working here. At the moment it's green tea.


On the wall above my table I have an ever changing rotation of photos and artwork from some of my favorite bloggers. Right now I have work by HelloHandmade Paperie, Ah-yi, Abby Powell Thompson, Maria Vettese, Elizabeth Barker, and Rebekah Dortmund. Camilla Engman'scalender downloaded from Design*Sponge is the wallpaper on my laptop.


For me, this room is filled with inspiration for both blogging and sewing. I keep a shelf on the wall opposite my work table filled with a collection of finished work, on-going projects, fabric and yarn I want to use in the future and a collection of my favorite vintage and antique items of the moment. Thanks so much for hosting me, Jane!


It was fun to share my space with you all!


Thank you Jill!

Indoorsy Sunday

I'm avoiding the increasingly crazed shoppers and the street today just spending some time at home, catching up on my reader and my PVR, napping and reading and cooking up some veggie chili for dinner later on. My place is all a twinkle and it's nice to cozy up and enjoy it. Hope you're having a lovely Sunday! I love these images from Lucinda Symons and Le Petit Atelier de Paris!

Chris Shepherd

I came across the work of Chris Shepherd over on Bau-Xi and then found my way to his website, going through his stunning portfolio. The subway series is amazing, this shot in particular. And I loved the pictures of empty retail spaces. But, no surprise here, his Horizons series stole my heart.

Friday!

I'm just so tired this week. I feel like I need to do something to help myself really relax, not just race through a weekend of socializing and chores and find myself back on Monday's doorstep and doing it all again. I have a bit of the cubicle fatigue right now. Commuting to the office is so much more difficult in winter and every sad bit of office decor seems a little sadder when it's dark at four o'clock.


Though the day-to-day is difficult, I can feel a little burst of hope in my brain. It would be good to put some kind of framework around that this weekend. Just articulating what it is you really want can be the most difficult part. There's so much wishlisting and bartalk. But what is it I want? Maybe I'll think about that when I go for a massage or something this weekend. Or maybe I won't think and it will just come to me.

Other than that, the regular chores will be done. Coffee will be drunk and words will be read and shed onto pages. I don't think I'll shop. I think I have a bit of that fatigue too. Maybe I'll watch a good documentary or movie. Have you seen something you loved lately? Something smart and moving?

I'm hoping you're all feeling a little less wrecked than I am and have serene, beautiful things planned for your weekend and that you enjoy every minute of it.

Image credits: 1. bedroom daytime curtain setup, 2. Belfast Botanic Gardens..., 3. Untitled, 4. 6