Where we blog from: Destined to Design

This week's "Where we blog from" comes courtesy of Jessica of destined to design. Jessica's blog is clean and distinctive. Her elegant style pervades her blog, whether she writes about fashion, art, interiors or travel. And a visit to destined to design never fails to make me smile. This is where Jessica blogs from and what she has to say about it...

So excited that Jane has asked me to participate in her wonderful series, and honored to be in the company of so many bloggers I admire! Blogging is  a daily ritual for me that 95% of the time takes place post-work hours in my studio apartment. I live down by the beach in sunny Southern California, so on the upside, I've got a beautiful palm tree view out my window while I spend hours working at my desk.

My desk is from Ikea, but I covered it in a taupe linen drapery panel I found at Target so it wasn't such an eyesore. The table lamp I found at Target, as well, and the lounge chair was the first piece of furniture I designed when I was in design school. I found that modern toile fabric at Diamond and fell in love. It's a bit loud for me now, and frankly, I'd really like to reupholster it in a neutral solid.



My sofa was the only piece of furniture I decided to invest in up front. I got it at Stansbury Collection in Venice when they were having a sofa sale and I love the modern lines of it. It's my favorite place to relax. The side tables I found at TINI and the teak coffee table and brass magazine holder are vintage. Still looking for a great modern art piece for over the sofa!


I guess I would call this my art wall. I have an affinity for gilded frame mirrors and have started a bit of a collection. The large one I bought through a vintage dealer and the small one I spotted driving past a yard sale. I immediately pulled over and bought it for $1. The prints are tear-outs from my favorite children's book, Madeline, that I bought when I was studying in Paris. Every time I look at this arrangement it makes me smile.


I hope you all enjoyed this little peek into where I blog from. Thanks so much for having me, Jane!

Thanks Jessica!

Sunday

How's your weekend going? It's been sunny here and I've managed to carve out a perfect mix of good company and constructive contemplation this weekend. I worked on a budget and an exercise / diet plan. And I took a long, hard look at my workload and have some ideas for making it more manageable. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.

I came across this image today and thought it was quite lovely. My taste is definitely taking a more traditional, though still relaxed, turn these days. I'm happy with the things I'm gravitating towards. They feel right.


Images from Phoebe Howard

Friday!

This week has been a big, heatwave blur! I feel like I've been making some good progress in the last month. My mood definitely seems more even and I'm learning to head off negative thoughts before they settle in. With my insides feeling slightly more in check, I've started to think about outside things again. Like... I'm feeling pretty unhappy with the weight I've gained in the last year.

To be completely honest, exercise is one of those lifestyle choices that's never come naturally or easy to me. When I see people out running or going to yoga without fail, it seems like a miracle to me. I have to work the idea of exercise through all these bends in my brain before it feels like something I really want to do.
This is another prime example of me doing what's natural versus doing what will make me authentically happy. And, of course, it's easy to excuse myself because I'm always working... But if I applied one fifth of the work ethic I have to diet and exercise, I wouldn't be in this shape.


Still... the weekend is here and I can take some time to think about what I'm going to do, to hopefully come up with a steady and sustainable approach and to be a bit nicer and patient with myself about all these things. I want to build that plan from a positive starting point rather than a self-flagellating one.


As well as these thoughts, this blog post presented one of those magical moments of blog synchronicity.This very topic is something also something I've been thinking and talking about a lot lately and is beautifully expressed by Dominique Browning. If you don't already follow her blog, I recommend making some space for it!

I'm really looking forward to the weekend. There'll be a farmer's market and meetings with friends. I'll be cracking the spine of a new book and making plans that make me feel optimistic and full of potential. What are you up to? Hope it's a lovely one (and a lovely long one for US readers)!

Image credits: 1. Climbing Hydrangea, 2. ., 3. Untitled, 4. Untitled

Capsule wardrobe

I blogged before about my uniform, but it's evolved a little in the last year. This is my touchstone when I'm shopping and looking at magazines. I know no matter what I buy, what I wish I could fit into or look good in, these are the clothes that I actually wear.

The quest for perfection in these categories is an ongoing one. Each season, I search the new offerings looking for a new iteration of these favourites, for better materials, more ethical manufacturing and better fit. And when I do occasionally splurge, as long as stay I within these confines, I know I won't regret it. Honestly, if I look at my closet today, the pieces I regret, that I feel uncomfortable in or that I've just never worn are those that fall outside of my capsule wardrobe.


I wore a uniform for 16 years of school, so I'm sure you could tell a psychological story here. Though, unlike many schoolmates, I find that wearing a uniform is liberating. In a way, it lets me opt out of the perpetual new trend-lust cycle. And, I feel like I can spend more because I'm buying less, which is important to me for ethical and style reasons. But now... I'm really curious about how you shop: Do you have a uniform that's "you"? Is it your be all and end all, or just your jumping-off point. Or do you find the whole idea dreadfully boring and only ever shop a la carte?

Column 1: Chinti & Parker @ Net-a-Porter / Loeffler Randall (past collection) / Bodas / James Perse / TOMS shoes / Column 2: Erdem @ Barneys / Belstaff @ Net-a-Porter / Calypso / Shopbop / Column 3: Bloch / Toast / Hugo Guinness @ John Derian / Vince @ Shopbop / Column 4: Furla (past collection) / Linda Penwarden necklace / Claddagh ring (gift) / J.Crew / Hanky Panky / Converse / Column 5: James Perse / LemLem / Bensimon / J.Crew

All alone is all we are

I'm a huge Dan McCarthy fan (that's one of his works hanging over my bed). I just added this one to my collection. I read a long time ago that artwork with solitary figures is bad feng shui for single people. I'm damn well doomed if that's the case... my place is full of such images. I don't really believe it, but it's the kind of thing that once you read it, it's there in your head. Yet that doesn't seem to stop me...

Book report: The Shaking Woman

I was interested in reading Siri Hustvedt's neurological memoir "The Shaking Woman" for a number of reasons: She's a writer I greatly admire (I loved The Sorrows of an American and What I Loved) and her writing is always informed by a solid academic underpinning. Philosophy, psychology and neurology feature prominently in her writing and these are subjects I myself invested six years in.

But, mostly, Hustvedt is extremely open about her personal psychology too. In my own way, I've tried to always share what's on my mind here too. And I know how challenging it can be to write those things. But I also know how rewarding it is to discipline yourself to wrap words and theories around abstract thoughts and feelings.



So Hustvedt's endeavour intrigued me and I thought I might relate to a lot of what she wrote and learn from her research. This is not a book that pops up psychology or neurology. It's not a self-help book. Nor is it a subjective or romantic self-analysis, though Hustvedt's investigation is shaped around personal experiences which she is trying to understand.
 

I felt like I was doing philosophy again and frequent references George Berkeley and William James and Wittgenstein made me feel at home. The book is a clean investigation, so clean the NYT thought it "chilly". I do not. Hustvedt's candor allows us to bear intimate witness to her journey and to study alongside her, a study which is hugely informative and also spirited.

Bowfront chest

I cleaned my apartment like crazy over the weekend. And, as always when I have some real down-time at home, I found myself loving my space. And I started to feel like I don't need much at all to make it feel finished. But, one of the things I do need is an extra chest of drawers in my bedroom. I want something charming and would love to antique something in the vein of this piece from Ethan Allen. I'll be keeping an eye out over the summer months for the perfect piece!

Summer

Toronto just had its first scorcher of the year. I'm only ever comfortable in the sun when I'm in some leafy place by water. Standing at a concrete intersection, it beats down on me in a way that sends me into a blind panic. To soothe my mind, I usually think about sea-swimming and cool shade. I'm going to stash these images away in my mind's eye for the next few months.


Images from Hus & Hem

Andersen & Lauth

I came across the collection of Andersen & Lauth over the weekend and loved these feminine flowing pieces at first sight. I think you might too...

Where we blog from: Brabourne Farm

This week's "Where we blog from" comes all the way from love Brabourne Farm in Australia. Leigh gathers some of the most beautiful home and garden images and every post is guaranteed to inspire and transport. I find so much beauty and inspiration in her lovely blog and I'm sure you will too, if you're not already an avid visitor to Brabourne Farm! This is where Leigh blogs from and what she has to say about it...


I have a small table that I blog from in our kitchen/living room - we are about to start designing and building our study so I will eventually have a desk in there as well but I think I'll always keep this table as this room really is the heart of our house. As you can see from these photos I love flowers and always have a small bunch on my desk - usually roses and sweet peas from our garden - as well as on the side and kitchen tables.


Thanks Leigh!

Friday!

Hip hip hooray for Friday and for long weekends! It's the Victoria Day weekend here in Canada. I'm thinking about getting some paint samples to try out around my apartment this weekend, though the trek to the paint store might end up putting me off. And I'm hoping the chirpy bird that has woken me every day at 4:30am this week observes the holiday weekend too. Janey needs her sleep-in.

 
I updated my Tumblr with some nice things from the blogosphere this week. And I've been blogging away over on ReadyMade too. I'm also jonesing for some of this lemonade (yay for lemonade season!) And I think this bag is perfection. Anna launched her store (I love the Dorothea dress) and my order from the marvelous Cabin 7 arrived (I hope to take some pictures over the weekend).

What are you up to this weekend? I hope it's fabulous for you!

Image credits: 1. Dream House, 2. garden flowers, 3. canaan farms, 4. then.

Rittenhouse

I love this collection from Rittenhouse. Comfy, loose and casual, with just the right amount of colour that even this Plain Jane finds palatable! Plus, isn't the model lovely? I adore her hair.

Authenticity & eudaimonia

Authenticity is something I write and think about a lot. But lately, I've started questioning my concept of authenticity. Doing what feels natural and true to myself is something I've always thought of as being the authentic choice. But, I'm beginning to understand that many of the things I do naturally, the ways-of-being that I gravitate towards, arise out of bad experiences I've had. They don't come from some Platonic ideal embedded in my consciousness, rather as proven mechanisms for surviving stressful situations.


What's worse, some of those "natural" ways of behaving that I have so long thought of as being my authentic self are actually running contrary to my goals. To give an relatable example: It is natural for me to shy away from social events, to retreat and spend time alone and to choose work over fun. But high on the list of things I want are making real connections with people and working less. So, my natural setting is running contrary to my desired outcome and I end up creating a life that feels natural on one level but unhappy on another.

And then I end up in knots. Which all feeds that feeling of being a fuck-up, of getting no closer to the things I want and of feeling incomplete. Over a year ago, I wrote a post about eudaimonia, or "the good life". I think I need to start thinking of my behaviour today as feeding that kind of eudaimoniac authenticity, rather than the more immediate, natural kind. Which is to say, I need to dig deeper and overcome myself in some areas in order to end up with my own version of "the good life" and to come closer to my truly authentic self.

Image by Cig Harvey

Nümph

Lovely, ethereal, fluid looks from Nümph.

A poem for Wednesday

Every so often, I get up from my desk and start organizing. It makes the people around me nervous... all that rustling and movement. But, it usually means I'm about the buckle down to something serious and I want to set the right tone. Some people thrive in chaos. Me, I like things to be clean as a pin before I get going. This is by Billy Collins.

Advice to Writers
Even if it keeps you up all night,
wash down the walls and scrub the floor
of your study before composing a syllable.

Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way
Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration.

The more you clean, the more brilliant
your writing will be, so do not hesitate to take
to the open fields to scour the undersides
of rocks or swab in the dark forest
upper branches, nests full of eggs.

When you find your way back home
and stow the sponges and brushes under the sink,
you will behold in the light of dawn
the immaculate altar of your desk,
a clean surface in the middle of a clean world.

From a small vase, sparkling blue, lift
a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet,
and cover pages with tiny sentences
like long rows of devoted ants
that followed you in from the woods.

Irish grandmother

I was exceptionally close to my paternal grandparents: Will and Mary-Jo, who lived in Limerick. They passed away when I was relatively young, but left an indelible mark on me. I still sometimes miss grandad so much that I'll cry for him late at night. It must be because of them that I find this collection, titled Irish Grandmother, by Kate Hutchinson really moving.

"My grandmother is a quiet and reserved woman who is an integral part of who I am. She does not readily allow people to enter her world or know her thoughts. While photographing her daily routine and rituals, I did so much learn about her history or her life story, as was part of my original goal, rather I discovered who she needs to be to get through the day."


Retreat

Let me take you on a little vacation today. It really doesn't matter where we go. The weather will be sunny, but not too hot. Warm enough that you want to close your eyes and lean your head back and feel the sun on your eyelids. Crisp enough that you need a cozy duvet, maybe even a fire, at night.


The days will be quiet and you'll find yourself absorbed in some book, filled with moments of revelation and phrases that sear themselves into your brain. The air will be laced with the fragrance of lavender and roses and the sweet, peaty smell of new growth in earth after it has rained.



Your sleep will be glorious and deep and renewing and it will be easy to get up early to swim or walk or gallivant. The days will go so slow that you'll feel suspended in time. Every moment will be something to savour and you'll feel so wholly disconnected from all the e-mails and phonecalls that you wonder how you do it all, day-in, day-out, everybody wanting something.

This place and these days will hold a magical power over you for the rest of your life.


Tudor Lodge from Under the Thatch.

Eryn Brinie

Summer may well be nigh, but my wardrobe barely lightens up in the sunny weather. Right now, I'm lusting after these four pieces from Eryn Brinie. So perfect!

Where we blog from & sponsor introduction: Sage & Style

One of my newest blog sponsors is a fellow-blogger. Taryn of Sage & Style has an amazing eye for style and shares some of the most amazing inspiration boards I've come across. With such inherent and effortless style, how could I resist asking for a sneak peek at her blogging space, by way of a sponsor introduction?! I think you'll agree that her space is very special indeed. This is where Taryn blogs from and what she has to say about it...

Hello, everyone! When Jane asked me to share “where I blog from,” I was thrilled and instantly introspective. After all, it’s not everyday you take a look at yourself and your work through the eyes of your home.

Each of these cozy nooks makes up my condo in Chicago’s Wicker Park. I travel quite often for my full time gig (photo styling and writing) so when I am at home I gravitate towards what I’ve missed most: my husband, our friends, the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood, the views from our balcony, and the sounds of the ‘L’ next-door.


 
Dining Room Table: I found my dining room table at Orangeskin in Chicago after months of searching. I covet simple lines and intriguing pieces so when I saw these chairs I had to have them. Who doesn’t love lacing? I’ll sit here when I need to spread out, my laptop and papers askew, the windows slightly ajar.


Kitchen: Lately I find myself blogging, writing and researching from the kitchen island. When we entertain on weekends, our kitchen turns into the gathering place, so somehow on a Monday morning it just feels right being back there.


Living Room: I dreamed about these Ligne Roset couches for years before I finally made the purchase, and every time I sit on them I feel utter bliss. About five years ago I became a Style Editor at a home magazine, and that’s when I really began to develop my tastes and sensibilities. I also discovered proportion, which has helped with these tall walls!



Bedroom Chair: This Womb Chair is our newest decor addition and has proven to be the coziest of work spots. I’m really into travel and count hotel decor as one of my top inspirations, so I tried to design our bedroom to feel as though it was a luxurious suite.


Bookshelf: This shelf is in my office. I feel calm when I have books around so I pile them up wherever I can. I found this green shoe painting in Notting Hill when I was going to school in London. The T + B box was an antique library index file which we used in our wedding photo booth and these funny book ends are from Jayson Home & Garden, one of my favorite Chicago stores.


Office Desk: This is my “official” desk. I love my Kartell Mademoiselle chair for the punch it gives the room. In my world, patterns are perfection. The desk is from Blu Dot, an absolute favorite for affordable modern stuff. I’m originally from Michigan, so I try to surround myself with memorabilia, like those “mitten” images on the board. I also recovered the cork in an awesome tree bark fabric that I got for $7 a yard. I think I might keep that for art when we redecorate.

Thanks so much Jane for including me in this series, it’s been such a treat to share my spaces with you!


Thanks Taryn!

Note: Sponsor introduction posts are offered to long-term sponsors. Fit and integrity are important to me and all sponsors are handpicked to fit with my content and readers.

Sunday

It's a glorious day here in Toronto. I'm off out to buy some plants and potting soil. Here are some lovely gardens to inspire! Which colour scheme is your favourite?


Images from Arabella Lennox-Boyd.

Friday!

What a week! A lot of the angst I was feeling was suddenly and unexpectedly lifted (yes, I know, a rare job-mentioning moment). But, what a relief! I'm trying to let myself bask in it a bit. It's been a long six months.

Of course, my angst runs deeper than the external things around me. I'm really only starting to understand that: How little it has to do with concrete things. How self-contained and self-perpetuating it is. Some days that's a really upsetting realization and I wonder what I can realistically expect to change. And other days it gives me hope, that it's easier to cordon it off and fix it if it's self-contained within me. It's a toss up what I feel about it moment-to-moment, day-to-day.


One of the rare constants in my life is how I feel when confronted with beauty. Schopenhauer thought that the aesthetic experience was the negation of Will, a moment when we transcend our own needs and desires and lose ourselves in the object of our perception. This has always resonated with me and feels like why I like to wallow in art and literature and gobble up the beauty of blogs.

There was lots of that this week: These classic portraits haunted me. And this space evoked feelings that transcend mere decoration. Shy Rabbit Farm gave me the same feeling. You know, sometimes my own home gives me that feeling too. Those moments are pretty special. And speaking of special moments, this backyard garden party is one I want to put in a bottle and keep on a shelf for a rainy day.

I have some lily of the valley on my desk now and there's something about the fragrance of it combined with the rain outside that seems to create a beautiful harmony. I don't have many thoughts about the weekend. I feel that need to tidy and create beautiful moments all around me, to watch old movies and maybe some more documentaries (thank you for your recommendations, I plan to check them all out!) and to walk and stretch and sleep.

What are you up to? Wishing you a weekend full of beauty!

Image credits: 1. bestbestbest, 2. Untitled, 3. Untitled, 4. iPhone 31/365

Recent acquisitions

Winging their way too me are these two lovely things! The marsupial plant pot from Pigeon Toe Ceramics is for my burgeoning succulent collection.


But the most exciting thing this week is wonderful Jen's new store Cabin 7. I've been excited since she first announced its opening and when all was revealed this week, my excitement was doubled. I snagged this gilded birch card holder. Yay for Jen and yay for me!

Doggies

I love Hugo Guinness, so I'm very, very excited that BFF is bringing me one of his doggy totes from John Derian in NYC!


Speaking of doggies, I've also loved these cards from Rifle for the longest time!


Oh, how I would love a grey, shaggy pooch of my own!

Sponsor introduction: Maska

I'm so very excited to welcome on board my new sponsor: Maska. Maska is a company I've admired since its launch in January. Run by two enterprising ladies, Maria Svensson and Lisa Leierth, and based in Sweden, Maska's designs are detailed and wearable, and oh so pretty. Plus, they ship worldwide for free!


Below is my absolute favourite piece (the Charlotta cardigan), as I dream of wearing it:


Visit Maska here!



Product information: Blue Spark Ring from Metalicious / Charlotta Cardigan from Maska / Moonstone earrings by Becky Kelso / Louis Calfskin Satchel by Chloe from Net-a-Porter / Ankle stretch toothpick jean in twilight wash from J.Crew / Morse leather ballerina flats by Jimmy Choo from Net-a-Porter

Note: Sponsor introduction posts are offered to long-term sponsors. Fit and integrity are important to me and all sponsors are handpicked to fit with my content and readers.

Documentaries

After reading Let the Great World Spin, I wanted to watch Man on Wire. I'm sure most of you have seen it, but I'm useless about catching films / documentaries the first time around. But I was so glad I'd seen this.


I also watched The Cove on the weekend. This documentary left me in bits, even though I thought it was a bit unbalanced. Anything that involves animal cruelty leaves me feeling extremely misanthropic. 


Project Grizzly is still my all-time favourite documentary though!

Have you watched any documentaries lately that you loved?