Jamie

I'm not a loyal reader of Jamie magazine, mostly because his selections are pretty meat-heavy. And that's fine. In fact, I have a lot of respect for meat-eaters who are conscientious consumers and actively care about animal welfare. Still, for now I don't eat meat and so when I dive into Jamie's magazines I usually rule out a fair chunk of it instantly. I made an exception for the Christmas edition which has a lovely spread on vegetarian holiday option, including this.


No matter how understanding people are, Christmas is a dreaded time when I find myself explaining (nay, justifying) my vegetarianism repeatedly. People always think it's an attack on their food choices when, in fact, it's a decision I only make for myself. I can safely say, there's nothing less fun than eating a meal all the while being told you're probably anemic and lectured on evolution.


On to less contentious dinner courses, the issue also contains this Ginger and Clementine layer cake. Thankfully, my eating restrictions rarely rule out desserts of any kind. So, I'll happily split a slice of this with any and all.

Three of a kind


A poem for Monday

There's something so beautifully plain about the poetry of Aram Saroyan that when I think I might read out loud this bit or another, I sometimes find it missing the force of what I felt when I first read it. Because his words don't twirl and pirouette. They amble along as he takes everything in. And I think my happiest moments are when I feel the way Saroyan's poems feel; attuned to everything, needing nothing, part of the world, but still singular in my own mind. This is from Day & Night: Bolinas Poems

Everything is going about its business
The plums are ripening
Poets are living in hovels, ecstatic
As living models of what you can do
If you can't do anything else
Children are playing with each other
In modern updated dramas of Mama & Grandma
A little boy stands at the window, watching snow,
And thinking snow, too, through other thoughts
There's a wonderful quality now, suddenly,
To the light on the porch as the moths flutter
And the fragrance in the air is pure and rich
The ocean is going constantly
Along with the highways and the all-night take-out joints
People are getting in accidents, dying, and being saved

Agneta Livijn

A perfect mug is worth a mission to find. I love really big ones with a handle I can fit all my fingers through. I like to hold it with both hands and feel its sturdiness and inhale the smell of fresh coffee or hot chocolate or herbal tea as I drink. But I also love dainty china, especially for serving desserts and an end of meal espresso.

I think the point here is that one can never have to many lovely mugs and cups. Also, that I am especially in love with these striped ones from Agneta Livijn. And mostly that the perfect mug is one of the better things to meditate on on a Monday morning.


P.S. I know some of you are used to a Where we blog from on Mondays. I'm taking a wee break for the month of December because it's busy enough for everybody without me asking them to take pictures of their home. The series will be back in 2011 (wow! can't believe I just wrote that!)

Sunday best: Hot chocolate, decorating

We had our first snowstorm yesterday. And although it melted just as quickly as it fell, it whet my appetite for more. I've resolved not to decorate for the holidays until next weekend, but I'll be surprised if I get through today without buying some sprigs of holly and other greenery.

Yesterday, I cleaned my apartment in preparation for upcoming weeks. It's about to get hectic here. Work is always busy in the run-up to Christmas and I've got a few projects on the go too. It's also going to feel like I'm running to the post office every day as I send stuff of to Ireland and elsewhere.


And, to be frank, I'm dreading that holiday feeling that I'm spending excessive amounts of money every single day, since I've been so careful lately. But I suppose I need to relax those purse-strings or I'll be enjoying Christmas Eve with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future...

At the One of a Kind Show on Friday, I saw some amazing pieces and found something perfect for Mum and Dad. My absolute favourites were Hugo Didier and Ceramik B. ceramics, Newfoundland handknits and the telegram cards I got from Flakes Paperie. I also indulged in a Fleur de Sel apple from Bruce County. The person who first dreamed of putting salt and caramel together should be knighted, or something. I was exhausted afterwards; I'm seriously not built for shopping on a large scale, but it was definitely fun.

Hope you've all had a lovely weekend!

Products: Emily Thompson Wreath via Design*Sponge / Pleats and panels top from Madewell / A Christmas Carol DVD / Hot Water Bottle Sweater from A Crooked Sixpence / Vintage matchstick cord from J.Crew / Beeswax Candles from Toast / Garland Christmas Card from Rifle Paper Co. / Gold Spun Hymnal Confetti Garland from KristinaMarie / Hot Chocolate from Xococava (image via blogTO) / Sprigs of Red Berried Holly from InterMistletoe / Velvet Lined SlipperToast / from

Friday!

I'm so happy to have today off, after an up-and-down week. I've been troubled following the news from home and sad for friends who work hard and struggle in a country that gets punch drunk every time it makes a few bob. And, to be honest, it also makes me glad about my decision to leave and I feel very stoic and Canadian all of a sudden. Though the second I feel that, I feel conflicted about it. Because after all I'm Irish and full of nonsense too.

And I've been watching the Irish news and thinking how can a country with such bright discourse not know better. And I think it's precisely because the Irish are such good talkers. We rest on our laurels and think we can charm and debate our way out of everything and we do ridiculous things and think we're hilarious for it. And we're all tongue in cheek until we realize that this isn't a cattle market and our twinkliness won't get us out of this one.


But all of this is hard for me and it's not nice to not feel proud of where you come from. Or to have people say to me, jeez your country's a mess, even if I agree with them. And I must say, it made me blue this week and worried and feel indignant in a way that never really feels good.

At the same time, my own stuff is going well and I'm excited today to be judging at The One of a Kind Show (do say hello if you're there, though I give you fair warning that I may be shy and awkward!) And things are moving steadily forward with my own projects and I'm excited for a day when I can share more with you, because I'm bursting at the seams a little!

The weather's been getting steadily colder, though I'm always the last hold-out when it comes to donning a winter coat. I have a childlike aversion to coats. Still, I hope tonight to sit somewhere with golden lights and drink a dark pint and feel the cozy warmth of shelter. I hope those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday are stuffed and drowsy and relaxed. And I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Image credits: 1. 0322, 2. Interior, 3. berlin, 4. +

Understated holidays

I've been thinking that I won't put up a tree this year. Instead, I'm imagining wreaths in windows, garlands over doorways and lots of twinkle and fairy lights. This home featured in Skona Hem captures what's in my head perfectly!

Inspiring women: Roseanne McNulty

This might make me a cheater, because this woman is a character written by a man. But, I do think Irish writers (thinking particularly of William Trevor, Colm Tóibín and Sebastian Barry) write women beautifully, with startling insight. In fact, when I find myself under-represented by portrayals of women on television and in magazines, I often find a grounded, complex, soft and mysterious character who embodies the sense I have of myself as a woman in the pages of a book.

If you haven't read The Secret Scripture, Roseanne McNulty is one of those characters who leaps off the page in her tragedy and loveliness. And although I have zilch in common with her, something about Barry's telling of her is so resonant, yet delicate, I find myself relating to her deeply.


And when I think of the characters created by Jane Austen too; their foibles and virtues, I wonder why 200 years later it's depictions of women as silly Carrie Bradshaws and Shopaholics that we mostly see today. Moreover, why so many women lap up those latter portrayals? It makes me feel conflicted about how I perceive and relate to my gender.

And I suppose this is all reminds me of why I started this series in the first place. It was about finding women for myself to admire not because they're just rich or beautiful or live charmed lives. It was about complexity and intelligence and softness and vulnerability. And it was about not feeling shitty about the other kind of portrayals, because they're not what I want to be like anyway.

I guess I need that reminder this week. Because it's perversely easy to be made to feel inferior by or jealous of something you don't much like or admire.

Coffee cake

Coffee cake was one of those ubiquitous desserts in Ireland when I was growing up, which was strange since my parents are not huge coffee drinkers (a cuppa tay over coffee, anyday). I'm more than making up on this Flanagan deficit - coffee is, hands down, my favourite beverage. So, it's long overdue that I revisited coffee cake. This one with mixed toffee nuts from Donna Hay Seasons looks too good to be true.


Scanned from Donna Hay Seasons, photograph by Mikkel Vang

Three of a kind


Four Etsy favourites

This time of year, it's not unusual to find me deviating from my usual love of silver and grey and gravitating towards warm, golden tones. It's also not unusual to find me thinking of cozy, domestic things; socks and hot water bottles, perfect scented candles and cookbooks. My Etsy favourites always follow the seasons too. These are some recent additions.


Products: Humble fancy pillow from Enhabiten / Tulip candle holder from Wapa Studio / Cashmere undies from Sartoria via Bess / Full Apron - Natural Linen from Inklore

Where we blog from: The English Muffin Blog

The English Muffin Blog is a recent addition to my reader. This blog is visually stunning, chock-full of amazing finds (with ample Canadian goodness) and also the first-person sharing that takes a blog I like and turns it into one I love. Bess also has an Etsy store where she sells her lovely prints. In both blog and store, her personality shines, light and airy and full of charm. This is where Bess blogs from and what she has to say about it...

Thanks so much for asking me to be part of "Where we blog from", this is such a treat!


My husband and I recently moved to Montreal, Canada after spending a few years living in Europe. So while we are high on adventure, we are still a little low on furniture. I am however really happy that I managed to store the drafting table my dad built for me while we were overseas. Currently, I'm doing all my illustrations on the computer, so although the tabletop can hinge up to make the perfect inclined surface for drawing, I'm using it as a desk for now.

The school clock is another favourite of mine. Canadian readers may get a sudden pang of fear/nostalgia as this clock was standard issue across the school boards - at least in Ontario. My husband Charles' friend swiped it from a classroom when the teacher wasn't looking, he handed it to Charles and asked him to hold on to it for him. If that long lost friend is reading, sorry, you can't have it back.

The grey felt pocket was from a project I did in design school. It was so tricky to source a high quality heavy felt. I ended up at a commercial felt distributor with my mom pretending that we were starting a new company manufacturing felt products. Since my mom is a designer, and can talk the talk, they gave us a sample. Now it sits on my desk and holds bits and bobs of paper I don't want to loose.


Next to my desk is the packaging and inventory area for English Muffin. Charles and I found the white filing cabinet on the side of the road, hauled it into the car and drove it home. With a couple of coats of white paint it looks like new, and is the perfect piece to keep my office looking organized.

On the filing cabinet sits my little wooden Aarikka car. A toy that I've held onto from my childhood. It would be nice one day to pass it along to my own kids, seeing as I am only going to allow beautiful wooden toys (and of course English Muffin prints)!

Fresh from the printer, the Animal Alphabet Poster is one of the prints I sell in my shop. It was the first print that was for sale, and still a terrific seller.

Thanks again for inviting me over to Ill Seen, Ill Said, Jane!
xo Bess

Thanks Bess!

Sunday best: Last of Fall

I feel like we'll get our first snow next week and I'm actually looking forward to it. There are only a few dried up leaves clinging to the trees outside my window and what's fallen has been raked and swept into paper bags. The drifts of leaves I so enjoy kicking are gone.

People have started talking about holiday decorations and I saw Christmas trees on roof racks this weekend. I'm beginning to surrender to thinking and talking about it too, although I won't decorate until the first weekend in December. Still, I feel like this is it; adieu to fall.


My plans are to stroll and think and just be. Today is a good day for me to start thinking about what I really want to accomplish before the end of the year. I stopped making to-do lists a while ago. I came to understand that they were not useful for me. I'm innately organized so I was over-policing myself with them. Making those lists made me feel like I was drowning. I'd find it hard to sit still and enjoy my coffee because there was a list to be got through.

So, I'm not making a list for the remainder of 2010. I'm aiming for just one thing: Hold the true and steady course.

Products: Tissue crewneck long-sleeve tee from J.Crew / Novella capelet from Madewell / Ribbed beret from J.Crew / Labradorite Stacking Ring from Anne Sportun / Eau Duelle from Diptyque / Tarte Cheek Stain from Sephora / Citizens of Humanity Thompson high-rise skinny jeans from Net-a-Porter / Le Vernis Black Velvet from Chanel / I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson / Maison Martin Margiela Line 22 Ankle Boot from Barneys / Falke Triple pack of cotton-blend ankle socks from Net-a-Porter / Rachel Comey Saddle Bag from La Garconne

Friday!

Lately, I feel like I've just found the beat of the week, am beginning to tap along and bam! it's Friday already. I can't believe it's past mid-November. Snow could fall any day now. And although things are good and I'm actually excited for snow, I'm trying to slow the pace a little, take care I don't make myself dizzy as I'm wont to do when things are going well... it's easy for me to take on more and more and too much even.

I really want to curl up with a book this weekend and get lost in a really good story, hit the farmer's market and do very little else really. I'm still sticking with the puritanical financial diet I put myself on, so much so that the little holiday shopping I've been sneaking in here and there has felt strange.


Over here, I'm sharing a guest post today - a story about possibly the most nostalgic thing in my closet. A huge thanks to Chedva for inviting me to share this! I really am dying for some new clothes. Every time I do a Sunday best, I want to reinvent myself. The gap between those fantasy outfits and my day-to-day wear is growing pathetically wide.

I have my favourite bottle of wine (Cloudy Bay) in the fridge right now, but I have to say Logan Wines have the prettiest wine labels ever (via Concrete & Honey). Also, on the back of my wreath post, I'm in love with Emily Thompson's, spotted on Design*Sponge. Kate found yet another amazing calendar (my pre-emptive gift strike has mostly consisted of calendar-buying). Madewell's gift guide is the prettiest so far. Of course, I want it all for me, especially this top.

What about you - any plans for this weekend? Hope it's a great one!

Image credits: 1. Peppermint Shadows, 2. Translucent threads shimmering like spiderwebs caught by morning's grace., 3. Untitled, 4. Seagrass that looked like a lion's mane

Hudson Shoes

Love these boots from Hudson. I missed out on buying some great boots this Fall and probably will be wearing boring snow boots starting in a few weeks. But, if I had found something like this, I would have done serious damage.

Three of a kind


Living room

There's so much I like about this room from Skona Hem. First and foremost, the books, of course. And a desk facing a window. The curved sofas and wavy ceiling too. It strikes me as a more Scandinavian take on the Bloomsbury style interior, in a room with amazing bones. And although I'm not sure I'd ever choose to pull this room together in this precise way, when I see it all done here, I love it lots.

Inspiring women: Siri Hustvedt

I've blogged some book reports of Siri Hustvedt's work before (here). She is one of my favourite living writers. I especially love how she personalizes philosophy and psychology (both in fiction and in autobiography). I vividly remember reading an interview with Hustvedt when I was in university and they described her study as filled with both back issues of Vogue and scientific journals. This was a revelation to me. I was always a little ashamed of my love of fashion, thinking it made me less serious, or intelligent. Reading that interview helped me rethink that.


It was one of my failings as a philosopher that I wanted ideas to click at an intuitive level as well as being philosophically arguable. In that way, I always put myself at the centre of my philosophy. I know this sounds egocentric, but I think it's impossible to extract oneself from philosophy. Even Descartes' Cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am), starts with a sense of self. It's personal from the get-go. It seems a fallacy to pretend thought can begin elsewhere.

Siri's memoir The Shaking Woman owned this idea wholly and I loved her for it. She's such a bright spark, able to grasp complex fields of study. But there's also an incredible humanism in her writing. In trying to relate ideas to herself, she's helps us relate to each other and move away from ideas of isolation. Reading her memoir helped strengthen my resolve to write more honestly about those feelings I'm inclined to dismiss or squirrel away. In that way, I think I most admire Hustvedt because her work lets us know she's not bulletproof and we're not expected to be either.

Official site
Image by the incredible portrait photographer, Marion Ettlinger (via)

Wreath

I love this wreath, found on the website of Rachel Whiting and am inspired to try to make something similar. I've been quietly squirreling decorating ideas and small purchases away for the holidays. But I'm still not ready to think about it head-on. You?

Three of a kind


Yesterday

Yesterday, I went to the coffee shop, as I always do on Sundays, with my book. It was raining outside and the air was flat grey, no shadows or light being thrown. I never mind days like this, especially on Sundays, because there's something languid about them and that suits my mood. The window I sat facing was smeared with rain, not in drops but like a wash and it softened everything and I found myself gazing out dreamily more than reading my book.

I'm happy right now and not in any dramatic way, just content from deep down inside and I can feel it in my tummy and in my chest. And this is new for me and the feeling of it makes me happy too. But the atmosphere around me yesterday was the kind that makes me reflective melancholy and I started thinking sad thoughts.

I thought about people in my past, especially old romances, and felt loss over the distance that has grown between us. It's not just because I've moved so far away. I feel it poignantly when I'm in the same room as them or when I see them on Facebook but we never talk. And I remember when we used to say so much and touch each others arms as we talked and I carry a lot of grief over that.


And I feel bad because I too easily think I'm the only one who feels this. For me, there's always so much in each person but other people seem to move on and let go. I don't. Instead, I dwell on moments when I wasn't honest with them and tried to play it cool. When I didn't tell them how much it all meant to me. And this all seems in stark contrast to my post about arcs and endings a few weeks ago, but the truth is I feel both ways at the same time.

Especially when I was younger I used to fake lightness about all kinds of deep feelings. The truth was many moments had important weight for me but I was ashamed of my feelings for their cheesiness and messiness and playing it cool seemed the better way to be. And yesterday I started to feel misty thinking about all of this and I wondered how things might have panned out if I was just myself in those moments.

Then I thought about how happiness has always seemed boring and one-dimensional to me, like Milton's heaven. But I'm starting to understand that deep happiness can be as complex and interesting as angst. I can be sad and pensive at the same time I'm happy too. And when I left the coffee shop I could feel both the sadness in my eyes and the happiness in my chest and the one intensified the other so I was almost high on feeling so deeply.

And, for perhaps the first time, I stopped wishing that I was the kind who could play it cool. Because there was so much more to dig about feeling all of this at once.

Image by Cig Harvey

Where we blog from: Wsake

Anna of wsake is a blogger with a beautiful eye and a jewelry designer. She collaborates with her Dad (who is a silversmith) to make the lovely pieces that she sells through her online store. I love her tiny stars and her little dog necklace especially. Her blog posts are characterized by her groupings of four images. I love these groupings, they are like a salve for the eyes and I always find myself taken to a dreamy place when I visit her blog. This is where Anna blogs from and what she has to say about it...

Hello there, I'm Anna and I'd like to show you where I blog from.


Somehow I just can't work in the same position the whole day, so I'm constantly moving around the house taking my laptop everywhere i go.


But mostly I spend my time blogging right behind that vine-covered window looking out at those beautiful leaves.


I'm always surrounded by the things I'm working on; prototypes, drawings, necklaces of all kinds, lots and lots of vintage glass beads and my little sister's lovely "teeth apart!"-sign to remind us not to grind our teeth while working very concentrated.

Thank you so much for having me, it's such an honour!

Thanks Anna!

Sunday best: At the antiques market

I've had such a lovely weekend. Productive, but the kind of productivity that's so much fun it feels indulgent and completely satisfying. I wonder are there people who feel this way about their day jobs? I suppose there are.

Today, I'm thinking about hitting the antiques market. Not really shopping for anything in particular - happy to gallivant and pick things up and turn them over to look at what's hidden underneath. I would love to wear a Barbour jacket over this look to go antiquing in!


The weather in Toronto has been insanely beautiful, so this rainy dull Sunday is okay. On Friday night I walked home in the fog, stopping by Xococava for some treats for my guest. There were tiny drops just hanging in the air and wetting the pavement but not me. And you'd nearly think the sea was just down the hill and the fog was rolling in from it.

It's important to stop a moment and drink all of this in. And I think it's important to try to use words to describe it in your head. Searching for the right words cements the beauty of it. Because it all passes by so quickly and if you haven't really made a point of relishing it, you'll forget what it was like on that random day when everything seemed simple and perfect.
 

Wishing you a lovely Sunday, friends!

Products: Armand Diradourian Woven Plaid Shawl from Barneys / Aran Dress from Calypso / Antique Sowerby Fern Print from Hindsvik / KeepCup / Emily Hass Bag from Martin Clothes / Cartier 1950's Time/Date from 1st Dibs / Thorn band from Conroy & Wilcox / Rustic Blue Storage Crate from Hindsvik / Star Brand Vintage Paint Crate from Hindsvik / Chloé Wool-lined leather boots from Net-a-Porter / Opaque Tights from Anthropologie

Eilis Boyle's 10th Collection

I can't tell you how happy I am to be a small part of this: The incredible Irish designer Eilis Boyle showed this video of her 10th Collection in Dublin last week and today it's been launched simultaneously on a number of blogs.

 

10th collection from Eilis Boyle on Vimeo.

Everything Eilis touches becomes ethereal and there's a permanent aura of magic fixed to her intricate, flowing designs. I fancy her clothes suffuse their wearer with mystical powers and can only dream what it's like actually to wear her design.

Regular readers may remember the beautiful knits Eilis gifted me last year. This week Eilis also opened a new online store. (I have my eye on the gorgeous Sibyl shrug). In the meantime, be sure to follow Eilis' blog Silent Storyteller to get to know her better and dip into her deep well of inspiration.

Eilis Boyle's 10th collection fashion film
Director of Photography Rich Gilligan
Styling Aisling Farinella
Music by Katie Kim

Friday!

I'm happy for Friday, as always. But this week it wasn't as much of a dogged race to the finish line as it usually is. I actually had a really decent week! I'm working on some fun projects right now. Plus, I've been invited to be a judge at the Exhibitor Competition of the One of a Kind Show and that has me tickled pink.


The blog world made my mouth water this week: This sweet potato recipe sounds like all things good and this carrot cake too (maybe I'm β-Carotene deficient?!) Real Irish brown bread is one of the things I miss most from home (with real butter and Mrs O'Hanrahan's marmalade please). I'm always looking for that perfect recipe, so am dying to give this brown bread recipe a shot.

But I do occasionally love things that aren't destined for my tummy! Aron wrote a kids anatomy book (just wow!) and Meghan found these amazing photographs. I loved this home post from Emma and this one from Jules. And I will have one more post this afternoon with another highlight from this week. It's dreamy and worth coming back for!

Have a lovely, lovely weekend friends!

Image credits: 1. november, 2. Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, 3. Dead Man Tea, 4. slow sparrow stitching

Rosemarie Durr

You know what a sucker I am for beautiful ceramics? Well, you can imagine then how I felt when I came across Rosemarie Durr's beautiful creations. This pottery is more reminiscent of china, which makes it the perfect solution for somebody like me who vacillates between the elegance of china and the rugged charm of pottery! Next time I visit home, I'm going to check out Rosemarie's shop in Kilkenny. In the meantime, I've added her blog to my reader.



Images via Facebook, photographed by Moselle Foley and styled by Blanaid Hennessy.

Three of a kind


The North Circular

The clack of knitting needles was a familiar sound in the houses I grew up in. I broke the knitting tradition when Sister Annunciata tried to make me knit a bottle green woolly hat with a pompom on top of it, to match my bottle green school uniform. I knew finishing it would mean wearing it and I wasn't about to let that happen.

The North Circular utilizes the talents of (mostly) grandmother knitters to make pieces that make me wish I'd finished that damn hat. Much as I adore the Etsian / crafter / blogger community, I'm painfully aware that there are so many amazing older craftswomen and men out there who don't have the internet-savvy to reach us handmade-hungry consumers. And The North Circular uses ethical wool from rescued sheep in North Yorkshire. These sheep graze on organic land and the wool is spun and dyed naturally. I love this business model.

Inspiring women: Eva Zeisel

Of the artists I've featured to date so far in this series, Eva Zeisel's work is perhaps the most accessible. You can buy her dinnerware at Crate & Barrel, her furniture at Design Within Reach, rugs at The Rug Company. She has been astoundingly prolific, and even now days away from her 104th birthday, she continues to design. Of course, it's her ceramics she's best known for and those she describes as “happy to use, happy to handle.”


As a young woman Zeisel worked in both Bauhaus Germany and Russia. During this time, she was falsely accused of plotting against Stalin’s life, imprisoned, and put in solitary confinement for sixteen months. Her experiences were the basis of Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler. But Zeisel's own work is characterized a lightness; a playful and sensual modernity. And her answers in interviews are always youthful and poetic, just like her work.


Eva Zeisel Originals
Eva Zeisel house tour in NYSD
Eva Zeisel in New York Magazine
TED Video: Eva Zeisel on the playful search for beauty

Image credits: Eva Zeisel by Okamoto Hisashi from Faces of New York, 1999-2002 / Eva Zeisel collection from Crate & Barrel

Three of a kind


Perfect, small abode

I don't fantasize about much more than I've got when it comes to living spaces. I adore my apartment and the neighbourhood it's in. It would be nice to have space for a bigger dining table and a little more counter space in the kitchen. A second bedroom would come in handy too for out-of-towners. But these are all achievable goals.


The other vexations are really finishes; those things you let fly in a rental that you'd change instantly in something you owned. And I think ultimately, they're the things that will really push me to one day buy - more so than any financial argument about property ladders or any of that. It will be because I want to refinish floors or pick out tile or wallpaper.


I saw this home on Hus & Hem yesterday and loved so much about it. It's a small space (an open concept loft could mimic this floorplan in an urban setting), but has the perfect amount of space allocated for each function. It could easily accommodate a large dinner party, but still be cozy for a night home alone. And I love all the rugged texture and layering. I could call this place home in a second.

Movie nights

I finally got around to watching Ondine on the weekend. It's a visually stunning, waterlogged movie, and between the sea and Colin and even a donkey, I was in seventh heaven watching it.


My favourite feature of Irish films is the way children routinely are portrayed. They betray ancient, wise souls far more in the know than the adults in the film. The sisters in In America are point in case and Marie in War of the Buttons too, even wee Maurice in Waking Ned. Little Annie in Ondine was cut from the same cloth and I adored her pitch perfect blend of brazen wisdom.


I haven't been to the movies a lot lately, but I did catch Never Let Me Go a few weeks ago with Laura. I usually detest Keira Knightley, but she was well-cast in this role and Carey Mulligan was so very good that she left the real lasting impression. I went crazy for the wardrobe and styling of this movie; lots of wellies and macs and heavy bangs.

Have you watched anything good lately?

Where we blog from: Mocking Bird

Welcome to the beautiful world of Amanda Gilligan. Amanda is a teacher and photographer from Sydney, living in Vancouver, and her blog is simply and honestly one of the most beautiful out there. Her impeccable eye shines through both her own photography and her selection of beautiful objects and images. And her words have a lovely directness that imparts a sense of warm and welcoming conversation. This is where Amanda blogs from and what she has to say about it...

I am so thrilled to be taking part in Where We Blog From. Thank you so much for asking me, Jane!


My boyfriend and I recently moved into a new place not too far from downtown Vancouver. This apartment has a much bigger office than our last place, so I have my desk set up there. I write while I look out the window to view the beautiful local Vancouver mountains. I'm Australian, so looking out to those mountains is such a different outlook for me, but I absolutely love it.


I like to be inspired by the things around me when writing which is why I have the pile of Polaroids, a beautiful photograph by Abby Thompson Powell and glass jars that hold my happy trinkets and wooden stamps. It also serves as a functional space for my film scanning and a workspace for putting together my print shipments for my print store. As we've not long moved in, the area isn't as I would completely like it yet. I'm still working on getting in a shelf to store my cameras, photo boxes and office supplies.



My desk was a Christmas gift from my boyfriend and I absolutely adore it. I feel so pretty and happy when I'm sitting at it and it allows me to do a little mind wandering...


Thanks for having me, Jane!

Thanks Amanda!

Sunday best: Essentials shopping

Man, I hate it when everything runs out at once. Yesterday, I squeezed that last drop of moisturizer out of the tube (that's a lie; I actually cut the tube open to get to it) and I'm running low on make-up too. I also finished my Flannery O'Connor books too and, although I have some unread ones, I'm itching to read Room. That said, if they've put Auster's new book out, sorry Emma - no contest.

So, I'm going to dash down to Bloor today and I swear I'm not going to linger because then I'll end up looking at shoes, or cashmere or Diptyque candles before you know it my warped brain will re-categorize those as essentials too. I was hoping to get lots of writing done this weekend. But even without big plans, the little chores ate up a lot of my time.


Weekends really do get shorter as you age. I remember Fridays when the entire weekend seemed like a wide open thing stretched out in front of me. But now, I feel like I have to prioritize my vast to do list so I can get done what I really want to and still have clean clothes and food in the fridge come Monday morning.

Maybe, it's time to just take real break, not just booking a Friday and making a long weekend of it... Or maybe it's time for a bigger kind of break altogether. Hmm... wouldn't that be loverly!

Products: Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Mohair-blend beret from Net-a-Porter / Original Wrist Worms from Sandra Juto / Asura Sweater by Rogan from La Garconne / River Rocks necklace from Colby June / Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil from Sephora / Danka bag from m0851 / Starbucks / Citizens of Humanity Dita Jeans from Shopbop / Caudalie Vinopure Matte Finish Fluid from Sephora / Dieppa Restrepo shoes from Totokaelo

Friday!

How nice that it's Friday. I have - wait for it - a commitment-free weekend. No freelance articles to write, no decorating projects or hair appointments or anything. Bliss.

I'm going to hit the farmer's market early tomorrow and stock up on all manner of tastiness, including soda bread from the Irish baker Nuala. I'm this close to calling her Mum. Seriously, I could close my eyes and listen to her chat and buy up all of her paddywhacked baked goods.

I'm feeling something I don't quite know how to express this week. I guess "even-keeled" is the closest I can come. I'm happy for all the things I'm even-keeled with; exercise has suddenly become a non-issue and diet too (though the results are yet to manifest I'm hope they begin to soon). And I'm getting a fair bit of writing done every day and steadily working on other plans.


At the same time, by definition even-keeled days don't include real high points. I'm so used to highs and lows it almost feels like I can't possibly be moving forward right now, when in fact I'm getting lots done. And I have nothing to self-flagellate over either (other than the fact I wasn't doing all of this much longer ago).

I've got to say all this leaves me feeling a bit unhinged. And I wonder if it's something I should get used to and learn to appreciate or if I should be running out the door looking pushing myself into something more difficult, getting myself to do more. I guess I always like pushing those boundaries of comfort a little; feeling 'the fear' and the rewards that come from pushing through it.

Some blog highlights this week: Possibly the best kitchen ever and yet another lovely, lovely calendar. The One Mile Gallery looks amazing and Vogel's wood turnings are stunning (I love everything this guy touches!) And, lastly, I don't think I've told you just how much I love this blog. It's easy to take for granted the fact that you all know about it already. Every time I visit, I feel a very visceral tug, nostalgic for something, though I don't know what.

So, here we are. Friday. How was your week? What are you hoping for from the weekend? How are things in your world these days? Tell me stories... I love stories.

Image credits: 1. Untitled, 2. Untitled, 3. Untitled, 4. Delicate Flowers

Totokaelo

Last night, I spent a solid hour going through the looks at Totokaelo (favourites below) and I've got to say this: Beside the Sunday best looks I put together (which are, after all, by me, for me) these are the most head-to-toe looks I've ever seen that I've completely lusted after.

This is rare for me. I'm usually always dreaming up outfits from disparate objects across a number of stores. In fact, immediately liking a put-together look is almost anathema to me (so boring, so generic). So, I think it's saying something that Totokaelo pull it off, not once or twice, but often and consistently. Do you ever find head-to-toe inspiration? Where's your go-to source?