Friday!

A big week for me – so much excitement, a teensy weensy bit of catharsis… but that’s inevitable when you build yourself up as much as I tend to! And, as always for me, a craving to find normalcy in the excitement. So, I’m finding a new rhythm in writing, freelancing, retailing and working my day job, making sure I exercise and cook and laugh as well. Phew! But all is well and good.

The weather has been tempestuous all week. Every day I was up at sunrise, surveying the sky and full with hope for a beautiful day. But deluges came out of nowhere and fog rolled in, which is rare in Toronto. Every fibre of my being is hoping magnolias bloom this weekend, but I suspect I’ll have to settle for a branch from the flower market to bloom on my windowsill.


I want to send a huge thank you to the following bloggers who mentioned Coterie this week: Jen of Honey Kennedy (who has a beautiful new blog!), Abby of Abby Try Again, Abbey or Aesthetic Outburst, Jen of The Haystack Needle, Erin of Reading My Tea Leaves, Chelsea of {frolic!} and Joanna of Simply Blueprint. And, the people who tweeted and retweeted, liked Coterie on Facebook and, of course, my very first customers. Thank you all!

I have a long wishlist of artists and makers I want to add to the store, but I also want to try to grow as organically as possible. As always, I’m balancing being calm and accepting with having BIG dreams!

The blogosphere seemed quiet this week, but Chelsea’s Easter feast made my insides light up and Emma’s bedroom reveal blew my mind. My dear friend Nadia is setting off on a new and exciting phase and I’m filled to the brim with hope and excitement for her. And Alice launched her new portfolio, and it’s divine.

I have lots of little jobs to do at home this weekend. I still haven’t hung my solar shade (gun-shy after the last attempt and never a fan of using the power drill). I want to hang some pictures and sort and clean out my storage locker and a million little things. What are you up to? Have a great weekend!!

Flickr image credits: 1. Untitled, 2. -, 3. Untitled, 4. Untitled

Three of a kind


Olde Bell Inn

I knew about Melin Tregwynt blankets before I ever heard of Ilse Crawford and the Olde Bell Inn. But it was when I saw Crawford's use of Melin Tregwynt upholstery on the benches in the inn (top left) that my love was sealed. And it was inevitable that their blankets would be among the Coterie stock.


I love how the blankets are traditional and contemporary at once, graphic enough to stand in any modern home, yet rugged and cozy enough for a leather armchair in the library of a country house, or at the foot of a bed in a thatched cottage.


Indeed, all the rooms at the Olde Bell Inn have a monastic simplicity that I'm very drawn to. And I can't help but think of that other favourite interior from World of Interiors (which is more aligned with my love of all things Georgian). In many ways, the two together could be a litmus test for everything I buy!

Images from the Olde Bell Inn

Softly, softly

I did so much to ready myself for yesterday's launch, taking the day off work, preparing as much as I could in advance. But, at about 7 o'clock yesterday, I was completely spent. A really good kind of spent - overjoyed and overwhelmed, wishing I could reach through my screen and touch the hands of all those who said such kind things, made purchases and created such a beautiful din of support.


And as I wound down at the end of the day, the heady exhaustion of it made me love the stillness of home, its calm and comfort. And I remembered this room on Skona Hem and how it felt like a salve on my eyes the first time I saw it. A place for deep, quiet reverie. A moment of elated rest.

Thank you all!

Inspiring women: Iris Murdoch

"Art and morality are, with certain provisos…one. Their essence is the same. The essence of both of them is love. Love is the perception of individuals. Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real. Love, and so art and morals, is the discovery of reality. " - Iris Murdoch


It's no surprise that I've always harboured a love for Iris Murdoch. After all, she was an Irish-born philosopher and author; at various stages of my life things I was and wanted to be.

Murdoch always seemed to me to be an unfazed sort of intellect. In my mind, this set her apart from Nin, Woolf, Plath et al—writers I admired in different ways, but whom I have always had trouble fully connecting with. Murdoch embodied a clarity of vision, even when tackling the most abstruse and sensual subjects, that I greatly admired.

Among Murdoch's many literary awards were the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Whitbread Prize and the Booker Prize in 1978, for which 6 of her novels had been shortlisted. 


Centre for Iris Murdoch Studies
Fiction: The Sea, The Sea (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
Philosophy: Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Philosophy and Literature & Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (Penguin Philosophy)

Image credit: Portrait of Iris Murdoch from the New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection via

Three of a kind


Introducing: Coterie

I'm so very excited to announce the launch of my webstore, Coterie! I have dreamed of owning a shop since I was a little girl, when "shop" could only mean something built of bricks and mortar and "community" meant our small seaside town in Wicklow.


Coterie started as a idea based around one product: These marbled paper notebooks. They're hand-bound in Ireland and have been my notebook of choice for over a decade. I stockpiled them every time I went home and in desperation considered importing them for myself until it occurred to me, I might not be the only one who hankers for the perfect notebook!


Then I started to think about other things I could offer. And I didn't have to think too hard; I've always had a running list of all those favourite products and makers. And I'm delighted that so many of those makers were excited to work with me too! From textiles to ceramics and wood products, every item embodies an aesthetic that I love and strive for in my own life and home.


In the last six months, I've been quietly squirreling away deliveries, praying for light so I could photograph products, building a website (with amazing help), doing research into businessy things and keeping what felt like the biggest secret from you all. And, in the next few weeks and months, I'll be adding more merchandise, all with the same premise — they're products I have lived with and love.


Coterie means a small group of people with a shared passion. And, until now, it has been literally that - only a tiny handful of patient and supportive people have known about my shop. I really hope that group expands, but I hope the same sense of shared passion remains.

I especially want to thank Todd and Laura for their overwhelming support and help, both emotional and practical.

Sunday best: Wee celebration

It finally felt like spring yesterday. I saw the first daffodils coming up in flower beds. And after a new haircut, I went to Sephora and bought some new Caudalie products. I've graduated to anti-wrinkle eyecream, but I'm unusually okay with that. Nothing like new hair and new beauty products to wake up my mood!


I prepared a simple celebration of the best things. Home-made margherita pizza with the very best ingredients; San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil. The holy trinity of pizza toppings. Oh, if only I had a wood-burning stove!

And I've been thinking around the clock about this dress from Net-a-Porter. So, today's Sunday best is an attempt to get it out of my system. I'm not a very glamorous person, so this is pretty much the extent of my dream dress-up outfit...

For the rest of today and tomorrow, I'm taking a wee break from the computer. But I promise to share my little bit of excitement with you on Tuesday. Have a happy Sunday and Monday... eat a chocolate bunny, find an Easter egg!

Products: Heather blush polish by Scotch Naturals / Crimson Hydratint by Laura Mercier / Bottega Veneta Layered silk-charmeuse dress from Net-a-Porter / Margherita pizza via / Saskia Diez Rope Braclet No.2 from La Garconne / Rose 31 by Le Labo / Ring (my own) from Andrea Bonelli / Perrier Jouet / Dorset champagne flute from Williams Sonoma / Praline Quail Eggs Gift Cube from Rococo Chocolates / Bloch flat from Gravity Pope

Friday!

I’m kicking off a 5-day break from the day job today and the excitement is high. I’ve been mega-busy but am so, so close to making an exciting announcement! So, just a quick Friday round-up for the Easter weekend and to wish you all chocolate bunnies and abundant spring flowers.


Spring is still annoyingly elusive in these parts. I’ve usually been taking pictures of magnolia trees by this time of year, but nary a bud in sight. And it seems like yonks ago that I made this Spring arrangement, feeling like it was right around the corner. Guess what? Absolute no show! Serious yearning for some colour in the world right now.

I have some links for you though! This style envy post by Krissy made me feel positively unkempt. Time for a few new choice pieces, perhaps? (Related: This dress is my number one temptation right now… seriously, I would wear it to death). And Jen’s English country home is feeding all my current inspiration and excitement for visiting home (yes, I know I’m from Ireland, not England, but we have lovely country estates too!)

Can I tell you the highlight of my week? I found these wild hibiscus flowers in syrup at a local supermarket. I’m sure these are easy to find in some cities, but in Toronto they have been impossible to track down. The hibiscus champagne is one of my faves at the Hyatt Rooftop, and now I can make them at home. Which is good because I hope to have reason for celebration next week! And I hope you’ll share that with me:)

Have a great Easter weekend! And if you see Spring wandering about, looking lost, point her in the direction of Toronto, please!

Flickr image credits: 1. Untitled, 2. ___, 3. horse hair nest, 4. Flowers I

Three of a kind


Undecorate

You may be following the discussions about what the “Undecorate” movement really means, whether it means formal design is out. The discussion got started on the back of the "Undecorate" book by DwellStudio founder Christiane Lemieux (a book I own and love). But I think it’s also the dominant mindset on decor blogs and in magazines these days as we talk about democratization of design.


It's also a topic I’ve been thinking about for a long time now and especially with regards to decorating my own space, wondering what my approach to decor should be. I think there are a few importantly distinct ideas being lumped under the “undecorate” umbrella and I think it’s worth teasing these out. Bear with me, this is a text heavy post…

(1) Personality & expression
First and foremost, I agree a home should reflect the individual, contain meaningful, personal objects and express something to the world about who we are. For the vast majority of people, clothes and homes are their daily expressive outlets. Beyond their words this is how they reveal themselves to the world. To me, the "undecorated" home prioritizes the individual over the paradigm, but does not necessarily negate the paradigm.


(2) Seriousness & investing
It’s a pet peeve of mine when I read designers or bloggers say “I don’t take decor too seriously”. The charitable interpretation is that they mean to encourage a more personal expression and a lighthearted hand in decor, a willingness to live naturally in a space and not thrive for clinical perfection.

The part that niggles at me is when that levity takes away from meaningfulness. I wonder how many $15 prints are slapped in Ribba frames with abandon, considered temporary and disposable? I'm definitely guilty of that. But, in not taking decor seriously, I wonder if there’s a lack of meaningfulness and commitment?


Me - I want to be serious and commit to some things! I guess I worry that not taking any of it seriously, it all becomes disposable. And I think it’s one of the strangest things about design magazines and blogs right now: They educate us about designers, about craftsmanship and materials. But there seems to be a covert acceptance that most of us aren’t shopping in those circles… so for us there’s disposable fun galore from the usual suspects.

I’ve done my fair share of shopping from those usual suspects and will probably again.
For me, it's the retail equivalent of eating from a nosebag. But, in the last few months, I’ve invested in a pair of Oly sconces and some Heath ceramics. Neither purchase easy nor flippant, but there was tremendous satisfaction in committing to these purchases. The downside is clear - investing requires patience. But, haven't we shunned the idea of a "done" home anyway?

(3) Planning: Bottom-up versus top-down
Bottom-up planning is the planning that happens when you live in a space as you decorate it, when you allow the space to grow organically with you and to fit your evolving taste, budget etc. There’s no “done” with bottom-up planning.


Top-down planning is much more formal and pre-conceived. That’s what we see in TV shows when every piece in a room is considered and goes together, when there’s that ta-da moment, of a space taken from concept to reality. It’s also unrealistic for most budgets and timelines and can be too canned and at odds with individuality.

The “undecorate” movement can seem anti-top-down planning and I think that might be something of a mistake. I think top-down planning is important. If I let myself walk into a store without any top-down ideas of what I’m trying to accomplish, I’ll be seduced by the siren song of a million different styles. Top-down planning introduces helpful limits and guidelines; we hone our style through top-down planning.


When Emma self-appraised her home this year, she was coming at her home in the top-down way. It gave her distance and impartiality. 
Top-down planning goes hand-in-hand with learning. You might learn some principles of design or research an era of furniture or the style of a specific designer. And the truth is that for many people, unbridled bottom-up planning can result in chaos, thousands of dollars wasted and a vision unrealized. 

In the end, I suspect the most successful decorators and undecorators are the people who climbed the ladder before they kicked it away - they share the same top-down clarity of vision and bottom-up sense of individuality, spontaneity and evolution. So maybe, in the end, the best decorators are really undecorators and the best undecorators really decorators?

Idarica Gazzoni

I've blogged before about Idarica Gazzoni (here) but the palette of these decorated surfaces, the gentle romance of these patterns is seducing me today. On a similar note, I've been spending an inordinate amount of time on de Gournay's website lately too.

Inspiring women: Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1652) is today considered one of the most accomplished painters in the generation influenced by Caravaggio. She was the first female painter to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence.


Her subjects included many strong (and suffering) female biblical figures. Judith Slaying Holofernes (1614-20) is probably her most recognizable work. And her biography is no less gruesome - she was raped by her private tutor (having been denied access to the all-male professional academies for art). And during the trial of her rapist, she was tortured as part of her questioning (apparently, to bolster evidence of her truth-telling).

Later, she moved to Florence and enjoyed great success, becoming a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno. She maintained good relations with the most respected artists of her time and was able to win the favours and the protection of influential people. She had a good relationship with Galileo Galilei with whom she remained in epistolary contact for a long time.

Ater her death, Artemisia drifted into obscurity, her works often attributed to her father or other artists. Art historian and expert on Artemisia, Mary D. Garrard notes that Artemisia "has suffered a scholarly neglect that is unthinkable for an artist of her calibre." Renewed interest in Artemisia recognized her as a talented seventeenth-century painter and one of the world's greatest female artists.

Book: Artemisia Gentileschi
Book: Artemisia: A Novel

Image: Self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi (1630s), Royal Collection, London via

Three of a kind


Rosemary Carr

For a girl who spent most of her twenties in raptures over abstract art, I find myself increasingly drawn to familiar landscapes. I wonder if memory is overtaking my need for unfettered expression. Art that summons something from my past has a hold on me these days.

And I have to confess, I'm having perhaps unrealistic ideas about what I might acquire when I go home, but I think a little canvas of a familiar place might be a special treasure to find. I find myself thinking about the sea, of course, but also about the muted tones of bog landscapes. These paintings are by Rosemary Carr from the Kenny Gallery.

I have to laugh. The palette that I think is so uniquely "me" is basically what Ireland looks like much of the time!


Brochu Walker

I think I could buy the entire Brochu Walker collection each season and would only rarely complain that I needed or wanted anything more. (See past collection post here)

Mark Alexander fabrics

The Greenwich Embroideries collection from Mark Alexander has stolen my heart. Discovered via the April 2011 World of Interiors.

Sunday best: Rainy days

Two days of rain wasn't my hope for the weekend, but maybe it was what the doctor ordered. Rain slows me right down. I light candles and watch old black-and-white films, eat cheese and chocolate, my favourite sins, (so favourite there's no repentance). I avoid shopping, but buy some new Blundestones at the shoe shop anyway. I listen to Great Lake Swimmers and take baths.

I think about how little I seem to miss coffee, then I go out and get one and the new World of Interiors. I open the windows to hear the rain and stay cold so I can bundle up. I pull on my big cashmere cardigan and lay my head back on the couch. I read letters Beckett wrote, feeling the awe I feel for only a few people.


I think about the next two weeks and feel nervous and hopeful. I think about all there's left to do and the vagaries of my need for perfection and my acceptance of imperfection. I wonder about you, the people who read my blog, and I think about connections with others and how mysterious and impossible other people are to me.

Then I think about the people who know me in the real world and read my blog. And I wonder what they really think about it and who of them thinks scornful things, as surely some of them must. And I think that I probably think too much about what everyone else thinks and note that I always assume the worst.

I dream about reinventing myself. I dream about accepting myself. I make mental lists of things I'd wish for if I had three wishes (more wishes, of course). I snooze. I make a cup of tea. I watch a movie I know will make me cry. I go for a walk in the rain and let my face get wet. I think I really love the rain.

Products: Letters from Samuel Beckett to artist Avigdor Arikha and his wife, Anne Atik via / MHL Cropped Duffel from Margaret Howell / Tissue crewneck tee from J.Crew / Vince pants from Net-a-Porter / Phoebe Liberty Print UmbrellaLiberty / Signet ring from Conroy & Wilcox / Arceau watch from Hermes / de Palma Handsewn Lluc Bag from Dear Fieldbinder / Common Projects Oxford from Gravity Pope from

Friday!

The end of a busy week! This weekend I’m simply hoping for some quiet time – I haven’t had that in a while.

I’ve not only been busy with work, but with planning too. I ran the entire gamut of considering a move to a 2-bedroom apartment within my building (yes, again) only to rule it out (uhm, yes, again). I think I’ve finally put that idea to bed. Phew, I sure know how to exhaust myself!


And I’ve been booking some things I want to do at home in September (including seeing this production of Juno & the Paycock). Ciarán Hinds and Sinéad Cusack star, which is a pretty amazing cast (Jane Austen fans might remember Ciarán played Cptn Wentworth in this Persuasion – though Captain Boyle from Juno is, of course, a very different sort of fella altogether!)

Also, somewhat related to Persuasion, I’m planning a trip to South Wales and Bath, England when I’m home. It’s a short ferry hop and train ride away and I have such happy memories of Bath from family holidays. So, it will be fun to go back there with Mum and Dad, though I’ll have to shake them off at some point for a spree at Toast, Cabbages & Roses, Brora etc!

Around the blogosphere: I loved this poem Stephanie posted and have returned to it many times. This post by Miss Moss is so up my decorating street these days that my heart fluttered. And Roseline hosted this favourite five with Tricia Foley (yes, that Tricia Foley). These photos by Gertrude Käsebier Eilis posted go straight into my inspiring women repository. Oh and these ones (another link from Miss Moss) belong in the same file.

I’m in the final push of a project (all will be revealed soon!) and it’s been throwing off my routines, including exercise. And I’ve let the reins loosen a bit on the budget I was keeping myself to. So, this weekend, I have to re-find that balance that I was so successful maintaining in March, because I understand now how much happier I am when I’m sticking to those goals!

What are you up to? Anything good? Have a great weekend, friends!

Flickr image credits: 1. Untitled, 2. Untitled, 3. Book Spines, 4. Untitled

Inspiration

I've been poring over my decor books lately, finding lots of inspiration in my new design mentors (blogged here and here) and a surprising amount of inspiration in family photographs taken at historical homes we toured in Ireland when I was young.


The challenge, and the balance, comes in when trying to apply some of what I love (which is mostly 19th century) to my 1930's Toronto apartment. Although the architecture of the building marks it as a fine deco example, the interior of the apartments reveal no period features.

More than that, my misty palette is decidedly softer than the bright and dark tones of most Irish historical homes, with their deep greens and wines. Somehow, this room (shown above) from Lonny has come to epitomize a sort of sweetspot. I think it's feminine, without being saccharine, and incorporates a lot of traditional design without feeling phony. Is there one particular room inspiring you right now?

Three of a kind


Sasha Waddell

I recently came across Sasha Waddell's site. Love her Scandinavian-meets-English country take on furniture.

Inspiring women: Simone de Beauvoir

I found myself thinking last week that it's time I reread The Second Sex. In truth, it might be even considered a first reading, since the translation I read in university (the one that was in print for over 60 years) was translated by a zoology professor and widely acknowledged to be a botched job. Knopf published a new translation last year.


In 1946, when Simone de Beauvoir began The Second Sex, the woman's vote in France was just over a year old, most women were not employed and birth control remained illegal until 1967. The repressive times account for the vehemence of text and the extreme reactions it elicited; The Vatican placed it on the Index of Forbidden Books. And I,  reading it in 1995, with a feminist father and happily ensconced in academia, approached the book primarily as a philosophical and historical text.

But while I don't share her hostility for marriage or motherhood, Beauvoir's ideas have taken on a broader meaning for me since my first reading. Her criticism of women who simply see themselves in other's eyes, seems now to apply as much in the eyes of other women as those of men. It's something I see all the time in blogging and that I feel conflicted about - as we project and curate and craft ourselves for an audience. It's difficult to be a woman and not become objectified, either in our own or another's eyes.

And after a recent post on the Sartorialist (yes, the "sturdy"-legged one), I found myself thinking about this again. Thankfully, there are examples of blogs on a similar theme (like Lisa's) that make a deeper cut into something resembling humanness, soul, identity... whatever you want to call it. It's a balance that I think is worth striving for, and that I need to work on cultivating too.

Yes, I think it's time to reread The Second Sex again...

Book: The Second Sex
Review of new translation in the NYT
Review of new translation in the Guardian

Photograph of Simone de Beauvoir by Henri Cartier Bresson via

Cabbages & Roses

I went furniture shopping on the weekend and narrowed down some chairs I might buy and started to think about upholstery options. With a wall of fabrics in front of you, it's easy to see plain fabrics as the boring cop-out.

But, back in my place, I long for more soothing layering of soft greys, blues and taupes. I was looking on Cabbages & Roses tonight. It's easy to immediately think this site would be too shabby-chic floral for me. But I love these more muted patterns, used sparingly, with simple stripes, neutrals and that sweet polka dot.

Of course, the look I'm envisioning has deep with darker woods, but for fabrics and walls, I love these softer notions.


Three of a kind


Andersen & Lauth

I think it's well established that I don't possess the bride gene. A few brands, though, do strike me as perfect for tiny weddings in lush rose gardens. Minna Hepburn, Alice Temperley and Andersen & Lauth (previously blogged here) all have a romantic, vintage vibe that sends me to a place I don't ordinarily go. But, that's as close as I get. And I usually come back by thinking we just really ought to have more frou-frou garden parties!

Sponsor introduction: Fine Artist Made

Fine Artist Made is a delightful business run by an inspiring couple. Of course, they make wonderful furniture and accessories (which you can buy through their website and Etsy store). But that's just one aspect of Joyce and Patrick's business. They also work on some amazing restoration projects (not excluding their own 1893 home). So I thought it would be fun to share some before and after shots from two of their restoration projects.


Simple Shaker style kitchens and bathrooms are my favourite and I have a penchant for wainscotting, so it will be easy to see why I adore this Joyce and Patrick's work. The photos above show a bathroom renovation they did in an 1875 Italianate home, built by lumber baron George Eaton. The before photo shows a bathroom stuck in the 70's; shiny wallpaper, out-of-date tiles.


Patrick and Joyce sensitively restored it to a more faithful rendering of the home's era, keeping the original pedestal sink and pull chain toilet, which they restored using new and vintage parts from DEA Bathrooms and Portland Architectural Salvage. The also recreated the unusual wainscotting and designed and built a mirror and medicine cabinet to complement. They kept the 1920s tub and tiled it with subway tile. The floor is Daltile octagon and dot.


Another go-to source for Joyce and Patrick is Rejuvenation, where the found gorgeous reproduction faceted glass octagon knobs an exact match to the room's doors for the cabinet doors, as well as a period sconces. But this house surrendered some unexpected treasures too, including the solid nickel towel bars, which were found in the attic and rehung.

The second renovation is of a bathroom in a Second Empire cottage c.1870 (they also renovated the kitchen and downstairs bath in this home). This bathroom was in a similarly dated state with an extra challenge of a mansard roof and curved wall that cut into the space. To minimize the impact of the curved wall, Joyce and Patrick got a claw foot tubthat mimics the curved wall
from their plumber. (Joyce recommends asking plumbers and electricians about salvage before hitting the architectural salvage yards!)


They also maximized the space by installing built in drawers with faceted glass knobs and building in a window seat for more storage. And by taking the same cheerful colour from floor to up the ceiling, the effect of the mansard roof is reduced, creating a feeling of tall space.


I love the Fine Artist Made approach to renovations, the sensitive balance between authentic, antique and modern and the extra effort Joyce and Patrick make to find those finishing touches that are faithful to the era of the house, or modern complements to the style. For me, a livable home has to evolve, but I also believe there's much to learn and admire from the past. Fine Artist Made looks forward with one foot in the past, and in the process strikes a beautiful balance.

If you're interested in learning more about Joyce and Patrick, their products and projects, please visit their site here or follow their blog here.

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 best: Working girl

Yesterday was the first honest-to-goodness Spring day we had in Toronto. It was divine. So, despite a long to-do list, I spent the day gallivanting with a friend. I don't regret a single moment, but it means today's definitely a working Sunday.


I'm really trying to stay on top of my stress levels these days. I can feel it sitting high in my chest, even when I decide to take a day off. And I find myself rattling off lists of things I should be multitasking, even when I'm trying to wind down, work out, or get to sleep.

While Sunday work usually means the comfiest of clothes and my favourite mug, today's work includes a meeting. And though I won't be dressing up like this, I adore this look. I used to wear red quite a lot. When I saw this red top from Toast, I was really drawn to the colour again. And, can I tell you how happy I am about the return of wide-legged pants? Seriously, between mid-length skirts and wide-legged pants, I'm a happy camper!

Happy Sunday!

Products: Fine wool pullover from Toast / Wayfarer II from Ray-Ban / Pave Square Ring form Ariel Gordon / Love Quotes Scarf from Calypso St Barth / Versailles nail polish from Nars / Starbucks / Rachel Comey Caucus Pant from La Garconne / Mulberry Postman's wallet from Net-a-Porter / Clementine Gel Lip Colour from Laura Mercier / Laila purse from Furla / iPad / Black suede sandal from Sigerson Morrison

Friday!

I felt pretty withdrawn from the world this week; too many moments of complete dissonance.

My tendency, when I feel this way, is to retreat into my shell and focus on my own piece of ground. So, I’ve been working away on quiet projects and writing, reading and exercising. I’ve been thinking about my home and about my family, about my trip to Ireland in the Fall and about life in general. Other people can be such a positive, reinforcing, inspiring influence. But there are times when they are eroding, confusing, upsetting even. I think that theme has been running through my blog all this week too.


In general, I feel like I’m not a person who really craves community. I like one-on-one relationships and deep friendships. This is, in many ways, in conflict with being a writer who wants to reach people and with being an online voice especially. There are times when I really detest that blogworld appearance of collective consciousness, that generic gloss that comes when one blog melds into the other as a parade of pretty pictures in a reader. All the distinct design is stripped away, the stamps on individuality watered down, the words too easy to overlook, if they were even considered in the first place.

Still, I do crave deep and meaningful like-mindedness, friendship and love. So the blogosphere sometimes gives me everything I want, and other times everything that’s anathema to me. It's the same push and pull that I talked about experiencing on a human level on a large, petrifying and faceless scale. Sometimes, it leaves me in knots. And I know it will always ebb and flow like that, as does everything. But I tend to take the ebb pretty personally and feel a deep sense of angst over it.

This weekend, I’ll be working on some projects and will hopefully get more writing done too. There’s momentum behind these things now and I know that will lift me up. And, fingers crossed, in the next few weeks I’ll share more of what I’ve been working on for the last six months. I’m excited and nervous about that and that may also be a reason for feeling a bit fragile right now too.

What are you up to this weekend? I hope it’s nice. Maybe we all need a cake-and-flowers pact this weekend?

Flickr image credits: 1. in white, 2. Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 3. Untitled, 4. Restless Night

Sean Cooper

I've been fantasy-shopping for a pair of armchairs, mostly looking for something similar to the Howe London armchair I blogged about from a Toronto retailer. Well, I haven't turned up anything. The upholstery I see here is either completely plush and oversized (think Montauk Sofa) or it's tightly structured, formal and low on comfort.

The thing that I loved about the Howe armchair is that it managed to be structured but still look like a big hug. I think the foldover arms have a lot to do with that. In much the same way, I love these amazing pieces from Sean Cooper.


Three of a kind


Golden

Golden (blogged here and here) was the one kid's label I checked ritually, though for characteristically selfish reasons — I just wanted everything in my size! Last night, I clicked over and it appears all the kids have grown up. Hooray for the ladies. I adore these looks!!