Guest Etsy curator!

I'm delighted to be over on the Etsy blog today with even more Inspiring Women. For this special Etsy curator post, I matched four amazing "women of letters" with some Etsy treasures. I think you know how much I love writers and how much I also love Etsy, so I can say in all honesty that pulling this post together was a joyful little endeavour. I do hope you'll check out the post here!


Image sources: Jane Austen / Edith Wharton / Virginia Woolf / Flannery O'Connor (AP)

Inspiring women: Charis Wilson

There's something about the term "muse" I find contemptible. I think the term glosses over the complex and collaborative role a man or woman can play when supporting or inspiring the work of another. Very little is created in a solitary vacuum, after all, and most of us reply on feedback, inspiration, brainstorming and reassurance from a trusted confidante. Put this way, the term "muse" starts to seem belittling and objectifying, aloof and uninvolved.


Charis Wilson's role in Edward Weston's photography and life is case in point. She was so much more than a model for his photographs. "During their 11 years together, Ms. Wilson wrote the grant application that earned Weston a Guggenheim Fellowship — he was the first photographer to receive one — and she drove the car during his explorations of the West. Mr. [Arthur] Ollman credited Ms. Wilson with actually writing the articles for photography magazines that were attributed to him." (NYT Obituary)

Book: Through Another Lens: My Years With Edward Weston

Image of Charis Wilson by Edward Weston via

Built-in bookshelves

Nine times out of ten, if I like a room in a magazine, it will be because it has good built-in bookshelves. I have lots of standalone Ikea shelves but they don't make the best use of the space they're in and they're not exactly pieces of furniture I'm excited to own.

This idea, however, is one of those balancing acts. Is it too much to do to a rental? I have no plans or desire to move right now. Built-ins could potentially make my apartment much more functional, increase storage, free up space along other walls. I'm not sure what it would cost, if there's a possibility of doing this with a combination of custom and store-bought shelf options. I need help - anybody?!


Image from Lonny

Frederick Childe Hassam

I'm so drawn to these paintings by American impressionist Frederick Childe Hassam right now. Not only because I love women in domestic settings, during quiet moments of repose or contemplation. But also for his crayon-like palette and ebullient, light-filled, execution.


Images via.

Plenty

The Plenty cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi was a birthday present from the lovely Laura (she also made me something, you can see on her blog here!)


I've recently become tired of how overstyled food photography has become, with impossible food combinations and impractical shoots (fully iced cupcakes emerging from an oven was a recent low point). In Plenty, the food looks really good, but in a foodie rather than photographer way.

The cookbook is vegetarian, but not in a chest-thumping way, because Yotam Ottolenghy isn't himself a vegetarian. So, it isn't loaded with moral imperatives or reassurances of tastiness. It's always struck me as alienating and nonconstructive to present a vegetarian diet with those kinds of arguments anyway (this from a decade+ old vegetarian).

In a way, this cookbook is as simple as it gets; driven by tastiness and originality above style, branding or ethical arguments. I'm marking up some recipes and can't wait to try them out! Thanks again Laura!

Good times

I had the loveliest birthday yesterday. It was the perfect balance of indulgent alone time and excellent company. And - I know this sounds cheesy - but I barely felt alone when my phone was constantly pinging with your comments, tweets and Facebook wishes. It all made me so happy.


Birthday flowers


Birthday manicure

I had to abandon my original cake decorating plans. The cake top was too small to accommodate the planned scheme. Happily, I had edible flowers in my fridge (a typical Jane-style whimsical grocery store purchase) so I used them instead.

Birthday spread

More pictures on my Flickr

Sunday best: Rothko and cake

Today is my 35th birthday. I started out the year thinking of this as my "scary age". In certain moments, it still scares me. It was probably the background of all those moments of pause and stock-taking last week. But I'm really happy right now.

Today, I'm going to the Abstract Expressionist exhibition at the AGO. I bought the ticket ages ago and planned to go by myself; I don't like to think about other people when I experience art. I like to be entirely selfish, not fretting about whether it's fun for the other person or if it's time to move on to the next room.


Rothko is an important artist for me. He, along with Kandinsky, played a starring role in my postgrad research. So his palette has inspired today's Sunday best. And I've been feeling like I want to wear more colour lately too. I love my neutral uniform, of course. But sometimes trademark style can become a security blanket rather than a choice. It's good to be a little afraid of what you're wearing once in awhile.

Tonight there's a wee gathering. Champagne and rose nectar. Truffled cheese and my favourite Counting Sheep. Music and high jinx. And, of course, cake. I'm cheating slightly - I ordered a lemon chiffon cake and plan to decorate it like the one shown here. I'm allowed cheat on my birthday.

And I wanted to share some of today's celebration with you. My relationship with my blog has changed a little of late. My ideas about what it ought to be are reshaping. The part that is constant is the connection I feel to the people who regularly read, and especially those who regularly comment, e-mail or reach out to me on Twitter and Facebook.

I really want to give away a little treat. But I don't want to turn this into a giveaway post. So, I'm not telling you what the treat is. In fact, I'm not going to decide myself until I choose a random person from the comments. Because I'd like - if at all possible - for it to be personal. And it's not big, so contest trawlers don't waste your energy - no trips to Paris here! This is a wee something for you - the people who read regularly - from me. To thank you.

Happy Sunday!

Products: Stella Cake from Apollinas / Ksubi Devoré T-shirt from Net-a-Porter / It's Raining Men from Deborah Lippmann / Crimson Tint from Laura Mercier / Ring (my own) by Andrea Bonelli / Rothko's No. 5/No. 22 at AGO / Marlow hobo from J.Crew / Rail straight jeans from Madewell / Junou Sandal from Toast


UPDATE: At the end of day Jun 27th, I randomly selected a comment using a random number generator and the winner was KAYLA POOLE, who will be receiving a picked-for-her treat in the mail shortly. THANK YOU ALL for the lovely birthday wishes!

Friday!

I've been looking forward to today all week. A strange week with unexpected events and ideas, but everything is good today and I'm looking forward to the next few days. I have Monday off too, so it's a longer-than-normal stretch away from the office.

And I'm in a really good mood right now. I have had some little a-ha moments. I know how annoyingly evangelical it can sound when somebody thinks they've stumbled on some capital-A "Answers", how subjective and nontransferable that breakthrough feeling can be. So, I won't go on about it. But it all has me in a good mood and a new state and I like that.


Katy traveled to Portland last week to take Chelsea's flower arranging class and if I was envious before she went, it was compounded by her beautiful photos. But, on the upside, I discovered I have now qualified for an extra 5 vacation days per year (another one of those "woah, I've been here how long?" moments I blogged about yesterday). So, I've been thinking about how I might use them and that helps take the edge off.

I loved this music post from Siubhan. None of you will be surprised that I love these sea-inspired songs. They made me think of the mood of the movie Ondine my own local fishing village at home. I know I will always be a little fragmented by my ferocious yearning for the sea. O, Toronto, you'll never make a landlubber of me.

This weekend is a busy one, but please do pop in for "Sunday best". It will contain a special treat.

What are you up to? Have a lovely weekend!

Image, my own. More here

Where I live

I live in a friendly building. There are nine storeys, two wings and each floor on each wing has just three apartments. I like the mix of old-timers who've lived here 30+ years (who love to tell their stories about the Glenn Gould days) and the more frequent high-turnover young people. I even like the truly strange elevators and the wonkier bits that are inevitable in a building of this vintage.

This week I met somebody new in my laundry room and we were making that polite chitchat you make while trying to shove your clothes in the machine without an errant pair of knickers landing embarrassingly at your feet. When he asked me how long I've lived in the building, I reeled as I answered 7 years. In fact, this September it will be 8 years.

I now find myself somewhere between the old-timers and the high-turnovers. And although I'm not really thinking of moving and I love the building, that somehow makes me panic. I suppose it's not what I envisioned when I moved in. I thought I would buy property of some kind, move in with somebody or just move for the sake of moving.

It alarms me in some ways to think that this building is now the home I've had for the longest in my entire life. My parents never stayed this long in any of my childhood homes. And although I have that strong Cancerian urge to make a home and stay there, something in me twinged at the thought of having been here this long. I wondered if it looked sad to him, if I sounded like a person stuck.

Although I'm one of those people who vigorously defends renting and questions the seemingly unquestioned need to buy, I suddenly saw myself from the worst perspective: A single woman growing old in this quirky apartment building, slowly graduating to becoming one of the old-timers. To be perfectly clear: I do not believe this about myself. It was a passing moment and a cliched kind of thought, embarrassing even to admit.

I do think it's interesting how sometimes we think negative things about ourselves that we don't even believe. That we lock the judgement part of our brain into a paradigm we completely reject. Maybe, it's the parental "shoulding" part of our brain. Or maybe, for those of us not doing the expected things with our lives, it's our projected voice of those more conventional path-followers.

I'm not forcing myself to decide if and when I might move on from my building. I don't think the decision is meaningful in a grand way... I mean, I don't think it really hooks up to anything about my well-being or sense of self. I guess I used to have a constant shoulding momentum in everything I did. But, I've been letting some it just go. It's funny now, when those voices come up how wrong they sound to me. I'm glad to hush them a little.

Three of a kind


Four Etsy faves

Yesterday evening, I tweeted this wee elephant and was delighted when lovely Megan snapped it up. But I still had to include him in a this round-up as he perfectly completes the quartet!


Products: Dandelion from Karolin Schnoor / Natural Linen Napkins. Set of 4. from magdalinenHome / AE . skirt by Pamela Tang / Tiny elephant planter from Little Byrd Vintage

Rereading: Unbearable Lightness of Being

I had so much fun last week making my Bloomsday post that I began thinking about other books I love and reread often. And I wondered how they would translate to a similar treatment.


Unbearable Lightness of Being immediately came to mind. It is one of my favourite books and one that my relationship with has evolved in beautiful ways over the 15 years (!) since I first read it.

Of course, it was also made into a movie. And although Kundera disliked the production, it is also one of my favourite films. The book is so strongly visual and each character has such beautiful talismans that I loved seeing it translated to the screen. And the cast is one of my favourites too.


But the book is arguably even more about ideas than characters or plot. I've always gravitated towards books with a strong philosophical undertow and Kundera is a master of this. Some of those ideas are fuel to my darker ideas about life and love, to my notorious angst. But, at the same time, I'm inspired, transported even, by those ideas too.

The title itself poses and betrays a recurring question: Should life be light or heavy? Should we pursue untethered freedom or bind ourselves to one another and to place. And can we know which is better when we only have one shot at it. Einmal ist keinmal. One time is no time at all.

Product / image credits: Bowler hat from Dapper Dean / Kundera publicity photograph for Faber and Faber / Unbearable Lightness of Being / Oedipus by Sophocles / MGM movie still / Only Hearts camisole from SSense / Prague postcard by Martin Novak / AP photography on 1968 invasion via Guardian / MGM movie still

David Leventi

This collection of photographs by David Leventi records the interiors of world-famous opera houses, all photographed with 4x5” and 8x10” Arca-Swiss cameras. The detail is incredible. But the stillness is haunting too; the buildings' impact gargantuan compared to the fleeting performances they host. It's mind-bending that these incredible spaces sometimes fade to a mere backdrop, that voices could compete with all their grandeur. All artwork available at Bau-Xi.

Three of a kind


Kiki de Montparnasse

I love buying lingerie. I know some women dread it; the matronly women, the measuring tapes. And, normally those things would put me off too. But my obsession with these perfect confections seems to override all that. I was browsing the Kiki de Montparnasse website on the weekend and think these pieces are close to perfection. Sexy, sweet, casual, luxe - all in one perfect package.

Around my neighbourhood

It's one of my summer goals to enjoy my city more. I love Toronto, but I've always had a hard time thinking of it as photogenic. And, for some reason, I'm shy about taking photos here. But these are all things I'd like to get over.

While I'm always an advocate of putting down the camera and just enjoying the day, there is also something to be said for the joy of capture. I suppose, like with everything else there's a sweetspot. Yesterday, I strolled around back streets in my neighbourhood and snapped a few photos. You can see more on my Flickr.


Sunday best: Summer day

Like Anabela, I've been admiring the gardens in my neighbourhood of late. Every so often I establish a "new favourite" street. It becomes the object of my fantasies and I go the long way round so I can stroll it and colour in that daydream.


Today, I'm going to walk around my local streets and make my way down to Bloor. I'm in search of a new sunscreen (I've probably had too much sun already this summer) and am hoping to find a paraben-free sunscreen and maybe some other treats... a new lipstick perhaps!

Then I really have to get some writing done and do that routine Sunday puttering about. I'm still making my way through the latest Brick magazine, so will hopefully steal some quiet moments to read too.

What are you up to today? Happy Sunday!

Products: Garrett Leight California Optical from Totokaelo / Tsumori Chisato Ruffled Button Down Dress from La Garconne / Poppy lipstick from Laura Mercier / Leica camera case / Brick magazine / Fern bracelet from Conroy & Wilcox / Thunder in our hearts tote by Fieldguided / Current/Elliott The Roller mid-rise cropped jeans from Net-a-Porter / Heather blush from Scotch Naturals / Ole Henriksen Protect The Truth™ SPF 50+ Sunscreen from Sephora / The Daybreaker Sandal from Madewell

Friday!

Sometimes I feel like I imbue the weekends with too much. I tend to wish the weeks away, to put down my head and push through them with some misguided idea that weekends will offer complete respite, relaxation, renewal, retribution.

In all reality, it's probably time I acknowledged the fact that I work seven days a week. Between the store, freelance writing and my full-time job, there is no such thing as a free weekend. And while I love what I do and take full responsibility for designing my life this way, I think I need to get better at enjoying the doing instead of thinking it's going to culminate in some fictional unfettered weekend bliss.


I do enjoy the different pace of work on the weekends. I usually write with a little less pressure and take time to make some photos and think more abstractly about things, to stroll and enjoy my space and friends. But I need to learn to relax in those moments instead of holding on to more traditional concepts of work and play that just don't apply to my life.

In a way, I'm always working. And, in another way, a lot of my work is how I play. This is so true of so many of us. And though I often feel a sense of obligation with regards to volume of work (blogging frequency is a classic example), it's important to recognize that the obligation is really to myself only...

Some quick links from my reader this week: Eilis blogged these beautiful paintings. In fact, her whole blog was on fire this week! And Roseline's favourite five featured artist Michelle Armas (I love this series, Roseline does an amazing job rounding up the best participants). I adored the outtakes from Jordan's D*S house tour. And Chelsea shared this adorable Paris apartment - she had me at that rocking horse!

This weekend, I have a piece to write and I'm pretty excited about. I love the place between idea and execution; the nerves there are butterflies. I want to do a few fun things around my apartment too and spend some time outdoors - maybe take my notebook to the park or take an early morning stroll when it's still cool and quiet.

Happy weekend, friends!

Flickr image credits: 1. http://pinterest.com/scout_catalogue/pins/, 2. Untitled, 3. Ecume, 4. 2010.1.21 030

Irish home

What could I follow Bloomsday up with? Well, only a bookish Irish home will do. This is from my all-time favourite decor book, Romantic Irish Homes (previously blogged here). The house shown here is privately owned Higginsbrook in Co. Meath, built in 1743. The poet F.R. Higgins described the house as "A house of ghosts... among gardens where even the Spring is old". I love the image of an old Spring and can see it now in those layered Irish places.


The house was also used as a set in Becoming Jane. When I look at this book, there's a certain cultivated carelessness that captures my imagination. It's a good reminder for me as I tend to strive to have things "just so" only to be annoyed by the artificiality of all that. Give me beloved patina over pristine any day! But, most of all, I love that there are books in nearly every room featured in the book.


Romantic Irish Homes is beautifully shot by Simon Brown, written by Robert O'Byrne and published by CICO Books.

Bloomsday!

Happy Bloomsday! I used to love the Dublin on Bloomsday, pulling into each DART station to hear Ulysses read aloud by Joyce-lovers in costume. I hope they still do that... Needless to say, Bloomsday is not celebrated (visibly at least) in Toronto. I was bemoaning this, but considering what's become of March 17th, it's probably not such a bad thing...


I briefly considered seeing if I could tweet all of Ulysses today, but that would rightly obliterate my followers and likely get me the sack too. Instead, I've thought I'd treat myself to a little virtual Bloomsday. Doesn't it look like fun? Of course, the day is always a good excuse to reread some Ulysses. I've included some quotes to whet your appetite. Or, you can also listen to Radio Bloomsday here.


Products / images: 1st Edition of Ulysses from Abebooks / Panama fedora from Net-a-Porter / Trouser strap from Brooks / Steampunk Goggles from EDM Designs / Joyce by Berenice Abbott via / Alexander Olch tie from Lark / Dublin streetmap via / Elektra Amsterdam bike / Vintage 1950s Edwardian Gown from VivalaVintageShoppe / Black & white pudding from Food Ireland / Basket from Adeline Adeline / Rose via / Photo of Nora Barnacle via / Lace Up Ankle Boots from LapineOurs / Pocket watch from 1st Dibs / Guinness / Sweny soap / Cane from 1st Dibs / Ulysses plaque via Leo Reynolds' Flickr / Seersucker vest from J.Crew

Chelsea Textiles / Neisha Crosland

I've decided that I want to splurge on some really nice drapes in my bedroom (possibly to offset the simplicity of this bed). I can't tell you how many fabrics I looked through on the weekend. It's mind-blogging how there can be so much choice and "the one" still remains elusive (yes, I'm still talking about fabrics).

I reckon I spoiled myself by spending so much time on Chelsea Textiles' website. Their new Neisha Crosland collection is amazing. I have to say, I feel the same way about Crosland as the majority of the blogosphere feels about Orla Kiely. And, as always, I love embroidered fabrics so much more than printed ones for drapes.


Images via Chelsea Textiles' Facebook

Inspiring women: Edna St. Vincent Millay

Poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay was raised by her single mother, Cora, after she asked her husband to leave. Cora encouraged her daughters to be ambitious and self-sufficient, teaching them an appreciation of music and literature.

Edna won a scholarship to Vassar and upon graduation (1917) moved to Greenwich Village, where she led a notoriously Bohemian life; "very, very poor and very, very merry". Below, is one of my favourite poems, perfect for this season too.


Untitled [I know I am but summer to your heart]
I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.


Books: The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay (Modern Library Classics)
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Image via

Three of a kind


Ideal summer

I feel like the ingredients for an ideal summer are right at my fingertips. These mauve-pinks and fresh greens offer the perfect palette; refreshing but romantic. And check our the print on the Emersonmade blouse; little swimmers! Couldn't be sweeter.



Products: Little Swimmers Blouse by Emersonmade / Nude Rose Knot from Wild at Heart / Simple City 8 by Gary Fisher Bikes / Pink Linen Women's Classics from Toms / Wide Brim Panama Hat from Toast / Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks / Radish Salad with Basil Oil from Sweet Paul / Ice cream cone from Jamie magazine

Barrett bed

I really like this bed from Ethan Allen. In fact, I've liked it for a long time now but I feel like you must be sick of me and my eternal bed search. I like how it is simultaneously dramatic, but simple and streamlined. My "bed test" these days is whether I can imagine one of my Welsh blankets on it. In this case, the answer is a resounding yes. Definitely on my list to check out in person!

Maska

Love these summer knits from Maska Knits.

Sunday best: Strawberry days

I'm completely addicted to strawberries right now. My favourite thing to do is muddle a mint simple syrup and pour it over halved strawberries. If you leave it to macerate for a bit at room temperature, it becomes a thing of exquisite beauty.


My weekend has been unusually unscheduled and yet happily productive. Yesterday, I did some early morning writing and then went to the coffee shop with a new book. I collected a new delivery of wooden things for the shop and bought myself a lime tree at the garden centre. Then, I discovered a baby lemon on my meyer lemon tree and got disproportionately excited.

Today, I'm going to eat more strawberries (obviously) and also do housework. I love giving over my Sundays to chores, setting my apartment straight for the week ahead. But it's not all elbow grease today. I'm going to hang some pictures and move around some displays. I'll do yoga and then watch Game of Thrones. Just a simple, summer Sunday!

Happy, happy!

Products: Crusher hat from J.Crew / Antik Batik Embellished cotton top from Net-a-Porter / It is raining strawberries - 11X14 print from Lucile's Kitchen / Berry bowls from Coterie / Bootcut jean in faded blues from J.Crew / Deluxe Twin Split Picnic/Storage from Peterboro Basket Co. / Fresh Strawberry Flowers from Sephora / Rosebud Strawberry Lip Balm from Sephora / Salt-water sandal from Toast

Friday!

Well, I pretty much shared what I've been mulling over in yesterday's post. I loved all the comments and was delighted for such a good discussion. Thank you for taking the time to write such considered responses!

We had a few really hot days this week, as well as some epic storms. Thunderstorms scare me enough to hide under my covers. If I'm going to be in bed, I think I can justify buying some of these cute bedclothes Jen blogged (the prices are amazing too!)


This weekend, I want to do some rearranging around my apartment, some picture framing and hanging especially. I loved this house tour (part 2, part 3) from Fine Little Day. I was also crazy about the Nightwood house tour, first spotted on Teenangster. I'm feeling a little antsy to redecorate but I'm trying to just make small changes.

A Coterie update will be coming soon. I have two shipments on the way from suppliers and I'm hoping the rolling postal strike doesn't get too much in the way. Thank you to Krissy for including a scarf in her summer essentials round-up and to Jen for including a muddler in her summer drinks round-up on Houzz!

What are you up to this weekend? If it's too hot for, maybe consider swimming like a crocodile! Doesn't it sound nice?

Flickr image credits: 1. White ceramics, 2. Untitled, 3. Mascarpone cheese cupcakes, 4. summer dress

Content, medium, quality

Despite polarizing press to the contrary, I - like most of my friends - still consume content across all media. What I value and want most is the flexibility to browse and read in the format that suits my mood and purpose at any given moment. And what I judge is not the medium, but the content itself (originality and integrity), the visual experience and, in the case of online, user experience.

I've mentioned before that I find the e-zine a difficult format to consume. Despite the excellent content in some e-zines, its ontology seems to encourage speedy flipping; ruthless hitting of that "next" arrow until the end is reached. In contrast, physical magazines slow me down, suffuse me in a more reflective and engaged experience.

Perhaps because I'm so supersaturated in the blogosphere, it's more and more difficult for me to have that strong sense of "discovery" when consuming content. I have to say, some blog-to-print magazines and e-zines have been especially disappointing because I feel like I've seen most of the homes, the projects and products online already.

And although I love the blog, I feel increasingly that the big blogs are really struggling to strike a balance of advertising, advertorial and editorial. And it saddens me that so many of my favourite blogs and bloggers, despite excellent content and large audience share, are struggling to be profitable and to grow.

The best "discovery" for me still comes from print and (happy-to-be) smaller blogs. In print, this is a function of budget and talent investment rather than the medium itself. The print magazines I most enjoy these days are World of Interiors (always my fave), House Beautiful and Traditional Home. In smaller blogs, it's a function of pure passion, raw talent for creating personalized content and a bolshie refusal to sell out which I admire, though it saddens me in other ways.

I'm really interested in your thoughts on this in general, and specifically:
- What
(decor, fashion or otherwise) magazines are your favourites right now ?
- Is the ad-to-content ratio on some blogs, sites or magazines off-putting for you as a reader?

- Do you have a preferred medium? Or, like me, do you dip into them all?
- Where do you find your "new discovery" content these days?

Three of a kind


Book report: The Bone People

It's a strange sort of wanderlust that books provoke in me. It's not necessarily that I want to visit the places they're set in. But when a book has open spaces and characters intertwined with landscape, I crave those same things and become aware of how detached I am from the land in this city.

The Bone People is vivid on nearly every level and I loved it from the very first pages. And although the story grows compelling and action-oriented when I expected it to stay still and simmer, it was a book that made me read more slowly than I'm usually wont to.


Sometimes its vividness is startling. There were passages that made me inhale sharply and turn away from the page. But there's something indefatigable about each of the three characters that makes them very compelling.

We're given access to their streams of consciousness and - thereby - see how three people, wholly connected, inexorably and ineffably, can yes feel utterly isolated, misunderstood. They want to bare their souls to each other as a testament of who they really are (and, by doing so, to be loved) but they have only words and actions to convey that, and their human foibles too often get in the way.

I've rarely seen loneliness and isolation in close quarters portrayed so poignantly. More than the sometimes-thin plot and despite the geographical and cultural emphasis, this is a character-driven novel for me. And these characters are ones I will think about for a long time and who definitely call to be read and reread.


P.S. Thank you again to Andrea for the recommendation! I rarely take book recommendations, but I'm glad I made an exception here.

Inspiring women: Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe (arguably along with Monet and Klimt) is one of those artists most of us were exposed to early on and, like so many youthful things, many of us moved on from. It's a shame because these artists deserve attention and respect that goes beyond adolescent pining.


I've long admired the fact that not only did O'Keeffe carve out a place of her own in a nearly exclusively male art scene, but she carved out an extremely unique position too. She worked within the idiom of organic abstraction with a strong individual sensibility.

Her paintings are both conceptual and personal: Concepts of renewal and unlimited boundaries recur in her work. But it is also a mode for intense personal expression, though there's a certain aloofness and a distinct separation of feeling and object in the finished artwork. I always sense the gamut of emotion, idea and letting go while viewing her work and it makes for a beautifully unfolding experience.

Those shifting nuances seem visible in O'Keeffe's outward appearance too; maybe deliberately so. And perhaps her simultaneous and intriguing directness and aloofness is what made her such a favourite subject for so many photographers.

O'Keeffe died, aged 98, on March 6, 1986. In accordance with her wishes, she was cremated and her ashes were scattered to the wind at the top of the Pedernal Mountain, over her beloved "faraway".

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
PBS: American Masters
Books: Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction (Whitney Museum of American Art)


Image via PBS

Aesa

I completely love this Aesa necklace. The moon rules my star sign and moonstone is one of my birthstones (pearl the precious one). So, the love is not completely arbitrary. And I'm lucky to really love my birthstones in a way that makes me feel these things are not 100% bogus (like when your starsign profile is so completely bang-on - mine is!). What's your birthstone? Do you love and wear it?'

Three of a kind


Balcony inspiration

It's that time of year... balcony-envy time. Most Toronto balconies don't elicit a lot of envy (space relegated for bicycles and party smokers). But I always find lots of inspirational balconies on Scandinavian websites, like these from Alvhem Makleri & Interior.


Both images via Alvhem Makleri & Interior.

New at Coterie!

Over the weekend, I did some shop updating. In ceramics, I added two styles of berry bowls and a gorgeous cylinder bowl that I would serve a big summer salad in. The patterns on these porcelain pieces are pressed using wooden textile blocks that the (Toronto-based) artist collected in Tibet. As always, I'm drawn to objects with a balance of traditional and contemporary styling.


For the photograph above, I paired some organic strawberries with Malivoire Cabernet Franc Icewine (which is perfect for pairing with red berries), some Brix wine-pairing chocolate and a handful of homemade marshmallows from Xococava. It was a perfect summer dessert, simultaneously light and luxe.

I also added a few new notebooks to the shop in a range of colours. This pink and blue notebook is one I really considered keeping for myself. There's also a darker blue and green colourway in the same sort of peacock pattern. Perfect for sweet summer musings...


My wooden products have sold fast, but I added a few last items there too. I have more coming (literally in the mail) so will photograph and list them as soon as they land! And, yes, rest assured there are plenty of muddlers coming for those of you dreaming of summer cocktails.

The Canada Post strike is ongoing. It's a rolling strike and their website claims "business as usual" in the non-affected areas. If you place an order and I discover anything to the contrary, I will let you know what your delivery timelines are likely to be or whether I've selected an alternative shipping method.