Sunday best: Room edition

Sometimes, it strikes me that the Sunday best I really want to post is just the same outfit I did a few times ago; the same sweater and perfume, the same purse, just now more broken in. Sometimes, even the hypothetical lust wears out and I think, what more would I need more today than my favourite broken down pair of jeans?

And sometimes, I just really want to be at home, where the only gaze is my own. Truth is, I'd rather decorate than play dress-up today. I'd rather wax lyrical about a fiddle leaf fig than a pair of shoes or piece of jewelry. I'd rather sit here and read than preen and promenade...


Lamp | Print | Decoupage | Plant | Chair | Rug

Thursday!

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my last post! I let the happy energy from that acceptance fuel a few new submissions and kick off a new short story too.

I love beginning something new, before you start demanding of it a shape or an arc or a reason to be, when it can be abandoned as easily as continued, without implications or harsh judgements. The more time goes on, the harder it is to walk away; the more it means you were wrong or ill-equipped. It all gets more difficult then.

This weekend, I think I'll head down into the ravine too. Up here, it seems that spring is refusing to take its grip and I want to see what's happening down there, if it's coming up from the ground to meet the air above. I feel like if I see the soil down there stir with green, my faith will be restored. There's no reassurance to be found from looking skywards.

My four day week has been quite long enough, thank you very much; something about debunked expectations of grand relief, I'm sure. Somehow, though, three-day weekends still manage to fly...

Still, happy weekend, you guys!

Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine

Some great news today: One of my short fiction pieces has been accepted by Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine. Previous contributors include Margaret Atwood, Jennifer Egan, Dave Eggers, Alan Beard and Ethel Rohan... some amazing company to find myself in!

You can subscribe to the magazine here, or purchase a single issue here. My piece will be in the April 2013 issue and it's called Icarus.

Muted

I've wanted a leather armchair for a long time, but have never been able to land on the right one. While the worn library armchair appeals, I'm not sure about that heft in my apartment. Over the weekend, I saw this one at Ochre and thought it perfection (though likely unaffordable). But at least now I have an image in mind.

There's a muted streak running through the things I like now. An earthiness perhaps at odds with Spring's pastels and brights. But really, here in Canada, spring is a slow and muted thing. The snow melts leaving grass drained of colour and there's a time when the light serves only to highlight how bleached by snow and salt our world has been. The sense of growth is there, but buried in the soil and in the limbs of trees, hidden from our eyes.

But, more than that, I think I'll always come back to muted shades, to natural things in their gentler states. And all of this looks lovely to me now.


Image credits: 1. Workstead | 2. Ochre and Workstead | 3. The Sartorialist | 4. Ochre and Jamie Evrard at Bau-Xi | 5. Workstead

Sunday best: Taxed & untaxed

Yesterday, I worked myself up into a tizzy thinking our tax deadline was the end of the month. Though the day wasn't all bad; I went for a big stroll and then watched Skyfall... you know, the kinds of things you do when you're avoiding doing something else (btw, Skyfall was amazing, my favourite Bond ever).

Anyway, I finally settled down to do them and it was all much easier than I expected because I really am ridiculously organized and it was a straightforward year. And just when as I hit "file", I realize I'm a full month early. Jeez louise. I mean, I'm glad they're done, but talk about spinning your tires.



So, today I'm allowed to relax properly.

All week, I felt like I was moving from moment to moment without greater context, so it's lovely now to land on Sunday and feel there's no major task or chore to do. The day is stretched right out in front of me and I can take it upon myself to do anything at all, or even nothing at all...

Do you like the shoes? I actually bought them — a complete impulse purchase... when they arrived I wasn't as head over heels with them as I imagined I'd be, but then I put them on and I love them. Mostly, I'm excited for sockless days again!

Happy Sunday!

Products: Comme des Garcon cardigan from La Garconne | Current/Elliott The Boyfriend jean from Net-a-Porter | E0701S earrings from Satomi Kawakita | Making Certain It Goes On: The Collected Poems of Richard Hugo | Pouch by Falconwright | Silent by Damir Doma shoes from SSense

A poem for Thursday

Richard Hugo is a new discovery for me and I've been spending time with this poem, loving how it opens up, loving how it opens me up.

When I lived in Alberta, the natural way to drive was west, into the mountains. But sometimes - more often as time went on - we would turn our backs to the Rockies and drive across the prairie, to the Badlands too. Over time, the mountains became something I loved in a familiar way; the bankable vistas, the nameable peaks.

But the prairie was different, it opened like a map that could never be folded right again. My mind never grasped it. Even now, I can't really tell you how I used to feel out on it. Giddy, disbelieving, bored. Fast and slow, near or far not mattering. Contented. Patient. Quiet.

This is by Richard Hugo. Happy World Poetry Day.

Driving Montana
The day is a woman who loves you. Open.
Deer drink close to the road and magpies
spray from your car. Miles from any town
your radio comes in strong, unlikely
Mozart from Belgrade rock and roll
from Butte. Whatever the next number
you want to hear it. Never has your Buick
found this forward a gear. Even
the tuna salad in Reedpoint is good.

Towns arrive ahead of imagined schedule
Absorakee at one. Or arrive so late--
Silesia at nine--you recreate the day.
Where did you stop along the road
and have fun? Was there a runaway horse?
Did you park at that house, the one
alone in a void of grain, white with green
trim and red fence, where you know you lived
once? You remembered the ringing creek,
the soft brown forms of far off bison.
You must have stayed hours, then drove on.
In the motel you know you’d never seen it before.

Tomorrow will open again, the sky wide
as the mouth of a wild girl, friable
clouds you lose yourself to. You are lost
in miles of land without people, without
one fear of being found, in the dash
of rabbits, soar of antelope, swirl
merge and clatter of streams.

Spring

Snow boots and cab rides hardly herald the first day of spring. And yet here we are, the arbitrariness of starting something as immense as a season on such a pinpoint. A season that really started already and seems now to be taking a vacation from it's own official birthday.

I can't help think of those documentaries: Elephants walking through dusty wasteland, age-worn paths, getting to water. Until a switch flips in the heavens, and a basin fills with rainwater that fell hundreds of miles away. The elephant family revels in the water and many species gather, putting aside their differences. The animal kingdom, an English voice tells us, rejoices. And they seem to. It all lifts that suddenly, their immense leathered hides and weeping eyes forgotten. The one who didn't make it, who got lost in a sandstorm or just lay down, now at peace sheltered in this great arc of birth and death, drought and renewal.

And if the seasons can be on cue there, why not here, among our paved ways and insulated towers? But of course this precise timeliness is a fiction we're peddled to make sense of our world. Spring and snow will mingle yet, will-o'-wisping the edges of consciousness, luring us to abandon coats and socks a little too early. And yet we can trust it all, moving towards it with dogged faith, always stretching to the next season, shoulding ourselves to that moment when we too can rejoice.

Happy spring, you guys.

Beauty essentials - updated

Yesterday, I took myself to Sephora and splurged on some new potions. I also stood, for the kabillionth time, in front of the wall of Clarisonics and vacillated. They seem like such an infomercial product, my inner skeptic has a field day taunting me for considering one. Yet, at the same time, I think "ooooh exfoliaty!" (please leave comments to sway me one way or the other!)

Last year, I put together a post about my regular beauty products and I decided to update it. Some of the products have remained the same, which is a good sign really, since they seem to really work for me. But my skin has changed too. It seems drier, certainly more dehydrated, this winter. And I've been reaching for Rodin's Olio Lusso a lot as a supplement to my regular routine, as well as switching to Eve Lom's cleanser more often.


Skincare: Clinique | Dr. Weil for Origins | Dermalogica
Body: L'Occitane | Rodin | Byredo
Special: Eve Lom | Kiehl's | Institut Esthederm


Notes:
- I'm never satisfied with any eye cream, but I've bought this one three times in a row, so I think it's the best I've tried.
- The Dr. Weil is a new purchase from yesterday, but so far I like it. I have the palest of pale skin so I really hope it will get rid of some brown spots I've been noticing.
- Eve Lom cleanser is now available in Canada (from my beloved Gee Beauty), so this has moved back into my regular regimen, especially when my skin is too dry for the Dermalogica cleaner.
- Rodin skin cream was Christmas present. I still use drugstore body lotion for the most part, but my arms have been loving the Rodin.


Face: Laura Mercier | Tom Ford | Laura Mercier
Eyes: NARS | Chanel | Dior
Lips & Nails: Tom Ford | Sara Happ | Guerlain



Notes:
- The Tom Ford foundation recommendation came courtesy of Lisa Eldridge. I also use (more affordably) Bourjois Healthy Mix, though it is more yellowy and I'm more pinkish.
- Laura Mercier Rose Petal blush. If something is named "rose" I will want it. Thankfully, it suits me.
- Tom Ford nail polish is a ridiculous splurge but it lasts longer than any other brand.
- I could not have got through winter without Sara Happ
- The Guerlain lipstick is a new purchase. It's a creamier version of the YSL stain I loved last year.

Sunday best: Colourfully

Colour has been creeping into my life a little more lately. Just small ways, mostly temporary - nail polish and candles, flowers of course. I think I'll always be mostly colour-shy.


You've seen me connect my muted ways to the palette of Ireland; it's misty greys and greens, it's churned sea. And it isn't that I've lied about that, but it's not the entire truth. Because every time I'm home, I'm also overwhelmed by how much colour people inject into this muted palette. While I lie happily in its shroud, they go to war and assault this peaceable backdrop with their fuchsia pinks and brazen yellows, garish greens and zealous blues.


So, my little colour adoptions remind me a little of home in that way. And, of course, I'm thinking about home today anyway. So I thought I'd share some colourfulness, an antidote to plastic and tinsel green on this bastardized holiday.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig. Happy Sunday!


Products: Green by Byredo | Tippi Pleated shirt dress from Toast | Snake stud earrings from Ariel Gordon | Satin lip pencil from NARS | Eric purse from Mimi Berry | Swedish Hasbeens from Madewell

Other photographs: All my own.

Friday!

I barely caught breath all this whirligig week and so I'm excited for 5pm tonight when I can get off this ride and climb aboard another, better kind.

It's rare and wonderful to read a book review that stands itself as a beautiful read. Not just a gateway to a beautiful book, which it surely is. But something that itself sparks and transports. I felt this way yesterday when I read Éireann's post about Zadie Smith's NW, especially here:

"It is about being lost. About being no longer young.The sad and hollow space of her characters’ thirties. The echoes of each bad decision. About the points in one’s life at which one feels, very sadly, that there can be no more great change (rightly or wrongly). About being stuck where you are despite the myths of movement."



Of late, I feel sad in my thirties and this sense of being stuck despite my own resolutions and volitions and sense of how things ought to be, despite having more money and sense than I did when I was younger. There's also something percolating that's like fear, sometimes terror. Because if there is change, I could be stuck with it. And I'm afraid about wrong-stepping again, about loving the wrong person once more or coaxing ambition into another endeavour that will disappoint.

And then I read this post in all its badassery. And I think it's the best articulation of the bullshit notion of bravery that the blogosphere flogs. And when people call me brave, which they sometimes do, I recoil feeling like it's a peculiar lie, a category mistake. And they say it most often on the posts where I'm telling them precisely that I'm not brave, but a fuck-up and laying bare the utter truth of that.

"I guess any courage I have is just knowing that everyone is really fucked up, and we’re usually fucked up in similar ways, so who cares. That’s not bravery so much as self-awareness?"

I should mention, of course, that I found that piece via Jessica's Read.Look.Think — I don't know how she does it... seriously one of the best posts on the blogosphere.

Also, this weekend, thoughts of home. Happy Friday!

An escape

I'm not very good, sometimes, at recognizing signs of stress or exhaustion in myself. I tend to keep pushing even when I'm showing signs of wearing thin. And then, when I come crashing down, it's usually a surprise to nobody but myself.


But on days like today, when my soul needs soothing and my body is rebelling against the very idea of going on, I understand the importance of taking a break. And I know this will be a fleeting thing and tomorrow I'll launch myself back into work and forget the moment today when I thought about saltwater and mountain air as the things I can't go on without.


This beautiful holiday home is in Somerset. The pictures alone soothe my soul and I'm posting them (likely in vain) to remind myself to not be so reckless with my own well-being. But, for now, just the fantasy: Shall we go? Let's go.


Images from Unique Home Stays.

A poem for Monday

It's a new moon tonight. And though it felt like spring on the weekend, today the cold crept back in and I came home hooded from the rain, wanting my bath and bed more than most things. This is by Elizabeth Bishop.

A Cold Spring
A cold spring:
the violet was flawed on the lawn.
For two weeks or more the trees hesitated;
the little leaves waited,
carefully indicating their characteristics.
Finally a grave green dust
settled over your big and aimless hills.
One day, in a chill white blast of sunshine,
on the side of one a calf was born.
The mother stopped lowing
and took a long time eating the after-birth,
a wretched flag,
but the calf got up promptly
and seemed inclined to feel gay.

The next day
was much warmer.
Greenish-white dogwood infiltrated the wood,
each petal burned, apparently, by a cigarette-butt;
and the blurred redbud stood
beside it, motionless, but almost more
like movement than any placeable color.
Four deer practiced leaping over your fences.
The infant oak-leaves swung through the sober oak.
Song-sparrows were wound up for the summer,
and in the maple the complementary cardinal
cracked a whip, and the sleeper awoke,
stretching miles of green limbs from the south.
In his cap the lilacs whitened,
then one day they fell like snow.
Now, in the evening,
a new moon comes.
The hills grow softer. Tufts of long grass show
where each cow-flop lies.
The bull-frogs are sounding,
slack strings plucked by heavy thumbs.
Beneath the light, against your white front door,
the smallest moths, like Chinese fans,
flatten themselves, silver and silver-gilt
over pale yellow, orange, or gray.
Now, from the thick grass, the fireflies
begin to rise:
up, then down, then up again:
lit on the ascending flight,
drifting simultaneously to the same height,
–exactly like the bubbles in champagne.
–Later on they rise much higher.
And your shadowy pastures will be able to offer
these particular glowing tributes
every evening now throughout the summer.

Sunday best: Springing forward

Yesterday was the first day of spring here and the city knew it. I went to the grocery store and the flower market and when I got home, I hadn't had enough and went back out, browsing down another street and looking for something to treat myself to. I went into Farrow & Ball and picked up some paint samples, including this Porphyry Pink, which I fancy though I'm not sure for where.


Back home, I razed my apartment and spring-cleaned top to bottom. Those new drapes were finally hung and windows were cleaned too. My sun-dried desk was given a long indulgent drink of oil (I left overnight - it's still thirsty) and my bathroom got a new shower curtain too. In every room, I changed enough that it feels different and noticeable when I walk into them.

Today, I'll repot plants and do some writing. Late in the evening, just when Sunday is beginning to wear out, friends will come over and food will be made. We'll notice how it's still light and it will feel like the first gathering of spring and summer evenings, with music through open windows and the chime of glasses.

Happy Sunday!

Products: World of Interiors | Straight Leg Jeans from Toast | Sheer Panel Jumper from COS | Satin Lip Pencil from NARS | Jeanine Payer Tulle Moonscape Necklace from Twist | Porphyry Pink from Farrow & Ball | Military Plimsoll from Margaret Howell

Friday!

It's been a rough work week, but every morning and evening I've found myself noticing, in the moment, the stretching of days and of light. I don't bother to turn all my lamps on these mornings when I'm getting ready. And, when I'm walking home in the evening, the sun is setting at the west end of St Clair and I walk into it, like some cowboy, looking at its glowing cast on the melting snow.

There's change in the air too and hopefully some for me too. I can feel it rustling in the ground and hear it in the honk of newly-arrived geese. This morning, I lay in bed for a few minutes feeling what was different, and it was birdsong.


I find myself wanting to decorate more than anything right now. I've been looking at sample cards thinking of bold colours for my kitchen. And because I didn't do it last weekend, I might hang up those new drapes this weekend and fill my place with flowers and fuss over some little arrangements until I get them just so.

Stephanie posted a wallpaper company I'm in now love with (via Katy) and a couple of weeks ago Remodelista shared these Anna Atkins-inspired tiles. I thought this detail quite lovely too.

I've written and deleted my next paragraph three times. I'm going to take that as a sign that I'm not ready to say what I was starting to say, which was something vaguely about wanting to get a grip on myself and my life right now. Maybe it's time to do something brave.

Have a good weekend, friends!

Kupittaan Kulta "Hila" pendant

For me, jewelry is nearly always an impulse purchase and I wouldn't have it any other way. Reason and planning have their place in many kinds of purchases, but where jewelry is concerned, heart leads head and I leave all the reconciling for later. Funnily, regret nearly never follows such purchases.


Hopea is a store I've stalked stealthily for a long time. I knew I would purchase something from them eventually; each piece is truly special. It was just a matter of waiting for something to call my name. When I saw this Kupittaan Kulta "Hila" pendant, I was smitten. It's a bit of an optical illusion, not making sense at all from certain angles and then perfectly ordered and minimal from others.


I thought I would be able to reason its construction when I unpackaged and held it in my hands this evening, but no amount of turning over, of looking at closely seems to unwrap its riddle. I'm not the kind to press to hard on mysteries. I'd rather leave it unfathomable and love it for that.


P.S. I must thank Juli from Kitka and Mjölk for originally referring me to Hopea, and also Cosima for her wonderful customer service. And, no, skeptical ones, this is not a sponsored post (how it saddens me that this needs to be stated every time I share something I buy!)

David Skinner wallpaper

When I was born, my Dad worked at a wallpaper factory.


Perhaps it's one of those memories transplanted from a photograph, but I have vivid memories of the wallpaper that hung in my bedroom then, a brown damask. I remember lying in my cot and seeing faces in it, grotesque gargoyles staring at me. And my blanket was orange and this would have been the late 70's when all decor was brown and orange and avocado green.


Our town was Kildare and the factory was Kildare Wallpaper, built in 1936 and closed when I was two, or three. On my birth certificate, which I looked at last weekend, Dad's "rank or profession" is listed as Works Manager.


A few night's ago, via Ben's blog, I came across a link to David Skinner, an Irish wallpaper-maker. Ben has the Malahide pattern hanging in his Dorset hallway and I have admired it often. I love the patterns in Skinner's range, inspired by - and named after - so many Irish country houses that we visited as children. And I began to wonder if, when we visited those houses, Dad noticed the papers and the colourways. Or maybe wallpaper was all machines and measurements, volumes and quality control to him.


There are little moments when I think of my parents stripped of all their parenthood and more like the young people they were then, the same age as me now, really. And I suppose it's because I love decor that it's striking to think of Dad with patterns and colours whizzing by him, finally cut into rolls and shipped around Europe. The same papers that hung in our house and in the houses of all our friends in that town. They must have felt proud.

Until the factory closed and most of us moved away.

David Skinner Wallpapers
Patterns: Dorothea | Tulip | Edenderry | Kilkenny

Brooks Salzwedel

On the way home tonight, I stopped at a shop just to smell soaps. I smelled one after another, searching for a smell I wouldn't find, something that reminded me of my mother and my childhood, some Proustian talisman to transport me to another place and a time when things were easier. It wasn't an easy day today.


As I get older, I see more and more that the things I love conjure something deep-seated within me. Even certain cadences move me with memories of songs or my Dad's peculiar accent, his rolled r's and pulled vowels. And I remember a time when I wanted everything to feel new and strange and now, so often, I want things to feel worn-in and so deeply visceral I can't point to their origin.


I've had the work of Brooks Salzwedel bookmarked for a while. Graphite pencils strike those deep chords inside me. I remember pencil sharpenings falling between the glass and the ornamented edge of our nested tables, the smell of the desk-mounted sharpener I eventually stole away to my room from my dad's desk. It was orange. I remember how graphite would tarnish the outer edge of my right hand when I drew, turning it pewter.


Salzwedel's work is layered and mysterious, often concealed inside tins that evoke childlike feelings of treasured collections of buttons or pencils, or smells of shoe polish or wax. And hidden inside this heady concoction of sensations is a treasure for one, a secret to share, a delicate mystery kept safe.

Website | Big Cartel
Images via: Gallery Nucleus | George Billis Gallery 

Sunday best: Just Sunday

The last few weekends have been dictated by the weather, so I was happy yesterday to stare down my street at clear paths. Although it was cold still, I walked for a long time and browsed in shops. And I felt my legs find their strength again as I took normal steps instead of the wary tread of icy streets.


Of course, many people in Canada have another few months of winter. But, I'm just glad we're beginning to emerge here in Toronto. It's really knocked it out of me this year. And it makes me happy to see the sun rising a little higher each day, that strange seasonal amnesia slowly lifting.

And today will just be a Sunday like that, I'll walk and browse, drink coffee and read my book. I'll do some writing, because I haven't been doing that. And all these banal things will feel special for their normalcy.

Happy Sunday!

Products: Faliero Sarti / Zivina Scarf from La Garconne | J Brand Aiden cropped distressed boyfriend-fit jeans from Net-a-Porter | Fine Wool Draped Sweater from Toast | The Boys of My Youth by Jo Anne Beard | Clarks Desert Boot from Gravity Pope | Frances bag by Ally Capellino

Friday!

Just a brief hello and have a good weekend! My week has been a whirligig of minor frustrations and I can't wait to get off.

I'm happy it's March 1st, though. Flying in the face of Hume's problem of induction, I'm going to boldly assert that all the snow will soon melt. And that the days will continue to get longer. There'll be a day when I notice the first shoots of green and I'll want to make a fuss about them, but end up photographing mostly earth.

And this weekend I'll take myself to the flower market to capture some of that and bring it inside. I may buy some new plants, even hang the drapes I bought at Christmas but have been saving for the seasons to shift. Little things have been accomplished too; a much-needed computer upgrade and, last week, a long-overdue portfolio update.

Wishing you a lovely weekend!