Your Lovely Places

A huge thanks to Sylvain of Your Lovely Places for asking about my favourite places.

OĆ­che Shamhna

Among Celts, Samhain celebrated the end of summer, the harvest and the dead. Samhain was time to take stock of the herds and grain supplies, to decide which animals would need to be slaughtered, with the bones of slaughtered animals being thrown on huge fires (thought to be the origin of the word bonfire, from bone-fire).

Like many pagan feasts, this thanksgiving-like festival was later absorbed by the church and became "All Hallows' Day". The evening before, All Hallows' Even, is what we now know as Halloween.

Snap-Apple Night, painted by Irish artist Daniel Maclise in 1833, inspired by a Halloween party in Blarney. The catalogue caption read:

There Peggy was dancing with Dan
While Maureen the lead was melting,
To prove how their fortunes ran
With the Cards ould Nancy dealt in;
There was Kate, and her sweet-heart Will,
In nuts their true-love burning,
And poor Norah, though smiling still
She'd missed the snap-apple turning.
On the Festival of Hallow Eve.

Happy Halloween!

Haute Hippie

Love this dress and look from Haute Hippie, via Shopbop.

Donkeys rock

Nothing makes me smile quite like a donkey. Aren't they awesome? And isn't this cute? Adopt one here (a donkey, not a kid). Image from Nasher's Flickr, here.

Dessous by Sophie Simmons

I know I've blogged about this label before, but I still love her lingerie. I own some and it's pretty much as divine as it looks. More here.

Great Lake Swimmers

While I write, I'm listening to Great Lake Swimmers.

A poem for everyday

My favourite, by you guessed who... But, I really do find it (and him) uplifting.

what would I do without this world faceless incurious
where to be lasts but an instant where every instant
spills in the void the ignorance of having been
without this wave where in the end
body and shadow together are engulfed
what would I do without this silence where the murmurs die
the pantings the frenzies towards succour towards love
without this sky that soars
above its ballast dust

what would I do what I did yesterday and the day before
peering out of my deadlight looking for another
wandering like me eddying far from all the living
in a convulsive space
among the voices voiceless
that throng my hiddenness


Manoush makes me think of Amelie, though I know she wore nothing like these outfits in the movie. Maybe it's just the sweet model or the brilliant colours, but I find the whole collection disarming in that Amelie-like way.

DayNa Decker

Some people have such impeccable taste that just a hint of a recommendation is enough to sell something. My friend Natasha is top of that list. She e-mailed me today about DayNa Decker candles and I just know I'll be smitten. Question is, can anything knock Jo Malone off Janey's pedestal?


Maje is a new label to me. Chic, no?


This is an internet love moment. The Poladroid takes any image from your computer and transforms it into a Polaroid-like image. It's a cinch to use, is madly addictive and the results are awesome.

Love & hate

I love the egg chair in this setting. I hate that it costs a gazillion dollars. And, yes, I still want one. Image from Cote Maison, photographed by Xavier Gary.


Some of my Flickr faves. They match my pensive mood this evening.

1. the fresh evening breath by hanne, 2. Untitled by sharon tingley, 3. Untitled by elseachelsea, 4. fit by daytrips

Nice setting

I would live here. And it would never occur to me that I was living in a Zara Home catalogue. Even after you showed me it, I would barely believe it. It kindof reminds me of Sabine's place in Unbearable Lightness of Being. I love that movie.

The Acorn

I've been listening to The Acorn a lot today.

Shannon Rankin

So, when I hung all my artwork, I had one glaring spot left empty. And I knew I wanted something special for it. Everything I hang on my walls has to move me at some level, whether it's connected to me directly or a place I love or just expresses something that moves me at a gut level.

So, I commissioned a piece from Shannon Rankin. The two hearts are made out of maps. One map is of Ireland (Dublin), the other Ontario (Toronto). Shannon magically chose towns in Ireland that I love to connect the thread from. Tonight, she sent me these images tonight for approval and I didn't hesitate a second. It's 100% perfect and she was just a joy to work with!


I want this dress from Toast so bad. I love the tights and boots too. And this one too for Christmas parties. They're very different, but I'd wear 'em both to death.

Marion Cage

I typically fall for jewelry with wood accents, so it was love at first sight with these pieces by Marion Cage, especially given their unusual delicacy.

Dee Puddy

I've blogged before about Dee Puddy, a sweet little site from the UK. I like these porcelain cartons a lot.

Bed love

If I could afford this, it would be mine in an instant. From Uhuru.

Anthro in the T-dot

Toronto just got its first Crate & Barrel and West Elm. But, I'm really, really excited about this news. Yes, my ladies, we're getting an Anthropologie. Right in Yorkville. I'm sooo excited! J. Crew & Room & Board are also on my wishlist (in case anyone's listening). You? Stores you want in your town that you don't have?

Jenny Yoo

Jenny Yoo's dresses are perfect. I mean it. Utter perfection.

Mini museum of me

Yesterday, I rehung all my pictures! Here are the results, which more or less gives you a 360 of my living room. I couldn't bring myself to fluff, felt too phony, so 'scuse the dying flowers and lumpy looking sofa (which is lumpy because I love it a little too much).

When I look over from my desk I see the John Derian eye staring back at me. But not in a creepy way. I think I need a rug, but I find it hard to decide upon one and love the ease of keeping my floors clean. Oh, and I want a Bertoia chair for my desk.

For those interested (lots of good Etsy stuff in here), the art in the top & middle image is: Horsing Around by Alice Olive, Winter Pattern by Alice Olive, Ornament Print by Abigail Percy, Eye by John Derian, letter from Alex Colville, Horsemen in a Forest by Moses Reinblatt, pair of antique Dublin etchings (Trinity & Howth) by T. Cadell Jr. and W. Davies
, Shadow Hands from Alyson Fox, Central Park March 6th 1890 by Oh My Cavalier; On tray table: Where She Is by Oiseux Noir; In the bottom image is the ubiquitous For Like Ever from Village, which I still love dearly...

Eles Designs

Love, love the jewelry, and in particular the rings, from Eles Designs by Toronto-based Laura Serrafero.

A poem for Sunday

I took a stroll today and shot some pictures of trees. And stood for a while beneath my willow tree, which in no way is mine. And I know anthropomorphizing nature is a strange thing to do. But, it feels like such a friendly willow.

All the dappled light had me reciting in my head this poem we learned in school. Which goes to show, more than 20 years later, you can't beat a nun determined to implant poetry in a young mind. Sr. Nuala, I wonder if you even dared hope this would get stuck? And I wonder would you be upset that I took away the poem, but not the theology?

Pied Beauty, by G.M. Hopkins
Glory be to God for dappled things

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Pretty girl

Hello, pretty girl! I do so like your jacket. From J. Crew Collection.

Minna Hepburn

Minna Hepburn makes beautiful tops and dresses from Scottish lace and organic Fairtrade cotton. Wouldn't these make sweet wedding dresses?

Book report: Here They Come

I was skulking around the McSweeney's site and saw this book. It's the first I've read by Yannick Murphy. The story is set in 1970's New York and told, Tractatus-style (minus the numbering) by a young teenage girl. Fragmented like memories or perception, the parts do cohere into a whole and the story arcs beautifully and gently. When I finish a book I've loved, I find it hard to physically put it down. I usually hold it in my hands for a few moments, touching the cover, not yet ready to put it on the shelf and move on.

Self doubt

When you're surrounded by people with obvious talent, it can be too easy to assume they know they've got it, to be more focused on your own insecurity and wish to impress. But everyone needs to hear it and has those moments of self doubt. In the book, Remembering Beckett, Paul Auster tells the story of the first time he met Samuel Beckett circa 1973 (he can't remember the exact year). This is an excerpt.

During the conversation he [Beckett] told me that he had just finished translating Mercier and Camier, his first French novel, which had been written in the mid-forties. I had read the book in French and liked it very much. 'A wonderful book', I said. I was just a kid, after all, and I couldn't suppress my enthusiasm. But Beckett shook his head and said, 'Oh no, no, not very good. In fact, I've cut out about twenty-five per cent of the the original. The English version is going to be quite a bit shorter than the French." And I said, "why would you do such a thing. It's a wonderful book. You shouldn't have taken anything out.' Again, Beckett shook his head. "no, no, not very good, not very good.'
After that, we started talkng about other things. Then out of the blue, five or ten minutes later, he leant across the table and said, 'You really liked it, huh? You really thought it was good?'
This was Samuel Beckett, remember, and not even he had any grasp of the value of his work. No writer ever knows, not even the best ones.
'Yes,' I said to him. 'I really thought it was good.'

Cabbages & Roses

Some lovely images from the Cabbages & Roses A/W collection. If you like the shabby chic look, you'll adore their home catalogue too.

Jessica Rose

I received some beautiful cashmere wrist-warmers from my friend Laura a few weeks ago and am officially obsessed. If you don't have a Laura of your very own, I really like these ones from Etsy-seller Jessica Rose too.

Rapture & Wright

I very much like the fabrics and wallpapers from Rapture & Wright.


Right now, my whole apartment smells of these roses.


The part of my brain that lives in the countryside wants to run around in Brora clothes (oooh Toast clothes too) and wear wellies and keep chickens. If I was a town planner, I'd dedicate my life to reconciling people's city versus country schizophrenia. Yes, my dears, I would build utopia.


Years ago, I had this thing where I would photograph my bed every morning when I got up. I just found the roll of film tonight; had forgotten completely about it.

Writing day

I wrote about 4,000 words today. And they're good words. The best writing day I've had in an age. It all happened in this perfect park and now I'm superstitious about going there and dreading when the days will be too cold to sit under the trees and write.

On an obliquely related topic, somebody sent me this video on Friday. I crack up at "all fecund in its nuttiness" every single time. (Though, I should warn you not to watch if there are little ones within earshot, unless you want to raise a cast of Roddy Doyle characters).

Frederico Erra

I am in love with Frederico Erra's Flickr.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. And if today's weather is anything to go by, it will be a perfect weekend for moseying around and doing not one iota of anything resembling work.

I was feeling all romantic this evening and went for a walk, kicking leaves about and marveling at the colour of conkers (I'm pretty sure people don't call them conkers here, but we do in Ireland). On the way home, I bought a big bag of red pears and had two for dinner.
I really do wish autumn could last forever.

I'm thankful for all thes
e simple pleasures and for my seeming streak of happy accidents. For living in Toronto, a city I love more and more. And, very much, for you, who read all my ill sayings and seeings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Images: 1. autumn descending, 2. Red Pears, 3. In France they don't play Conkers, 4. Toronto Autumn

Current / Elliott

I adore the photo shoot for the F'08 Current / Elliott collection.


I saw this image on Remodelista a while ago and loved the spherical lights in the kitchen. Found these here this evening. Not sure they're the exact same ones, but aren't they fabulous?

Billy Collins

I just listened to this on the Paris Review. I am always surprised by writer's voices. Am reassured when they stumble or stutter. Feel better acquainted with their work, even if I know it already by heart.

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

Cynthia Rowley

I love this blouse by Cynthia Rowley. Isn't it darling?


I also spent some time today browsing photo albums and scanned some photos from my childhood. Mum had a special knack for framing photographs, typified here. I love seeing us peeking in the side of a shot. It makes me laugh every time. Nice carpet too.

Lisa Hannigan

I stayed home today - have caught cold. Not well enough to do anything, not sick enough to be in bed... boring day. I did manage to download and listen to Lisa Hannigan's new album Sea Sew. I wish she was stopping by Toronto on her tour... she seems to be hitting everywhere else.

From my window

I'm sitting at my desk, which faces the window, writing. I always keep one eye on the street. There's a regular dog walker with a basset hound who waves at me, though I don't know him.

Just now, I saw a man and woman running towards each other. When they met - directly in my sightline - he swept her up and hugged her. It was a movie moment. I felt like Carver in that poem I posted last week. Image via.

Me Mosaic

This is fun! From The Scoop... as also seen on many blogs this week, too many to name.

Jane Adams and a Shooting Star..., 2. bread and jam, 3. have mercy on us, 4. International Klein Blue, 5. Steve McQueen, 6. coffee & the city, 7. Quin Abbey County Clare (bw), 8. Creme Brule, 9. Writer, 10. what are word for, 11. playing shy, 12. Town Crier

1. What is your first name? Jane
2. What is your favorite food? Bread & jam
3. What high school did you attend? Mercy
4. What is your favorite color? International Klein Blue
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Steve McQueen
6. Favorite drink? Coffee
7. Dream vacation? County Clare
8. Favorite dessert? Creme brulee
9. What do you want to be when you grow up? Writer
10. What do you love most in life? Words
11. One word to describe you? Shy
12. Your Flickr name? Jane Flanagan


I went for an epic stroll today. It's full-on Fall and everything outside is making me happy. I stayed indoors this evening long enough to scan and Flickr some old photos from my time in Alberta. I fell hard for the mountains the first time I saw them.

Paper cranes @ the Selby

I love, love, love making paper cranes (here's how, if you haven't before). And I absolutely adore them displayed en masse as a crowded mobile. These images are from The Selby. Now.. where could I hang this?

Seasonal shift

There's something about the change of the seasons that always makes me pine for home. Homesickness comes out of the blue, even after 5 years.

ome of my Dublin Flickr faves: 1. The Olympia's canopy, 2. U_Grogans_2, 3. Going to the Stags Head, 4. Busy Afternoon in Grogans