Floral rebellion

I'm staging a full-on winter rebellion in flower form. I bought pink ranunculus, palest yellow roses, hyacinths, lisianthus, freesias and pussy willow. I thought I was going to make lots of little arrangements. But, as I was carrying all the bunches home their abundance was beautiful and I couldn't split them up in the end. I remembered some of the tips from Michael George's excellent flower arranging book (my favourite) and all the stems build up a beautiful support trellis. I'm pretty happy with the end result!

Where we blog from: Alanna Cavanagh

When I first blogged about Alanna Cavanagh, to me she was an artist whose work I'd found at my favourite store in Toronto. Nowadays, I count among my favourite Toronto blog friends. That, exactly, is the magic of blogging. In case you're unfamiliar with her lauded work, you must visit Alanna's portfolio. She is a talented illustrator and printmaker and she's also making moves into surface design (wallpaper murals etc.) Her blog showcases her work and artistic processes, as well as inspiration and her decorating progress (Alanna recently moved into a new loft). This is where Alanna blogs from and what she has to say about it...

When I'm working on illustrations I need to be sitting at my desk with close access to scanners + printers so when i'm blogging I like to kick back and get comfy on the couch in my livingroom! I live in the West Queen West area of the city where a tremendous amount of condo construction is going on - so when I sit on the couch I get a glamourous view of graffiti and a big dumpster. As you can see I'm usually surrounded by books, magazines + my sketch book and - because this photo was taken at 3pm (when I hit an energy low) there is also a kit kat wrapper present! The textiles on the couch were made in Turkey, Tanzania, and India and add a real coziness to the space.

Above the couch is a little salon wall which contains three of my silk screen prints (n is for novel, Bernard Shaw cover and Big brogue shoe) plus artwork by Lisa Levitt, Lyndsay Moffat and John Derian. I found the 9 at a brooklyn flea market - it's from an old racetrack and the victorian door knocker is from the the Drake General Store.

A 'Frieda Kahlo action figure' by the artist Suzie Smith looks over my shoulder as I write reminding me to be brave in my work. :-) Her tag reads "The art of Frida Kahlo is a ribbon around a bomb" -Andre Breton.

Here is the view from the other side. I love my expedit bookshelf from IKEA because it provides so much storage as well as stages for 'little vignettes' . It also serves as an excellent room divider from my office. I stitched the shoe needlepoint pillow which sits on the old timey chair and the piece way up above is my Alphabet legs print.

Here is another angle. This is my favourite room in the house because it's filled with all my favourite things: books, art, textiles and colour.... so for me it's the perfect blogging spot.

Thanks again Jane!

Thanks Alanna!

Sunday best: At the flower market

It's a working weekend for me, but I'm taking a break this morning to hit the flower market and pick up a bunch or two of cheerfulness. I've been blue the last few days. I feel like the weather and the time of year are contributing factors. I've hit my winter wall. But I'm also midway through some projects and at that point where I can't see the end, can't judge my work and am feeling pretty insecure about the whole endeavour. Compound that with a few careless remarks from people and you get one sad Janey.

Oh, but I know I'll be okay and so I'm pushing through my projects, trying to work systematically and a little dispassionately. Judging in the midstream is not a good thing for me. And I'm trying to understand how I can simultaneously dismiss some cruel remark as stemming from insecurity and yet, at the very same time, feel its full force deeply. Damn my soft Cancerian underbelly!

But this outfit is cheering me up. As you know, I'm not about to abandon my blacks and greys anytime soon. So I love that this ensemble has just a few little accents of pinks and corals. The top is really a dress. But trust me, you don't need to see that much of a Flanagan's legs (gorgeous Irish dancing legs that we're endowed with). I'd happily wear it with jeans or leggings once it warms up. Yes, I still believe spring will come!

Wishing you a lovely Sunday!

Products: Rectangle 14k Earrings from Saara Reidsema / Ink Polka Mini Dress from Rittenhouse / Forever cotton cardigan from J.Crew / Peony bouquet via / Papaya dot bag from Baggu / Acne hex jeans from Totokaelo / Mulberry Postman's Lock Continental Wallet from Net-a-Porter / Ring from Satomi Kawakita / Rachel Comey Penpal Short BootLa Garconne from


A 4-day work week just feels right, doesn't it? That one day changes everything. It all seems much more civilized. Even so, I had a busy week and am glad for Friday, a weekend and a new month. The end of a difficult February!

I've been working hard every night and had some really frustrating moments where I threw out my whole night's work. It's one thing to come home from work and take on extra projects. But it's confidence-shattering to then feel like you've made no real progress after giving up all that free time. I have to learn to bear these setbacks better and not spiral into an "I'm an utter failure" mindset.

Still, it was nice to come home and realize the light is stretching into the evenings and to get up to bright mornings this week. It's still cold, but the shift is gaining momentum. I can see it every day - the arc of the sun getting higher, the birds perking up, people's eyes brighter, more aware.

And I can't help but feel in thrall of it despite moments of failure this week. Getting up was a little easier and I was more buoyant coming home each evening. I want more and more of it. I've so much to get done and have been patiently waiting for this burst of energy.

Some loveliness from the blogosphere: I adored the pictures Constanca took in Cornwall. The palette reminds me of my favourite thoughts of home. Sofia blogged another series of paintings depicting women reading. I love these! Which is your favourite? And this post from An Apple a Day had me craving a solid day in a good museum and that beautiful coma that comes over you after consuming art on a grand scale.

It's a working weekend for me, but I hope to buy lots of spring flowers and ready myself for a grand March too. Happy weekend!

Image credits: 1. Untitled, 2. roughdraftbooks shop is awesome, 3. Untitled, 4. stacked

Three of a kind

Book report: The Empty Family

I’m fascinated by characters on thresholds. And I identify with them too. I carry that sense of being on the threshold of something new always. But even more so these days, as I approach my mid-thirties. But it’s a different kind of threshold now. It isn’t the dramatic threshold of youth; when you’re on the cusp of setting out, getting started and gathering momentum, hitting milestones and firsts.

Instead, it’s the threshold between ambition and acceptance, an understanding that, for better or worse, I’m well on my way now. A reconciliation that this is what I'm working with, this body, this brain, this way-of-being. And yet, life is far from over. There’s much that can be accomplished and hoped for, stuff that can’t even be dreamed of yet. So it’s not resignation as much as a self-acceptance and growing realism. And, in that way, it’s consoling and even confidence-building.

Still, I think it’s a threshold because there’s still extreme vacillation between understanding so much is still possible and understanding the degree of determinism in our lives. The characters in Colm Tóibín’s The Empty Family seem at, or just past, this point.

They think a lot about the past, about trysts and moments of hinge-propositions. But not in the deathbed way; more in the manner of somebody stepping away from all of that. Into a phase where they know themselves better and have let go of the youthful, wide-eyed great expectations.

Colm Tóibín is one of my favourite writers (I absolutely adored Brooklyn, his last novel). I don’t think he’s a Beckettan writer, but he does have that Beckettan skill of distancing himself from the easy lyricism of Irish story-telling. His writing is more spare than that, less romantic, less Yeatsian. It’s dreadfully easy to fall into that peculiar Irish musicality, so it takes particular discipline to stay away from it and yet remain a compassionate, moving storyteller. Tóibín is all of that.

Margaret Howell

Margaret Howell was one of my early Inspiring Women. And although I love her clothes best when she wears them, I won't demand that of every collection shoot. There are so many pieces in her Spring collection that fall into the "one in every colour" category. Seriously, great uniform stuff. And you know how much I love a uniform.

Inspiring women: Rosalind Franklin

I've blogged about many female artists and writers in this series. I suppose that's a fair representation of where my principle interests lie. But I'm not without wider interest and inspiration either. I've been watching a series of documentaries on TVO called The Story of Science. It traces the major scientific discoveries; those that changed our understanding of our world and created entire new disciplines of study.

Last week's episode brought us to more recent times and the discovery of DNA and its structure. I'm sure you know all about the controversy surrounding the discovery of the helical structure (specifically whether Watson and Crick deserve the credit for the discovery). Regardless of the debate, it is true that all the scientists in competition to discover the structure of DNA excelled in their field.

One of those scientists was Rosalind Franklin. Photo 51, her X-Ray photograph of DNA, was key in the discovery the double-helix structure of DNA (her supervisor shared them with Watson without her permission). While researching this post, I also discovered that she was also raised by a father who was against higher education for women, which makes her success in her field all the more odds-defying. Still, it is claimed that she was frequently denied full credit for her work and, as a woman, was not even allowed to use the Senior Common Room at King's College, London.

Franklin died at the young age of 37 from complications arising from ovarian cancer.

Books: Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA and Rosalind Franklin and DNA
PBS: Secret of Photo 51

Image via (Copyright (c) Henry Grant Archive/Museum of London)

The bed dilemma

Bed-shopping has magical powers to perplex me. I suppose it's because my personal style straddles a few different decorating styles, so it's hard to know which style to land on when it comes to a piece as big as a bed. These decisions seem less weighty when I'm buying accessories, because the magic is in the mix. But a bed is so domineering that I worry about going to far down one style road. For instance, if I buy that French caned bed, will the bedroom be girly frou-frou no matter what else I do?

In reaction to these thoughts, I'm usually pull back to more neutral pieces. But neutral often equals bland, so I then find myself leaning back to something more statement-making. To people around me, it all seems like wild oscillation between radically different styles. But, I identify with both and my home embodies them in different ways. The difficulty in choosing which camp the bed purchase should come from lies primarily in its sheer scale.

After weeks of looking at some pretty ornate beds, I'm back in the neutral camp and looking again at upholstered ones. I've always liked the shape of this one from Crate & Barrel. Margot Austin recommended I check out this upholsterer in Toronto and I might price compare. I've got to say (and this gives me the heebie-jeebies) that I think about all those bed bug reports we keep hearing in Toronto when I'm considering an upholstered bed. A gross complication indeed.

In an attempt to adjudicate what should win, I've gone back to basics, trying to understand my style in a fundamental sense. It's easy to get distracted by inspiration shots of finished rooms and homes, to literally look for the bed you want in a bedroom you love. Instead, I've pulled shots of all those products I've loved forever. And then I've put the beds that I've had in mind with that group. The Crate & Barrel bed won that test.

I think this mosaic really represents my mix: A little traditional country (rolled arm sofa, relaxed upholstery), some more formal (Barbara Barry lighting, oval dining table), some more interesting pieces (Ochre, Oly) and some modern (coffee table and console). I think it all works, especially because my palette is always soft. But I think it's also easy to see why a bed would be so confusing, even polarizing. But of all the inspirating rooms I've blogged, this assortment of products crystallizes way more for me. Throw in piles and piles of books and lots of art and you've got my dream home.

Also, funny to note, I think my blog header matches too. See? I am coherent in the end!

Products shown: Oly / Farrow & Ball / Circa Lighting / Crate & Barrel / Ochre / Howe London / Oly / Canvas / StyleGarage / 1st Dibs / Henredon / Williams Sonoma Home / Farrow & Ball / Circa Lighting

Three of a kind

The Low Anthem

I saw The Low Anthem a few years ago, when they opened for Lisa Hannigan. NPR is offering a first listen of their new album 'Smart Flesh' right now here. I've been listening to it fairly constantly. I also love this photo of band member Jocie Adams by Willa Mamet.

Where we blog from: The Diversion Project

Jules is one of the nicest bloggers out there and her blog is a source of ace inspiration. If you ever check my Tumblr, you'll see a fair number of images transplanted from The Diversion Project. Her blog is always a sure-fire source of design inspiration. And, so, I'm delighted to share where Jules blogs from and what she has to say about it...

Well, this is a bit of a thrill. Actually, more than a bit.

I'm jules from The Diversion Project, and I'm a bit of a geeky fan of Jane and this fabulous blog Ill Seen, Ill Said, so I was thrilled when I was asked to share a little of Where I Blog From.

As you may be able to tell I have a bit of a soft spot for colour, vintage timber gently treated, natural treasures and gorgeous textiles.

To be honest, I was surprised when I saw these images that there was some kind of coherence to them. I oscillate wildly, on a daily {{who am I kidding, hourly}} basis when it comes to my favourite design style. However it seems in the application, I've kept to a fairly honed look.

My little office is where dreams are hatched and thoughts are percolated, and many, many hours are invested in searching for the latest design nirvana. Needless to say, we're kind of close my office and I. And also close is my black walled bedroom, right next door in fact. Oh so handy for when the design nirvana search has had me diverted into the wee small hours.

My humble abode however is currently on the market, and I'm in search of a new pasture {{oh please let it have exposed brick, concrete floors and picture windows}} to call home. Exciting times, a chance to choose a new direction maybe. Will keep you posted.

Thanks so much Jane for having me over for a visit !

All images by jules @ The Diversion Project

Thanks Jules!

Sunday best: Pampering

We had a brief blast of Spring on Friday - it got up to 9°C and I even spent a few minutes sitting a patio. Unfortunately, by midnight it was snowing again and we had squalls all day yesterday. Sigh... Still, that little tease was enough to wake my brain and widen my eyes.

That brief reprieve from winter made me want to peel off those winter layers and give myself a pampering. On the beauty front, winter is all about pragmatic concerns; mostly constant moisturizing. I'm not really a spa girl, but a morning of at-home pampering sounds perfect.

So, this morning I'm going to do some yoga. Then I'll scrub and bathe and give myself a head massage with some argan oil. I'll also treat myself to a face mask, and a manicure and pedicure too. I plan to avoid the computer and the television, listen to some lovely music and sip tea instead of my usual coffee.

I hope your Sunday is as relaxing and indulgent. And I really hope that Spring stops being such a commitment-phobe soon!

Products: 1842, 19 Août tea from Theodor / Waffle Robe from The White Company / Red Roses Home Candle from Jo Malone / Purifying mask and Balancing Concentrate from Caudalie / Tweezerman Slant Tweezers from Sephora / Turkish Bath Towel from Turkish Bath / Muslin Cloths from Eve Lom / Revival DAB (RD 60) from Roberts


Fridays are pretty great, but Fridays of long weekend are even better. I found my rhythm again this week. Back in my good exercise routine, getting a fair chunk of creative work done each evening. It's instantly uplifting to find that balance.

I also forked out on a flight; a trip home to Ireland in September / October. I resolved last time I was home (in 2009) to get back every two years, so I'm happy to be keep that resolution. And, since I'm going for almost three weeks, I think I could hop somewhere else in Europe for one weekend. Rome is currently top of the list, but I feel no urgency on making a decision.

I also ordered some drapery samples (from The Shade Store) this week. New window treatments were one of my decor resolutions, so it feels good to set that in motion too. I'm at that point where, having decided to address it, I can't stand looking at what I've currently got. So, I'm excited to do this, and do it right.

And the snow finally started to melt! Although that means in-betweeny days (freezing rain, ugh!) it also means open windows and happy drip, drip, dripping. And the blogosphere was full of it too. Chelsea's water-colour inspired bouquets left me awestruck.

Katy has been making magnificent, leaps-and-bounds, progress on her renovation and I've been living vicariously through it all. I'm perhaps as excited as she is to be nearing the decorating part of the renovation! I loved all these casual looks Kate blogged. I always find looks like these more motivating than all the stunning girls in elegant evening gowns. And, as always, I adored Stephanie's imaginary outfit too.

I have a fair balance of fun work and socializing planned this weekend. I hope you have a lovely one! xx

Image credits: 1. Just a perfect day, 2. Untitled, 3. notebooks, 4. Untitled

Five essentials, two random facts

I was tagged twice in the last few weeks, first by Sofia of Être Soi to share my five daily essentials and also by Catherine of Little Glowing Lights to tell you seven random things about myself. I'm going to cheat and combine them. So, here's five daily essentials and two random things.

Five essentials:
1. A good read, currently Paul Auster's Sunset Park
2. A notebook. This one was bought in Ireland, I stockpile them when I go home
3. Fragrance - I wear a few different perfumes, but Issey Miyake's scents are always in high rotation
4. A handful of organic almonds, which I try to eat every day
5. Jewelry. This necklace is by my friend Linda Penwarden and I wear it most days

Two random things:
6. Posts like this one always feel weirdly narcissistic to me. Who the heck cares that I eat almonds anyway? This isn't Goop, after all!
7. I didn't include it in the above five, but Egyptian Magic cream is another one of my daily essentials. The stuff really is magic. It's also the dodgiest looking packaging on earth (hence its exclusion in the photo). I get mine at Whole Foods

Inspiring women: Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman's book, The Principles of Uncertainty, is one of the books in my header. Each title you see up there was chosen as much for its content as for the spine. (It's no accident there are five Becketts up there!) As most of you know, I own and read many, many books so the inclusion of Kalman is itself significant.

I love her light handling of topics that have gravity. Often, it's easier to steer clear of dense and complex topics in confined spaces, to give up on the idea that you can cover the bases in any real way in a medium that demands brevity or digestibility. But Kalman manages to create work that is deeply philosophical while still feeling light.

And, of course, I love her artistic style too. 'Whimsical' is one of those words that's thrown around when it comes to design, but her art really is whimsical, playful and light and beautiful to behold.

Website: Maira Kalman
Books: The Principles of Uncertainty, And the Pursuit of Happiness, The Elements of Style Illustrated

Images by Maira Kalman via her site

Unabashed Apparel

The Spring 2011 collection from Unabashed Apparel is my favourite collection to date from Sarahbeth. Not only are there many pieces that I immediately loved (most especially the easy, white dress), the styling of this collection is incredible. I'm seriously craving green right now, as today's posts attest! And this photo shoot just wakes up my eyes. Also, I can't tell you how much admiration I have for Sarahbeth. She is endlessly modest and hard-working.

Three of a kind

A poem for Monday

It's intriguing to me how we make all the right noises about people being able to do what they want, construct their lives in many kinds of unconventional ways. But the calendar we observe is a conservative one; designated days for mothers and fathers, lovers and families. The estranged, the single, the non-believers suffer many days of alienation throughout the year; reminders that we didn't fall in line.

I'm happy to have surrounded myself with people who are supportive, who understand that there's an upside and a downside to everything and you can rue the downside without meaning you regret things you've chosen. And I love this poem by Philip Larkin because it verbalizes some of the complexity of these choices. We often feign confidence in our decisions, because we don't want to be seen as people with regrets, with self-doubt. But, there's all of that, for me at least.

Places, Loved Ones
No, I have never found
The place where I could say
This is my proper ground,
Here I shall stay;

Nor met that special one
Who has an instant claim
On everything I own
Down to my name;

To find such seems to prove
You want no choice in where
To build, or whom to love;
You ask them to bear
You off irrevocably,
So that it's not your fault
Should the town turn dreary,
The girl a dolt.

Yet, having missed them, you're
Bound, none the less, to act
As if what you settled for
Mashed you, in fact;
And wiser to keep away
From thinking you still might trace
Uncalled-for to this day
Your person, your place.

Where we blog from: 16 house

Mandy is the lovely blogger behind 16 house and she blogs from her gorgeous home in Australia. I adore Mandy's aesthetic. It's bookish and abundant and she seems to love things with a little extra patina and a lot of charm. She also recently started a new blog, What Made You Happy Today and I find the smiles of the people featured infectious and inspiring. This is where Mandy blogs from and what she has to say about it...

It was so lovely to be asked where I blog from, I blog from my family home that I share with my husband, son and daughter, plus my two dogs Malcom and Elvis, who if I am at home are beside me every minute. My home overlooks the bush, it's a bit like living in a big tree house, lots of trees, birds, and very tranquil. The deck is like another room and always a great place to entertain friends.

But I would have to say my favorite rooms are my kitchen, I love to cook and my bedroom, kind of my little haven (I actually do quite a bit blogging in my bed). Really I blog from where ever I feel comfortable, dining table, deck, lounge; no set rules.

I love to be surrounded by art and books, my two favorite things, oh and magazines and photos, of course. My favorite piece would have to be my Anna-Wili Highfield Raven, it makes me happy every time I look at it and I love my noticeboard which is always getting new things added.

I have recently started another blog called "What Made Me Happy Today" so that takes me out of the home and onto the streets looking for interesting people to photograph, it has been a lot of fun and I look forward to doing a lot more of it.

Thanks so much for having me XXX

Thanks Mandy!

Sunday best: Balancing the feminine

There's little doubt that my style has taken a more feminine turn in recent months. I chatted with a friend about it over dinner on Friday and we agreed it started when I painted my bathroom pink. I've gone through phases of being a very girly girl in the past. There was a whole year of pink in university. But I'm not, as a personality, what people think of as "pink".

So, there's a tension. I'm drawn to prettiness, but I don't feel that I embody it. And if I take any of those hokey style tests, I always come in "classic" not "feminine". So, today's Sunday best is about finding a balance between the light and dark, masculine, feminine and neutral; allowing myself to indulge my penchant for pretty, romantic things, without changing my fundamental style.

This is something I struggle with from a home decor standpoint too. The bedroom furniture I've been looking at is definitely more feminine than I've previously entertained. And I'm trying to reconcile it with what I've loved and collected in the past. There's something about this outfit that I think hits the balance I've been looking for. Even the OLO fragrance is a balance of violet and leather.

This is the kind of design dilemma I geek out a little on and I think it has pretty deep, psychological underpinnings. Feminine style is loaded with all kinds of connotations. And there's definitely a fear that in embracing more feminine style, especially in my apartment, it becomes less man-friendly. I'm ashamed to say that, but it really is there, nagging at the back of my mind. Do you struggle to reconcile masculine and feminine in your aesthetic too?

Products: Gem necklace from Mociun / Tsumori Chisato Draped Overlay Blouse from La Garconne / Silk ruffle bra from Fleur T / Violet / Leather from OLO Fragrance / Signet ring from Conroy & Wilcox / Naked nail polish from Deborah Lippmann / Emma book clutch from Kate Spade / Citizens Of Humanity Amber Jeans from Revolve / DiorShow Mascara from Sephora / Nars Duo Cream Eyeshadow from Sephora / Lanvin Two-tone crinkled leather ballerina flats from Net-a-Porter


February is a mysterious month. I don't quite know who I am in it. Not quite myself. I have plans and things to build and I'll sit there for hours sketching them out. But, when I get the opportunity to move past that point, I seem utterly immobilized. I can't say why. But then, if I do get going, I'm frenzied and harry myself into complete and blinding exhaustion.

It's hard to feel in sync with the universe when you don't quite know how you're feeling. And the earth doesn't seem to know its own mind either. I'm trying to calmly wait it out, knowing that it always makes the inevitable decision to push away from winter and into spring. And then I too will spring into something less turbulent. I don't doubt any of this.

Still, there's the unsettledness in the meantime. I can't say that a week of jury duty has helped. Feeling cut off from the world, trapped in a room that would turn a saint into a misanthrope. And so my mind has been numb each night when I arrived home. Too numb to be seduced by the prettiness of the blogosphere. Too numb to feel compelled by to-do lists.

I came home last night and cut up a ruby grapefruit, sprinkled it with demerara sugar and sat down and let the sweetness wake up my brain. I could feel it creep behind my eyes and push some of the fog away in my brain. I know when I start to feel that fog, the small decisions matter a lot. So, I'm dressing my bed every morning and moisturizing my elbows, taking Vitamin D and going out of my way to bring flowers into my apartment even when I just feel like dashing home.

Most of all, I'm looking forward to finding the beat again this weekend, picking up the familiar rhythms, regaining my sense of what day it is. I hope you're not feeling lost in February. And I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Image credits: 1. wee spoons, 2. another one of the lemon, poppy seed and olive oil cakes, 3. one hundred and twenty eight., 4. Selina Lake - Books & Roses

Mariona Gen

It's been bitter, bitter cold this week in Toronto. I think today's posts are a little fantasy-fueled because I'm letting my mind stray into a highly dreamlike sort of place. And, after all, it's Valentine's Day soon, so a little romance is in order, (even if that means I'm buying that Diptyque candle for myself!)

But, in reality, the romance is usually tempered with my more grounded approach to colour and design. I think Mariona Gen's spring collection has a beautiful balance. I love the hits of peachy pinks, but I also love that the grounding is mostly neutral and calm.

Three of a kind

Brighton House

I'm beginning to understand that my next few decor purchases are important ones. Not merely because I take all purchases seriously. But because my taste has shifted since I last thought about furniture buying. I think it's more grown up now, but also more overtly feminine. And I think purchases like a bed or custom drapes will embody that shift.

There's a calm to this house from Living Etc. that I simply adore. It reminds me of a cleaner version of Rita Konig's style, which is also a constant source of inspiration. The things I'm weeding out include Kilim rugs, my bullet planter, jewelry displays, anything kitsch.

Things I'm considering adding: Tufted chairs, a French caned bed, patterned drapes and new lamps. Thankfully, I don't think I need to do major editing on big pieces I already own. I've always leaned to classic on big purchases. Which I think is a good sign it's where I should be.

Inspiring women: Anaïs Nin

I've always had mixed feelings about Anaïs Nin. On the one hand, she seems completely over-indulgent regarding her own mental and emotional states, narcissistically obsessed with the bends in her brain.

Yet, on the other hand, there are moments when Nin writes something that cuts straight through her orgy of self-examination and strikes a chord that's so deeply resonant, I feel a real connection to her.

And I guess the mixed feelings I feel towards her illuminate the complexity of our relationship with our own sex. Women can be so hard on each other. We can turn on our own gender on a dime. And yet we'll search high and low in each other for a sense of sisterhood and synchronicity.

And I suppose in that way, maybe I don't sometimes like Nin because she displays traits I sometimes loathe in myself, that seem a little hysterical or over-elaborate or self-obsessed or some other trait I recoil from in myself and in others.

And I think all of this is intriguing and, for that at least, inspiring. Because it's easy to only accept what you wholeheartedly love. But it's much more interesting to examine complex and conflicted feelings. And there's a reality in that complexity that appeals, far more than the purity of adulation.

Image via (cropped)


Morrison's winter collection makes good early Spring inspiration for Toronto weather. I consistently love the soft drape of their collections, how they manage to put out clothes that seem more womanly than girly. I also can imagine these on a wide assortment of body shapes, which is often the first thing that alienates me from a collection I otherwise love.

Where we blog from: Anna Emilia

Anna Emilia is one of my favourite artists. Her work is like a dreamy fable, full of rich nuance and a stunning reflection of her beautiful surroundings in Finland. And her blog, her Weather Diary, is a touchstone to all that inspires this talented lady. I am a proud owner of one of Anna Emilia's prints and can tell you the in-person experience of her art is even better. You can buy her artwork here. This is where Anna Emilia blogs from and what she has to say about it...

Time to travel in time and space, moment to remember or get forgotten. A moment to visit and get lost. To search the weather, to feel it on my face. The moments when I write my weather diary.

Thanks Anna Emilia!

Sunday best: Decor shopping

Last week, in my epic clean-up, I decided two things: First, I'm not moving apartments in the immediate future. You may recall this was one of the ideas I tossed around before Christmas. But, I've been ruthless and found more space. I'm really happy about this because I love this apartment.

Second, I'm not putting my desk in my bedroom after all. The idea just wasn't sitting right. And I think multi-functional as my main room is, it's always nice to go to bed, because it's just a bedroom. No, it's not the best use of my square-footage, but it is probably better for my mental health (especially given my propensity to work day and night).

This all means I can go back to those recurring bedroom plans. If my bedroom is going to be a pure retreat, I'm going to make it just that, at last. So, today I'm shopping for inspiration. On the list are: A bed or headboard, drapes, an armchair or chaise and a new rug. I still like this plan, though the pattern I was thinking about for the wallpaper will now be transferred to upholstery.

Of course, budget will dictate this is done in phases (and is also why, along with the vacillation, I've taken so long already). I tend not to cheap out on upholstery and I'm also craving grown-up, full window-treatments.

Products: Fabric samples from DwellStudio / Vanessa Bruno Silk Cardigan from La Garconne / Button-back tee from J.Crew / Farrow & Ball sample card via / Acne Hex Jeans from Totokaelo / Rose Cut Diamond and Pearl Arrow from Annina Vogel / Ring by Satomi Kawakita / Shoes by Lanvin (my own, originally blogged here) / Tillie Powder Beige Sparke Tweed purse from Mulberry


This week just flew. I got so much done. And I didn't get enough done. Oh no. But I think what I did get done was the kind of foundational stuff that will better prepare me to get everything else done. Cryptic enough for you? I hope so.

I went to Ikea and got some bits, organized my apartment to put like things together. I also gave my place one of those mega cleaning blitzes. Cupboards were emptied, furniture was pulled away from walls, I managed to put my back out in the process. But it was all worth it. Maybe I got spring-cleaning fever early. Whatever it was, it felt good.

And I spent very little time online, so it was a bit of a manual labour week and that always produces a different sort of satisfaction and a different sort of contemplation. I like feeling tired in my body at the end of the day, rather than tired behind my eyes. I even like the aches.

But I still have a few links for you: The most beautiful bouquets - we should all buy ourselves flowers this weekend or even a new plant. Birthday girl Chelsea blogged these beauties made of leather. I am in love. And, after seeing these vases, I think I need to finally check out West Elm. Oh and let's all make these for breakfast soon, okay?

Finally, thank you thank you for all the lovely feedback on the blog redesign. I'm not one of those people who flips designs frequently and so I become very wedded to these things. Yet this feels like an evolution rather than a complete change. It makes me happy to see Sam in the middle of the header (my first edition of Ill Seen, Ill Said is there too). But I'm chuffed you all like it too and took the time to tell me.

Have a lovely, lovely weekend!

Image credits: 1. Untitled, 2. IMG_4083.cake, 3. Pretty Latte, 4. Untitled

Three of a kind

Kettle's Yard

I got an e-mail last week that struck me with that magical connection that sometimes cuts through the blogosphere and reaffirms your faith in this medium.

The sender shared Kettle's Yard with me. She thought I'd like the homes spartan rusticity, the combination of found objects and fine art, the equal presentation of each. Indeed I do! I also love how there's so much to look at in this space but it seems clean and calm. I love not only the objects but their perfect arrangement and the perfect harmony between modern, traditional and organic.

And, more than that, I love that Kettle's Yard was handed over to Cambridge the public by its owner Jim Ede completely intact, on the condition that it be kept exactly as it was and visitors could spend time in it as any home, sitting in the chairs, picking up books. So, it remains a home, a remarkable one, that anybody can stroll through and enjoy. Check out the full virtual tour here. Thank you Georgina for sharing this with me!