A poem for Tuesday

When I haven't seen a friend in a long time, conversation quickly turns to family. So, I found myself talking more on the weekend about my parents; about their ways and their own parents' ways too, how they felt about their siblings and the country and time they grew up in. And the likely reasons they raised us as they did. And how that sometimes ended in ways that confused or alienated them, and that confuse and alienate us in turn too.

And it's not like these thoughts are new. But sometimes they leap out and are suddenly less personal. I get a glimpse of myself in the larger landscape of an extended family I never really knew and half-stories that never quite add up. It's a fleeting kind of revelation buried beneath confused feelings and memories both painful and loving. And I'm always struck by the beauty of banal moments for conveying these blameless discrepancies and connections. I like this poem for it, by Mary Oliver.

If I envy anyone it must be
My grandmother in a long ago
Green summer, who hurried
Between kitchen and orchard on small
Uneducated feet, and took easily
All shining fruits into her eager hands.

That summer I hurried too, wakened
To books and music and circling philosophies.
I sat in the kitchen sorting through volumes of answers
That could not solve the mystery of the trees.

My grandmother stood among her kettles and ladles.
Smiling, in faulty grammar,
She praised my fortune and urged my lofty career:
So to please her I studied - but I will remember always
How she poured confusion out, how she cooled and labeled
All the wild sauces of the brimming year.

Three of a kind


Love these easy, loose looks from Obakki. I had a long shopping day for the first time in ages on Saturday, taking my friend around town and helping her find some new clothes. I'm such a "hunt and destroy" shopper, I was really out of practice with prolonged browsing and found the process exhausting (though still fun!) Obakki was one of the new-to-me labels I stumbled upon.

Clam Lab

Lovely tabletop ceramics from Clam Lab on Etsy.

Sunday best: My classics

As I said, I’ve been spendy. I detest that Veruca Salt “I want...” feeling and so a complete break is required. That said, I’ve done pretty well. I stayed within my favourite "beautiful basics" category. And added stuff for my home that I’ve been conscientiously building up to for quite some time.

So, today’s Sunday best is about taking stock. I’m positively evangelical about some new beauty products (isn’t that the best feeling?) and I feel like I’ve filled some holes in my closet. Now that Toronto has decided to have Dublinesque springs, a raincoat makes a wise investment. Have I told you that my absolute favourite thing to wear is this: Jeans, flats, a tank and a mannish cardigan, preferably cashmere? I usually add one of my many scarves.

I’ve blogged before about my uniform. I think the Mackintosh makes a sound addition (did I mention it was on sale at Lark?) In fact the only fictional part of this Sunday best is the earrings. I’m massively in love with them, but they may as well be a kabillion dollars for the likelihood I will invest in them. If I was going to spend that kind of money, I’d probably buy a bed instead... But, it's time for a spending respite.

It often seems this way with me… I find it hard to keep everything balanced all the time. One thing always runs away with itself. It might be exercise or shopping or reading or work. Maybe it’s never felt quite right to have everything in good measure, somehow it feels like a dispassionate, calculated kind of existence. I’m letting it slide because I seem to know when I need to pull back. And because it sometimes serves me well (especially when that tendency is work or creativity-related).

In the past, I’ve often wished I was generally more stable, more even-keeled. But I’ve really come to accept my mutable nature and trust that I have got good inherent weights and measures. Yes, I ebb and flow and sometimes that makes me feel uncertain, moody. But I’ve shaken off that idea that I should have a calm, even-keeled spirit. Because even though I’m a staid Cancerian girl in many ways, sometimes I’m the Mississippi!

Products: Traig Mackintosh from Lark / One-of-a-king earrings from Conroy Wilcox / My ring by Andrea Bonelli / Favourite tank from J.Crew / A.P.C. Classic Cardigan from La Garconne / Bootcut jeans from J.Crew / Bloch Arabian ballerina flats from Gravity Pope / Lipstick from Laura Mercier / Scotch Naturals in Heather Blush / Le Labo fragrance


Right now, a friend from my MA days is here to visit so I'm on hostess duties! I can't believe we're winding down May already. It barely feels like we've had spring at all and I'm definitely not ready to launch into the heat. But it will come regardless of what I want.

I've been ridiculously spendy the last few months and starting a new business hasn't much helped. So, the focus for June will be discipline and financial planning. I've got that trip home in September to look forward to, so that should be motivation enough to bank a few bucks between now and then.

Did you check out the new Pure Green Living mag this week? I love it! (Of course I do with Bess and Michelle involved!) I especially enjoyed the Coriander Girl posy feature and the bookcase on page 55 is straight from my dreams.

Nadia's new home is seriously a slice of heaven. And Abbey has bought her very own slice too. It makes me happy to see people building such lovely lives (and gets me scheming about camping in their gardens). Speaking of which, I love this quote from Bobby McAlpine.

Thanks for Coterie mentions from Design*Sponge (an amazing "Living in Jane Eyre" post by Amy) and Chelsea, who used her striped cup in this stunning arrangement. I've been getting some disappointed e-mails, so... Fair warning: I'm down to single items on a lot of the store merchandise (including many blankets). Thanks, as always, to those who have supported me with blog posts, e-mails and purchases.

What are you up to this weekend? Have a happy, happy one!

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

Three of a kind


I bookmarked Sawkille a long time ago (and blogged previously about Serv ce Station). You can see collaborator Josh Vogel's gorgeous house tour on D*S here. He also co-founded BDDW, another favourite of mine. So, it's no mystery I love Sawkille too, most especially the stools and bleached sycamore stumps.


Gorgeous, easy styles from Paris-based Hannoh. Love all those natural materials; linen, silk, cashmere...

Inspiring women: Mary Jane Ansell

I can't claim I know a lot about Mary Jane Ansell, but I'm somewhat obsessed with her paintings. And I know I have a propensity to feature long-departed women in this series, so it's a pleasure to feature a young artist with a bright future. Ansell graduated from Brighton University in 1994 and now works from her studio in the heart of Brighton's North Lane. She is represented exclusively by the Fairfax Gallery. Here are some of the reasons I love her. More on her portfolio.

John Fisher paintings

I was looking for some Irish landscape oil paintings on Etsy and came across Portland-based John Fisher. I love his dynamic skies especially.

New at Coterie!

Over the weekend, I added some summer-weight textiles to the shop! There are scarves in two colours, lovely blue and a stunning mauve. They're big enough to be wraps or shawls too and will wrinkle beautifully with wear. And I've got some gorgeous silk and cotton textured throws too.

All the new products were sourced from a Vermont-based company and member of the Fair Trade Federation. They work in partnership with six women-owned textile design studios in Ethiopia, Swaziland, Afghanistan, and Mali, to create traditionally-inspired contemporary accessories and home textiles. The sale of these products supports the emerging private sector in each of these countries and creates jobs for women in societies where good jobs are rare, paying them a fair wage.

And while I was photographing the scarves, I took some other group shots too and included the lovely lilacs I filled my apartment with on the weekend. I mixed them with roses and some greenery in a recently acquired Dundee Marmalade jar (yes, I'm up to three now); this one from Cottage Farm. The vintage pen nibs are from Sadie Olive.

Sunday best: Lilac time

Yesterday was HOT!! I got up early and went to the farmer's market, picking up duck eggs and scones from my favourite (Irish!) baker, all kinds of mushrooms and some Fifth Town Counting Sheep cheese too.

Later BFF came over for lunch. We made a margherita pizza and afterwards had ice-cream cones with Guinness ice-cream from Xococava. It doesn't get much tastier. We talked about moving and finding answers and strolled down leafy streets and breathed in the lilacs.

And we wound up at the flower markets where I bought myself a big armful of lilac so I could bring the day home with me. Being left behind is a strange feeling. Of course, there's sadness. But there's a vicarious fresh start too - like somebody else setting off releases those left behind in some way, or maybe the energy is just contagious.

So today, I'm full of that feeling. That and the heady scent of lilacs. And because I always forget how much Toronto (my neighbourhood in particular) empties out on summer long weekends, I'll probably find it quiet enough at my coffee shop and read my book and wonder.

Happy Sunday!

Products: Crumpet Pointelle cardigan from Net-a-Porter / Sunglasses from Chanel / Strappy Linen Dress from The White Company / Lilac bouquet DIY via Project Wedding / Fragrance from Le Labo / Heather Blush by Scotch Naturals / Blanca Monros Gomez ring from Catbird / Chloe Slingback Sandal from Barneys / Canvas Duck bag from Baggu


What a long week - so much rain! Toronto is completely vibrant with green, which (as Irish people well know) is the upside to so much rain. I want the weather to slow down so it stays verdant for many more weeks before the summer burn sets in.

News from home was attention-grabbing this week. I grew up on the tail-end of The Troubles and remember the ups and downs of the peace process, moments of deep disbelief that we could ever overcome history, heated university debates that included many of the key political figures in that process. So, this week was historic. And although I was nervous about it being too, too soon for some, I'm glad the Queen's visit happened. And I'm glad for all she said and acknowledged.

On this side of the pond, I was up to my eyes with work. And, with stock fast moving from Coterie, I've been making new orders and reaching out to new suppliers. It's all still fresh and exciting for me and I nearly feel like I'm playing shop like a little girl still! But I had moments of quiet too and got some writing done and reading as well.

All week, Stephanie's blog had me in book raptures. Most especially, I fell deeply in love with this painting. I loved this wishlist round-up from (a different) Stephanie and was flattered to see some of Coterie's ceramics included in such a beautiful collection. And thank you to Lake Jane, Brandi and Megan for their posts too!

I became addicted to Elephantine the last few days (why wasn't this in my reader?!) and of late have also been loving (a different) Jane's blog, SmallButCharming - besides her gorgeous flower and garden pictures, Jane has the sweetest conversational tone to her writing and within a few posts you just want to have a good gab with her!

Tonight, I'm having a friend over for dinner and we're watching My Left Foot, which I haven't seen in yonks but love to bits (Brenda Fricker embodies every Irish mammy I think). And my BFF is off again so farewells will be bid this weekend too. He's a wandering star and I'm a typical Cancerian, so this will always be the way for us! And, of course, chores will be done and sleep will be caught up on, only to be stolen away again on Sunday night.

What are you up to? Have a lovely weekend!

Flickr image credits: 1. Lake Erie #2, 2. good morning., 3. Untitled, 4. Untitled

Around home

After what feels like days and days of rain, the sun came out for the briefest instant yesterday evening so I snapped some pics while dinner was cooking.

Three of a kind

Cosmic Wonder Light Source

I love this gown by Cosmic Wonder Light Source, spotted over on the site of Maryan Nassir Zadeh. Wouldn't this make a beautiful wedding dress for a bare-foot garden wedding?

Inspiring women: The Brontë sisters

I feel bad about lumping these sisters into one post, but the thought of pulling them apart is equally odd. After the death of their mother, Charlotte Brontë assumed the motherly role to her sisters Anne and Emily and brother Branwell. The four of them began chronicling their lives and struggles, a practice that prepared them for their literary adulthood.

You don't need me to break down their works. Their stories that have been told and retold, on stage and film. But somehow they always remain elusive and ultimately confined to perfection on the page. Of course, we all have a favourite Jane Eyre, a favourite Heathcliff. But, to me, there's a certain darkness that can be beautifully captured on the page but never sympathetically conveyed on film.

When I read a book I put pictures to it, I make shifting floorplans and incomplete maps for the landscape. I see the eyes and hair of the characters, though not every facial detail. There's always something missing, the fragments are loosely held together. Sometimes, I resent the power of film because it overwrites those open ideas and fills in all the details; makes a rich fabric of all those threads. And it's hard to forget that luxurious tapestry once you've seen it.

But with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, there have been so many productions that somehow a different kind of patchwork prevails. No one pattern takes over. I flit between all the Heathcliffs, the Janes, the Rochesters and find my own new one. I like that; somehow it comes back around.

Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics)
Wuthering Heights (Penguin Classics)
The Complete Works of the Brontë Family
The Brontës (Authors in Context) (Oxford World's Classics)

Image: The Brontë sisters, as painted by their brother, Branwell. Branwell painted himself out of the middle of the picture. Image via.

Fern Collection

I love the Fern Collection from Conroy & Wilcox. The ring and bracelet seems especially epic and I find myself looking at them repeatedly.

Barbara Cole

My inner selkie loves this print by Barbara Cole, available from Bau-Xi.

Sunday best: Retreat, reflect

Yesterday, I nipped into 6 by Gee Beauty for some Rodin Olio Lusso. I'd sampled the face oil there before, but was always buying something Le Labo and so had restrained myself. A skincare treat is always a quick pick-me-up and I needed it.

I'm pretty unhappy with my appearance these days. I'm exercising a lot, but I still feel heavy. I know I could do better with my diet. It's all so exhausting, or I'm just exhausted. It's especially hard because I love fashion so much and feel like my own wardrobe is a pitiful reflection of what I can wear versus what I want to. And sometimes my own blog posts taunt me as failings and make me feel fraudulent almost.

So, I'd like to make some commitments that will move me in the right direction. It's important at this point that I don't just let myself get depressed about this because I know it will only get worse if I do that. So, I have to lay down some positive steps. Right now I exercise for 40mins 5-6 times a week and I'd like to add more yoga. I probably need to take a really hard look at my diet too and also at stress levels, since stress definitely makes me retain weight.

Anna of Door Sixteen wrote this post a good while ago and I often reread it because (even though she's clearly struggled to get there and struggles to hold onto this clarity), it's a place I need to find for myself. It's hard to reconcile wanting to change with also wanting to be more self-accepting. But if I make progress on both sides, maybe the two will meet in the middle? I sure hope so.

You know, I've blogged some difficult-to-blog things, but this is always the most difficult thing for me to talk about. And it's something I think about constantly, that colours my world, literally stops me from meeting people sometimes. And it's the thing I feel like the blogworld erodes in me the most because, although I should know better, I always imply a beautiful person behind all those other beautiful blogs.

It's interesting how hyperbolic my inner voice becomes when I think about anything appearance-related. I say things to myself that I would never occur to me when I look at other people. I just hate all the emotions this stirs up and resent how familiar and recurring they are and that makes me even more frustrated. If I could wish one thing away it would be all this. It occupies way too much space in my head. And I suppose that's the frustration too; that it all just feels so stupid.

Okay, you know I love you. But please don't leave comments telling me to join this awesome workout that's worked for you or quit bread or some shit. What I'd like to hear is if, and how, you managed to just stop letting it get so blown-up in your brain. Because more than losing the 15lbs I want to, I think that's what's troubling me here...

Products: Chinti and Parker Bamboo and cashmere-blend cardigan from Net-a-Porter / Shibori Pyjama from Toast / Swan by Mary Oliver / Calone17 candle from Le Labo / Rodin Olio Lusso face oil / Striped cup from Coterie / Løv is Zen tea by Löv Organic / Natural Canvas Women's Classics from Toms


This week was pretty work-heavy, but I had lots of fun. I was so tired every night though! I even fell asleep on the subway on the way home one evening, which is unheard of for me. So, I'm looking forward to some sleepies this weekend!

This week, I absolutely loved this house tour on Remodelista. I want to make these lemon bars with ginger shortbread (maybe I'll make them!) And I loved this photo shoot first seen on Jen's blog (and loved seeing Anabela's tote in there too). A new Matchbook and Lonny in one week kept me busy too!

I've got some pretty dull things to do this weekend, mostly accounting. But, some fun things too - like photographing some new merch for Coterie and placing some new orders too! And I hope to hit the farmers' market and do lots of yoga because I feel desk-stiff.

Blogger was down a lot of yesterday and comments were lost when yesterday's posts were restored. Apologies for any frustration caused!

Have a great weekend, my friends!

Flickr image credits: 1. Untitled, 2. Untitled, 3. in the hallway, 4. Brita Granström

Three of a kind

A poem for Thursday

I've been dreaming of a complete summer off, thinking about university and the end of Trinity term and that vast stretch of summer that usually meant epic travel, student squalor and carefree languor all at once.

I skyped with my parents on the weekend and Dad asked me if I'm excited to come home and I was surprised to hear myself tell him I can't wait. And I realized the depth of my craving for home, for the sea too. And today's Three of a kind was of course inspired by Italy, where I would love to spend a summer. And if you've seen Il Postino, you'll understand why I ended up thinking of Pablo Neruda too.

The Sea
I need the sea because it teaches me.
I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,
if it’s a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.

It’s not simply the shells crunched
as if some shivering planet
were giving signs of its gradual death;
no, I reconstruct the day out of a fragment,
the stalactite from a sliver of salt,
and the great god out of a spoonful.

What it taught me before, I keep. It’s air
ceaseless wind, water and sand.

It seems a small thing for a young man,
to have come here to live with his own fire;
nevertheless, the pulse that rose
and fell in its abyss,
the crackling of the blue cold,
the gradual wearing away of the star,
the soft unfolding of the wave
squandering snow with its foam,
the quiet power out there, sure
as a stone shrine in the depths,
replaced my world in which were growing
stubborn sorrow, gathering oblivion,
and my life changed suddenly:
as I became part of its pure movement.

Three of a kind

Surface to Air

Love these hits of red in the Surface to Air collection.

Inspiring women: Mary Anne Evans

Silas Marner was on the curriculum at school and around the same time, I first read Middlemarch. In all honesty, it probably didin't hurt that the BBC production was airing, starring Rufus Sewell, whose name to this day makes me swoon inside a little (those cheekbones!)

It's too easy in our pretty period-drama world to compare George Eliot (her pen-name) to Jane Austen. Austen wrote in the Regency period, Eliot in the Victorian. And Austen wrote mostly about young girls falling in love, culminating in weddings. But Eliot focused on what happens after all that, to different casts of characters and, especially in Middlemarch, to women who chose wrongly.

In this way, Middlemarch seems much more grown up to me and, when I read Silas Marner, its characters' complexities seemed finely wrought. Today, in The Bone People, I read a line "Now I feel like the best part of me has got lost in the way I live". And it resonated with me and comes to me again as I think about Eliot's characters.

In youth, we move so lightly through the world, taking our own foibles lightly too, unaware what quicksand they can make of adulthood and how those foibles compound over time to determine our future character. Eliot's characters are mired in their own individual complexities, but also those of the world they inhabit.

I mentioned on Sunday that I feel like it's time I reread Middlemarch and I will as soon as a finish my current book. And, as I consider rereading it, I've been taking the time to think more about its author. She was a complex woman too; headstrong but insecure, she made many choices then considered "unbecoming of a lady" and in many ways herself embodied the contradictions that make her characters so beautifully and hopelessly relatable.

Image via

Around home

One of the pleasures (and dangers) of stocking my favourite notebooks is that I can easily pick out one for myself. When I shot this blue one for the store, it somehow never made it back into its storage place. Perhaps because these notebooks are themselves so beautiful, when I write in them I try to make every word essential and good. This is a special one - I can already feel it!

I am currently I'm currently reading - blown away by - The Bone People (thanks Andrea for the recommendation) and the tea shown is my new favourite and fills my home with the most beautiful scent.

You may have noticed that I've included the Peggy by Mimi Berry in a bunch of different Sunday bests. There are a few reasons for this. I like having recurring items that I love (Bloch flats, Conroy & Wilcox rings are other frequent appearances) because it makes it feel slightly more realistic.

Less innocently, because I knew I wanted to buy it and was maybe building the case for myself. My Peggy arrived yesterday and I love it! And in the evening at the flower market I grabbed this ornithogalum. I hope it lasts because the scent is fantastic.

And we're coming up to strawberry time! I couldn't help but jump the gun and grab some. The spread is milk chocolate with salted caramel butter and the strawberries seem to like it lots. Of their own volition, they launch themselves in there and then into my mouth. This could get to be problematic...

Three of a kind


I'm craving new bedclothes and thinking of reverting from the pattern to pure and simple linens. I love crisp look and cool tones of these ones from Area (Simone, Emile, Air) and think my silver grey blanket would complement them beautifully.


Spring is running approximately three weeks late in Toronto - I just took these photos yesterday. And I think the slow arrival has dampened some of the normal show; the magnolias seem restrained this year. But I love the contrast between all the trees in their varying state of dress — the cherry blossoms like little frou-frou party girls compared to all else. More on Flickr.