Thomsen Paris

After yesterday's waterlogged post, I stumbled across this images on the Thomsen Paris website. Irresistible.

The sea, the sea

When it's hot out, I stand at the bus stop and close my eyes and imagine diving down deep, seaweed tickling the back of my knees, salt water all around me. Later this summer, I'm bailing on Toronto's soupy days to go home, where land meets water. When I'm by the sea, I never fail to wish I could stay underwater, that I could live down there, waterlogged and in that perpetual green twilight. And it's all these thoughts that keep me cool as the city pulses with that dense, syrupy heat.

Image credits: Still from Ondine (2009) | The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor | Dries Van Noten Darsa Print Dress from Envoy of Belfast | Sel Marin by James Heeley | Light from Above by Stuart Slind from Bau-Xi | Finale, White Noise by Barbara Cole | The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch

A (kind of) poem for Tuesday

On my table are two books: Wittgenstein's Tractatus and Maggie Nelson's Bluets. I have moments when I think they might be the two most important books I own. But then I remember Beckett and how it's all just footnote to him really. And I can talk Beckett up and down the street and probably will when I've lost my marbles entirely.

Some people find it hard to write about the things they love the most but I find it hard not to, to not shed those words every time I put my hands on the keyboard or lock eyes with somebody who might understand. Not to talk only, every day about those most important ideas for me are... silence, prisms, colour, expressionism, language and the need to give utterance and the failure to give utterance and still the need to give utterance, anxiety, loneliness, all things funny, and that certain look in certain eyes.

And sometimes I wish it was hard to talk because then maybe I'd sleep that dreamless sleep of a little girl being carried across a busy street carried in her father's arms.

This is from Bluets by Maggie Nelson.

100. It often happens that we count our days, as if the act of measurement made us some kind of promise. But really this is like hoisting a harness onto an invisible horse. "There is simply no way that a year from now you're going to feel the way you feel today," a different therapist said to me last year at this time. But though I have learned to act as if I feel differently, the truth is that my feelings haven't really changed.

Ideal summer

Just a collection of summer-perfect images to cheer your Monday morning after a much-too-short weekend!

Image credits: Popbar ice lollies | Bobbin bikes | Rennes purse | Ben Fiess jar from Leif | Erin Considine necklace | Bath Style Peshtemals

Sunday best: Gallery day

I've got a tonne of work to do today, so it's not likely I'll get to do anything fun. But if the day were truly mine, I'd head to the AGO to see the Picasso exhibit.

Yesterday, I did a lot of practical chores, washing floors and windows, scrubbing my bathroom and making lists. I've decided to do another month of daily yoga for the month of June and set myself some other goals for the summer months.

I'm also dying to buy a bunch of summer dresses right now. I love this one with its Matisse-like print. And although I never wear yellow, I like it here in this small dose.

This week is going to be a busy one, so I'll be happy to have a routine planned to lean on through it.

Happy Sunday!

Products: Tucker silk-blend georgette dress from Net-a-Porter | The Acrobat (1930) by Picasso | Adelita polish from NARS | Brompton straw mini-hobo from J.Crew | Peep toe High from Swedish Hasbeen | Glossy Stain from YSL


Good thing I didn't write this last night, cause I was in a foul mood after a foul week. But the prospect of the weekend is a little balm and, even though I'll be working, it can really only get better than the last few days.

But let's not dwell on crap and instead look at nice things... Jessica set up a new home for her floral artistry - prepare to swoon upon visiting Ellamah. I have a bit of a collection of glassware, so I loved this post over on coco+kelley. One of my kitchen dreams is glass-front upper cabinets so I can display everything just so.]

One of these Ben Fiess jars is now on my wishlist thanks to D*S. And, from another Ben, I'm already counting the days until the release of Ben Pentreath's book.

And finally, though I'm stuck in the city and it's already getting a little too hot for me, I live each summer vicariously through Amy's posts about Elmwood. Wish every one of us could have a secret spot so lovely. Don't you think the world would be a better place for it?

Happy weekend, friends!

Green all over

This weather, the city around me has definitely whet my appetite for green things. I started thinking about the movie Green Card. To be honest, it's yonks since I saw that movie, but (like Great Expectations) it's one of those movies that feels lush and verdant. I've been collecting a lot of green and gardening things on my desktop and now I pretty much have to see the movie again so that I can daydream about that amazing apartment.

Decoupage | Sandals | Pot Set | Overalls

Terrarium | Candle | Tiles | Decoupage

Stills: Green Card (1990) - Touchstone Pictures, via Design*Sponge - where you should take out Amy's wonderful "Living in" post

Flowers on Skona Hem

Right now, I have a huge vase of blue delphiniums on my coffee table. It's such a startling hue, every time I turn around I catch my breath. I'm in a "go big or go home" mood with flower arrangements. These ones on Skona Hem made me pretty happy. Though, I had to include all those little vases of blues and purples too. Divine!

All images from Skona Hem, specifically here and here.


Yesterday, I set out from home, grabbed a coffee and cookie and sat in the park reading Pessoa. Then I took myself down into the ravine. It was blissfully cool down there, the shade, the smells, butterflies, the sounds of running water. It's a salve after hot concrete and exhaust.

All of this is on my doorstep and I don't explore it enough. It got me thinking about things I want to do this summer. Over the weekend, I hemmed and hawed about whether to go home to Ireland this summer, perhaps in August. If I do, it will be a well-timed break from the heat, a chance to dive into salt water... which is usually what I'm imagining doing while navigating Toronto hot days. Pretty irresistible.

But I don't just want to focus my energy on one thing. I want to make sure I enjoy each week. Here are some smaller, sillier things I'm promising myself
- Play badminton in the park
- Picnic and explore the ravines
- Go to the farmers' market most weekends
- Eat sorbet and ice lollies aplenty
- Read many, many books
- Get through my scary birthday without losing my mind
- Daytrip to Toronto Island
- Reach new flower-arranging heights!

Sunday best: Decadent reader / book report

I do feel like a decadent reader today, blanket and basket, bound for the park!

I've been reading Pessoa this week and feel like I need to juggle him with something else. I'm not able to keep my distance from the darker tone of some of his writing. I love it all a little too much.

So, I'll pick my days and go slowly. I think I'll start The Decadent Reader today. I bought this book immediately after finishing Medical Muses, but it has sat on my shelf until now.

Last weekend, I finished The Hare with Amber Eyes and only realize now that I didn't blog about it yet. Let me right that now by telling you how much I loved it. It wasn't what I expected at the outset. I thought it was going to be what it promised... a biography of handled objects.

And although it veered from its mandate, I didn't mind. It seemed only right that the objects and the lives and times were inextricably interwoven. And, so the story became not only one of the netsuke, but of a family and political history too.

In school, I loved history. I mean, history is on your doorstep in a country like Ireland. You always have the sense of it, even unfolding as you're growing up. But with this omnipresence, I sometimes find it hard to really feel history. It becomes an intellectual thing - narratives and arcs, compartmentalized chapters from medieval to 20th century. But this book made me feel history. It was profoundly moving.

It also made me think differently about something I touched on in a post last week - the idea of objects belonging in certain places, to certain people. I mentioned feeling strange to have granny's china here in Canada. And, I've always had a visceral reaction against museums filled with stuff that doesn't belong in that place - I can't just look without sensing conflict and imagining possession taken greedily, lasciviously.

Sometimes, of course, I believe it's right to question these things... the means of acquisition were not always fair or good. But de Waal's story did make me think differently about my own belongings, about the idea of objects moving into other hands and taking on new lives. Of makers finding joy in the idea of their creations finding happy homes all over the world. Of stories having continuity, causal connections, unguessed at and unfathomable. 

It all made me consider that keeping an object perfectly in one safe place and not letting it breathe and move in the world... that that's a different kind of greediness.

Products: Sharvari quilt from Toast | Becky Long Silk Dress by Rachel Antonoff from Steven Alan | Linen & Cotton Cardigan from Brora | The Chocolate Basket from Fortnum & Mason | The Decadent Reader | See by Chloe Broad Band Flat Sandals from Shopbop


My weeks usually fly, but this one dragged and I thought at every point I was a day farther ahead than I was—a small but pinprick agony all week.

But bonus rewards: It's a long weekend here in Canada! So I might actually take some time off this weekend and do things I feel like I haven't had time to do in a long time - go to the farmer's market and gallivant and watch a movie without that looming sense of a deadline defied at the back of my mind.

I finally got my hands on Bringing Nature Home this week and plan to try my hand at some of those unruly arrangements I feel like I've been never able to master. Toronto really clears out on summer weekends (it often feels like I'm the only person left in my neighbourhood), but there's a loveliness to that... a chance to really stretch out in the city.

I think maybe I'll take a blanket to the park this weekend too and read my book in the sunshine. The days are sunny - that perfect sunniness of May, when the air is still clear and crisp, but warm too. It's hard not to be happy every time I step outdoors.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Kingfisher Folly

I seem to be at a loss about what to do for holidays this year. It's definitely the area that I'd like decisions and plans made for me (lovely plans of course). I've run out of steam for all the planning and decision-making, the figuring-out that goes into a holiday. Those are the very actions I want a break from! As always, Unique Home Stays is fuels my imagination. I'd love to be transported away to one of their restful retreats. A pile of books and a case of wine, water to dip my toes in and lush walks to go on. It's all a dream. Kingfisher Folly is calling my name.

All images used with permission from Unique Home Stays

Twenty-five boxes and nine years

Over the weekend, I made a list of things I want to buy. I've long made these kinds of lists... what I need to complete my wardrobe, my apartment, my sorry life. When I moved to Canada, and was starting from scratch, necessity drove these lists. I had no couch, me bed. I had no bookshelves, no electronics.

After I had decided what city I was going to live and found an apartment, my parents shipped the boxes I had packed up before I left Ireland. Anything I didn't take, they weren't going to keep for me. I pulled out the list yesterday, tickled by my fastidious documenting of everything I owned. It was mostly not the stuff I needed to get set up. It was everything that mattered to me.

I had to put a dollar value next to each item. Every family heirloom, each book, my riding boots... And it's funny to see what I shipped. A picture hanging set. A can opener. Did I think these would be impossible to find here? No, but I had spent so long waiting for immigration, I hadn't been able to resist buying small, shippable things for the live I envisioned. A corkscrew. Classic Jane. On each page my signature. Signature of importer - July 16, 2003.

I've felt strange sometimes about some of the things that came with me. Does Granny's Royal Tara not rightfully belong in Ireland? When she got it for her wedding, could she fathom it landing in Toronto, sitting in a warehouse out near Pearson where we went to collect it. And where will it go to next? With me happily childless... I feel ill-equipped to ensure its safe passage into another's hands.

Those first lists I made when I got my apartment were overwhelming with necessity. The contents of those twenty-five boxes had no shelves to sit on, no place to rest. It all grew slowly. Frustratingly slowly. The pictures I shared last week are the result of all slowness. My sofa was the most expensive purchase I had ever made. It alone took me weeks to decide on.

I mostly tried to play the "wait" rather than compromise game. I saved up for the version of things I really wanted. Sometimes I couldn't wait and put things on my credit card. I weighed up those decisions. I worked hard so the lists could get shorter, so I could get back to a time when I thought about spending money on holidays instead of on a rug or bed or lamp.I sometimes felt like a huge failure because everybody else seemed to have all this shit together.

Even other people I know who emigrated... they just went to IKEA and did it in one bout. I seemed intent on dragging it out for myself. But I wasn't just emigrating, I was also building a permanent home for myself for the first time in my life. I've lived longer in Toronto, in my apartment, than I have anywhere in my whole life. We always moved and I always dreamed of this. I wasn't just emigrating, I was exploring, acquainting myself the very idea of home.

This is all a long way of telling you what it felt like when I made my most recent list and found it to be a short and without necessity. Sure, I lust after certain things, a leather chair, a particularly expensive bedside lamp. But the urgent necessity is gone. It may have taken nine years, but I've found and built a real home for myself in this city I was wholly without connection to. It has all woven itself into the fabric of my life.

That feeling dropped on me suddenly... just making a list... marveling at how short it was... feeling proud of what built from scratch and those twenty-five boxes.

13th Street Winery

"an aroma redolent of fruit blossom, lemon/lime, granny smith apple and wet stone"

Could there be a more beautiful description? When it comes to wine, I don't know a lot. My family are huge wine drinkers and like most things related to my family, I somehow managed to stay on the outside of it. Not that I don't love wine, I simply don't know a lot about it.

But I know what I like, mostly citrus and berry tasting white wines. I like a lot of Ontario Rieslings. And I think New Zealand's Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is a revelation... guava and mango-tinged wine? Hell yes! My recent Ontario favourite (as of Saturday night) is 13th Street Winery. I feel like a field trip is order!

I sometimes wander into the LCBO and wonder what it would be like to know that complex world, to browse row after row, not making my ultimate decision based on a funny formula of label, price and description. I put it on the list of things I might learn about, get inside of. But part of me likes where I am, without the burden of context and comparison, just liking the immediate taste, the colour, the feel of the glass in my hand, the company that gathers when I open a bottle.

My beauty essentials

I buy many different lotions, potions and pigments. It's such a sweet, easy pleasure... a new lipstick or nail polish, a cream that soothes, a mask that softens. But if I had to choose my everyday essentials, they would be these products. It took a long time to land on these products. Some I've used for years, some are brand-spanking new. I improvise when my skin undergoes a mysterious change, I switch things up when I grow bored. Right now this is what's working.

Skincare: Ole Henriksen | Skinceuticals | Dermalogica
Body: L'Occitane | St. Ives | Byredo
Special: Eve Lom | Kiehl's | Institut Esthederm

Face: Bare Escentuals | Laura Mercier | YSL
Eyes: Bobbi Brown | Chanel | Dior
Lips & Nails: Chanel | Sara Happ | YSL

Sunday best: Feeling like summer

It feels like the season has turned over. After a week of rain, the sun came out with a vengeance. The trees that flank the entrance to my apartment building finally burst with leaves - they're always the stubborn latecomer. And my neighbourhood is shrouded in lilac. May, it turns out, is a pretty glorious month.

Today's look is designed just for that feeling. Casual, timeless, summer. Boyfriend jeans, the softest tee, shoes that make it easy to dash and skip and walk back up the hill...

The only thing I seem to need right now is a new book. I finished mine yesterday. Today, I'll run my hands over the shelves until I hit one I haven't read or want to reread and it will come off the shelf get a bookmark and go into my purse.

I'll resist my chores because I want to stay outside - laundry and vacuuming can maybe wait a day - and I'll try to take my work with me, so I'm not the wrong side of the window, looking out at a day that I want instead to be dropped into.

Happy Sunday!

Products: Image from Madewell catalogue, via The Neotraditionalist | Kain Striped modal T-shirt from Net-a-Porter | RB2132 - 875 Wayfarer from Ray-Ban | Current/Elliott The Roller jeansfrom Net-a-Porter | Gold linen tennis shoes from Bensimon | Mimi Big Elsie from Mimi Berry


I can't believe it's Friday already. This week has been such a whirligig and I've been excited about Saturday since last Monday.

Last weekend, I found a new favourite coffee shop and I'm dying to hang out there this weekend and finish my book, start another. And I'm going to hit the flower markets with a friend and we're going to make arrangements together with all our shared flowers!

I've been terribly busy but also happy - the things I'm working on are all fun projects. I've also been having lots of thoughts about work-life balance lately... if it's really meaningful, desirable for a person like me, if there's a less oppositional way of phrasing it. Is it really work versus life? Can't it be work and life dovetailing more beautifully?

I think another key to my happiness this week was the fact I made room for exercise each day. I don't know why I disbelieve it... When I exercise I always feel better. What will it take to make that stick in my thick skull?! A pox upon my mutable nature!

From exercise to tasty treats... Helen's Baci di Ricotta look like something sent by the gods. And Eilis posted this video from Dublin Town (such a great site!) and I squealed with delight when I saw John Gunn at 4:10. This man sold me all my camera film and photography paper for years and his store is one my favourite places ever. On a less sentimental note, I also fell hard for the amazing footwear in this post over on Miss Moss.

And so that's it for another week. What are you up to this weekend? Have a grand one!


This shade is becoming a familiar one around here... I love these coral tones that have a bit of terracotta depth to them... a murkiness rather than that more plastic coral sheen. I seem to keep circling back to these kinds of pinkish / rosy / peachy shades this year. Some recent iterations on my radar...

Products: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

A poem for Tuesday

I've been reading Rilke at bedtime. Though this poem is at odds with the season outside, there are moments when I am too. And the days feel autumnal when I'm tired and look up from my desk too late to have seen the sunset. And there's something about age too I can't quite muster to tell you. So that I lose which season I'm in, which ones I'm between and I only know what doesn't change. This is Rilke, translated by Mary Kinzie, via.

Day in Autumn
After the summer's yield, Lord, it is time
to let your shadow lengthen on the sundials
and in the pastures let the rough winds fly.

As for the final fruits, coax them to roundness.
Direct on them two days of warmer light
to hale them golden toward their term, and harry
the last few drops of sweetness through the wine.

Whoever's homeless now, will build no shelter;
who lives alone will live indefinitely so,
waking up to read a little, draft long letters,
and, along the city's avenues,
fitfully wander, when the wild leaves loosen.

Around home

I spent some lovely time at home over the weekend. I did yoga there. I arranged flowers. I made cups of tea and read books. I tidied. I wrote, sitting in front of my window, light streaming in. It all makes me happy. The light was particularly pretty yesterday in the early evening and I snapped a few pics. I ought really to have straightened the cushions on the sofa, but you know... I sort of like it this way

Sunday best: Netsuke and other small things

Yesterday was a good day. I didn't work at all... found myself in some new places in the city, happily deciding to walk another block, go for a second coffee, stop to smell the lilacs at every house walking up the hill.

I weighed myself in the morning and that was a kick in the ass I needed. Pounds creep on very easily for us Flanagans and I always seem to let my vigilance slip when I'm overworked... feeling like the least I deserve is a treat here and there and a workout skipped. And you know how it goes... a skipped day becomes a skipped week...

So, I'm back on my exercise kick. I would love to say that weight is not something that's constantly on my mind, that I'm not always on either the good or bad side of it... but I can't. I'm never able to reach a point where I can be natural and indifferent, where I can trust myself to strike a natural balance. It's a tug-of-war that's been a pretty significant feature of my adult life.

It's interesting to note that the less I exercise the more it occupies my thoughts and clouds my day... when I just get on with it, all that conflation gets nipped in the bud. It becomes the small thing it is. So, I'll get my class out of the way today and then pat myself on the back and have a lovely day. I got all my chores done yesterday and finally found those elusive lilacs at the flower market (my apartment smells divine!)

That leaves me to find myself a coffee shop and hunker down with my book. I'm still reading the Hare with Amber Eyes and love it. I want a netsuke of my own now... and saw this one on 1stDibs though of course it's unaffordable. Rather than dwelling on my covetous inklings, I'm thinking about all of those other small things - physical and otherwise, good and not so good- that are already part of the fabric of my life. Thinking of things this way makes me happy.

Happy Sunday!

Products: The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal | Rag & Bone The Caftan Tee from La Garconne | MiH Jeans Paris jeans from Net-a-Porter | Cognac Clutch from Clare Vivier | Grazing Horse Netsuke from 1stDibs | Air Morgan Slipper Ballet from Cole Haan | Rib ring from Odette


One of those strange weeks that simultaneously dragged and flew. But I'm happy it's Friday, as always!

I spotted these botanical portraits in my reader this morning and was instantly smitten. This weekend, I actually have to bring my giant moon to the framing shop. It's going to keep me company in my bedroom! And I've had this post starred in my reader for a long time - the beautiful arrangement of all those muted pieces really makes me happy.

Also! I'm in the mood for baking. Maybe some rosewater madeleines or Erin's lemon cake. You can always get my attention with a citrus dessert. I've been feeling very bored by the food I'm making lately (no time to cook means falling back reliable repeats at dinnertime)... so I'd like to spend some time this weekend hitting my cookbooks for some new easy staples.

It's clear I'm craving sensual delights - also thinking about a trip to the flower market. I watched my peonies fade from bright coral to muted peach and finally white this week, until I woke up one morning and there were petals strewn all over my coffee table and just bare stems in the vase. It was such a lovely process to watch unfurl. I saw some sweet peas yesterday so maybe I'll bring some home for my nightstand. They're my absolute favourite!

I'm deliberately making myself not tell you how much I've been working. I get so bored by the "busy rant" - I know we're all busy and juggling. I'd rather focus on trying to carve out a little calm, a little beauty.

I hope you have some of that this weekend too!

Lovely things, navy and cream

A little collection from my desktop. Blue and cream is always a classic combo... but I also love sparks of vivid ultramarine in the midst of all that navy and cream; the feather of that one hummingbird, the bottomless blue eyes of that Margaret Howell model, those photos from Nomenous Quarterly. Happy-making stuff, all of it...

Credits: Blue flower background and top image from Nomenus Quarterly "Flora" | Margaret Howell | John Derian for Paperless Post | Hummingbird by Alexander McQueen for The Rug Company


Quite by accident, I started watching Birdsong on PBS... for some reason it wasn't on my radar at all. The lovely Clémence Poésy is in it (yes, she of the biscuity complexion) and so I found myself drawn in to watch it.

It's visually stunning... I really drink in every scene... especially the lovely flashback scenes which always have a lovely Sisley or Pissarro-esque blurry vividness to them. I've been sorely disappointed by some recent period dramas (the Gillian Anderson Great Expectations made me positively angry), so this was a welcome treat... made all the more enjoyable because it was unexpected. Have you been watching it?

Stills from Birdsong (Masterpiece, 2012). Still collage (not mine) found via this Tumblr.

April on Instagram

A look back on my April Instagram reminds me of happy moments in a busy month. See bigger here.

Past months: February and March.