Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snow, snow, snow!

I am such a child and absolutely love snow! It's probably down to the fact that it is a very rare occurrence in Ireland and so I've not seen so much of it over the years! This year though, the photos from home are making me want to jump on a plane and share in the magic! They're having record amounts of snow and are properly snowed-in!!! Ooooh the excitement. I'm hoping for some more when I'm home for Christmas. Here in southwest England we've had slightly more than a light dusting though it's bitterly cold and I'm crossing my fingers!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Eilis Boyle

10th collection from Eilis Boyle on Vimeo.

I'm thrilled to be participating in the simultaneous online video launch of the stunning new collection from Irish fashion designer Eilis Boyle.

The whole feeling of the video is at once ethereal and haunting and yet calmly beautiful. There's an almost dream-like quality to the styling, a world of shifting meanings and possibility. Ruffles, lace, rouches and layers.... and layered meanings. I love the paring of exquisite pieces of fashion design with thick socks and boots and the hair and make-up styling really appeal to my aesthetic. I think my favourite is the full length patterned gown in the indoor shot. Covet, covet, covet!

Intrigued by design processes and the creative mind, I'm very happy to bring you a few words from Eilis herself:

Jane: Do you glean abstract inspiration from Irish cultural and historical references or is your creative process driven more by the physical touch, look and interaction of the fabrics? What sparks a thought?

Eilis: Inspiration is ongoing and not figurative... so I'm inspired by everything around me and experiences. Fabric is a huge factor in specifics of the design process and it usually dictates how a piece will evolve.

Jane: Regular readers of your blog will know that you greatly value the support of fellow designers, artists and other members of the creative community in Ireland and further afield. As someone who likes to hold back my creative ideas in the hopes of reaching perfection before showing them to others, and thereby often missing out on such support, have you any words of wisdom for people like me on learning to let go and letting your ideas sing and allowing them to thrive without fear of having them hijacked?

Eilis: That is such a common symptom of creative people. I think after a few years you become less concerned.. but the day before I reveal a collection I'm usually depressed and nervous because there are a million new ideas I wasn't able to put it into it...

My best advice is just to put your work out there...most talented designers are perfectionist and are never happy with their work

Don't to be shy and show it off...even if it's work 'in the making'...feedback is always encouraging.

Jane: In the new era of multimedia, blogs, twitter, videos and viral advertising, have you a quick word of advice for other designers and crafters nervous of dipping their toe into the magic of online connections?

Eilis: Be true to yourself and try not to be self absorbed... most of the people who like your brand/work want to know what defines you as a creative person. Your stories and inspirations so a constant showcase of your work is not really what blogging about.. blogging really is about telling stories and secrets

Stories and secrets, I love that ~ thanks Eilis! Good luck with the launch!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Arrested #1

Concept photography by Noemie Goudal, London

Arrested ~ a haphazard series for stimuli that stop me in my tracks, as and when they arise.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Seasonal Delight

I miss asparagus already... all coming from Peru again. Such a short season locally - it seems on the one hand so archaic and almost mystical and yet so frustrating - grrrr food miles!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A Thing A Day

The results of my hoarding tendancies have been pushing me a little off-centre lately and I've been craving a less cluttered home. So, while I won't even attempt the ambitious task Bindu Wiles has set herself I did find this more manageable option via Susannah Conway - the A Thing A Day Challenge. And while I might not manage to get rid of one thing every single day, now that the intention is there I'm hoping for great things!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Cresting a wave

I always feel that Thursday morning is like cresting the wave of the week. Sometimes being on the home straight is a miracle.
This week ~ I'd like more time.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Detective Work

I've been doing some detective work on the beginnings of my newly acquired antique tea set. After, a highly educational foray into the world of porcelain manufacturers and marks I was excited to discover that my beautiful tea set dates back to somewhere between 1917 and 1925. It will be very special to sip from cups with such history - although I'm almost afraid to use them in case I break them! Typical me!

Image credits:
China Marks (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/); St. Paul's Cathedral Library, London via annesenglandtrip07; Early 19th Century Magnifying Glass, The Gentlemans Library Sale at Bonhams via parishotelboutique

Saturday, 17 July 2010


Today I had a much needed Jane-Day. I'm often so amazed at how I can forget what little things I can do to relax, regain my equilibrium and lift my spirit. I had a leisurely morning, listening to music I've not listened to for years and generally pottering about. I decided to take my camera on a walk into town and to the antiques shop and along the river. I happened on another antiques fair on my way and fell in love with a beautiful china tea set and, so, had to make a quick trip home with my loot before continuing on my merry way. I bought a new little notebook for my handbag (yes, another one of these) and sat on a bench by the river and penned a few ideas and snapped some wildlife. Then I came home to delicious leftovers from last night's dinner party and now I'm enjoying my sun-drenched sitting room and imagining vintage tea parties with my new tea set.

Thursday, 17 June 2010


I've just joined 21.5.800 - Bindu Wiles' new project: for 21 days do 5 days of yoga a week and 800 words of writing a day!! It's free to join.

Okay, so I know it started on June 8th and I'm joining a bit late and I also know that the next 21 days are a bit hectic for me with comings and goings but I've decided to give it a go, to try and stick to my own 21 days even if it's going to take longer than the project. Sometimes I desperately need deadlines and challenges.

I've recently swopped from yoga to pilates. I have an excellent teacher and I really feel it working. In fact, I think everybody should have some pilates with a good teacher to discover the nuances of the tension in your body, the effects of old injuries and the joy of really using your muscles. I love pilates, but do miss yoga for it's spiritual, grounding effect so I'm looking forward to giving 21.5.800 a go.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Gone Fishing....

Yey! Summer days are here again. I love these balmy evenings spent catching our dinner and listening to the waves break. Worries wash away through the pebbles and the sun warms your soul. There's nothing like catching your own dinner straight from the sea - so fresh and sustainable.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Volcanic Design

The recent volcanic activity in Iceland is estimated to have grounded 10 million air travellers and has reminded us that despite our technological and cultural advances we remain at the mercy of the power of nature. Volcanic activity is at once both devastatingly destructive and profoundly creative, producing whole islands and archipelagos. The world map as we know it has been formed by tectonic activity. Today, I've decided to investigate some of the artistic creations that have been inspired by this most elemental phenomenon.

Jón Björnsson is the designer behind Bjoss, a fantastic array of design projects infused with originality and individuality. Taking inspiration from his childhood sandbox, Jón has used a simple mould and volcanic sand from the southeast coast of Iceland to make this austerely beautiful table. The table has a depression in the middle to hold candles, flowers or other decoration. In homage to those sandcastle days of his youth, Jón has titled this work simply "Bucket". Jón has revisited this method in his new volcanic sand vases titled "Flower Eruption". I love the textural quality of Jón's work.

The clean lines and slate hue of these Kirkstone Volcanic Slate basins really appeal to me. Kirkstone - Manufacturers and Suppliers of Architectural Stone via Momoy.

Olle Lundberg collaborated with Wendy Tsuji to combine two San Franciscan 1952 row houses into a striking townhouse with amazing results. The Serra staircase boasts treads of volcanic silicate while the bathroom was clad in the same volcanic silicate and punctuated with strips of bevelled glass. Lundberg Design via Interior Design.

Victoria and Albert, based in Shropshire in the UK, produce a range of baths made from volcanic limestone mixed with high performance resins giving a stone-rich alternative to both cast iron and acrylic. Their products range from the very traditional to the very modern.

Inspired by volcanic ash, designer Robert Stadler came up with these "ash bomb" furniture pieces upholstered in black leather. via Yanko Design

The volcanic rock tile range, Opus, from Italian tile house Casa Più has attained something of a cult status. Opus, "Volcanic rock, prisoner of colour", has a texture and organic form that breaks away from the geometrical lines of traditional tiles. "The designer tiles capture the most vivid hues, while their crude cracks and raw, organic edges hint at nature’s beautiful volatility" - Decodir.com. Casa Più prides itself on using handcrafted techniques and only natural elements in it's designs. The website is worth a visit as much for reading their ethos as the stunning images of their work.

I am particularly attracted to designers that have drawn their inspiration from the natural world and these designers have captured nature in the very essence of her savage beauty. And while I'm hoping Eyjafjallajökull has quietened for now and won't interrupt my summer travel plans it bears remembering that a delayed or cancelled flight is nothing to the suffering she has caused for locals.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Fire Starter Sessions #2

A few more highlights from my quest through the Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte. Part two is all about taking stock of your present power and making space to expand your potential.

Cocktail Line
I love this advice to have a genuine cocktail line at the ready that sums you up in half a minute, "a distilling of your reality, your talent, your dreams and your power". V beneficial should the opportunity for serendipitous promotion come your way! Danielle provides examples of how people often describe themselves and what they could actually say if they thought about it - and.. wow!.. there is such a difference! Maybe your day job isn't all that but your hobbies/ future plans are shining! This is not about faking it, this is about being "modest and powerful, factual and engaging".

"Facts + Feelings = Genuinely Compelling"

Ready for an eye-opener.....
Danielle quotes the excitingly sage advice of Marcus Buckingham :

"A strength is what you do that makes you feels strengthened! It's not necessarily what you're good at, or what you‘re capable of — it's what feels amazing when you do it!"

Now, this really resonates with me! Isn't this so liberating! Some of the things that feel amazing to me aren't things people expect me to do. "So what things make you feel amazing? What activities cause you to feel useful, vital, better-than-before? What feels so good and so easy to give that you give it generously? What do you do best—that gives you a rush while you're doing it?" Embrace these things. "Becoming You is your purpose."

"Your most valuable currency is what comes naturally to you. Cash in."

"What's chronic, repetitive, or inflamed in your life?"
What things in your life or your job would you like to stop doing? Sick of to-do lists? Why not make a Stop Doing List! A more powerful way to free up your time and inspiration. Danielle gives a practical while challenging stop doing list including the little things like constantly checking email/twitter/Facebook and the big things like taking it all on yourself. "Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should" - see the FSS for Danielle's theory on "Competent - the silent killer". Free up time for the things that really inspire you.

"Passion will always move you in the direction of your authentic self."

Face Forward
I, personally, have a deep regard for our past, our heritage and all that goes with it but we can all let past experiences, habits and anxieties impinge on the present and hold us back. Danielle's mantra, "Stand in your present power", fills me with encouragement and empowers me. She tells us that in the workplace "We want to look ahead with you. Look backwards and you loose us". Again here, she gives examples of how people describe their work situation/company and contrasts them with what they could have said! A lesson in self-awareness and positivity!

See also:
The Fire Starter Sessions #1
The Fire Starter Sessions - Danielle LaPorte
Invest in Your Future "You"

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

A Contextual Cue....

I just took a mini break and had a glass of orange juice and a plain biscuit and was unexpectedly transported back to a four-year-old Jane on her orange and biscuit break in playschool!! I love the unending unconscious associations of the brain.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


Journalist Tamara, Cynthia from the My Girl Friday Design Company and "whip smart wordsmith" Emma Alvarez Gibson have come together to produce the beautiful free eMag "Delish" which launched yesterday.

From an Irish seanachai to a human rights lawyer cum yoga teacher, from handmade how-to's to designer clothing - could it be that this magazine actually does have something for everyone!

With their aim "to focus on what's real, what's useful and what's beautiful" the crew at Delish have created a magazine which feels unique in it's combination of such varied content and it's aesthetic.

Jack of All Trades?

There are so many things I want to do, so many jobs I want to have. I learn about something new and want to get right into it. I still don't know what I want to be when I "grow up"! I saw this video on Etsy and now I want to upholster furniture for the rest of my days!

Process: Upholstery with Spruce Home from Etsy on Vimeo.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Fire Starter Sessions #1

So, I've managed to squeeze in some time to make a start on the first chapter of the Fire Starter Sessions.

"This truth is most evident: we entrepreneurs, artists, and change agents define ourselves on our own terms."

I love that Danielle LaPorte recognises artists and agents of change as entrepreneurs - you don't have to be a traditional business person to be creating something new! Changing perceptions is just as vital.

Danielle's advice for embarking on the Fire Starter Sessions: "be with this
program, give it some time, explore your creativity, your strategy and your approach to authenticity."

"Don't hold back your ideas"
The first piece of advice in the FSS is to be generous with your time, ideas and creativity. While I think I am quite a generous person in my everyday life I know I tend to play my cards close to my chest when it comes to ideas. I like to protect those flashes of brilliance until I've executed them into being and perfected them before I set out my stall. I'm fully aware that this perfectionist trait prevents me from getting other people's views, input and help, which would be more beneficial before rather than after I've completed a project. I am striving to conquer this reticence but it is quite a pressing issue in these days of intellectual copyright, the publish or perish mantra of academia and the speed of the online world. How much to "put out there"? Though even in the world of blogs it is obvious that the people who give more of themselves get more coming back to them.

"It doesn't really matter where you are on the scale of entrepreneurial drive. You can call it a hobby, a labour of love, or a world domination plan. You can call it ambition, hunger, inspiration, drive, a vocation, food on the table —whatever. You can crush the competition, unify an industry, or change just one person‘s life."

Danielle sets out gems of the best and worst business advice she's ever got. Here are some of my best advice favourites:
"• Don‘t spend it before you have it.
Before you earn it, you don‘t have it. Projections and ideals do not equal money in the bank.
Don‘t spend it when you get it.
"You need to feel the power of sitting on it, of letting it actually feed your creativity. If you spend it when you get it, you‘ll have to catch up with it, and that will sap your energy."
Only do it if it‘s fun. If it‘s not fun, make it fun. If you can‘t make it fun, then don‘t do it.
Be daring, be different, be first.
Moxy and uniqueness don‘t add up to much if you don‘t execute. Getting there first changes everything.
Create a “Culture of Yes”.
surround yourself with people who can trust your creative insanity. When dreamers unite, they get a lot done."

I love her outlook on bad advice - "Really bad advice is just great advice in reverse". I really clicked when I read one of the worst pieces of advice she's received: Just do one big thing. "In terms of overall development strategy and creativity, the singular focus route has never worked for me. I just can‘t do one project at a time. I need to feed different parts of my brain and spirit. And with more than one iron in the creative fire, the fire just gets higher." This really resonated with me - I'm always setting rules for myself like "I can't think about Y until I've finished X" etc. When really a little bit of Y inspires me to try to finish X!! Eureka moment!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Fire Starter Sessions - Danielle LaPorte

I’m delighted to say that Danielle LaPorte has given me permission to reprint sections of her Fire Starter Sessions ebook that launched today and I've decided to take you along with me on the trip. Over the course of the next few of weeks I’ll pass on some of her nuggets of whitehot truth as we go through the book together!

For: People with a half-baked dream and no idea where to start; people with a plan; people with a business idea; people with entrepreneurial flair; people without entrepreneurial flair; you!

A direct, no nonsense ebook of instructions on how to get where you want to be in life, complete with videos, interviews and worksheets.

By pre-ordering I received a sneak preview chapter which has only made my wait for the complete thing even harder. I've flipped through the whole ebook and have set aside time later for a cup of tea, nice music and my trusty “Life-Changing Plans” notebook to really dig into it! Her workbook sections focus your plans and dreams into concrete “What I Need To Do To Get There” points and I like to devote time to it. Danielle has created an interactive experience that fills you with excitement at your own possibilities and a desire to run, not walk, towards your dreams. She tells you how to grab your future while still being true to yourself and others – no ruthless steamrolling over colleagues here! Nor is this a fluffy self-help book – no, this is a plan of action.

The Fire Starter Sessions: Spark Your Genius. Ingite Your Business. Make It Matter. from Danielle LaPorte on Vimeo.

I’m usually quite cautious about spending and I admit that the $150 for the Fire Starter Sessions did initially seem a bit high for me. But I’d already learned loads from Danielle and had been wishing for a one-on-one session with her ($500) so I let my excitement take over, justified the investment in “me” and grabbed the credit card! And I am so glad I did!

So, if you’re feeling you’d like to make the jump – go do it – you won’t be sorry! If you click on one of my links and buy through me then I get a percentage of the sale and you get the opportunity to become an affiliate yourself! As Danielle says, lets spread the fire and the coin!

(I have become a Fire Starter Sessions affiliate because Danielle beamed me up out of a rut I'd got stuck in and opened all the doors for me, because what she's doing fires me up and I want to spread the word and, of course, any coin this site generates is most welcome!)

See also:
Investing in Your Future "You"

Monday, 10 May 2010

Yellow and Grey

I recently saw an image of yellow and grey textiles which got me thinking about how well these two colours harmonise and how the combination really appeals to me. I’ve been gravitating more towards the colour yellow lately and I love the happy playfullness of it.

Image credits: 1. Alankin 2. mmoca 3. Marcobillo 4. Polly Wreford

Isn’t it curious that these two colours go so well together when they are often thought of as symbolising two very different states of mind. The colour yellow is stimulating and is associated with lightness of mood, springtime, warmth and happiness.

Image credits: 1. Door Sixteen 2. Southern Living via The Lennoxx 3. Brandon Barré Photography for YourHome.ca 4. Ferm Living via Blue Moss

Stoic grey, on the other hand, has long been used as a descriptor of the dull, the undefined, the lifeless and the boring. And yet, together, this combination is harmonius and relaxing with an underlying joy. Interestingly, both are associated with intellect and ageing and the passage of time.

Image credits: 1. Susan Weinroth 2. Shoesbing.co.uk 3. Little Green Notebook 4. StefenyStanyer

Of course, grey is also a very natural neutral colour and evokes a solid, earthy nature. The combination itself keeps reminding me of their natural combination in the yolk of an egg!

Image credits: 1. Naturesam9 2. Alastair139 3. Eren|thisvintagechica 4. Photophilde

Friday, 23 April 2010

Epiphany #1

What has evolution taught me.........that things adapt and change and move on and die and grow and begin and end......what is now considered native may not have been here before the last ice age......and when we strive to conserve and restore to a native natural state we only know the most recent reference point and not the unknown that went before...........therefore I should not feel pressured into sticking fast to "traditions" and "norms" and "rules".

Monday, 12 April 2010

Sew and Reap

I'm really excited about the sewing machine my parents gave me for my birthday and I've been reading up on how to use it and how and what to sew. My first project will be some cushions in these lovely fabrics.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Invest in Your Future "You"

Do you ever feel like you're on the verge of something great, that all roads lead to the source of all change in your life? I've got plans for a future that has been determined by me, not one that I've just fallen into. I want to orchestrate this chosen future but I'm scared, scared that I'll fail, scared that I'll succeed, scared that it'll be a lot of work, scared of stepping out of my comfort zone and of people watching me do that. Talk of entrepreneurial flair has caused me to think that my ideas could never work for surely I am not one of those people with that extraordinary gift? And yet, I keep coming back to this plan, these ideas, this future. So doesn't this all point to me having my share of entrepreneurial drive, and isn't that enough? Over the last number of months I've been brainstorming with more direction, drive and hope.

One of the most inspiring blogs I read is White Hot Truth by Danielle Laporte, which I found via the wonderful Ink on My Fingers. Danielle Laporte has opened my eyes to action, to believing in yourself and to promoting yourself. And while these were all ideas I held in my heart, they weren't ones I wore on my sleeve every day. Even White Hot Truth itself is somewhat outside my comfort zone: the directness of speech; the bold statements; the speed of thought, action and change are all different from the usual padded prose I subscribe to. Danielle Laporte made me begin to see my potential, the realism of my ideas and my ability to achieve them. She is not just inspiring, she fires you into action. I longed for one of her Fire Starter Sessions, a one-on-one appraisal of your plans, your business or your business-to-be and Danielle's directed, clear advice on how to improve, expand and reach your goals. So I'm really excited that all this wisdom is now available to buy digitally and I'm proud to be an affiliate.

On May 12th, Danielle is launching the Fire Starter Sessions ebook/video/audio/workbook at a cost of $150 (a snip of the $500 cost of a one-on-one Fire Starter Session). The pre-launch has already kicked off and you can pre-order your book now. True to form, Danielle has self-published this work and is distributing the digital book herself. Click on the pictures to read more and if you pre-order your copy today you will receive a sneak preview of one chapter sent instantly to you digitally. While the Fire Starter Sessions is aimed at entrepreneurs I find Danielle's wisdom and advice is revealing and inspiring for anyone with a dream in life.

"I want as many people as possible to feel and shine their light, ever brighter - and to create deep freedom while doing it." Danielle Laporte

Thursday, 11 February 2010

A Make Over

Perusing antiques shops and going to auctions is a favourite way to spend a few hours, but I do suffer from falling in love with more items than our little home can cope with. So, sometimes I have to bid my "find" a reluctant farewell and leave empty-handed.

Last summer I was at a local auction but bidding on furniture was definitely out of the question as neither my floor space nor purse could afford it. Sure enough, I fell headlong for a fabulous vintage table. I was lost in a vision of my ideal home office when the floor space issue started nagging and so we said a parting farewell. Then, just as I thought I'd overcome my demons I did it... The auctioneer moved on to an art deco glass fronted cabinet with ornate finishing and glass shelves. I'd already been amazed at the low prices at this auction but was stunned when the starting price of this piece continued to drop with no takers. Eventually, the auctioneer shook his head and said "What, no-one wants it for 5? Okay, moving on to Lot number ..." And then I heard a voice "Yeah, I'll take it for 5!" It was my voice. The reality of what had happened hit. Not for the first time that day I was seeing good quality furniture unsold at five pounds, but this time I had rescued it. My other half would not be impressed. Where would it go? I knew the terms and conditions, the deal was done, I held up my number.

After the second attempted trip to fit it in the car and bring it home, it stood awkwardly in the middle of the sitting room in our small one bedroomed flat. We could try selling it on Ebay for a profit I suggested. Or we could try sell it to an antiques shop in town, or just give it to them and be rid of it. We pondered.

We decided to keep it in the end, after much layout rearranging. As we already had quite a lot of dark wood furniture we decided to sand it down and paint it to liven things up a little. We're very pleased with the results....

Monday, 8 February 2010

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Words from the Wise

Margret Atwood is one of my favourite authors and I am constantly amazed by her ability to write so brilliantly on such disparate topics. I love both her old time tales and her futuristic environmental novels.

She has an incredible ability to stand outside the human world as it races on and succinctly wrap it up in words. In her futuristic works, these words don't blatantly cast aspersions on the state of modern man but are at once both so factual and absurd that one cannot help but wonder how we have got to this. The fact that "Oryx and Crake" and "The Year of the Flood" deal with a time so close and that the problems that abound in Atwood's devastated future are concepts that modern technology is already flirting with, make these scenarios potentially credible and add to the frightening accuracy of the world she speaks of.

She is a regular contributor to the Guardian newspaper where she recently offered her top tips for overcoming writers' block. These practical suggestions also feature here on her blog and are apt advice for many of life's obstacles.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Aren't notebooks beautiful? I love the ritual of choosing a new notebook and can often go for days without writing in it. It almost seems a shame to deface its beauty! Just holding it and touching it and smelling its newness, so full of possibilities, is enough to please. I love the empowering feeling I get from a crisp new notebook ....

Have you got a favourite notebook? I tend to try out new ones and stick with that for a while before I find another one beckoning. At the moment, I really like these from Rosehip. The bigger one will hold new plans while the small one will be on hand in my bag for flashes of brilliance (even those I have trouble remembering!).