in the mix

May 25, 2017

Just in case you thought three, four even, different prints was too much in one room, just look at this combination. One for the blinds, another for the curtains, and another for an armchair or an upholstered bench. Once you get going almost anything goes. The bar at Palazzo Margherita in Italy is an inspiration in its mix of painted ceilings, decadent wallpaper, graphic tile and textured brasserie chairs. Done wrong it can be dizzying, done right, it’s a dream.

 

basket case

May 24, 2017

In terms of summer bags, few things beat a basket. I kind of love Charlotte Olympia’s watermelon basket tote, but who is going to spend that kind of cash on straw fruit? We have plenty of these and we use them for everything. Becky Aranáz designs darling baskets complete with flamingos, dragonflies and tropical flowers. Sign me up. And this monogrammed cutie goes everywhere.

I just called

May 23, 2017

It occurred to me today, as I put down the phone after a 40-minute gas with my Mum, that my kids and I may never do that. We might not talk on the phone, the way my Mum and I do. The only people I talk to these days are my Mum, my brother and my friends, Izabela and Stephanie. Izabela and I could talk for up to an hour about marriage, motherhood and nuclear missiles, but if you asked either of us what the other had planned for the day, the week, we’d both be clueless. We always dive straight into the big topics. Same with Steph. In our school days, we could easily spend three hours on the phone after a full day at school together; there was always a project, party or teacher’s new perm to discuss. I think I was 14 when I got my own phone line, mostly because I was hogging the main one. It was the first bill I had to pay, and I always delayed to the second or third reminder. I had a Garfield phone, and then one of those really cool transparent ones. I hope my children do call me –– to talk about big things and frivolous things. Hubert Givenchy used to call Audrey Hepburn every now and then just to say, “hello, I was thinking about you,” and that’s pretty wonderful, too.

 

parasol

May 19, 2017

Springtime cocktails are best enjoyed under a parasol. Sunbeam Jackie produces some of the best I’ve ever seen, made up of gorgeous fabrics from Liberty, William Morris, Barbara Brown, Marimekko and plenty more. The company was founded by artist couple Charlie and Katy Napier and their studio, a 12th century grain store, is based in Cornwall. It’s impossible to choose a favourite –– in fact I’d want a half a dozen of them, and a beautiful English garden large enough to accommodate them all.

into the blue

May 19, 2017

Just look at this dreamy hallway –– the aqua walls, the leafy trim around the doors, the mirror, the runner, the chair. It’s all so romantic. Of course, now I’m wondering about the rooms, and what the mirror might say if I talked to it.

 

sprung

May 17, 2017

Every year around this time I feel relieved, mostly because I’m never quite sure that the warm weather will return. But this morning I stepped out to what felt like caftan weather. The crab apple across the street is in full bloom, and life is restored to the neighbourhood. Last night, all the children in our little pocket raced up and down the street on their bicycles. I chatted to neighbours that I haven’t seen since November. It takes living in a city of long, cold winters, to appreciate the treasure that is Spring.

 

namesake

May 16, 2017

I was named after my maternal grandmother, and although I never knew her, I feel a kinship in our shared name. My great aunts, who knew her well, used to say that Athena and I looked very much alike. I’ve studied old photos, the black and white ones with scalloped edges, and I really don’t see it. She was tall and curvaceous and her features were far more dramatic than mine. But I’ve looked at enough faces to know that the similarities we see are not always literal. As a child, I wished to be called Lucy or Jane –– a simple English name that everyone could pronounce. It wasn’t until I entered my teens that I realized what a gift Athena was. I rarely think about my name anymore, but once in a while someone will stop and ask me, “she was a Greek goddess, right?” “Yes, of wisdom and war. And she was my grandmother.”

 

cena

May 15, 2017

A room with honeycomb terracotta tiles and various shades of yellow is a lovely place to start. Bring vintage cutlery, large white candles, cream linen napkins, vino rosso and a huge ceramic bowl of spaghetti carbonara to the table, and the rest of the story just writes itself.

 

Advice from a mum

May 12, 2017

I’ve read a lot of essays on motherhood over the last eight years, but Caitlin Moran’s posthumous advice for her daughter and Tina Fey’s prayer for a daughter remain my favourites, and the ones I return to again and again. “And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.” Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful Mamas. “The main thing is just to try to be nice. You already are – so lovely I burst, darling – and so I want you to hang on to that and never let it go. Keep slowly turning it up, like a dimmer switch, whenever you can. Just resolve to shine, constantly and steadily, like a warm lamp in the corner, and people will want to move towards you in order to feel happy, and to read things more clearly.”

 

Second Coat

May 11, 2017

Next time you buy a coat, consider Nile blue or a barely there pink. Think about tobacco or teal. Any colour, except black. Of course, I understand the logic of  a dark coat, but there something wonderfully bright and impractical about an overcoat that’s as blue as the sky.

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