Thursday, February 16, 2012

casual sofa covers?

As the proud parent of two spoiled Boston Terriers who have never been taught to stay off the furniture, which happens to be light colored upholstery, I am always on the lookout for attractive, but casual throws, blankets and quilts to toss over the sofa and three chaises that we - and the dogs - love so much (wherever we like to sit and get cozy, so do they). While browsing on Etsy recently, I came across this shop that has several gorgeous handmade textiles from India, which - considering the detail on some of them - seem pretty reasonably priced.

A few appliqued bedspreads that I have my eye on (I would have to check on whether these are machine washable, to serve the intended purpose):

The shop also has several beautiful throw sized Kantha quilts, which are made out of gorgeous recycled cotton saris using an embroidery technique called "kantha"to form intricate designs. I love that many of these are reversible, and have sort of random patches here and there. These are more for decorative use than what I am searching for - Pottery Barn and West Elm, who sell vintage kantha quilts of similar size for twice as much money, advises against washing these.

Here are a just a few that caught my eye:

Quilt 1 ~ Side 1

Quilt 1 ~ Side 2

 Quilt 2 ~ Side 1

Quilt 2 ~ Side 2

Quilt 4 ~ Side 1

Quilt 4 ~ Side 2

Quilt 5 ~ Side 1

 Quilt 5 ~ Side 2 

I am such a sucker for intricate, soft textiles. I just love the stitching on these, not to mention the patterns. One of these may be too tempting to resist. It would be mine, all mine - dogs forbidden to set a paw upon it. 

Just like the cherished crazy quilt that my mom made for me out of scraps of fabric with very sentimental memories - the dress my Grandmother wore to my wedding, a pair of pants I bought in Paris when I was 15, a dress my best friend bought for me at a thrift shop in Germany in high school, a pair of purple embossed corduroy bellbottoms that were too hideous for my rebellious teenage self to resist. 

I'll have to share photos soon. (Of the quilt, that is - not of me sporting the purple bellbottoms circa 1995).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

a very tardy farewell to 2011

So I'm not doing so well on one of my 2012 resolutions - to blog more. Much more.

I've let Dear Frances' 1 year anniversary pass by without a mention, and now, Valentine's Day. How will I ever make up for missing both an anniversary AND Valentine's day, all in less than one month? I'm such a bad boyfriend.

How about a very tardy farewell to 2011, a year in review - including some things that should have been posted about, but were not. Maybe that will count for something.
2011 started out with a trip to Toronto that was pure magic. In fact, over a year later, I still owe a post on that.

Dear Frances was born on January 21. That month I sewed baby booties and welcomed my niece Emily into the world, watching my baby brother turn into a father, and my parents turn into glowing grandparents.

In 2011 I made pickles, lemonade, and my grandmother's whoopee pies - all for the first time ever (yes, ever).

I broke a treasure from Bar Harbor, but acquired many others.

I checked out the Brooklyn Flea for the first time during a visit to the city and was totally overwhelmed. All I left with was McClure's pickles and hotdogs from Asia Dog in my tummy.

I enjoyed the view of snow on hydrangeas from my newly put together sunroom, which quickly became my favorite spot in the house.

I acquired several antique mirrors and discovered the dangers of liquid mercury as a result (be careful with antique mirrors made in the 1860s and before - they are plated with mercury, which as I found out the hard way, can come detached from the glass and bead up into a million hazardous balls of liquid mercury if the mirror is jostled in any way!). 

I finally scanned old family photos, asked a million questions about them, and felt a burning desire to one day write a book about all the stories. 

I went on a fantastically fun trip to Florida where, lounging poolside, I got a call that informed me that I would be losing my job of four years in a couple of months due to funding cuts beyond my employer's control. I panicked, then promised myself I'd make the most of whatever time I would have "off"- an unpaid vacation of unknown duration (aren't I clever?).

I discovered Menne Nursery and proceeded to collect and kill several beautiful plants as a result.

Now a mere shadow of its former grandiose self. 
No more flowers, and only a tiny amount of foliage.  

Gardenias - dead and gone. :(

 Maidenhair fern - met the same fate. This is the most painful loss. 
This may have been my favorite houseplant, ever.

Another fern, now gone. On a positive note, the little succulent on the left is still alive!

I trained for the Toronto Half Marathon and drew strength from a perfect stranger when things got rough around mile 8. 

Our last supper before the Toronto Half Marathon:
House Cured Meats platter at the Black Hoof Cafe
They had a lavender whipped "lardo" spread that sounds disgusting,  
but was the most silky buttery delicate thing I've ever spread on bread. 

I hosted a baby shower and discovered the joys of toddler bath time and toddler/dog bonding.

In one particularly classy weekend in April, I welcomed a muscle car into my marriage and threw myself a hotdog birthday party, inspired by aforementioned Asia Dog. Evan finished his DJ booth in the rumpus room, and we hosted several impromptu dance parties.

I planted an alpine succulent garden and reveled in the lilac gardens in Rochester.

At the end of May, I said goodbye to my job, and hello to my Mom and Grandmother for a long weekend in Buffalo. I got to see my Grandmother experience Niagara Falls for the first time, made her macaroni and cheese recipe with my mom under her supervision, and dug around in the garden with her. It was magic.

I brought Mom and Grammy back to Maine and stayed for two glorious weeks (see pictorial review here and here.)

I revisited rivers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for the first time in over a decade. Immediately began scheming for how we could afford an old rundown farmhouse somewhere in the White Mountains, recent unemployment be damned.

I visited an old friend from college and marveled at how much more we have in common now than we had back then. I rode on a vintage motorcycle with my dad. I melted repeatedly in the presence of my niece. I relaxed in my parents' small backyard oasis, surrounded by Solomon's seal, ferns and a crackling summer fire. I rescued a turtle with my Auntie and celebrated my best friend's birthday with her.

I returned from that trip, and a couple of weeks later traveled to a place that could not be more opposite from New England: Las Vegas. The highlights of the trip were seeing old friends renew their wedding vows in a delightfully cheesy chapel after 10 years of marriage - Elvis presiding of course - and trying escargot for the first time, with fancy french cocktails, watching the Bellagio water fountain show across the street.


In July, I fell head over heels for one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen - Lake Skaneatelas - and coveted this cottage on it so badly it made my heart hurt.

Can you imagine??

I spent a blissfully relaxing, no cost vacation at Sylvan Beach, NY surrendering myself to fruity tropical cocktails and the creepy yet delightfully rundown amusement park nearby.

 Sweet prizes!


I got a new bicycle, named her Violet and rode her 20 miles up the Seaway Trail and back. 

In August, I visited Cape Cod for the first time and fell in love with Quivet Neck Beach. I got over my college induced aversion to rum and enjoyed my first Dark & Stormy with cousins-in-laws that I adore. I ate the best s'more of my life (look at the size of that marshmallow!).

I finally made it to my father's family's annual get together for the first time since they started three years ago and had a blast catching up with family that I hadn't seen in years. Also in August, we welcomed a new addition to the family - a rescue dog from Ohio named James Bond, who we promptly re-Christened Otto.

Shortly thereafter, I got bit by a spider - which doesn't sound terribly noteworthy, but it actually made my life miserable for a solid three weeks and left me with a serious spider neurosis bordering on arachnophobia - not to mention a bright pink quarter-sized scar on my leg. Do not do a google image search for "spider bite" - it's the stuff of nightmares. No joke. I got off easy, apparently.

I explored Zoar Valley - my favorite place to swim in Western New York, hands down - and dreamed of one day having a camp along the river one day (just add it to my growing collection of waterside fantasy homes).

I chased this small gorgeous butterfly around my yard, until it finally stopped for a rest, and I could snap about 100 photos. Its wingspan was maybe 3/4 of an inch across. Tiny, delicate and insanely intricate. 

I messed around with flowers from Dan Tower Farm - the highlight of every trip to the Farmers Market last summer. I toured Buffalo's community gardens and urban farms on my new bike, and rediscovered the joys of jewelweed.

I visited New England in the fall for the first time in years and years and vowed to make it an annual tradition. I had a meal at the Burning Tree restaurant in Bar Harbor that made me obsessed with preserved lemons and Moroccan spices.

My Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister-in-Law and Niece all came to visit us in Buffalo for a long weekend in October, which was such a treat. I joined a murder of crows for Halloween - my most favorite costume to date. 

In November my tortured Blackberry finally died, setting me free to cross over to the world of iPhone and  Instagram - finally!

In December, we hunted for a Christmas tree on a friend's family farm in the land of windmills. The farm borders the same creek that runs through Zoar Valley. I begged with no uncertain desperation to come back to camp there next summer.

Windmills - video is not for the easily carsick. :)

I spent a very peaceful, content Christmas in Buffalo, cooking up a storm for just Evan and I. I rang in the New Year with a new dress in a beautifully renovated Buffalo landmark. 

2011 was a year of ups and downs, but mostly ups - a lot of travel and time with family and friends for which I am endlessly grateful for. I remain hopeful and excited to see what 2012 brings ... there are some big changes on the horizon which I am sure I'll share here in due time. 

Happy 2012, dear friends - I hope it's started off well for all of you!


PS - and happy belated Valentine's Day! I was not on the ball enough to live up to this post from last year. As I did last February, I will leave you with a few stunning flower arrangements by the brilliant Amy Merrick, whose dreamy website you must check out, now.