Thursday, March 29, 2012


I almost can't stand how adorable waxflowers are. It's hard for me to pick absolute favorites with flowers, but they have to be in the top three. Or at least five. That is to say that I really, really love them and I can never resist buying a bunch when I see them. 

the year summer crashed spring's party

Some shots snapped while out on many long walks these last couple of weeks ... you know, that time in March when it was in the 80s. In Buffalo.

So happy that I took lots of magnolia shots - just yesterday I was out walking, less than a week later, and all the blossoms are dead and brown. 

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's hellebores. 

 I love the pale pink petals against the color of this house. 

Its a rare treat to see pine trees gracing the city lots here - they always remind me of Maine.  

I always struggle with the hyacinth - when to let them be, and when to cut them down to bring inside so that I can enjoy their fresh, clean, and intensely floral smell before the blooms fade.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

slow transition - a living room story, pt. 1

Anyone who works full-time and endeavors to do nearly all home repairs and updates themselves knows that even the smallest, simplest of projects can move agonizingly slow. Add a house with a history novice, DIY homeowners having their hand at said updates, and now a current owner who is busy lawyer, and who, in a former life, was a wildly talented, but anal retentive, perfectionist house painter (talking about Evan here - I have no such talents) - and you quickly come to appreciate just how agonizingly slow it can be.

Living room furniture shoved like a Tetris game into the dining room. Do you spot the two boston terriers? They will not be deterred from napping in their favorite chairs.

But in the end, its always worth the wait both financially and aesthetically. Evan really does do great work. 

The current project underway is the living room - Hallelujah! New visitors to the house always compliment us on its charm - the loads of windows, beveled glass and built-ins galore, which I gladly accept ... 

dust everywhere from Evan sanding off the faux popcorn finish on the ceiling 
- yes, there is such a miserable thing.

... But then comes the obligatory polite compliment on the wall color. The wall color which I have come to absolutely loathe over the past two years, which was chosen two owners / at least 8 years ago. I usually try to preempt this by interjecting defensively, "All of the paint colors you see downstairs are not us - we just haven't been able to repaint them yet!" 

Thankfully those days are numbered!

sun room sealed off

Walls patched, waiting for primer. A nice view of the dark red, cream and black 
color scheme... did I mention I loathe it? 

And then, VOILA! Red walls no more! Its kind of pathetic how giddy just a coat or two of primer on the walls has left me. Evan could walk away from this whole project right now, and never touch a paint brush again and it would be a vast improvement in my book. Despite all the windows in this room, it felt like the red walls just sucked every ounce of natural light out, which was especially hard to cope with through the long dreary winter. (A friend of mine recently called this shade of red "yuppie crack den." Wonder if Benjamin Moore still carries it.)

And no, I dont karate chop my cushions. My dogs just happen to love sleeping in the middle of the back cushion (see first photo, above), leaving this unfortunate indent.

My only job in this whole process is to pick out the paint colors. Sounds like a fun, simple task, right? Hah! Leave it to me to turn even the most superficial, non-urgent, far from life-threatening decision into an ordeal to lose sleep and hours of productivity over. I want a very light neutral, that will still have enough contrast with white trim to show off the built ins. I thought this would be fairly simple to choose. 

Of all these options, I narrowed it to four, all Benjamin Moore colors: Ashwood, Overcast, French Canvas and Halo. Evan painted swatches on three different walls, and while I thought they were all lovely, I found them all too dark. 

So the search continues ... as will this saga. 

I know you'll be on the edge of your seat, waiting for more.

Monday, March 5, 2012

mr. jason grant's boston terrier paint

We are in the middle of a living room redo. As I type this I am sitting in the living room, downright giddy at how bright it is in here! Evan finished priming the formerly dark red walls last night, and its already an astounding improvement. 

The living room is pretty large, and has a ton of built ins with glass doors and a mantel shelf that runs the depth of the room - all of which are going to require extensive scraping and prepping for a new coat of paint. Thankfully, I might add, because I need all the time I can get to choose colors for the walls, built ins, trim and brick facing around the fireplace.

So paint colors are on my brain right now in a big way - who knew choosing light neutrals could be so difficult? Oh, thats right - everyone who has ever had to do it. Here is my Pinterest inspiration board for colors. More on those soon!

So when I came across this Murobond paint line out of Australia designed by Mr. Jason Grant via Decor8 today, I had to share it. Gorgeous colors, and paint cans featuring a Boston Terrier? Come on - what's not to love?

Handsome devil.

(Don't worry - I haven't lost my mind so much as to seriously consider ordering gallons of paint from Australia because they feature a Boston Terrier. But I still had to share the BT love!)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

tulips, alstromeria and seeded eucalyptus

 on my nightstand

A little flower therapy to beat the late winter blues. I bought three bouquets at the grocery store - creamy white tulips, burgundy/purple and white alstromerias and seeded eucalyptus - and spent an hour lost in making a bunch of small arrangements. 

I love the seeded eucalyptus for its muted silvery green color and the fact that it dries looking almost exactly the same. I have sprigs stuck in old bottles all around my house from an arrangement brought home almost a year ago. Its one of my favorites. Alstromerias are so easy to find, affordable, beautiful and they last forever. And tulips of course help me remember that spring is in fact around the corner. I think the white ones are so graceful. 

Hope you had a great weekend - think Spring!


Friday, March 2, 2012

put a blanket on it

Oh, Pinterest. I am afraid you have led me even further astray from my resolution to blog more.

Have you been sucked in yet? It's wildly addicting, and once you get the hang of how to use it, incredibly easy. Too easy. With a few clicks you've created a beautiful inspiration board, and then a few minutes later, 27 strangers have liked or "repinned" your post! Woah - holy instant gratification!

It is, however, no substitute for blogging. But since I dont see this addiction/delightful time suck going away any time soon, I will try to use Pinterest as a tool for paying Dear Frances more of the attention she deserves.

To start, some images I have pinned that serve as follow up to my last post about casual sofa covers.These images prove that sofas covered in blankets, throws, sheets etc. can be attractive while being incredibly functional - comforting assurance to the owner of light colored upholstered furniture and two snuggle loving dogs.

This one is from one of my most favorite Design Sponge 
Sneak Peaks - Scartlett of Saffron & Genevieve
an antiques and interior goods shop in Santa Cruz, CA.

From a house tour of Kessa & Len's home in Toronto, via  

 Originally pinned from here, but could not find this image for source.

If you were to say to me, "Amanda, if you only had one website 
to refer people to to get a sense of your 'style' - a place where you 
would giddily adopt every single thing featured into your home 
- what would it be?" 
I would say, visit the Cabbages & Roses Homeware Style Guide
I go back to Christina Strutt's At Home with Country 
over and over again to get inspired. The obsession began with  

Originally pinned from here, but could not find this image for source.

Two photos above from Apartment Therapy House Tour  
- homeowners who clearly let their pets all over the furniture 
without sacrificing style or cleanliness (their furniture is white!). 
I love these shots - our two dogs love sleeping on the top 
of the back cushion of our chair and chaise, just like this.

From Apartment Therapy's  

This is where clicking on the Pinterest pin takes you. 
If you know the source, please tell me!

Ok, so those last two aren't covered in blankets, but they still show how a loose, non-custom fit (i.e. affordable) slipcover can look great, wrinkles and all, with a little help from some comfy pillows. While our current living room set isn't a forever set, I would still like to keep it in good shape and as clean as possible. We bought the three pieces (oversized chair, chaise and sofa) off Craigslist for the same price that we sold our old sofa and loveseat so someone else for, so it was essentially a free upgrade! The chaise was the real catalyst for the transaction, and I would like to "trade in" the sofa soon on Craigslist for something else. 

What can I say? I get queasy at the price tag of new sofas, and love the thrill of the hunt.