Living with Peonies
Among my favorite flowers, there are so many, Peonies hold one of the highest rankings. I love their luscious pink and white blooms in various shades, especially when paired with blossom. Of course they are best, and most luxuriant, when they are used in abundant profusion.
Leanne Ford Paints the Town…White
Interior designer and television personality Leanne Ford has captivated my attention of late. Her background in fashion infuses her interiors and her personal style with an edgy, sultry look that feels at once bohemian and sophisticated. Indeed one could imagine the smokey brunette moonlighting as a torch singer or as the lead singer of a rock band doing nightly sets at The Whiskey a Go Go. Chances are though Leanne doesn’t need the extra dough. Her rooms exude her personality and playfulness you can get a sense of her ironic wit; her dog is named Tom…Ford.
A designer almost by accident, Leanne did up her L.A. cottage in her stylish and now iconic white washed bohemian look; modern lighting, rustic flagstone floors, an inventive use of materials, edgy modern furniture, and artfully staged bric-a-brac. The house appeared in Country Living and readers fell in love with it. Instantly Leannes design career was launched. She now splits her time between Los Angeles and her new home in her native Pittsburgh. Below are some of my favorite, most inspiring images from both homes.
I have long been a fan of slathering white paint on everything: walls, woodwork, stone, brick, and furniture, so its no surprise that Leanne’s austere and poetic white interiors started catching my eye on Pinterest and Instagram. Her pale, rustic, interiors with their carefully curated flourishes of vintage clutter and her quirky design experiments make her work sing poetic. She manages to transcend mere decorating and elevate her spaces to an art form
One of the advantages to living in the southeast is the abundance of rain we get, and with that, the abundance of flowers.
When I first moved to Atlanta from the southwest, I was enthralled with all the trees, the greenery, and the shrubs. It took me a while to figure out what flowers and plants would do well here. Needless to say I was overjoyed to find that hydrangeas of every variety grow like weeds here.
Now in my garden I’m blessed to have a virtual hydrangea farm. This wet, lush, summer has produced a bumper crop and an endless supply of fresh cut mop head hydrangeas for the house and for DJ’s office.
Hydrangeas are among the most romantic flowers. They are also very simple to arrange- even the novice can master it. The sheer volume of their massive heads lends itself to short, compact arrangements. You’ll want to use a vase that holds a lot of water, as these girls are very thirsty. They are well suited to bottles with narrow necks and large bodies, or cylinders such as the one I use on our living room coffee table. Fill the clean vessel with lukewarm water from the tap. Give the hydrangeas you’ve harvested or bought from the market a light shower on their heads, or you can fill a basin with cool water and submerge them. Hydrangea’s are one of the few flowers that actually can drink up water from their voluminous blossoms. Prior to arranging they will appreciate this big gulp of water. Once the heads have dripped dry on a towel shake them in the sink to get the excess out of the many folds and layers. Remove all but two or three leaves (leaves will steal water from the flower head and cause your blooms to droop and wilt). Give the stem a good long diagonal cut by slicing the stem lengthwise, away from your body, with a good sharp paring knife. You’ll want to see some of the white, meaty, inner core of the stem exposed, especially if your flower is on a woody stem. Then put the stem in the water.
In a big vase, like my fat glass cylinder, you’ll want to start by laying in a ring of hydrangeas around the perimeter edge of the vase, like a donut. Build up several rings until the center starts to close in, and you have a nice mushroom head shape. Once you have the foundation mound completed you can add longer stems to the bouquet if you like a loose more wild look. Voila- you have a stunning bouquet that should last a week or more.
To keep the flowers looking good, change the water every other day and wash the vase to prevent bacteria from building up. If a bloom wilts, simply give it a good bath in cool water in the sink, slice a fresh cut on the stem, and put it back in the water. This will usually keep your flowers looking good. Enjoy!
Life is one big balancing act. Sometimes its tough to get the balance right.
This past May, after a long deliberation, I finally decided it was time to get my work/life balance in order. I’ve spent years traveling on the road, creating products, making companies and vendors lots of money, and a fairly good living for myself, but at what price?
In April I was in Hong Kong on a business trip, when our beloved, mangy, sweet old Brussels Griffon, George, became very ill. He had been suffering from a heart murmur most of his life and it was getting steadily worse. We knew he had a limited amount of life left, and we were doing all we could to make the best of it. When I left for Asia, George seemed happy and healthy. Unfortunately, he passed away while I was stranded in Hong Kong, thousands of miles away. I was very sad not to be present for him when he passed. That was when I decided it was time for a change
I had started Robert Jones Home the year before, just so I could address that work/life balance. Rather than working a full time schedule, commuting to an office daily, and spending too much time away from home I decided to become a consultant. It was a wonderful change. It allowed me to work from home when I didn’t have to travel, and it gave me more control over my time. No more hours wasted sitting on a freeway every day, no more days doing my time in an office. It set me free to do the things I loved most at work while spending time at home on the things that made me most happy.
For many years I had harbored a secret dream of writing, creating a blog, and exploring other creative outlets. Taking the big step to change my life has paid off. Fortunately, I have a partner that supports me in my endeavors, so it made the choice that much easier.
In May, I took it one step further and ended my contract with one of my biggest clients. That was scary stuff, but it allowed me the space and the time to get some distance from the hamster wheel of product development I had been on for the past twenty years. It gave me the opportunity to take a deep breath and think about what things in life actually nourish my soul. It allowed me to hone my sites on what I really wanted out of life.
I’m grateful for that.
Living with Flowers
There’s nothing quite like fresh flowers to bring life and softness to a home. These gorgeous roses I spotted in a booth at a trade fair made the space come alive- they actually drew me into the showroom. This is how I love flowers, simple, profuse, and casually arranged.
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