I Propose…

After a long, hard (and in many places, lingering) winter, the day we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived.  Happy Proposal Day!

Wait, what?

You were probably expecting me to say, “Happy first day of Spring!” That it is. Is it also, at least according to some, National Proposal Day. The origins of this unofficial holiday are not entirely clear, although a couple of websites reference Texan John Michael O’Loughlin as the creator, noting he chose March 20th specifically because the Vernal Equinox “symbolizes the equal forces between the couple necessary in making a marriage work.”

The National Day Calendar–prime source for oddball holidays of all stripes–acknowledges National Proposal Day, although this year it’s highlighting, on the lighter side, ravioli, and on a more sobering note, Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Based on the wildly rambling website, it sounds like the holiday may have been imagined primarily as a (gasp!) marketing gimmick to sell “Proposal Day Cards” and, even more intriguing, “Proposal Day Candidacy Cards,” which are not for proposing, per se, but rather to “declare your candidacy for marriage directly to the one you love” and “make clear your desire to be viewed by them as a candidate for their consideration as a spouse.” If you’re the crafty sort and don’t care to buy a Candidacy card, the site also has suggestions on how to make your own.

It all sounds a little bit too much like those non-committal pseudo-invitations that pass for asking someone out these days: “Maybe we can meet up for lunch sometime,” or worse, “There’s a really great band playing downtown Friday night I was thinking of going to see.” Um, was there a question in there somewhere?

If you want to ask someone to marry you, propose.  If not, don’t.  Save declaring candidacy for the politicians.

But since it is Proposal Day, I have a proposal to make. How about we simply celebrate the arrival–on the calendar if not in the forecast–of Spring? Let’s celebrate new beginnings, the possibility of growth, the balance of hours on this day.

I don’t know if Proposal Day is a “thing” or a wanna-be.  But Spring, beautiful spring, is here at last.


Valentine Kisses

How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.

~Victor Hugo

We were so thrilled with our engagement photos by Noah Magnifico that we’re featuring some of our favorites on our Save the Date cards. We plan to address them over Valentine’s Day weekend accompanied by a bottle of champagne, chocolate truffles, and a few more kisses.

My joy is tempered by thoughts of the loss of three promising young lives in North Carolina, the senseless waste of their generous hearts. The world needs less pain and hate and more love and compassion. And love. Love, love, love, love, love!

Wishing everyone (and I do mean everyone!) a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Don’t forget: write your own happily-ever-after and submit it to the Traditional-Fairy-Tale-Takedown Challenge by Friday!


DIY Decor: Pillows in Progress, or Making a Beautiful Mess

When you visit a craft fair or art show, you see shelves and racks and cabinets filled with beautiful finished products. Fat colorful coffee mugs rounded to fit the cup of your hand, stunning framed photos of frozen waterfalls or birds in flight, the striking drape of a woven wool and silk scarf: their unique beauty stops you in your tracks, earns your admiration, perhaps even secures your ownership.

What we don’t see at the fair are the hours the artist spent bent over the pottery wheel, the precise balance of brute strength and fine pressure required to throw a symmetrical vessel. We don’t witness the lopsided learning curve or the moment of inattention that sends a blob of clay whirling across the studio. We don’t wait with the photographer, bug-bitten and motionless, in the field, or feel her boot crack through the ice that covers a trail of mud. We aren’t privy to the knotted tangles of thread, the beads lost under the radiator, the two discarded muslin mock-ups in the sewing room.

Or the cat who insists on helping.

Anyone who’s ever made anything knows the truth: The creative process is messy. And hard work makes more art than does inspiration.

The same might be said of love and relationships. Continue reading


Perfectly Imperfect: Beauty, Brokenness and DIY Decor/Before

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” -Marilyn Monroe

Perhaps one reason I resist aspiring to perfection is my long-time love of vintage and antique goods. Perfection is a shiny veneer, pretty enough to look at, but usually a temporary state—and, frankly, a little boring. Wear and tear tells a story: a little rust lends a venerable charm, a few dings show an object was used and valued, a crooked hand-sewn seam or repair imbues an inanimate linen with tangible humanity. The Online Etymology Dictionary describes the root of “imperfect” as deriving from the “mid-14c., imperfite, from Old French imparfait, from Latin imperfectus ‘unfinished, incomplete’.” All of the imperfect objects in the gallery, above, were found at thrift, consignment, or antique stores, and all will become part of our wedding decor. When I look at them, I see the beauty in their imperfections, and the possibilities in that beauty. They are indeed “unfinished and incomplete,” though my goal is not to “perfect” them, only to highlight their inherent loveliness and enhance it by finding fresh uses for familiar things.

“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.” – John Ruskin

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DIY Decor: Pieced Pillow Covers

Pillows may seem like an unusual form of wedding decor, but our venue has a number of long, plain wooden benches.  Adding groupings of pillows will, I hope, create some pops of color as well as soften up the modern lines of the venue’s interior space. Plus, my mother Margaret is a quilter extraordinaire, and I love sewing and fabric arts. Designing and making pillows is a great way for us to collaborate across the miles and share in the fun of the wedding-as-creative-canvas. I also plan to re-purpose some of the pillow covers for home decor after the wedding—another good reason to choose wedding colors reflective of those I love and live with every day. To save money as well as storage space, we’re creating slip-on pillow covers that fit pillows we already own (my blessed mother measured every throw pillow in her house). Each pillow cover we create for the wedding will be one-of-a-kind.

For the pillows featured here, Mom purchased a suite of fabrics online and supplemented from her stash. Most of the fabrics are from the Happiness, Blossoming, and Journeys collections by Kathy Davis for Free Spirit fabrics. I drew the (very rough) sketch to illustrate what I envisioned, a pillow featuring multiple fabrics in stripes of uneven widths. Using my sketch and the fabrics she’d selected, Mom created the beautiful pillow in the rocking chair shown in the large photo, above. The orange fabric, from the Happiness collection, is called “Sweet Words” and features words like “happiness,” “joy,” and “beauty.” Perfect for a wedding celebration!

Our Process

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This is the Place!

We have a venue! Welcome to the Rooftop Garden at the Center in the Square.

A little backstory: Steve and I started dating in February of 2013, and one evening that May, we headed downtown, as we often did. It was a warm spring night, and after dinner at Table 50, we walked to Billy’s for a cocktail. You know how in every relationship there are those watershed moments, key conversations or experiences when everything seems to shift, either stall out or leap forward? Maybe the martinis were particularly strong, but as we sat at a high-top near the bar, our conversation turned, for the first time, to past relationships. We shared stories of dashed hopes and talked frankly about some of the painful and pivotal events that had led us to where we were. There were a few tears, tightly held hands, kisses of acceptance and promise. When we left Billy’s, my heart felt light and sure. I hadn’t yet told Steve I loved him, but the feeling had taken firm root.

On our way to dinner, we’d seen a number of dressed-up folks, women in evening gowns, men in tuxedos and sharp black suits. The party-goers were too mature for prom, so when we spotted a large white tent on the corner of the market, we’d figured there was a ball or fundraiser going on. By the time we left Billy’s to stroll around and enjoy the weather, the party was in full swing. The tent was lit up, and we  heard the unmistakable sound of my all-time favorite 80s-cover band, Superhold.

People were sitting at round tables scattered under the tent, and more were just outside it, dancing on the parking lot dance floor. Now that it was dark, we could see the atrium of the Center in the Square filled with the festively-dressed folks we’d passed earlier. The party was in celebration of the grand re-opening of the newly remodeled Center, which had been closed for several years for renovations. The spaces that housed Mill Mountain Theatre, the History Museum, the Harrison Museum of African-American Culture, and the Science Museum of Western Virginia had all been redesigned and upgraded; the atrium now featured several aquariums, and there was a new butterfly garden upstairs. Crowning it all was a two-story rooftop garden. Continue reading