Bird and Belle's Adventures in Marriage



What started as a simple window treatment has turned into an all-out redecorating fiasco. While still a work-in-progress, I thought I would share some photos of the current state of our dining room.

I decided to tackle No. 2 on my 31 in 365 in early May. The previous homeowners had painted the walls an uninspiring dark beige. After great deliberation Bird and I selected a pale putty color called Dove Wing that, when in the right light, seems to almost glow. I also repaired and repainted the ceilings, and then painted the trim with a high gloss ultra white. I am really pleased with how much larger the space looks once painted.

Once the walls were painted and the snazzy new drapes hung, we turned our attention to the chandelier, or lack-there-of. Instead of a chandelier, our dining room was illuminated by the kind of cheap round light that you would expect to see over a toilet. My mother found the perfect drum pendant lamp at Tuesday Morning for a mere $80. Bird had to hack it a bit to make it work in our space, but the end result is just what we had in mind: subtle, trendy and within budget. And, for the first time ever, my dinner is well-lit!

My second big sewing project were new covers for our Ikea Harry chairs. The cats had done a number on the old red covers in just a year so I knew I did not want to spent a lot of money on new ones. I also found the limited colors and prints at Ikea to be uninspiring. Instead, I selected a heavy-duty outdoor fabric that coordinated nicely with the drapes. Using the old cover as a pattern, the awesome Loretta helped me create two fantastic covers that cost only $30 and two mornings of sewing time.

I used the old Ikea curtains and some cheap black cotton fabric to make a pile of simple place mats. These are far from perfection, but do a fine job catching rogue food and I won’t freak out if I see a cat sitting on one as they can go from table to washer and dryer without batting an eye.
The wall above the sideboard is still a work in progress. Ultimately the antique typewriter from our wedding will live here. I am in the process of making a chalkboard center for the rectangular frame, which I snagged at a Cincinnati thrift store for two bucks and painted white. The oval frames are antiques from E-bay that came with the original convex glass. We are ordering black and white prints of our family wedding photos to go in each. The woodblock print of a B is from our travels to Seattle.
And finally, on the wall opposite the sideboard is a grouping of photos from our travels in Costa Rica. Hanging these was a major labor of love and required a lot of cursing and pencil drawing on the wall. My friend Katy recently posted a brilliant way to hang art easily without the pencil markings and squabbling with your significant other. If only I had known that a while back!
And so that is the dining room thus far. Bird and I really enjoyed eating our dinner in such a pretty, well-lit space tonight and think you will too! (Hint!)


31 in 365: Hem The Drapes!

Hand made by Belle!

My childhood memories are punctuated by the rhythmic whomping of my mom’s sewing machine. Mom began sewing as a child. Over the years she has sewn clothes for herself and kids, custom draperies, costumes, toys and more. My mom is the genius behind the awesome hats at our wedding.

The perfect mustard colored fabric procured from a discount online store.

Sewing and Mama Magargee are synonymous. Sadly, I can’t say the same about myself. Despite spending hours watching mom sew, I could not mend a button. A previous boyfriend once asked me to repair a few shirts. Unwilling to admit my lack of domestic abilities I set to work. The buttons ended up being sewn on crooked and the torn seam puckered. To add insult to injury, I burned a large, iron-shaped print on the one shirt I tried to press.

From then on I adopted the “no sew” method of alterations – I used a stapler to hem drapes and pants, and safety pinned a shirt when the button came off. When I moved to Lexington Bird and I purchased $14 drapes from Ikea. Each pair came with this amazing tape that you ironed into the drapes to create a no-sew hem. GENIOUS! This tape became my new best friend. I actually took a square piece of fabric, ironed in a hem and used it as a tablecloth. AND HE STILL MARRIED ME! Bird is a good man.

While writing my 31 in 365 list Bird challenged me to learn how to sew a real hem into our drapes. I stared at him. Sew? Why on earth would I do that when I could just use the ironing tape? He kindly explained it would be nice to launder our drapes without the hems falling out each time. Good point.

“28. Sew an actual hem into my drapes (no more iron-on hems).”

I wanted our curtains to have a nice, finished look and be easy to open and close. Drapery pins and iron rings did just that.

While I enjoy teaching myself new skills like graphic design, I realize it can be a time-consuming process and the point of 31 in 365 is to complete the tasks in 365 days. Additionally, things like graphic design do not include a sharp needle whomping down hundreds of times per minute. Nope, teaching myself to sew had disaster and Band-Aids written all over it. Instead I consulted Google and after a few clicks found Loretta.

Like Mom, Loretta has been sewing forever. She can talk your ear off about fabric grain, nap and the importance of buying quality thread. With the patience of a saint, she can deal with a slew of questions and constant interruptions, “Um, Loretta, I think something is wrong… ” I say as I tug on the zipper that I accidentally sewed closed.

For the past two months I have met with Loretta every other Saturday to learn how to sew. Slowly she has taught the basics and given me the confidence to try new things. “It’s just fabric,” she assures me. “You can always rip a seam out.”  Sewing, she reminds me, is supposed to be fun.

The more I learned from Loretta, the more I thought I could do better than just sewing a hem in our $14 drapes. I started looking at drapes that I could not afford. “I think I can make these,” I said to Bird one night. “I’m sure you can!” His vote of confidence fueled the project. I ordered fabric. I bought lining. I hunted down pleat tape and drapery pins. I bought drapery hardware.

One Saturday, armed with supplies and a sandwich, I arrived at Loretta’s house ready for a full day of cutting, pressing and whomping machines. With her expert guidance we created four lined drapery panels from wonderful mustardy yellow fabric that would hang with pins and rings giving the drapes a polished and high-end look. This weekend I hung the drapes and Bird oohed and awed. They were just perfect, he said.  And hemmed properly!


31 in 365

Last year a former colleague of mine started a 38 in 365 Project. Here she sets 38 goals to accomplish in 2010 and then documents each as it is completed. Inspired by her work, and fueled by my embarrassing love for lists, I decided to create my own 31 in 365. Why only 32 and not 38? Why not a more ambitious 50? Honestly, I could not think of more nor do I want to overwhelm myself as 2011 is my great year of learning to live in the present and enjoy life! I chose goals that were realistic, will stretch my creativity, enliven my spirit and bolster both my career and my relationship with Bird. So here they are, in no particular order. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how the list is progressing over the coming year.

  1. Finish changing my name EVERYWHERE.
  2. Paint the living room and dining room.
  3. Make my home office a placeI can work comfortably in.
  4. Take a photography class.
  5. Create a design piece that is portfolio worthy.
  6. Workout three times a week for eight weeks straight.
  7. Run a 5K.
  8. Visit my grandmother in Florida.
  9. Make three necklaces.
  10. Harvest at least one tomato from my garden.
  11. Plant a flower bed filled with flowers I can cut and give away.
  12. See a movie with Bird.
  13. Go to the Air Force National Museum with Bird.
  14. Take a father/daughter hike.
  15. Blog about 12 meals I created from scratch.
  16. Bake a loaf of bread worthy of sandwiches.
  17. Perfect a vegan pie crust.
  18. Attend craft day with my mom and her friends.
  19. Roller skate.
  20. Take Bird on his first ice skating adventure.
  21. Read two books on yoga.
  22. Practice meditation on my own once a week for eight weeks.
  23. Visit the farm.
  24. Pay off my computer.
  25. Prepare one “meat meal” for my husband.
  26. Bike the Legacy Trail.
  27. Send three random snail mail surprises.
  28. Sew an actual hem into my drapes (no more iron-on hems).
  29. Make photo albums from our travels.
  30. Clean the car inside and out.
  31. Publish a piece of writing.