To the Revolution!

I always wear my grandmother’s diamond bracelet and a pair of pointed toe heels when I march for women’s rights.

Just teasing…I actually stumbled upon the local women’s march while I was taking my daughters to see The Sound of Music at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. I was wearing Lilly Pulitzer and the aforementioned impractical heels; the girls were decked out in smocking and bows. There was nary a pussy power hat among us, but we were listening to The Sound of Music original motion picture soundtrack in the car. “…Lo and behold you’re someone’s wife, and you belong to him…” These words were literally playing in our car as we came upon the women’s march. Subversive is how I roll.

I think the pussy power hats are cute, in the same way I think flower crowns and unicorn headbands are cute–and y’all know I love a flower crown. Anything with kitty ears is automatically adorable, and I naturally support accessories that come in shades of pink. I’m not sure I could bring myself to walk down the street wearing a pussy power hat, though. I am just way too traditional. Wearing a “Pussy Grabs Back” foam claw is completely out of the question.

It’s not that I don’t applaud these protests. I do. I like that they were nonviolent, and, honestly, it seems like an amazing event to be a part of. I’m a little sad that I didn’t attend the Washington march, if only because I have FOMO and I love a party. (Although, how much of a party could it really be without a lot of boys? And wine. Do we know the wine situation at the march?) To me it sort of looked like Derby, only with more angry signs and fewer (zero) sundresses and  wide-brimmed picture hats. Still, comparisons could be made between the two events, but only if mint juleps and Korbel champagne splits were available for purchase at the march.

I was excited about checking out the Louisville march–we got downtown early because I didn’t know the traffic situation, so we ended up having about an hour to kill before meeting people for lunch. I let the girls choose between checking out the march, or going to the Bristol for special Mommy and Me time at the build-your-own bloody mary bar. They went with the bloody marys, which makes me think I raised them right. Or did I? I’m honestly too weary of it all to go into an existential tailspin over this question.

As I said before, I’m a traditionalist, and rearing daughters requires me to strike a delicate balance. I want them to be proud to be girls, to grow up with the same rights and pay and opportunities as their male counterparts. I’ve been that girl, working in an old boys’ club. I know how it feels to realize that the men in the meeting really don’t care what you have to say. I remember the day in seventh grade when I learned that shutting up and being pretty was more attractive to boys than raising my hand and answering questions. The thought of my girls coming to that realization makes me sad, but doesn’t every girl learn that lesson at some point? Maybe the millions of women marching today never did. Either that, or they just don’t care what the boys think. I have to respect them either way.

At the same time, I’m trying to teach my daughters to present themselves well, and to have good manners. Do we have to be so crass, with all the “Pussy Power” business? Is it really constructive to scream about blood and periods in the street? (I’m looking at you, Ashley Judd). Sometimes I think we have all just completely lost our minds. Can’t we conduct ourselves gracefully, while politely requiring men to be respectful? Maybe we can’t. Maybe without the agitators making demands, girls like me wouldn’t have the freedom to conduct ourselves with grace and politeness in our everyday lives. Maybe there is a gentler way to get things done, or maybe there isn’t. If that’s the case it means others are doing the hard work while I reap the benefits.

I feel like I should write them a thank-you note.

Raise a glass to freedom–something they can never take away!

On Girl Scout Preparedness and Being the Unprepared Brownie Mom

My daughter’s tiny, safe little liberal bubble of a private school doesn’t have a Girl Scout troop, so she’s in a Brownie troop at a nearby private school–one whose atmosphere is a lot more like Lord of the Flies. (Although if Anne Miriam had been a character in Lord of the Flies, she would have ended up efficiently ruling the island in a benevolent dictatorship–Jack, Ralph, and Piggy would have been answering to her, and she wouldn’t have taken any nonsense from any of them), She goes over there once every two weeks and knows half of the girls there from preschool or other places. She likes it and fits right in–and my cousin is cookie mom of this troop–but we’re still sort of on the outskirts just by virtue of not going to that school.

When my cousin delivered the Girl Scout Cookie packet sometime last month, our house was in the midst of pre-Christmukkah chaos. There were boxes arriving every day; I was stashing them anywhere out if sight. There were cute kid projects coming home and performances to attend and gingerbread houses to decorate and latkes to fry, and a mid-winter scouting project was the least of my problems. I was just trying to make it to the end of December alive. Since I wanted my house to exude an air of holiday warmth and elegance, I shoved any clutter–including the unassuming manila envelope–out of sight.

Who’s THAT PREPARED, anyway, to be thinking about a January project in the middle of the December madness? The Girl Scouts are that prepared, apparently. They start selling the cookies on New Years Day, hangovers be damned. Do you know what I do on New Year’s Day? I attend a mother/child brunch (while the husbands watch sports somewhere else) that involves drinking Prosecco for eight hours straight while the kids run wild and put makeup and hair chalk on each other, until my husband finally shows up and makes me leave. I’m not thinking about selling Girl Scout cookies that day. I’m actually never thinking about selling Girl Scout cookies, until today, because the deadline is upon us.

This afternoon Anne Miriam wanted to put on her Brownie vest and hit up the neighbors, which would have been fine except that I couldn’t find the cookie packet. The problem started with my New Year’s resolution, which was to be more deliberate with my time. I bought this new Simplified Planner by Emily Ley–I’ve been making lists and planning meals. I’ve felt organized, happy, and in control! I even deleted the Facebook app from of my phone, because I want to focus on real time interactions instead of a virtual social media feed. I bought a book called Madame Chic at Home, which reminds readers to be fabulous, joyful, and thankful as they do their daily rituals. I’ve read all the blogs about organizing your house–they all say to banish clutter and to do your laundry to completion. I’ve been doing this!

The problem is that when the clutter is sort of bay (but the house is still not super organized behind the scenes), and I’m looking for a specific item, I can’t look in the normal clutter places because I’ve cleared away the clutter. This is bad news: it means that the Girl Scout cookie packet is shoved into a darkened corner of my basement or something. Unless it has the power to turn back time, even my pretty new Emily Ley Simplified Planner couldn’t help me now. It was time to take bold action. Here’s what I did:

Step 1: Put off anxious third grader with an excuse about why she can’t go out knocking on doors. (“Because I need you to help your sister learn to read right now!”)

Step 2: Pour two fingers of bourbon. Jefferson’s Reserve.

Okay, maybe three.

Step 3: Distract the kids with Netflix.

Step 4: Start tearing through drawers. Check the playroom, the basement, the guest room closet. Check this stack of books. 

Don’t get distracted by Period Rooms in the Met!

Step 5: Text all my friends and complain about the Girl Scouts for being too prepared. (Seriously–who is thinking about Girl Scout cookies in December?)

Step 6: Run across my kids’ birth certificates, my marriage license, and some of the passports. Yay! 

This is usually what I’m looking for and can’t find when I’m desperately tearing up everything in the house.

Step 7: Text my husband to see if he took the cookie packet to work. (He didn’t).

Step 9: Take a break to shop the new Mini Boden catalogue. Consider ordering this adorable dress for my middle child.

Totally ordered it.

Step 9: Freak out. Consider pouring more bourbon and just sitting down and giving up. Mentally draft an apologetic email to my cousin the cookie mom to ask for a new cookie packet. Decide not to because it’s just too humiliating.

Step 10: Frantically rifle through the serpentine-front slant-top secretary, and find something that looks promising beneath a stack of old first grade math papers (?). Vow to go through those soon. Pull out the coveted manila envelope. 

Take that, Girl Scouts! Shove your preparedness where the sun doesn’t shine!
I love this little Brownie!

Let the frantic, 36-hour cookie selling spree begin!

Matthew Boulton Treasures in the Speed Museum

I remember the Christmas I spent my Saturdays working at Wakefield-Scearce Galleries. I was barely out of college and my real job was as a graphic designer as a magazine, but on Saturday mornings I’d wake up early in my cozy seventh floor apartment in the Willow Terrace, and drive out to Shelbyville in the cold, to be stationed either among gorgeous English antiques in the second floor gallery, or in the silver vault. While I was there, I tried learn everything I could about the antiques in the gallery, and to train my eye by just being in the room with them. In the silver vault, I was mostly among the Old Sheffield Plate and the Victorian plated silver, and those Victorians had a silver piece for every conceivable function! I tried to learn them all, and I read about the plating techniques. In the first floor gallery, there were cases of sterling silver forged by the great eighteenth century craftsmen (and women–I’m looking at you, Hester Bateman!). That’s where I learned about Matthew Boulton.

Fast forward to present day–after the excitement of the snow day, when everyone went back to school, I decided to treat myself for being such an awesome snow day mom. I headed to the Speed Museum to explore the galleries and have lunch with a friend.

The Speed has adopted the contemporary practice (which I totally support) of integrating decorative arts into their  various galleries. I headed for the European Galleries and was thrilled to find some gorgeous examples of silver work and fire gilding by Matthew Boulton.

Georgeous silver work by Matthew Boulton

 

I have a thing for épergnes–notice the harpies adorning the legs of this one. They’re winged creatures who might snatch food–just like party guests might have done from this very épergne.
A pair of lovely ormolu mounted candlesticks and urns.

One of these days, I’ll be in an antique store and I’ll find a piece of silver with that unmistakable Matthew Boulton mark, and a piece will be mine.

Snow Day (Sort of) in the Ville and Hot Chocolate History

A lifetime in Louisville has taught me that sometimes school is cancelled at even the threat of snow, and that you’d better stock up on bread and milk before they sell out at the Kroger. Experience as a mom has taught me to buy lots of kid snacks, hot chocolate supplies, and bourbon, too.

True to form, most schools in Louisville were cancelled today–but ours wasn’t. I didn’t let the girls know that some kids were out of school (even their little sister didn’t have preschool). I love a snow day as much as the next girl, but when your school doesn’t have buses and most kids live in the neighborhood, there’s really no reason to cancel for a dusting. I imagine it was a fun school day for them–looking out the window at the falling snow, playing on the playground with their friends, and wondering whether there would be an early dismissal–which there was. School let out right after lunch.

 

When the big girls got home, Beatrice and Eloise went out to play in the snow while Anne Miriam went to the coffee shop with her friends.

After playing in the snow, everyone came inside to sit in front of the fire, watch movies, and drink hot chocolate. I like to make hot chocolate by chopping a semisweet Ghirardelli bar and whisking it in hot milk, then cooling it with a little cream and topping it with marshmallows.

The Spode mugs stay out all winter for our family’s hot chocolate needs.
Eloise enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate while watching a My Little Pony Equestria Girls movie

Acquiring chocolate wasn’t always so easy as hitting up the Kroger baking aisle. When it was introduced to Europe by Spanish explorers, it was an expensive luxury affordable only to aristocrats. There was much ritual involved in preparation, and just as the introduction of tea led to lovely tea tables and porcelain tea sets, the chocolate pot was born. Tall silver or porcelain chocolate pots had spouts at the top. Cacao beans were melted in hot water before sugar and milk were added to the pot; the mixture was then frothed with a molinet, a swizzle stick attached to a finial through a hole in the lid of the chocolate pot.

The Anxiety by Jean Baptiste Le Prince depicts a woman in an opulently draped bed,with a chocolate pot on the table nearby.
The Family of the Duke of Penthièvre, by Jean Baptiste Charpentier, is also called La Tasse de Chocolat. Central to the composition is the Princesse de Lamballe, who holds a lovely porcelain chocolate cup in one hand and feeds her little dog with the other.
This lovely 18th century French chocolate pot from La Courtille, now at the Met, would add elegance and grace to any snow day in Versailles or Louisville.

Harry Potter Table Preparations

Today was a day for intense Harry Potter crafting, which was complicated by the fact that Bea’s preschool was cancelled once again. Bea is a lovely child, until she’s not–and, really, what four-year-old understands the importance of bringing respectable competition to one’s table at the Butterflies in Motion luncheon? Most adults don’t get it–although I tend to gravitate toward the ones who do.

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Bea is presh, but patience is not her strong suit.

I spent the morning finalizing the plan for linens, napkins, and chair wraps with Events, creatively molding hot glue onto chopsticks, and applying labels to potion bottles with Mod Podge. Then Bea and I ran over to Carolyn’s to discuss the final plan for the table, and then poor Bea and I spent some quality time together before I came home to paint the wands and tea-stain fifty Hogwarts acceptance letters.

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Chop sticks with hot glue, pre-painting
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Painted chop stick wands with burnished metallic handles
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A few of my potion bottles–these are the ones that don’t have potions in them yet.

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Tea-stained Hogwart’s acceptance letters, with Hogwarts seal.

I’m excited about the table. Set-up is tomorrow night at the Brown Hotel, and the luncheon is Thursday. A few of my tea-stained letters are still drying, and I need to make a few more potions. Now that most of the Harry Potter crafting is finished, I can focus on my wizard look. I’m lucky to have a daughter who owns all the Gryffindor accessories.

Whirlwind October

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Last year at Gallrein Farms

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Bea’s first field trip is coming up

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Amma bearing balloons

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Eloise and me on her field trip last year

I make it a point never to miss a field trip or school party–I’ll show up with cupcakes every time my children’s schools will let me, and I will happily ride a bus anywhere with my girls while they and their friends climb all over me. Alas, it’s time for my three-year-old’s very first field trip, and there is a conflict: the preschool pumpkin patch outing happens to be on the same exact day of the Butterfly Society luncheon. This, of course, makes me feel like a horrible mother, but the truth is I’ve been spearheading the whole theme of our table and crafting up a storm, and I just can’t miss it because it’s a commitment I made awhile ago.

The theme of the luncheon is always movies, and each table is decorated in the theme of a different movie. This year our table chose Harry Potter, so we’re all wearing wizard robes and there’s an elaborate table theme, the details of which I’m not even sure I should be divulging. I’ll be sure to post pictures when it happens, but the point is I’m so racked with mommy guilt that I’m actually considering making an appearance in the pumpkin patch wearing my wizard outfit. That wouldn’t be weird at all, would it? The tragic part is that I won’t even be able to sleep off my post-luncheon champagne buzz like a normal person, because that afternoon after my children finish school we’re leaving on a road trip for a family wedding, and I’m driving.

We have been keeping up a ridiculous pace this month. I have dashed from party to party, and hosted a few of my own. I went on a lovely overnight spa weekend with my best friend, and the next day threw a school fall festival the next day with the help of another mom. I’ve thrown a dinner party and a pickle-themed birthday party complete with a pickle cake and a paint-your-own-cucumber station, and now I’m staring down a field trip, a luncheon, a family wedding…and all that will happen before the next weekend, when I’m charged with making a magical Halloween for everyone. It’s all so much fun, and I know I bring this on myself by saying yes to so much, but it’s so exhausting. I want to do all of it, but doing all of it makes me really, really want a nap.

This reminds me that I should really be using these precious few moments while my children are asleep to make wizard wands, but the thought of creatively molding hot glue onto a chop stick right now makes me want to collapse.