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Artsy Fartsy Weekend

I didn’t really realize it until yesterday… Poor little Gracie has been inundated with art and antiquities nearly every day of her life since the day she was born. Let me set the stage for you… A week after Gracie was born I took her to an antique show. Don’t worry, I covered up her little carriage so no gross antique people would breathe their germs all over her. For the first year of Gracie’s life before she could walk, I would put Gracie on her blanket in the middle of the room and I would make a circle around her of art books so that everywhere she looked she would see beautiful art.

Gracie started working at an antique shop when she was in kindergarten. I swear to God she did. My mother’s best friend, Kathy, opened a shop in Newport Beach filled French imported antiquities and I worked there alongside my mother and Kathy. We would also take Gracie to our Chinese importer where she learned about altar fruit, lacquering and blue and white porcelain. After school, we always brought Gracie to the shop and she would stay with me until closing time. Gracie helped unpacking shipments and watched my mother arrange vignettes. I’m pretty sure we taught Gracie how to move an armoire easily with the help of a Persian rug by her 5th birthday. Gracie has been to every antique show, fleamarket, estate sale, museum and exhibit on the face of the earth from Paris, London, Spain, Los Angeles, North Carolina, Atlanta, Italy, New York and beyond. My proudest moment was when I took Gracie to the Louvre for the first time and we were rushing and rushing inside of the museum to get to the Mona Lisa and when we finally got there Gracie stopped dead in her tracks, not a word came out of her mouth and she looked up at the painting with her big blue wide eyes and a little tear of joy trickled out. Be still my proud heart.

Throughout junior high and high school, Gracie helped with my antique shop every day after school. She was a professional by this time. Now that Gracie is in college in Paris, her art history classes are coupled with museums and exhibits on the weekends.

And, my influence is not all that she has coming at her. Gracie’s father, Dylan, is the president of Walla Walla Foundry. The foundry helps super famous artists like Jim Dine, Richard Prince, Maya Lin, Kiki Smith, Matthew Barney and Paul McCarthy facilitate their artwork. The artist Paul McCarthy is controversial right now in Paris as he put up rather obscene sculpture in the middle of the most hoity-toity square in Paris, the Place Vendôme. Apparently the artist was physically assaulted by a not so art loving villain and the offending artwork was vandalized as well and eventually taken down. You can read the whole article HERE. Gracie’s father flew to Paris over the weekend to take Gracie to a dinner party with Paul McCarthy himself and after a talk at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.


 Gracie and her father also attended the Fiac, Foire International d'Art Contemporain. According to the official site the Fiac is held under the soaring glass roof of the Grand Palais, where seasoned collectors and first time visitors come from all over the world to look at and invest in the work of important modern and contemporary artists. Top international galleries from all over the world present work by up-and-coming artists at this prestigious event.
Everyone who's anyone in the art world will be present, as this is a true tastemaker's event, a place to spot the next greatest talent and perhaps invest in some artwork.”


Poor Gracie. All she probably wants to do is go to the movies and get a hamburger but no such luck in this family. This evening, poor little Gracie, will be forced to look at photos of her mother’s artful weekend in Paris as well. As much as I wanted to take Gracie on our excursion outside of Paris this weekend to Château Chantilly, I relinquished her to her father because I know how to share. This is more than I can say for some people (mother of my husband’s children.) David and I popped up early Sunday morning to head out to the château. But first, I made my French husband drive our car to McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin and to Starbucks for a latte. This takes about two hours in Paris. I can’t even describe well enough the intense eye rolls and look of disgust on his face as I happily ate my American smorgasbord on the way to the French château.

I decided after visiting Château Chantilly, that châteaux are not all purpose. Some châteaux are better in the spring, some chateaux are better for the winter and this château, Château Chantilly, was perfect for fall. It definitely had an autumnal theme running throughout. Think hunting lodge or should I say hunting Château…Hundreds of oak trees, hunting tapestries, roaring fireplaces, hunting trophies of elk and even a centuries-old tiger, dog statues guarding the entry, and acres and acres of forests. All I could think was, “This is the perfect château for Thanksgiving.” More eye rolls from my husband (Has he not realized by now that he married a snob?)


Château Chantilly is known for its insane collection of artwork. We were thoroughly impressed. We would walk through a great salon and Boom! A Delacroix. Then around the corner Boom! A Rafael. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an Ingres! It was crazy. Crazy wonderful!


We decided to tour the grounds in a golf cart that we rented because I’m fat and lazy. Just kidding, I have ALS. By the way, don’t you hate when people are in a wheelchair because they are fat. I just want to kick them. Anyway, we toured the grounds which was technically a forest for hours. In the middle of the forest we saw statues, little chapels, a Hamlet, an Anglo-Chinese garden, an orangerie, and even a kangaroo enclosure. I love rich people and their eccentricities, don’t you?


At the end of our day, my husband always likes to visit the gift shop. We bought a beautiful book on our favorite room of the château, Les Singeries de Chantilly. The room nearly took my breath away. As you know, I love anything chinoiserie and this little room did not disappoint. It was an animal themed chinoiserie petite salon. I almost had a decorating heart attack. The painted panels date back to the 1700s and depict little animals doing everyday tasks. There were little monkeys, bunnies, swans, flamingos etc. The colors were so rich… Blues and yellows and greens and golds. I was ready to put an offer on the château as soon as I saw the ceiling because remember whenever I go castle visiting I pretend I am castle shopping. Take a look…


To top off our marvelous day we decided to have tea and dessert in the forest in the little hamlet. So, in case you don't know, crème Chantilly is what we Americans refer to as whipping cream. But, this ain’t no regular whipping cream. Not to be crude, but this was the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. It was so delicious my husband and I talked about it the entire ride home. The entire ride! Château Chantilly is famous for this cream. We had a moist spice cake with a big plop of crème Chantilly. When my ALS specialist neurologist suggested that I fatten my little body up, I am pretty sure he was referring to crème Chantilly. We ate so much crème Chantilly that we basically rolled out of the Hamlet like fat royalty stuffed on foie gras and cream. It was obscene, deliciously obscene.


So that was our artful weekend. Gracie and her father with Paul McCarthy and his controversial artwork and David and I with our Delacroix’s and crème Chantilly. Not a bad weekend. Stay tuned to the next blog post because on Wednesday we are going to the Salon du Chocolat!

*Something you don’t know about me? I decided that the best person to replace me if I pass away and to take care of Gracie would be… A gay interior decorator married to a gay fashion designer who is having a lifelong affair with a gay museum curator. Don’t you agree?


  1. Fabulous post. Enjoyed the pics of the scenery & loved the pic of Gracie.

  2. Loved the wonderful photos---what beautiful things!

  3. Darlin' Ellie,

    Gracie is so blessed to have all of the unique experiences that you and her father give her. Your legacy will be her incredible style, taste and flair, and a genuine appreciation of all of the arts, just like her parents, especially her lovely mother.

    I was able to travel and be introduced to many major cities, and wonderful museums and historical sites, in the US and Canada by my parents, and I will thank them to eternity, though they both have passed. They also enabled me to go to many destinations in Europe while in high school and in college. No better education.

    Your weekend looked divine!

  4. I love the idea of castle shopping! Your pictures really brought the castle and gardens to life. Perhaps you could create a side post that you can add to that shows where you visit and what item of year you think it's best seen? Lovely post!

  5. I really enjoy your blog because of your sense of humor...and your edge! Maybe you could bestow a little wisdom you have for a fellow stepmom? If at least for a laugh or to commiserate?

    FYI - I want creme chantilly (when I do finally get to France) in. the. worst. way.

  6. Ellie, I imagine that you have this book already but just in case you don't: "A taste for the exotic, Orientalist interiors" by Emmanuele Gaillard and Marc Walter is perfect for you and features both the Petite and Grande Orangeries at the Chanteau Chantilly.
    Waiting to see how the wanting to kick people in wheelchairs because they are fat comment is going to go over...

    1. I loved that!How about the ones in the trolly motorized cart in the supermarkets.......have you ever noticed what THEY are buying?NO WONDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Ellie your posts just take my breath away, partly because I laugh out loud at many of the things that you say. I think that having a castle for every season or holiday is a fabulous idea! Why didn't I think of that before :)
    Thank you for always putting a smile on my face first thing in the morning xoxoxo

  8. As usual, I am nodding and laughing at your spot-on people descriptions. I like your thoughts about a suitable successor.
    On a different note, have you visited the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature in the Marais?

  9. You are so wonderful and so wickedly funny. You say all of the things I think, but don't say. I love that you are always on a fun adventure, but now I'm thinking that adventures pretty much follow you. Unlike you, I've had zero success in cultivating any interest in art in my boys. When we lived in Paris and my oldest son was 5, I took him to the Musee D'Orsay one afternoon. I kept the tour brief and showed him the things I thought would interest him the most. On the way home, I asked what was his favorite part of the visit. His reply, the snack he ate in the museum cafe. On another attempt, I told my boys we were going on a little surprise one Saturday morning. As we got closer, they couldn't stand the suspense and demanded to know where we were going. When they found out it was the DIA (we're back in Michigan now) they cried and cried and cried. It was ridiculous - they weren't even little anymore. We went anyway and looked at medieval suits of armor and swords. I mean how bad can that be if you are a boy? Anyway, they hated it. I'm done. Now I go to museums sans enfants.

  10. Thank you for sharing such gorgeous photos of your weekend. Yum - how great that you indulged in that wonderful creme Chantilly! That's a real treat.

    I wonder if your daughter was as excited by her weekend activities with her dad as I was while I was reading your post about her weekend activities with her dad! Very cool, and she's beautiful, but you know that.


  11. YES!
    I totally agree with YOU............she would be in goods hands with THOSE BOYS!!!
    Newport Beach......antique store.......up off NEWPORT BLVD??Tell me the name of the how GRACIE has been surrounded her whole life by ART!I'm sending you an email!XOXO

    1. It was in a house......a blue house the shop?I think we would pass it on the way to the was our short cut route!

  12. Hopefully it was a sausage egg McMuffin and then the creme Chantilly ! Remembering your juxtaposition post here !

  13. Wow, wow, WOW! Amazingly beautiful place. And yes, as always, you're so funny.
    Thank you for your posts.

  14. hi Ellie, Suzanna here, try this! So funny, I thought if I were adopted it would be great to have 2 gay designers adopt me, what a bedroom I would have and clothes, ha ha ha… Gracie's hat….what a fun day indeed ~ xo

  15. Ellie,
    You and your posts are magical - I learn so much! I love your irreverent sense of humor - so refreshing in a world leashed by political correctness.

  16. Something you don't know about me...I'm a thief. I plan on stealing your line, "the best thing I've ever put in my mouth."
    You're tops.

  17. Your blog is great. Eyeopening, honest and fearless. It is a rare treat between all the superfiscal, sweet (i.e. meaningless) and pretentious blogs. Thank you for devoting so much energy to inspire us! Your happy reader from the not so far away Black Forest in Germany, Vanessa

  18. What a fantastic and perfect weekend! Breathtaking art and grounds.
    Thank you for sharing. Susan

  19. Hiya Ellie, thought I'd stop by to say Hi to you today! Nov. 1, as there's a shiver in the air here in Florida. (for us sandpipers) Still having a challege writing ya so try it another way. Bliss Bliss is me, Suzanna.
    Thinking of you ! xo

  20. I just adore your blog! I love your wit and humor. I hope you are doing well. Sending you much love from the suburbs of Chicago.

  21. We went to Chantilly and had a lovely time - touring and then that freshly whipped Chantilly!
    I think one can never be exposed to too much art, too much chantilly creme or too many chocolates!

  22. Fabulous post!!!

    Holy cow!