Bonjour, dears! After the extra long Fourth of July weekend it’s been nice getting back into the groove of things. This week I ventured down to the Atlanta Market and all the creativity buzzing about, from splendid new decor to insightful events, was invigorating. It was a wonderful reminder that staying inspired is the key to continuing creativity and had me recalling an incredible bit of advice on the subject which takes us to our first fancy!
KEEP IT CREATIVE
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of hearing blogger, author and all-around innovator Justina Blakeney speak on creativity. She recommended fitting what she referred to as “creative warm-ups” into your daily schedule every morning. This means setting aside 15-30 minutes to draw, paint or do whatever it is that makes your maker mind tick. At first it sounds like something frivolous to slide in between carpool, your workout or actually getting to work. However, I’ve found that it helps with my writing, problem solving and, every once in awhile, leads to a great, out-of-the-box idea. So if you’re in a creative rut, try putting practicality at bay with creative warm-ups. They just might lead to something sublime like Justina’s did!
#FaceTheFoilage, Justina’s open creative project born from her own creative warm-ups.
Late last year I chose to cut out gluten and dairy from my diet (don’t you just love to hear about other people’s diets?!) and Square Organic Bars were a total savior. I’ve since happily jumped back on the baguette and brie train but still keep a jar of these little protein powerhouses in my pantry. The chocolate mint variety is quite delectable and keeps me satisfied in a pinch. They’re low on sugar, really high in protein and are best enjoyed on the go. I always order mine here or you can purchase them directly from Square Bar.
Trust moi, they are delish!
Luck be Atlanta! Waiting on Martha Home has opened a permanent brick and mortar in Vinings Jubilee and it is exquisite. Think original gifts for everyone on your list, pretty decor and ethereal Britt Bass art on the walls. The store design alone is an eye candy confection; head on over if you’re in town!
A little taste of what you’ll find at Waiting on Martha Home.
The top picture of our Westie Wally is him basking in his only child-ness, a fleeting state! I’m so thrilled to announce that we will be welcoming a little lady in November. From nursery planning to picking baby gear and reading lots of books on the subject, this is the funnest stage of pregnancy yet. Speaking of bébé accoutrements, are there any you can’t or couldn’t live without? Would so appreciate any advice!
…and baby makes four!
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, have a cocktail (or two) for me!
Our story begins with me sitting in a dark movie theater, large popcorn and Junior Mints in hand, excitedly awaiting directress Sofia Coppola’s latest film to grace the screen. Like most of you, I’ve seen the trailer and believe Marie Antoinette to be a cinematic setting treasure so I was hoping The Beguiled would be an ocular delight of equal proportions. In a more stripped down and war-torn sort of way, it was just as spectacular visually. The plantation home it was filmed in left me wanting more so this weekend I went right down the rabbit hole of exploring this historic delight via the internet. Madewood Plantation House has all the trappings of a gorgeous Antebellum dwelling; a beguiling past, a cemetery that won’t rest in peace and exquisite interiors.
Madewood makes a magnificent backdrop for an all-girls boarding school. Image via Focus Pictures.
Coppola and her cast used Madewood, a Greek-revival style property built in 1846 as a sugarcane plantation, to tell a Civil War period piece that takes place in Virginia. Madewood’s Ionic columned facade greets you in the opening scenes, Spanish moss floating in the bayou breeze and you’re swept into the South. An hour’s distance from New Orleans, Southern charm reigns supreme at Madewood, one of the first masterpieces built by notable architect Henry Howard. Now a Bed & Breakfast, guests can experience all its splendor with beautifully appointed rooms, traditional Louisiana cuisine and rich history around every corner.
A Step Back in Time
Taking 8 years to build (1840-48), Madewood stood out among its neighboring plantations. Its building was commissioned by Thomas Pugh, a young sugarcane planter with 10,000 acres of working farm land, a wife and 16 children. Pugh himself would only get to enjoy his manor home for four years, passing away in 1852 from yellow fever. It is said that his wife Eliza kept Madewood from being destroyed during the Civil War by alerting a Union general that he and her deceased husband both had Masonic affiliation. The home was spared from looting but its sprawling lawn did serve as a Union field hospital.
Madewood in disrepair in 1936. Photo taken by Frances Benjamin Johnston.
The plantation was kept in the Pugh family until 1896 when it was sold to Leon Godchaux, a sugar magnate, for $30,000. Over the next few decades, ownership would change hands until the Marshall family purchased Madewood in 1964. Keith Marshall, a Rhodes Scholar and art historian, and his journalist wife Millie own and operate the charming bed & breakfast today.
A Step Inside
Madewood is virtually unrecognizable in The Beguiled. Now kept in meticulous shape, production had to plant dying and overgrown vegetation on the property for an accurate war-time portrayal. The parts of the 23-room home that were used for filming were the front lawn, dramatic entrance, kitchen and dining room.
During the eight years that it took to construct the Greek-revival beauty, most all materials used to build it were created on the plantation. The brick was made there and all interior woodwork was milled on-site, hence the name Madewood. Supporting local before its time! Striking features like cypress mantles painted to resemble marble flank the double parlor and cypress doors painted to look like oak grace the downstairs ballroom.
The elegantly appointed double parlor at Madewood.
You too can experience the historic gentility of Madewood by staying in one of their guest rooms. There is one aptly named the “Brad Pitt Room” as the actor stayed in it while filming Interview with a Vampire years ago. According to owner Keith Marshall, none of the staff knew who he was and were disappointed it wasn’t Tom Cruise. In the main house, there are 5 bedrooms and in the less formal adjoining Charlet House, once a river captain’s abode, there are 3 rooms.
The cast gathered in the dining room for formal dinners. Image via Focus Pictures.
If you visit Madewood during the holiday season you’ll be treated to lovely Christmas decor as seen here in the dining room. Image via TripAdvisor.
Cooking and baking took place in the old attached kitchen during the movie. Here it is as part of the Bed & Breakfast. Image by Jackie Weisberg.
Of Notable Mention
Not all of the interior scenes were shot at Madewood. Actress Jennifer Coolidge’s Lower Garden District New Orleans home made appearances in The Beguiled during takes in the music room, parlor and bedrooms. The high ceilings! The silk drapes! The incredible antiques! I wish her home was published somewhere but, alas, this is all I could dig up.
You can see the gorgeous sunshine-hued walls and sky scraping ceilings. Ms. Coolidge is being fitted for her Mardi Gras ensemble, image via Bravo.
I watched the original The Beguiled starring Clint Eastwood to see if the houses resembled each other. Turns out, the plantations are but mere miles from each other in Louisiana. Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation is now a corporate holding not open to the public but you can drive by it!
An Antebellum beauty, Ashland-Belle Helene.
And about that cemetery on the Madewood plantation? Local legend has it that a long deceased member of the Pugh family was buried in one of the plots with her small white dog. One day, a guest of the B&B found herself being followed down a hallway by a small ivory canine that no one ever saw again. There was also an incident in the dining room of a large epergne (a decorative piece made of glass and crystal) flying across the table all in front of a Metropolitan Opera tenor who was a guest.
Oh, and Beyonce’s Lemonade video? Also filmed at Madewood! I hope you all enjoyed getting to know The Beguiled set a bit better, does anyone else really want to stay there now? Have you all seen The Beguiled? What did you think? Let me know!
Happy Fourth of July weekend, dear readers! In honor of our country’s great history I’m sharing a phenomenal portrait of George Washington and his family by artist Edward Savage. Taking 7 years to complete, it was worked on tirelessly by Savage from 1789-1796. Beyond just a portrait of our First Family, each brushstroke is an invitation to discover a plethora of interesting art history tidbits. Let’s take a closer look-see, shall we?
Seated elegantly at Mount Vernon, we immediately recognize George Washington. Next, we can spy Martha Washington and two children. George and Eleanor, the youngest subjects, are the grandchildren of Martha later adopted by President Washington as legal heirs and raised as his own.
George Washington’s distinguished study.
The younger George Washington, sporting the worst colonial haircut.
Eleanor and Martha Washington.
William Lee, their house servant, stands in the background dressed in finery. An off-putting portrayal and dark reminder of our past, Mr. Lee secures a rightful place painted into history.
Each subject sat for Savage several times in 1789 and 1790 in New York City, then the United States capital. Over the next 7 years, he masterfully wove all his drawings together to create this painting that is 9 feet wide and boasts figures that are almost life-size.
Pops of Patriotism
The curtains are pulled back to give the viewer a grand glimpse of the Potomac River from a window at Mount Vernon. George Washington dons his military uniform, an ode to his service as a general and reminder that he led the Continental army to victory over Great Britain during the Revolutionary War. His black hat and sword lay across a map on the table.
Washington’s uniform finery reaffirm his military contributions.
Eleanor and the First Lady draw our attention to this large map of Washington DC, the nation’s next capital. When this portrait was being painted, DC was a malarial swamp and on the map we can see plans for avenues and canals are laid out where dirt roads existed. Martha uses her closed fan to point directly at Pennsylvania Avenue, right where the White House will be built.
A well-laid plan of Washington DC.
It’s quite hard to believe that Edward Savage was a self-taught artist given his incredible mastery of fabrics. Take a look at the shimmering satin on Martha Washington’s dress, magnificent!
Satin never looked so good!
Her lace shawl and the rich red of the brocade chairs they sit upon are extra masterful.
Beautiful pattern play.
In 1798, Savage made his fortune on this painting by turning it into an engraving. He had over 400 subscribers including the portrait sitter himself, George Washington, who purchased 4 copies. Over the years, the painting would change hands through estate inheritances and sales. “The Washington Family” was a part of private collections, on display at small museums and government societies before finding its way to The National Gallery of Art in DC. A very fitting forever home for this monumental glimpse into our American history! (All images are courtesy of the NGA.)
I’m off to prep for our lunch tomorrow, below is my tablescape if you need a little last minute inspiration. Wherever you may be spending Independence Day be it beachside, mountainside or even abroad, I hope your 4th is fantastic!
I just love classic Americana for the 4th!
These table settings are ready for some American eats!
p.s. If you’re in the company of a fellow art-loving relative or friend, please do send them over to stuffymuffy.com. Thank you, thank you!