An Evening At The Paint Bar

I am an accountant. VERY left brain; not so much on the right brain stuff.

I can’t draw a straight line. I can’t even draw a crooked line.

But I couldn’t wait to try out The Paint Bar.

I’m sure you’ve seen these places.

Come drink a little wine with your girlfriends while we walk you through an art project. You will go home with a “masterpiece” to hang in your personal art gallery.

On my recent trip to Boston, I joined my daughter, Annie, and daughter-in-law, Lily, for a night of fun at The Paint Bar in Newton, MA. 

Holy Jackson Pollock was it fun!

The girls have made several trips to The Paint Bar so they knew the ropes. We arrived early, carrying in our dinner from the fabulous Cook restaurant next door.

Stepping up to the bar, we ordered our beverages of choice. I was delighted to see that Carnivor was one of the red wines offered.

Yes, please!

After chowing down and donning our painting smocks it was time to get down to business.

This was the goal for the evening.

Paint Bar Ducklings

Piece of cake, right?!?!?!

We would be painting a scene right out of a children’s story book – sort of. The Make Way For Ducklings mama duck and eight baby ducklings, strolling across the Boston Common in their Patriots gear.

First we gathered our paint as instructed. One pump of this, three pumps of that…

Paint Bar paint

I had my paint, I had my brushes, I had my wine.

Brimming with completely misplaced confidence I thought: Let’s do this.

Paint Bar clean canvas

The Paint Bar is owned by an adorable mother-daughter team. Mother Jill mans the bar and daughter Jackie patiently talks schlubs like me through the painting process. Jackie really, truly is a miracle worker as you will see.

Jackie gave us very detailed but easy to follow instructions.

“Make a mark halfway down on the left side and another an inch from the bottom of the canvas on the right. Draw a line to connect those two points and Voilà! you have a sidewalk!”

Slowly, methodically, step by step Jackie guided us. Before I knew it, my painting was taking shape!

Paint Bar first steps

At this point, sensing that I would need my wits about me to capture the essence of the ducklings, I put aside my glass of wine.

More paint, less bar.

Between our giggles, the girls and I carried on.

Time to introduce the stars of the show to my canvas.

Paint Bar ducklings

While not an A+ job, definitely a solid C or C- so far. With this kind of success under my belt I decided to go off script.

I’m a Chicago gal, not a Patriots fan. And I was in Boston for a Notre Dame football game.

I know, I thought to myself, I will dress the ducklings in green! Go Irish!

What could go wrong?

Note: When you go to The Paint Bar, DO NOT go off script. Jackie is a miracle worker but can only help you if you help yourself.

Jackie tried to assist me as I selected the right color of green. Except there wasn’t the right color of green because the goal was red, white and blue for the Patriots.

However, by now I was fully committed to my wayward plan. Green duckling sweaters or bust.

Thanks to Saint Jackie and my incredibly supportive fans, Annie and Lily (who were, of course, trying to complete their own “masterpieces” but had enough sense to follow directions), I created this:

Mo's masterpiece

Not too bad if I do say so myself. Not too bad except for one tiny thing.

In trying to add sassy pom poms to mama duckling’s scarf, I ended up with

mama duckling with jazz hands

Mama Duckling With Jazz Hands

That’s all you can see now, right? Yep…jazz hands…

Meanwhile, under the category of “this is what you get when you have talent and follow directions”, please let me present Annie’s

Annie's masterpiece

and Lily’s

Lily's masterpiece

beautiful finished products.

From start to finish Lily, Annie and I had a blast and are ready to go back. We just have to figure out where to best display our efforts.

The Paint Bar

Have you been to a place like The Paint Bar? Have you created a gallery in your home to display your lovely work? Is that “gallery” in a closet?

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Past And Future

We enjoyed an action packed weekend featuring a blast from the past and a look toward the future.

Our weather could only be described as glorious. Bright sunshine, temperatures in the low 70s – the kind of weather that earns San Diego their reputation for the perfect climate. Here in Chicago, because our weather is not so perfect, we celebrate these days and appreciate them greatly.

Glenview Methodist Pre School

On Saturday, my pals Peggy, Nora and I spent the afternoon at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Glenview Methodist Pre-School, the warm, loving and nurturing place that our children spent their pre-school days.

There are three independent pre-schools in our town. Each of them, Glenview Methodist, St. David’s and Community are named after the church facility in which they are housed although none have a religious affiliation.

When our son, Walt, turned 2 1/2 he was ready to go. Peter and I did what we always do: let a friend (someone we trust completely) research the heck out of the subject then go along with what they choose.

Thanks to Peggy’s diligent investigation for her own children, Walt entered Glenview Methodist Pre-School in 1985. Our daughter, Annie, in 1988.

Nora, with six children, had a long tenure as a pre-school parent. She joked that by the time her youngest enrolled, she could have been the grandparent liaison to the much younger new parents. Fast forward to today, Nora’s grandson just started at Glenview Methodist Pre-School.

GMPS – the next generation.


GMPS hallway

Walking into the building on Saturday, I was brought back to those days, decades ago, when our life revolved around simple things like circle time and play-doh.

Our children spent many hours in happy classrooms like this being guided by warm and kind women, many of whom we got to reunite with at the party.

GMPS classroom

Way back in the day, I volunteered to be on the pre-school board. My first job was Newsletter Editor.

Sounds glamorous, right?

Please recall that this was a time long, long ago. Well before email and social media. I actually typed the newsletter on an electric typewriter then made copies at the local print shop.

Peter says that one of  his “fondest” memories from those days was enjoying the monthly ritual that went something like this.

Mo: type, type, type, type, type, type

Mo: “#*@!$%!!!!”

Mo: applies copious amounts of white-out to cover up the typing mistake

Mo: blows softly on white-out to dry it before continuing.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Seriously, I think it would have been quicker to have chipped the newsletter out on a stone tablet.

Taking pity on me, the board decided to move me out of that position and into the position of board president.

Because we had wonderful parents and teachers, this job was 99% easy. Yes, there were a few challenges but, after all, we weren’t trying to take over the world just provide a safe and loving environment for our kids.

Mission accomplished.

GMPS Anniversary party

The party was like old home week. I ran into a former neighbor, Mary Beth, who teaches at the pre-school.

One of the most important things I did as president was to convince Mary Beth to join the staff when we had a last minute opening just weeks before the start of the school year. That was probably in 1988 and she is still there.

I told her that I was very impressed, although not surprised. When this gal makes a commitment, she sticks with it!

GMPS party

It was a perfect afternoon spent celebrating this special little school and many of the wonderful folks who have kept the spirit alive for a half century.

Sunday morning found us up and at ’em very early heading to Lincoln Park for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation 5k race.

MMRF team gathering

The team gathered to support this organization in honor of our dear friend who recently completed a successful round of treatment for this disease.

Our pal’s wonderful children did an amazing job of rallying the team, organizing our fund raising efforts and designing our team t-shirt.

MMRF walk

As a tribute to our honoree and her wonderful children, over 80 people signed up to walk or run. Many, many of those were 20-something friends of the children who participated to support their friends and because they adore our honoree.

Many others who were unable to attend the event, donated to the cause.

Team Schrammrock stepped up to the plate, helping to raise funds toward research and the development of more and more effective treatments for Multiple Myeloma.

Our goal: a bright future for our dear friend and all those affected by this disease.

team schrammrock

Go team!

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College Football

You may have noticed a bit of radio silence here last week. I was in Florida starting Phase One of

Operation: Move The Parents To Chicago

First Giuliana and Bill, then Mo and Peter and now Gee Gee and Doc. All the cool kids are moving to Chicago.

We are very, very excited about the prospect of having the folks living so close and we feel incredibly blessed because they are so enthusiastic about the move. Well, maybe not so much about the actual move – no one likes that part. But they are excited that we will be almost neighbors.

Stay tuned for future reports on our wacky escapades.

Immediately upon returning from Florida, Peter and I were off to lovely South Bend, Indiana.

A sure sign that summer is over: college football season begins.

Fighting Irish

Our dear pals, John and Ellen, own a vacation football season home in South Bend and are kind enough to accommodate our crew with their generous hospitality.

Other pals arrived on Saturday but Friday night we had Ellen and John all to ourselves. We toasted the start of football season by enjoying a bottle of Chimney Rock wine purchased during our group trip to Napa.

Chimney Rock

Bright, but not so early, Saturday morning we got ourselves organized to head over to campus.

John, Ellen and some of their neighbors host an epically awesome tailgate party before every home football game. The party has taken place in the same spot for many years.

However, this year there is some construction in progress that made part of their party location potentially unusable.

No worries, the hosts planned ahead and secured permission to forge ahead as usual.

Well….seems that the person giving permission maybe didn’t clear it with all the right folks creating quite a kerfuffle in the early morning hours of game day.

text, text, text

phone call, phone call, phone call

angst, angst, angst

Finally, a temporary stay was issued and we were able to carry on as planned.

I know. First world problems.

The weather for the day started out promising. Promising to be wicked hot and possibly rainy. By game time the forecasters predicted pleasant temperatures in spite of 1000% humidity.

We strolled over to campus taking the scenic route along the lake.

ND View from the lake

By the time we got halfway to the tailgate site, the skies opened up.

Peter and I took refuge in the library recalling the many hours spent doing homework and studying in the very same library during our time on campus. Obviously these were Peter’s memories and not mine.

ND library in the rain

Soon enough the skies cleared and the quads filled with fans. I must say that I was impressed by how many folks were sporting the burnt orange (?) of the University of Texas Longhorns.

ND game day

Many of these folks were, just like us, ducking into air conditioned buildings periodically to fend off heat stroke.

Peter and I spent most of the afternoon at Ellen & John’s tailgate party visiting with our pals including Clare & Cooper and, all the way from Texas, Arthur & Gwen.

I was certain I had taken pictures of the tailgate party but then I remembered that I was too busy hydrating and enjoying the best meatball sub EVER!

Finally, the time came to file into the stadium for our 7:45pm showdown against Texas.

Rumor has it that #1 UT fan, Matthew McConaughey, was in attendance at the game.

I’m certain he drove up in his Lincoln. Not because someone paid him to. Not to be cool or make a statement. Just because he liked it.

ND vs Texas

As you can see our seats were great: 50ish yard line and high enough up to see everything.

We had an excellent view of the scoreboard and the final score, as well.

ND vs Texas score

At the end of every game, after greeting the opposing team at midfield, the Notre Dame football team gathers at the corner of the stadium populated by the students to join their classmates in singing the alma mater.

ND players singing the alma mater

All students and alumni in the stadium lock arms, rock from side to side and sing our devotion to Our Lady, Notre Dame.

I’ve been doing this for 40 years and, I’m not exaggerating, I get teary-eyed EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

Finally, it was time to walk back to John and Ellen’s house before we turned into pumpkins, looking way too much like the fans of our vanquished opponents.

And so ended the opening Notre Dame college football weekend of 2015.

Go Irish!

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Adventures In Painting

Things are a mess around here.

painting the house

Peter and I bought this house 10 years ago.

It was a spec house. A tear down-new construction. I know that there is quite a bit of angst over the tearing down of old houses to build new, changing the character of neighborhoods. We assuage our guilt in this matter by remembering that we bought the house after it was 99% done.

Only a tiny bit of mea culpa for us.

Even though we purchased the house a decade ago, it is just now that we are both living here full time. For the first 4 years of ownership, Peter commuted to Boston every week. Then we moved to California for 6 years.

Now we are back and ready to make this house our home.

The rabbits still seem surprised by our presence, having had the run of the yard for the last 6 years.

surprised rabbit

The only renovation we have undertaken so far is to build a nice home for Peter’s wine. Peter and his wine love this room.

wine cellar

Other than that, just painting.

As part of the sales contract, the builders agreed to paint the first floor interior if we picked out a color and gave it to them in 60 seconds. Well not exactly, but it felt like it.

Under the time pressure, we decided to go with the lovely yellow color we had used in the laundry room of our last house.

Yes, the laundry room was our inspiration…not very smart.

But this was, indeed, a lovely shade of yellow except for two things.

  1. Our new home is an “open concept” design meaning there is no logical spot to stop one color and start another. And I’m talking the entire 1st floor, up the stairs and throughout the upstairs hallway. Only the bedrooms were spared.
  2. This lovely shade of yellow is soft and gentle in a 7×10 foot room but throughout an entire house including rooms with vaulted ceilings? The gentle yellow becomes a screaming.


Thankfully, with the help of my new BFF, designer Brooke, things are becoming much more zen around here.

The crew is hard at work and the results are even better than I imagined. The yellow is almost completely vanquished. All is good.

Soon we will have the house all pulled together and in the spring, Peter’s attention will turn to the gardens.

Sorry, rabbits. The sheriff is back in town.

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