When my mom was 12 years old, her family moved to Paris. Every Saturday, she’d hop a train into central Paris with her friends, and together they’d spend the whole day roaming that beautiful city — playing guitar in the park, checking out clothing boutiques, eating baguettes, and generally having a ball. She quickly picked up the language, a Parisian sense of style, an appreciation of good food, and a certain je ne sais quoi…
That’s her in the photo above, standing in front of the Pompidou Museum. The year — 1978. The outfit — classic. The white suit, the delicate rings on each finger, the contrasting bag slung over her arm… I feel like it would look just as chic on the streets of Paris today.
Seeing photos like this of my mom and hearing about all her adventures en France, how could I not fall in love with the French language and culture?! By the time I was in jr. high, I knew I had to do whatever it took 1) learn French and 2) live in France.
I ended up taking all the French classes I could in high school, getting a minor in French in college, doing a study abroad in Paris, taking an internship in Brussels, and volunteering as a missionary in northern France and southern Belgium. I fell more and more in love with the language and culture with each of those experiences. I also realized that many of the things about my mom that I had always thought were unique to her, were in fact, very French. I love that.
Even thought it’s been decades since she’s lived there, France is still a big part of my mom’s identity and frame of reference. When I showed her one of our new spring 2014 collections (pictured above) she commented that it looked very French. One of my main influences for that collection was in fact a French fashion house, but I hadn’t told her that. She just gets it.
But of course, my mom has many facets to her, and being a francophile is just one of them.
She comes from a long line of makers, and creating just seems to be a part of her nature. (That’s the two of us pictured above with some plates she designed for me, my sister, and a couple of our cousins. I still have mine and Ingrid uses it all the time!) I have many memories of her tole painting, oil painting, putting together homemade Halloween costumes, sponge painting our walls (in the 80’s), growing a garden, and more. I loved watching and learning from her.
She had stacks and stacks of home decor magazines, and we’d often pour over them together. We’d point out our favorites to each other and say why we liked this or that. On weekends, a favorite activity of ours was to look through model homes and home boutiques. She sold her handmade topiaries, painted wooden bowls, and more at local craft fairs, and in the early 90’s, she started a mail order catalog called Under the Sun. It sold quality wooden toys from Germany, handmade lamps from Los Angeles, and other unique finds.
The title of this blog is Creating a Hand Drawn Life, which to me, means intentionally making a life for yourself that is full of beauty, love, and simplicity. My mom has always created that atmosphere in her home, and I’m so grateful for it. It’s something I am trying to create for my own little family, and to help others with, through Sycamore Street Press.
Thank you, Mom, for being such an amazing example to me! Happy Mother’s Day!
And Happy Mother’s Day to all the women and mothers out there. You probably don’t realize what a wonderful influence you are to those around you! xo – Eva
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