Drawing Inspiration from France

During my first year as a teacher in 2003, I shared a crappy apartment in East Harlem, ate in almost every night, made few purchases and hoarded my money so I could spend the summer in France. It began in September as a crazy idea. After dinner one evening, my friend Fred said "we should go to Paris."

Of course we should, I agreed. I mean, who doesn't want to go to Paris?

By October, we had an elaborate plan. We were going to take on as much of France as possible for four weeks over the summer.

While my friends bought new shoes and bags, I saved and saved. I would go shopping in Paris I told myself ( this was before the Euro overtook the dollar).

I wish I had a fancy photo collage to share with you of my enchanting time on the Parisian shore, but I don't. In 2003, I was still working with Kodak fun saver cameras (yes, remember them). This was before I had a digital camera and way before I could have ever conceived of an iPhone or of blogging (gasp!). All of my photos from France lie in a scrapbook (oh my gosh, remember those), in my house in Maryland. I'll have to dig them out later. In the meantime, I will continue like the rest of the posts in this drawing inspiration series.


Sojourn. Herbal Apothecary Products at the Any Given Sunday Market in Brooklyn

When I think of France, I am reminded of:

  • Drinking red wine at a busy outdoor cafe. The breeze, warm on my shoulders as we watch people parade by. Often we'd order things we never heard of as an experiment and why not; the food, almost without exception, no matter what we ordered, was spectacular.
  • Taking in a new French film a week. The small intimate theatre in Paris that I visited was the perfect place to practice my French. In the velvety darkness, I wracked my brain to recall the French I learned  from elementary school through college. I saw every film that was being shown and got a crash course in French culture and fashion while doing so.
  • Breakfast! Oh, the glorious breakfast pastries, croissants, pain au chocolates and the savory quiches and tarts complimented by the strongest, smoothest, soul fulfilling coffee. My tongue has yet to feel so happy and alive.
  • Eating buttery baguette on the banks of the river Seine. A moment of stillness, beautiful simplicity, as the rest of Paris hustled and bustled in the distance.
  • Evening in Pigalle. The midnight sky. The smoky amber glow of cafes. The cluster of artists that set up camp along the narrow cobblestone streets. The sweet taste of hot sugar and lemon crepes.
  • Landing head first at the base of the Basilica Sacre-Coeur. Eye to the lense of my sophisticated Kodak fun saver, in search of the perfect panoramic shot of Montmartre from where I stood at the top of the Sacre-Coeur. One false step forward (no fair how looking through the camera lense distorts your sense of space) and I'm suddenly airborne, tumbling head and elbows first down the hallowed stairs of the Sacre-Coeur. A crowd of horrified Italian tourists gather around me, pull me to my shaking feet. Scraped elbows, chin and knees and no photo to show for it. I wish I could say this was the last time I ever used a fun saver.
  • Strolling down the Champs Elysee, the Tour Eiffel, elegant and fragile in the distance. Spreading a picnic blanket over the lawn at its base and taking it all in, pen in hand, thinking I'm going to come back here when I'm in love....
  • Beneath the glassy top hat of the Louvre, into a world of heat and color. Searching for my favorite Chagall (the one with the green goat beside a lady in red beneath a crescent moon) when someone caught my eye, a mischievous lady in grey, the Mona Lisa up close- beguiling eyes and that signature gamine smile.
  • Rolling fields of green, right before the land meets the sea. Colorful manicured gardens and lavender carried for miles in the breeze.

France, what a pleasure and an honor it was to be in your presence.

Two products were inspired by my time in France, the Paris Fragrance oil, a light, roll on formula that epitomizes romance and pleasure, with notes of lavender and jasmine and the Provence Whipped Body Butter, a creamy, whipped butter scented with lavender.

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If you can’t experience France in person for yourself, take the journey with a Paris Fragrance Oil or a Provence Whipped Body Butter.

From now, until next Wednesday (9/17) enjoy 10% off the Paris Fragrance Oi and the Provence Whipped Body Butter by entering the code FRANCE at checkout) and enjoy!

Click HERE to purchase.



A Dream Realized in London

Kensington Palace The changing of the guards!

My friend Robin poses with a palace guard.

Big Ben!

Westminster Abbey




















I recently stumbled across these photos from my first trip to England- my first trip outside of North America.

It was the summer of 2002, I had just finished my graduate work at NYU and had six weeks to kill before I was set to begin my first job. My friend Robin was in London studying at the University of Westminster and invited me to stay with her during my six weeks of freedom.

I jumped at the opportunity. I had always liked the idea of travel. I had always wanted to see the world. I just hadn't gotten around to it between my conservatory style undergrad training that bled directly into fast paced and all-consuming grad school. There seemed to be a million distractions and traveling was simply a dream deferred.

Then I took the leap.

Something happened to me during those six weeks in London. The once deferred dream, was a dream realized and the dream was turning into somewhat of an obsession.

I tasted every new thing I could. I drank pints even though I wasn't a beer drinker, just because that was what was done. I visited the countryside, stared, mouth agape at the crowned jewels and the latest exhibits at the Tate. I went shopping at Harrods, Top Shop and Hadleys. I drank tea and indulged in scones and crumpets with clotted cream. I stood at the gates of Buckingham and Kensington Palace. I walked the banks of the River Thames and marveled at Westminster Abby and the Tower Bridge. I cheered at football matches, rode double-decker buses, splashed through puddles, and gave silver pounds to the street performers at Piccadilly Circus. I ate curry and shepherds pies, I tried marmalade and digestive biscuits. I sat in pubs, cafes and gardens and wrote for hours.

It was the summer I contracted the travel bug. The summer I stepped outside and into myself. It was perfect and it was imperfect.

It was the summer I got lost trying to navigate my way from central London to the outer zone of Dulwich (long before google maps had been invented to save us from ourselves). It was the summer my credit card was stolen at a pub while I sat working on a story enjoying some fish and chips. It was the summer I saw how Americans were sometimes perceived negatively abroad. It was the summer I saw the frustrations of many of England's immigrants living and striving to achieve the "English Dream" (if you will) in Outer London.

It was the summer of a powerful awakening.

Though the photos are somewhat blurry as they were taken on a fun-saver camera, long before my DSLR would become the  standard and though many of the photos are missing, I still feel the hope and optimism of that summer.

Throughout my last decade of international travel, I haven't spent much time in Europe (barring brief trips to Paris and Amsterdam).

As I pack my bags, I'm excited to return, if only for a little while, to England before I move on to explore Portugal. It has been a little over a decade. So much has happened. There is so much more yet to come!

Do you have a favorite European destination?