Sunday, May 09, 2021

Dear MoM + a bonus watercolor


My sister recently sent some old photos from her scrapbook pile including this funny camp letter, undated. This is an homage to my Mom and a bit of a family saga. Probably TMI..

Was it Girl Scout camp? Was I six? Truth be told I was not outdoorsy, camper material (photo from Flickr)

Next I went to artsy, Bucks Rock Work Camp, which I absolutely adored for 3 years. We sang Handel’s Hallelujah chorus and watched a cow give birth. ‘The camp's philosophy followed the teachings of Maria Montessori, but its spirit owed as much to Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan . Campers sang folk songs, dug ditches, nurtured vegetables, pursued the arts. The owner  often responded to questions by quoting a Bob Dylan lyric, saying, "The answer is blowing in the wind." My parents decided it was a bad influence ๐Ÿ˜ณ and put an end to that. 

A group portrait early days. My mom studied fashion design but life intervened. I’m sure my mother made her bias-cut dress. She made all our matching outfits.

 Do we look alike? I was often told They found me in the bushes (like Moses?) My sister still tells me that๐Ÿ˜Š Note my puffy sleeves, ruffled neckline and Tyrollean print fabric. There was probably a bow in back. 

We were the recipients of my mother’s great design talent, though I bet she never planned on becoming a children’s wear designer.

We spent summers in Beach Haven,NJ which is why I have a clam obsession. One of the cons of moving to Paris. Zero clams on the half-shell.

My sister and I walking on Atlantic City boardwalk, looking chic in off-the-shoulder matching cardies, pleated skirts and felt beanies.

They must have injected us with something to get this angelic picture. Note my pique, ruffled pinafore with puffy sleeves and bow-tied cuffs. Maybe why I don’t own anything with bows or ruffles.

Here I’m wearing a pink and black checked suit I sewed myself just before moving to New York. My mother’s master plan was: I go to design school and become the fashion designer she dreamed of being. I dug in my heels. But I had no alternate plan. I ‘drifted aimlessly’ from one art school to another. No ambition. When I lost my mother at 24 something exploded. I had to go to New York. I had to go to Parsons School of Design. I had to become a fashion designer. It wasn’t easy. I was older than my classmates: Donna Karin, Willie Smith, Michael Volbracht. I was a complete naif. I thought Sportswear was scuba-diving outfits ๐Ÿ˜ณ Still I survived. I made it to 7th Avenue. For a while. Then I moved on to shoe design...more fun traveling to Italy and Spain. Then Travel writing. Then back to 7th Avenue designing in Hong Kong. Then I switched to illustration. Then wine art! I nearly forgot medical illustration. Its been a convoluted journey Mom, but I’m still drawing✏️ and sending letters ๐Ÿ’Œ to you all, my latest adventure ❤️ 

A big shout-out to Stephanie for writing a letter review on etsy๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ Much appreciated.

If you’d like a small personalized watercolor buy anything in my shop this weekend and write DEARMOM in the notes at checkout. 
                   From Paris with Love PBers ๐Ÿ’‹๐Ÿ“❤️☺️๐Ÿป


  1. Sybil T.3:33 AM

    You’ve lived at least 6-7 lives. All of them exciting.
    Chapeau! As the French say.

  2. This is true SybilT.
    My family used to say,”Can’t you find one thing and stick with it?”
    I think if it had been husbands, they would have preferred it :))

  3. Very moving. I love that you’ve lived life on your terms and no one else’s.

  4. You truly need to write a book about your fascinating life, Carol. This post only covers a fraction of your adventures. What a lovely homage to your Mother. Thank you for sharing your family photos. They strike a chord with another femme d’un certain age! ❤️

    PS...are you third from the end, first row, in the camp photo, the one with the perfect knee socks??

  5. Thank you for sharing so much about your personal life. What a life it was, is, and will be! I am certain your beautiful Mother would have been very proud of you.

  6. Firstly I never had perfect knee socks or anything else :))
    The camp pic is from Flickr off Google.

    I guess anyone’s old family photos bring back memories to all.
    They have a universal aspect don’t they.

    My mom and I had such a conflicted relationship but eventually I came round. Though in the end the fashion career was not the right fit.
    C’est la vie ❤️

  7. Dorrance8:22 AM

    Not TMI...just lovely! !

  8. Love to bottom.
    A beauty then a beauty now.

  9. Oh, what a lovely piece for Mother's Day. Really heart warming. Thank you, Carol.

  10. I am one of your Etsy customers and faithful subscriber....I had to write to tell you Bravo! LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing your family photos and hearing your story!! So wonderful!! thank you

  11. Thanks All
    I was a little nervous
    So glad you enjoyed it ❤️

  12. I loved this particular blog letter so much. I was born in the 50s also and my mother sewed a lot of my clothing, perhaps not as detailed and fancy as yours, but some cute stuff. She had great taste also. Your post touched me - thinking about her while reading your story this Mother’s Day morning. Thank you for sharing part of your life story with your us.

  13. Love seeing the old family photos. Thank you for sharing.

  14. I wonder...if everyone has more or less the same photos

  15. Melissa11:49 AM

    Enjoyed your family photos and bio! Your Mom was a special lady and I'm certain you're thankful for her.

    I bet she's very proud of YOU!

  16. Really enjoyed your family photos and camp letter!

  17. WOW! What a history, and some of those photos look awfully familiar,
    haha, did we all take the same ones????......
    My grandmother made all my clothes and then I attempted to emulate but
    have none of the talent you have. Your mom must have been quite

  18. Thank you, for sharing - How wonderful!
    Happy remembrance of mother’s day
    My mom is gone too.
    So, I understand absence - and bittersweetness of life
    I like how you said your mom studied fashion design but life got in the way

  19. Thank you so much for sharing these stories and photos. I am so pleased to say that we have so many things in common as we grew up at the same time. Stay well

  20. Love all those photos, they bring back priceless memories. Your mother is very proud of you, I'm sure, as you've accomplished much and touched many people and you bring smiles to many faces with every blog and sketch and painting. Never TMI, thanks for sharing.

  21. Thank you for memories of your mother, heartstrings!
    We keep their memories and their memories keep us!

  22. Thanks Suki!
    I’m lucky to have such nice people :))
    Very lucky ❤️

  23. This is a lovely homage to you mum Carol,

  24. Candace3:10 PM

    Thank you for sharing! Lovely reminiscences

  25. I stumbled across your blog last month and just want to tell you how marvellous it is! I so miss visiting Paris and your paintings, photographic images and banter are very close to being there oneself.

  26. Hey Carol, Rita here. It's been awhile. Fun to go back in time with ya (or should I say, y'ouse.)
    Our summer place was Atlantic City, me & my mom. Sorry to know you lost your mother so early...

  27. Suzy M5:14 PM

    really darling post about y.o.u. ❤️ I loved, loved seeing you grow up.......what a beautiful baby, young girl, teenager ( with that enviable wasp-waist! ) young woman and gorgeous adult woman! I have a number of your paintings, but wish I owned every single one! Please keep painting! Please stay safe and well๐Ÿ™.
    Much love and wonderful wishes to you and Bear.

  28. Jane Gabin5:20 PM

    Just ordered a picture from you plus a little picture of a Shalimar bottle. My mom’s fave. I was a Girl Scout, too, and went for 6 years to GS camps in NY. Developed great outdoor skills.
    I almost flunked sewing in school. Had to make a skirt. The fabric was gorgeous, a dark gold paisley.
    I still remember it. Also I remember my mom, who wanted to be a pianist.

  29. Joanne5:32 PM

    Thank you for the offer. The only fragrance my mom wore is Shalimar. If you have a little piece of Shalimar bottle art, I would be forever grateful. Merci beaucoup. Happy Mother's Day to Bear's mom.

  30. I love this post so very much, Carol. I knew little of your life before PB or how you came into art. I love that this is the way it happened. And I know your mom is watching over you every step of the way in Paris and oh, how she adores your art!

  31. Lovely homage to your family.. nope..not TMI. I did the Girl Scouts too...not for me. You look so much like your Mom-especially your smile. You’ve had quite the evolution-I liked hearing about it-it was fun to read. I’m sorry that you lost her so young...

  32. Helene5:01 AM

    Thanks for sharing so much of yourself. I love the old pictures, especially your camp letter.

    I always enjoy PB a look forward to each new issue.

  33. loved your charming “Dear Mom” letter today—thank you for the personal memories on this Mother’s Day. While my mother wasn’t a talented designer (she was a dedicated RN) nor a gifted seamstress, our family’s limited funds encouraged her to sew for me. She took great care in selecting the fabrics and patterns—wish I had been more appreciative.
    In past years we have visited Paris too many times to count. Now health now you are our treasured link to the city we love.

  34. I just read your Mother’s Day note and was struck by so many similarities! I grew up in Somerset County, NJ and spent my summers at Girl Scout and Episcopal camps in PA and NJ, as well as in Beach Haven and Stone Harbor, all the while enjoying much-needed space from my little sister and mother!

    Your images have parallels in my family, as well, so I’m guessing we are quite close in age. I’m happy you’ve been able to realize your French dream.

  35. Cornelia8:41 AM

    Wonderful tribute to your mother and mothers everywhere...

  36. Suzanna1:05 PM

    Enjoyed your photos and the sweet letter, Carol. (Did she bring your fancy shoes for the banquet!??)
    Love it.

  37. Cheryl2:30 PM

    I loved seeing your photos growing up and hearing about your design background, what classmates you had!
    I too went to design school “late” at 29, leaving my husband & 5 ½ yr old M-F for 2 years, it all worked out and that was many, many years ago

  38. Thanks Cheryl
    I was in with the creme de la creme of design...all 18, not that they bothered with me. Except that I got a very good first job and school director would send over pupils after hours to snag my job ☺️.

  39. My mother's perfume was Shalimar. Thanks for the bio. Never TMI.

  40. It seems that every mother out there wears Shalimar !

  41. Absolutely lovely portrait of Mom and two daughters.
    Thanks for sharing.

  42. No words to say how much I enjoyed this PB! It was lovely to have a glimpse of who you are, and it’s given me added appreciation for what you bring to us through PB. You are an amazing synergy of experience, talents, and intentions…really grateful for you and for PB.

  43. I liked the little note, "please send up my FANCY shoes." What were you going to do with "fancy shoes" at a camp? AND, you spelled your own name with TWO "r's!" CARROL? You had a charmed childhood,it seems. Thanks for giving us a little peek!

  44. This is sooooo special! I love seeing the pictures of your mother. You are an absolute clone of her! Can’t believe that the two of you could look so alike! I wish she could have lived to see you with all your adventures and artist success! She would have loved your blog and all that you have given to your many followers. I am so proud of you and thankful for our friendship. You continue to inspire me with your creative mind, artistic ability and your tenacity!❤️❤️❤️

  45. Thank you for sharing this lovely story about the special memories of you and your mother!

  46. CATERINA B...I spelt my name with 2 Rs! I completely missed that! Either I had Frenchie pretensions at 7 or I was dyslexic back then which would explain a lot of things. That’s a good question - What was I going to do with ‘fancy shoes’ at camp? I know I did wish my name was Claudine or Colette from reading Colette’s Claudine at School’ at an early age..

    Dear Carolyn, aren’t you a darling! Honestly..I wish you’d been my mom. You are in a way. The authorities on the subject say us “Motherless Daughters” are always on the lookout for a good substitute mom ๐Ÿ’‹๐Ÿ’‹๐Ÿ’‹

    Thank you for so many lovely responses to this post.
    Very gratifying that I’m here ☺️ I am such a lucky ๐Ÿฆ† duck to have the sweetest readers ever. ❤️

  47. Some of these photos if your mom “ could have been my mom”..... love it.

  48. I'm sure your Mother in Heaven is very very proud. I am and I don't even know you! XXOOVV


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