Looking back over my New Year’s Resolutions for 2018 I am proud of how many goals I accomplished, and I do think writing it out helps us to achieve. One thing, however, was missing from my list for 2018… Have a baby. I did not start this year with that in mind. In fact, she was a birthday wish in March when it just felt right. I also never wanted to put the pressure on myself by setting it as a firm spoken goal to get pregnant. I’ve always sort of considered it as something that would or would not happen as it was supposed to, which is very much my approach to how I live now and a fantastic way to keep stress low.
So here I am, 9 months pregnant looking forward to 2019 not only as a new year and a new beginning but a whole new life! I expect a great adjustment period and I’m prepared to give it the time it needs to settle. I already long for my work, the mental track I follow to deeper creations, which I was on before derailing to feed another human growing inside me. My goals this year have less to do with professional accomplishments and more to do with redefining my place in the world as a mother and co-parenting partner while still nurturing myself as an independent creator.
As I write out my New Year’s resolutions in no particular order I wish you all the success in yours on this new year….
Have a baby.
Be present. Single handedly one of the best life changes I have adapted to since moving to Provence has been the ability to be totally present. Though I have mastered being present in a way that is beneficial to my body of work and personal well being, I have yet to experience applying it toward another human being. I must make sure to be present for bébé, for every moment, and be open to letting that experience guide me in a new way.
Make Macarons successfully
Find a bigger space to live (while keeping the current space as a dedicated photo studio).
Continue to work with more French brands, expanding my knowledge on all things French
Renew the French visa without so many difficulties this year and/or transition the visa into an artist visa for France.
Allow myself the freedom for my personal work to develop in new unexplored directions influenced by the experience of becoming a mother.
Finish the book on my life and work in Provence (!!!)
Experiment more with the process of foraging flowers, silica flower drying, then pressing to ultimately start making flower art designs specifically for my body of work in France
Figure out a better flower pressing method for larger florals
Continue to share photography tutorials
Continue to build an open conversation for creatives on my Instagram platform
Write a guide to Provence!
Open an online store to sell my print editions
Workouts! Starting with country walks with bébé, to the yoga and barre classes I can now drive to now that we have a car and when I’m ready, to begin running again.
Do not let stuff accumulate. Something that terrifies me about babies.
Raise our child the way that is right for us
Allow myself to be a mother but know that I am not only defined by this one thing. I am still me, and when I am ready I can be both.
Drive to Italy
Take a cooking workshop in Italy!
Take the ferry to Corsica
Explore the English countryside
Take bébé to visit the Loire Valley in the spring and stay in a fabulous Chateau
Eat at Noma
Visit San Sebastián, Spain
Share more real life candid moments
Shoot more film of raw unedited life
Use the car as a tool to explore more of France and dig deeper into my photographic work, observations on life in Provence and foraging for subjects in still lives
Learn how to make baby food
Make more videos
Make the perfect broth
Figure out French daycare system (crèche)
Give myself time to adjust to being a mom and enjoy every second of her before pressuring myself to start producing work
Build a darkroom
Continue my design collaborations with new inspiration based on my ability to now get out and explore more of the countryside
Keep the car clean (meaning free of stuff inside as well)
Consider creating abstract works that blend the story of Provence with memories, textures, and light without being literal scenes with the intention to print large scale.
Turn my journal into an artistic time capsule with Polaroid transfers, pressed flower arrangements and my thoughts hand written out
A weekend of French pastry workshop by pastry chef Molly Wilkinson at Kate Hill‘s 18th century Gascony farm house, Kitchen at Camont, in the South West of France complete with chickens where we learned how to make all kinds of treats from French Macarons to Lemon Tarts! Workshops are on going in both savory and sweet classes so please check out both Molly and Kate’s websites for upcoming dates.
Some of Kate Hill’s favorite books on French food:
There is a place tucked away in the South of France on a plateau hidden between the Pyrenees mountains that has captivated my imagination… it is called Chateau de Gudanes. The past two years I have run through her echoed halls, wondered her wild grounds and fallen asleep to dreams by candlelight. It was with great pleasure to create this video with Kevin Burg for the Waters family to bring to life the arrival of a new book about the Chateau so that we may all remember what it is like to believe in fairytales…
Château de Gudanes is an 18th-century neoclassical Château built on the ruins of a medieval castle nestled amongst the pyrenees in the Southwest of France and currently under restoration by the Waters family. Each summer they open the Château doors to a series of workshops from cooking in the cuisine, to floral design, restoration, and the art of the brocante (French antiquing). For two years now I have spent a a week each summer at the cooking workshops, first run by Julie Marr and most recently by Craig Likefelt where I learned my now go-to salad dressing, a very fruity take on gazpacho, and a seriously mind-blowing good omelette among so much more.
Karina Waters, the visionary behind saving this abandoned chateau is the Alice in Wonderland guide to your stay and one of the most fascinating women to talk to. You can imagine, she being Australian and not completely fluent in French, how many endless stories she has facing the French bureaucracy, learning the rules of restoration on an historic chateau, the time the chateau caught on fire, surviving winter alone without modern heating, when she set off fireworks for Bastille Day and the police showed up, and on and on… and then in the most effortless mad hatter whim she puts together these magical dinner parties with over flowing champagne coups, classical music echoing throughout the chateau walls, the glow from the candles illuminating out of the open french windows into the night sky to the distant sound of laughter and cheers.
I’ll never forget seeing her drag a dead plum tree through the chateau into the music room to prop up on a table as a “tree of gratitude” where each dinner guest wrote what they were thankful for from the experience at the chateau and hung it on the beautifully bare branches for each of us to read. Or the time we had dinner in what once was the library and she pointed out that the mounted goat head set as decor on the banquet was the actual goat we were eating for dinner, killed and prepared by the local French women from the village below who beamed with pride from sharing their regional mountain traditional food.
Though France offers many exquisite Château experiences, this one is quite different. It’s raw.
I like to describe it as the outside is in and the inside is out. The chateau breathes with the mountains it is surrounded by, the cats and dog come and go as they please, as do the vines, and the wind and the rain, and the guests who are lucky enough to stay here for a brief untouchable moment in time. But what makes this place truly unique is that ninety percent of the chateau is without electricity. This means candle-lit dinners, candle-lit walks to your bedroom at night, falling asleep to the sounds of the old chateau shutters and trout steam below. It was in the purest sense of the word, magical. How does that work practically? The main chateau kitchen and its two adjoining rooms have both electricity set up with charging stations and wifi and a fourth room across the hall with electricity is a communal bathroom with 5 toilet rooms and three showrooms, not unlike an adult summer camp. The rest of the chateau is unwired. The rest of the chateau is candle lit romance.
What I love about this place is the layers of history caked on top of each other. Built on the ruins of a castle from the middle ages you can still run your hands over the natural stone from the earth they carved the original foundation from. No room in the castle is off limits giving you free range to explore and let your imagination ponder different ways of life throughout time. The center of the chateau is home to a petite chapel with a vaulted ceiling decorated by hand-painted gold stars shining on a midnight blue sky. Below the main floor is the medieval kitchen, torture chamber, jail, and slaughter rooms for the animals among other things. I even found a once functioning darkroom for photography. There was a library room, a music room for ballroom dancing, a champagne room they used to bring ice down from the mountain to put in the marble bowl for parties, and endless bedrooms, sitting rooms, terraces, and more. The attic is home to the bats which in my first year there liked to pay me nightly visits through my open bedroom window (I like to let in the cool, fresh mountain air) and circle around my room for a few minutes while I stayed motionless in bed with the antique monogrammed French linen sheets pulled up to my nose watching before swooping back out into the night sky. I LOVED it….
It was, and remains in my memories, a true fairytale.
Nestled quietly between the vineyards of the lush Loire Valley just two hours outside Paris is Domaine des Hauts de Loire. Once upon a time this historic Chateau functioned as a prestigious hunting lodge but has since been turned into a true tranquil escape made for a princess. From the swans to the sweeping forest surrounding the chateau it is the perfect place to be charmed by nature in the comfort of French luxury. The property has two restaurants on site, a formal gastronomic with one of the most spectacular meals I have had in France, and a modern day bistro serving updated twists on classic comfort food. Many of the vegetables come from the garden on the property or from local artisan purveyors.
If you choose to venture outside the property you will find it is perfectly situated between some of the highlights of the Loire Valley such as the beautiful river crossing Chateau de Chenonceau and the world renowned modern art and sculpture collection of the The Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire.
Perhaps though, the highlight for me was taking private French cooking lessons at the property with two Michelin star chef, Rémy Giraud, who runs both kitchens at the domaine. It was such a treat, such a special moment and I took away with me recipes I will create forever! You can see and learn the recipes I shared here!
An easy escape from Paris by car or train for those seeking some nature and rest in France’s Garden of Eden.
What a wonderful, wild experience it is to walk inside a painting and to see the world through the eyes of an artist. An early morning train from Paris, a walk through a quiet French town, and then you arrive into the pallet of Monet‘s mind.
“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.”- Claude Monet