Saturday was my 42 birthday. It started off with apologies from Jeff and the boys that they couldn’t go out and buy me gifts and couldn’t take me out to a restaurant. It would be another day hunkering down at home. The fact that I wasn’t disappointed was surprising to me. I’ve always been a “big birthday person.” I love presents and cake and surprises.
To plan for the day, I bought the ingredients to make a copycat version of Olive Garden’s lemon cream cake, but there have been bigger things than online shopping for potential birthday presents to occupy my time and thoughts. We would just unceremoniously move some cash from the gifts line item to my personal spending money in our budget and I could buy something later.
It was actually the precautions we’ve been taking to keep our family, particularly our type 1 diabetic son, insulated from the virus that led to me opening a surprise gift on my birthday. I had received a package, a French market bag ordered from Dreamy Whites, a few days before my birthday. We’ve been leaving mail and packages in the garage for 2-3 days before we open it, though, so that meant I opened the order on my birthday. I remember thinking it would feel like a gift, opening the market bag I’ve been admiring for years, I’ve added to my cart many times, but I never purchased. I even hunted for one when I was in Paris, but came up empty. Maria was having a 30% off sale and I wanted to support her as an entrepreneur and a friend, so I was finally moved to buy the bag.
When I opened the box, I was surprised to receive a lot more than the one bag I had ordered. It was nestled inside a larger bag and filled with little gifts wrapped in handmade linen bags and tied off with strips of ticking fabric. I stared into the baskets for a few seconds and I felt tears welling up. She didn’t even know it was my birthday and she sent me a bunch of little gifts for me to open.
I started digging through the bag and unwrapped a small lavender pillow made out of antique ticking and linen, a couple of small lavender sachés, and handmade blocks of soap.
My fingers then found a shape inside a bag that was unfamiliar. It wasn’t a rectangle block of soap or the seedy, fragrant texture of a lavender saché. It was a cold, smooth, small cylinder shape. I had combed Maria’s site thoroughly enough to have a guess of what it might be.
I untied the ticking knot as quickly as I could, almost giggling. It was an antique French paint pot!!
I had been lovingly eyeing them on her site when I was shopping the 30% off sale…
I ran it over to Jeff, who was sitting in a chair by the fire, working on his computer. LOOK, LOOK, LOOK!! He had no idea what he was looking at or why I was bounding into the living room. “It’s an antique French paint pot that Maria sent me! Isn’t that just the best gift?!?” I received affirmation from him that sounded like a mom expressing approval when a toddler completes an awkward somersault. “Ooooh, nice.”
Well, he didn’t have to get it. I got it. I had been admiring the set of paint pots she had for sale, but didn’t feel like I *needed* so many of them. One or two would satisfy, but I didn’t want to ask her to break up the set.
I went back to the basket and opened the remaining bags. She had included two more paint pots and I was tickled all over again when I opened the one labeled “Bleu.”
The best part is that they have dried paint inside. As I examined them, turning them over in my hands, I was imagining someone arranging these paint pots in a little wooden pochade box. I wish I could know who owned them and what paintings they were participants in creating.
Isn’t it amazing that there is still paint in them? And they are the most delicious shades of green, blue, and ochre yellow (even though it says rouge.)
The four of us had a little photoshoot/lovefest together.
I haven’t found the perfect spot for them, but they are in my art cabinet for now, where the cats can’t knock them over.
…and a button latch. It’s a great size to take to the beach, pool, on a road trip, to the grocery store for produce or flowers, etc.
And the smaller of the two bags has the prettiest leather clasp…
It’s just the right size for carrying around crochet projects, some art supplies, a few magazines, etc.
What I love about these bags and why I’m drawn to them, is that they are pretty to just have sitting around. It’s not a bag you need to tuck away in a closet or cabinet, but one you can have out in the open as decor when they aren’t in use.
A birthday that seemed like it might be a make-do sort of a day turned into a day with a delightful surprise that I’m still smiling over and I’m sure I will for many years to come.
If you can’t go on a shopping trip to Provence, then Dreamy Whites online shop is the next best thing. And if you don’t follow Maria on Instagram, you really should. It’s one of those feeds you just get lost in, because it’s so beautiful. You can find her HERE.