the best gift

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Antiques, Favorite Things64 Comments

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.

No way…

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 then there are the beautiful French market bags.  They are even more beautiful and well-made in person.  The larger bag has a lining and a draw-string cover…

…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.

the best gift

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64 Comments on “the best gift”

    1. It turned out pretty good! I learned a lot and will share a review of the recipe along with what I would do differently.

  1. Happy Birthday! I’m so happy your birthday was special in spite of the pandemic! Enjoy your lovely gifts.

  2. Happy belated birthday! Saturday was my birthday as well and yes, it was celebrated without my grown children and grandchildren. We did a Zoom birthday party which was quite fun. I just wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed your Instagram posts and reading through your website. You are inspiring me, along with my daughter-in, to attempt painting for the first time ever. Your style, colors and subject matter are just lovely. Thank you for what you do, for being a blessing, and for sharing it with all of us. May the Lord keep you and your family in health!

  3. Happy happy birthday to you. I can feel your excitement at receiving the fabulous gifts. I’m working on crocheting and am following your YouTube video. What a help it is. Thanks so much. Enjoy your gifts.

  4. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I read your post and felt the same anticipation I would feel watching a loved one unwrap her gift. What a wonderful affirmation of how much you mean to Maria. A perfect gift created just for you. Thanks for sharing with us! I am blown away by your talent – seems you keep showing one more artistic skill after another – ‘wow, she can do that too?!”

    I am wondering when and if you will be posting the video of the painting class you did last week? I never saw what time it was happening and missed it but would love to see if/when it becomes available.

    Wishing you a wonder-filled day!

  5. I’m so happy for you. And your happiness made me happy. I will definitely check out her shop since she must be a delightful person. Happy Birthday!

  6. Happy Belated Birthday, Marian! What fun for you to receive those paint pots — good for you!

  7. Yes, you are very blessed! Thank you for sharing, so we can feel the joy and happiness right along with you!

  8. Happy birthday, Marion! This post about the surprise gifts was delightful! You’re such a gifted writer as well as a creative person!

  9. Happy, Happy Birthday, Marian!! I am SO glad your special day turned out so lovely!! I too am a BIG birthday person and I too, have a birthday in about a couple weeks. Since it’s just my husband and I here laying low, I sure do not expect this year to be more than an ordinary day. He isn’t into birthdays like I am.
    Your bags are wonderful! Enjoy!

    1. Well, happy birthday! I hope you have something special happen on your day, too, and that you’re able to celebrate with friends and family when this season is over.

  10. It’s the small things. Happy belated birthday. What a sweet story. I just love the little paint pots.

  11. So glad you had a special birthday with some surprises. I have been sewing masks for healthcare workers and first responders about 10 hours a day for 2 weeks now (about 300 so far, but I have lost count). When people pick-up masks and deliver materials sometimes they leave a little gift (a crochet heart, an ice coffee, toilet paper (lol), tulips!) and it really makes my day. Wishing you many happy returns of the day. Take care & stay safe <3

    1. What a wonderful thing that you’re doing! I’ve been making some masks, but I’ve only made 12 so far! 🙂 Each one counts, though. I’m glad you’re getting little gifts for all of your hard work. That is a nice thing to receive.

  12. Happy happy birthday!!! It was a joy to see your post and sharing info about your birthday present. I love the bags. My husband and I are both recovering from the virus, we will be out of quarantine tomorrow night.. thank you so much for the Facebook video on painting, I have gathered some of my paints together and now that I’m feeling better will be able to try out the painting tutorial. Thank you for sharing and your inspiration.

    1. I’m so glad to hear you are recovering! Take care and I hope you’re restored to full health quickly.

  13. What a lovely surprise! I had my birthday on March 27, here in Canada. On lock down. My children and grandchildren showed up in driveway with some fresh flowers bought at the end of a greenhouse driveway and a birthday cheese cake shared at a distance. It was lovely. My hubby also brought pa sizes and a bouquet also bought the same way. So happy you received such a lovely gift. Enjoy

  14. Happy birthday, Marian! Thank you for sharing your wonderful birthday surprise! What a special, thoughtful friend you have!

  15. Happy Birthday! I think birthdays should be very special…like a national holiday. I’m so glad yours was awesome! And just think, when this is over you get to celebrate again! Have a great week!

  16. Marian, that was the best birthday gift ever! Those paint pots are awesome and I am amazed the paint is still in them! The bag is absolutely fabulous!! Enjoy both items and I’m glad you were able to have a wonderful birthday even though we are all at home until this horrible virus is under control and gone from here!

  17. Happy Birthday, what a delightful surprise. Those are the most fun ever. I would love to know what some of your favorite art do decorating books are. Would love to see that on your blog one day. I am a book lover and can never have enough.
    Glad you had a wonderful day,

  18. Happy bday .. for the year.
    How serendipitous! That was a lovely gesture..and I am covetous of those pots as you know;)
    They are in the best of hands Marian.Enjoy.

  19. Happy Birthday Marion! I’m so glad that you got the 2 baskets with all of the little goodies & especially the pots. What a blessing from the Lord that brought you joy.

  20. Happy Belated Birthday! Your joy of your gift had me chuckling out loud and smiling to myself. Enjoy!!

  21. Your colors!! Maria’s feed sure is delightful & obviously she is too! Maybe the pots once belonged to Monet, or someone equally as talented but unknown to the world. Isn’t that one of the beauties of antiques, the little stories we can invent to accompany our latest delightful surprise! Glad your birthday was so blessed Marian!

  22. What a wonderful gift from a friend who knows you well. So glad your BIRTHDAY turned out GREAT for you.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU (a couple days late)!!!

  23. Happy Blessed Birthday! I LOVE how God surprises us with the sweetest of moments! Your items are all so lovely, and so much your heart. I hope they remind you of this special, blessed day, and how much you are treasured.

  24. You had a wonderful birthday! Sometimes the unexpected happens, and it’s the small things that make the difference. Those paint pots are just amazing, I’m sure you’ll cherish them forever!

  25. Happy birthday to you!

    I seem to be the only person wondering why your husband couldn’t have ordered gifts for you. Am I being unkind?

    I’m so glad you are delighted with your new paint pots.

    1. I am hard to shop for because most of my hobbies are intertwined with my business, so I can buy them (art supplies, materials for making things, books to use as a resource, etc.) as a business expense. I usually give him ideas or links for things I want personally, like clothes or a pair of shoes, but I didn’t do that this year. 🙂

  26. Happy Birthday! I love @dreamywhiteslifestyle market bags. I bought one last year and I’ve gotten so many compliments when I take it to the grocery store. I know you will love it as well as those wonderful paint pots! Love this post!!!

  27. I am infatuated with the ochre paint color in the pot labled “rouge”…… that, alone, would have made my day!!!! what a lovely birthday you had…….

  28. Your joy and appreciation came through so clearly that it made me feel all those feels, with a smile on my face. I can Imagine the happiness that “Maria” felt! Is there anything better, than giving someone special the “perfect for them” gift?! Shared happiness all around! (I love all your gifts and can’t wait to browse Maria’s site.)

  29. Happy Belated B’day! It sounds like a great day for you. I looked at those pots as well, but too much out of my budget. How wonderful to have friends like that.

  30. That was the most perfect & beautiful surprise! I’d have been equally excited about those sweet little paint pots too 😍🎨👩🏼‍🎨 Bon anniversaire 🎈🎂🎁

  31. The script on the paint pots is so beautiful. Why don’t/ can’t we write like that anymore? Happiest of happy birthdays to you!

  32. Glad you had a good birthday, Marian! Those items are perfect for you! There are sweet times in amongst this craziness if we look…
    God bless you and your family (and all of your readers)!

  33. Marian, those pots are such a beautiful gift. The fact that there’s still paint in them is even better. May I ask a favor, when you hold your next painting class could you post a supply list maybe a week in advance. Thanks so much and a Happy Easter.

  34. You do so much for more people… you started a ring of waves that has continued to widen and spread… you help us all find and celebrate peace and sharing.

    I truly hate acknowledging that this soul-crushing cloud of tragedy that currently shadows our lives could even possibly have a silver lining; it feels like a betrayal to those who grieve most deeply and will continue to do so for what must seem like forever.

    Yet: you shared such joy with this post that I can’t deny that there are rays of light in our days, and it helps to acknowledge them. You continue to facilitate our cultivation of our own interior lives. Happy Birthday, and thank you for sharing the beautiful gift of the story of your beautiful gift.

  35. Happy Birthday Marian~ its yours all year, just for you.
    What sweet gifts tucked into the market bag….such hidden treasures.
    Take care~ Cynthia <3

  36. What precious and special gifts for you! It’s amazing the joy that a personal gift can bring esepcially when it is unexpected. I think birhtdays are a BIG deal and should always be celebrated. I recently celebrated a “significant” birthday (first without my recently deceased husband) in isolation and was suprised by a card”shower” and a car parade in the neihgborhood with many long time girlfriends having posters and balloons tied to their cars for ME. It was fun, funny and oh so dear of them. Definitely will be added to the many fabulous memories we have shared together and a reminder that the very best gifts aren’t things but people.

  37. Happy belated April Birthday Marian! My birthday was Monday. Our younger son and his wife and our 5 grandchildren drove 3 hours to surprise me for my birthday. They had called earlier to say they were having us a BIRTHDAY lunch catered and it should be delivered about 12:30. They did bring a picnic lunch and we gathered in our yard on blankets social distancing. What a BLESSING to just spend time together.

  38. Happy Belated Birthday!! Love , love the paint pots! Baskets too! Looks like you had a great birthday! Looking forward to seeing everything you are doing. Have a great day & be safe.

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