Thursday, April 28, 2011

Paper Anniversary

I have to admit: I was stumped.

I champion myself a pretty decent gift giver. I love everything about gift giving: the shopping, the selection of just the perfect thing, the wrapping (especially the wrapping). I keep a gift list for my near and dears of thoughts, likes or various things that might have been mentioned so that when it comes time for a gift, I have an inspiration book of sorts. I'm not saying that I always get it right-- I hope that the recipient enjoys the getting as much as I like the giving; but I do get a lot of pleasure out of giving gifts just the same.

So when it came to the all significant 1st wedding anniversary gift, I was all gung-ho at first to find just the perfect gift. Of course, it had to be memorable, emotional-- something that we'd keep for the rest of our lives as a symbol of our marriage (no pressure or anything). Okay-- not really; but I did want it to be something significant, and something MRN would love.

Then enter the theme: Paper. Ummm-- waaah?

Apparently, the all significant first anniversary is pretty much an analogy for marriage and relationships in general-- in the beginning, it's pretty flimsy and easily torn apart; but the longer it lasts, the stronger it becomes and the harder it is to break-- hence the precious metals and stones start appearing after year 20. Right...

For someone buying a gift for me, paper is like striking pay dirt. Because I LOVE all things paper. Stationery, books, wrapping paper, cards... you can pretty much get me any of those and I'd be a happy girl (in fact, MRN did, gifting me with beautiful cloth covered classics of Bronte and Dickens, to name a few). But for a man? What do you get a man that's made of paper??

An extensive Internet search yielded few creative results: 1st Anniversary; 1st Anniversary Gift; 1st Anniversary gift for men. A whole lot of un-inspiration is what I got. Of course stationery was suggested (ummm-- how many men in your life do you know who would appreciate personalized stationery, or better yet-- actually use it?). Then there was concert tickets (okay, yes-- technically MADE out of paper... but, come on!), a message in a bottle (huh? and, cheesy?), a star (the certificate printed on paper), a calendar. You get my drift.

But then, divine intervention (well, someone must have been watching over me). A Daily Candy e-mail arrives in my inbox with, lo and behold: A profile of London-based artist Rosalind Freeborn who happens to make portraits out of torn pieces of paper. Eureka!

After perusing her website I contacted the wonderful Ros and a collaboration began. It started as a double portrait, with her choosing one from our official photographs and doing a preliminary sketch. For portraits she likes to include things that people love as the background-- given this was to be a wedding portrait, we exchanged e-mails about our favorite things about the wedding (which I covertly got from Mark with random questions at random times). For me: the rich colors, the flowers, the food and, of course, the paper. For Mark: The location (above all else), and his traditional English morning suit (go figure). Then, another light bulb moment. The portrait is being constructed from paper-- and it wouldn't be me if I hadn't saved loads of the stationery from the wedding. I had left-overs of everything from invitations and reply cards to menus, monogrammed candy bags, ceremony programs and even postcards of the location. I asked Ros if she might want to incorporate some of the stationery into the portrait and her enthusiastic response sent me packing a box to send to London.

The result is absolutely stunning (well, I think so, anyway). I'm in awe of her talent and being able to construct something so wonderfully beautiful, sentimental and creative from torn pieces of paper. Not only did she actually make us look like, well, US, but she was able to use the left over stationery, that would have otherwise sat in a box in a closet, in such a way that we'll get to enjoy it forever. My favorite part? My beautiful lace dress that she recreated using bits of our invitation and the ceremony programs-- so that all the wonderfully special people who were part of our day are also part of the portrait.

Mark was entirely surprised, and stunned into silence. I was thrilled to be able to surprise him, and we were both thrilled with the result. She hadn't thought of promoting her work as a potential paper anniversary gift, so she's discovered a whole new market! She's going to showcase us on her website but I wanted to help spread the word. I think it's such a neat idea for gift or personal purchase of any kind. But it seriously ups the anty for a first anniversary gift (if I do say so myself). While you certainly don't have to supply the paper, for all of your closet paper savers, doesn't it make you want to send along for your very own portrait?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Petits Pots

Oh Whole Foods, how do I love thee... let me count the ways.

This time it's because of the little pots of French yogurt that I picked up. These are pretty common in France-- all different shapes, colors and materials (glass, ceramic, terracotta). These little gems came in the form of painted blue terracotta pots with "La Fermiere"-- The Farmer-- carved in the side.

I loved the presentation and the weight of these-- also that the containers can be recycled-- in my case, I'm going to plant herbs in them. They'll be such a sunny addition to my window sill! Plus-- the yogurt was delicious. No non-fat option here (it's French, after all). The yogurt is sinfully rich and creamy and comes in a variety of flavors-- I tried honey; vanilla (with real vanilla beans); and strawberry and gooseberry (pictured) which is a lovely combination of sweet and tart. Yummmm.

Now if only I didn't live 200 miles from the nearest Whole Foods.