WANTED: I'm a Very Lucky Girl....

ann_tFebruary 13, 2013

My partner is John and he sent me the most wonderful gifts.

John explained in his letter that he had struggled a bit before hitting on the theme - Props - "Garnishes for the image, visual condiments, background scenery" How perfect is that?

The gifts include something shiny and something red.

The little red Fleur-de-lis serving dishes were made by John's wife, the one known as SWMBO. I love hand crafted pottery. And I remember admiring these dishes in one of John's photos last year.

Couldn't wait to use, so I served Moe his salad in one tonight.

The Shiny - a pair of Sterling Salt and Pepper Shakers. They are going to be the finishing touch to many photos.

John, also included one of his favourite books. Between Meals: An Appetite For Paris by A.J. Liebling. I know that I will enjoy this book.

The last item - a gadget - one I have never seen before. John describes it as a police implement meant to extract confessions - thinki fingers. LOL!!!!

Actually it is a jar opener that ratchets. I gave it a try and it works great.

John, I really want to thank you. You couldn't have picked a better theme or sent me anything I would like better. Especially thrilled with your wife's pottery. Please thank her for me too.


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Treasures from Portland! Tasteful, elegant, and thoughtful and very much a reflection of John, himself. The plates are especially wonderful. What a glorious color. The salt and pepper shakers will supply the perfect bit of glimmer to many of your photos. Aren't they pretty. The book looks great. And that gadget is most intriguing. I may have to find one of those. I have a Swingaway jar opener but it isn't great for really small bottle caps nor really large jar lids.

A fabulous swap box, John.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 11:31PM
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John, you hit the high mark with these gifts to Ann! Perfection in a swap box! Being from the South Louisiana we love the Fleur-de-lis any way we can get them. Beautiful serving dishes that your DW handmade for Ann. I love them.

I have a veeeerrrry old jar opener that I still use today. Except mine is dark and, well,very old! LOL!

Enjoy your bounty Ann! This package from John is amazing and you both know how much I love silver. ;-)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 11:39PM
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Ann, that is a perfect swap box for you and I'll look forward to seeing the beautiful dishes and the sterling shakers in future pictures. the jar opener is interesting, I've never seen one like that, and the book looks even more interesting.

John, you did well, a perfect swap box.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 12:17AM
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Oh my, over the top! We knew John's partner would receive something intriguing. The plates are beautiful, so does SWMBO mean She Who Makes Beautiful Objects?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 3:08AM
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Great job for your first swap John! I'm sending Arley over here to see the book. Those pottery pieces are amazing and I think I need to see one first hand. Yup,

I have a very old jar opener too....he takes out the garbage once in a while as well ;-)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:28AM
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Thanks for the tip, Jessy:

I have bought everything by Liebling I can find. I have read Between Meals at least a dozen times, and discover something new each time. Between Meals was the last book he wrote, just a few months before his death; in it he reminisces about living in Paris in the twenties. He was there at the same time as Hemingway & Fitzgerald and Stein, but didn't run in those circles--just a young man away from home and exploring Paris and food and love.

The final chapter of the book, 'Passable', is unforgettable. I would think it would make a wonderful Merchant Ivory type film.

FWIW, I have The Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain. In it he lists as influences, Julia Child and Liebling's Between Meals.

If you want more info on Liebling, follow the link and read my Amazon review of 'The Earl of Louisiana'--my screen name is 'a foodie', it's the third review. Liebling also wrote insightful war essays for the New Yorker; his technique was a lot like Spielberg's in 'Saving Private Ryan'--show people the workaday soldier, the conditions they live in, and it's all the more heartbreaking when they don't return. Wonderful stuff, and the Library of America has now anthologized him in two volumes. Definitely worthwhile.

Here is a link that might be useful: liebling book review

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 9:11AM
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Ann, you lucked out! that is one fantastic swapbox --the objects inside are so beautiful and I'm intrigued by the book-- I can't wait to read it ! John, for your first swap, you hit a home run!!!
PS: Do you think SWMBO might take orders for more beautiful pottery??

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 12:16PM
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Quick Liebling reading list for anyone interested:

- Liebling Abroad - collection of his reporting from Europe, mostly being WW2 reporting but also I think excerpts from Between Meals. This was my introduction to Liebling. My college girlfriend had some family friends who owned a house high up on Telegraph Hill, right below the peak - almost every photo of Coit Tower shows the house. An elegant house with a three-bridge view, almost disorienting compared to the my student hovel at Berkeley. We stayed there for a week, I liked sitting in the living room, looking at the Bay. A copy of this book was on the end table, and I read it cover to cover. I was hooked.

- Liebling At Home - collection of his reporting from the US, with excerpts from The Earl Of Louisiana, The Second City, The Press, etc.

- The Sweet Science - classic essays on the Golden Age of boxing (Marciano era),

- The Press - Liebling reported on the press itself, part gadfly and part watchdog

- Between Meals - as above

- Wayward Reporter - a biography of Liebling, by Raymond Solokov.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 12:21PM
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This so beautiful. I love the color of the dishes. A salad with purple tones like Ann served or with beets will look so amazing in this. And the form of the salt and pepper shakers are sublime.. perfect way to have some bling in the functional pieces. I have not heard of Liebling but now have to check it out at the library.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 12:45PM
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John, you're right: Liebling Abroad did contain Between Meals in its entirety. The other items in that volume were The Road Back to Paris, Mollie and other War Pieces, and Normandy Revisited. That anthology is out of print, but if you do a search at addall.com you can find a used copy for $4 including shipping! Great deal, and a great intro to Joe Liebling. His wartime writing isn't bombastic jingoism; rather, he gets you engaged in the lives of the ordinary soldiers who are being called upon to do extraordinary stuff.

I have an acquaintance who was once on the US Boxing team, and he said no writer 'got' boxing like Liebling. Sports Illustrated once called 'The Sweet Science' the best book ever written about any sport.

Liebling once said he could write better than anyone who could write faster than him, and faster than anyone who could write better than him.

This post was edited by arley on Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 13:39

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:03PM
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I'm glad ann_t liked the box.

The jar opener is a leftover from my original theme, which was "oddly useful gadgets".

I had a second item picked out for that theme, but became worried about sending it, and eventually lost momentum and switched over to the "props" theme.

The second item is something I personally find useful in the kitchen. It is a small blade, tucks in an apron or pants pocket, safely covered with no cut risk, but instantly available at the push of a button and snick!

You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. I love my switchblade in the kitchen.

However, you can see why I decided not to send one of these across the border to a lady.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:14PM
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compumom - SWMBO is just slowly getting back into pottery after a break for painting. I've got some my orders in for new dishes and bowls, and she wants to do some fancy platters. One of these days I will post some pics of her stuff on a thread, and if anyone sees something they like, I can ask her. It probably won't be for awhile. Thanks for asking!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:19PM
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The theme is perfect for Ann and the items are all wonderful. I love the pottery, but then I love most pottery.

Great box John! I'll be looking for you to post pictures of more pottery, I collect it.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 2:33PM
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What a nice box! Beautiful pottery - my compliments to SWMBO. I think I like greens but I just realized I have a quite little collection of reds building up. I love the gleaming salt and pepper shakers.

I am ordering the book today! Sounds interesting and it's cabin fever season here. BTW Ray Sokolov is married to my mom's cousin - I only met him when I was a teenager at an uncle's wedding. I remember reading a great article of his about african influences in Southern food.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 4:07PM
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I had to laugh when I saw the jar opener next to the silver salt & pepper shakers! I was also shocked to see sterling silver - those are very beautiful, and I love the way they photograph - in the close-up view I can almost see a reflection of the photographer, but she managed to hide herself very well. The jar opener looks like it will be very useful - mine works but could be better.

I kept translating the name "Liebling" as "darling" while I was reading the posts until I noticed that it was the author's name. I scrolled past the first part too fast. I had a client in San Francisco who had a house high up on Telegraph Hill, and I worked on several rooms in that house. The views there are the best! It sounds like your friends were his neighbors.

I also like the square plates and am another fleur de lis fan, having a French grandmother on my father's side.

Very impressive!


    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 5:32PM
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You learn new things about SWMBO every day. Not only is she patient, she is talented. Love those plates.

I could use that jar opener. My hands seem to have every syndrome possible, including one that is almost always found in blue eyed men, and I am neither of those.

I love anything and everything to do with Paris!

Nice job, John.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 5:54PM
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What an excellent swap! I just adore those plates. The form, the glaze, the design. Love it all. It's been years since I've done any pottery and these make my fingers itch for clay. Such thoughtful gifts. Great choice of book for her and I know she'll get a lot of use from the salt and pepper set. Having them come from John will make sure they play a prominent place in daily use. I love gadgets so very much. That is a really cool jar opener.

John, I'd have loved the switch blade. LOL. Many, many years ago I had one that I kept in my purse. It was the best fruit knife I've ever had. Unfortunately along the way someone took it.

Good job John and lucky you Ann!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:10PM
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What a great package! The dishes are beautiful, and the salt/pepper set is lovely. Such a good theme idea for Ann, it will be fun to watch her food pics in the future for a glimpse of the plates or the shakers. I am also intrigued by the book, and will have to make a quick stop by the library tomorrow and see if it is available. Enjoy, Ann!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:58PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

That's a wonderful swap package. I want those salt and pepper shakers badly. Gorgeous pottery, and always nice to see the talents of various members and family on display.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:07AM
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The plates are wonderful. I can't wait to see more of SWMBO's work. I know we'll see those shakers again...they are lovely.

Nice gadgets, too. John, I showed DH your switchblade and he nodded and said, "You can use mine if you want."

Nicely done...enjoy, Ann!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 1:11PM
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What an elegant group of gifts. I'm impressed with it all, but those handmade serving dishes are something else. John, you did an amazing job.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 6:11PM
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