I treasure all of the reader responses to my getting to know you post. Did you know there is a Magpie reader who…
+”Makes chocolate chip cookies on average three times a week.”
+Describes “Hiddensee (small Island at the baltic sea coast of Germany)” as her favorite place on earth.
+”Built a standing committee at my very traditional synagogue to improve treatment of and relations with interfaith families. As a child of an interfaith family and current member of an interfaith marriage, this has been a real labor of love.”
+Describes her superpower as “patience and my deep love for my children. I put them first always.”
+Wishes she could tell herself ten years ago: “You look amazing, own it.”
+”Was the first person in my family, extended included, to earn a college degree.”
+Just before bed, every night, tells her husband she loves him and hopes he has sweet dreams — “Could not live with myself if he would pass in the night without it!”
+Lists as her desert-island book: “The Thornbirds by Colleen McCollough. (As my sister says, it’s a good book to read if you want to fall back in love with reading.)”
+Uses as a mantra: “‘Everything you need is already inside.’ It’s a quote from Bill Bowerman, former Oregon coach and co-founder of Nike.”
+Identifies the following mezcla of interesting people as her dream dinner party guests: “My grandfathers (who passed away) and fiancé (they never met but would have had so many interesting conversations) and Hannah Ahrendt.”
In awe of each of these women for different reasons. Today, I thought I’d get to know you better but leaving you with an asynchronous icebreaker — what are five surprising or interesting facts about you? I usually hate this prompt in real life because I can never think quickly enough on my feet, but because we can take our time here…GO. And feel free to scale back or dial up if you can only think of two or have a desire to share seven.
I’ll start. It was a little hard to think of these since I share so much with you already, but here goes:
1 // I am left-handed. So is my husband, my daughter, and, likely, my 1.5 year old son.
2 // My great-great-grandfather, Arunah Shepherdson Abell, founded The Baltimore Sun newspaper in 1837. (How bout that name?)
3 // I triple majored in English, History, and French. The University of Virginia did not allow triple majors (double majoring was the maximum permitted), but I completed all area requirements for majoring in all three disciplines nonetheless.
4 // Steven Spielberg scouted my childhood home for one of his movies in the early 90s. I’m not sure which film it was for or whether it was ever produced, for that matter, because my parents — fiercely private as they are — firmly declined to entertain the conversation.
5 // I studied piano lessons from first through tenth grades. Unfortunately, my hands were so small, they barely spanned an octave, meaning many classics (especially more technically complex ones) were logistically tricky for me to pull off. Serious piano playing was just not in the cards for me.
Post Scripts: Items You Never Knew You Always Needed.
*Many of these items would make incredible, quirky gifts for a loved one who is difficult to shop for. How about these beautiful shears for a flower lover?
+Premium cheese grater with olive wood box. We hunted for a long time for a cheese grater that would yield the kind of hard, pebble-like gratings vs. the thin, long shards you get with a Microplane. Surprisingly difficult to find! Then we found this, which is beautifully designed and yields the perfect grated cheese for topping pasta or soup (i.e., the gratings don’t dissolve immediately upon contact). It’s pretty enough to leave the wooden box out on the table with a spoon for serving! The shipping will make you pause and think twice, but don’t — even if this item cost double what it does, it would be worth it. Beautiful gift for a discerning cook! UPDATE: Mr. Magpie was adamant I should clarify this grater is for hard cheese only.
+Brass bumble bee door knocker. Can you imagine a happier greeting on a front door? Just the sight of this on someone’s door would make me want to get to know the homeowner.
+First day / last day pennant. I decided to forgo the individualized grade years for back-to-school and last-day photos and get this infinite-use pennant instead. One side reads: “First Day”; the other reads: “Last Day.” Comes in a range of great colors. Buy now and you’ll be ahead of the game come year end. (And this one will really be a “last day of school” to celebrate.)
+Acrylic headband stand. For the headband addiction from which so many of us suffer.
+Linen tissue box cover. Transforms Kleenex into something chic for your bedside table.
+Shun utility shears. I mentioned this in a recent post, but these are an MVP in our house. Cuts through just about anything, including crab shell, but great for things like trimming twine, assisting in the breaking down of a chicken, cutting anything from parchment paper to herbs, etc. The handles come apart for easy cleaning and they are dishwasher safe. We have two pairs of these and they are used daily.
+Upholstered sconce shades. You would be startled at how much a relatively small investment like this can transform and personalize a space.
+Botanical clogs. For slipping on to take out the garbage or grab the newspaper from the front lawn.
+Plastic trays. If you have small children, these will be your best friends. I use them daily and for infinite purposes — setting up activities, corralling markers while in use, arranging a sensory bin, etc. Easy to clean and the perfect dimensions.
+Marvis toothpaste dispenser/squeezer. It’s the little things in life, OK? Like a tidy spot for your toothpaste that forestalls the inevitable argument with your husband about squeezing the toothpaste from the top instead of the bottom of the tube. (Just me?)
+Silicone mat. Wonderful to use when little hands are coloring/crafting somewhere that makes your stomach uneasy (fancy dining room table) or using a material (glitter) that leaves you chanting quiet mantras of peace to yourself.
+Pack of 12 white appetizer plates. Used daily in our house for any manner of purposes — a spoon rest, a small snack, a bread and butter plate, a dish to set a small basil plant in, etc. The perfect size.
+Kuhn Rikon peelers. Just the best. So sharp and easy to maneuver. The design is perfect — we have more expensive ones from OXO that we hate in comparison to these.
+Pruning shears. Speaking of shears, everyone needs a pair of proper pruning shears. Even in our apartment, we’ve used them for things like our Christmas tree (which needed a little haircut on top), woody-stemmed flower arrangements, etc. We also have a pair for flowers (the pruning shears would be a bit heavy duty for standard flower arrangement) that I use whenever we have cut flowers in the house.
+A lot of the items in my organizational gear post fit the bill here, too!