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Thing #88 – Stuff From Greece October 21, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in 101 Things, random stuff.

Hey, look, another Thing!

Mostly.  Thing #88 reads “Participate in Gimme Your Stuff,” but  unfortunately, that website seems to be defunct.  Or nearly so, anyway.  There hasn’t really been an update on the site in months – with the most recent, posting last July, being merely a request to “follow us on Twitter.”  Um, not so much.  And besides that, many of the “new” potential “swap partners” have websites that are no longer active.

Who has the time – or patience – for that?

Not me, that’s for sure.

So I happened to be browsing through the Recipezaar forums one day, and lo and behold, there was a “Shoebox Mystery Swap” just being put together; essentially, each participant is paired with another to exchange, well, mystery packages.

Just my thing!  So I signed up, and I was paired with a lovely lady from Greece.

Which is actually quite funny, because I live in Greece.  But my Greece is in New York.  Hers is in the Mediterranean.  Ha.

PhotobucketSo we shopped and then we shipped (internationally, no less!), and finally, I got a package with nifty foreign-looking stamps and everything!

Yes, I know.  I need to get out more.  I’m working on that.

I had to wait until I got home to open it though.

Work stinks sometimes, doesn’t it?

So what did I get?

All kinds of cool stuff – I still want to know how my partner managed to read my mind!


She sent me a package of bay leaves (I was just thinking that maybe we should get some fresher bay leaves than the one we’ve had knocking around for . . . I’m not even sure how long) and some herb which I’m assuming  is Greek oregano – from the REAL Greece! (Since the packaging was printed in Greek, I had to pretty much guess.)

PhotobucketPlus she sent two packages of “Greek red saffron in powder” – I’ve never had a chance to play with that – I can’t wait to experiment with it!   There was a chocolate bar with almonds  that did have one line of English on the package that clued me in!  (But I had to open it right away to be sure,  anyway.)   And a pack of garlic pepper – two of our favorites – plus a box of some pretty darned good coffee.

PhotobucketAnd in addition to a copy of Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries, which came via Amazon, she also sent a copy of Nigel Slater’s earlier book Toast which, once I started reading the cookbook, I also wanted to read! Then, to top it off, she included a DVD of several (19!) various episodes of Julia Child’s shows – including several of her original The French Chef series!

So what about MY package to HER?

Oh, it was fun.  Of course, once I sat down to pack everything up, I realized that I’d done most of my shopping on my way home from work – when I was famished which will become increasingly obvious. . .

PhotobucketOne thing my partner mentioned was that there in Greece, she could not get peanut butter cups – which is just sad.  You know, I can’t imagine living in a world without Reeses!  I wasn’t sure what her peanut-butter-cup size preference was, so I included both a package of the original, standard size and a bag of the miniatures.

I must have been on a chocolate kick that week or something, because I also picked up a box of sponge candy – a popular confection here in Western New York.  It’s hard to describe, but I knew she’d have fun with it – most people just don’t know what to think the first time they try sponge candy!

PhotobucketMy partner also mentioned her kids’ love of the powdered cheese that comes in the boxed mac & cheese dinners – I knew she’d be tickled to receive a goodly supply of powdered cheddar cheese – and sure enough, once she opened the package, she did assure me that she was, in fact, giggling!

PhotobucketMy swap partner is also a transplanted Canadian, and it occurred to me that there may not be too many maple trees in the real Greece.  I thought a native Canadian might appreciate a little maple candy, too.  The lady (from Penn Yan, New York) who made the syrup keeps a map of where her syrup goes, so she’ll be adding Athens now!

PhotobucketOf course, any package traveling from upstate New York to the other side of the world should, if at all possible, include a bottle of Finger Lakes wine!  I chose to include a bottle of Bully Hill Love My Goat red, and I told my partner the story of the Goat wines.

One of the oldest labels in the area is Taylor wines – a family business since the mid-1800’s.  Eventually, the last remaining family member, Walter Taylor, lost control of the winery, and in the 1970’s it was sold to the Coca Cola Company. (Yes, thatCoca Cola.)  Walter still owned his great-grandfather’s original farm and had re-started Bully Hill winery, using the same methods and grapes as had originally been used.  The first thing Coke did upon taking possession of Taylor Wines was to sue Walter, preventing him from using the name of THEIR business (his family name!) on the competing Bully Hill labels.  Not one to be discouraged, Walter started decorating his Bully Hill labels using his own original art, and signing them “Walter S. ____” with a black bar where the forbidden last name should be!  He developed his line of goat wines – red, white and, eventually, rose, all with different goat art for labels.  Up until recently (Walter died in 1999), the labels on the goat wines also made reference to the Supreme Court, who could take away his heritage and could take away his name, but who wouldn’t get his goat!


And of course, like a good Rochester gal, I packed everything up in a Wegman’s bag!  Sure enough, my partner will be using her bag exactly the same way I use mine – she’s taking it to the farmers’ market with her!

This was such a fun experience for me – and the first time I’d ever done anything like this!  It was neat to “meet” a virtual stranger, get to know her well enough to pick up just the right “stuff” for her – and then hear about her (and her family’s) reactions to such a “wildcard” package!

In fact, I’m almost tempted to do it again one day!



1. Mazco34 - October 21, 2009

That’s really cool.

I thought the premise behind the site was similar to Freecycle. But yours sounded like a lot of fun.

– Maz, it was fun! Isn’t Freecycle kind of more “gimme your JUNK” rather than “gimme your stuff”? 😉

Actually, I have “registered” with our local Freecycle – I just haven’t had a chance to really look into it. (Story of my life.) (sigh)

Mazco34 - October 22, 2009

Actuallu for us it”s more like “Get rid of your Junk!”

2. judy - October 26, 2009

missed this earlier.. such a fun thing. I know you are glad you did this!

It was really a lot of fun!

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