Saturday, December 21, 2013

Be careful what you wish for...

HALLIE EPHRON: I had a friend who made the mistake of telling friends that he liked frogs. Soon he had a massive collection of them, gifts from well meaning buddies who now knew what to get him. Believe me, he did not like frogs that much.

My family knows I like soap, and I truly am happy that every Christmas I get some lovely bars of the stuff... which I use up before the next Christmas. But telling my husband, in particular, that I like jewelry and silk scarves has made no discernible impact. I once confessed that I like fruitcake as long as it doesn't have tutti fruttis in it. That he remembers.

So have you inadvertently generated a collection of something (cats, dogs, elephants, fruitcake door stops??) that you sort of like and happened to mention?

Everyone knows I like tea, so I do get tea things, which I quite like. And books, of course.

But like you, telling hubby I'd really love some nice jewelry has had no discernible affect. Are we doing something wrong? Maybe they're not watching enough jewelry store ads on TV? :-)

HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: This is hilarious. I have a pal who did it with elephants. Said so, I mean. Now his house is FULL of the creatures. And what are you supposed to do? Say I don't like elephants anymore?

And I agree, when you TRY (ooh, look at that gorgeous scarf!) it never works. Searching for an inexpensive-y easy thing, I once told relatives I love grapefruit-scented bath gel. Easy, huh? How hard is that? Got none._._,_._

Want me to call everyone's husbands?

RHYS BOWEN: I used to collect elephants--ebony, ivory, glass, ceramic and then my kids started giving me elephants for every occasion. I still love elephants (the real thing) but I've boxed up the collection and anything else that attracts dust.

And Hallie, if I want my husband to buy me something specific and non-techie for Christmas I have to draw a diagram leading him to the correct rack or counter in Macy's and describing the item in minute detail. Hints with men never work.

When we're driving I used to say "Oh look, a craft fair. How adorable." And that meant "I want to stop and take a look" but to John it meant keep on driving. So I learned to yell "Stop! I'm going to take a look at that craft fair. Find some coffee. See you in half an hour." 

You have to be specific with them. And foreceful!

HALLIE: Laughing, Rhys - this year I sent my husband the web link to the cast iron fry pan I'm coveting (really)... I think it worked. Time will tell.

LUCY BURDETTE: I'm laughing with you Rhys because my John does the same thing when it comes to restrooms. I'll mention to him that I need to stop. Okay he says and then drives right by the next exit.

Hey I say I need to use the bathroom. Oh he says you didn't tell me you need to use it now.

To get back on topic, my mother used to have a collection of owls. Owls made of everything--marble, felt, wood, everything owl. My collection as a kid was stuffed cats. I kept all of them until we moved to Florida in the 80s and the roaches ate the rabbit fur covers. I still miss those cats.

DEBS: Oh, oops, Lucy, you know what's going to happen now. Everyone is going to give you stuffed cats!!!!

HALLIE: Writing it down...

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: My husband is a puppeteer for Sesame Street and the Muppets, and he's also played a dragon (Majellan on Nickelodian's Eureeka's Castle) and Bear on Disney Channel's Bear in the Big Blue House. So we have tons of dragon and bear stuff around — gifts from people, mostly. The current show is Mouse King, so are we in for lots of mouse and rat stuff, too?

(I was going to type, "oh, I hope not" — but then realized a bought a mouse king ornament for this year's tree.... I'm part of the problem here, aren't I?)

HALLIE: Okay, so confessions are good for the soul. Did you ever inadvertently start a collection by saying you liked frogs... or some other cute creature... and then end up inundated with them?  (Ellen Kozak: You won't believe it, but I had this blog in the works before your comment!!)


  1. My mom had a collection of elephants, some of which now reside in our home . . . my collection of Precious Moments competes with books for shelf space but it was purposely begun many years ago when I discovered a boy angel among the figurines displayed in a gift shop.

    Hinting never seems to work too well . . . if there’s something I would really like to have, I’ve learned to just say exactly what it is that I want. Jewelry is my husband’s go-to gift when he doesn’t know what to get, so sometimes I still get surprised . . . .

  2. For some reason as a teenager I thought it would be fun to collect sugar packets. Luckily, I got over it, and nobody ever gave me any. I do save every postcard I receive. In our family we pride ourselves on writing really tiny on postcards so you get your money's worth and I cherish some of the older ones from my father and from my sister's international travels (and her postcards to me living abroad, too).

    A friend had that I Love Frogs problem with a penguin-themed bathroom. She had to stop telling people to give her penguins! It wasn't a huge room and was the downstairs full bath, so I saw it a lot, and it was overwhelming. Penguin soap dispensers, shower curtain, towels, paintings, chotchkes galore.

  3. Yeah, Hallie, I live in "frog city," and some of them I love, but some-- well, there are frogs and there are frogs.

    When I had a real law office (I've been working out of my home for almost 20 years and don't meet clients here, ever!) I had my favorite frogs in a mission-style cabinet that I have since sold (no room for it, alas), and people would see them and decide to give me more of them.

    And on the men-can't-take-a-hint theme, I had a boyfriend who once said to me, "I don't know what to get you unless it's green or a frog." (He was replaced by the one who saw me ostentatiously sniffing at a display of flowers and moments later plunked a huge bouquet of them into my arms!)

    As for my affinity for the color green-- well, there is green and there is green. My whole house is white with green, but there are some greens (avocado from the seventies comes to mind, or chartreuse from the fifties) that I flee from. Not everybody gets that.

    The guy of the frog-or-green comment once got me a covered dish with a glass insert-- sort of like a chafing dish but without the chafing. I never used it, and have tried to sell it at several rummage sales, but have no takers.

    About thirty years ago, I suggested to someone who was marrying late in life and had a houseful of stuff and needed nothing that she should "register at Chase." In those days, one didn't do that. Nowadays, I think a nice Visa gift card would be gratefully accepted on any occasion, wouldn't it? Rather than an unsteady, very heavy, lead crystal decanter (for decanting what?) which the frog-or-green guy once gave me (I ultimately re-gifted that to someone I barely knew who had for some reason invited me to his wedding-- I mean, you have to give something, right?)

  4. Ellen, if you want to email me a picture of some of your frogs, I'll add it to the end of today's blog...

  5. I have had two incidents of this.
    The first happened when I shared a homeroom with another teacher. As we got to know one another, we learned that she had grown up in Manhattan while I had grown up 90 miles north, in New Paltz. And, also, I had won a cow (& raised her). She started giving me cow stuff, and then . . . I have found other homes for most of the herd, but I do have a papier mache flying cow in the bedroom.

    The other collection started when I bought a Nativity scene in Costa Rica. In this case, my husband, who travels a lot for work, caught the spirit, and I now have about forty creches. They are wonderful, and include ones from Russia, the Philippines, Kenya, Peru . . .

    I am still enjoying dust collectors.

  6. Hallie, I'm photographically challenged (and I don't have a smartphone) but thanks for the offer.

  7. Hallie, how about WORD pictures:

    *A tiny white frog seated on the edge of a turned up very small lily pad--- made of china. I think it is supposed to be an individual ash tray or single butter pat holder or a tiny soap dish.

    *Half a dozen sinuous white china frogs, each in a different stage of turning a somersault (my late friend Joanna used to refer to them as "the sensuous frogs").

    *A small silver frog that was hand-made by a local artisan out of antique teaspoons-- two spoons make up the body, the points of them being his mouth, and the bent ends of the flat handles are his feet. He has little round silver balls for eyes. And he tarnishes, so I have to polish him from time to time.

    A fat stuffed green-and-white cotton frog designed to hold your glasses on the bedside table.

    A very tiny gold frog that was a gift from the flower guy mentioned above.

    A rather flat cast iron frog that can peep out from under the bushes in my garden.

    A fat light green china frog cookie jar that is currently filled with small gingerbread men.

    Not exactly raindrops on rooftops, but a few of my favorites.

  8. Hallie - First Off, regarding cast iron skillets. Do you have a Cracker Barrel nearby? They have started carrying Lodge cast iron skillets (AND the cook book! LOL!) of all sizes. Pre-seasoned at the factory. They also have a webpage:

    Collections we didn't mean to start. Yep. Teddy Bears. I love teddy bears. But only "some" teddy bears. Not all bears are created equal (not that that is a bad thing - some just aren't really "collectible" bears, IMHO). The first one is a bear my dad bought me when he, my mom, and I went to Epcot Center one year. I love that bear more than I have words to express. Long story short - everyone I knew jumped on the bandwagon. Bears were Everywhere and Donald swore they were partying all night and keeping him awake. I have pared them down to a few of my favorites now, and I do love them to bits.

    the same thing happened to my mother with teapots. We have just recently sold and/or given away all her teapots - and I have to say, some were so nice they decided to live here at my house. Oy.

  9. I made the mistake of telling a friend that he shouldn't throw away those lovely yellow daylilies he'd thinned from his yard. Now he drops off all his excess perennials on my lawn.

    I wish he'd plant them.

  10. A very long time ago when I was a teenager, I loved Garfield. My great grandmother made a borgana blanket (it's fake fur) with Garfield surfing. I still have it and love it (it was the last blanket she made). People started giving me bookmarks (I almost never use bookmarks, just remember page numbers), posters, stuffed animals, notepads, figurines... I was in my 30s and people were still giving me Garfield items.

  11. Sounds like a lotta frogs, Ellen.

    Thanks for the tip, Kaye!

    Jack, wish you could send his perennials my way.

    Sandi, a little Garfiel goes a long way.

    This is reminding me of when my younger daughter collected pigs. She really wanted a pot bellied pig. There's still a flying pig (because "when pigs fly" was when she was going to get one) in her bedroom, and a stone one in our garden.

  12. Ellen, I love the idea of the frog made of spoons--except for the polishing!

    Denise--the creches sound lovely. But 40, yikes...

    Jack, LOL!



  13. Cincinnati, aka Porkopolis in the dim recesses of history, has flying pigs all over the place. One friend who passed away a year or so ago had an enormous collection of pig things, and at her memorial they were all piled on a table and mourners were invited to take what they wanted.

    My mother kept giving me angels, for some reason. I finally asked her why and she said "Because you collect them!" And I said, "Apparently, I collect ones YOU give me." She did get the hint, thank goodness. I'm opposed in principle for gifts just for the sake of handing someone a package for some occasion. Which she can't stop herself from doing.

    My husband heard me mention that I would love to have an espresso machine like the one in my daughter's London flat when they lived there a few years ago. It was a Miele, installed as a cabinet, and plumbed and wired as any other major appliance. It held pounds of coffee and would make incredible espresso in three sizes at the touch of a button. To buy a similar one, though, is $3,000, plus the costs of installation, and it's just not practical in real life, at least my real life.

    But he decided I "wanted" an espresso machine for Christmas, but he got confused by the wide range of them available, so he asked me which one I wanted. Huh?

    I had to remind him that appliance-as-gift is a major marital fail. Sorry, honey. Try again. He also ignores jewelry gift hints. I've given up on that one.

  14. As an elementary school teacher I was always asked what I "liked" around Christmastime. Of course, I told my students they didn't need to give me anything. I would even put in the note about the class Christmas party that perhaps they would like to donate classroom supplies instead. Of course 32 years of collecting things my students gave me was difficult. It took me awhile to wise up and say something specific. I finally suggested they give ornaments. I now have a multitude of them. Since I am now retired I have all that stuff packed away. I can't bear to throw it away!
    In my personal life everyone knows of my love for Cardinals. I don't mind at all adding to my collection! I always loved the, but when I read Fannie Flagg's book A Redbird Christmas that just fueled the fire.
    Merry Christmas to you all!
    Gail in Alabama

  15. Gail, maybe that's why ornaments got invented! To answer the question, what do you want for Christmas?

    I always say SOAP. And I mean it. Chocolate is good, too. Gummy bears in a pinch. Best gifts are things I can use UP.

  16. Jack, LOL! Remind me to dig up some of my perennials and drop them on your lawn:-)

    Kaye, re the cast iron skillet--I didn't know Cracker Barrel carried them! I do have one--ten inch, I think, which is big enough for most things. It's not my grandmother's, unfortunately, but I've had it long enough that I don't remember where I bought it. I do solemnly swear that the only way to make cornbread is in a cast iron skillet...

    Collections? I started thinking, yes, I do have an inordinate number of teapots. But most of the things I collect, like my London Transport posters, other people don't give me. And a good thing, too, as there is no more wall space left in our house! A few weeks ago a friend gave me a fabulous watercolor of Piccadilly Circus that she had bought at a charity auction, knowing I'd love it. It's being re-framed now, and will get pride of place in our living room. But it will mean moving another print and putting away some old family photos. We have reached rotation point on the wall space:-)

  17. I played the part of an owl in a Medoff play once, and after that, people somehow got the idea I collected owls. I was an evil owl to boot. Somewhere I have a photo of me surrounded by my inadvertent owl collection.

    Now it's books. And knives.

  18. Maybe a nice sharp knife for the next person who gives you an owl, Fran?

  19. I used to have a set of Christmas mice ornaments. Suddenly started getting mice. Not all cute cartoon like mice. Ick.
    I say books. I rarely get them. I say paper and pens. Only gotten that twice. :)
    My niece still loves all her frogs.

  20. Heh, nah, Hallie. I do like owls. Maybe not in the quantities I originally received them, but I do appreciate the thought.

    Besides, why dirty up a knife I'll just have to resharpen? ;)

    Hmm, maybe a knife-wielding owl...?

  21. My husband of 41+ years LOVES to shop. Primarily for gifts for me. Yes, I know it's a tough life. He has impeccable taste in jewelry and clothes. I have enough earrings and such to deck myself in style until the end of time.
    I've suggested that he should set up a consulting service for gift giving challenged males.

  22. I collect items with the Royal family - my sister in law bought me a nifty tea tin years back and the collection simply mushroomed. I have a thimble with Princess Elizabeth, a hankie,a pen knife, a ribbon bookmark, many tea towels & cups, etc. Seems there's no turning back as the royals insist on reproducing!

  23. We'll be seeing you on Antiques Roadshow with your bazillion dollar collection, Robin!

  24. Remember back when young girls used to give each other personalized pendants? Well, one friend gave me one with my name spelled incorrectly...

    My mother used to ask us to give her our "wish list" for Christmas. I always put "colorful or interesting socks" at the top of my list. "No, Deb, what do you REALLY want?" Mom would ask. "I really, really want colorful, interesting socks." I don't even care if they don't match what I'm wearing! I just like socks! Thanks to Deb Crombie for introducing us to those colorful mismatched socks a couple of weeks ago, I found out that a gift shop near my office sells that line. I now own one pair and plan to work my way through the mismatched sock inventory at that store.

  25. Deb R, take a look at this website--it belongs to the Cat Man of Key West. he wears the coolest socks!!

  26. My problem is even a bit worse: I love orange. The color. It used to be the most ignored color, so I think that is what attracted me to it in the first place.

    And I still love it. It is a rare day when I am wearing an outfit that doesn't feature orange in some way. And yes, that is why the blog heavily features orange.

    But to my friends and family, that means I need to own everything that they encounter that is orange. So, I get orange shelf-paper (they all know my kitchen is red), I get orange notebooks (this is nice, but how many notebooks does one need in a year...oops, probably speaking to the wrong crowd on that), I get orange napkin rings, I get orange cookies, it goes on and on.

    But I always remember that at least they listen to me and know what I like, so I am blessed in that way.

  27. Ooh, Lucy/Roberta,

    I love those socks!!

  28. Watch out Kristopher because this is an orange year! They're going to buy you everything from orange coats to orange boots to orange sheets. It's in.

  29. I loved Frogs - had maybe a dozen or so some stuffed, some stain glass, wood carving, and an adorable Frog cookie jar some friends gave me, so I had plenty. Also had some jade frog earring and a gold/diamond frog pin from frog collection was complete

    First year DH and I moved in to our home, his MIL decided I did NOT have enough Frog items and bought me everything Frog imaginable for my kitchen, clock, canisters, trivets (numerous), spoon rest, coasters, magnets for fridge (numerous), some figurines..........WAY OVERBOARD, oh yeah, must not forget the Frog Curtains !!!! I'm sure there are other things I have blocked out of my memory

    I don't think I have purchased any frog items in the past 30+ years

  30. Fortunately, I have orange coats and orange shoes. Hopefully, I won't end up with orange sheets, again, my bedroom is forest green (so maybe orange could work, but

    But yes, orange is suddenly in fashion. I feel as though I was on the cutting edge now years ago. Not a feeling I have too often, believe me.

  31. Mar - LAUGHING!! What is it about frogs, anyway?

  32. Snowmen and elephants. I mentioned to a friend a few years back that I loved snowmen, but I failed to also mention that I had the collection I wanted completed. When you collect something, you usually have fairly specific tastes in those items, and her taste and mine didn't really agree. I'm hoping that I don't receive another snowman from her this year for Christmas, or I will have to find a nice way to say that I now have enough snowmen.

    I have always been fond of elephants, too, but my husband started going overboard on that item, and I had to tell him that I love all the ones I have, but my elephant line is complete.

    Mermaids are another items I like, but I was smart about those. I have around 4 or 5 I enjoy, but I didn't tell anyone I had an affinity for them.

    One item that I don't have a lot of, but that I wish I'd gotten more are the matchbooks or boxes from restaurants and other places. I do have some, and I especially like the ones from my father's real estate business, but since places don't have these sitting out anymore, I'd like to have more.

  33. I'm late. Sorry.

    I also tried telling my husband I was collecting jewelry. I have a nickle allergy so I can't wear much costume jewelry. Fine jewelry is perfect. My husband thought I was just asking for good jewelry until he saw what the cheap stuff did to my neck and wrists and fingers and ears.

    These days people seem to know I like collecting yarn and books and I'm happy with that.

  34. Growing up with a mother who "collected" (hoarded? potato/potahto?)so many things, I became a devout minimalist, proudly keeping my adult home free of kitsch clutter and more downward-nose-looking toward those who enjoyed sentimental trinkets than I needed to be. My beloved mother-in-law died this spring. Now gone is the woman with whom I could lay bare my soul over cups of tea and shots of Johnny Walker. A month after her death, a LARGE box was delivered. My mother-in-law had specifically left me the extensive collection of teapots she'd assembled from more than sixty years of travel. My husband balked in wonderment. How could his mother have bequeathed me these dreaded dust collectors? You know what's coming, right? A new shelf was immediately commissioned for our dining room. Mom's collection warms the room and my heart is a lighter each time I enter. And, truth told, I've been dropping hints about a cute little porcelain steeper I've seen at a local antique shop.