Sunday, July 6, 2014

Thanks for the Gift…What is It?

Recently, my 11yo brought in the mail…it’s one of his assigned “jobs,” lest you think he’s just that helpful.

Don’t get me wrong…sometimes he IS that helpful. But this wasn’t necessarily one of those times.

But I digress.

He brought in the mail and within it was a package. He wanted me to tear into it right away, but I didn’t. In glancing at the size, I presumed it was Indy’s heartworm/flea & tick preventative.

Yes…in spite of my vet’s stringent warnings, I order from

My vet says that I don’t really know what I am giving my dog, it might not be what I think it is, blah, blah, blah…but if I buy it from the vet, it costs quite a bit more.

And to be honest, Indy’s never had fleas, ticks or heartworms and we’ve been ordering it for him all along.  I will admit that I love him, and I will do what I can to keep him healthy but at the end of the day, he is still a dog.

I’m all big a tough right now, but let’s talk when he gets sick, ok?

Actually…let’s not.

Again, I digress.

So the package sat on the counter for a while…maybe an hour or two. We had just gotten home when he brought in the mail and frankly I had stuff to do. Facebook had not been checked in hours, and I most certainly was writing a witty and charming post for all of you lovely people to enjoy.

By the time I got to opening the package, no one was around. The PBA had scattered outdoors. (You like how I use the word “scattered” as though there’s more than two of them? It only feels like more than two of them…but there’s still just the two.)

I realized as soon as I lifted my scissors to slice open the tape that I had been mistaken. This package had a return address in Paris.

“Well, how nice was this?” I was thinking. My friend Christine (aka “In the Coop” had recently been to London and Paris and I simply assumed that she had gone way above and beyond in speaking my love language: gifts).

I opened the box and inside was this:

Hmmm…I had no idea what this was.

And why on God's green earth would she send this to me.

I looked back at the address. My name and address were typed nicely and neatly on a proper mailing label. Now…I love Christine and all, but I had my doubts that she had the time or the foresight to type up and print a label before she left for her trip, and then schlep it all the way to Paris and mail something to me.

I mean…she TOTALLY would if it had occurred to her, I am quite certain. But being as how she was in Europe visiting some friends, as well as celebrating 20 years of marriage with her hubby, her thoughts were not likely to be on me.

And I’m fine with that. 


So then I looked back inside the box and actually lifted the contents up to take a look. In the bottom of the box was a clue (ok not really a clue, but the whole stinkin’ answer) to my question of why I had received this.

True...this did not show the flag for the US but it was the only paragraph which had English so I went with it...
Recently I had joined a group called Toluna…they send you surveys and you answer questions to earn prizes, and/or they also have promotions in which you can apply to test market an item (for free) and then give them your impressions and input.

Ah…so now it’s crystal clear.

Well, except for the part about having no clue what it is. All of the print on the box was in French.

All of it.

I even took the contents from the box, thinking that they would, perhaps, offer up a clue.

Nope. No help at all.

Now, I took 4 years of high school French. I tested out of 2 semesters of college French (probably not my wisest move because I took at least one more semester and it was rough…fortunately my mother was a French teacher and dragged my behind through that class.)

I’m not too proud to tell you that on more than one occasion I had to call her and say something to the effect of, “So this is what I am trying to say…how would I write that in French?”

And because she’s a fabulous mom, she helped me.

All this to say…I am not fluent in French. Not even remotely close. I throw French phrases at you every now and then because they spontaneously pop in my head, but otherwise…yeah. It’s not fabulous.

Or remotely fluent.

My apologies to my mother, Madame Frampton and Miss Hodges…all of whom gave a valiant effort to teach me French. I appreciate your attempts.

So…before I tell you what I discerned from my bits of French memory, I will share my conversations with the PBA. I called them in, one at a time, so as to not influence one another’s responses.

Me: I got this in the mail. It’s from a company who sends out products to people for them to try and give their opinions.  It’s all in French. Using your etymology from the past couple years, tell me what you think might be in here.

11yo:  A biology kit.

Me: OK, these are things the people who receive them might actually use. Do you think a 40yo woman would have need of a biology kit?

11yo: No, probably not. Is it some sort of medication? I don't know, Mom...I've done all I can do.

And then the 11yo was finished with the entire process.

I did get the 13yo to hang in there a little bit longer and actually look at some of the words.

13yo: Coffee or tea? (He based on picture on the front)

Me: Do you see any words you recognize.

13yo: Himalayas… Nepal…I think it’s coffee or tea.

Me: What about this word?

13yo: Oh…"detergent"…maybe it’s detergent made from coffee or tea.

Then he lost interest.

Please take note that I am quickly skimming over the fact that neither boy truly attempted to utilize their etymology lessons, so that was a good three years of effort wasted. They’ll use it someday, right?

OK, so then I showed it to Mr. AR. He was much more into it…however he has never taken a day of French in his life. He took Spanish. Same etymology root base, so I figured we’d be ok.

With his help, we were able to tell that it does have something to do with laundry, and that it’s from part of a tree. And you put the fruit or seeds or whatever they are “dans le petit sachet de cotton” (in the little cotton bag…you could all read that in the French though, right?)

Here’s the burning questions which remain: WHY would I do this? How often? Will this stain my clothes?

Like any good little French student, I took my box to my favorite professeur de Francais (That's "French teacher"…try to keep up, people).

And I am referring to my mother, lest you be confused.

So…I toted my little box on over to her house and explained the situation. Now she won’t think the blog is quite as funny because I even told her the part about me believing that Christine had sent a package. 

Because I cannot tell a story succinctly. You may have noticed.

This goes for real-life too.

Anyway…she read the box and even though we still don’t know exactly what KIND of seeds these are, they are most-definitely for washing.

Washing your “delicates”…at this house, we don’ t have any “delicates”…so I’m not certain these will be used.

So because I am certain you wanted to know the full details (you’ve hung in there for this long with the post, so you must be fairly interested), I shall share my wealth of knowledge.

Basically you put 4-5 of these seeds “dans le petit sachet de cotton” (we knew that already) and place the sachet in among the clothes.  Run the washer but before the spin cycle, you can stop the washer and scoop out the water. Because these seeds are biodegradable (I mean, they’re seeds for the love…do we need to explain this characteristic about them?), the water is safe to use on your lawn or garden.

Let me just stop right there and say that I am all about biodegradable stuff, etc, but it is highly-unlikely that I’ll be doing this step.

Don’t judge.

One other thing of note, you can reuse each set of seeds for up to 3 washes.

These seeds are non-staining (nice to know…no one wants all their white skivvies to be brown from the detergent...or for any other reason, frankly).

And one kilogram is sufficient for a family of four for one year. (Unfortunately, we only received 500g, so we’re only set for 6 months. Rats...)

So…that’s all I know about this product. I’ll be curious to see if I actually get it used…especially by the time I am requested to answer my survey. BTW I am happy to share with all of you lovely people…you just need to have your own “petit sachet de cotton” because I am not sharing that; something that would come into contact with both my and your "delicates" just would not matter how close our friendship.

Sorry if that bothers you.

One last note: You might be asking yourself “Why didn’t she just Google it?” Because frankly, my dear readership, where’s the blog post in that?!? Would you have wanted to read a post that went like this: “I got this strange package in the mail from France. It was all written in French. I Googled it to find the English translation. The end.”
On second thought...maybe you would.


  1. Well, congratulations on your freebie--whatever it is! I'll be curious to know what the soggy seeds do for your laundry.

    1. Yes, I am very curious as well...I will keep you posted! :)

  2. You have soap nuts! I have always been curious if they work. Let us know if you try them.

    1. I do plan to try them...and I'll even share some with you, if you have your own "petit sachet de cotton" :)

  3. Haha - great story. I totally thought tea from the photo. Well, if it makes the delicate version of skivvies clean and fresh-scented, do let us know!

  4. Hahahaha! While I do know your love language is gifts, I never thought to send something to you. We didn't even get anything for our kids! Plus, I'd find something a heck of a lot better than laundry seeds, if I actually was a good gift giver.
    Can't wait to see how it works out.

    1. I figured out pretty quickly that it wasn't you...and yes, you would have sent something way more spectacular than that.

      If it does work out well, maybe you should consider growing these bad boys on your fake farm. ;) Then you can give them to ALL you friends!