I'm not always good in social settings. I mean, I'm a reasonably well-educated thirtysomethingish woman with approachable facial expressions (this last observation is based almost entirely on the fact that people always--always!--come up to me on the street and ask for directions. Never mind that 99.9% of the time I am 100% unqualified to actually give said directions--even after nearly two years in the city, I still mostly couldn't tell you whether I was on the Lower East or the Upper West side without turning around clockwise three times, testing the winds and consulting an app--I have one of those faces that doesn't threaten), I guess. I read a lot of books and online magazine articles, AND I keep current on that fun medieval torture fantasy show that's so popular with all the people right now....I shouldn't ever worry about being awkward in conversational situations, right? 

Aaaaaaaaand yet.

Like everybody with even a moderate amount of anxiety issues, I sometimes worry that I'll freeze, you know? Or that I might be confronted with a topic I know absolutely nothing about (hellooo, professional sports, I am looking at you). Or that, faced with either terrifying prospect, I'll go all unhinged and wild-eyed and start spouting off facts about kale or the difficulties of balancing flour mixes for successful gluten-free baking to some terrified stranger glancing over their shoulder for the door. And that is why, my friends, I enjoy events like the ones the BK Swappers put together so very, very much. When you get together with a group of like-minded pickling nerds, backyard gardeners, homemade jam fanatics and infusion enthusiasts, you can talk their ears off about about kale and gluten-free flour blends and they won't run for the door. They actually like it.

These are my people.

 My offerings for the swap: three bags of savory almond & pepita granola, and three bottles of blackberry, lemon & thyme syrup (recipe for this is coming soooooon).

Yesterday's swap (these are held bi-monthly) was held in the beautiful backyard of the City Reliquary in Williamsburg, a charming little apartment-sized mini-museum that holds all manner of New York ephemera. The backyard is a little sun-dappled slice of wonder, just right for an event this size, and did I mention that it has a treehouse?


I didn't have anyone to bring with me this time, which is another situation that would usually send me into an anxiety-fueled, knee-hugging tailspin, but I decided to just woman up and go alone. Don't get me wrong, I adore my boyfriend and my friends and their wonderful company more than I can say, but sometimes you've just gotta hitch up your pant legs and wade into an uncomfortable situation alone, then make it your own. I'm trying to be braver these days. Like that nice, sweet little thing, Arya Stark.

Maybe I should get a sword.

 As it turns out, I really didn't need to worry as much as I had--the story of my life so far--because the crowd at a BK Swap is always welcoming and awesome, and they bring things like Brie with figs, bottles of rhubarb syrup, homemade cocktail bitters and date-infused brandy with them. It's really hard not to like these people. I met herb-growers, picklers, bakers....even yogurt-makers.

So tempted by all the jams, you have no idea. I could have walked out with just six jars of jam. But then Tim might have had to call Jam Hoarders on me.

Homemade vanilla! Spice blends! Dried seaweed! Fruit butters! Oh my.

I was a momentarily a little sad when I realized I'd have to give this gorgeous pink jar of chive blossom-infused vinegar a miss, because I already had homemade chive blossom vinegar chilling in my refrigerator at home. And then I realized what a kind of awesome dilemma that was to actually be in, and I had to smile.

At one point in the afternoon, it became clear that everyone was sniffing the air here and there, faraway dreamy looks on their faces. In that tiny little backyard, it smelled like a sweet, cake-scented heaven filled with marshmallow clouds and frosting cascades. It was a little puzzling, though. While there were quite a few baked goods on offer on the table, it couldn't really account for the aroma which was like DELICIOUS COOKIES BEING FRESHLY PULLED FROM A WARM OVEN OHMYGOD RIGHT NOW. Finally, I heard someone ask the reason why. 'Oh,' someone else replied, pointing two doors down. 'Yeah. That's Momofuku Milk Bar right there.' Ahhhh. Of course. We were basically next door to one of the most famous bakeries in New York. What was filling the sky around us was most likely airborne particles of compost cookie, Funfetti birthday cake truffles, and the famous 'Crack Pie'.

I have to admit, it became a little hard to concentrate after that.

We circulated, each eyeballing the goodies brought by others, speculatively writing our names in scratchy ballpoint under each offering we wanted to trade for. Oh what, you've got homemade fig jam? HOMEMADE FIG JAM IS MY JAM. How about some blackberry, lemon & thyme syrup for you? And so on. After a certain amount of time was up, the hosts called time and the swapping was on for real. In a lovely, chaotic blur of generosity and trading hands, I was suddenly rewarded with a bouquet of Brooklyn-grown herbs, a jar of cinnamon dulce de leche and one of fig jam, a tub of blondies and one of chimichurri, and a gorgeous glass flask of date & cranberry-infused brandy.

So, a checklist: Met some really lovely, welcoming people....check. Spent a perfect sunny Sunday afternoon in June outdoors....check. Made another inch of progress towards becoming a more social & somewhat less anxious adult....check. Took some delicious & lovingly handmade treats home to share....checkity check check check.

A good Sunday. :)