mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

marathons! . . .

my favorite scarf . . . lost for months, and now found!

my favorite scarf . . . lost for months, and now found!

Well, I have stuck to my guns and done some marathon cleaning out this Labor Day weekend. Along the way to my delight, I discovered that PBS was running a “Downton Abbey” marathon of clips from yesteryear.  So, it’s kept me company while cleaning up – a very nice accompaniment, I must say – and I highly recommend it if you want to turn it on while it’s still running. It’s amazing all the plot lines and wonderful dramatizations – from Mr. Bates’s FIRST murder conviction (of his estranged wife) to Anna’s incarceration accused of killing Mr. Green? or was it Bates again? Finding the ticket in the coat and tracking down witnesses who finally free Anna by the pair downstairs (Mr. Moseley and Baxter, the seamstress lady) hasn’t come up yet but I’m hoping it will before the marathon runs out this weekend!

This morning, I’ve managed to go through re-sorting some of my wardrobe, reorganizing my shoes/boots and setting them on the shoe rack after vacuuming it out. Then, I put my two purple dresses and another plaid one into the long see-through wardrobe bag. Then, I was delighted to find the black plaid shirt that I’ve been looking for . . . and underneath it wound around the hanger were two scarves! I let out a little shriek of joy (that’s the only way to describe it) when I spied the Eileen Fisher ombre grey/blue scarf that I have been kicking myself for losing months ago. (I even searched on eBay to find an identical one but no luck, which as it turned out is probably a good thing!)

In any event, I washed a sweater in Ivory Snow and tucked the ombre scarf into the cool water. It’s now hung up on a towel to dry out on the back deck. And I am clicking my heels together with glee!

So here’s a happy note to cleaning things out – finding my favorite scarf is sparking joy all over the place!

Postscript: It’s two days later and even though we had a full day to the North Shore to see the ocean with Hermine off the coast, I managed to clean out the bathroom cupboards and shelves. And I have discovered the secret of cleaning out messes of lots of stuff pretty quickly:

a) take everything OUT, wipe it down and put stuff into cartons and take it into another room.

b)then sort “like with like”;

c) throw out everything you don’t want and won’t use again.

d) put it back in containers, “like to like”

Simple, right? I had everything unloaded on the kitchen table, sorted ‘like to like.’ What it made me realize was that outside of physical injuries (my broken ankle and George’s pulled back muscle,) that we haven’t been sick in years – no flu, no colds, no bronchitis, NADA.

Now that was worth cleaning out all the bathroom detritus once and for all! YAY!

bento box lunch prep ideas . . .

found on google bento box photos. . .

found on google bento box photos. . .

So here we are on Labor Day, the Monday before a full week of school for a lot of folks. One of the ideas I had for my daughter’s lunches (she teaches high school French) was to give her an insulated bento box that I found on Amazon (where else?) Along with it was a very cute recipe book to make rice cakes (onigiri) wrapped in nori and such. Very appealing but might be too much effort for busy people getting ready for school!

Today, I woke up thinking about (really) quick and easy ways to do a master prep to provide lunch food ahead of time, drawing from ready made dishes from Whole Foods or one’s local Chinese take-out or Trader Joe’s. So, here’s some ideas to simplify as well as to expand one’s way of thinking about making bento box lunches to take to work or school. The secret is that you don’t have to do everything yourself! YAY!

The idea is to make or buy a batch of something and divide it into serving sizes on your work table. Then, package a lunch up in a heavy duty Glad freezer bag and freeze them. Take them out in the morning, pop them into your bento box and by the time you’re ready to eat lunch (unless it’s at 10:30 in the morning because school starts so early,) it should be ready to go. Might have to nuke it a little to bring to room temp though I’m not sure about that. So here goes my imaginary lunch sous chef prep ideas:

  1. BUY from Whole Foods in small portions for the week: 1. salad bar yummy fare: edamame salad, pickled beets, cherry tomato salad, chick peas, etc. 2. barbecued chicken wings; 3. piece of cooked salmon; 4. avocado to ripen, cherry tomatoes, eggs
  2. BUY from your favorite Chinese carryout: fried rice, veggie lo mien, moo shu without the pancakes
  3. COOK: 1. boil up some frozen shrimp (16-25 size) or skillet cook with a little teriyaki sauce; 2. Trader Joe’s Thai shrimp dumplings; 3. hard boiled eggs; 4. cucumber/wakame salad (dress with Japanese vinegar, soy, sesame oil

With these ready-made, carry-out and home-cooked ingredients, then apportion combinations that will be appetizing and also avoid monotony. Pack up in freezer sandwich bags. Seal and you’re good to go. At least for a couple of weeks – then you can get pad thai from the Thai restaurant, chicken nuggets, and slaw or other veggies from Whole Foods.

And maybe somewhere along the line, try your hand at making rice balls. It seems labor intensive to me because the secret to delicious rice balls is the filling or condiments you add to it. There’s a little Japanese tea sandwich place in Brookline that makes a delicious rice ball. I have no idea what’s in it but the tastes are so subtle, I don’t think you just get it out of a jar.

In the meantime, here is a photoarray of bento box photos that might inspire you with new combinations – I find it useful to see visuals for ideas. And adding a couple of cherry tomatoes, some hard-boiled egg, avocado slices and a little fresh fruit goes a long way.

Hope these ideas are convenient enough to pull off.  The idea of bento box lunches is to provide a concept for healthy and fun lunches – not to slave over how to prepare food for them all week, right?

Enjoy!

bento box post 2

Footnote: Here are directions from the Food Network for boiling eggs:

Soft:
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add your eggs and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.
Medium:
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add your eggs and cook 7 to 8 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.
Hard:
Place your eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat and set aside 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.