Sunday, March 30, 2014

Managing my pantry

If there's anything that I still find frustrating about moving every two to three years, it's the pantry.  Most of the time, we can't bring non-perishables with us.  Even spices are banned when heading to some places (up side? you know your spices are never more than two to three years old).

Today, I was looking through our corner cupboard, where we keep things like granola bars, pasta, and munchies.  It's overflowing, because I keep finding things we can only buy in America, and I purchase them, not because I will eat them in the near term, but just because I can.  Or maybe the ever-picky Patrick will decide one of the new fangled American foods will suit is discerning palate.

As I was putting away the groceries yesterday and trying to find space in this cabinet, it hit me.  I'm bidding this summer.  And bidding means a move is possibly on the horizon.  And if a move is on the horizon, I need to start paring down the pantry, to avoid waste.  And I need to start now, because it can take a really long time.  We failed miserably when leaving India, giving so much food to a friend that she ended up writing us a check because she felt so guilty.  We did better leaving Manila, probably because I was in the US for 9 - 6 months before departure (and Greg is much better at avoiding temptations at the store).

Thus, my new found mission in grocery shopping: only buy perishable food, unless I know we'll eat something this week.  Once again, I realize buying a house one block from a grocery store was a great idea -- not only will it help keep future teenage boys fed without having to purchase a second fridge, but I can use it as my back-up pantry if I miscalculate.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Remembering the Seasons

In Japan this week, I'm back to my happy spot - would be perfect if Greg and three crazy boys were here, too, but I'll take (and thoroughly enjoy!) the solo trip.

Coming back to Tokyo is always full of reminders of Japan's unique-ness.  In the first hour I was in the airport, I saw: (1) the lady pushing the extra carts diligently hang a flashing red light on every third cart (as if passengers in the terminal couldn't already see the 15 foot train of carts!), (2) a group of 20-something young men open their suitcases that just came out of baggage claim, change their shirts - and then change their pants, in the middle of the arrival hall (!!), and (3) the ticket taker at the airport bus bow not only when the bus door closed, but stay bowed as the bus pulled away and we could no longer see him.  Then, of course, there's the contrast of the urban bustle of Shibuya with the quiet of small gardens tucked inside tiny spaces.

What I enjoy most, though, is the small reminders of seasons.  Food changes, decor changes, clothing changes - in India and the Philippines, seasons vary between dry and wet.  In the U.S., I have to make a conscious effort to buy fruits and veggies in season, since we have everything available all the time.

A simple reminder of the changing season is right outside my hotel room door.  With apologies for the cell phone quality of the photo, hopefully you can see the tiny tree bud about to flower in the base of the pine springs.  A simple way of saying spring is about to come! (and if anyone knows how to rotate a photo in Blogspot, please send me a note!)