Monday, May 18, 2009

Get out

Picnic By The Lake

The other thing is quality of life; if you have a place where you can go and have a picnic with your family, it doesn't matter if it's a recession or not, you can include that in your quality of life.
- Jim Fowler

Take your food, guests, and kids outside. If it rains, find an enclosure in a park. It is time for a little fresh air.

If you have 20 minutes to make your own picnic food, The Minimalist at the New York Times shares 101 quick, delicious, and nourishing picnic dishes you can make in a snap. If not, one can run by a local grocery or specialty food counter for a box lunch. And here is a checklist to help you remember everything.

For a few years, my family suspended our Mother's Day restaurant brunch tradition and began to pack picnics. We would all gather in a local park and eat food I made the day before. This tradition ended when we inadvertently missed the sign with closing hours for Mountain Lakes Camp and enjoyed a leisurely lunch by a lake deep in the park only to be locked in the grounds. It was a protracted process to find an attendant and be let out, and a really long walk.

That aside, some of my favorite memories of my adult life are picnicking in Newport while we lived there, by ourselves, or with my parents when they visited. Sometimes I cooked, sometimes we picked up fabulous sandwiches from the now shuttered Market above First Beach. I loved those days; they were not more simple, but they were different. The one thing about having a spouse attached to the U.S. Navy in the Surface War capacity is that you live in a lot of beautiful places with picnic areas so picturesque I have often considered the view and the memories one of our greatest perks. We have been lucky to live and picnic in Charleston, Newport, Boston, Padre Island, Amelia Island and now we await news of Josh's next stop.

This is an exciting and unsettling time; a picnic will help calm my nerves because one never knows what will happen next, especially in these war-entrenched years.

My Mother came across a vintage picnic basket at the thrift shop where she volunteers a few years ago. It was untouched inside which made me sorry for the person who donated it. They had missed out on so many wonderful moments, laughing and smiling in sunshine with the people they enjoy. They had also missed the remarkable interior of the basket: completely fitted out to hold a complete set of flatware and delicate white and blue pottery plates and coffee cups for four. It has ten sturdy Tupperware storage containers, two thermoses, four wine glasses (real glass!) and various other considerate items for a perfect picnic. It cost someone a fortune and was remarkably thoughtful. It was a gift given with the hope it would encourage memory making. It fulfilled its mission with our family. My hope for you is that you find one you enjoy and use it constantly. I found a few you might like to have or give:

In the style of a vintage suitcase, this would make a pretty decor item on an exposed shelf when not in use. Here.

This mod basket for two is such fun. Here.

Trad and masculine. Here.

Stuff it yourself. A great color for a new-old item, and a great decor piece for the porch in summer. Here.

I have two large, lined picnic cloths from Crate and Barrel like these. They are great:

They have a pretty new stripe each summer season.

This eco-chic mat is another great idea:


If you will need plates and utensils for additional guests, these are stylish and earth sensitive:

Biodegradeable birch utensils, here. Crate and Barrel has a bamboo version which is quite sturdy especially for cutting grilled meats.

Paper plates, not that I am harping, do no one any favors because rarely does anyone take the time to see they go into paper recycling. The plates below are completely reasonable and biodegrade in landfills and compost to allow you to rest easier:

By the same token, do the generations that follow a favor and try some discardable bamboo plates which are a little more moola.

I mean, you would not want to go picnicking on the earth and hurt it with what is left behind. Right? Have a great picnic, ya'll, but leave no footprints.


Sharon Crute said...

The baskets are gorgeous and as you said would accessorize any shelf. What a pleasure.

Pigtown-Design said...

two things:
1) the mark bittman recipes are my go-to dishes in the summer and for little cocktail parties.

2) tin plates... there are some great copies of sevres plates that you can pick up for less than $10 each at museum shops. they last forever!

Blushing hostess said...

Sharon - good to see you, hope you are well.

PD - oh, that's a wonderful idea I had not considered. I need to look into that.