Punching Up Packed Lunches #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

The upside of being unemployed–lunch at home with my work-from-home husband.

A photo posted by Laurie C (@baystatera) on

After several months of being unemployed, I have recently gone back to working in a library, and so have started bringing packed lunches again. I am lucky to have a husband who often packs lunch for me, complete with unexpected little treats!

But I do try to pack my own lunch at least a couple of times a week, so I checked out this article right away when it came into my email inbox from Refinery29:

11 Things People Who Pack Their Lunches Always Do

The ideas in the slide show reflect different approaches and eating/cooking styles; depending on your level of willingness to plan ahead, spend money, etc., only some may seem worth a try to you. Some of them I occasionally do already, such as  immediately portioning out and putting away a lunch-sized serving for the next day of whatever we’re having for dinner. Tip #9 from Senior Health Editor Amelia Harnish was my favorite, “Pack a fun snack”:

The secret to bringing your own lunch every day for real is making a lunch you actually like eating — something that’s healthy and makes you feel full and satisfied and happy —but it also has to be easy to make. I usually go with a salad with plenty of protein and a “surprise” ingredient, which is mandatory.

Sometimes I top my salad with sweet potato fries; sometimes it’s the chicken I didn’t finish at dinner the night before. Sometimes I add salsa and also pack chips, or it’s even weirder, like a scoop of leftover Indian food. I also build in other treats: cheese sticks, chips, Oreos, whatever you want. Lunch dessert is important. — Amelia Harnish, Senior Health Editor

I’ve been on a salad kick for the last couple of months, and have already been making plain garden salads more interesting with toppings like rice salad, hard-boiled eggs, assorted cheeses, seasoned/dressed canned beans, capers, toasted sunflower seeds, and slivers of sundried tomatoes. Also adding torn leaves of basil, parsley, and/or mint to the mixed greens, and always remembering to pack a little bottle of homemade salad dressing!


But after reading Tip #9, I tried putting leftover Chinese food on salad greens for lunch, and it was pretty good!

The other day I finally thought of returning the favor and made a salad for my husband’s lunch (He works from home.) when I made my own in the morning!


Some of our best recent salad efforts:

Don’t forget fruit salads!

Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click/tap image for Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.


Massachusetts Center for the Book Funding in Jeopardy @MassBook

Please Write to Your Reps

If you live in Massachusetts (the Bay State!) and are a fan of libraries, literacy, the literary life – or all three –  it is urgent to alert your state representative and senator that funding for the Massachusetts Center for the Book has been eliminated from the state Senate’s FY17 budget and you need them to support the reinstatement of Line 7000-9508 with the Budget Conference Committee.

Representatives can only throw in their support for a small number of causes during Conference Committee time, so it is important that we library advocates make our voices heard early and often!

Sample Email to State Legislators

This is the basic email that I sent to my state legislators on Friday. Feel free to take and use anything from it (except the personal anecdote, of course, as that might seem odd!) in writing your own quick email or making your own easy phone call of support:


I know you are a strong supporter of library legislation. I’m writing now to ask you to support line item 7000-9508 Massachusetts Center for the Book during the upcoming budget conference negotiations. After 7000-9508 was zeroed out in the House’s FY17 budget proposal, it was put back in by amendment and passed. After it was zeroed out in the Senate budget, there was very little time to advocate for the amendment to put it back into the budget and the amendment failed. A very similar thing happened with the FY16 budget.

7000-9508 For the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Inc., chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress; provided, that the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Inc. shall continue its work as a public-private partnership ……..$200,000

The Massachusetts Center for the Book is the state affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. The Center administers the largest state book awards program in the country. (The announcement of this year’s Massachusetts Book Award finalists is on hold at the moment, due to the need for an all-out advocacy effort related to the FY17 budget.)

The mission of the Massachusetts Center for the Book is to develop, support, and promote cultural programming that will advance the cause of books and reading and enhance the outreach potential of Massachusetts libraries. The Center represents Massachusetts at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. every year, and has just rolled out the only online statewide calendar of cultural and literary events happening in libraries in every region of Massachusetts. Check out the calendar and find out more about the Mass Center for the Book at massbook.org.

The Center also administers one of the largest Letters About Literature awards programs in the country every year, engaging students, grades 4 through 12, in writing letters to authors about a book that was meaningful to them. My first contact with the Center for the Book was when my daughter Molly won an honorable mention for her submission to the Letters About Literature writing contest through the Brockton Public Library and she was invited to the State House for the annual awards presentation with her family, where she also received a citation from Rep. Christine Canavan. The Letters About Literature annual writing contest is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate centers for the book, state libraries and other organizations.

If the Center has to cease planning and collaborations for three months of every year while its staff and board of directors fight for basic funding, its mission is compromised. Your support for 7000-9508 Massachusetts Center for the Book will help persuade the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees that this line item must no longer be skipped over or zeroed out when they create their budget proposals.

Thank you!

How to Contact Your Legislators

Put your zip code in on the State House Web site to find your legislators contact info here.

What is the Massachusetts Center for the Book?

The Massachusetts Center for the Book, chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is a public-private partnership charged with developing, supporting, and promoting cultural programming that will advance the cause of books and reading and enhance the outreach potential of Massachusetts libraries. (Mission statement taken from the Center’s Web site)

Where Does MassBook Get Its Funding?

The Center (affectionately known as “MassBook” is supported in large part by an appropriation from the General Court of Massachusetts, through budget line 7000-9508, administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.  MassBook also receives grants from the following institutions and organizations:

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation
The Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program
Massachusetts Cultural Council
Simmons College School of Library and Information Science

June Is Audiobook Month #JIAM @audiobookSYNC

Get Caught Listening

To celebrate Audiobook Month, I’m listening to three audiobooks at the same time. (I’m listening to each one at different times, but all at the same time, too, if you know what I mean.)

Red Hook RoadUsually two at a time is my maximum for audiobooks, but I’m listening to Red Hook Road (Midwest Tape, 2010) written by Ayelet Waldman, narrated by Kimberly Farr, on CDs borrowed from the library, because I couldn’t get the audio download through OverDrive or Axis360 from any of my public library sources.

sin-eaters-daughter-101262-sync2016-2000x2000Then, when my Axis360 app wouldn’t work and I couldn’t finish listening to The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, narrated by Mia Barron the other day, I downloaded a SYNC free audiobook to listen to: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury, narrated by Amy Shiels.

Since listening on CD means I can’t listen to Red Hook Road except at home and The Sin Eater’s Daughter is good so far, but not gripping, I decided to start Armada by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton, once I finished The Nest (which I really liked, by the way). I’ve been noticing a few reviewers have said they didn’t fall in love with Armada the way they did with Ready Player One, so I wanted to get to it before I ran across any spoilers.

ArmadaI haven’t gotten too far into Armada, but I like it! So far there’s really no love story going on, it’s all Space Invader-style video game and scifi movies, but Wil Wheaton’s narration is great and I’m enjoying the voice of the main character.

SYNC from AudioFile

What I really wanted to mention with this post, though, was the weekly free audiobook downloads that are offered by AudioFile through the annual SYNC program, where you can download two audiobook titles a week: a YA novel paired with either a classic novel or multi-voice production of a play.

The selection changes each Thursday at 7 am. EDT, so bookmark audiobooksync.com to check selection weekly, or to sign up to receive weekly email or text reminders.

sync-poster-no-dates-2016-finalIf you have the OverDrive app on your phone or mp3 player already, all you need to do is add SYNC as a library and you can easily download the weekly selections. (They do take up room on your phone, though, so you might want to download them on a computer if you’re not going to listen right away.) There is no loan period; the audiobook files are yours to keep!

Suggestions from a Massachusetts Librarian


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