New Family Room

New Family Room
We've converted our old home-school room into a family/guest room.  The couch pulls out into a full bed. Also in the room, which is a pale shade of yellow, is an antique oak library table and an antique low-boy dresser with a full mirror.  

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Best App for Recipe Organizing and Menu or Meal Planning: Paprika

I'm a planner.  I love planning.  And I love to cook.  And I love technology.  Using technology to plan my cooking is the trifecta of joy for me.  I've tried several recipe curating apps and have finally settled on the end-all Best of Show app: Paprika.

Before I tell you all the reasons I love it, I'll tell you about the (free) runner-up: Pepperplate.

  • Free.  Free is good.
  • Kept all of my online recipes organized in one place.
  • Allowed me to insert recipes into a weekly or monthly calendar for menu planning.

  • Ads.  Goes with free.  If I'm not paying, I'm the product being delivered.
  • Said it would sync between iPhone/iPad and website (desktop) version, but the syncing was unreliable and unpredictable.  Either it wouldn't sync, or it would only sync part of the week.
  • The tagging, or categorizing interface was bulky and annoying to use.
  • Could not export or sync weekly menu to my main calendar.  I didn't like having to open a separate app to see what's for dinner.
  • #1 annoyance: Could not add to my recipe hoard from a mobile device, had to use the desktop version or manually type it it.
I used Pepperplate for about a year.  It was okay, but I not great.  Then I met Paprika. Elegant, and intuitive -- does everything I had wished for, and more.  Really really impressed with this app.


  • No ads.
  • Easy Recipe Import:  
    • It's easy to add a recipe to my hoard from within or without the app.  If I am browsing along and see a recipe I want to keep, I click on a bookmarklet in my desktop browser toolbar, or in my mobile device browser, and the recipe is saved.  Occasionally, if I am in an off-the-beaten path website I have to massage it a little, but for all the big ones I frequent (Food 52, Pioneer Woman) it's a simple one-click import.  I moved all my recipes over from Pepperplate this way.
    • I can also easily add from within the app. The outer shell of the pic below is the Paprika app.  From the inside, I can browse the web.  When I see a recipe I want -- in this case a Dutch Baby recipe, I use the toolbar on the bottom to import it.

  •  Menu planning: I can easily add recipes to different days and move them around.  Here is what we are eating this week.

    •  Plus, this weekly plan syncs to iCal.  I love love love this.  Without even opening Paprika. I can easily see what's on for tonight as well as what I need to thaw for later this week.
    • Menus: Things I always serve together can also be arranged in menus and then I can just add that combo to a day's plan.
  • Pantry: It includes an easily populated list of what is in the pantry.  I don't use it as such, I use it for what's on the produce shelf, what perishables do I need to use this week.  Super handy for that.
  • There also some nice features when you actually are using the recipe from your mobile device.
    • After you put in an ingredient, touch it and it greys out to help you keep your place.  Great feature for cooks-in-training and for the highly distracted mom training them.

    • Similarly, if you touch a chunk of directions it becomes high-lighted to help you keep your place. 
    • Where the recipe says cook at 350 for 30 minutes, touch the "30 minutes" and the timer starts.
  • Not free, but pretty cheap: $4.99 for the iPhone version and $19.99 for the Mac desktop app.
Download them.  You won't regret it, I promise.

:: read the rest of Best App for Recipe Organizing and Menu or Meal Planning: Paprika



This is a yummy, hearty, economical, nutritious, and beautiful soup.

Use the Shredder Attachment of your wonderful KitchenAid Stand Mixer to shred:
KitchenAid Roto Slicer-Shredder Attachment
6 cloves peeled garlic
2 large carrots
1 cored apple
1 small onion
6 small potatoes
1 small head red cabbage
1 small head white cabbage
3 cooked beets (save the cooking water)

Simmer for hours along with:
beet water
soup bone
1 can tomato paste
extra water as needed.

Add salt to taste, serve topped with sour cream and dill.

Especially nice with the rye bread.

:: read the rest of borscht


Character App for Writers: Mac Family Tree

I’ve tried several different methods for character sketching — keeping track of their relative ages and kinships -- and my current favorite is a Synium product, known as MacFamilyTree 7 for my laptop and as MobileFamilyTree 7 for my iPad and iPhone.

It is easy to use and generates several useful views and reports.  One of the most useful is an interactive chart that shows relationships but that also lets me click on any of these people to edit or add relatives.

The Timeline View lets me see the relative ages of the cast of characters.

The Person Report lets me keep track of individual characteristics and events as well as kinships to other characters.

Because it can be stored in the cloud, I can be typing away on my laptop and use the iPhone or iPad to keep an eye on characters.

:: read the rest of Character App for Writers: Mac Family Tree


Poetry Snacks

I have a friend who doesn't yet enjoy poetry.  I'm putting together some poetry appetizers to lure her in. Join us?

Poetry is super-concentrated language.  It's goal is to say more with fewer words.  Instead of reducing meaning when we reduce word count, we expand our possible meanings, as many clarifying words are eliminated, so a poem can have layers and layers of implications.
Robert Frost (1874–1963).  North of Boston.  1915.

1. The Pasture

I’M going out to clean the pasture spring;

I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away

(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):

I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young,

It totters when she licks it with her tongue.

I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

 I like to rewrite poems, to see what I come up with.  I'm setting the font on my re-write to white so that you have the option of trying your own rewrite before reading mine.   Perhaps you will share your rewrite in the comments.  To see mine, select the area below or just hit CTRL-A for PC or Command-A for Macs.

I’m going out to do a bit of outside work
It won’t be hard work
And I’ll stop to enjoy the pleasures it presents
It won’t take long.  Come with.

I’m going out to gather in new life
Life that belongs here.  It’s so fresh
It’s wobbly.
It won’t take long.  Come with.

:: read the rest of Poetry Snacks


IKEA Modification for Compost and Chicken Scraps

In the old kitchen, we always had two ugly tubs sitting on the counter, one for chicken scraps and one for compost.  You can see one of them here with the yellow lid.  They looked bad, and the lids required two hands to open, which meant one had to set down whatever one was hoping to toss in, open the lid, pick up the scrap, and so on.  Not elegant.

Not so in the new kitchen!


See the plastic tubs mounted under the island top?  They pull out!  I mounted IKEA's Samla tubs onto IKEA's Trofast rails and achieved compost and chicken scrap happiness.

They slide out far enough that one could just scrape chopping debris into the tub, or one could pull the whole thing out and set it next to the chopping station.   

:: read the rest of IKEA Modification for Compost and Chicken Scraps


IKEA undersink modification

We have a working kitchen sink.  It's so handy!  I had forgotten how marvelous it is to have running water in the same room in which one is cooking.  And it's pretty!

In the old kitchen, the undersink area was one big clutter shelf with two doors.  To get anything out, one had to open the door all the way and stand on one's head.  We have an island across from the sink now, so I didn't want cupboard doors that had to swing open.  And I didn't really want to stand on my head to get a sponge.

So, we installed an IKEA provided partition and mounted drawer rails to it.  So those big doors under the sink are actually drawer fronts. I mounted little holders to the inside of each drawer front to hold sponges, etc.  The other one holds the dishsoap and detergent tabs.  We can access these oft' used items without having to pull anything all the way out.  And no head stands!

In the back, I put a shelf to hold less frequently used items.  The items in the back of the drawers have to be low enough to tuck under the shelf when the drawer is closed, but that is fine. The dishtub fits on the left, and the other one holds the drainer.

Everything fits.  Everything is tidy.  And the things we use all the time are handy.

And just for fun, here is the Before picture:

:: read the rest of IKEA undersink modification


How to view your Scrivener WIP on your iPhone or iPad

From the Scrivener File menu, choose "Compile".
Put checkmarks next to what you want to send.  I send chapters, not character notes etc.
Select "Compile for ePub."
Click on "Compile"

In the Export screen that pops-up, make sure the Folder is set to the Dropbox folder that your phone is linked to.
Click on Export.

On your phone, open your Dropbox app.
Click on the file in the dropbox.
When you get the "Couldn't Load File" message, click on the "Send to" icon in the lower left corner.
In the pop-up, choose "Open In . . ."
In the next screen, choose "Open in iBooks"

:: read the rest of How to view your Scrivener WIP on your iPhone or iPad


Writing Toys and Tools for the iOS environment

When I can't get my story to move forward (usually because I am writing a chapter from the wrong POV -- point of view -- and I haven't yet noticed that or because there are other people in the house making noise), I work on setting up my technology for the most efficient use of the wee writing windows I do have.

I do all the actual writing in Scrivener on my big home computer.  My arthritic fingers insist on its ergonomically correct keyboard and there is no way around this.  But I can't and really don't want to run to my desk whenever I get a thought.

No problem!

I just use the voice memo function on my phone to capture stray brilliant inspirations (rare) and/or crippling plot errors I just now realized (more common than I wish).  Then when I do get to the computer I listen to the memos and add to my running Manuscript ToDo list.

Another big happy discovery was Scriviner's ability to publish to iBooks.  I really dislike printing to paper as it is wasteful and cumbersome, but there are times that I really just want to read the story, or just that delicious chapter that fell from my fingertips last night, and I want to read somewhere other than my desk.

No problem!

I figured out how to send my work-in-progress to iBooks which lets it look just like a real book that I can read on my phone or my iPad.   As I read, if I find places to edit, I can make a note right in the book and then at the end of my session, I can email my notes, sorted in order of chapter, back to myself.  This gives me an ordered list of edits to make when I am next at my big computer.

Happy happy.

:: read the rest of Writing Toys and Tools for the iOS environment


Mac Apps for Writers

Buy Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X (Education Licence)
Scrivener: My #1 just can't live without writing app is Scrivener.  It is amazing. I can't even begin to to it justice  -- in part because my head is in my story and in part because why bother? The Scrivener website will tell you all you need to know. I apologize that the link here takes you straight to check out. Just click on products and start toodling about.

Or check it out on the iTunes store: Scrivener. Or just take my word for it. Scrivener is the bomb.

Next up on the cool things list is Aeon Timeline - Scribble Code . This timeline generator helps me keep my storylines straight and keeps me from muddling my generations.  Best of all, it syncs with Scrivener!  You can get a trial copy at Scribble and here are a few discount codes just for fun: CAMPWRITER or SUMMERFEST

The last on my hit parade tonight (because I really should be writing: 700 words to go) is Snowflake Pro and if you leave a comment, I'll tell you how to get it for half-off.

It's a complete plot and plan application and I really should have started with this one 15 years ago when I started my story.  I'll be using it tonight to try to crumple up some of my flatter characters.

:: read the rest of Mac Apps for Writers


hope for America

DIY Chicken Coop!

me! me! me!

Here I chatter about books, parenting, election 2008, recipes, teaching college writing, and the adventures of getting settled in with our two freshly (Fall 06) adopted school-age children from Russia. This blog is chapter two; chapter one is posted at Jamie & Suzanne go to Russia. I live in the City of Subdued Excitement, Cascadia, Land of the Free.

I am the wife of a man I call My Gift from a Generous God. I am mama to two lovely children, Dandy and Chickadee that became ours in September 2006 in a court-room in Siberia. I am the daughter of two people whom I love and admire. One of them, my dad, is a new (Dec 06) paraplegic.

In my previous life (B.C. - before children), I was a college English teacher, specializing in composition and ESL composition.

:: click here to read my 8 things meme



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This blog started life as hackosphere's neo and has been heavily tweaked and widgetized by Suzanne :: I got all the coding for the peek-a-boo posts over at hackosphere :: All my pretty little icons came from famfamfam :: The coding for the rotating banners came from Vince Liu :: The very cool tabbed sidebar widgets are thanks to the very cool hoctro :: The fun "Feeling Lucky?" toy -- which is currently disabled -- came from phydeaux3 (fido 3?) :: The pretty label cloud also came from phydeaux3 :: The elegant and easy to install related posts widget came from Jackbook :: I got all the social bookmarking icons nicely packaged for me at the aptly named Social Bookmarking Script Generator :: The 3 column footer came from Technodia :: The pretty sliding photo galleries are from CSSplay :: The recent comments widget is from Hackosphere::