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Blog Pattern Digital Organizing – using Pepperplate

Have you ever heard of Pepperplate?  It’s a free program/app for your phone and computer that is used to organize recipes and then to create meal plans.  I started using it and it’s great – not that I’m meal planning more but it’s an easy way to organize all of those recipes I find on recipe sites and blogs.  And you can drag pictures of the food into the pop-up window so that you can see what you might want to make, too.  As a visual person, this is great!

The best part about it is after I import a recipe into it – then I can print it out onto a page without the rest of the blog or website stuff printing too – I just get the recipe all nice and neat.  And then it can be added to my binder of recipes cause I like cooking from paper more than my computer.  And, with the cell phone app, if I see something on sale at the grocery store I can look through my recipes in the program and know exactly what  else I need to make this great English Fruit Cake beyond bananas!

See, the top picture is what the page looks like to normal print, the second is what it looks like in Pepperplate.  Nice!

pp 1

pp 2

After looking for a pattern for a pretty chevron afghan pattern (I’ve been wanting a pattern for a large chevron, not the little ripples from the 70’s) and reading a comment by another reader asking for a way to print it with just the pattern printing… it occurred to me.  Pepperplate!

pp 3

Yup – you can use the recipe site to organize all of your blog finds of patterns!

(And this is a great large chevron – she says they are about 8 inches wide!  So, click on the picture to get to the original blog pattern!  And yes, I’m hoping to get one of these made for my living room!)

There are a few tricks… and I’m happy to share as I think this might change how I organize all of the patterns I save for use at some point in the future. And at this point – I have enough patterns saved on my computer to make one every week for like – forever.

The first step is of course to get a Pepperplate account and install the bookmarklet on your toolbar of your web browser.  The program is free and easy!  Then, put the app on your smart phone.  I’ll assume that you can figure this out and if not, their help section is pretty useful.

How to Use Pepperplate for Patterns (or recipes)

  • Highlight and drag.  You can use your mouse to highlight text and then click and drag it into the Pepperplate window.  Do this for the title, ingredients/materials and directions.
  • Click and drag the picture.  If you click and drag on a picture in a blog, most of the time it will drag into the picture square on the first page of the Pepperplate window.  Sometimes this doesn’t work, so I think click on the image and save it to my computer.  Then, after I have the pattern/recipe saved I can go into it on the Pepperplate main page and edit it and upload the picture from my computer.  Not sure why this happens but it does and is easy to fix.
  • Edit on the Pepperplate main page.  Go to the main page of the Pepperplate site and edit your recipe/pattern.  You can fix stuff up and most importantly – add categories to it.  There is a trick in that – type the section you want, like “crochet” but to populate the category, add a coma after the word.  It will then go into the field.  This will allow you to search by afghan, sweater, potholder, casserole, dinner… whatever.  MUCH easier to do this when starting your collection than after you have 100 recipes in it.  Trust me.
  • Adding dimensions.  In the “yield” box put the size of the finished project.
  • Add the URL to the original website to the “description” box under the title in the edit mode. This will help in going back to the site to check comments or for updates – plus to find whatever other amazing new patterns/recipes the site might have now!
  • Print from the Pepperplate site.  After you’ve imported your pattern into the program, edited it to clean things up to what you need, now you can print!  It’s a nice clean print and isn’t cluttered with extraneous stuff from the original website that you didn’t want anyways.
  • Cell phone access.  The best part of this hack?  Just like with recipes, if you install the app onto your smart phone, now you’ll have your pattern collection with you at the craft store! Which means you’ll no longer wonder how many skeins of yarn you need, you can review your private notes for a pattern while at the store.  It’s easy.  It’s free.  It’s a great hack.


Normal Boring Day

It is days like today, when I am caught up in my very normal, mundane daily activities, when routine and kids and chores are all that I think about, it is days like today that I am thankful. Thankful to have a normal boring day. Thankful to have a friend to go with me to thrift stores just to see what hidden treasures they might contain. Thankful beyond words for my mischievous and beautiful baby who is already keeping me on my toes at only 12 months old. Thankful that my 5 year old is adjusting so incredibly well to the vastness of kindergarten despite all of my fears and trepidations (and hers) for all these many years.

I am thankful because it is in this normality that peace settles in and one can move beyond the day and live in the now.

I am thankful for this day because on this day, this very particular day, that normal has not always been my experience. The first year, everyone remembered. The second year – and perhaps it is only my own myopic perceptions, but it seems as if those of us in this exclusive club fear to mention it, even amongst ourselves.

I have had other traumatic events in my life, as nearly everyone has. Those life defining events that you remember the date of from year to year. For myself, it was the death of my most beloved dog, Carbon. He was a puppy that I got while a Peace Corps Volunteer – we grew up together in a sense. He was my soul mate, my best friend, the “Best Dog” in my wedding. And 8 years later, the loss of him still takes my breath away. The first years after his passing, I always remembered, always grieved. And then, as time went on, I began to live that day as normal, forgetting its significance in the history of my life. And then I would grieve even more fiercely for having forgotten him, as if that somehow indicated my lack of love for him. Reaching that point took years and I am sure that some therapist would say that it is a good sign of my healing. To me, it is another loss of one of the few things that I have left of him.

So today, it took me rather by surprise that my day went as planned, normal, routine, boring. A state of which I had longed for as much as I have ever yearned for excitement. That it was not until an hour after the time of the event that it occurred to me. I did send a text to another club member hoping that she was OK today. But, from the many people that I know, I saw nothing on their Facebook posts indicating the date. The only people that seem to remember, and are willing to talk about it, are the news media. They talk about recovery, or lack there of, of dead trees and missing houses. Of the state park and the fun run to raise money to replant the trees.

They don’t mention the exhaustion, the weariness of soul from the never ending task of rising from these ashes to reach that ephemeral state of “recovery”. The knee buckling gratitude to strangers with a debt to people unknown that can never be repaid. They fail to mention the joys of the mundane. The anxiety of potential repeat loss. The deep instinctual knowledge that the odds don’t always play in your favor; that at some point, you will be the 0.05% of people affected, no matter which god you honor. The understanding that it really isn’t the loss of “stuff” that is so traumatic but rather the effort to return to and find… normal.

Our house isn’t totally done, we have much yard work to do, tree stumps to take out, grass to plant. Our vista is full of blackened skeletons of the true “Lost Pines” and of small green spires of the future growing from the ashes of their parents in the form of baby pine trees. We cannot forget simply because the mere act of looking out of our windows reminds us every day. But it seems that we can reach the much despised phrase of “new normal” – despite how far we have left to go both in a physical landscape of our property and in the psychological acceptance of our hearts.

Strength comes from hardship, of trials and trauma. We are stronger people because of today – both this day 2 years ago and because of where we are right now. It is an anniversary of endurance and honor and it is as much a part of me as my beloved dog.

So I will say it aloud. Today is the day that the nations worst wildfire ever started*. Today is the day that our lives changed. Today is the day… and we are just fine.


* (by financial losses per capita in the county – 3rd worst in general)

DIY Egg Scale

first eggs

My chickens are laying!  The broken egg and then the one on the left are normal sized eggs – probably large to extra large.  The rest are my ladies first eggs!  And looking at how small they are, I remembered my mom having an egg scale and then wondering how much my eggs weighed.


And then it occurred to me – mom still has an old fashioned egg scale.  Like this one for sale on Ebay.


And yes, it is for sale for $49 starting bid plus $12 shipping.


And yes, you can buy a new one from the same company for $52 plus shipping.  This new one includes grams and not just ounces like the old scale has.  And it looks like a chicken so it justifies the expense.  Right?  No?  Hmm… welll…

Then you’ve come to the right place.  I love the old scale and already put in a request for my mothers should she ever not want hers anymore.  In the mean time, I came up with my own version.

First – the weights.

Egg weight smallegg weight

I came up with my own egg weights chart and made it so that you can download the PDF and have your own copy.  Just click on the words “egg weight” below the egg and you’ll get a PDF of that image to print out.

Next – the scale part.  I’m assuming that most people have a digital kitchen scale already.  Most big box stores carry them for around $10-15 – much less than the new fancy egg scales cost!  They’re useful for so many other things in cooking, too, so if you don’t have one now would be a good time to invest in a simple scale.  Get the one with grams – much more accurate!


So, take an old egg carton like so…


Cut out one egg cell…


Place on scale and then zero the scale out so as to not include the weight of the carton when weighing the egg.  Be sure to have the scale set on grams!




Weigh eggs.  As you can see, I have a tiny one at 29 grams, well below the pewee level of 35 grams.  None of mine are even into the small egg size yet!


Refer to your hand egg size chart that you’ve taped inside of your cabinet door like I did.

So, why is this helpful?  Well, if you have your own hens and are wanting to use these first eggs while cooking, it’s good to know about what you need to sub for a full sized large or extra large egg.  In my case, I used 3 pewee eggs instead of 2 XLs when making granola bars recently.  Knowing the weights helps in the substitution because really it is about volume of egg contents and not number of eggs.

I hope you find this useful!  Happy chickens everyone!


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eye doc

We ended up having to go to a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin to have her eyes evaluated by a specialist.

Strabismus, or cross or lazy eye, is a serious condition that needs to be dealt with early in order to preserve the vision in the lazy eye.  If it is a true lazy eye, the eye that points inward works in the beginning but because the focus is off, the brain only uses the data from the good eye to see… and over time stops using the data from the lazy eye entirely… and then that eye becomes blind.  Normal ways of dealing with this include the old standard eye patch, baby glasses with one side frosted out and the new thing – eye drops.  The eye drops are put into the good eye to temporarily blind it and that forces the other eye to be used.  What happens is the lazy eye muscles are not balanced… and the forced use makes the muscles start working as they should, solving the problem.  Also, lazy eye is often genetic, so other family members usually also have this condition.


Pseudostrabismus.  Or false lazy or cross eye.  As in – she LOOKS like her eyes are off but really they are not.

In false lazy eye, it only appears like her eyes are off… but if you look at the reflection of a light in her eyes – the reflection hits at the same point in each eye.  However, this is hard to be sure by a normal (though fantastic) pediatrician who rightly sent us to the specialist.  And even the specialist originally thought that Eleanors eyes were off.  So, they dilated her eyes, for some reason that helps in determining the lazy eye thing, and again the doc was concerned – at first.

However, after explaining it a bit as to why she didn’t think there was a real problem… prominent eyebrow ridges, very broad nose bridge, large forehead… I joked and said that she meant that Eleanor was a cromagnum baby.  :)  Those were not the doctors words but… basically – yes.  More prominent features that cause the appearance of lazy eye.  And a very very large head (which is well documented by our pediatrician – my family just has exceptionally big heads, as in – not ON the growth chart, at all) so we have this lovely lazy eyed appearance.  This condition is also more common in Asian populations as they in general tend to have a wider nose bridge.

Doc did say that she would grow out of this and eventually look normal.  She is beautiful as she is to be sure, but it is a little disconcerting to see the eyes… but in time, her face will mature and the appearance will lessen and people will only stare at her because of her abject beauty.  :)

Of course, the other HUGE question of the day for me, while I was at the eye specialist.

What color are her eyes?!!!!


Finally, an answer.  I’ve stared into her eyes for hours trying to figure it out and just never got a good feel.  I’ve never known anyone that had gray eyes and wasn’t even sure it was a real eye color.  But it is and E has them and they are beautiful.

Now, my hubs and I are both scientists.  We know the genetics involved in getting blue or brown or green eyes.  Hubs has brown/green and I have green.  Each of us have a parent with blue… Rosie has blue eyes.  She had a 25% chance of getting blue eyes from both non-blue parents carrying a recessive allele.  But gray?

According to this well written site from Standford, they still don’t know exactly what causes gray eyes.  It is an interesting read and has links to more information on other eye colors and why eyes are the colors they are.  Really pretty cool – who knew?

So, there you have it.  Adventures in pediatric ophthalmology.

Have a lovely Thursday!


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I took this picture with my Samsung SIII cell phone while holding a squirmy baby.   Mrs. Dragonfly was sitting on top of a burr oak tree seedling (that isn’t so happy about living in our yard for some reason) and it just didn’t move!  I got within a foot of it… it buzzed me once, then went right back to the same branch.  One of its lower wings is a bit torn; I think she’s been around a while in dragonfly time.  We have a lot of these beauties in our yard, especially with all of the unexpected rain we’ve had in the past 2 weeks (over 5 1/2 inches!) so they seem to be very happy chowing down on whatever it is that they eat.

At any rate, I didn’t think I stood a chance of getting a good shot with a cell phone camera while holding a baby, but this is what I found when I got inside.  Of course, I DID take like 20 pictures before finding this one shot… Just wanted to show off a bit.  :)

Happy Monday!

Household Inventory

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emergencyPrint available at Esty shop Whisker Prints.


Name every DVD or CD in your collection.

What brand of underwear do you have?

How many of each color?

How old are they?

Can’t answer all of that?

Then welcome to the club – most people can’t.  Yet, if your house is robbed or you are in a natural disaster, you WILL need to know this!

The disaster is the first of many insults and traumas  if you ever get to go through something like this.  After the disaster the turmoil will largely be a result of what you have done to prepare before hand.  As in – do you have insurance?  Do you have enough?  Do you have a list of EVERYTHING that you own?  Do you know what your individual insurance agency requires if something happens?

LIST EVERYTHING YOU OWN.  Why?  Because in the case of massive disaster, you get money not just for the TV but for ALL of your stuff.  It’s called contents insurance (renters insurance is the same if you don’t own your house) and is generally a total value, not individual (though this varies by provider – check your policy for details).  After a disaster, you will have to list ALL of your stuff and then will be given a DEPRECIATED value of your posessions.  So while your undies and ketchup in the fridge may not matter much, they add up fast and add to the total value of your contents.   Including a general list of what you keep in your pantry for food.  (And the freezer – think of the value of all of the meat and frozen fruit!)  If you don’t have enough on your itemized list to get ALL of your contents money – you just won’t get it.  Some insurers will only give you 25% of your total content value if you don’t itemize (I believe State Farm is like this among others) – so you want a total list.   You will NEED all of the money you can legally get from the insurance that you’ve paid for for years because it will take more money than you ever expected to replace all of those little things.  And getting back to normal is worth making this list NOW.

Also, many insurers will not accept pictures and serial numbers as proof of ownership anymore.  You will need a copy of the receipt!  And be careful – receipts fade over time so either scan it or take a picture of the receipt and add that to your database in your inventory.

We never think that it will happen to us.  And I don’t know the statistics (but would love to find out) but if you figure everyone involved in Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, Rita, Ike… the wildfires like Bastrop of 2011, Colorado 2012… Just because the odds are 1 in 100 (or whatever it really is)


It could be you.  It was me.  It was nearly 1700 homes in my town.

Be prepared.

And the folks in Colorado learned this lesson last year, as is reported in the Denver Times.  Good information on why and how to make an inventory.

Overwhelmed with the idea of making a list of all of your stuff?  You’re not alone.  I still don’t have a complete list.  Me.  The one who lost it all.

But, on the local news today the president from the Insurance Information Institute was on the news.  They have apps for apple and android to help you to make the list.  I haven’t tried it yet but you’d better believe it that I’m going to look into it. (And the reviews are only mediocre… so I won’t be using this app.)

Want to go old school and make a paper list?  The California Department of Insurance has a nice PDF file that you can print off, fill in info and tape in pictures.

However, at least in our fire, fire safes didn’t actually protect anything from the fire – so I would ignore their advice on using those.   Best bet?  Use a safe deposit box at a bank.  Even if you don’t have the key to get in to it, the $150 fee to drill the lock out is cheaper than what you’ll loose if you don’t have your list.


After looking at MANY programs and organizing systems, I have finally found the method that I’m going to use.

This has PDF forms that are editable and list major items per room – plus a blank form that you can use for your special stuff that isn’t included on their pre-made forms.  I am planning on going through and filling this in and also taking pictures of all of the stuff, including clothes (adds up fast!) – then, saving the pictures in folders organized by room.  It’s not quite as organized as I would like it with the picture next to the item description, but it’s the best I have found so far.  And it is FREE.  And it is on my computer and not out there in the cloud.  Once I am done with this huge project, I am backing this up to a jump disk and having my husband keep it in his office at work.  And as things go into the house or out of the house, I will edit the list, too.

Issues involve baby clothes – they grow out of them so fast!  And fabric.  Ack – how do I inventory that?  And yards of fabric add up fast as do their prices!

This will not be a quick project but it is one that must be done.

Whatever you do – start on the list.

Because I know that lightening does strike in the same place twice.  That it can happen to me again.  And this time, I will be better prepared.

Chicken Roost

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chicken order


I couldn’t plan this if I wanted to.  After a recent rain (and no, I never thought I would say that in the middle of July in Texas) I looked out at the spa area and saw the girls, all sitting on one of the tree branches that we arranged in there just for their pleasure.  All brown white brown white… The two easter eggers (Frida and Fea) are around the edges – I think they’re pretty low on the pecking order.  Silly girls!

Our last rooster met the grim reaper over the weekend – he was giving me the stink eye too!  It’s much quieter with him in our freezer and Frida especially seems happy about that.  He seemed to have chosen her as his “special girl” for whatever reason and always singled her out to do what roosters do.


Oh, and Frida the name?  The Mexican artist from the early to mid 1900s.  There’s a good movie about her life.  And Fea is named in Spanish so it just followed that Frida should also have a Latin influenced name.  And I’m a geek.  (Picture from the wikipedia site linked in the picture.)

On other fronts, I have a so far mildly sick baby with gi issues.  You know it’s a mama day when both of you get to change clothes at least once.  And trying to get that little thing to drink pedialyte?  Holy pizzas.  It’s drama.  But, after Rosie got oh so sick when she was 3 and nearly ended up in the hospital because of dehydration, I will NOT go down that route again.  Eleanor will drink until she makes pee.  And then she’ll drink some more.  I just wish the stuff tasted better so that she’d want to drink it.  Rosie got to the point of my forcing it down her (with a syringe into her mouth and a rag under her chin) that she now likes drinking it.  I think it connected that it made her feel better and now she calls it medicine juice.  Eleanor is clearly not to that stage yet.   It could be a very long day.


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