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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.



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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!

Closet Safe

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closet safe

I am making closet safes.  What is a closet safe?  It is a fabric bag with a zipper or other closing method that is on a hanger.  You put whatever treasures that you don’t want the boogey man to find inside, zip it shut, then hang a sweater or jacket or something over the top.  Then, put it in with the rest of your clothes.  Simple!

Now, I will be the first to admit that there are a zillion closet safes out there, especially on Etsy.  But, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that is on a plastic hanger.  Wooden bar hangers are no doubt easier to sew a bag around but let’s be honest – I don’t have any of those hangers in my closet.  If I’m wanting to hide the queen’s jewels from someone, shouldn’t the hidey hole blend in with everything else?  Which is why I made this to fit cheapy walmart hangers.  Which is all that I have in my closet.  Thank you.

Does it work?  Well, my hubs has a very good friend who is a police officer in a major metropolitan city in the very very nasty side of town…  and he said he’s never seen any crook rumage through someones clothes.  SO, I took it as a good sign that these might actually work.

Only one issue – you have to remember what outfit your loot is hiding under.  You also have to NOT donate clothes on the hanger, just incase you donate the safe, too!

But, since the policeman friend thought it was a good idea, and since we’ll be seeing him this weekend, I made this safe up for him as a surprise!

It’s in manly green with a denim blue interior (the bag is fully lined).  To be specific, the green is a Marimekko fabric that I got at a fab rummage sale in Austin last year for a few dollars.  As in $3 or $4.  If you aren’t familiar with this fabric, it normally runs $45-60 per yard.  I have no idea why – it’s just crazy!  And, this print isn’t even all that pretty to me, but is lovely for a safe that you don’t want to be super obvious to the bad guy.

I have plans on making a tutorial (soon!) for this and selling it as a PDF download in my Etsy shop.  Before that happens though – I will be giving the pattern away to all of my loyal readers for free for a couple of weeks!  Because I love you that’s why.

Now, to get the baby to sleep later than 6:30 so that I can actually sew/work… sigh.

Hermena’s Cook Book

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Recently, my little family and I went to the beach and to Moody Gardens (in Galveston TX).  It was great fun!  Pictures of that to come.  But, while we were there, my oldest daughter caught a little cold bug with a fever for one day… no big deal.  Then, the baby caught it a few days later.  And 5 days later she still has a fever and is fussy and not sleeping at night … and neither am I.  I’m also not getting much of anything else done.  And we get to go to the doctor before the weekend hits…

front of book

front of book

But, on the way to the beach, we stopped at my lovely aunt Virginia’s house.  We were catching up and talking about my blog and clothespin bags and how I love old cookbooks and… and much to my surprise, she had my paternal grandmother’s cookbook!  First, I didn’t even know it existed and second, I had no idea that Virginia had it.  It’s in tough shape to be sure, many pages from front and back, including the covers, are missing.  But she said that this was the book that as a kid, they used every day.  It was a book that my grandmother used every day.  She passed last year at age 99 and was an amazing lady is so many ways.  Raising 5 kids in cloth diapers with no washing machine.  Raising any kids at all on a farm in the middle of the dust bowl.  Raising a huge garden, canning and freezing and… the memories that I have (we lived 1/2 mile from my grandparents) of picking every last cherry on the tree and ALL of the strawberries and picking potato beetles and putting them into a jar of kerosene for a penny each and….

back of book

back of book

So, now I have both grandmothers and one great grandmothers cookbooks.  And, I also have a collection of cut out recipes from one of my husbands grandmothers.  These to me are the things that are important.  They give insight into what they liked, what they ate, who they were.  Despite my grandma’s wanting to throw this book in the trash, it is a true treasure and I’m so glad that my aunt retrieved it.

And, much of what is inside is funny.  This is a beer ad in the book.  Notice the “now that this healthful brew has returned to the home” part?  That’s because prohibition ended in 1933 – 6 years previous!  In the 13 years since they had outlawed alcohol (it started in 1920 with the 18th ammendment and ended in 1933 with the 21st ammendment) many home cooks likely stoped using beer.  So, the industry needed to get people consuming it agian – either through drinking it or cooking with it.  Just a little line in an ad and all of the controvery of the early 1900’s is encapsulated.  They helpfully included a recipe for beer sauce – which I think I need to try making!  Then, below it you’ll notice this: “The sight of beer, the smell of beer, the taste of beer were as common to the senses as….(the) chaste smell of starch”.  Hillarious!  I’ve NEVER associated being chaste and starch together before.  Or knew that gingham cloth smelled frugal?  Not to mention I have no idea what sassafras tea smells like either.

I’ve looked through the rest of what I have and can’t find the other beer recipe that is mentioned in the ad.  I want to get a copy of a better condition book and take pictures of the rest of the pages….  The book is as far as I know only found in one university library in Kansas… published in 1939 from the town (Seneca KS) where my grandma was from.  And of course, the page with the most stains, so likely the greatest use – the cookie page.  🙂

Oh, and I linked up to a blog hop on all things domestic, farm, home made… you know – fun stuff!  It’s the Creative Home Acre Hop.  You can find the rest of the blogs in the hope at Mumtopia… Ciao!

I have a recipe ready to write up from this book.  As soon as my baby gives me a minute I’ll get that posted.  For now – I hope you enjoy!

Vintage Mixing Machine

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I need a mixing machine.  Mine went with the house and before, with wedding money from my parents, I had a beautiful Bosch mixing machine.  It was strong and durable and I really didn’t like it.  Why?  That annoying and silly center post.  I know that is central to making it work but it meant a lot of scraping… and it just wasn’t my thing.  (However, MANY bread making folks out there adore it.)

So, after the fire, after we moved into the new house, I had to start filling in with something.  And I started looking.  And again, like on my quest of a food processor, I realized that most modern machines meant to mix breads and cakes are just lousy.  And so, here I am, still without a mixer.

Part of my struggle comes with our new diet, at least for a couple of us in my little family.  And more of this will come on a later post but basically, baby Eleanor has had some tough GI issues since about 2 months old.  Basically, severe constipation.  And after working with our amazing pediatrician in Austin, and talking to some family – I went gluten free to see if it helped.  Eleanor is still on Miralax, though at a low dose, and that keeps any day to day issues at bay.  In the rare experiment where I cave to gluten (and the stuff is stinking everywhere – especially in resturant foods) she quickly becomes clogged up again.  As in 24 hours of my bad meal (though the seafood while at the beach was really yummy).

So, since it appears that she will be gluten free for the undetermined future – do I need a heavy duty mixing machine that developes gluten like a dream?  Does the $700 Verona Assistent justify its expense on a gf diet?  And in all of my readings I keep hearing about the wonders of machines made in the US in the 50s and 60s that were durable and did what was needed of them and are still going strong – where are those today?  No where.

What does it leave a girl to do?


Do what her grandma did of course!  Buy a vintage machine.  Please realize that my sewing machine, my Bernina 830, is a 40 year old machine and I heart it deeply.  So, it’s not a big leap to figure that I might equally come to admire the virtues of an old mixer.  The question is – which one?  Unless you’re a fair bit older than myself, you likely aren’t familiar with a Dormeyer mixing machine.  And yet, it seems that they were amazing mixers of the 30’s to 60’s.  And I’m currently considering a Dormeyer 4400 or 4300. 

There are other mixers of good breeding out there, too.  Vintage (40 year old or older) Hamilton Beach model k.  Or the much revered Kenwood.  Or the Sunbeam model 12 (not to be confused with a 12 speed, which makes ebay shopping tricky).

If you are like me and are also looking down vintage lane because of the lousy stuff currently being made (plastic gears – really?) here are a few resources that you might be interested in.

Tips on buying a vintage machine.  Be sure to read the comments for more good info.

WACEM yahoo group.  We Actually Collect Electric Mixers group.  No really, it’s a really yahoo group.  With lots of good info that you can read in their messages without joining and proving what a dork ahem collector you are.  And yes, I’m thinking about joining just so that I can ask questions.

Neslson EZY vintage mixer repair service.  You might reconsider buying vintage when you see what it will cost to get your old machine back to new working order but consider this.  If it lasted 50 years the first go around, it will likely last another 50 years… and what current machine on the market now has the chance of doing that?  And, I have no idea of the quality of repairs from this guy so use the service at your own risk.

So, I’m currently waiting to see if I am outbid on a Dormeyer on Ebay.  My max bid is $20 with shipping being another $17.  I’m rather regretting bidding on it and hope that I get out bid this morning as I don’t want to miss out on a different machine, also a Dormeyer, for $20 more but that has a buy it now option.  And I might cry if I miss out on both at the same time.  Why the Dormeyer?  Great reviews (what few there are) and metal bowls.  And I have 2 little kids – metal stands a great chance of surviving another 50 years than glass, at least in my house.

I’ll keep you posted on what I end up with.  It’s an adventure to be sure.  And if you have one to sell to me – I’ll happily buy it!

Farming and I Grow It

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Oh my! I grew up on a farm in Kansas. My brother still lives there (as do my parents)… I can so see my brother making a video like this. Just hilarious. Enjoy!

Finally – I have my food processor again!

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food processorPlease ignore the nearly dead plants.  And the bottle of hootch.  Which is amazing and made locally by people I know.  Click on the picture for a link to their page.

Yup, it’s true.  I bought this pretty lady the January before the fire.  It’s taken over 1 1/2 years to get to a point of replacing it.  Why?  Because it’s stinking expensive!  (And, we bought the first one with a gift card earned via credit card points earned with work travel … so really pretty much free.)

If you are anything like my husband, you would like to be able to buy things made in AMERICA and not in places like say, China.  Not that there is anything wrong with China per se BUT – first – we’d like to have our own country actually employ people and support those people as they make real things.  Second – China is rather like the Wild West – few regulations and lots of cutting corners and who knows all what…  Stuff is made in China because their production costs are cheaper (and they’re likely cheaper for a reason – it’s just not as good).

But, I DARE you to find a food processor or nearly anything else NOT made in China or another Asian country.  First – there are no food processors made in the United States.  Second, I’m totally happy with supporting higher standards and pay of employees of the nice folks in Europe.

So what did I get?  A Magimix!  This lady, she’s speaks French!  And comes with a 30 year warranty.  And is crazy awesome and I missed her greatly and even looking back half way wished I had packed her into the car, too.

Because… I was wanting to buy her again 2 months ago!  But, for whatever reason, there were NO MORE in the US.  And the snooty store William Sonoma is the only retailer of Magimix and so I was just out of luck.  Now, there’s a long story to go with the purchasing saga of this little machine that I won’t bore you with but… do yourself a favor.  Don’t buy via Williams Sonoma over the phone or on their website.  They are lousy.  As in not emailing receipts, computers not accepting orders, store managers on the phone not even having a clue as to one of their higher priced items… blah.  (But, if you do, sign up for their emails – you get free shipping and 10% off your first order, and with these prices, you’ll need the discount.)  (And, I should say, that for all of my drama they finally gave me a 25% discount – doesn’t make me much happier but it I’ll take it.)   If you do need to buy this machine (and really, it’s totally fab) then go to a real store if you can.  Just saying.

Anyways. … I made dinner last night using cabbage.  A real cabbage not a bag of pre-shredded cabbage bits.  And I made crinkle cut carrot slices (I decided to go for it and got the extra blade pack while I was at it) and I have a LONG list of stuff to make in it!  Not to mention – baby food!

I’m just thrilled with my new machine, less than happy with the purchasing experience, and happy to be able to really cook again…

Which leads me to a post in a couple of days.  A new vintage recipe from my new vintage cookbook.  I’m SO excited.  I can’t wait to share!

Happy Wednesday!

Baby Bib WINNER!!!!!

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bibs give frontsm

By the unquestionable and time honored tradition of choosing winners of “Einee Mienee Minee Mo”, the winner is….


I have sent Lori and email and if I don’t hear back from her by Sunday, I will contact another person as the new winner.

I will also be picking a winner for 2 more bibs from the Facebook page of those who commented there.  Just because I love you all!  🙂

Thanks to all who entered.  Please stay tuned for the next give away coming up in June – this time it will be a coffee bag wallet.  Also some hand stamped to use outside on your clothesline clothespins (made by me of course) and then later in July – my own design closet safe!

I will also be looking for a couple of pattern testers for both the wallet and the closet safe, so if you like to sew and wouldn’t mind helping me work out the kinks of a couple of patterns, please contact me.  For the wallet, you will need to collect two mylar coffee bags (the kind with ground or whole beans) in good shape, not torn, just the tops cut off.  Details on pattern testing to come later.

Have a great Wednesday!

5th birthday

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Rosie is 5 today.  Such a big age.  And yet so small.  She’s happy and terrified all in one.  Thrilled to be “plain 5” (as opposed to 4 and 1/2 or 5 and 1/2) and terrified of the changes coming in her life – kindergarten.

I have to say, I am scared, too.  Scared for her and us and all of the big changes that school brings.  She is a very sensitive soul and is very cautious to say the least.  She loves to snuggle and play with dolls and is so compasionate and caring to others… but any sort of change or putting her in the spot light is too much for her.  And for that reason, school will be hard at the start.

She woke up this morning and told me that “it is hard being 5”.  I asked if it was harder than being 4 and she said yes.  After some probing she revealed that 5 is hard because you have to leave your mama and go to school.  How I wish that Kindergarten was still 1/2 days!  She insists that she will never go to college because she doesn’t want to leave home.  And she doesn’t believe me when I tell her that her opinion will likely change when she is 18.

I wish that I could keep her here at home with me forever – to be able to freeze this time in place and never have to leave it.  To be able to keep my beautiful, happy little “craftist” just like this forever.  I love her so much just as she is and it seems nearly impossible that I will love her more as she grows into the adult that she will become.  And yet – she will be an amazing adult and I am just as excited to see who she becomes.

So, happy birthday my most beloved little girl.  Mama loves you a zillion billion kadzillion.