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Category Archives: make it do

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.


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!

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.

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!

Upcycled Mailing Envelope Tutorial

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So, this isn’t much of a tutorial but… it is an insanely easy and free way to make a mailing envelope!

Since I have so many of my baby bibs to mail out to friends and our future contest winner, I needed something to mail them in…. and looking at my recycling containers, I had lots of flat boxes!  You know the type – cereal or cracker boxes.


So, take an empty box and open up both ends.


Flatten the box.


Tuck in the end flaps on one side into the box.


Then use clear packing tape to tape the other side over the end.

Now, put your fairly flat item (like 2 baby bibs!) inside.  Repeat the above procedure for the open end.



Add mailing labels and take it to the post office!   Hopefully, the lucky recipient will recycle the box after they get whatever goody you sent them!

Pillowcase Clothespin Apron Tutorial

I’m SO EXCITED to share with you my latest creation!!!!

This is a clothespin apron made out of a PILLOWCASE!  No, really!

Do you love it?  Because, you’re in luck!  You can make your own!  I’m giving away this tutorial for FREE!

The beauty of this pattern is, the only thing you need (besides the normal sewing machine stuff) is a pillowcase and some thread.  That’s it!  The pattern makes use of the entire case, there are only a few tiny scraps left when you are done making the apron!

And, the apron is double thick – so it’s nice and sturdy.  It is great for clothespins but also for picking beans, gathering eggs, collecting nuts, craft projects – lots of stuff!

Apron specifics:
– should hold about 150 clothespins
– about 15 inches wide
– about 14 inches tall
– straps are about 32 inches long each

What, you don’t sew?  Well, you’re in luck, later this week, this apron, the pink and yellow floral one, will be offered up for FREE in a fabulous GIVEAWAY!  But, you’ll have to come back later to enter…

Interested in buying one pre-made?  I have the top two aprons for sale over on my Etsy shop!

So, before offering this tutorial up for you guys… I had a couple of sewing friends give the tutorial a run through.  My friend Edna, a sewing NOVICE, made this pretty apron!

And my new friend Inder, of the fabulous blog Inder Loves Folk Art, made this over the weekend too!

My HUGE thanks to Edna and Inder for helping me get the kinks of the pattern.

So, speaking of that pattern…

First, please respect all of my hard work on coming up with the pattern and then putting it all together.  I hope that you make a ton of them, give them as gifts, sell them at local craft fairs and farmers markets… But please, do NOT sell these on line.

As a stay at home momma, I’m trying to make a few extra dollars while here at home and selling stuff on Etsy is how I’m doing it right now.  I know that many of you are in the same boat!  The original reason for this blog was to promote my Etsy shop (though it has turned into it’s own creature recently) with the hopes of making a few sales.

Thanks for understanding.

On to the tutorial… it’s a PDF file and you can download it here:

pillowcase clothespin apron tutorial final

If you make up an apron, pretty please with sugar and chocolate kisses on top, send me a picture?  I’d love to feature it on the blog!

Have fun and happy clotheslines!



Vintage Spring Rocking Chair

My good friend, Edna, and her daughter, Ava, were down a few weeks ago to visit.  Edna and I escaped the house without the girls and went to a few yard sales.  The first sale I hit gold!  The girls posed for us – they loved the chair from the beginning too!  Rosie is on the left, Ava on the right.

For $20 I bought this very cool platform spring rocking chair.  By that I mean that the feet never leave the floor and the seat part rocks on the feet by springs under the seat.

The cushions look new, and the colors are along the same lines as the rest of living room, so I have no intention of changing that, at least for now.

But the wood?  I REALLY don’t like dark wood … so knew that it had to be changed.   Because of all of the groovies and cranies, I opted to use spray paint instead of a brush… and ended up with Krylon Burgundy Gloss.  I had to take the fabric bit off of the chair underneath the cushion because we couldn’t figure out how to spray paint it and not get it on the fabric.  So, with 1 million brads and staples, that took some time.   While working on that, we discovered that one of the wire springs supporting the cushions was broken – so Russ had to do a hill billy fix to it… it works but I’m sure that anyone who upolsters is having a fainting spell right now.

Still, I think that it turned out really pretty!  It’s not perfect by any shot, but for $40 including the paint and the chair, I think that it is a GREAT addition to my living room.

I love wooden chairs, love they are so much cleaner (and I’m NOT a clean freak), how the cushions can easily be changed out as needed/wanted… how they’re super durable.  This one in particular, it’s my favorite chair now.  Just enough rock to keep the biggest figitter happy and make little girls smile.

Happy Sunday!!!

Salt Spout

OK, so when I saw this I immediately thought – well, duh.  How clever is this?  This is a super easy way to make a pour spout lid for canning jars – for free.  Perfect for sugar for your cereal, the office coffee room, baking soda for cleaning… lots of options!  And, I am betting that it wouldn’t be too hard to take some scrapbooking paper or a bit of wrapping paper and pretty up the top a bit, too.  Or even get creative with some markers… so many ideas!

Many thanks to My New Old School for letting me share this with you!  Her blog is full of fun old timy things – kind of like this blog!

Ice Cube Trays

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Well, today is a bit of a blast from the past.   When I was a kid, my paternal grandparents had these cool old fashioned ice cube trays – the metal ones with the handle that you had to pull up to break the ice apart.  Remember?  They tended to break the ice into smaller bits, but as a kid – I liked the little ice (as does my daughter).

Recently, my good friend, Edna, found a set of these at a yard sale for less than $1.  Score!  I am now using them as my only source of ice – and I’ve found that they’re easier to get the cubes out of than the plastic trays.

Wish that you had some of your own?  The only place that I’ve found them is at the Vermont Country Store.  They’re about $20 for 2 trays, which is a bit pricey, but would be a lovely gift for someone!   I’d love to try the new ones out if someone were so inclined… wink wink.

Just thought that I’d share my love of my ice cube trays…  after all, it’s only supposed to hit 105 here today and I was needing to think cooling thoughts!

TV on the Cheap

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Any idea what this might be?  It’s an HDTV antenna!  No, really.  My husband MADE this out of scrap 2 x 4 and old wire hangers and guess what – it works BETTER than the antenna’s you can buy anywhere.  Cost us $5!!!!  This is an easy-ish DIY project, but it is not our own idea – we found it  at

Too ugly for your tastes?  No worries – it’s hidden up in our attic!  We live about 45 miles from Austin, so we’re close enough – even with all of the pine trees.

But, why ditch our satelite TV that we’d had for years to go old school even with a fancy antenna?  Because at $85/month, it just wasn’t making sense to pay for it anymore… with the antenna, we get all of the networks for FREE (except for Fox), which includes PBS for the invaluable Sesame Street!

But, fear not, we still have a huge selection… because we also bought a Roku box.  A Roku box is a little black box that hooks up to the internet and streams TV through that to your TV set.  We get Netflix and Hulu plus for less than $20 a month and have more and better viewing options than we ever did with the blood suckers.   And, it also has lots of free “channels” – like Winamp and Pandora… so we also listen to the radio via the internet on the TV.  🙂

It does require that you have high speed internet – we have DSL and had to upgrade to the 3 meg “high speed” version… but even still, it only added $5/month to our costs as we already had the DSL at our house.

Hulu plus has the entire season of Lost on it (the first show we watched!), and Netflix now has Sesame Street!  This is especially wonderful as Rosie is currently sick with a fever… and we’re watching lots and lots and lots of Street.

As we continue to try to cut the budget, we’re also trying not to totally deprive ourselves… this is a great option for this situation.  In fact, we realize that we like the Roku MORE than the satellite and have no intentions of ever going back.

By the way, I only link to these products because we really like them – and think that you might, too.  Not because we get any type of monetary compensation from it.  Just so you know!