We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Quilt…..

My grandson’s quilt has been put on hold, but only temporarily.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

I am, more or less, a self-taught quilter. I have a very dear friend, though I’ve never met her in real life, who has encouraged and coached and answered hundreds of my newbie quilting questions all via email or private message. Without her, I’d have never gotten started. A few weeks ago, though, I signed up for three beginning quilting classes at the quilt shop in the nearby city. One class is three sessions long, and the other two are just single sessions. The goal, of course, is to improve my piecing, cutting, assembly and quilting skills so that I can do a better job on the quilts I have planned. I have an ongoing goal, as most of you know, to be a life-long learner, and quilting is one of the things that I’d love to learn to do well.


It’s been a bit of a mixed bag, so far, with the three session class. A mix-up on the instructor’s supply list caused me to be woefully short of fabric after the first class. I ordered more fabric, but now I have two class sessions worth of homework to finish before next Monday. I love the class quilt, and I really love the fabric I chose for the quilt. The fabric is the Sweet Pea Collection from Kansas Troubles Quilters.


The colors in this line really appealed to me, as do most of the prints. The quilt is made up of 35 four-patch blocks. I have twenty-one completed so far, and will be sewing like crazy for the next few days to complete all of the four patch blocks, combine all of those for the quilt center, and then begin the appliqué that makes the quilt special. I’m in a bit over my head, at this point, but I’m determined to finish well.


Knitting has taken a bit of a backseat, as well. I finished the first sock during the Winter Olympics, and have knit just a few rows past the ribbing of the second sock during Will’s baseball practices. I take my knitting to the park most every practice, but I get so distracted watching the team, not much knitting gets done. Maybe these washable wool socks will be finished before next fall!


All of the same books are still in my stack, but I’m making great headway in Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. Until now, I’ve not been a huge fan of this author’s writing style, though the content of his books keeps me reading and coming back for more. Amazing Grace, however, has been an interesting, albeit a hard, read. In this instance, Eric Metaxas does a tremendous job of pulling his readers into the passion that William Wilberforce had for the abolition of the British slave trade, and exposing its true horrors.

Expressing our creativity is important for all of us, and we, as makers of our homes, are artists. I also think that it’s vital that we all have at least one book that we’re reading at any given time. What are you creating right now? What book, or books, are you enjoying?


Using Evernote As Your Recipe Box

Evernote is a great way to keep track of all of your recipes. In fact, Evernote is now my primary recipe box. It’s the one app I use all day, almost every day.  Here are some suggestions for you so that you can get started using Evernote for your own recipes.


(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

Before we add that first recipe, you’ll want to decide how you want to use your Evernote account …notebooks, notebook stacks, or just tagging everything.  I started out with notebooks, and then built stacks, and then I discovered the wonders of tagging.  (Stacks are a just a group of notebooks that you can lump together under a common title.)  I now use a combination of notebooks and tagging, and I’m constantly adding tags to old notes that don’t have them. 

I want you to set up your recipes in Evernote in a way that makes sense to you. You might just want to add all of your recipes into one “Recipe” folder. If you choose this method, be sure to add plenty of tags to each recipe so that you can find it later. You can also choose to set up separate notebooks for each category of recipe – main dishes, desserts, etc.

Recipe Box stack

In the picture above, you can see my “Recipe Box” stack, with all of the notebooks contained in that stack listed immediately underneath. I have my Chicken Main Dishes notebook open. Again, you set up Evernote in the way that will work best for you.

Evernote Tip: Remember, to set up all new notebooks as “Synchronized” notebooks, so that you can access them on all of your devices, or on any computer with an Internet connection.

There are several ways that you can now begin adding your recipes to Evernote. Today, I’ll give you two basic methods, and we’ll cover other methods next time.



First, you can add a recipe by typing it in as a new note. Open the notebook that you’d like to hold the recipe, then click “New Note” at the top. Title your note with the recipe’s name, and start typing. Easy! In the photo above, I have my Breakfast notebook open, and the arrow is pointing to “New Note in Breakfast”.



Once I click that box, a new note will open and I can begin typing in my new breakfast recipe.  Add the title of the recipe in the title box, and then just type in your recipe the same way that you’d write the recipe out on a recipe card.



You want to be sure to add tags to all of your recipes. Tagging them really gives you access to one of the most valuable features of Evernote – the ability to search for a recipe even if you don’t know what it’s called or what notebook it’s in. Tags are your very best friend in Evernote. Use them! If you’re not sure if you should add a particular tag or not, go ahead and add it. You’ll never regret having too many tags. To add tags to your recipe, or to any note, click the “Click to add tags” button.



Now you can add all the tags you’d like. Evernote will save your tags, and once you’ve used a tag once, it will start popping up for you so that you don’t have to type it all the way out. You can just click it to add it.  In the photo above, I’ve tagged this recipe with “breakfast” “coffee cake” and “Pioneer Woman”.

If this were a main dish recipe, I’d include the meat used as a tag (beef, ground beef, chicken, pork, meatless, etc.).  If it’s a recipe that feeds a crowd, I include a tag for that, too. If the recipe can be cooked in a slow cooker, I tag it with “crockpot”. If the recipe can be frozen and served later, I tag it with “freezer” or “freezer meal”. Make the tags your own. You want to be able to find your recipes, and the best way to do that is to tag them with words that make sense to you.

If you’ve forgotten some of the tags you’ve used, don’t despair. Evernote remembers them for you.



You can scroll down to the little “tags” icon on the left sidebar. If you click that icon, a page will open with all of the tags that you’ve ever used.



You can also open up that same page of tags by clicking “view” at the top of your screen, and then clicking “tags” from the drop down menu.



Second, you can email recipes right into your Evernote account. Evernote set up a private Evernote email address for you when you set up your account. To find that address, open up your account information. You can do that by finding the little drop down arrow next to your name at the top of your screen (see the photo above), and then clicking the arrow for the drop down menu.  You’ll then see  “Account Info”. Click “Account Info”.



When your account information window opens up, you will see a line that says “email notes to” and your private Evernote email address will be given there. Evernote will automatically save any notes you email to your account directly into your Default Notebook. You can forward emails that contain recipes into your Evernote account, or you could even share your Evernote email address with a friend who is sending you a recipe. Another fun thing is to use your phone to take a good, sharp picture of a friend’s recipe card and then email that to your Evernote account.

EVERNOTE TIP: Add your Evernote email address to your contacts list on your computer and your phone. That way, you can send pictures, notes, and all sorts of information directly to your Evernote account no matter where you are. Take a photo with your phone, or type in a quick note, and email it to Evernote! Nothing could be easier.

There you have it – two ways that you can begin, right now, to add your recipes to Evernote. The first method is the one that I’m using to get most of the recipes from all of my old recipe boxes and binders into Evernote. I’m adding a few a week, as I have time or as I pull them out to use them. Slowly but surely, I’m getting all of them saved into Evernote.

Next time, hopefully sometime toward the middle of next week, I’ll share with you how I save recipes, and all sorts of other great stuff, from all over the Internet to Evernote. It’s fun,  it’s easy, and it’s a great way to keep and organize all of those recipes you want to try.

You’ll find all of the posts in my Paperless Homemaking Series here.



America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Review

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a general, all-purpose cookbook that I’ve absolutely loved. That long wait makes this find all the sweeter!


(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

I really can’t take any credit for discovering this cookbook. Last fall, while my kitchen was being remodeled, I asked several folks, who enjoy  cooking and baking as much as I do, to share some of their favorite cookbooks and/or cooking resources with me. I had several great responses, and I’ll be checking out all of them in the coming months.  However, my daughter, Dani, said that she loved The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook,  and I chose her recommendation as my first purchase.

In the last few months, I’ve prepared dozens of recipes, from almost every section of the cookbook. The recipes have all been delicious, family friendly, and, best of all, completely made from scratch. You won’t find any prepackaged mixes or overly processed ingredients in these recipes! Where canned, or frozen, ingredients are used, the editors of the cookbook are careful to tell you just why that is the best choice for the dish you are preparing.

That “why” is a good portion of the reason why I love this cookbook so much. Learning why something works, goes a long way toward making you a better cook. I’ve learned several techniques that I’ll use beyond the recipes in this cookbook. A few examples are: how to keep breaded, pan-fried meats crispy during and after frying; proper herb mincing technique and which knife to use for the job; and how to keep the pasta or vegetables in a long simmering soup from becoming mush.  An old dog really can learn a new trick or two! It’s important, to me, to not just keep doing things the same way I’ve always done them when there may very well be a better way to do it. I plan to be a life-long learner, and cooking is a good place to keep that spirit alive.

The recipes all have terrific, step-by-step instructions that make preparing a new dish easy. Quite often, there are clear photographs to go along with the instructions. Not sure if the white bread and buttermilk mixture you’re making for the Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs is quite the right consistency? Just look at the picture!



There are lots and lots of helpful tips about ingredients, techniques and equipment scattered throughout the cookbook. There’s almost one on every page.



I also appreciate the special sections that help you figure out which cut of meat, or piece of fish, can be used in place of the cut called for in a recipe.

This particular edition of The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook contains a  thirty-two page guide to kitchen cookware and equipment, which covers everything from measuring tools, to pots and pans, skillets, mixers, bakeware and even grilling gear. That’s all followed by a fifteen page buying guide which will help you select the best bets for new, or replacement equipment for your kitchen. They even share their favorite plastic wrap with you!



Most of us can’t afford to buy all new kitchen equipment all at once, but it’s nice, when it’s time to purchase a new skillet, small appliance, or even a whisk, to know which are the best on the market, and which are the best buy. I was recently in the market for a good quality baking stoneto use for pizza and rustic breads. It was great to see that America’s Test Kitchen recommended the the very stonethat I’ve had my eye on. By the way – even though this cookbook, which was published in 2010, has fairly current pricing information, be sure to check around. The baking stoneI bought retails most places, and is listed in the buying guide, for $54.95; but I purchased it from Amazon for $40.22.



There are also product tests and recommendations scattered throughout the cookbook. I like that even though the folks at America’s Test Kitchen might prefer the super expensive Le Creuset, they let you know that there’s also a more reasonably priced alternative.

I was also pleased to see that a good number of the recipes have a “make ahead” note (see the photo above), letting you know how to use your time more efficiently by prepping a dish hours, or even days, ahead of time, and how to safely keep it until you’re ready to finish the dish to serve.

While I’ve not found any printing errors, Dani alerted me to the fact that the double crust pie recipe triples the fat from the single pie crust recipe, rather than simply doubling it. I have no way of knowing if this was an error that the editors missed, or if the published double crust pie recipe is just the way they make it. I followed Dani’s lead, though, and just doubled the single crust pie recipe and it turned out beautifully.

The recipes include fairly accurate serving, prep and cooking times, which I find very helpful when planning my meals. I did notice that my “prep” times tended to run longer than those listed by America’s Test Kitchen, but I’ve gained speed as I’ve become more familiar with, and gained confidence in, the new-to-me techniques. My prep times are now pretty consistent with those listed.



The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook contains hundreds of recipes that will provide years of wonderful cooking experiences for your family. There are great family recipes, as well as wonderful company dishes. This particular edition,with the Cookware and Buying Guides, would make a terrific wedding or bridal shower gift, too. I love this cookbook. It will have a permanent place in my kitchen for years to come.


Juggling The Dinners Menu Plan

I made my menu plan for this week before I knew which days, if any, Copper would be working, and before Will’s coach sent out the week’s baseball practice schedule.  I’m glad I didn’t wait. Will’s baseball practice schedule wasn’t released until Sunday afternoon, and we were gone all day celebrating Copper’s dad’s 81st birthday with family and friends, and then we spent the evening visiting with Dani & Sean.  It was a fabulous day, but I was tired by nightfall (it’s 11:30 p.m. as I type this!), and there is no way that I would have been able to come up with a decent menu plan this late.

All of my breakfast and lunch plans should be fine, and I’ll just juggle the dinners around to fit the week the way it now looks. With everything planned around what’s already available in my freezer, fridge and pantry, the day the various dinners are actually prepared really doesn’t matter.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

Because it’s so late, I’ll just dive right into the menu for the week. Here’s my “juggling the dinners” menu plan!

Breakfast – Waffles
Lunch –  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Baby Carrots & Ranch Dip
Dinner – Ree’s Favorite Meatloaf, Buttered Egg Noodles, Steamed Broccoli

Breakfast – Bacon and Eggs-In-A-Hole
Lunch – Meat Loaf Sandwiches, Chips
Dinner – Italian Chicken Packets, Garlic Toast

Breakfast – Cinnamon Baked Donuts
Lunch – Breakfast Burritos (who says you can’t have breakfast for lunch?), Fresh Fruit
Dinner – Bacon & Avocado Cheese Burgers, Parmesan Fries, Green Salad

Breakfast – Old Fashioned Oat Meal
Lunch – Egg Salad Sandwiches, Fruit
Dinner – Beef, Bean & Cheese Burritos, Green Salad

Breakfast – Pancakes
Lunch – OYO (Everyone is on their own)
Dinner – Thai Red Beef Curry (from this cookbook), White Basmati Rice, Asian Chopped Salad

Breakfast – Cereal
Lunch – PBJ Sandwiches, Chips
Dinner – Baked Ziti, Green Salad

Breakfast – Pumpkin Gingerbread with Orange Glaze
Lunch – Out After Church
Dinner – Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder, Corn Muffins

If menu planning is a new idea for you, or if you just need a few new ideas to freshen up your menus, my Menu Planning Series will help!

As always, I’m joining in this week’s Menu Plan Monday. What’s cooking at your house this week?



Baseball, Company & Good Eats

We won’t play our first game for a few weeks yet, but baseball is still keeping us hopping. Will has three practices a week, and all right at the time that I’d normally be prepping and cooking dinner. Having a well thought out menu plan is essential. We’re having company, at least a couple of times this week, too. I love that the workflow in my new kitchen allows me plenty of space to prep and bake and cook and clean up, all at the same time.

I waited a very, very long time for this kitchen, and I’m thankful for it every single day. However, making the most of the space you have can really help you love even a poorly designed, falling apart kind of kitchen. See my Less Than Perfect Kitchen Series for more on that.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

I’m relying on some quick prep, quick cooking main dishes this week so that we can still enjoy a delicious dinner before heading to ball practice.  A late brunch is the order of the day when Copper’s Dad visits us on Monday, and I’ll be trying out my brand new pizza stoneand a new pizza recipe when Will’s best buddy visits us late in the week. I’ll also enjoy the fruit of my earlier labors as I pull the second pan of Manicotti, made a couple of weeks ago, out of the freezer.  It only took about ten extra minutes to put together the second pan of Manicotti for the freezer, and what a blessing having that freezer meal ready to go is!

I also have a rough list of some things I’m hoping to bake this week. I’m not going to stress over getting these made, but I love having a list in mind if time to bake happens.

Here’s our menu for the week. As always, I’m joining Laura for this week’s Menu Plan Monday.

Breakfast – Waffles
Lunch – (Actually a late brunch) Aztec Quiche, Poppy Seed Toast, Pretty-Yummy Fruit Salad
Dinner – Roast Beef, Provolone, Bacon & Avocado Sandwiches on Whole Wheat Toast, Chips

Breakfast – Cereal
Lunch – Meat Sandwiches, Chips
Dinner – Coconut Chicken with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce, Bacon Wrapped Green Beans, Dani’s Turmeric Rice

Breakfast – Cinnamon Raisin Toast & Scrambled Eggs Supreme
Lunch – Cheese Quesadillas, Baby Carrots & Ranch Dip
Dinner – Pork Medallions with a Bourbon-Apricot Pan Sauce (America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook),Tri-Color Couscous Pilaf, Chopped Salad

Breakfast – Oatmeal
Lunch – Left over Pork Medallions, Warm Tortillas, Peaches
Dinner – Tacos, Green Salad

Breakfast – Pancakes
Lunch – Everyone’s on their own
Dinner – Chicken-Bacon-Garlic-Basil Pizza, Green Salad

Breakfast – Blueberry Coffee Cake, Bacon
Lunch – Tostadas
Dinner – Manicotti, Green Salad, French Bread & Butter

Breakfast – finishing up the Blueberry Coffee Cake
Lunch – out after church
Dinner – Pasta E Fagioli (America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook), Garlic Toast

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Triple Cinnamon Scones
Raspberry Cornmeal Pancakes with Lemon Curd
Pain à l’Ancienne Rustic Bread (Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day)

Looking for more information on why, and how, to menu plan? My Menu Planning Series can help!




Almond Poppy Seed Bread – Best Toast Ever!

I recently rediscovered my recipe for Almond Poppy Seed Bread, and I’ve been making it fairly often ever since. This bread is good to serve, spread with butter, as a side dish to almost any meal, and it’s texture and stability make it a good sandwich bread when a slightly sweet bread enhances the filling. However, my very favorite use of this bread is to toast it, spread it with real butter, and enjoy it alone, or alongside of scrambled eggs for breakfast. Or lunch. Or Whenever.


(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

Almond Poppy Seed Bread makes the best toast ever. Slightly sweet with lots of great almond flavor. Great texture that holds up well in the toaster.


The thing that makes it extra great, though, is the addition of the slivered almonds. They add a bit more flavor, and a lot more crunch, and all in all are what I think makes this such a terrific loaf for toasting. My recipe says 2/3 cup of slivered almonds. I make that a heaping 2/3 cup because I love them so much.


hello poppy seeds

There are also two Tablespoons of poppy seeds in this loaf. They look like a lot floating around in the pan, but as they’re mixed in and the bread rises, it ends up being just the right amount.


ready for the machine

That’s yeast on the top, in the picture above, but the slightly creamy color under the yeast is buttermilk powder. I use Saco Buttermilk Powderexclusively in all of my recipes that call for Buttermilk. I like Saco brand because it blends in beautifully and the results in the final product are every bit as good as they’d be from liquid buttermilk. The trick is to add the Buttermilk Powder to your dry ingredients, and then add water with the liquid ingredients in the same amount as the buttermilk called for the in the recipe.

The ratio of Buttermilk Powderis 1 Tablespoon of Buttermilk Powder for each 1/4 cup of Buttermilk called for in your recipe. The water ratio is cup for cup the same as the buttermilk used. In this recipe, I added 1 – 3/4 cups water at the beginning (instead of 1 – 3/4 cups buttermilk), and then added 7 Tablespoons of Buttermilk Powder with the bread flour. Super easy, and those directions are printed right on the container if you forget.


My Almond Poppy Seed Bread recipe is on Evernote, which makes it super easy for me to find every time I want to make it.  Lord willing, tomorrow will be the day that I tell you how to use Evernote as your recipe box as I continue my Paperless Homemaking Series.

This is one of my current favorite recipes. It’s delicious, but because it’s made in the bread machine, it’s quick and easy to make, too. Delicious, quick and easy is always a good combination!



1 3/4 cups buttermilk (or 1 3/4 cup water if you use Buttermilk Powder)
2 Tablespoons Almond Extract (yes, TABLESPOONS)
4 Tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 1/2 cups bread flour (if you’re using Buttermilk Powder, add 7 Tablespoons Buttermilk Powderwith the flour)
2 teaspoons yeast
2/3 cup slivered almonds

Add all ingredients, except the slivered almonds, into the bread machine pan in the order listed. Set machine for basic, or regular/white bread cycle. Add almonds at the beep. Enjoy the wonderful aroma as it bakes!

I currently own, and love, my Zojirushi Home Bakery, and feel it’s worth every penny. Dani has the Zojirushi, too.  However, I also really liked  my old Breadman Ultimate, and my daughter, Corin still has hers, and she and my grandkids use it several times a week. I recommend both of these bread machines.


Menu Plan – Spring Training Has Begun!

It’s that time of year again! Baseball is now going to be a huge part of our lives for the next few months. I couldn’t be happier. Of course, all of those practices and weird game times can mean that we end up grabbing fast food in town if I don’t plan ahead. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with grabbing a burger after practice or before a game, but doing that on a regular basis can create total chaos in the budget, especially at the end of the month.

The first step, for me, when I plan our weekly menus, is to take a good look at the calendar. What days will we all be home for dinner? What days will dinner have to be early? What days will it have to be late? Does anyone have to be at church in the evening during the week? How about Bible study? What days will I be in town in the afternoon, and would that be a good day to use the slow cooker? Throwing baseball practices, and soon games, into that mix keeps me on my toes.

This week is especially busy. Will has his first practices with his new team (in a new town and a new league) Wednesday and Thursday, we have guests coming for a midday/late brunch meal on Monday, Copper is working on call three days this week, and all of us have appointments in town during the week (but all on different days!). It’s weeks like this that I rely, heavily, on my menu plan. I don’t need to worry about what I’m making for dinner, or even breakfast, because it’s already written down. I’m also making sure that we use up all of our left overs by serving them for lunch. Not only does this mean less waste, it also insures that my still growing ball player is getting a hot, nutritious lunch, with plenty of protein.

I’ll use the slow cooker  and the bread machine on the day I’ll be in town all afternoon. We’ll all come home after ball practice that evening to a hearty meal and fresh, baked bread, ready to be served in just minutes. I’ll have plenty of time to fix dinner Tuesday, though we’ll need to eat early, so I’ll make double and put a pan in the freezer for the next crazy week. I’ll do the same on Friday. I hope to spend some time baking Tuesday, filling my freezer with muffins and cookies to pull out in the days and weeks ahead.

Menu planning is easy, once you get the hang of it, and it can save you time and money. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you need some new ideas, my Menu Planning Series can help.

Here’s our menu for the week.

MONDAY (Company’s coming!)
Breakfast – Waffles
Lunch – Sunrise Casserole, Almond Poppy Seed Toast, Waldorf Salad
Dinner – Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwiches

Breakfast – Cereal
Lunch – Left over Sunrise Casserole, toast
Dinner – Chicken Enchiladas with Green Sauce (doubled to put a pan in the freezer), Spanish Rice, Green Salad

Breakfast – Cinnamon Raisin Toast, Scrambled Eggs
Lunch – Left over Enchiladas, Fresh Fruit
Dinner – Hearty Beef Stew in the slow cooker (from this wonderful cookbook), Portuguese Sweet Bread

Breakfast – Oatmeal
Lunch – Left over stew, Portuguese Sweet Bread
Dinner – Burritos, Baby Carrots & Ranch Dip

Breakfast – Pancakes
Lunch – Every Man For Himself Who’s At Home
Dinner – Manicotti (with beef, sausage, spinach & ricotta), Toasted Garlic Bread, Green Salad

Breakfast – Cereal
Lunch – Left over Manicotti
Dinner – Beef & Cheese Nachos


Breakfast – Cream Cheese Coffeecake
Lunch – Out After Church
Dinner – Wild Dinner (Our term for Sunday evening’s meal of snacks or whatever anyone wants to make for themselves)


As usual, I’m joining Laura for this week’s Menu Plan Monday.


I Kind Of Miss Reading….

Winter Olympic viewing has been fun for the last week or so, but I kind of miss reading. Actually, I miss it a lot! The excitement of the games has been fun, but I’m actually longing to settle into my chair, put my feet up, and spend some serious time in a book. Next week it will happen.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

wednesday towel

In the meantime, though, all that time in front of the TV has been productive. I finished Dani’s Wednesday dish towel. Four down, three to go. I was in a bit of panic last Sunday evening because I couldn’t find the last three dish towels in the set. After a bit, I realized that I’d only applied the iron on transfers to the first four towels.  I’m hoping to get the transfers applied to the last three towels before the weekend.



There’s a story behind the dishtowels, of course, and it’s bittersweet to work on them. I’ve procrastinated on these terribly, and I think part of it is because it’s the last little service that I can do for my mom. It will be good to have them done, but the story behind them will always be with me. (The transfers are a vintage reproduction from Pattern Bee.)



With nothing in my basket to work on during our evening Olympic viewing, I looked through my yarn stash. I found a partially knit sock, started, and forgotten, eons ago. I pulled it off the needles, rewound the yarn, found an easy toe down sock pattern, and started all over. It’s been awhile since I’ve knit on double point needles, or with such fine yarn. I had to tear the ribbing out once, but then my hands remembered their way and I’ve been happily knitting in the evening all week. (The yarn is a very inexpensive washable wool blend from Jo-Ann Stores that is, apparently, no longer available.)


sock close up

I love patterned sock yarn, and I’d forgotten how addicting knitting socks can be!


quilt back

I added quite a few more rows of machine quilting to my grandson’s quilt this week, too. My “stitch in the ditch” technique is improving with every sitting; and I’ve done enough quilting that there’s a bit of the quilted pattern evident on the back side of the quilt, too. The print is busy, I know, but you can just make out the outlined 9″ squares, alternating with the 3″ x 3″ nine patch blocks.


stack of books

I’ve enjoyed having these extended periods of time to do some handwork in the evenings, and I’m hoping that I’ll still continue with that to some degree, but I am very much looking forward to getting back to reading again, too. The only reading I’ve done this week has been a chapter or two in Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery while waiting for Will during piano lessons and during some time at the batting cages. Batting cages! It’s that time of year again. Baseball tryouts are this week!

What are you reading? Have a good book, or a favorite author to share? What sorts of sewing, knitting or stitching projects are you working on? I’d love to hear about them.


Setting Up Evernote For Paperless Homemaking

Evernote is my go to app for everything. As I work towards making my home, and my homemaking, as paperless as possible, Evernote is proving to be just the right tool for the job. I’m now using Evernote as my paperless homemaker’s journal, my recipe box, and my filing cabinet for a hundred other purposes. Today I want to help you get started using Evernote in your own home.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

Before we can get to the fun of actually using Evernote to help us in our homes, we need to learn the basics of using it. Though my explanation below might seem complicated, I promise you that it isn’t. Just follow my instructions, step by step, and you’ll see just how easy it really is. If you already use, and love, Evernote, feel free to just skip over this information and join us next week when we start learning to use Evernote in our homes.

To begin, of course, you will need an Evernote account. Evernote is free, and setting up your own account is quick and easy. All you need to get started is an internet connection and your email address. Go to Evernote.com, enter your email address, and follow the instructions. Super easy. Super fast. Absolutely free. If you use my links to Evernote, you will get one free month of Evernote Premium to try, but you don’t need to continue with the premium service. For almost everyone, a free standard Evernote account is more than enough.

Once you have your Evernote account set up, you’ll want to add the Evernote app to all of your devices – laptops, smart phones, tablets, etc. The thing that makes Evernote such a terrific asset for the homemaker is its ability to sync seamlessly across all of your devices. Also, if you’re ever without all of your own devices, you can access all of your Evernote notes on any computer with an Internet connection, just by signing into your account.  (If you ever decide to use Evernote Premium, the apps on your devices will automatically update to function with your premium account.) I have Evernote installed on my laptop, iPhone and iPad. Copper uses it, too. Okay, so get the Evernote app added to all of your devices now. Again, it’s quick, easy and absolutely free.

The first time you sign into your Evernote account, Evernote will have already set up your first Notebook for you. Inside that Notebook will be one or two notes from Evernote welcoming you to their service. Read through these notes to familiarize yourself with Evernote.

Now I want you think about how you want to set up your Evernote account. A simple way to understand Evernote is to think of it like a file cabinet with a brain. A really smart, powerful brain. Each separate thing that you add to Evernote is called a “note”.  You can just toss all of those notes into one big pile in Evernote, or you can set up a file folder system. In Evernote, your file folders are called “notebooks”.  Because of that really smart, powerful brain I mentioned, either system will work well for you. Here’s a brief explanation of how it all works.

When you add information to Evernote, you do so by adding a new note. It’s as simple as clicking the “Add a new note” button.

adding a new note

In this photo, you can see the list of all of my notebooks on the far left side. The notebook I have open is my Back Hall/Laundry Room notebook.  (We’ll add a notebook in just a minute.)  For now, try adding a new note of your own to the notebook that Evernote created for you when you opened your account. This is just for fun and to get the hang of things, so it doesn’t matter that the note is added to that notebook. Click the name of that Notebook to open it, and then click “New Note” button at the top of the screen.

Now, please don’t worry if your screen does not look exactly the way mine does. Evernote displays differently on different computers, and there are also individual settings that you can use to customize Evernote to suit yourself. I’m using Evernote on a MacBook Air. It will look different on a PC, and the display will also look different on your phone or tablet. Don’t worry, it all works the same way.



Your new note will look something like this.  It will be titled “untitled note”, but we can fix that.


addtitle to note


You’ll notice that the name of the note displays in the main pane on the note itself, but it also displays in the note card view on the side bar just to the left of the main note.



changing the way you view your notes

At the top of your Evernote screen, click the “View” tab. A menu with various options for how you want to view your notes will drop down.  The options, as seen above are card view, expanded card view, snippet view, side list view and top list view.  Click the various options on your computer and see which you like. You can change them any time you want. I use “card view” most of the time.

Now that you have your first note opened and titled, you can add anything you want to that note. Just type in whatever you want. Evernote automatically saves everything you type. No need to manually save anything.

Now, let’s add a new notebook. It’s every bit as easy as adding a new note.


new notebook


At the top of your screen, click the “File” tab. Then click “new notebook”.  This next step is very important. You want to be sure to click “Synchronized Notebook”. A Synchronized Notebook will be available to you everywhere – On your computer, on your smart phone, on your tablet, any place, any time, or anywhere that you have access to any computer with an Internet connection. Local notebooks are available ONLY on the computer that you use to first set them up, and you cannot change the way a notebook is set up once it has been done. I use Synchronized Notebooks exclusively because I want to know that my information will always be available.

Go ahead and click “Synchronized Notebook”.


new notebook 2


Your new notebook is now created. Again, your notebooks may display differently than mine. You can, again, click the “view” tab at the top of your screen and decide if you want to view your notebooks in “grid view”, as they appear here, or in “list view”. I change the way I view my notebooks frequently when I’m doing a lot of work in Evernote. Choose whichever view you prefer, and change it any time you want. You can click the new notebook and rename it as you wish.



I renamed the new notebook “Cher’s Test Notebook.”.


new notebook in list

Cher’s Test Notebook is now shown in the list with all of my other notebooks. The “0″ after the notebook name shows that there are zero notes currently in that notebook. (Having the number of notes appear after the notebook name is also something that you can choose to see or not, as you prefer.)

Now, I’ll open a new note in Cher’s Test Notebook.


add tags

Here’s the new, untitled note. See my arrow? It’s pointing to text that reads “click to add tags”.  That “click to add tags” button is one of the most important keys in taking advantage of all of Evernote’s brain power.


use lots of tags


If you will tag every note with all of the ways that you might ever need to look for it, Evernote will always be able to find that note for you. You create your own tags, and you can label a note with as many tags as you’d like. Here, I’ve tagged this note with “blog”, “evernote series” and “paperless homemaking series”.   I’ll be covering this in a lot more detail in the weeks to come, but being able to search for notes, by the way they are tagged, has saved the day for me more than once. I might not remember, for certain, what notebook I created a note in, but if I tagged it properly, I can always find it.

That was a whole lot of information, I know. I’m sorry for the lengthy post. Some of you might already be familiar with Evernote and this was probably information you already knew. For others, this might have been your first introduction to Evernote. For you, let me just say that it’s not hard. You just need to get in there and give it a try. You’ll soon get the knack of using it, and you’ll be hooked on what a tremendously helpful tool it can be.

Now that everyone understands how to set up their Evernote account, we can really dive in and start using Evernote. Once we begin to use it in more practical ways, it will become very easy to use. You’ll soon be finding all sorts of new and unique ways to use it all on your own.

In the very next post in this series,  I’ll show you (finally!) how to use Evernote as your recipe box. We’ll add favorite recipes, learn how to save recipes we’ve found on the web, and even how to share individual recipes, or even our entire recipe box, with anyone. I’ll even show you how, and why, I’d rather save recipes found on the Internet in Evernote rather than on Pinterest!

It’s going to be fun to share all of that with you, and then we’ll just keep on going with ways to use Evernote in all sorts of areas. I’m excited!


Daybook – February 17, 2014

I used to participate in The Simple Woman’s Daybook on a regular basis. With so much going on right now, I thought it might be fun to use her daybook platform, with a few of my own changes, to catch up a bit!

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)


sheep in pasture
Outside my window – It’s greening up a bit after the rain last week. The areas closest to my house are green, but the pasture where we run our sheep isn’t looking so good. Two dry years in a row have taken their toll and I’m afraid that there may not be anything alive out there to grow.  We had two or three inches of rain last week, but that is just a tiny drop in the bucket of where we should be this time of year. The farmers around us have wells, and they’ve been irrigating already, but the underground water table is falling, too. Our California drought will have a negative impact on the economy nationwide.

I am thinking – How glad I was to see Will this afternoon! He’s been away at winter camp with the youth from our church since Friday. It’s way too quiet around here when he’s not around.

I am thankful – For grace.


In the kitchen – Waffles this morning. A caramel macchiato mid-morning, lattes in the late afternoon.  Salisbury Steak, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans with Bacon for dinner.

I am wearing – Black Land’s End knit pants, given to me as hand-me-downs years ago, and they’re still going strong, a grey Disneyland sweatshirt, pink and white striped socks, and my favorite Chuck Taylor’s with the hot pink laces. Nine earrings, too. Always.

grey and white sock knitting
I am creating – A quilt for Grand #2, and the fabric has been purchased for Grand #3′s quilt. There are seven of those grands already, and I’m determined that each of them will have a fun quilt from this grandma to just knock around in while watching movies, etc. I’m a beginning quilter, but it’s good practice for me, and the kids don’t mind mistakes. I also have a pair of socks on my knitting needles, and Dani’s days-of-the-week dishtowels in my embroidery hoop. Plenty to keep me busy! (And now that I see this picture, I’m going to have to rip out my sock back to that boo-boo in the ribbing.)

I am wondering – if I can pull off a weekend away with Copper in the near future. He’s working on call a couple of days a week, and he’s been doing lots of home improvement stuff the rest of the week. He is, after all, retired, and a couple of days of rest and relaxation would do him good.

I am reading – Several books right now, but honestly? I’m watching the Winter Olympics every night, so my reading time is pretty limited until they end next week.

I am hoping – That I can reclaim my normal routine next week once the Olympics are over. These late nights, and therefore, late mornings, are not giving me my most productive days.

A quote for today – Hold your plans loosely!  For each time that I say it to you, I’ve said it to myself at least a hundred times. My days, and my time, are really not my own. They belong to God and it’s up to me to manage that time wisely. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, but it’s all His, in any event. His grace when I blow it is so sweet to receive.

I am looking forward to – Baseball! Tryouts are later this week, and the season begins in early March. Will has moved up a division this year, and we’re playing in a different city, with all new coaches, parents and players, and we’re pretty excited to see how the season shapes up.

I am learning – To quilt. In fact, I’ve signed up for three classes at the quilt shop in one of our closer cities. I’ve learned a lot on my own, and I’ve had a lot of help from afar from a good friend, but it just felt like time to take a few classes. The classes start in mid March.

Around the house – Copper is in the midst of rebuilding my pantry! New, deeper shelves, that will take full advantage of the pantry’s depth and some space that is wasted in the current configuration. Shelves that are spaced more evenly, which will make room for one more shelf – that’s six extra feet of shelf space. Six feet! He’s also wiring the pantry for lighting. Lights! In the pantry! Yay!

A peek into my day – electrical work happening in the pantry.

I am praying for – My father-in-law who has inoperable cancer. A very dear friend who recently lost her husband. Another dear friend who struggles with chronic, and often debilitating, pain. A lovely young woman from my church who is training to go to South Africa as a biblical counselor.

A few plans for the rest of the week – I really want to get my sewing nook cleaned up, cleaned out and organized. When Dani and I began sharing the space, I sort of just piled my stuff up at one end. She’s been married for more than a year, and I now have the space all to myself, but I still have the jumbled up mess at the window end of the space. It’s time to clean up! My plan is to spend 15 to 20 minutes a day in there and see how much I get done.That’s my plan, but, you know….I’m holding my plans loosely.