New Family Room

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Especially nice with the rye bread.


Character App for Writers: Mac Family Tree

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

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

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

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

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


Poetry Snacks

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

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

1. The Pasture

I’M going out to clean the pasture spring;

I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away

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

I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

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

It totters when she licks it with her tongue.

I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

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

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

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


IKEA Modification for Compost and Chicken Scraps

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

Not so in the new kitchen!


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

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