Digitizing Your Recipes

Be sure to Pin this for later 🙂

In a previous post, I shared with you how I use the app Paprika on both my desktop and mobile devices to organize my recipes. I love having my recipes organized and accessible to me anywhere. This works very well for all my recipes that are digital. But what I am I doing with all my hand written recipes and recipes taken from the back of boxes, etc?

Well the answer until recently was nothing. I had yet to come across a program or app that would help me with my big file folder of recipes.  Recently in my Facebook feed, I saw a video with Chef Tyler Florence recommending the Adobe Scan app for digitizing recipes. Watch it, and I think you will be just as excited as I am.

I decided to scan a recipe using 3 different scanning apps to see which was best for the task of recipe scanning. I used Google Scan, Evernote, and Adobe Scan. All allowed my to scan the recipe card, back it up to a cloud service, and then share the recipe via email. Each had their pros and cons.  First up is Google Scan:

Google Scan works differently than the other 2 scanners. It’s scan process has you move your camera around 4 dots that cover the perimeter of your document or photo and it then takes a photo using the flash to get even lighting all round with no white flash mark. So a bit more time consuming. Also, as I have noticed with photos I have scanned, they are a bit cool for my taste, but that is easily corrected in Photoshop. Also, when sharing straight from the scan app, it adds the logo to the bottom. This logo does not appear in the copy that is saved to the cloud however. Lastly, Google Scan created the smallest file  of the three, 322kb.

Next we have Evernote. I do love Evernote and use it quite a bit for saving and sharing documents, mostly articles I want to clip and save from the web.  I have been capturing important Post It notes with Evernote for years, and this is basically the same. Like Adobe Scan, It also creates an overlay on your document showing what is being captured, a green outline. A plus for Evernote was it allowed me to choose how I wanted the file saved, document, photo, etc. It also created the largest file size by far, at 2.32MB. But it was a bit trickier to share, I can share a link to it, or insert an image in an email, but could not just email the file itself. The color was a little under saturated, the lightness on the right side was do to uneven lighting on my part.

Lastly, we have Adobe Scan. I love pretty much everything about it. If I don’t like the way it crops and cleans up an image, I can always go back to the original file and adjust things myself. It also had better color, coming in very close to the original. The file size was slightly bigger than Google at 461 kb, an acceptable size for printing and emailing. The scan is auto backed up to Adobe’s cloud, but I like that I can also choose to save it in whatever cloud based service I choose. (again, uneven lighting= my fault 🙂

So I am excited to get all my paper recipes scanned and safely backed up to 2 cloud services and available on my computer and mobile devices. I hope this helps you save and share your family recipes as well. Which app  do you think you will use?

This post is part of the Homemaking Linkup at

Using Pinterest to Catalog Items

I had an idea the other day, that while a simple one, I think could be helpful to some of you. I shared it in a Facebook group I am in and it was very well received, so I hope it helps you as well.

Recently, while going thru some old recipes (for a future blog post, 🙂 ) I came across a scrap of paper that I had written some silverware patterns on for “safe keeping”.

On that list was my mother’s silverware pattern, the pattern of some silver serving pieces I got at a garage sale, and our own silverware we got as wedding gifts. A great thing to have on hand should I find a great deal on Ebay, or a thrift store.

I started thinking- it would be great to have all the pattern names of our dishes, glassware, and silverware compiled and somewhere safe…….. I should write them all down and take beautiful pictures of them……… and create  something wonderful to store in the cloud for safe keeping……..would be good for insurance purposes too…… but I want to be able  to have it with me while I am out thrifting and garage sale shopping…….. wait what about PINTEREST?!?!?

Yep, that’s pretty much how that went, only really really fast 🙂

So, I created a board on Pinterest, and started searching for photos of our silverware, china, and glassware. I also included things like some singular tea cups we have. Even though we only have one or two of them, if they should ever need to be replaced, or I happen to find something from that pattern I would like to buy, it’s nice to have a photo and pattern name to make sure they match before purchasing.

I also created a section within the board (did you know that you can do that?) where I have placed some items I am keeping my eye out for, or would like as a gift sometime in the future, perhaps the gravy boat that matches your china, or the serving set for your silverware could go here.

Here is an example of what this could look like:

And then, when you open an individual section, you see the pattern information and any notes you have made, for example “tea cup from Aunt Lillian”.

One last tip, as you see on my example board (which is a fictitious board I created for this blog post) I highly suggest that you make this a secret board when you create it on Pinterest. This board is simply for your information, and you might not want the world to know the contents of your china cabinet, or the value there in. 🙂

This post is part of the Homemaking Link Up at Raising Homemakers, be sure to stop by for more great tips.

 

Organizing Our Family Photos

Previously, I have shared how I backup our family photos to keep them safe. That is the first step in managing our photos. The second step is organizing them in such a way that they can be enjoyed and shared.

Have you ever run across an old photo and wondered who it is a picture of? Maybe you turned the photo over hoping to see some writing that would help you, but there is none. Or found a baby photo in an album, and wondered if it was your husband or his brother, because they looked very similar when they were babies?

Those are the types of situations I am hoping to avoid for our family and future generations. Here is how I do it.

For many years I have used Lightroom to organize our photos. It is by Adobe, so I am pretty confident the software will be around long term, but even if Lightoom disappeared tomorrow, my organization would still be in place. Let me explain why that is important.

Years ago,  I organized my digital scrapbooking supplies with a different software program. All my supplies were in one major folder on my computer, but I used the software’s tagging system to label papers, ribbons, stickers, frames, etc. I spent many hours doing that. Wasted time.  The next time the software upgraded, there was a glitch and I lost ALL THOSE TAGS.

It was a hard lesson to learn, but an important one. From that point on, I used folders on my computer instead of proprietary software to organize my supplies.

Now, back to our photos and how this applies. On my computer, I have a Master Photos folder, and inside are individual folders for each month of a year from April 1996 (the month we got married) all the way to January 2018. The basic structure of my photos is built not in Lightroom, but on my computer. The folder names are like this, so they stay chronological within the main folder:  1996-04-April  to  2018-01-Janaury.

Then my photos get imported into Lightroom by folder, so the structure within Lightroom is the same, but if Lightroom crashed or went away tomorrow, my photos aren’t a jumbled mess of dates.

The next step in Lightroom is to apply some basic keywords, to larger batches of photos I see as I am importing. For example, if I am working with a group of photos from May, there might be several from Mother’s Day. I will tag those because I like having holiday photos tagged. I will also do this for things like 4-H activities or photos from church. If someone else has shared a photo with me, the photo gets tag with who it is from. Within our immediate family, I also like to tag when there is a photo of all 3 of us together, or a photo with our daughter and one of us. This has come in handy on a couple of occasions when looking for a photo for a project or gift. Here is an example of what a photo of my daughter and I from Mother’s Day 2002 looks like in Lightroom:

 

The labels on this photo are: Becki, Becki and Katie < 1 Our Immediate Family, Katie, Mother’s Day, photos by MomW.

Those labels mean that I could access that photo using ANY of those words. If I looked up all the photos that my mother in law has shared with me, it’s there. If I look up all photos tagged with Mother’s Day, its there. If I look up all photos with me in them, it’s there. If I look in the May 2002 folder, it’s there.

There is one other way that it is searchable as well, and that is by date. Even though this is a scanned photo, that was scanned in September of 2017, I have changed the creation date of the photo in Lightroom to be the actual date the photo was taken, as shown on the photo: May 12, 2002. So I can also search by date.

And the joy of all this is that Lightoom writes all this information directly in the file. So you do not need Lightroom or Photoshop to see this information. This is huge, because I want all the time that I spend inputting this information to be beneficial for many years to come, and for anyone I choose to share my photos with.

The creation date, keywords, any notes I enter in the caption area, are all visible to anyone I share the photo with, and it doesn’t matter if you are a Mac or a Windows person.

Here is a photo from my husband. He went on a Tiger Cruise with his uncle who was in the Navy in 1983. They were on the USS Eisenhower. Let’s imagine my daughter finds this photo as she is looking at family photos in the cloud someday. (remember my back ups? ) She sees this picture and wonders “What is this all about?”

All she has to do is look at the file info:

And by searching for more photos of the keywords Tiger Cruise, she will find photos of her Dad and great uncle labeled with their names so she can piece the story together a bit.

Now let me share with you a couple of ways this system has benefited us recently. At Christmas time, we hosted the gathering for my husband’s side of the family this year. I was able to quickly put together a slideshow of previous Christmas gatherings dating back to 1995 that we showed on the TV as people were arriving and getting settled. So fun and so easy, and because of a little bit of organization I was able to put my finger on just the photos I needed.

Another example, in November of last year, my aunt passed away and I was able to find some favorite photos of I have of her and share them with our family so they were included in the slideshow at her funeral. Times like that are stressful, so to be able to access treasured photos easily is a blessing.

Our photos should be doing more than just sitting on our phones and hard drives, (and backed up to the cloud). We should be sharing them, displaying them, making gifts with them. If they are easy to find, we are more apt to do so. I encourage you to begin organizing your photos so you can do the same.

Alexa and My Fridge :)

Around our house, we are pretty geeky. We love anything techy, that can make life easier, more efficient, or just plain fun.

One of the ways I use technology to be more efficient is using apps for meal planning, recipes, and food inventory.

I have a LOT of recipes, and I like having my most important recipes with me when I am in the kitchen, or in my home office when I am meal planning for the week. It can also be handy to have your recipes accessible when you are at the grocery store.  An app that you may already be familiar with that does all these things is Paprika.

I can clip and save recipes while surfing the internet on my PC, retrieve them on my phone or tablet in the kitchen, make a meal plan for the week and add all the ingredients to a shopping list. I can even send recipes to a friend and share shopping lists with my husband. It is a very robust app that I have loved for several years. It saves me time, and helps me feel more organized.

For food inventory, I use an app called My Chef and our Amazon Echo Dots.

Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – Black

A little over a year ago, we added a couple of Amazon Echo Dots to our home. We use our Dots for a little bit of everything- information, news, weather, controlling our thermostat, playing music. More and more skills get added all the time, you never know what new thing Alexa will be able to do for you next.

I was thrilled when I found My Chef, to help me keep a better organized fridge and pantry so I do run out of things I need for a recipe, or buy unnecessary duplicates.

The My Chef smartphone app and Alexa skill also has a recipe part to it, but where it really shines in my mind is the pantry feature. I can use my smart phone and the My Chef app to very quickly enter my grocery items by scanning the UPC, typing in the item, or even scanning my receipt. It also can record the expiration date of the items after it has been entered.

Using an Echo device (or Alexa smartphone app) and the My Chef skill, you can ask Alexa things like “When does the milk expire?” How many zuchinni do I have?” “Do we have spring mix?” “Alexa, add expired items to shopping list”.

There are some bugs to be worked out to be sure, but it is something that definitely makes my life easier and more organized, that in the long run saves our family money as well. I am excited to see future advancements.

Do you use apps or skills to manage your household? Share your best apps in the comments!

a-wise-woman-builds-her-home

This post is part of the Wise Woman Link Up at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home. Click the link above for more great homemaking posts from around the web.

Adding bluetooth to an older vehicle

I have an older vehicle that has bluetooth capabilities for making/receiving phone calls, but not for streaming music. I love being able to play music from my phone in the car when I am driving, and plugging in the aux cord and having cords dangling really isn’t my thing.

So I was thrilled when I was scrolling thru a suggested gift list of things on Amazon and saw a bluetooth FM transmitter  for under $20.

Remember when mp3 players first came out and FM transmitters where one way to listen to them in your car? They never really worked that great, so I was surprised to see this new version of them, and even more surprised that the one listed had really good reviews.

So, I added it to my Wish List, and when Amazon emailed me about a Lightning Deal that brought the price down to $13, I couldn’t resist, 🙂

FM Transmitter, Otium Bluetooth Wireless Radio Adapter Audio Receiver Stereo Music Tuner Modulator Car Kit with USB Charger, Hands Free Calling

The T10 is a really impressive looking unit, and has a sturdy feel despite it’s inexpensive price tag. And it was very easy to get up and running in my vehicle. I paired the T10 with my phone, and found an empty FM station on my stereo (91.5 works well in my area). The sound quality is very good and I love not having cords hanging around, it gives a much cleaner look. Also, if you don’t want to use up your data, there is also a micro SD slot on the side of the device that you can use to play music, instead of streaming over a data connection.

The T10 will also work as a charger for your phone and even a tablet. Pretty impressive.

I recommend searching for “T10 Fm transmitter” on Youtube and watching a couple of videos before you set up your device so you can see first hand all of the features, and how to get it up and running in your vehicle.

The one caveat is that if your charger port in your vehicle has continuous power (does not turn off when the ignition is off) the T10 will deplete your car battery if you leave it plugged in for an extended period of time with the ignition off.

Ask me how I know this 🙂 So it is best to consult your manual to see if you have a port that is not continuous, or remember to remove the T10 from the charger when you exit your vehicle.  For short stops while running errands you should be fine, but definitely unplug it when you reach your destination.

All in all, a minor inconvenience compared to streaming music and making phone calls in my car over a bluetooth connection. I highly recommend it if you have an older vehicle and would like to add this functionality to your car.

Creating a photo backup system

 

On Tuesdays, I am going to share something to help you in your digital life. I might recommend an app, share a skill you can use on your Amazon Echo or Google Home device, or a safety or organizational tip.

Today, I am going to share with everyone a little bit about how I back up and organize our family photos. On the 1st of each month I regularly encourage my Facebook friends to make sure that their photos from the previous month are backed up and to clear their memory cards and phones. Today we will take a look about what that process looks like for me.

My first form of backup is a cloud service that I pay for monthly, Crash Plan. Our family photos are precious, and something that we place enough importance on to put in our budget each month. It runs in the background and backs up the folders on my computer that I have selected, and stores them safely in the cloud. Four years ago, I had BOTH of my hard drives die within days of each other, and I was SO grateful that we had this system in place.

But knowing that no system is completely safe, I choose to backup our photos in other ways as well. I also use Dropbox. Dropbox works a little bit differently, it stores your files on your computer, and in the cloud. We have the Dropbox app on our smartphones, and have the app set to automatically upload all of our phone photos. This not only gives me piece of mind knowing our photos are safe in the cloud, but it also gives me access on my computer to all of our photos, so they are there for me to share with family and friends, or scrapbook with. Our daughter in college also has her photos set to backup to our Dropbox account, so we never have to worry about missing photos if her phone were to be lost or stolen.

And just for added peace of mind, I also have our phone photos set to automatically backup to Google Photos. In my settings I have chosen High Quality (not original quality) to take advantage of Googles unlimited free storage option. Google Photos is also an easy way to share photos with our family and friends.

At the start of this new year, I hope you will make it a priority to back up your photos, especially your phone photos. With such easy, and even free ways to do so, it just makes sense.