Ever since it started getting warm outside I’ve been fantasizing about my garden. In my head I have an image of a beautiful and yet functional backyard/patio garden. My garden is mostly in pots because If we move I want to be able to take it with us. It acts as a privacy screen to obstruct the view between our patio and our neighbor’s patio. It will provide many delicious vegetables, and it will smell great with all of the various flowering herbs (and miscellaneous flowers) I have mixed in. And mostly it will be a wonderful and comfortable place for my family and I to relax in the evenings.
Now of course reality and fantasy rarely cooperate with each other. The reality of the situation is that I can’t rationalize spending the kind of money that my fantasy garden will take on a seasonal hobby. To build just the patio planter box and fill it with dirt it would cost over $100 not even including the cost of plants, or seeds. I’m not even going to start digging into the costs of the patio furniture and decorative elements, it’s just too depressing.
So, now I am rebuilding my fantasy garden from scratch. I am using the existing yard instead of pots. If we move the next tenants will have a bonus garden in the backyard when they move in.
The most tedious, and unfortunately repetitive, task I have to do each week is plan out a menu of dinners for my family. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking. I just hate having to decide what to cook. A couple of years ago I started trying to organize recipes my family likes to make this task easier. First I started with a homemade cookbook.
The cookbook was nothing fancy. I took a binder I had laying around, and put in a bunch of clear page protectors. Whenever I found a recipe that I wanted us to try I would clip it, or print it and toss it into the binder. If we happened to like the recipe I would note any changes I made to it and slide it into one of the clear page protectors. This method worked out well for a while but soon I ended up with an overfull binder of mismatched recipe clippings sliding around in page protectors and it became nearly impossible to find anything I was looking for, and so I moved on.
My next attempt at organizing was digital. I used a free family organizer I found online and attempted to use it to store a list of my recipes, if not the recipes themselves. I discovered quickly that this method would not work for me. It was nice to be able to be at the grocery store and use my ever present smartphone to pull up a recipe that uses an ingredient that I found on sale. I enjoyed the digital convenience of it so why not store it in the cloud?
After a lot of research and quite a few disappointments I decided, for me, the best place to store my recipes would be in Evernote. The pros for me were that I could access my recipe from my smartphone, tablet, or PC. An added bonus is that as long as I sync before I leave home I do not even need data access to look at my recipes in the store. I can add tags to help me search based on recipe type, cook time, and ingredients. And it turns out they actually have an app that collects your recipe notes and organizes them into a very nice (picture heavy) interactive cookbook. The only downside, and I can easily look past it, is that there is no way to take ingredients from your recipe and automatically import them into a grocery list for the week. So for the time being I still dutifully and manually create my grocery list in AnyList every week.
My family’s favorite recipes are now online, searchable, and accessible from any device that has a web browser. I can easily share them with family, or friends, and it turns out that my new favorite cookbook is actually my tablet. It doesn’t make creating the menu for the week any more fun, but it makes it a whole lot easier.