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One of my uncles passed away the other day.

And as news passed around the family through the night and yesterday morning, as phone calls were made and received and text messages were sent and received, and my oldest daughter called in need of a last-minute babysitter which resulted in the grandbaby being here – tired, teething, and fussy – … yesterday was a busy and distracted day.

My plan was to continue to take it easy.  We had school lessons planned and the usual chores … plus the Fall Cleaning that needs to be done before the baby gets here.  But, in between, I would make a point to take it easy and put my feet up every now and then.  Avoiding all the contractions by the end of the day has been a joy – my hopes were to continue in that effort.

But, with the grandbaby so tired and fussy, and constantly on the look out for things she could snatch from Miss M resulting in lots of crying and fighting, our school day went out the window.  And with it went Fall Cleaning … and putting my feet up.  …  That and all the time spent on the phone. … Oh my.

So, in the midst of all the craziness, I took comfort in the beauty outside our window  …  Everything was wet after the storm we had had.   …  I love rain and storms.  I love the way the world looks after a storm.  I love the smell of rain and the fresh smell afterwards.  …  And, in the midst of this terrible drought, I enjoyed it even more.  …  So much more.

Bug and I took time, while Miss M napped and Sweet Pea tried unsuccessfully to get the grandbaby to take a nap, to try a new recipe.   …   Buttermilk Pie   …   I’ve never had it before.  I hadn’t even heard of it before.  But I had some leftover buttermilk and decided to try it.  So with the fresh after a storm world outside and the smell of a fresh-baked pie filling the house, it felt like a heart-warming hug as memories of my uncle went through my mind.

(The pie, by the way, was delicious.  Everyone’s vote was unanimous.  Well, except for Texas Guy who didn’t even try it.  For all his complaints about lack of treats and sweets as well as requests, he almost always opts for a bowl of ice cream.  And after I fulfilled his birthday cake request with a beautiful and delicious triple layer German chocolate cake that he never tried, he can have his ice cream.  More treats for me.  Oh!  I mean us.  Me and others.  You know  …  anyway  …  I’ll have to post pics and a recipe next time I make it.  It was too hectic of a day and I didn’t even think to take pics.)

Back to my uncle  …  One of my memories is that he was (for a very long time) the only person I knew who had a tattoo.  He also had an affinity for Betty Boop.  As well as an affinity for cookbooks.  …  It’s funny how our memories bounce around from one seemingly unrelated thing to the next.

It was a nice day for memories, the smell of fresh-baked pie made with love, and the heart-warming “hug” of the day after a storm.

And thinking of my uncles affinity for cookbooks, I wanted to share my newest project with you   …   My new cookbooks  …  and, again, the point of my post which comes so long after a seemingly unrelated story or two  …  I guess it’s just how my mind works.

So …

Years ago I put together three cookbooks and continued to add recipes to them.

See the duct tape.  …  I’m not sure why I didn’t just buy another binder.

Labels on the spines helped us grab the one we needed.

Dividers for each section – pockets in the dividers for new recipes to try, and all my recipes in alphabetical order tucked safely into sheet protectors.

It worked out very well.

Here’s the down side …

Whenever I needed to add a new recipe I would find where it went alphabetically, slip it in and then proceed to move all the following recipes in and out of the sheet protectors, refolding as needed to make the best use of space, until I had done all the rest in that section.

I don’t know if it was that my life got busier, my recipe collection grew larger, or a combination of the two … but this became less convenient.  And I appreciate convenience.

So, it was obviously time for a new system.  But what?  As I continued to try to find the right solution for me, I also continued to try new recipes.  But without a new plan I would type up the recipe and just stuff it in the pocket, or not print it out at all.  Things were getting worse.

I finally settled on this … and I love it!!

Well, so far.  …  I just finished it.  So we will see if I change my mind or tweak my new system.

Using cardstock, I cut a regular size sheet of paper in half with an X-acto knife and a ruler on a clean plastic kitchen cutting board as a cutting mat.  (I have to work with what I have here, people.)

I reformatted all my recipes, printed them out, and hole-punched them with a 3-hole punch thing I have.  (The holes aren’t centered because I used the guide already there to line up the top of the page.  Faster, and easier, and more precise than trying to mark the hole-puncher and then get the paper for hundreds of recipes all lined up exactly.  …  Being ok with the off-center holes required quite a bit of personal growth.  …  I really needed them to be center.)

I also added little colored icons to the corners to help my flip quickly and grab what I needed.

Here is my little orange Autumn leaf and light blue Winter snowflake icons.

I also have a pink flower for Spring, a yellow sun for Summer, a blue watch for something quick and easy, and a smiley face for a kid friendly recipe that the kiddos can cook themselves – or with minimal help.  (Though, as their skills expand, they can cook just about anything.  But I’m still not ready for them to put stuff in or take stuff out of the oven.)

I love these icons!  It makes meal planning so easy, and for the seasonal recipes it helps me quickly find recipes that enables us to celebrate and enjoy each season and the delights that they bring!

I bound each section separately using this binder rings.  They are ridiculously inexpensive.  It enables me to quickly and easily add new recipes where they go.  And I think I’d like to store them hanging by cup hooks under a cabinet.  …  I’d also like to put a cup hooks under the cabinets above the counter spaces where I do my prep and cooking.  These are nice and small so I think it will hang there so I can easily see it but it won’t interfere with what I’m doing on the counter.  (I don’t have a huge kitchen but I do have enough storage space.  I don’t, however, have a whole lot of counter space to work with.)

I also don’t have the recipes covered in page protectors or anything similar.  …  Here’s what I decided  …  First, I found that half sheet page protectors aren’t easy to find and usually need to be ordered.  Secondly, they cost more than the full size ones – maybe it’s the unusual size.  Third and Fourth, I realized that I didn’t always wipe off my page protectors that I used before … I have a few spots and splatters on my purchased cookbook pages and I don’t really mind, I kind of like them, little mementos that they have been used to lovingly prepare food for my family and friends.  And Fifth, not using them is a great way to reduce the use of plastic and yet another unnecessary purchase and footprint on our planet.  …  So, for all those many reasons, I love my basic, naked, recipe pages.

It took me about a week to put these new recipe books together.  But, I really like them.  I love the convenience of having all my recipes available to me again.  It makes life easier and helps me to be more productive.  And … I love that others in this house can access them just as easily to prepare meals for me.  (Yay!)