The Legend of the Book of Yum

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When I went away to university it was the first time I had been away from home. I wasn’t sure what to expect: would I love the freedom? Would I totally freak out? Either way I knew that I was going to be really homesick.

My solution was The Book of Yum and it started out as kind of a joke between my university friends and I.

In anticipation of missing my mom’s cooking, I painstakingly wrote out some of our family’s favorite recipes in a small black binder, organized using homemade construction paper dividers. Also included were some helpful cooking hints for myself on how to make the basics; for example, tips on making rice nice and fluffy, and how to make your basic white sauce. I was reluctant to call it a recipe binder because it felt more like a compendium of my mother’s advice, and a piece of my family’s culinary history. So I called it “The Book of Yum”, made some dorky labels for it and took it to college with me.

Anyone who has had roommates knows that it’s hard to keep a secret from them, so it didn’t take long before people started to take note of the little binder I was always toting into the kitchen with me. Maybe it was the colorful labels, or the fact that no one I knew had completed a similar project.

Mostly I think The Book of Yum caught people’s attention because I was one of the few people in my group of friends that could actually cook. And bake.

This was the start of a whole new college culinary adventure. While a lot of kids were out partying you could often find me at home with my roommates attempting to develop a garnish for fish, bake a pie from scratch, or experiment with a foreign food. (Ok, maybe I found some time for partying too.)

In some ways, it was my college years that fostered my love of cooking and food. I tried every kind of food, in every kind of restaurant in town and I always had a hungry mouth nearby willing to try whatever it was I was making that day. It was a time of firsts: my first pastry dough, my first experiment with phyllo, and my first roast.

It was also during these years that I discovered how cooking for others felt like a gift more to myself than a gift for them. Nothing gave me more pleasure than watching my friends enjoy something I had created and nothing made me appreciate food more than the act of making it myself.

More than anything, though, The Book of Yum was a way for me to honor my family; both my love for them and the traditions that we build and maintain.

I still have it too, even though it’s expanded to accommodate my expanded culinary horizons. Even though that little black binder has transformed, it still opens a floodgate of sense memories as soon as I lift the cover. No matter how successful I end up being in my writing career, I’ll still consider one of my favorite books that I’ve written.

You may not know it, but you’ve read part of The Book of Yum too! If you were looking at it now, you’d recognize these Chocolate Brownies, these Butterscotch Brownies, these Banana Muffins, these Chocolate Banana Cookies, these Sugar Cookies, these Maple Syrup Muffins, this Apple Pie and this Zucchini Bread. I hope you enjoyed them as much as my family and friends have!

KBwB-BFlower-50I’d love to hear about your own recipe collection. Which childhood recipes do you still include in your repertoire? Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or comment below. I’d love to try one out!

I try out a new recipe every two weeks or so and blog about the results, so if you need even more baking inspiration, you can find the complete list in alphabetical order here.

 

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Delightfully Organized Digital Photos

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Psst! I’m so happy that this post was re-blogged on Nostalgic Image Photo News. For all the readers who’ve discovered my blog from there, welcome! Many thanks to Dawn Ainsworth from Nostalgic Images for taking the time to share.

10,000 photos.

Yes, you read that correctly. That’s the number of photos I deleted off of my hard drive when I initially started organizing my digital photo collection. It’s amazing how much we take our digital storage space for granted. It doesn’t seem like a lot on a massive hard drive (after all, it takes up no physical space to us) but unloading 10,000 photos still felt like unloading some kind of psycho-RAM. It freed up all sorts of space on my hard drive for more things that I love, made my computer run faster, and most importantly, it brought me one step closer to having a beautifully organized digital photo collection that I can treasure and share with my family and friends.

The argument for an organized digital photo collection is compelling, but the task itself appears pretty daunting. Unless you rarely take photos, this will not be the type of task that can be completed in just one afternoon. Plan on spreading out your project into bite-sized chunks that can be carried out over a period of time, depending on how much you have available.

Before you do anything, make sure you have some method of backing up your files- discs, thumb drives, external hard drives, clouds, whatever. You should always, always, always have an alternate means of backing up any kind of precious digital data in the event that is somehow lost. Data recovery can be costly and is not always 100% guaranteed. Don’t worry about making it look pretty- you can always replace your old files with your pretty, organized ones later.

The most organized system is an intuitive one, so it’s important to consider how you will peruse your photo collection once it’s been completely organized. You may want to group your photos by date, by subject matter, by event, or a combination of all of the above. It’s best to start with a strategy in mind so that the way your current and future photos are stored is simple, convenient and consistent. Disregard any advice that doesn’t fit into your methodology. Don’t have a mind for numbers? Sort your photos in folders according to subject matter. Try to be specific and concise as possible with your sorting strategy. A search through a folder of photos marked simply “Grandma” can seem daunting, but a folder named “Grandma’s 80th Birthday Party” is explanatory enough that you can find the photo you’re looking for- even if the files inside are not meticulously labeled.

Start by sorting through your most recent photos first (they’re the freshest in your mind!) and use them to establish a method of uploading all of your photos on your computer and filing them on a regular basis. Resist the urge to dump new photos in a general photo until you get around to filing them later! Remember those 10,000 photos?

Yeah, I’m never doing that again.

KBwB-BFlower-50Have an organizing dilemma or a brilliant organizing solution? Share it with me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or on Twitter. For a constantly growing list of organization inspiration and other ways to keep busy, click here. And if you’re looking for some serious eye-candy, my Pinterest addiction has me filling boards with houses too pretty for their own good.