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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Evernote for Recipe Organization!

I’ve written before about using Evernote for organizing your genealogical research. And now I’ve discovered another amazing use for Evernote that I want to share: Using it to organize recipes & cookbooks! I’ve collected genealogy books and ephemera for a long time, and part of that collection has been old family recipes and cookbooks. My mom clipped and saved recipes, and from her I inherited 7 notebooks, and numerous folders full of recipes both her favorites and those she just wanted to try. 

Mom was an amazing cook - ask any of our relatives. Holiday meals were almost always at our house, with anywhere from 10 to 20 or more people around as many tables and folding tables as the house would hold. And not only was her food tasty, as well as “delicious &  nutritious”, but mom always looked great by the time it was served. I’ve inherited her love for feeding a crowd, but I still haven’t mastered the art of planning & timing, so by the time folks arrive for a feast, I’m pretty much still look like I should hide in the kitchen. But I digress. The point is, I am the keeper of cherished family recipes. My own daughters are now starting families, and call or IM with questions about the foods they remember. “What is grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe made with maple syrup?”, or “What’s in your deviled eggs?”. Add to that my own continued obsession of reading cookbooks, and saving recipes I find online, and I found myself looking desperately for a way to organize the recipes I have, so that I can easily find them, and just as easily share them. 

I started my quest for the perfect recipe organization plan by looking at computer programs. I’ve been using Betty Crocker’s Cook’n for several years, and was satisfied with it for a long time. But now that I have both an iphone and an ipad, I wanted more. I don't like to drag my laptop into the kitchen, forever afraid of splattering egg on the keyboard, but I often slip my ipad into a gallon-size ziplock bag, and use it to display my recipes while I cook. Anyway, I wanted something that would: 
• Sync all information between my PC, phone & ipad, and be available offline, too
• Accept scanned images, and index them with OCR automatically 
• Easily grab recipes from websites 
• Allow tags to organize, and be every word searchable 
• Easily include photographs 
• Have the ability to print individual recipes, or entire collections 
• Be easy to share 

While I kept thinking that the program I was looking for had to be specific to cooking, the more I looked, the more I couldn’t find anything that met all my requirements...Until one day when I was working on some genealogy research, clipping images and saving them into my Evernote folders, that it dawned on me. Evernote would be perfect! 


Evernote is resident on my PC, and I have the apps on both my phone and ipad. Everytime I open the program, as long as I’m connected to the internet, all devices will sync automatically. And even if I’m not online, my Evernote files are available to me on my PC. (You need to have a Premium account to use your Evernote files on iOs & Android devices offline. More about Premium accounts later) 

Scanning & OCR

Not only can I use my wand scanner to scan recipes from books, recipe cards, or scraps of paper or napkins, I can also use the camera function on my phone to snap pictures of recipe cards and send them directly to Evernote, where the advanced OCR capability scans typed documents and indexes them automatically. Think about the possibilities! I can snap a picture, or scan the index pages of my many cookbooks, and then when I search Evernote for, say “enchiladas”, not only will the results be those recipes I’ve entered into my Evernote files, but will also show me which of my cookbooks have recipes for enchiladas in them as well! No more flipping through a dozen or more books to find that favorite English trifle recipes (OK, It’s the one in the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook that I’ve used so many times I even remember the page number - 324) but you get the idea! A Premium account will also OCR index PDF files. 

Internet recipes

Everything's on the internet! There are dozens of really wonderful recipe websites - Cooks, Epicurious, Foodnetwork, Punchfork... I think I’m on just about daily, perusing potato salad recipes, quick dinner ideas, etc. Even though I can save things to my own Recipe Box on the website itself, if I find a recipe that is a ‘keeper’, I can snag that recipe and import it directly into my Evernote recipe folder. You can do this with either the snipping tool that is on your computer’s accessories, or you can install the handy Evernote Clipper  - a handy little button that sits on your toolbar waiting to grab web pages and send them to your Evernote folder of choice. The neat thing about using the Evernote Clipper is that it automatically adds the URL of the page you were on into the note, making returning to that recipe page online a snap. 


Most folks are familiar with the concept of tagging - adding keywords to help find things more easily using a search tool. Instead of creating all sorts of folders and separate notebooks for different types of recipes, I just created one notebook called Recipes, and put everything in there.  You don't have to organize within the folder yourself, because another great thing about Evernote is that it automatically indexes every word in every note - even words in photographs! So you don’t have to use a million tags, since technically all the ingredients are already indexed. I only tag things that aren’t in the recipe, like adding the tag “Family Favorite” to those recipes that I go back to over and over, or “Marcelle Osmer” to recipes that were my mother’s favorites. Another tag I use is “Quick Dinner”, to remind me of meals I can throw together fast. I really appreciate that I don't have to spend a lot of time tagging, since it's already done automatically for the most part!


Since I’m only just starting organizing all my recipes with Evernote, I haven’t added a lot of photographs, but I plan to. My goal would be to photograph the final result for each recipe that I’ve got entered. When I’m grabbing recipes from the internet, I try to include a photo if one is provided there, too. 


Want to create a family cookbook? You can easily print individual recipes, or print them all. You can even set them up to print onto 3x5 index cards. Not many of the recipe apps support printing, and I shuddered at the thought of inputting all my recipes, and not being able to print them out if I wanted a copy.

Share and (if you want to) Collaborate

Easy to share? You bet. You can easily share individual recipes by email, Facebook, or Twitter by using the easy Share button at the top of the screen. You can also right click on a Notebook, and share the entire Notebook, as I do with my daughters, so they now have access to all the family favorite recipes I have entered so far. With a Premium account, you can allow others to edit and add to your Notebook, or you can choose to just let them to view it. 

But wait... there's MORE!

Evernote does even more than I was hoping for! You can easily create a weekly meal plan, and have the recipe list for the week automatically hot-linked to the recipe itself. Just right click on the recipes that you want to put on the list, and choose “Copy Note Link”. Then open up a new note, perhaps title it “Weekly Menu Plan”, and paste what you’ve copied into that new note. Make a list of recipes for the week like this. When you now click on that recipe name, it will open up the actual recipe from your file. So cool! 

To pay or not to pay

A basic account with Evernote is free. You will be allowed 100,000 notes, up to 25 mb each up to a total of 60 mb a month; 250 syncronized Notebooks, 10,000 tags, and 100 saved searches. A Premium account costs $5/month or $45/year. It increases your note size to 50 mb each, and your total monthly storage to 1 gig. In my humble opinion, Evernote is essential for geneaogy research, and an amazing tool for recipes organization too. My Evernote Premium account is almost as essential as my subscription to  

Evernote Food

Evernote has an extension, called Evernote Food. It's almost it's own 'animal' so to speak, but doesn't address recipes, or the creation of food, as one might expect from the name. Instead, it is promoted to "Preserve and relive memorable food experiences. From fine dining to family gatherings to a local food truck, remember every delicious moment." I guess it's for those folks who always post pictures of their meal on Facebook. I really am not sure.

Coming up next...

My next goal is to figure out how I will be using Evernote for quilting!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What do not-so-local genealogical societies have to offer? PLENTY!

Someone posted a question on Facebook today that actually startled me. She wrote, “what do the individual state societies offer?” For me the benefits seemed obvious - connect with researchers who are in the area that your ancestors lived, and access “local” databases and information. Well not only that, but joining a distant society broke one of my long-standing brick walls, so the concept is near and dear to my heart.

To answer the question, “What do the individual state societies offer”? (and here I would include county societies as well, I’d like to start with the obvious - they offer information specific to their locale. Many larger societies take pride in their websites, and their collection of online databases, often compiled by volunteers from within their own group, indexing local records. I've seen not only cemetery lists and indexes, but vital records of all kinds - marriage and divorce records, obituaries, biographies - even on very small county-level society websites!

A few societies also offer access to well-known premium databases with membership. Even if you don’t care to join a society, take the time to peruse the websites of those societies at both the state and county levels of where your ancestors lived. Many offer free databases, and/or links to other websites of interest for research in that area.

Most all society memberships include a newsletter or magazine, ranging from bi-monthly to semi-annual publications. One great reason to join a distant society where you will most likely never attend a single meeting, is to be able to post queries in their publications. Many societies also offer discounts on publications they have for sale. Other benefits of society membership might include access to online webinars, powerpoint presentations, or lecture notes from past meetings. Most websites offer surname databases, which often link to other researchers working on those names.

Some memberships include discounted research rates. One society offered members research in their facilities by a volunteer genealogist for as little as $5/hour. But by far the best deal going, if you have Massachusetts ancestors in the Berkshire county area, is a $12 individual membership in the Berkshire Family History Association. Your membership includes two hours of research by a volunteer, in the Berkshire Athanaeum, the area library and archives. It was by taking advantage of this offer that I broke my brick wall on my distant grandfather, David Stevens. The researcher photocopied every resources that mentioned my ancestor, and one was a will listing him, along with several others that I knew for sure to be his siblings, as heirs to Eliphalet Stevens of Pittsfield.

Sadly, many genealogical society websites begin with pleas for members to show interest so they can continue as a society. The extreme opposite of those sites, was the one society that stated if you didn’t attend at least 5 meetings in a year, you would be dropped from active membership.

While I’ve only addressed US genealogy societies in this post, however I am certain that the same is true of other countries.

Finally, I’d just like to share a few special deals, in addition to many of the above-mentioned benefits of genealogical society membership offers that I found by perusing the web:

West Valley Genealogical Society Ind. $35, Couple $60
- Access to Footnote & World Vital records in library and in home

Southern California Genealogical Society From $35/year
- From-home use of Access NewspaperARCHIVE
- 24-hour access to archived sessions of the Jamboree Extension Webinar Series

Berkshire Family History Association Ind. $12, Fam. $14, Student $5
- Two hours of research time by a genealogist in the Berkshire Athanaeum. (photocopy charges extra).

Middlesex Genealogical Society Ind. $25, Fam. $30
- A membership card which gives you access to vital records at town and city record offices in Connecticut. (Many of the Connecticut societies offer this)

Indiana Genealogical Society Ind. $30, Joint $35
- Access to 696 databases, representing all 92 Indiana counties

NY Genealogical & Biographical Society Ind. $60 - 1 yr, $100 - 2 yr
- So many proprietary databases, its an absolute must for research New York ancestors

Ohio Genealogical Society Ind. $35, Joint $40
- Home access to World Vital Records

New England Historical & Genealogical Society Ind. $79.95
- A kajillion New England databases. Worth every penny if you have New England ancestors.

These are just a few of the additional benefits of membership that these societies offer. Spend some time checking out their websites. You just might break your own brick wall.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This is the face of genealogy

This post is in response to a recent newspaper article about the upcoming So Cal Jamboree, which featured, as it's "artwork" a hideous picture of two toothless rednecks, along with the caption "Inbreeding". Sure, we all may have a few toothless rednecks in our history, but they are OUR toothless rednecks, and they are OUR strange aunts and uncles, and OUR quirky parents or grandparents. The face of genealogy is OUR family. The true face of genealogy is the representation in a photograph of the love, patience and determination that is FAMILY. *That* is the face of genealogy.

Anything PC can do, I(pad) can do better..

Okay, so the title may be a stretch, but I can't help hearing tune from "Annie Get Your Gun" playing in my head.

I just installed an app for the Ipad that really expands the capabilities of the Ipad. The Splashtop application was $2.99 for the ipad, and free to download on your PC, Mac or laptop. Once installed and running, with your laptop or PC on, plus an internet connection, you can make your Ipad actually operate as if it were your PC. You can open files, make changes, save, create new documents in any program that you have on your PC right from your Ipad, as if you were on your PC. As their webpage says (, "With Splashtop® Remote Desktop, you can fully access and control your PC in any way imaginable."

Accessing the program actually makes your PC desktop screen appear on your Ipad, and you just go from there. You can work in any of your genealogy programs, like Legacy, RootsMagic, PAF, etc. You can open and work in Word, Excel, and even play games you have on your PC - It will even run Flash programs (yep, that means Facebook games like Farm Town, etc!) Heck, you can even run Second Life on your Ipad using this.

If you want to transfer files from your PC to your Ipad, using Splashtop in association with your Dropbox is the way to go. Open Splashtop to access your PC. Put the files you want to transfer into your PC Dropbox. Open Dropbox on your Ipad, open the file you want, then save it to your Ipad. Voila! No cables, no syncing.
It's really easy to use, and really extends the limitations of the Ipad.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summertime in Arkansas means War

There are so many awesome events going on this summer around the United States... well, okay, mostly around the South ... celebrating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. My father lives in Arkansas, and emailed me this list of events sanctioned by The Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission for the month of June. It sounds like Civil War buffs will be in hog heaven this summer! Please see for details about these events and more information
* 11th Annual Natural State Chautauqua, a living history and teacher in-service program at the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover June 2 and 3.

* 22nd Annual North Arkansas Ancestor Fair, a genealogical workshop, Civil War lecture series and genealogy swap meet in Marshall June 3 and 4.

* Southern Memorial Day, a commemoration of the Confederate dead at the Fayetteville Confederate Cemetery June 4.

* Civil War Event, a day-long program about the lives of soldiers and the battles and activities of the Civil War in southeast Arkansas at Lake Chicot State Park on June 4.

* African-American Legislators, 1868-1893, a day-long June 11 seminar, sponsored by the Black History Commission of Arkansas and the Arkansas History Commission, on Arkansas’s Reconstruction-era black legislators, including a session on why African Americans commemorate the Civil War.

* Confederate History Weekend and Cannon-Firing Demonstration, occurring all day June 11 at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park.

* DAH Teacher Professional Development: “The Civil War in Arkansas,” a series of summer professional development workshops presented by the Department of Arkansas Heritage at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Little Rock, June 14; Northwest Co-op, Farmington, June 16; Old State Museum, Little Rock, June 24; Southeast Co-op, Monticello, June 30.

* Grand Opening for Hindman Hall
, unveiling the new exhibits in the revamped visitor center at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park June 18.

* Teacher Workshop: “The Sesquicentennial of the Civil War in Arkansas,” an Arkansas State University Heritage Sites Summer Teacher Workshop at Lakeport Plantation in Chicot County June 22.

* Summer Theatre Camp, a two-week, Civil War-themed theater camp sponsored by the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas June 13-24.

* Celebrate Juneteenth Performance, a June 25 performance by participants in the theater camp sponsored by the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff.

Friday, April 1, 2011

and the winner is...

The name drawn completely randomly (with my eyes closed and each name on a little slip of paper in a big bowl) to win the one year Pro Account was.... (drum roll please) Gloria Motter. Congratulations Gloria, and thanks to everyone that entered.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Win a 12-month Pro Account! Hurry!!!

The good folks over at have given me the opportunity to give away a 12-month Pro Account to one of my lucky blog readers. Your odds may be pretty good, considering there are what, about four of you out there? But since I spent Monday and Tuesday travelling, I'm a little slow getting this posted, and now you only have until this Friday, April 1st (no fooling!!) to enter. is a genealogy and social networking site where you can build your family tree, search for relatives, and invite other family members to collaborate (or not). While a basic account is free, a Pro account offers all sorts of bells and whistles that make connecting to others a breeze, among other things.

To enter, 1., sign up for a free account. Then, 2. send an email to me at RelativelyCurious (at) by this Friday, April 1st at 3:00 p.m. with GENI in the subject line. I will randomly choose a winner from the entries.

But wait, there's more! You can also enter over at the blog itself. Just read through their instructions on how to enter, and increase your chances of winning!

Hurry! and Good Luck!!!