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July 23, 2011


Carol Baumann

I had to smile when I read your post about purging. The same thing has been going on at my house. In addition to stuff that no longer matters, I find I save inspirational things that do, and the question I've been asking myself is how to organize them so I can revisit them. I hand-bind small Coptic books as a hobby and have decided to use one of them for these life lessons. I've used a Coptic book for many years to keep track of notes about the house - paint colors and swatches, fabric samples - that sort of thing. It's worked wonderfully well. Filing only works for me for medical and insurance records. I find out of sight is also out of mind for most things.

The Healthy Librarian

Great suggestions, Carol--but, forgive my ignorance. What are Coptic books? I'm an out-of-sight-out-of-mind person, too. The books sound like a much better way to capture this sort of thing.

Ms. B

I am writing to tell you how I save "special" things on paper--mainly my Grand's art and notes to me.

Get a binder with non acid plastic slip in folders which have three rings.....put in your treasures (some I have to fold) You can see/use both sides.

I made the Thai slaw and loved it.

Thanks for your blog; it is one of 3 I subscribe to.

Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen)

I've been purging recipes and cookbooks the entire time I have been plant-strong. I started 18 months ago and just finished up about 3 weeks ago. I "traded-in" tons of cookbooks at Half-Priced Books and pitched hundreds of recipes that I no longer have any interest in making, including a bunch of tried and true animal centric recipes. I too know they are there floating around on the internet if I would ever care to make them again. It really feels good to have less stuff and I have never regretted it for a second. I cannot, however, give away my mother's and grandmother's and mother-in-law's community cookbooks--you know, those Fairmount Temple Sisterhood types. They are just worth keeping to get really, really good laughs from.

As far as the stuff worth keeping, the papers and poems and stuff. What about a big binder with plastic sleeves. You can get everything at Office Max. Then each sleeve can hold a single item worth keeping, and I'll bet that it all fits into one nice big binder. You can also add as you go and purge easily every few years.

That's how I keep my recipes neat and organized. And if I find that a recipe has been in there for years and I have never made it, it comes out of it's sleeve and into the recycle bin!



Don't know if it would work for you but of all my garden books and files and folders, my favorite is a simple A-Z divided 3x5 card index box (if I were to do it again, it would be 4 x 6!). I have the cards arranged alphabetically by plant or nursery or pest, disease or whatever the topic is. It's quick and easy for those little snippets of info. Actually, you've got me thinking and I'm going to start another box for all my non-garden important info. Another thought is taping them onto alphabetical dividers in a binder. But, somehow the box works for me and the binder would not.

OK, here's another idea I use: Those small, inexpensive 4 x 6 photo albums from Michael's for index cards of useful info like passwords, things to remember to do before you leave for vacation, birthdays, etc. Love this system!

Good luck with all of it!


Things in your life parallel mine so often it's downright uncanny. I've been going over old recipes this week also, and though I was hoping to be able to toss quite a few, what I've found instead is that many of them still look good to me. A few years ago I made an organized binder with categories for salads, side dishes, sauces, etc., but I find that when I'm looking for something to make, I ignore the binder (and even my full yard of vegetarian cookbooks) and go to Google instead. So I'm not sure what the solution is. One thing that does work is that once I've tried a new recipe, I either throw it out or, if it's a keeper, transfer it to a recipe card and put it in a traditional box. As far as all the other papers in our life, I've noticed that the minute something gets put into a file folder, it's like it has gone down a black hole, never to be seen or made use of again. Pity that. Some of it is really good.....!

P.S. Another great first-person story of a stroke experience is "My Stroke of Insight" by Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who wrote in riveting detail about her stroke and recovery. Absolutely fascinating, and important for anyone who cares for someone who has had a stroke.


I am thrilled with the system I have come up with particularly as it allows new recipes to NOT be printed ..I rid myself of 6 doz boxes of cookbooks and then took the mountains of printed recipes I had and scanned them. I still have a long way to go but created two folders that are subdivided on my is vegan recipes to try and another is recipes to keep. I looked at different recipe programs but felt that this worked best for me..Now, I just go to my folders to decide what I will eat each week. If I find one in a cookbook that I like, I scan that and put it in my recipe folder that says "to keep"..


My method of dealing with the recipes is the same as others-- I use a three ring binder and plastic page inserts to hold the individual recipes I want to keep. I haven't purged my mom's or grandma's recipe boxes which are still stacked in a kitchen cupboard. Like you, I'm a softie; the 3x5 cards are handwritten. I also have my grandma's old old recipe binder. How can I let it go?
My 'working recipes' are either in folders on my computer or printed and stored in the plastic page inserts. However, they could all do with a once-over check for recipes I'll NEVER make again.
On another note, I was in the Columbus area last week and remembered that you live in Ohio--thought of you and wondered where you shopped for food. My daughter did a great job of pre-purchasing foods for me :)


We scan stuff, save it, and back it up. I'm learning to not be attached to the piece of paper, the book, the "thing". It's a slow process!

Judy Crow

You might want to check out The Unclutterer for clutter reducing solutions. Reducing feels so good! Judy


On an investment blog that i read, someone wrote in and sang the praises of Evernote ( for organizing and saving everything for later reference. She said she has 15 or 18 folders in which she keeps notes on many different interests. She said she uses the free service which gives her more than enough storage. I think they also have a premium (pay) service.

She recommended a youtube video called "using notebooks in Evernote" by Butterscotch. I see that that is #2 in a series of 10 videos on Evernote.

The first youtube video in the series is "an introduction to Evernote" by Butterscotch.

There is also a blog on using Evernote called ( i kid you not).

I haven't used Evernote so can't give you my personal experience. My "system" is putting things in labeled manila folders and then, after a few weeks, i forget in which folder i put them !!

The Healthy Librarian

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful, practical, some "new-to-me" suggestions for managing paper piles!!

Appreciate all suggestions--so keep them coming.

I'm definitely going to have to think long & hard on this one and experiment with these suggestions before I dive head-first into a new system. I want something easy to do--that will makes things easy to find--and have some sort of a "brain-tickler" attached to it, so the stuff I've saved won't get forgotten up.

I'm thinking that recipes, paper memorabilia, inspirational "to keeps", personal info & projects & my medical journal articles all require different saving methods. Some can be saved online, some need to be saved as hard-copy, and some in a tickler file format. Lots to think about.

ST totally described my file style (that's not working). WARNING: don't do what I did!

"My "system" is putting things in labeled manila folders and then, after a few weeks, i forget in which folder i put them !!"

Judy: Thanks for reminding me about The Unclutterer. It's been like 3 years since I visited that site--and it was always filled with practical useful suggestions. I'm going to add it to my RSS feed right now so I don't forget about it!

Carol Baumann

Coptic books are created using the Coptic method of binding which goes back to the Coptic Christians of Egypt. The binding method is of interest because it was the first book form to use pages bound together rather than a scroll. The ones I make are small, 4 1/2" x 5 1/2", with linen binding and decorative paper covers. If I have a use in mind while I'm making the book I select the paper to "announce" the use. For example, in the case of the book I made to keep information about my house, I made a copy of part of the house's blueprint and used that as cover paper. I'd attach a photo if I could, but googling "coptic book" images will net lots of photos. These books feel wonderful in the hand, are sturdy, and have been a convenient way for me to downsize storage/retrieval of some kinds of information.


I use Evernote, works great for me.

See it as a program, where you make a catgorie e.g. Recipes and then you can scan to a specific folder on your computer and let Evernote pick up every picture, letter or scan from that folder and import it into Evernote. It then doesn't have a category yet, you have to ad a tag to it in Evernote.

If you see something on a website, you copy it and paste it into Evernote, add a tag to it and you are done. Evernote even knows the website it came from, so if you click on it in Evernote, you can open the website again.

If you have a photo or picture, copy and paste in Evernote, add a category and youre done.

You can make as many categories and Subcategories as you want.

Evernote automatically synchronizes this in the cloud, so you don't have to worry that you will loose your data.

If you install Evernote at work, with the same login, then it also synchronizes with work, meaning you can see at work everything you entered at home, but if you enter something at work, it will also automatically synchronizes it at home.

You can even put the program on your mobile phone and if you take a picture, you can send it to Evernote.

The Netherlands
(love your blog)


I had to chuckle when I read the end of this post - "How do you keep track of what you file / put away?" I thought you were a librarian, so you would be the expert on this subject!


Also a big evernote fan! You can scan in those handwritten recipes and they are searchable. I like to email to my evernote account with the folder in subject line so it automatically goes to the notebook, and the evernote clip button in my browser toolbar is a must. Far and away the easiest system. Once you have a bunch of your recipes entered then you can search to find all the recipes that have some ingredient you want to use up.
And it syncs to my iPod so I have ingredient lists for shopping without a printout.
You can take pictures of recipes you like and upload them to evernote too.

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