I figured the best way to start this blog and give a little insight to my point of view is to tell you about my Book. "The Book", actually 3 binders and counting, is the source of the method behind my Madness. It's a compilation of hand-scribbled notes, magazine tears, website printouts, and dutifully copied items. Working on The Book has become a hobby, as I'm always looking for that next piece that inspires me and drives me to try something new. Here's how I've organized my binders:
1) Entertaining and Holidays. This book is probably my most incomplete, but has exponentially grown with the recent holiday season and the abundance of magazine fodder it inspires. It contains everything from laying out a proper table setting, to selecting the proper wines for a brunch, to instructions for handmade Christmas gifts. I love entertaining throughout the year, and when I want to generate a little creative energy, I turn to this book first. This book serves as the first stop for all of my seasonal and holiday planning.
2) Homekeeping. This book is a catch-all of decorating ideas, gardening tips, cleaning methods, and other important "how do I's?" for around the house. A lot of the decorating ideas that are in this book are aspirational, even wishful thinking, but I don't think there's anything wrong with knowing what you want! This book also contains the inspiration behind the never-ending project list also stored in the book. My list ranges from the small and achievable changes around my apartment to the large and "this-isn't-going-to-happen-until-I-get-a-house" dreams.
3) Recipes. Double the size of my other books, Recipes is far and away the most referenced. It holds recipes from magazines, printouts from some of my favorite web recipe sources, and typed recipes copied from the best of my Mom's recipe box. I like that the plastic page protectors do just that; protect pages that would have otherwise been destroyed by my flamboyant (read: messy) cooking techniques. Since all of the recipes are picked by me, I know that everything in that book is something I (and anyone who is joining me for a meal) will love. Most of the recipes are also mounted on colored typing paper, leaving me space to make notes as I try them (i.e. "Favorite!", "Easter 2008", "frosting is thin--thicken with more confectioner's sugar"). I realize that there are several electronic recipe devices on the market that could serve all these functions, but I really think there's something to a hand-written and hand-collected volume.
Most of the information comes from my favorite resources for homekeeping: Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens, and House Beautiful magazines. I supplement this information with my own notes (what worked, what didn't), thoughts on how to recreate an idea I like at a better price, and the wisdom of generations that have gone before me. I love that this project never truly ends; it's constantly changing and adapting to my stages in life. I love tucking away an aspirational magazine tear sheet and later thinking of a way to complete the project for less money with a little ingenuity and elbow grease. I love the idea of setting out to try something new and only needing to review a collection of options that have already been pre-approved by me.