Little Kitchen

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Well, I persist. I cleaned out the kitchen cabinet and added forty recipes to my Paprika app and I've been shopping and cooking almost every day. Since my original freak out, we've only eaten out once as a family (when Andy's work picnic got rained out on Saturday and moved to the brewpub) and I had lunch by myself out yesterday. All of this still feels very, very good and is making me happy. It was truly shocking how much money was being spent on eating out or ordering in. I still am astonished at how much groceries cost (like, 'cause then you have to cook them, etc.). It will be interesting to really run the numbers at the end of this month and see how much was spent on groceries and how much on eating out.

At night I'm going back through my whole entire blog and adding all of my recipes — well, my recipes and things I've linked to that I've liked — to my Paprika app. My sister told me about this thing over a year ago but I never really got into it before. It's basically like a recipe box for your online recipes. You add recipes and photos to the box from anywhere on the internet: There is a list of compatible foodie web sites where you can download (from inside the Paprika app) any recipe very easily; if you're on another web site, and the recipe's format is not easily readable by the app (like the recipes in my blog aren't), then it's pretty easy to use the cut/paste function and get it formatted properly and into the recipe box. What's also cool is the scaling function (you can cut the recipe down to a sixth, or multiply it several times over) and the grocery-shopping function (you tap the recipe and it adds the ingredients to the shopping list for you). Oh, and the meal planner calendar. And the app syncs with my iPad and my iPhone as well as Andy's phone (though you have to buy the apps all separately, I think?), so we don't have to tell each other what to get, etc. I'll just say, "Can you pick up the stuff for fish tacos?" And he just goes into his app (synced with mine) and it's all right there, shopping cart full.

I'm sure everyone knows all of this already and is using all manner of apps like this. I have no affiliation with Paprika, I just think it's very cool; if you know about stuff like this and know of something better, please let me know, though I might be already too-invested in this one — it does take some time to get all of your recipes in there, one by one, and I've spent a few hours on it now. I wasn't using any recipe software at all, so I'm thoroughly goggle-eyed excited by this. My Paprika recipe box doesn't contain anything that I haven't actually made yet. My plan is to get all of my tried-and-true things in there first (and honestly, there are more than I thought, which is good). I've only gotten through about two years of my blog posts that contain recipes (forty) so far, so I have a ways to go. But I feel happy and inspired, and I'm pretty energized. It's a start. When I'm done I'll probably go through my cookbooks to see if any of those recipes that I like are online already. And then, if I'm not totally fried, I'll look at my actual handwritten recipe cards and see if it's worth at least putting a reference to each recipe (and a photo) into Paprika so that I can find add them to the meal planner calendar and find them in my own kitchen, etc. This all brings me no end of satisfaction. I have honestly been trying to get myself organized like this for years, probably for as long as I've been cooking.

Last week I made roasted tequila-lime shrimp and put the shrimp in this excellent quinoa salad by one of my dearest friends Sarah Kline, who is an incredible cook and an inspiration to me in every way. The whole thing was awesome. Then I made more of the blackened fish tacos again but this time I baked the fish in the oven in parchment-paper pouches and I MUCH preferred that, even to grilling. I also added my dad's coleslaw (which is very sweet, and which I really love with spicy stuff) and an easy sauce with a bit of sour cream, a bit of mayo, and some chipotle sauce. Then one morning I woke up and just wanted waffles. This required going out to the garage and finding the waffle maker, which had fallen off of its shelf (we keep some of our extra kitchen appliances in the garage because our kitchen is so small) and I had to haul it up by its tail and thread it back through a giant baker's rack, with the garage door falling on me, etc., etc., to get it out. Got it out and had to clean it within an inch of its life because it hadn't been used in I don't even know how long. Cleaned it (got tennis elbow here), made the waffle batter, then destroyed the first batch of waffles (which required cleaning the waffle maker again, swearing, foot stomping, general despair) as well as the second batch of waffles (which got scorched when, while banging the waffle maker over the sink to "clean" it, I accidentally turned up the darkness setting to Burnt). Luckily I had made so much batter (I'd doubled it, because I intended to be very clever and freeze some of them) that I had enough for one more batch, which came out very nice (though floppy) indeed. And lastly (you're bored now), I made spaghetti and sausage with peas (I added the peas) from the Barilla web site, which I think is very good in general and I have gotten a lot of nice recipes from there over the years. 

DAMN. It was a good week. But I am rusty nails. Out of practice. And kinda tired. That was a lot of cooking. And a LOT of cleaning. But I am determined to improve. Thank you to everyone who left helpful comments about the whole cooking thing on my first post about this a few weeks ago. I do plan to go through those suggestions to see if I find other things that are going to help with this, because it seems that I am not the only one who finds it all very challenging.

I remember a long time ago my favorite teacher (the elegant and inimitable Mr. Don Rehkopf from Oak Park-River Forest High School) told us that he'd had terrible, illegible handwriting as a student. But one day he had a teacher who had beautiful handwriting, and he was so inspired he decided to change his own. And so he diligently adopted a whole new model for his handwriting, and, as a result he had the most unique and gorgeous handwriting I'd ever seen, before or since. I've never forgotten the story, and I can picture his lovely handwriting as I write this. A metaphor. I always think of that lovely, kind gentleman when I'm trying to do something new.

In other unrelated food news, our pretty apples are doing amazingly well! I counted them this morning. There are twenty on our tree, and they are just starting to turn the most gorgeous shade of blush red. How do we know when to pick them? Will they fall off or something when they're ready? I can't believe how happy this tree makes me.

Also, IT RAINED. POURED. Oh my stars it was the best fifteen minutes in the world.

I'm making myself a new macrame necklace. The one in the picture is too short (ran out of cord) so I had to start over. Details to come.

And how do you like my pretty party hats?


For your party-planning pleasure! We're making kits (and a pattern)! They should be done by maybe next week? Stay tuned! I will discuss!


Gosh, your party hats are so pretty. Just perfect for a little girl's birthday party. I love the photos in this post. I always love your photos, but these are just particularly...real and homelike.

You are such an inspiration! My day is always made when I see that you have posted a new blog post. I love the painting of the women with the horse and all of the flowers, do you know what it is called or who it is by??

Have you ever heard of the book called "Little Mommy" by Sharon Kane? It is a Classic Golden Book and every time I read it to my daughter I think of your sweet girl and her little kitchen!

So so so sooooooo glad to know I'm not the only one with MAJOR FOOD STRUGGLES. LOL! Why is it so hard? I've gotten on and fallen off the meal planning wagon more times than I can count! It's shameful! But I'm inspired by your posts (and thanks so much for keepin' it real!) and I downloaded the Paprika app. We'll see how this goes!

I'm going to have to look at Paprika. I use an application called Mastercook. Bought a version of it in the cheap software section of Staples or Best Buy YEARS ago. Since then, I've upgraded a few times. It allows you to import recipes, scale them, create menu plans and grocery lists etc. What I like best is the nutritional information database.

Those are the cutest party hats I have EVER seen. I think I will make them for my birthday. :) Not sure that 40 would look as cute as the number 3 on the hats, but I will surely need something cute and happy on that particular birthday that is approaching.

Another great thing about Paprika is when someone asked you if you'd share a recipe, you just go i to the recipe and email it to them. If they have Paprika, it can go right i to their paprika in the correct format and vice versa. My girlfriends and I swap recipes that way all the time. No typing, copying etc.

Great party jats too!

Your pictures are gorgeous! You definitely have an eye for unique photos! And the party hats are so adorable!!

Great pictures, and the waffles makes me hungry.

Oh, Alicia I just knew you'd do it - cleaning, organizing, cooking meals. Tell us - Did you find or make a new apron for your new endeavors?

By your recommendation I've purchase the Paprika app. I can't wait to use it. Hopefully I can find some tried & true recipes for two. Being retired it's a challenge to only make enough for just two people.

Didn't you just love all the rain we had. I sat by the open window and just took one deep breathe after another, drinking it all in. . . sigh

I've been making beaded jewelry - peyote stitch bracelets & earrings. Love your macrame necklace. Please take a photo when it's completed. We'd all love to see it.

As always your postings leave me with inspiration and good thoughts that I can achieve my dreams, too.

Thank you for the info about Paprika, I need that in my life.
Also, I may need those party hats! Love them!

The waffles make me hungry too, Yum!! Can I just say that I absolutely adore your kitchen. Your party hats are just the cutest!

Those hats are so adorable! I'm glad you had such a good week. All your food always sounds delicious.

So many beautiful pictures in one post!!!! The party hats almost make me wish my daughter's birthday wasn't until April (except she is already growing to fast so I don't really wish her to turn 5 any sooner). They are really perfect looking.

I wish I could use an app, but I'm really just a pen and paper sort.
One thing that has really helped me with cooking is to figure out how to use leftovers to save time. Usually once a week in the summer we have a salad and I roast a ton of veggies to go with it. Any leftover veggies are then heated up a day or two later and I use them to make a fritatta or tart or throw them in some soup or add pasta. So you can do this with any leftover veggies that are laying around. I have found that managing to use up all the bits that are leftover really makes the whole thing so much more cost effective. That and just cooking normal stuff that I know we like. Sure, it's nice to try something different that requires other ingredients, but if I can't use them all up then it just goes to waste. So if I want to cook something new that requires an ingredient that I don't typically get I either look up other ways to use the ingredient or I don't make it! Maybe not quite as fun but if you do this there's no way that you could spend more money cooking at home than eating out. So if we're craving something exotic, that's when we eat out, so we're getting what we want but not wasting random ingredients.
Also, with the kids I just don't have a lot of time to experiment in the kitchen!
Sorry to go on about this, but trying to get efficient in the kitchen with time/money is something I've thought a lot about! The key is to buy stuff and make recipes where you can make several different things with the same ingredients so you don't waste them and always have something that you can make on hand.... So a mix of leftover veggies sauteed in butter (zucchini, peppers, fennell, onions, whatever) + pasta + goat cheese & a bit of pasta water = a really good meal that saves you money and can be made in the time it takes to boil pasta.
I'm so excited for the hat kits! My daughter will be 4 in September and she will love these!

That photo..Morning 1..may be in my top ten of Beauty♥
I love Russian Nesting Dolls..don't want a typo here so I am giving the definition;)
I love making meals..home made..we did not have a lot of $ when we married..

I did not even know how to make macaroni.I was all of 20..
It became a passion of mine.
I find young families eat out a lot more than we ever did..once a year back when traveling really..
but..maybe I should have more..

we have the same rolling pin..after 41 yrs..I have a few..but that is my go to one.
Her Littles kitchen is adorable.

I wish I had had all this technology 40 yrs ago..
our daughters would have even more memories.
She is such a lucky little two too.

Hi Alicia!
I just wanted to say hi and thank you for all the time you spend sharing with us. I've been reading your blog since 2006 (or thereabouts) and it's so lovely to see your life change and grow. It's also a comfort to return to something that's so steady and true-to-YOU - especially on those days when the world seems a bit bonkers. Thanks for giving us the gift of your blog! x Pip

LindaSonia says: July 28, 2015 at 02:34 PM

you should give a body a
warning before you show shrimp up close... yikes!!! LOL

The flowery curtain, the oh so pretty book bag, the embroidery and the painting are just some of the stand out photos today. So delightful to look at. Just such very nice things! I have some vintage fabric that is similar to the main part of the bag. I keep making bags - can you have too many I wonder?

Such a expressive little face Amelia has, she will look so pretty in one of those party hats. They are classically 'Posie gets cozy' and that is a winning combination of charm, taste and prettiness.

I love macramé jewellery. I just never get around to doing it, I really should. Apple trees are to me one of the most beautiful things in the world. Saw the most perfect one in a garden the other week, it was just so gorgeous with its apples nearly ready to pick.

A while back, I spent some time researching all of the recipe apps (Mac and iOS), and I decided that Paprika was the best with regard to features, appearance, and ability to synchronize across devices (plus the name and icon are just cute). I bought it for my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. When I decide to make something on the spur of the moment, I can just look up the ingredients on my phone at the grocery store. The scaling feature you mentioned is so convenient. The methods for getting recipes into the app work well. My sister and I easily share recipes. All in all, ! love it! (Just thought I'd let you know so you wouldn't wonder if you should have gone with something else.)

Groceries DO cost AN ABSOLUTE FORTUNE. My husband always think I spend too much, but it is a mad, mad world out there, I would like to see him do better. Humph.

Lovely as always. Where did you get the sweet little kid's kitchen? I have a granddaughter who would love it. And so nice that it isn't all plastic.

Love the party hats, but I don't have any "little ones" right now, but in November I will have a new granddaughter...very excited! I could make them for her birthdays.

I also love your little kitchen...seems to be very cozy.

As for the kitchen organization, I use a crock pot for a lot of meals so that I can have at least two meals from it and I use a binder for recipes that look easy...simple is always my motto in cooking, especially since I cook for just two.

You are my go to for a new recipe. Everything you post turns out great and is always delicious! I look forward to trying the quinoa salad and spaghetti and sausage. I can't wait.
Mimi's hair in those first couple shots is super cute as is she. I will try that do on my girl. You are all kinds of awesome. Thanks again and again for sharing.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at