Artful Purpose

Now that I’ve started at the end, lets go back to the beginning!

What I mean is, it’s helpful to organize when you’re restructuring your life.

I started with the dream of a pantry, then moved to a new state that required a new lifestyle, then got hit by the empty nest syndrome… which came with it’s mandate to reinvent myself! We all have our reasons to restructure and reorganize. But it’s helpful, and fun, to see what others have done/are doing, so I’ll share some of my strategies beyond just menu planning.

Toward Pantry planning, I started with a box of recipes that I had to paw thru to find anything (somewhere in this pile was that quiche recipe, right?) Needing accessiblity, I decided to organize them into a binder. It’s been a year-long process, but I’ve only worked on it on gray days because opening the project is like opening a present each time and makes the day brighter!

I started with re-organizing the pile into piles of sub-topics (breads, vegetables, sauces, salads…). Then I went online to find pictures that I thought were beautiful and appropriate for food-related titles. And I picked a font & colors to use that matched the tone of the illustrations (like those of Linda Paul).

I don’t just have recipes anymore, I call it my Pantry Book– that gives me the feeling I’ve actually created something Big and Authentic – and worthy of passing down.

Here’s a PDF of the inside layout via the table of contents  – so you can see how I arranged the recipes and how I added all kinds of our life-needs into this one project, making it a complete resource for myself & something I enjoy referring to.

Table of Contents recipe keeping organization

In this binder I have information, and lists, costs and other useful things – everything with it’s pretty Title page of course, organized like chapters in a book.

The Larder Inventory“ (section or chapter) is not just a food list-  pages on differences of different oils, salts, beans, rices, etc… for someday when I have a harvest and have learned to can food in jars. Things I would like to make in BULK so that it’s as available as opening a store-bought bottle. Things like these:

  • Blackberry reduction sauce (for lamb, beef, duck)
  • Juniper-pepper beef reduction sauce (for venison, elk)
  • Bottled Hell and other hot-sauces

The Hard Times Café “ is a resource on frugality and other basic survival topics. What to do if. It’s how to cook outdoors, and whatever else you would need to store for emergencies from batteries to the Canned Goods List, to where to get and how much for a hand-crank pump for the water well, to homemade household cleaners, bug repellants, and medicinals.

So, first collecting things which either inspire, enrich, inform, to secure my life in some way,  then organizing it all, then making it pretty!

Regarding the Business chapter- it’s basically a Creative Project File with some foody goodies;  a running list of projects for gifting when the opportunity presents itself.

It includes detailed planning pages for artistic endeavors, timelines to complete, pictures, clippings and other resources, materials & supplies lists, and vendor phone numbers). So far it works best to start gathering materials for the project ideas all year long, assembling them in the month prior to a new quarter so that I can finish one aspect of the project each week with a deadline.

We survive on the income produced by our service business, that has been successful from the outset largely because of ‘word of mouth’ referrals, and our town is small enough that we might run into a client of ours when we’re out, so every little thing can count. So when, for instance, our drive-thru bank sends back a few dog biscuits with the deposit receipt (which they do when they see the dogs in the car), they get a goodie bag in return.

Because of this popular practice in our town (dog biscuit treats), I began to create a giveaway gift bag / treat either during the Christmas season or at the end of January just for ‘winter’ cheer (because winter seems to drag on and on). The intention is to enhance business relations, and is somewhat specific on what clientele is intended –because we have well over 2,000 clients – I can’t make that many cookies!  For that reason, certain projects might be more geared to our vendors, our business clients – or maybe just our seniors or to those who have made referrals… or just to anyone we run into & do business with until the supply runs out (I always attach a business card and a tiny bell to the packaging). The point really, is simply cheer and sharing.

It might be a selection of little clay ornaments (made to hang on a tree, door handle or rearview mirror), or several large pieces of assorted gourmet nut brittle… always something unique, as this tourist town has a plethora of gourmet shops, and most of us tend to be kind of spoiled.

I’d like to expand this to every quarter- every season – because sometimes we don’t have a season to ‘celebrate’ as much as one to commiserate – like a real good ‘mud season’!

Next time around we’ll go over Seasonal Menu Plans!




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