If I Start Quoting Real Simple


Do you have one of those boxes, piles, shelves, or other areas in your home filled with stuff you can’t get rid of because it represents a big project that you will one day accomplish if you just get the time? I do – but it’s going to be gone very, very soon.

The Index Plan

I started subscribing to Real Simple Magazine in 2002. Each month I read the new issue and started using some the ideas for cleaning, organizing, “new uses for old things” and occasionally I would try a new recipe. Then I put the magazine on a bookshelf with the vague plan of referring back to it some day. As my collection of magazines got bigger and bigger my plan shifted to wanting to make an index I could refer to whenever I wanted to look up a particular type of recipe or tip. I planned to get the magazines bound by year for easy reference.

The Digital Plan

Then the collection got even bigger (and OCR technology got better) and I decided it would be best to make my collection digital so I could do a quick search on the computer for any information I wanted. So, how to make my collection digital? Using a flat scanner was way too slow and required manual page turning. Next I tried taking the binding off of one magazine and sending it through a very fast double-sided scanner. Unfortunately the pages are slightly wider than a standard sheet of paper and it crumpled the edges or jammed in the scanner. So I gave up for a while again.

Enough is Enough

Recently we started thinking about moving and I decided enough was enough. Not only were the magazines taking up valuable real estate in our small apartment, moving a dozen magazine file boxes filled with old magazines would be very heavy. It was time to either finish this project or admit that it was never going to happen. I gave myself one month to finish whatever I was going to do.

Deadlines can be a magical thing. I started reading a few of the old magazines and realized that some of the information was outdated and some of it I just wasn’t interested in anymore. If I really wanted to finish in a month, I would have to edit my plans and keep only the pages that I still found relevant.

The Digital Camera Plan

I figured out that our point-and-shoot digital camera has a text setting, perfect for quickly capturing a printed page. So I started flipping through all the magazines one by one, taking a snapshot of the cover and then any pages I want to refer back to. I downloaded them to my computer and I was able to quickly sort them info folders by issue since I took a picture of each cover. For now, I’m leaving them as photos, but when I am ready to send a recipe to someone or share a tip, I can quickly run the OCR application and copy and paste the text.

Now I just need to find a new home for all these magazines. Hopefully the library will take them. If you’re reading this and you want some of them…please let me know!

Even though it never made it to any of my written to do lists, this project has been in my mental to do list for about 5 years. It feels so great to be finished. And it was a lot of fun re-reading the magazines. My head is filled with all kinds of tips and facts. So, if I start quoting Real Simple left and right, just ignore me. Or tell me to shut up.