Monday, January 10, 2011

The True Story of How Address Book and MobileMe Saved Christmas

Perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, but maybe not. Read along, and then you decide.

About thirty years ago, my mother-in-law was given a recipe for the most amazing peanut butter balls known to man. These peanut butter balls are a family tradition, and all the daughters make them every year at Christmastime. And as a daughter-in-law, I continued the tradition. But first, let's chat about recipe storage.

When I was a young bride, I bought my very first recipe box, and did my best to fill it with recipe cards. I also collected about a dozen or so recipe books. A few years after I got married, we started moving frequently. So for about 6 years, nearly all of my cookbooks went into storage. And somewhere along the way, I lost my recipe box. One of our latest moves was 1000 miles away, and required us to get rid of old stuff that had been just sitting in storage. So, I pulled out my old boxes, and I figured that if I hadn't used anything in the boxes in six years, I didn't need them and I wasn't even going to open them to see what was inside. So off to Goodwill they went.

So there I am in a new town, with no recipe box and no cookbooks. I decided to email my sister-in-law and have her send me some of the famous family recipes. In order to avoid losing the recipes, I made Address Book cards for them on my mac. I even made a Group in my Address Book, and all my recipes get filed there. I can view my recipes on my phone while working in the kitchen. How handy! Plus, because I have my address book automatically backed up, my recipes are safely stored in about 5 different servers.

This year, like every year, I made a batch of peanut butter balls. We decided to take some of them to our family vacation in California. It was actually purely for selfish reasons (snack food for the drive), not because we intended on sharing them with the family. Because, surely the family had made their own peanut butter balls using the thirty year old famous family recipe...Surely.

So we're down visiting with the family and my sister-in-law expresses great remorse; she didn't have any peanut butter balls this year because, you see...she had lost the recipe. And the other sister-in-law in Tennessee had also lost the recipe. So no one in the family had any peanut butter balls. What?! I was the sole remaining family member in possession of the Best Peanut Butter Ball Recipe Known to Man. And best of all, it was on my phone! After running to the car to retrieve the peanut butter balls from their secret location (and thus become a hero), I came back inside and showed my sister-in-law the Address Book card containing the recipe. With a few taps of the touchscreen, (Share Contact) I was able to share the recipe with her. She was intrigued about the Groups feature. She had never seen that before on her iPhone.

It turns out that I have been taking Address Book Groups for granted. Because I have a mac computer, any Address Book Groups that I create on my computer get transferred into my phone, courtesy of MobileMe. But iPhone users that don't have a mac or a MobileMe account do not have Groups. Unless of course, they buy an app that adds that functionality to their phone.

And so the moral of the story is: Back up your treasured family recipes using MobileMe and remote offsite backup.

A few tips if you decide to use Address Book cards for your recipes:
  • I use the Notes section of the card to type in the recipe. If you're on an iPhone, the Notes field is not visible by default. You'll need to add that field.
  • Another word about Notes: If you choose to export address book cards on your mac, you may need to fiddle with the export settings in order to get the Notes included. I think the older OS didn't have the checkbox to include notes. I think you just had to know to choose version 2.1.

In case you're interested, here is the Peanut Butter Ball Recipe. I am pleased to announce that this recipe once again safely in the possession of multiple members of the family. Generations of Vaughns breathe a collective sigh of relief.

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