I take thousands of pictures of my kids and preserve them for eternity...on a memory stick. Sticks are reserved for popsicles and shish kabobs, not memories. I rarely get around to printing photos, but I do share my favourite pictures, along with stories and anecdotes in blog form. My first personal blog is now dormant. I visit it from time to time, but my eyes are the only ones to fall upon those images anymore.
If you’re a blogger, you'll love Blurb.com. It’s a site where you can transform your pictures into vivid memories, your ideas into words, and your blog into a book to be treasured. When I was asked to try it out, I didn’t expect to find such a wide range of project options. I dove right in and while my friends spent the long weekend partying and enjoying the outdoors, I created a masterpiece. And that poor lonely blog? It’s now preserved for all time in book form.
Here’s how to bookify your memories:
Where to start? Take a look through the Blurb Bookstore for inspiration. You’ll be amazed by the creativity out there. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but my suggestion is to start small.
First, Download the free Booksmart software from the Blurb.com website.
Then, start a “practice” book. Experiment with book sizes, templates, colours and layouts and take the various features for the test run before you begin your for reals book. Pricing is based on book size, cover (soft or hard) and number of pages. My small square, soft cover, 40 page book was $17.95 plus shipping (about $8.95) and tax.
Spend 37 minutes watching the tutorial. I wish I had done that right from the start. The tips made a world of difference and would have saved me a whole lot of “wtf time.” So pour yourself a glass of wine (unless you’re watching in the morning, in which case coffee might be a more respectable choice), watch and learn.
Then go to it, but try not to go overboard with background colours and patterns. I learned this the hard way. Coincidently, I have the same problem at buffets. Just because there are fifty different kinds of desserts, it doesn’t mean you have to sample every one. Less is more. Let your pictures and words speak for themselves.
Blog books are surprisingly easy to create. You can pull your entire blog, pictures and text, right from your blog directly into a book in a matter of minutes. Then all you have to do is organize and pretty it up. I omitted some of the less meaningful posts and tried to keep the layout as true to the original blog format as possible.
Try to resist the temptation to edit your writing. It’s time consuming (trust me, I lived it) and it’s nice to be able to look back to see how much your writing has changed, evolved and hopefully improved.
I’m going home to Vancouver this fall and I’ll get to see my 90 year old grandfather. He doesn’t own a computer and he’s never seen my blog so I made a copy for him. I can't wait to share it with him.
After making my first book, I was itching for more. In addition to this yummy blog, I also write Forever in Mom Genes about life as a special needs mama. The thought of having a tangible book to open up to any story, at any time, appealed to me. Now that I’m an “expert” (can I add Graphic Designer and Published Author to my resume now?) I dove in and made a portrait size blog book...“Volume One”, as I plan to create more volumes as my blog continues. This is the cover below.
There isn't a blogger who doesn’t pour over their previous posts from time to time, so a blog book is a must have.
But...Blurb offers lots of other book options as well. Blub’s Booksmart has all sorts of templates that would make publishing your own book of family recipes or special drink concoctions simple. Wouldn’t that be the best hostess or teacher’s gift ever? You can have them printed as needed. Once ordered, they are shipped to your doorstep within 7-10 business days. Look out, “Party Mummy’s Cheap Eats and Party Tips for Party Mummies Everywhere,” will be coming to a bookshelf near you!
How about stories about your kids or starring your kids? Imagine how much they’d enjoy seeing their own faces and hearing their names within the context of a fairy tale or a story you’ve written together. My son and I wrote a children’s book and I can’t think of a better “mom and me” project for us than publishing it together.
If your book is really something special, consider setting your price and selling it in the Blurb bookstore. Who knows, maybe you’ll have a best seller on your hands?
A spectacular sangria requires only four ingredients – wine, booze, sugar and fruit. You can easily create your own signature recipe by switching up wine varietals, the alcohol sidekick and fruit combinations.
To make the perfect pitcher of sangria, follow the basic recipe/ratio which is:
1 x 750 ml bottle of red or white wine
* ½ - ¾ cup of alcohol e.g. triple sec, peach schnapps, infused vodka, etc.
1/8 cup of sugar
1 pound-ish of fruit (How much is a pound? Weigh the fruit in the grocery store. That’s what that hanging scale thingy is for right?)
* Try white wine, berry liqueur, blueberries and grapes for a tasty berry sangria. It's berry good.
You’ll also need:
Tupperware container with lid
Ice or frozen juice cubes
Soda (for the calorie conscious), sparkling water, Gingerale or 7-Up
Here’s how to make a super simple sangria that's just peachy for summer sipping!
Slice the peaches into big wedges (I threw in a few strawberries to keep it interesting though they tend to look a little funky after a long soak. Whole blueberries fare better).
Put the fruit in a Tupperware container.
Press the sugar gently into the fruit with a wooden spoon and pour the alcohol (3/4 cup of Peach Schnapps, but not the wine) over top.
Cover with a lid and let sit for a minimum of thirty minutes.
Add the sweet, drunken fruit to wine in a pitcher and put in the fridge to sit for at least half a day. This is KEY. A rushed sangria isn’t worth its salt…ahem, sugar.
Serve in a large wine glass or tumbler over ice (regular ice cubes or frozen juice cubes).
Be warned, this drink is potent! Sip slowly or you’ll be dancing on the pool deck in nothing but water wings and a smile before you know it. If you find it too strong, add more ice or top with a splash of club soda (or 7-Up if you like it sweeter).
Growing up, I never liked getting down and dirty, unless it was on the dance floor. I wasn’t much of an athlete either. In high school, my gym class gave me a t-shirt inspired by my epic whining during those gruelling timed track runs. It had the word, “Whimp” written across the chest. Yes, wimp was misspelled. My friends were pretty.
It’s not that I hated sports; I guess I always thought I just wasn’t up to the challenge.
I was wrong.
It took becoming a mother to finally realize that. Perhaps the battles fought advocating for my special daughter allowed me to finally see it. I’m not a wimp, I’m a warrior dammit.
When my friend Lisa (all Lisa’s are slightly crazy by the way) told me about the Warrior Dash at Whistler this summer, I thought she was cracked. I pretended to be disappointed that the race was being held on the other side of the country.
And then in stepped kismet, otherwise known as my pal Sharon (Sharons are even crazier than Lisas FYI). She discovered the race was also being held close to home at Horseshoe Valley. I cursed her and her mad website browsing skills.
I wasn’t sure I could do it. I’m a forty-one year old mother for heaven’s sake. But I’m not a wimp, I’m a warrior. Did I mention that already? I figure if say it enough, it’ll finally sink in.
Maybe you don’t think YOU are a warrior. But you are. You just have to take the leap (fire optional).
There are lots of challenges out there like this. Pick one and do it. It’ll make you feel alive...if it doesn’t kill you. Just kidding. You won’t die. Most likely.
Ten tips for warrior women who would like to give a race like this a try:
1) The videos and pictures always make it look way harder than it is. I didn’t train AT ALL and I made it. Did I suck wind most of the way? Yes. Do I suck wind carrying the vacuum upstairs? Yes. Same diff. Also the obstacles, in this race anyway, are optional. If you’re afraid of a particular one, you can bypass it.
2) Book a room at the event venue early. They go fast. We missed out, but fortunately we got to ride up in style. We were the chicks in the cushy limo. Thank you Rosedale Livery for escorting us to and fro. Being dropped off right at the starting line preserved our energy for the race. Between that and the pre-race sausage, we were in peak physical condition at the starting line.
3) Don’t wear your best running socks. They will never come clean. Same goes for your shoes. Prepare to add them to the heap after the race. Five hundred dollar orthotics? You might want to leave those at home.
4) Wear a supportive bra. I made a mental note for next year as I galloped down one of the hills. I have the bruises on my knees to illustrate my point. Get it? Boobs. Knees. Sigh. Just wear a good bra ok? Also, bring a change of clothes and a small towel in a backpack along with extra sunscreen and possibly a pack of wet wipes. You can check your bag during the race.
5) Tie up your shoe laces tight! Mud sucks. Literally. The last thing you want to lose is a shoe during the race. Or more importantly, the timer attached to said shoe that also acts as your free beer ticket at the end of the race.
6) Hydrate before and after. With water. Not just beer. Lesson learned. Headache-From-Hell.
7) Take lots of pictures to show your friends. They’ll laugh at you, but secretly they’ll think you’re kind of badass. Also, your kids will think it’s cool that you have rocks stuck to your scalp.
8) If your bag and phone are checked and out of reach, you’ll be incommunicado so be sure to arrange a meeting spot for your team/friends/cute Vikings beforehand. Otherwise hooking up will be difficult.
9) You may be in it to win it, but don’t be a hero. Push yourself, but be safe. It’s all fun and games until somebody breaks an ankle. *This tip applies to the race AND the after party.
10) Stay and enjoy the after party by the way. Celebrate your success with your fellow warriors. Eat a turkey leg, swig a beer and let out a few random warrior cries.
Kudos to the folks at Warrior Dash and Horseshoe by the way. Stellar event planning all around. For the first ever Warrior Dash in Canada, attended by over 10, 000 people, it was flawless. I know a little bit about planning a party and you...nailed it. My Warrior Mom crew and I will be back next year. Viking hats and supportive bras in hand.