I'm not sure the right words. The last 3 days have been, well, challenging. On Friday morning I learned news of the sudden, unexpected passing of my stepbrother. Only a few years older than me. Far too soon. My heart just breaks for his wife and daughters. I've personally rotated between grief and calm shock. It hasn't fully sunk in and probably won't until the service tomorrow.

Yesterday was an under the weather day in our house. I wasn't feeling 100% and then late in the day Dylan got sick. It was a rough night to say the least. Nothing worse than seeing your child struggling and hurting, and you can't fix it.

But, I was grateful. I was grateful in that it's either something he ate or another round of the nasty stomach bug going around. Nothing more. Either way, it's real. It's life. And he has two parents running to care for him and ease him back to sleep.

Life is the good and the bad. Don't forget to embrace all the moments no matter what because they pass so quickly.


How to Make a Cookbook

Have a few favorite recipes? How about family recipes? There are plenty of ways to save them from index cards in a box to jotted in a notebook. But what about a way to save them and share them? That's where Blurb comes in. With Blurb's help, you can create a cookbook in minutes and print as many copies as you want. Print one for yourself, one for your best friend, one for your mom (hint: Mother's day isn't that far off), one for your child as a new home or wedding gift. Really, the options are limitless.

Now, wondering how to do it? It's easy and requires no fancy design skills. Start with Blurb's free BookSmart software and, just like your recipes, put together your book one step at a time:

1. Organize:Gather your recipes and do a process of elimination. Once you’ve narrowed your favorites down, you can gather accompanying images—just make sure you’re giving the recipe and image files the same name to make it easier when it’s time to upload. Keep everything in one folder on your computer.

2. Flow it: Next, determine how you want your cookbook story to flow. Do you want to sort your recipes by age, popularity, or even something else? Once you’ve determined the order, you’ll have done the bulk of your creative decision-making.

3. Get the tool: Download our free book-making tool, BookSmart, choose your book size (Standard Portrait and Standard Landscape are the most popular for cookbooks) and input your title and author name. Then choose “Cookbook” as your starting point — this will give you the best layouts for the job. Then pick a source for your images — from iPhoto, your computer, even Flickr or Picasa. Lastly, choose a theme. Now you’re ready to put together your cookbook.

4. Lay it out: This is where the real book-making comes in. BookSmart will provide you with 20 pages in our standard recipe layout, but you’ll find plenty of alternate layouts in the “Choose page layout” panel on the upper left. You can also add additional pages ­­— including photo pages — by clicking “Add Pages” in the top toolbar.

5. Just add copy: Our layouts provide space for stories, introductions, and those all-important ingredients and directions. Paste in your copy and you’re golden. Then garnish with photos. Don't forget to run BookSmart’s spell check feature.

6. Preview and review: Click “Review book” and go through page by page. If you’re not a natural-born proofreader, ask a friend to take a second look.

7. Order: Make any last minute edits, click “Order,” and follow the prompts to checkout. Remember to order extra copies for friends and family—or sell it in the Bookstore. Order now and save 15% on all print book orders through April 30th with code TAKE15%.

That's it! Your cookbook is complete. Just sit back and wait for your package to arrive.

FTC Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


DIY Tiling Class

Quiet for a week or close to it (I had a post on MiCH last Wednesday). It wasn't intentional. Just a LOT going on. Good stuff. All to come soon.

One great part of the week I can share - a friend and I took a "Do-It-Herself" class at Home Depot to learn about tiling. As part of our kitchen remodel, I want a tile backsplash and have been debating whether or not we should do it ourselves. Neither Trent nor I have ever done tile work before and I'll admit I can be a little OCD at times. My biggest worry is crooked tiles and always knowing.

In the quest to save a little money and because I honestly enjoy doing most of the home projects ourselves, I'm leaning toward giving the tiling a try. The class timing was perfect and made for a fun girls night out with a friend who is considering doing her own too.

I've never taken one of these classes before. It was more a demonstration and Q&A, but I did feel like I had a good bit of information when I left and am leaning toward giving the backsplash a go. I'll be sure to share how the project turns out. In the meantime, we still have to decide on what style/color countertop and get installation arranged.

Have you ever taken a class at Home Depot or another home improvement store? What did you think?

My full review on the Do-It-Herself Workshop will be on Mom in Chapel Hill next week.


Lego KidsFest 2014: the layout

Two years ago, we had the opportunity to attend our first Lego KidsFest. When we heard it was returning to Raleigh and knowing we had a Lego obsessed son, Trent bought tickets for the 3 of us to attend again. To say Dylan had a blast was an understatement. Just yesterday morning he was once again studying the event pamphlet and talking about the different areas and what he wants to do next. Still trying to help him understand it was a one time event. Unless, of course, he can convince his aunt to take him when it's in Richmond in October...

We didn't take that many photos this time, but it still took some effort to slim down to a few that I thought helped give a good overview of the fun. And, I'm sure if KidsFest comes again in a couple of years, we'll be some of the first to scoop up tickets.

Have you ever attended Lego KidsFest or another kid focused special event? What was your favorite?

Supplies: Leathers: Sugar Frames by Gennifer Bursett; Courier, Legothick and Stencil Std fonts.


Friday Freebie: DIY Disney Stroller Tag Template

Last fall I shared details on the Stroller Tag I made for our last trip to Walt Disney World. I was asked about a template and had been meaning to create one.

This month's Friday Freebie is the DIY Disney Stroller Tag. It's free for personal use only and your download will include two .psd files. One features the name side and is ready to edit with your family name and, if you choose, add the resort/hotel name and trip month/year at the bottom. (Note: if you don't have Waltograph font, download it for free at dafont here for use with the Stroller Tag template.)

The second file contains a red, black & white Mickey background with a single white text letter to edit with your family's last initial.

After you've download the template, edit the files, print, trim and seal with a wallet size Scotch Self-Sealing Laminate Pouch. Punch a hole and use a ziptie or ribbon to attach to your stroller.

Click here to download Stroller Tag Template

Don't have Photoshop? No worries. I have a simple free printable available as well. Just print and handwrite your family's name. Then seal like the template option.

Click here to download Stroller Tag Printable


Have you missed one of my previous digital freebies? Click HERE to find them. And, don't forget to subscribe to my feeds so you won't miss future freebies!

Not sure how to edit one of my free templates? See my Digital Template Tutorial for quick, step-by-step instructions.

FTC Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


3 Simple Steps to Block Users on Pinterest

Did you know you can block other users on Pinterest now? I found out by chance when Pinterest started rolling out "Related Pins" amidst the regular feed. You know - the pins that are from people you don't follow at all. Simply suggestions based on other things you typically pin or like.

I get the need to slip in an ad and make a little money for a service that is totally free to me, but I also don't want to see all of them. Specifically, there is a big box store where I don't shop and I don't want to see their pins, ads or otherwise which led me to finding out how to block them.

Whether it's a store, other business or perhaps a stranger that rubs you the wrong way - here are the quick steps to blocking on Pinterest:

1) Go to the profile for the user you want to block. Click the flag icon. At bottom of drop down menu, click "block."

2) A pop-up window will double check that you want to block this user. Click "Block Pinner" to continue. A second pop-up window will confirm you have now blocked the user. Click "ok" to finish.

3) Any profile of a user you have blocked will show "Unblock" instead of the "Follow All" button. An easy way to double check you have blocked them and, if you made a mistake or change your mind, just click it to unblock.

Really, it was that easy and you no longer have any interaction from the blocked user. Happy pinning!


Mabel's Labels: 40% Spring Spectacular Sale

FTC Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

It may seem early to think about the new school year, but as Dylan will be in a year round school, his first day of class will be in July! And, in a larger class and overall school than preschool, I'm sure some of his items are bound to get lost which is why I was excited to see Mabel's Labels is currently having a Spring Spectacular Sale so I can order early, save a little money and have one more item checked off my to do list.

Through tomorrow (March 4th) you can save 40% off Sticky Labels, Skinny Minis, Tag Mates and the Big Kaboodle Combo. No coupon required.

Find my past review on Mabel's Labels Sticky Labels here.

Simple Kids Build Car Repair

Going to either Lowe's for Build and Grow or Home Depot for Kids Workshop is a highly requested weekend activity here these days. Dylan knows exactly where to go and the basics, so he has his apron ready at the door when it's time to leave.

We now have a lot of these builds. They are all quite cool and fun. But there has been a common issue with most - particularly the cars. The stickers seem to loose their adhesiveness and peel right off. I get tired of finding them everywhere. Like stuck to the bottom of my sock and, if missed, later in the dryer.

At first we "fixed" them by pulling off the stickers and letting him color the car with markers. Works great. Becomes a new activity. Win win.

Sometimes it seems it would be nice for the stickers to stay on. Especially on the race cars. I thought there had to be another answer and - aha! - in my basket of "tapes & glues" in the cabinet over our kitchen desk is a jar of Mod Podge.

I simply grabbed the jar, an offending car, a foam brush and set about to do the repair. If the sticker is loose, peel it off. Apply some Mod Podge, replace sticker and press firmly. If it's sticking okay, I let it be.

Then after all the stickers are securely down, I add a thin coat of Mod Podge over the entire car.

Let it dry and - Boom! Car is fixed and has a slight sheen to it. Perfect for a slick race car and no more wandering stickers for me to find around the house.

Looking for other ideas for using Mod Podge? Check out our Shamrock Handprint Plaque or Decorated Sketchpad or Play Kitchen Cheez-its Box.