Monday, January 5, 2009

My Blurb Book: Simply Homemade

Jason’s baby sister got married this past weekend.

She’s not a baby – in fact, she’s the same age I was when I got married. But, to us, she’ll always be the baby.

As I began to think about what to give her for her bridal shower, I really wanted to make her something. But, I can't knit or sew or draw or paint or any of the things that might make for a special homemade gift. And, I wanted to make something that was for her, but also for her soon-to-be husband, Justin.

I remember being a new bride and being totally and completely somewhat intimidated by all of my new kitchen gadgets and appliances.

And, cookbooks – so many recipes with lots of steps and weird ingredients that I'd never heard of. I'd go to the grocery store, spend a boatload of money, then try something - only to make a royal mess in my kitchen, and have my creation taste nowhere near as good as the work and clean-up warranted.

Since I’ve been married to my Jason and have been cooking and baking and learning from my cooking mistakes for over 7 years now, I’ve come to realize that the recipes we love the most are two things:

Simple and homemade.

Those are the kinds of recipes that I come back to over and over. And, they are truly our favorites.

So, as I contemplated Emily's gift for her shower, I got an idea.

A cookbook. I would make her a cookbook.

And, I titled it, “Simply Homemade".

Some of them are family favorites – the recipes that remind me of Mom’s house and that fill our bellies on lazy Sunday afternoons – sitting around a big table with the people that we love the most.

Some of them are variations on ones I’ve found scouring the internet to see if I could make something resembling dinner with what I had in my pantry and fridge.

Most of them are my creations - the recipes that I’ve created after tasting and testing and tasting some more.

I used a publishing service called Blurb to develop and create my cookbook. I downloaded Blurb’s software onto my desktop and began entering my recipes and uploading my photos. It was time consuming and tedious – but the outcome was worth every minute of time I poured into it.

I love how Emily’s cookbook turned out. Here are some pictures of the finished cookbook.

The front cover. The cookbook is a hardcover book with a dust jacket. I love cookbooks with dust jackets because I can remove them and wipe them off easily. I had to put one of my favorite recipes on the cover - and a recipe that I knew meant a lot to Emily, too: Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies.

The back cover. A great Banana Nut Crumb Muffin recipe. My favorite muffins.

The inside cover with the front dust jacket flap. I love this picture of Emily and Justin, and it really personalized the book for them. I can change out the picture, as well as the note, if I want to give it to anyone else as a gift, or make it generic for anyone to use.

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The title page.

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The dedication page.

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The Table of Contents. These were the two most time consuming pages of the entire cookbook. I had to make sure each page was correct, and I had to make sure everything fit on this open spread. I love that she can find things easily. It was SO worth the time.

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The chapter title pages. Each chapter begins with a page like this - separating each different category of food: Appetizers, Breakfast, A Favorite Meal, Main Dishes, Soups, Salads and Sides, and Desserts.

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A recipe page. This is just one example of the recipes in the cookbook. I included about sixty recipes. I love this Artichoke and Spinach Dip recipe - perfect for the Super Bowl coming up. You can find the recipe here:

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The inside back jacket flap. I used it to tell Emily about the cookbook - what kinds of recipes she'd find inside.

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That's it. My first Blurb cookbook at a glance.

Tomorrow, I’ll post some of the things I learned while creating my Blurb book – tips and ideas on how to create a unique book of your own, as well as the things I would have loved to have known when I started that would have made the process smoother.

It’s so easy! And, it’s such a rewarding process. And, I know that some of you have fantastic ideas of your own that would make really awesome Blurb books.

And, to Emily, who is enjoying her first days on her honeymoon with Justin: I love you, little sis. You were one of the happiest and most beautiful brides I have ever seen.


  1. Your cookbook turned out fantastic; your attention to detail made it look so professional. I am sure your sister loved it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a great gift! It looks wonderful and I know she loved the personal touches!

  3. love, love, love it. what an incredible gift! and how very meaningful and special for Emily! we received a family cookbook as a wedding present and I use it all the time. and that one is VERY simple (no pictures). Your cookbook is just beautiful in every way.

  4. Hey Sarah! This is Vicki Lego from Baltimore and GreenLeaf. I love Blurb! My Jason and I never got our wedding pictures, so for Christmas, we made our parents their own wedding books after we scanned our proofs. They turned out great, so we'll definitely use Blurb again. Happy New Year!

  5. I'm getting my copy of my Blurb book today! I'm so stinkin' excited now that I'll be able to sit down and look over it. Speaking of which, my dad LOVED his. Thanks for the info you gave me on Blurb earlier.

    Your cookbook turned out beautifully and I'm so happy that Emily loved it. How could she not?

    So when do we get to see wedding pictures??? :) Because I know you have nothing to do this week. LOL.

  6. I can testify that this was a wonderful gift. One that each lady at the shower Oohed and Aahed over. Poor Emily couldn't get it back because we all had to look at EVERY recipe! I love online gifts like this, and the calendars and photo books. Great work, Sarah! I am so glad that I got a chance to visit with you Saturday. Glad you're back to blogging, too!

  7. What a great idea, Sarah...I would love to have something like that...really cool! Also, I'd love to see pictures from the wedding, you'll have to post!

  8. As you know, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea! What a wonderful way to give a homemade piece of you as a gift. If you order more, make sure to add me to the list....I'll pay BIG! Love you!

  9. that has to be one of the best gift ideas i have ever seen. so thoughtful and filled with love.

  10. All the makings of a Perfect gift: personal, practical, and professional...nicely done Sarah!

  11. Simply perfect!!!

    From the heart doesn't have to mean "made by hand" - this is an awesome example of putting your heart completely into a gift!

    I'd be willing to bet you'll receive a call the first week or so, after they are home, with her letting you know she's using it to prepare supper!

    When will I find it at amazon? ;-)

  12. lol at momma roars comment - i was going to ask about it being for sale!

    i love this idea- what a thoughtful and loving gift. i just love that there is a site to make it into a book. awesome!

    when i got married, my kindergarten class gave me their favorite recipes, many i still use today. it was one of the best gifts ever.

    you continue to amaze me with your creative ideas - and how you find the time to get it all done! impressive. i think i need some of your energy.

  13. what a perfect and special gift. i bet she (and him) loved it.

    i started a blurb book putting all my previous posts into it. i didn't finish it. i know how tedious and time consuming it is. it was a very thoughtful thing to do.

  14. this is SO great! i love it!
    ps- what kind of camera do you use?