Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hello Again . . .

Hello again. I have missed my time when I write about my discoveries, connections, photos, frustrations and travels as I reassemble my family.  But . . . we can't neglect the living, breathing families we live with today and the memories we will leave for future generations.

For several years, I have talked about making a family cookbook. I have taken photos of recipes as well as some in process but the task always seemed overwhelming.  I was right.  It was overwhelming.   My local genealogy group meeting at the end of October discussed the sharing of family recipes, and so I was susceptible when my youngest son told me that what he really wanted for Christmas was a cookbook of our family recipes.  I promised with a weak "maybe" and decided to, at least, begin to see how feasible it was to finish by the holiday deadline.   I started by making lists of recipes and solicited suggestions from my children and husband.  My children (all adults) had plenty of suggestions, and my husband had none.  Soon I had a list of 50+ recipes and the number was climbing.  I decided to type each recipe into an individual Word document hoping that I would then only have to cut and paste the text as I created each page.  This was a very good decision.  I have made books in the past - two to be exact and both times, I have used Shutterfly.  I am sure there are many good companies with a good product, but I was impressed with the quality of my first book and won't try anyone else.

Because I had made books in the past, I thought I knew all about it.  Wrong.  After days of spending all my free time typing in the recipes, I decided that I needed to start making some pages to keep my enthusiasm up.  I spent six hours one Sunday working, and then tried to save it.  It refused to save so I called their help line, and a very polite man sitting somewhere on the other side of the world told me that all my work was lost since I did not save as I went, and that uploading new photos in the middle of working might have caused the problem.  I am sure that my son who lives 2500 miles from me heard my shriek - seven hours work lost.  The very polite man offered  to give me a free book since there was no where on the site that said not to upload, as a matter of fact there was a link to do that very thing.  I said thank you through my sobs.

A week later, after typing more recipes, I decided to try again. After the fiasco, I saved constantly, but still uploaded in the middle of working.  I determined that if I save first, what did it matter.

I discovered that Shutterfly had made huge improvements and now I had complete flexibility with the page layout.  Most of their books are geared for photos and I planned to have lots of those, but my recipes just didn't fit into the pre-made text pages.  Then I discovered the "customize page" link in the bottom left corner.  I clicked on that, and I could create any layout I wanted.  I started each page by adding a text box - link located in the upper right hand corner, cutting and pasting each recipe, then stretching the box to fit in all of the text.  I usually used two text boxes - one for the ingredients and another for the directions.  This allowed more options in placement.  After this I added photos in the remaining space, enlarging, reducing or tilting them as I pleased. I also discovered the embellishments tab and would search and search to find something to give a dull page a little life.   Between computer sessions, I was digging through bags and boxes of disorganized old photos and slides pulling out some favorites to scan and upload for possible inclusion.  While it was fun, it also consumed huge amounts of time.  This project was now consuming my life, or at least all of my free time, but as I finished each page, I felt such satisfaction.

I loved it.

Well, now I will share it with you, and encourage each of you to consider making one for your own family. Include photos of family, food, and pictures of your home.  There were many favorite photos that didn't make it into the book, and my granddaughter now says, "you need to include (fill in this blank with multiple recipe suggestions) when you make volume two".  Volume two??????

Well, maybe . . .

Photo books are the perfect gift for any occasion.


  1. You are hired, come cook for me any day and the book is delightful, understatement, WONDERFUL!

  2. Margel,
    I wondered where you had been. This book is incredible and I'm sure will be cherished forever by your family. I don't know how you did all of this in the short time you had. Congratulations!

  3. WOW Margel!! this is wonderful. What a Treasure to give to the family. I'm with Carol, you hired to come cook for me:)

  4. Margel:

    It's beautiful! Can't wait to see it in person. And glad to see you back on the blog. I miss your stories!

  5. Glad to see you back, Margel! What an amazing book and keepsake you've created. I'm sure it will be a family treasure for years to come.

  6. The book is fantastic, Margel, you made a really good job of it and I feel inspired to make a book now :-) Jo

  7. I'm in AWE, Margel. This is just wonderful. And it's a joy to have you back!