Rosa’s Recipes | Creating a Blurb Book

by | Mar 3, 2021 | a slice of life, Recipes | 51 comments

Organizing is something I do pretty regularly.  Several times a year, I’ll get a little tired of certain areas and I’ll start sorting.  Sometimes I force myself to go through each item and make decisions.  Other times, I just organize the stuff that’s there, only getting rid of the obvious.  As I’ve been organizing in February, I’ve been trying to make decisions about each item and take action on it before I simply put it back neater than I found it.  The result has been so refreshing.  Less stuff, more space, and it’s so much easier to find things.  I’m gathering like things together, getting rid of what we don’t need, and working on projects that have been on the to-do list for a long time, sometimes years.  One of those action-items included creating a Blurb book of my great-grandma Rosa’s recipes.

I only knew Rosa when she wore her thin white hair tied back in a little bun, wore special shoes to compensate for dramatically uneven hips, moved slowly on a walker, and had to be reintroduced to us several times during a visit.  When you’re a kid, it’s just a boring obligation to visit a great-grandma, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found a real connection with Rosa through the stories I’ve been told about her.

She had grit and was always eager to laugh.  She did beautiful crochet work, including an intricate queen-sized bedspread that I am fortunate enough to own.  And she was an amazing cook.  When my mom asked my dad where he wanted to have their wedding reception, he said, “Rosa’s kitchen.”  My dad was already smitten with my mom, but Rosa helped her cook a picnic lunch including fried chicken that sealed the deal.

During the holidays, generations of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren make Rosa’s cheese spread, Rosa’s fruit salad, Rosa’s tea cakes, and other favorite family recipes.  Her handwritten cookbook was a coveted heirloom.

Since there is only one cookbook, my mom borrowed it from my uncle and scanned it a few years ago, so she could share the recipes with everyone else who wanted them.  She took the time to sort them into categories and to type up recipes that were tucked into the book or were difficult to read.  The work that she did years ago made creating a Blurb book easy for me.

I’ve wanted to put the recipes in a book for years, but you know how it is.  There’s always something else to do that’s a higher priority.  But, as I was scanning old photos and letters, I decided it was time.  I’ve had the recipes on a thumb drive, on a disc, and even saved on my computer, and I still kept losing track of where they were.  I couldn’t interact with them in a meaningful way and I certainly wasn’t browsing through them to find a recipe to make.  I needed the collection to be in a physical book to be able to really enjoy it.  While I was making it primarily for myself, I thought her two living children, as well as some of her grandchildren, might be interested in purchasing the book.

I decided to create the book in Blurb, because I’ve heard some good things about the quality of their books.  I had never actually created a book on my own to be self-published, but, as I do with many endeavors, I just plowed ahead, confident I could figure it out.

Here are a few things I learned along the way…

Creating a Blurb Book | Resolution is Key

The book is only going to be as good as the photos and scans you have to work with, so it’s very important to check the resolution.  If the picture/scan isn’t large enough, it will be pixelated and won’t look very professional or sharp.  The software I used would warn me if the resolution was too low and would resize the photo or scan so it would be clear.

When scanning photos or documents for a book, scan them as a high-resolution 300-600 dpi, JPG file.  Most of the files I had to work with were PDFs and you can’t upload them into the book layout software.  I had to convert them to JPGs and the quality wasn’t as high as the ones that were scanned as high-resolution JPGs.  The good news is that even the PDF-to-JPG files turned out fine.  I just couldn’t use them as a full-page photo.

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | miss mustard seed

Doesn’t my great-grandfather look a little like Ernest Shackleton?

Creating a Blurb Book | Using Book Wright

I used the Blurb-recommended software to create the book – Book Wright.  You can also create your book as a PDF, in Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.  There are a few options, but I went with Book Wright.  It’s a free download from Blurb that makes it easy to drag and drop files, add text, etc.  The only downside is that if you decide to print it up yourself, there will be a disclaimer at the bottom of each page noting that it’s not a print-quality resolution.  Of course, the idea is that if you use their free software, the book needs to be printed on Blurb.  That wasn’t an issue for me since I was going to print it through Blurb, anyway, but it limited my options if I wanted to share the file with a family member who didn’t want to pay the price of a Blurb book.

As far as creating the layout of the book itself, I found it to be pretty intuitive.  As I said in the first tip, you can’t upload PDFs to Book Wright, so take the time to convert everything to JPG first.  You also can’t upload Word documents, so I had to copy, paste, and format all of the typed recipes.  (There might be a way to do this that I just missed.)

So, it was tedious and took a bit of time, but it was so fun to start to see the book take shape!

If you are putting together a family photo album, the software will automatically arrange the photos by date to make it easier to create a chronological book.

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | Book Wright | miss mustard seed

 

Creating a Blurb Book | Each Decision Affects the Book Price

When you first set up the template for the book, you make a few decisions about the trim size, the cover, the page sheen, and weight, etc.  All of those decisions will affect the final cost of the book.  It’s important to note that before you start the layout process and end up creating a book you can’t afford!  I knew that Rosa’s book was going to be expensive because it was large (over 250 pages), I selected Premium Matte paper (+$19.99) and other upgraded options like an image-wrapped hardboard cover (+$29.99).  This is a family heirloom, though, and a way I can pass recipes down to my children and their children.  I wasn’t going to cut corners.

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | miss mustard seed

Creating a Blurb Book | Layout Tips

In my opinion, the layout is where a lot of these books can go wrong.  Putting together a book layout isn’t as easy as you think!  Not only are there so many layout choices, but there are choices about fonts, graphics, etc.  My advice would be to keep it simple.  Simple is better in this case.  It will look cleaner, timeless, and more professional if you don’t go overboard.  (Unless you’re a graphic designer and really know what you’re doing.)

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | Book Wright | miss mustard seed

Creating a Blurb Book | The Uploading & Printing Process

During various stages of the creation of the book, I downloaded a proof and sent it to family members for their input and comments.  This helped me correct typos, remove duplicate recipes, and make sure all of the people in the photos were identified correctly.  Once the book was finalized, I uploaded it to Blurb for printing.  At this point, you make a few more decisions about the book, like the color of the end sheets, adding a free ISBN number, etc.  It also spell-checks the book.  In addition to the hard-back book, I created a digital version at this time, so people who didn’t want to buy the physical book could buy a digital version (compatible with Kindle and other readers) for $10.00.

The total retail cost of the book was $140.00!  They are so expensive because it’s small-batch printing.  I’ve had a few non-family members ask if they can buy one, but I doubted anyone who didn’t know Rosa would want to spend that much on a cookbook!  I was able to use a 40%-off coupon code, so the book ended up being just over $100 with shipping and taxes.  For family members, that was well worth it.

I ordered a book and my mom ordered two and they arrived in about a week.

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | miss mustard seed

Creating a Blurb Book | Review

Let me tell you, I was so nervous that I just spent all of this time and over $100 on a book that would look cheap.  The first thing I noticed when I picked the box up off the porch was that it was incredibly heavy for containing three 8 x 10 books.  That was encouraging.  I held my breath as I carefully cut into the cardboard.  I removed the plastic from my book and tears started to well up as I turned the pages.  It was absolutely beautiful.  It was good, worthwhile work and money well spent.

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | miss mustard seed

The photos mixed with the recipes, Rosa’s handwriting and notes, the comments from family members about specific recipes…  It was all a moving tribute to Rosa’s legacy and a part of the story of our family.  Even though I had seen it on a screen, it was a different and more emotional experience holding it in my hands.

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | miss mustard seed

I love how the scans of her recipes, splattered, stained, and yellowed with time, look almost like art framed by the border of clean, white paper.

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | miss mustard seed

And her notes and comments about the recipes are priceless.  She writes if recipes are “fantastic” or “excellent” or even “not good.”  I love how she labels any recipe she got off of the TV, which I’m sure was a novelty to her, as “Television”, like “Television Biscuits.”  Some of them will be a riot to make because there are no weights, measurements, cooking temperatures, or cooking times.  And the measurements that are listed are questionable since her measuring cup was an old teacup with a broken handle!  I’m going to cook as many recipes as I can, though, and just experience the fun of trying to figure it out.  I might skip some of the seafood/gelatin recipes, though!

We didn’t want to edit the recipes, so they would be true to her handwritten book.  Those quirks are a part of the charm and the story.

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | miss mustard seed

So it would be easier to find the recipes, I created chapters based on how my mom sorted them years ago.

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | miss mustard seed

(This MISC recipes include her pattern for crocheted glass socks/cozies, homemade starch for crocheted placemats, and DIY throat gargle!

And my mom also helped me make an index.  I read the order of the recipes to her and she typed them up and added the page numbers.  This was also a final step to catch any duplicate recipes.  And, I have to admit, it was fun, too.  Mom and I laughed together about some of the names and recipes.

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | miss mustard seed

I was so happy with the Premium Matte paper.  It has a nice sheen to it, so it’s not dead flat, but it’s not shiny.  It was perfect for these old scans and photos.  And it’s thick!  It’s very nice, quality paper.

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | miss mustard seed

And the binding is high quality as well…

creating a Blurb book | Blurb review | miss mustard seed

It really looks and feels like a professionally-printed book.  It fits right in with my store-bought books…

I love the book so much that I’m going to make another one with my Opa’s WWII letters and photo album.  I’m fortunate to have his letters…

…photos that he labeled with notes, and his dog tags and ribbons that I can photograph to include in the book.  It’ll be a big project, but I’ve already started working on it and I’m so excited to get it done.

Once that book is completed, I’m going to make a few books out of the photos that have been taken and stored on our phones for the past few years.  That is long overdue as well since my photo-album making fell off a cliff in 2009!

I’m not an affiliate with Blurb, but I have used a refer-a-friend link in this post.  If you use that link, you’ll get $30 off your first book.  If your book is similar to mine, I would also wait until there is an active 40% off coupon code!

Did I cover everything?  Do you have any other questions about creating a book on Blurb?

51 Comments

  1. Jennifer Johnson

    This is an absolute treasure! I’ve done a few books like this of family vacations and have been surprised at how many times I catch my children looking through them. Thanks for sharing your experience and the discount code!
    Jennie

    Reply
  2. Sandi

    It’s beautiful and what a tribute to Rosa! Thanks for sharing, it’s truly a treasure!

    Reply
  3. Melissa S Nixon

    This is so wonderful..hope you share some of your favorite recipes…beautiful tribute..

    Reply
    • Ch

      You look just like your great grandma

      Reply
  4. Addie

    Great book. What a treasure to pass down in the family.
    I took the address off the picture of Rosa’s home and Googled it. It came up on Zillow and Redfin and amazingly it still looks the same today!!! The trees are a bit bigger. The side porch is still there…YAY!!! Do you remember visiting that home as a child? I hope whoever lives there reads the blog.

    Reply
  5. Leslie C.

    Oh my goodness, that is the sweetest cookbook ever, just love it. Both my parents came from large families, my dad was one of eleven and my mom was one of 10. Each of them being on the younger end. My grandparents on my dad’s side won a prize at our county fair for most direct descendants 86 at that time. Which of course included children, grandchildren, great grandchildren & great great children. I was the third youngest granddaughter, so there was not much to pass down to me. But I have great memories and a few photos my parents took. Thank you so much for sharing, what a blessing you have done for your family and those in the future.

    Reply
  6. Candice Hope

    Absolutely stunning! What an amazing tribute!

    Reply
  7. Antonella

    Your book came out beautifully. And I’m sure the one on WWII will be as magical.
    It’s such a great legacy to leave to your children.

    Reply
  8. Peggy

    This is something so special! You have inspired me to begin planning a book. I love how the MISC section also contains other then food recipes. Thank you for sharing this Marion!

    Reply
    • Jody K

      Beautiful work! My stepmother was a wonderful cook and loved to entertain. Anything at all was a reason to throw a party-
      a full moon, Fat Tuesday, a winter picnic, a puppy shower. And it all included dress up and games and her delicious recipes. After she died my sister made a small book for all her kids and grandkids. It was filled with the recipes we enjoyed the most at family gatherings. I’m sure you will enjoy your book as well.

      Reply
  9. Cindy

    I was wondering what my next project would be, and now I know. I can’t wait to get started! Also, like Rosa, my mom was a Vaughan and married an Allen.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      How cool! Are they from Virginia or Alabama? Maybe we’re related!

      Reply
      • Cindy

        Wouldn’t that be neat? Close to those states but both my parents were from North Carolina and I don’t know of any relatives in AL or VA.

        Reply
  10. jean

    WOW! what a stunning memorial to such an influential family member! I can’t wait to see what you do with your Opa’s keepsakes because I have three or four such albums my dad put together from his days in the British Army that would be good to “eternalize” in this way. I do wish i had your energy and focus to see projects through to the end. I’m a great one to start things but often get distracted by new ideas and drop the ball. They are bouncing all over the place these days.

    Reply
  11. Marcia

    Such a fabulous way to honor someone and to keep her memory alive. Any chance we could get her holiday cheese spread? Her recipes should also be used and treasured as a tribute. By creating this book, you have done something really important for your family, Marian. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I’ll share it!

      Reply
  12. Mayanna

    I have done a couple of books with trip pictures and one as a gift to an artist friend which is a collection of a one-woman art show she had. I also put together one of some of my paintings of New Mexico churches for myself and my kids someday.

    Reply
  13. Anna Belanger

    Your book turned out beautiful and what a lovely tribute to Rosa. The 2nd book on WW11 I’m sure will be just as beautiful and quite interesting.
    Thanks for the share, Marion, just what my daughter and I are looking for.

    Reply
  14. Janet in Kansas City

    Love that you did this for your family. A member of my family years ago had a book put together of my great aunt’s stories and poems from down on the farm. It is a treasure, wish it had photos!
    You are always up to something cool.

    Reply
  15. bloomy

    Marian your resemblance to lovely Rosa is utterly astonishing. Well done!!!

    Reply
  16. Tracy

    What a special treasure! I used to own a bakery and have wanted to compile all my bakery recipes for my children. You have motivated me to make this a priority!💕

    Reply
  17. Donna

    Wow, that is so special. I have heard that some people read cookbooks like novels & the special quotes and notes and stories are the best. We have a family cookbook, but nothing like this. Quite a gift. Actually, the WWII letters, love letters will be even better. I think there are many lessons to be learned when people who are in love are apart from each other. I enjoy it so much when our Mpls Star Tribune does an article about a person in Mn history, life lessons for sure.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      My Oma was one of those people who read cookbooks like novels. She didn’t do a lot of cooking, but she loved to collect and read cookbooks!

      Reply
  18. Anita

    What a beautiful and meaningful book. You were right to not cut corners on it. Seems to me that what you paid for it was cheap, considering what it is. You’ll never regret it.

    Reply
  19. Shannon

    Your photos and recipes look just like the ones in my house – food stained yellowed recipes in my Grandmother’s handwriting and lots of black and whites on black paper in photo albums with white writing. I will be following your lead to make a book too. May I ask – you just included photos of a few recipes but typed up all of them? Any more detail you can provide would be awesome! Thanks

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      It sounds like you have a lot of great material to work with! We included all of the scanned recipes we have. Some are typed as well and some aren’t. We also had some recipes my mom typed up that weren’t scanned. (I’m not sure why.) I bsically put in whatever I had! If I had the typed and scanned recipe, I put them opposite of each other.

      Reply
  20. Anita

    I meant to mention also that it was very thoughtful to include the digital copy for those in the family who want to peruse the recipes, but do not want the print book. wonderful also that you and your mother were able to do so much of it together.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I made it for our family, so I wanted it to be accessible. And I can send them the free pdf proof, but it will have a disclaimer at the bottom of the page.

      Reply
  21. leila

    I do have a question about quality. I know you said you liked the binding but do you feel it will hold up over time and continued use as the pages are turned? Do you have any concern they will basically tear out of the book?

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Ha! Well, I wasn’t worried about that until you asked! I don’t think it would be any more likely to have pages fall out than any other book. I guess I’ll find out…

      Reply
  22. Janet

    Your Blog lightens my day.
    I live in New Zealand on the North Island.
    Your products are unobtainable but BLURB is not.
    Every year for the past eleven years I have created a book of all the photos that the children and grandchildren have sent me.
    Then at the end of each year each family gets a copy .
    Its a great family resource when dates and time are in dispute.
    Highly recommended

    Reply
  23. monique

    I am not at all familiar with Blurb, and I am blown away by the possibility, the mix of recipes and beautiful old portraits and quality of the book is so good. But you only have boys, will they care about Rose’s recipes, do they help you in the kitchen?

    My husband had a photo book done in my honor, and oh I just found it as I write this, stupid me, it was done by Blurb too! The text is about my life coming to live with him in Brooklyn New York and the title of the book is: Brooklyn Angel.
    In 2001, the Brooklyn Borough President awarded me the title of Brooklyn Angel, for having devoted a large part of my life here to care and save our old small neighborhood called Vinegar Hill ( Irish ) and made it a New York City Historic District. This was a very touching gift to me.

    All the black and white photos where taken by my husband, a photographer.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, what a treasure and how sweet of your husband to honor you in that way.

      I don’t know if my boys will care about it or not, but I care about it and I’m the last generation who knew her, so I feel a responsibility. If they don’t care, that’s okay. Hopefully, it’ll end up in the hands of someone who will appreciate and enjoy it. That is why I wrote it as if people reading it might not know who the people were. It could be a fun little trip down a rabbit hole for someone who finds it at an auction or estate sale one day.

      Reply
  24. Cynthia Johnson

    What an honor and tribute to Rosa~. As you opened your package and descried it Marian, I could feel deeply your anticipation! I actually had butterflies~

    I am concerned with our photos being stuck in our phones and our pasts being lost. I print a book every year from my Facebook page and often admit to friends that I am quite selfish about my posts as they are mostly for myself. At least I have something and so will my children, theirs, and onward.

    My husband is a Johnson, his was mom was a Weicherding (German) so who knows .. perhaps we entertwine somewhere along the lines… 🙂

    Thank you for sharing so generously!

    Reply
  25. Linda Voss

    My dad, who is 103, kept a journal for years. I would love to have it published for all of the family. I will definitely look into this. By the way, he is still alive and active.

    Reply
  26. Diane

    So wonderful! You have a treasure for your family. I have my father in laws WW II photo album. I would love to know how you are going to scan yours. They taped everything down. I also have the cards he and his wife sent to each other, also taped down.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      My Opa’s photos are glued down in the album, so I’m going to take a picture of them with my DSLR. That’s how I “scan” my paintings for printing as well and the quality is higher than if it’s scanned.

      Reply
  27. Sara

    I have been using Blurb for years, and I love every one of my books. Their premium magazines are absolutely beautiful as well. One clarification….you don’t have to make your final paper decisions before you start. You can change the paper at any time using the menu at the top of the page as you work on your book. You can also change the size of the book as well, but you will need to review the size of your text fonts if you do that. And…you can make versions in different quality levels as well. ie, you can print books with high quality finishes for special people, and you can also make a “trade” copy of the book available at a much lower price point for people who wouldn’t care so much about image quality.

    Reply
  28. Yvetta

    We have several Blurb books that my husband has made. He does photography and wanted a way to look at his photographs. I love that you have this so that it is accessible, digital just isn’t the same. The quality is great and we love the coupons as well!

    Reply
  29. Betsy

    What a lovely presentation! You are so fortunate to have her recipes. I noticed you have a Rachel Khoo cookbook on your shelf. If you ever have the opportunity I highly suggest her Lavender Chicken recipe in her Little Paris Kitchen cookbook. I had reservations making it for a cookbook club gathering but I have to say it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten and the rest of the group agreed.

    Reply
  30. SueA

    Nice job! And OMG her house is exactly like the one I grew up in. I think life would be better if people would make and eat tea cakes.

    Reply
  31. Kathleen

    Since it would take me awhile to create a book, how long does Blurb give you to complete (using a coupon or discount)?

    Reply
  32. Ellen Shook

    Thank you so much for this information. I am not that tech savvy but I think I might be able to do this. Years ago I wrote a similar type of book using my mother’s recipes, and entrusted it to a local publisher. It was a mess. I managed to sell what they printed, but I never ordered any more. My son wants it released again, and even found a real publisher who is interested. I still think something like this might be best. Your efforts to always push yourself to learn new (difficult) things always inspire me.

    Reply
  33. Crystal Brown

    Holy wow! This is fantastic! Might get me off my behind to begin sorting and scanning all my old photos. I’ve been working on my genealogy for several years and have a bunch of old birth and death certificates, maps and old photos of ancestors, including tintypes, and card postales, as well as WWII photos and letters. This is such a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman and such a legacy to pass down.

    Reply
  34. Marilee

    Wonderful tribute, Marian.

    Reply
  35. Cheri Dietzman

    Great review and information my friend! I have my grandmother and great-grandmother’s recipes as well as my mom and MIL recipes to do a book like this — something I thought I’d do during COVID lockdown — but haven’t. Also, as the unofficial family historian, I have photo books to do as well. We have a box full of letters between my MIL and FIL while dad was in the Air Force — I’d really like to do those too! Blurb will definitely be my choice!

    Reply
  36. Kathy

    Your story was the answer I needed today. I lost my husband to Stage IV Cancer last July. I had 4 years to prepare my heart. But our grandchildren were here nearly every day since birth, and at ages 5 and 8, struggling with their grief. He was in many ways more of a second Daddy, since we babysat full time while Mom and Dad worked.

    I believe creating a book of our memories will help them so much. We have 8 grandchildren, but these 2 live only 20 minutes from us, so were able to be here more. But also for those who live far away, we need these memories.

    Tears in my eyes, Marion, at the gift you have shared with my family today. Thank you for always being faithful to family memories and those that have gone on before us! God continues to use you in so many ways!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. Cancer is so hard, especially for children who don’t fully understand and aren’t as equipped to handle grieving. I think putting together a book would be a great project, perhaps for them to help you with. It would be a special keepsake and such a wonderful reminder of their time with him when they are older.

      Reply
  37. Mary S

    I love this idea. I think the pics and letters from WWII will be incredible – not that the recipes aren’t – but I’m so interested in WW11. That picture with Eisenhower is a treasure. It’s a tru work of LOVE. Kudos to you for taking the time to do this.

    Reply
  38. Terri

    Marian, I love your blog and have been a faithful reader for years. Wanted to ensure you are aware that there are ads that cover part of he article as well as comment portion. I may be the only one having problems, but if not, this may be something you are able to check into. Thank you for inspiring blog!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Thanks so much for letting me know! I asked them to remove that ad entirely until they are able to get it fixed, so it shouldn’t happen again after this afternoon.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hello!

Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

facebookPinterestYouTubeinstagramfeedemail

Subscribe today

and receive a FREE e-version of my planning sheets!

Categories

Articles by Date

 

our sponsors


Bliss and Tell Branding Company