As a child, one of my favorite activities included writing and illustrating the scenes to stories I made up and binding them into volumes that I crafted in my basement. Now as an adult with friends working in the book publishing industry, Iâ€™m constantly saddened by how hard it is to get a manuscript published by one of the traditional, big book publishers. Thatâ€™s probably why the author in me is intrigued and thrilled by the concept of TikaTok.com, a Barnes & Noble company that gives children and adults alike the opportunity to see the books they write published in a professional format. Creating a free account is the first step in the process to creating your very own hardcover, paperback or eBook. With prices starting at just $15 for a paperback with 7-8 interior pages and $0.18 for each additional page, a gift card to the site might be the perfect birthday gift for budding authors everywhere. What do you think, readers? Has anyone tried TikaTok? â€“ Sarah C.
Yarn-wrapped sticks may not be your idea of dÃ©cor, but are you willing to give yarn flowers a go? I spotted this idea in Februaryâ€™s Country Living and thought it was worth trying. Crafter Lauren De Bellis came up with wintery blossoms, using a tool from Clover to make her perfect poms. I tried it the old Girl Scout way, wrapping the yarn around three fingers, and while mine lack the perfect circular form, they were quick and fun. For the flower stems, I snipped some wild grapevines and attached with a dab of glue, then got out an old milk bottle. A smaller-necked bottle would definitely work better, given the weight of the yarn, however. â€” Sarah L.
When I received the invitation to the upcoming baby shower of one of my dearest old friends, I was delighted — due not only to the prospect of spending quality time with the mom-to-be and some of our old crew, but also because the invitation itself was breathtaking. Her mom had the invites printed at Polka Dot Design, a site specializing in custom stationery and gifts in fun, modern designs. Of course they’ve got everything from kids birthdays to weddings, but I was really impressed with the assortment of helpful personalized party collections for baby showers, like the fabulous, Mardi Gras inspired Festival du Bebe collection seen above. These coordinated accessories (like monogrammed napkin rings, favor tags, and thank you notes) are a super-simple and affordable way to add a touch of polish to that special day. — Megan B.
Spotting this fun, easy, do-it-yourself project over at Saltwater Kids was perfect timing. Iâ€™m hibernating from the arctic chill currently rattling my windowpanes and have officially run out of anything worth watching in my Netflix instant watch queue. Bored, cold, and struck with cabin fever, Iâ€™m planning on putting my down time to good use this weekend and making these bird seed ornaments which will be a Valentine to my backyard feathered friends. Check out the easy, cheap (around $3 for all the supplies!) tutorial at Saltwater Kids complete with gorgeous pictures. — Katie D.
If you’re fans of They Might Be Giants, you’re now humming the song “Birdhouse In Your Soul.” Well, I have a secret to tell: now you can have your very own glowing little friend who watches over you from the outlet, too. The Blue Canary Night Light was created by Brock Tice in homage to the song (and for his new daughter). You can read about it here or here, not to put too fine a point on it. But what really will put a bee in your bonnet is that you can purchase the Blue Canary Night Light at Amazon for $14.99. And even if you don’t want one for yourself, read the Amazon reviews. They are nearly as entertaining as TMBG themselves! — Mary T.