Thursday, April 28, 2016

How to Write and Publish Your Own eBook

If you want to write and publish your own eBook, it is not too hard to do. eBooks are digital formatted books that can be read on a handheld device or computer. Here are some steps to get you started.

Choosing a Topic

First, you need to choose a topic for your eBook. Start researching topics that could potentially sell well. You can focus on a topic you know about already or try to find topics that are trending and would make good eBooks. One way to choose a topic is to look for SEO keywords, using a tool such as Google Keyword Planner.


Next, it's time to write your eBook. You can start from scratch. If you have already written pieces, such as blog articles, you can put those together to form your eBook and then just edit it. You can also hire someone to ghostwrite an eBook for you. Use a word document program such as Microsoft Office or OpenOffice. If you want to focus on your writing as you write, you can use an application such as Bean which has a minimalist look that gets rid of distractions. An eBook doesn't have to be long. A short eBook can be just 5 or 10 pages.


After you write your first draft, you will want to edit and revise to get your eBook just right. It's good to have someone else edit for you once you edit it yourself. One trick is to use Fiverr to get someone to edit your eBook for you. If you don't want to spend money, another idea is to use the Hemingway App, which can check sentence structure and grammar for you. You can also get a friend to read your eBook and tell you what they think.


Photos add visual appeal. You can find free or paid stock photos to use in your eBook. For example, look on Creative Commons for free images to use. You can also use photos you have taken yourself. I like adding at least one good photo for each chapter or section.


Once you have your final draft, you will want to make sure your word document is formatted correctly. Have a cover page, table of contents and headings for each chapter. I won't go in to detail about how to format eBooks in this article. You can find an article on how to format eBook for Kindle here. If you don't want to format an eBook yourself, use a service such as Fiverr to get someone to format it for you.


Now, you need to make a good cover. You can hire someone on Fiverr to create you a cover for a good price. Another method is to make the cover yourself. Use photos you have taken and or stock photos that fit with theme of the eBook. 

Final Draft

Edit the eBook one more time and make sure everything is in place. Change writing if it needs to be changed and make sure the formatting is correct.


There are many places to publish your eBook. I like publishing on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. One good things about Smashwords is it will distribute your eBook to most of the world's largest ebook retailers. You can see a longer list here. It is also a good idea to sell your eBook on your own website or blog.

Have you ever written an eBook?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Art Journaling: Using Markers

Marker can add an interesting look to your art journal entries. Here are some techniques to try with marker.

  • Art Journal: You can use an art journal or sketch paper you have to create art.
  • Marker: You can use professional art marker or just sharpies.


1. Try making a photo using just one colored marker. I did this portrait of a girl using black marker.

2. One technique you can do is add text with marker over a finished journal entry. This entry uses a watercolor background. I added a quote in black marker over the background.

3. Try adding an image or clip art and then drawing bold outlines around it or adding text in the background.

How do you like to use marker in your art journaling?

Let me know if you try out these techniques. Add the hashtags #movetheneedleartjournal or #movetheneedleplanner to journal entries you post online.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Chicago Festivals and Craft Shows

I love checking out festivals in the spring and summer. Many are free to go to or take a donation. A lot of them have craft vendors and live music. Though I am not planning to sell my crafts at any festivals or craft shows this summer, there are many Chicago summer festivals I want to check out. 

June 3 - 5, Donation
Division Street between Damen and Leavitt

This festival has craft vendors, live music, food and a fashion show. I went one year and was able to see the band The Good Life. They take a donation.

June 11 - 12, Free
Historic Printers Row on Dearborn Street between Congress Parkway and Polk Street


This 2 day festival is the largest festival of books. It has author readings, music, panel discussions and programs for children.

Remix Chicago Craft Fair
June 11-12, Free
Between Fullerton and California 


This craft fair has only upcycled and reused crafts and items for sale. I love the idea of using only upcycled items. Even though I only have a couple upcycled items, I think it would be fun to participate in this craft show in the future. The event also has food, music and workshops.
June 18-19, Donation
Damen Avenue between North and Schiller

Sort of similar to Remix Chicago, Green Music Fest is an event that combines Art with social activism. You can see live music on a peop le powered bicycle stage. Besides music, there are also craft vendors and food. All vendors are required to be completely eco friendly.

July 15-17, $65-125
Union Park

Pitchfork Music Festival is an  annual music festival in Chicago organized by Pitchfork Media. This year, you can see  Carly Rae Jepsen, Broken Social Scene and Sufjan Stevens. I have never been, but it sounds like a fun summer music festival.

July 23-24, Free
Grounds of Science o f Spirituality in Lisle, Illinois

Veggie Fest is one of the largest vegetarian food festivals in North America with food demos, a food court,  speakers and more. I have been to Veggiefest a couple of times. I love that there is a whole festival dedicated to veganism and vegetarianism.   

July 28-31, $120+
Grant Park, Chicago


Lollapalooza is a 4 day annual music festival with over 170 performances on 8 stages. Lollapalooza is kind of expensive to attend, but if you go just one day, you can see a lot of bands. This year, I would love to see Radiohead, M83, Lana del Rey, Ellie Goulding and more. There is also food from over 30 vendors. Last year, I went to the Lollapalooza area without a ticket and was able to hear bands, such as Brand New, play while I was in the park even though I did not get in. 

Chicago Air and Water Show
August 20 - 21, Free
Along lakefront from Fullerton to Oak Street, with North Avenue Beach as the focal point


The Chicago Air and Water is the largest free air and water exhibition of its kind. The show features some of the top civilian and military pilots and aircraft including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.  The first show was in 1959. I think this is a fun event to attend.

Do you like going to or vending at festivals? 

Monday, April 25, 2016

How to Cook Dried Beans

Have you ever tried making dried beans? They take longer to cook than canned beans, but it is interesting to go through the process of cooking beans from scratch.

I have been cooking dried beans instead of canned beans to save money. Some dried beans I have made are black beans, kidney beans and garbanzo beans. I usually buy the Whole Foods brand, but you can find dried beans almost anywhere. In this entry, I will show you how I make garbanzo beans. 


  • 1 pound dried beans 
  • 1 onion, quartered 
  • Sea salt 

  • This recipe makes about 7 cups of cooked beans.



    1. The first thing to do is find beans with any debtors or small stones and remove them. You can lay the beans on a baking sheet to do this. Then, rinse the beans well.


    2. Soak the beans. Cover with cold water in a large pot or bowl. Let sit overnight or at least 8 hours. To do a quick soak, cover beans by 3 inches with cold water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Let set covered for an hour. Drain the beans. 


    3. Cover the beans with cold water by 2 inches in a large pot. You can add an onion if you want. This will give the beans nice flavor. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1-2 hours or until beans are tender. Cooking time may vary depending on the type of bean you are cooking. 


    4. Drain beans and discard the onion. Add salt and season as desired.


    I like to freeze the beans in serving size bags until I use them to cook with. I like to make a variety of things with garbanzo beans including hummus, chickpea "tuna" sandwiches, falafels and salads.

    Do you ever make beans? Which is your favorite kind to make? 

    Sunday, April 24, 2016

    Autism Awareness: Sponge Painting Tutorial

    This entry is part of Autism Awareness Month. Autism is a developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact with other people. Autism Awareness Month is a nationwide effort that helps promote autism awareness.

    Sponge Painting Tutorial

    We decided to paint my brother’s old bedroom in our house. My brother, Teddy, has autism. Since it is Autism Awareness Month, I thought I would post a tutorial on sponge painting a bedroom wall since that is the technique we used on his bedroom. Sponge painting is easy to do and if you are painting with someone with autism, they can help out.


    • Latex Wall Paint: Get at least two shades of wall paint. You can do three or even four of five shades of you wish. I think having the same color in different shades works well. We used blue paint for my brother’s room. Blue is also one of the official autism awareness colors. You may want to try out paint chips before buying paint.
    • Latex Glaze: Get latex glaze, not oil based glaze, which will thin latex paint. It also gives it a translucent look.
    • Paint Tray: Use a paint tray to hold your paint.
    • Sponge: Use a natural sea sponge which will give you a textured pattern. You may also get a smaller sponge or different size sponges if you are using a lot of shades of paint.
    • Paint Roller: Use a paint roller or paintbrush if you need to paint a base color.
    • Scouring Pads (optional): This is optional, but you may wish to get a synthetic scouring pad.
    • Other Items: You may need other items as needed such as masking tape and measuring cups.


    1. Let’s get started. Start by painting the base coat on the wall.

    2. Mix the next layer of paint you want to use with the latex glaze.

    3. Dip a large sponge in the paint and glaze mixture. Blot off most of the paint in the paint tray so it doesn’t drip. Start testing the sponge paint in a small area. See how the color looks. If you like the look, keep sponge painting with this technique on the rest of the wall.

    Sponge Painting Tutorial

    4. Repeat this step with the next color. Use a smaller sponge for additional layers. Keep going until you get all the colors you want.

    5. When paint is just dry to the touch, you may use a scouring pad to scour areas. This will get rid of any drips or blotches you don’t want.

    Sponge Painting Tutorial

    We also wanted to go with a storybook theme for the room so we added storybook related items such as stuffed animal characters (like the Cat in the Hat stuffed animal pictured in the first photo). I like the way the bedroom turned out overall. The blue colors reminds me of the ocean and I think it really brightened up the room.

    Have you ever used the sponge painting technique? Let me know in the comments if you try out this tutorial.

    Friday, April 22, 2016

    Earth Day Inspiration

    Did you know today is Earth Day? Earth Day is an annual event to bring awareness and support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970. These are some crafts to try to celebrate the event.


    A great way to get crafty while being eco friendly is to use rocks to create art or games. A tic tac toe board can be made with just rocks and twigs. You can paint on the X and O labels yourself or use different colored rockstar to represent the game pieces.

    Baby Herb Garden


    Earth Day is the perfect time to garden. Try planting a baby herb garden in your house. Why not paint your pots?


    Make your own bird seed feeders. Use cookie cutters to create different shapes. You can find tutorials here and here.

    Earth Day Cookies

    Indulge a little with these Earth Day themed cookies. The cookies use green and blue dough that are rolled together to form an Earth shape.

    Do you celebrate Earth Day?

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    Scrapbooking Articles for Beginners

    If you are new to scrapbooking, these are some articles to check out to learn how to scrapbook.

    If you are a new scrapbooker, this article has ideas of what scrapbooking supplies to get and where to shop.

    Advice From a Been-There Beginner

    This article has good advice for new scrapbookers with what to do and what not to do. For example, it is a good idea to shop with a list. The author thinks it is not a good idea to cut photos in to different shapes or overuse embellishments.

    Order Instagram Photos

    13 Ways to Print Instagram Photos

    It is a great idea to print your photos on Instagram to have a physical copy of them.If you don't have your own printer, this article has 13 services you can use to order Instagram photos.

    How to Scrapbook Your Memories with Not So Good Photos

    I like this article which explains how to use photos you don't like as much in your scrapbookin such as by journaling on the photos.

    Scrapbook Tips and Techniques

    This article has some basic tips and ideas for scrapbooking.

    I do some scrapbooking, but want to learn more about it and improve my techniques. Do you like to scrapbook?