Aren’t I Spiffy?

I’ve been a little incommunicado over the last little while and I apologise for that, but I have a good reason – I promise!

I’ve been working on a little makeover which I’ve been plotting for quite some time – I’ve updated the look of my blog.  Yippee! Those of you that get my posts by email or through a reader won’t notice anything different, but those of you that visit my site will notice a completely new look, and I hope you like it!

When I moved from WordPress.com to being self-hosted in January I had my first real experience of trying to design a blog, and in all honesty it was hard. Playing with code is rather difficult and very confusing when you’ve never done it before, and after a while I just gave up trying to make it look perfect and learned to live with what I’d created. It wasn’t all bad, but it was nowhere near the level where I wanted it to be. Now 11 months later I’m a little bit more comfortable with playing with css and php code so I decided to take the plunge (and by a little I mean a very little – at least I now know where to find it).

This time I was a little more prepared when it came to designing the look I wanted –  months ago I created a Pinterest board where I put pieces of blog design inspiration and tutorials to create some of the things I wanted on my blog, and I’ve been adding to it whenever I spotted something I liked, or wanted to remember. There are quite a number of great tutorials available for blog design and I used a few.

Another great resource is the forums on the WordPress.org site. A few of the coding issues I discovered while working on my new look were easily fixed with a quick search of the forums as chances were someone had already answered the question. In one instance an answer wasn’t already there so I posted the question detailing my problem, and within hours I had a coding fix that worked perfectly.

Anyways, shall we reminisce about my old look for a bit? This was the old landing page. It had a slider image at the top which featured some of my past projects. I didn’t really like it but couldn’t figure out how to turn it off (silly css and php), and I never remembered to update the slider images with more recent projects.

The main blog page looked like this. Nothing really exceptional about it, and the subscribe/follow section was a little amateur looking. I’ve updated the subscribe/follow section for my new look. Here’s the before and after – much better now isn’t it? Now you just need to click on the circles to see my Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest pages, send me an email or follow the blog through RSS.

The old and new subscribe/follow panels – the new one is much better isn’t it?

I also changed my header image. The old one was a bit busy. I like the new one quite a bit more as it’s simpler.

The old and new header images – the new one is simpler

Here’s my new main page – which is simply my blog. I’ve done away with a separate ‘landing page’ in the hopes that the new look is simpler to navigate. I have added one new thing which I’ve been meaning to do for months – I’ve created a project gallery page. Here I’ve posted images that link to some of my favourite past projects, crafts and recipes. Fingers crossed I’ll remember to keep adding to it! So there it is – my new look. There are still a few quirks I need to fix, but for the most part it’s done. I should thank D who put up with a number of panicky phone calls when things weren’t going well, and helped me get things moving in the right direction again. It’s rather handy to have a boyfriend who knows a little about coding and Photoshop.

What do you think of the new look? It’s a step up from the old one isn’t it? As a reader would you change anything?

Linked to: Creations by Kara, The Shabby Nest

On Blogging, Life, and Vandalism

When I created this blog about a year and half ago I did it mainly to keep my parents (but really my mom) up to date with my attempts at decorating my first place. I admittedly thought it would be quite neat if I could get a few other people to come by and comment every so often, but that wasn’t my goal. As time has gone by I’ve fallen into a trap, one I’m sure other bloggers have experienced – the numbers trap. Over time, I’ve had a few posts appear on some major blogs (my Dollarstore bookends were listed on Babble, and my Craigslist dresser was featured on Apartment Therapy) and those generated quite a bit of traffic to my little spot in cyberspace. For those of you non-bloggers traffic is measured in various ways, but it boils down to numbers, and those numbers can get addictive. When your numbers are going up it’s a great feeling, but conversely when your numbers go down your emotions can too.

I didn’t write a post at all last week which can be attributed to a few things, including writers block, plummeting traffic numbers leaving me feeling like this blog is pointless, and a few other things, one of which I’ll get into below. I think since I started my blog, last week was one of the few weeks I’ve missed posting even a little something. It’s an odd feeling – strangely I feel like somehow I‘ve failed. I’m not quite sure who I’ve failed, but the emotion is there, and it’s interfering mightily with my desire to blog at all.

I’ve never shared on my blog that I’m a member of the Board of Directors at my Co-ownership. Normally it’s not a big responsibility – we meet about every two months to go over the finances and deal with any issues that may arise. That said, we’ve decided that it’s time that the building have its windows replaced – ours were installed in the 80’s and don’t fit the Spanish Colonial style of the building. I’m the board’s representative on the window committee, and as such have been attending meetings with vendors to try to determine what type and style of window is best. My brain is literally overflowing with information on wood-clad vs. vinyl vs. fiberglass, casements vs. double-hung, simulated divided lights with interior or exterior grills, and cottage vs. regular split windows.

Last week I had one regular board meeting and then met twice with the committee to listen to potential vendors. That’s a lot of hours in one week to dedicate to a building, but I have always believed that the efforts of those of us who serve on such boards don’t go unnoticed. And then this happened:

I took these pictures with my cell phone so the quality isn’t great, but it’s what it looks like – someone in the building took a marker and drew two huge marks on the walls in our front stairway. What makes it worse – the board had just weeks before had all the interior common walls repainted at a cost of several thousand dollars. I know it shouldn’t, but this vandalism feels like a slap in the face. Our building is small – just 23 units. We know pretty much everyone (there are a few renters), so the fact that someone would deliberately do something like this wounds me. I and the other members of the board take the time out of our lives where we could be doing all the things we enjoy to help ensure all of our homes are well looked after. The vandal may as well have written ‘SCREW YOU’ in big black ugly letters (it actually feels like another word, but I try to keep this space PG).

Sigh. Alright. Enough venting. Sorry about that.

In other news I bought myself some lovely sunflowers yesterday.

Do sunflowers make you happy?

I’m not sure what it is about sunflowers, but they make me happy. I’ll be sure to look at them tomorrow after I get back from the emergency board meeting that was called in response to the lovely new art of our walls, and then maybe, if I feel up to it, I might draft a blog post about something that make me happy. Wish me luck.

It’s Awards Season – Oscars, Liebsters, and Homies and More

Did you watch the Oscars on Sunday? I did. I don’t have cable, and after some frustration searching for a feed online I discovered that if I placed my antenna in the middle of my coffee table, and didn’t move an inch from one spot on my couch I got perfect over-air reception. Unfortunately I don’t think my efforts were worth the trouble – the show itself was a bit of a bore. There were a couple of redeeming moments, namely Christopher Plummer winning his first Oscar for his role in The Beginners (excellent movie BTW), and sporting his Order of Canada lapel pin while doing it!

Christopher Plummer accepting his well deserved Oscar image: Kevin Winter/Getty images

There was of course the Oscar fashion, but I won’t really bore you with that (as I’m sure you’ve already seen all you really care to see about it) except this one picture of Michelle Williams:

Michelle Williams – Oscars 2012 Image: Getty images

I love Michelle Williams’ style, but the reason this picture caught my attention isn’t the dress, although it’s gorgeous, it’s the haircut. You see, back a few years ago I had a similar style:

Sept 2009 – The day I chopped off all my hair for donation. Should I cut my hair again?

I’m thinking about cutting it short again as my hair unfortunately now looks a bit more like this:

source: atlasgraham.com

Okay, enough about that. You may recall I recently posted about my being awarded a Leibster Blog award by Janet at ‘Housefour‘. Well since then I have been bestowed with a few more:

April at ‘Money Pit Love’ gave me the 7×7 award which asks for 7 facts about me, and I need to pass the award on to 7 other bloggers.

Michelle at ‘The 236‘ gave me the Liebster award which as you know needs 5 facts and 5 nominations. Jo at ‘As Is‘ also gave me the Liebster a few days later.

April at ‘Money Pit Love‘ also ‘Tagged me’ which means I should give you 11 random facts about myself and ‘tag’ 11 other blogs.

As you can see, I’ve run into a wee problem. Each of these blogger bestowed awards asks that you nominate some other blogs and share some facts about yourself. If you’ve been keeping score that means in total I should nominate 28 blogs and share 28 random facts about yours truly with you. The wee problem I’m experiencing is I don’t know of enough smaller blogs to nominate, and coming up with that many random facts is incredibly hard without resorting to what I had for breakfast this morning (tea and a toasted bagel with cream cheese).

I didn’t want to ignore these wonderful bloggers so please go check out their blogs even though I won’t be able to fulfill the requirements of these lovely awards. They are all talented ladies.

While you’re off checking out new blogs be sure to check out some of the blogs that have been nominated so far for this years ‘Homies’ on Apartment Therapy. Quite a few of the blogs I read everyday have been nominated already and I look forward to discovering some more.

And to close – here are 5 random facts about me:

  • I had a goldfish named ‘Chubby’ as a child. Three guesses as to why ;)
  • I am the first of two children
  • It’s my birthday next week :(
  • I am a MAJOR chocoholic
  • I speak French although it’s a bit rusty from disuse. Would anyone like to send me to Paris so I can brush up?