facelift

Things may be getting a little bit of a facelift around here soon.  I’m working with someone on a new blog design that we’ll hopefully have up and running in the near future.  Before it changes, I wanted to take a look at my current theme so that I can, for one, document it for when my theme does change, and two, because I created this all from scratch with no prior knowledge of blog design, which I’m pretty proud of and want to make sure I remember that for later :)fondueThis picture of fondue from one of our date of the month nights is the header I’d been using ever since I started my WordPress.com blog in August of 2011.  Because of the limitations WordPress had, I could upload my own picture but I couldn’t really change anything else about the way my blog looked.  So basically it was just their plain theme with my picture at the top.

When I switched over to WordPress.org in August 2012, I had the freedom to design more but I didn’t know how so at first I just used the same image and left the rest plain and boring.

blue linksSee?  Pretty blah.

While I like the picture of the chocolate I didn’t really like the primary colors that the strawberry and pineapple had.  Plus I wanted my blog to reflect my personality…and I’m not really a primary colors type of girl.  That’s one of the main reasons I made the switch.  However, I didn’t want to pay the steep prices that many graphic designers charge to create a personalized blog theme.  If I had a blog that served as a business or source of income it would probably be worth it, right now my blog is just for fun and so it’s hard for me to sink $100+ in to “decorating” it at this point.

So I decided I’d give it a shot myself and see what I could create on my own.  I have to say, I am incredibly proud of how it turned out!  It took hours and hours and HOURS of Googling and reading to even begin to figure out first how to move my blog over from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and the how to design a custom theme.  It was exhausting.  I felt like my rear was permanently glued to the bed where I sat for hours on end wrestling with this thing.  I don’t know that it really was worth the money I saved to sink all that time into it, and I doubt I would want to do it by myself again, but it was fun to challenge myself and learn about what goes on behind the scenes to get the words from my head, typed up, and out there in cyberspace.

At the time, I thought I might write up a tutorial of sorts of how to move your blog and how to create a simple theme, but so much of what I did was trial and error that there is no way I could remember exactly what I did and convey that succinctly.  I’ve got a ton of links bookmarked that I referenced but no desire to read back through them and piece together which link goes with what.  So, no luck on the tutorial.  But I do want to show off a bit of my blog design, so that I’ll have it archived and can look back at it someday :).

Again, this took a lot of trial and error.  I went diving into the world of CSS, graphics, hexadecimal colors, etc. and then would just change things on my custom theme and observe how that affected the look of my blog.  Like I said, it took FOR.EV.ER.

All the “graphics” I made are super elementary and were all created using picmonkey.

I knew that I wanted to go with a coral theme.  If you saw pictures of my wedding you know that I LOVE coral, pink, yellow, and orange together.  Since that’s my favorite combination of colors, I decided to use that for my blog.  I made a gagillion header options it seemed before finally coming up with the finished product.

Here are some of my “rejects”:
coral border polka dot resized header new font polka dot resized header rectanglesI finally came up with the finished product, the one you’re used to seeing at the top of my blog:

new banner

Next came all the other little embellishments.  Again, all these were made in picmonkey.

current blog(hey look, it’s like a blog-within-a-blog!)

I created navigations buttons to link to various pages on my blog, changed the font and color of the titles, turned the background pink, and made custom buttons/labels for the sidebar.

about mea cute little welcome blurb

more sidebarmore cool sidebar stuff

blog buttonI even created a button you can grab and embed on your own blog.

signatureA signature that shows up at the end of every post

comment comment 2Some pretty, coordinating comment sections, plus a custom gravatar that matches my theme and shows up when someone doesn’t have a picture attached to their name.

trademarkEven a little note at the bottom that says who created the them (me!).

So that’s my coral blog theme.  For someone with zero prior design experience, I’m pretty proud of myself.

Although I think my coral theme will have a special place in my heart since it was such a laborious learning process and my very first design, I’m way, way excited about this new theme that’s in the works (more about that soon).  Who knows, I may come back to this one some day for nostalgia’s sake, but for now, prepare to see a wee bit of interior design going on around here :)

my favorite posts from 2012

I thought I’d do a little round up of some of my favorite posts from 2012 for those of you who might want a little light reading this weekend ;). There’s nothing super special about each of these posts, I just happen to like them. Some are humorous some are serious, some are just recipes or tutorials…enjoy!

(click on the link under each picture to take you to the post)

parmesan lemon basil broccoli

Parmesean Lemon Basil broccoli

card keeper book tutorial

Card-Keeper Book Tutorial

fear

My Struggle with Fear

me

25 Random Things About Me

baby name blocks

Baby Name Blocks

welcoming-church

How to Be a More Welcoming Church

sticky note surprises

Sticky Note Surprises

star bellie sneetch tutorial

Star Bellied Sneetch Shirt Tutorial

Life Planner review

How I Use my Erin Condren Life Planner

icing bag trick

Mess Free Icing Bag Trick

pain scale

Scales of 1 to 10 don’t work for me!

book-themed-party

Book Themed party

petals

Pictures from Our Wedding

file50shadesofgreycoverart

Regarding Fifty Shades of Grey and Magic Mike

zipline

If you told me I’d be ziplining I would have laughed at you

facebook

My Top 10 Facebook Pet Peeve’s

0512-motherlode-elisabeth-badinter-mdn

The Motherhood Double Standard

banana-mocha-smoothie

Banana Mocha Smoothie Recipe

classroom-organization-tips

Classroom Organization Tips

school-pictures

School Pictures

love

Unconditional Love

customized-teacher-plan-book-tutorial

DIY customized lesson planner

how-does-she-coconut-oil-hair-treatment

Coconut Hair Oil Treatment

DIY-Kindle-case1

DIY e-reader case tutorial

pizza-sauce

Homemade Pizza Sauce

cats

What I Don’t Miss about Apartment Living

how-not-to-sell

How NOT to Sell Your House

poodle skirt

Funny Things My Students Say

kids

Family Rules

Gap-Long-and-Leans

The Gap Conundrum

2012 goals and bucket list update – August

(to see previous updates: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMay, June, and July)

2012 goals:

  • read through the entire Bible - New Testament: check.  Old Testament: currently reading Esther (one of my favorite books!)
  • get my healthy lifestyle back, specifically to lose the 20-25 pounds I’ve gained since getting married. - Well, nine months in and I’m finally almost 10 pounds down (plus the 5 extras that got added on later)…now only 10-15 more to go.

2012 bucket list:

  • make an apple pie from scratch
  • take cake decorating classes - I took the Wilton Cake Decorating Course 1 classes in March (see hereherehere, and here) and took Course 2 in April (hereherehere, and here).
  • learn how to make Mom’s homemade Christmas cookies
  • make 72 hour emergency kits for our home and cars
  • make my own laundry detergent - done!
  • bake a loaf of homemade bread - Done!  I’ve now made some Amish friendship bread and whole wheat honey sandwich bread.
  • make a quilt - Working on it!  See JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly, and August
  • grow something - Our popper tomato plant is bursting with tomatoes!  They are so sweet and delicious and I love eating them on my salads.
  • can pickles – It was quite possibly one of the stinkiest things I’ve ever experienced, but we now have 7 quarts of sweet lime pickles canned (plus 7 quarts of tomatoes, 11 pints of green beans, 13 pints of tomato sauce, 17 pints of salsa, and 9 pints of pizza sauce)
  • take some sort of vacation - Chicago!
  • get at least one scrapbook done for my in-law’s
  • ???start an Etsy shop???

Other notable things:

  • Our 30 day real food challenge and our 30 day no tv challenge (that has since been extended to 100 days) is going amazing.  We will complete this challenge sometime soon (maybe September 18 or around in there) and I can’t wait to update you!
  • School has been in session for a full month now and it is going quite well.  I love the kids at our school and I’m having so much fun.  I’ve also learned a ton in my short month as the school technology coordinator.
  • Speaking of learning, I decided to finally move my blog from chocolatemoments.wordpress.com to my chocolatemoments.com.  I did the move mostly by myself (the support people at HostGator and WordPress helped me some) and now I’m in the process of creating my own blog design.  This whole process has been a ton of work but I’m having fun and proud of what I’ve learned.
  • On a not-so-exciting note, we still have not found a house yet.  We’ve been looking forever it seems (only about 3 months I guess, but it still seems like a super long time).  I’m just trying to be patient, but boy is apartment living frustrating!

I’m hoping that September brings in some cooler temperatures (and maybe a new house!)

High Five for Friday

Wow am I glad it’s Friday – this has been an intense (but good) week!  Here’s what I’m excited about right now…

1.  I moved my blog (obviously)! I’ve been planning to do this since, um, Christmas, and last weekend I  finally got around to following through.  It was not easy, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend doing it yourself unless you have some mad techie skills (which I don’t) and I’d say just bite the bullet, pay the money, and get an expert to do it (which I didn’t because I don’t like to pay money, and it was way stressful).  But I guess it was a good learning experience, and I’m so excited to get to personalize things a little more around here (WordPress.com is great for some things, but a bit strict on what you could or couldn’t add to your blog).

2.  After the big move I was freaking out a little because I seemed to have lost my email subscribers and pictures in the transfer, but thanks to the wonderful support at WordPress, I have them back (so if you’re getting this post via email, sorry that you got left behind for a while…you did miss much, just this and this)

3.  I completed another 2012 Bucket List item this week and made/canned pickles.  What an experience.  I have never smelled anything as awful as the vinegar mixture that we had to heat on the stove.  I’m not kidding, I thought my nose and throat were going to burn off.  I had a bandana wrapped around my nose and mouth to block the smell (sure wish I had taken a picture of me looking like a bandit and making pickles).  I sure hope they are worth it!  We are also unofficially declaring ourselves done with canning for this year (we may or may not can some apple butter later in the fall, but we’re basically done with all the veggies and such).

These turned into seven quarts of sweet lime pickles

4.  Three weeks ago I had never even seen the inside of a computer, much less known what all the parts were in there.  Yesterday, I saved two of our computers from certain computer-death by switching out the PSUs from some other unusable computers.  I have learned so much since becoming the school technology specialist and I am so proud of myself!

Boo ya

5.  After not being able to find a calendar/planner/lesson plan book that fit my needs, consulting Pinterest, and recruiting Michael to help me with Excel, I have created my very own, customized plan book.  I am totally jazzed about it.  I’m hoping to take it to Staples today to get it spiral bound.  And very soon, when I start my classroom organization series, I’ll be sharing the details and a how-to so you can make your very own planner (it’s not nearly as hard as I expected).  Get pumped.

Have a fantabulously wonderful weekend!

Linking up with Lauren
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moved in but not settled + my blogaversary

Moving a blog is similar to moving a house.  I spent an exhausting many hours this weekend moving everything over, some stuff got lost in the move, I’m working to find it, things are still a mess, and obviously I haven’t started decorating yet.

So please pardon the very uninteresting page layout that you see right now.  I’m more concerned about getting the fridge hooked up than hanging pictures, if ya know what I mean.

I’m not really sure why I thought it was a good idea to do this myself (rather than pay someone to move my blog for me) – I guess I’m just cheap thrifty and thought I could do it myself.  It’s caused more stress than it’s worth and I’m regretting that decision a wee bit.  But oh well, what’s done is done and hopefully I’ll soon be able to recover the 2,000 pictures that happened not to make the move with me…sigh.  Oh yes, and figure out if all my email subscribers are still subscribed or not.

But anyway, I’m here.  mychocolatemoments.com is my new home now.  And I hope you’ll enjoy it here as much as I do.

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So, on to the real topic at hand…my blogaversary!  Yep, tomorrow marks one year since my very first blog post.  So hard to believe I’ve been doing this for a year…350+ posts, 2,200 pictures, 100,000ish views later I’m totally hooked.  I love blogging.  I love sharing my life with you and I love that I have so much more of my life recorded to look back at later than I would have if I didn’t blog.  I’ve found that I don’t really have a niche; I just like to blog about whatever strikes my fancy – recipes, crafts, clothes, travel, my faith, weight loss, and the mundane things that happen in my day to day life.  It’s a little disorganized and crazy, but I like it.

So thank you to all my wonderful readers, new and old – a blog isn’t really much of a blog if no one reads it.  Even though I partially blog for my own memories, I also do it for the interaction with my readers.  I makes me so happy to hear someone say that they love to read my blog or that something I’ve said helped them or inspired them.

I wish I could do some sort of super cool giveaway, or even a nifty post outlining some of my favorite posts of the year in honor of this fun occasion (I’m filing that one away for a later date, though, because I just thought of it and it sounds like it might be a good idea), but silly me decided it would be a fun blogaversary present to myself to buy my own domain and move my blog away from WordPress.com…making life sorta crazy right now.

But things will calm down soon, and  I’m super excited about what this next year has to offer.  Next up on the agenda of things to talk about is a series on classroom organization that I have in the works…you teachers make sure to keep an eye out for that one!

So blogging works for me (although moving my blog all by myself is not working for me at the moment…)

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday

changes coming soon!

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Yep, I’m moving…

chocolatemoments.wordpress.com is moving to mychocolatemoments.com!  Eeepps so exciting!

Please be patient as I work through the kinks during the next few days.  Hopefully the transition will be pretty easy, but no promises.

It should *fingers crossed* redirect you to the new blog, even if you go to chocolatemoments.wordpress.com (or if you have it saved as a favorite or something) so there shouldn’t be much of an interruption.  If you subscribe via email, you should still be able to get my posts in your email once I move, however, if you are a WordPress.com subscriber (that is, you follow me through WordPress rather than getting an email when I send out a new post) I think you will need to come over to the new blog and subscribe via email.

Anyway, lots of exciting things come up.  I’ll keep you updated.  I’m pretty sure you won’t notice much of an upheaval on your side of the blog but I wanted to give you a heads-up just in case I screw something up and the site goes down for a while.

High Five for Friday

Hello Friday!  This week has seemed both long and short at the same time to me…short because I was only at school three out of five days, but long because I was at school Monday, at a training away from school Tuesday and Wednesday, and then back at school Thursday and today, so it actually felt like two school weeks…but without the weekend!

Anyway, needless to say I’m excited for the weekend!  We have another busy one coming up, but hopefully it will be productive.

Here’s what I’m excited about this week:

1. We have been canning our little hearts out, but we’re almost done.  Two weekends ago we spend the weekend canning salsa and pizza sauce, while last weekend we canned a ton of tomato sauce, some tomatoes, and green beans.  This weekend we hope to get some pickles canned, and the call if quits for now (since we might do some apple butter later in the fall).  I am so proud of how much we’ve gotten put up: 7 quarts of tomatoes, 11 pints of green beans, 13 pints of tomato sauce, 17 pints of salsa, and 9 pints of pizza sauce!  It’s going to make sticking to our real food lifestyle so much easier this winter.

canningmost of our cans in their current storage spot…under our coffee table

2. I’ve really been in an organizing and cleaning mood recently – even more so than usual, so that encouraged me to get some stuff done that I’ve been putting off for a while…like selling back textbooks.  I had a ton of books from undergrad, graduate school, and some other random stuff lying around.  We finally sat down Monday night and Michael listed them on half.com – it was WAY easier than I thought it would be and we were able to list 19 books in less than 30 minutes.  And…we’ve already sold seven of those books!  Yay for getting some of our money back and getting some of the clutter out of our house.  Now if I could only find the time to go through, donate or sell, and organize my shoes and purses…that’s another organizational itch I have that I really want to scratch right now, just haven’t found time to get around to it.

3. It’s my 1 year blogaversary next week!  I cannot believe I’ve been blogging for almost a year!  Wowzas.  I’m pretty excited.

4. Banana mocha smoothies (made with all real ingredients) have been my dessert of choice this week.  It sounds a little weird but it tastes quite good, and is a fairly good alternative to mocha frappes…I may have to share the recipe soon.

5. I finally got the time to work on my quilt this week.  That was fun, but the bad part is that once I get started, I want to work on it all the time!  And sadly I just don’t have the time right now.  I have so many fun ideas for quilts floating around in my head and no time to create them…maybe someday.  But at least I got to do a little this week.

Linking up with Lauren

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top 10 Facebook no-no’s

Today’s Works for Me Wednesday post is actually a DOESN’T Work for Me Wednesday post…as in the top 10 Facebook faux pas that make me crazy.  Consider yourself warned, some toes are gonna get crunched….

1. contests – I cannot even describe to you how much I can’t stand it when people ask you to vote for this or that in a contest.  It’s typically a cutest kid type contest, and I hate to break it to you but you can’t ALL have the cutest kid.  Just sayin…  The worst offenders are the ones that post every.single.day “go vote for this so I can win that”, or “only five more days…go vote!”.  Posting about a contest one time is moderately acceptable, but any more that that is just asking to get blocked.

2. not editing your pictures - I want to look at your pictures.  I really do.  But what I don’t want to look at is 200 pictures of very very similar poses, with each pose being shown in black and white, sepia, and color.  Or when you just dump every picture from your camera into an event and don’t go through to remove the pictures of the floor that you accidentally took or the really blurry pictures.  Have an editing eye!  You’re only hurting yourself – I’m much more likely to look at your pictures if I don’t have to click through a million of the exact same picture or a ton of junk.  Edit, edit, edit!

3. gruesome picturess – Ok this one could actually be a safety hazard.  I get dizzy just talking about blood, not to mention seeing it, so when you post a particularly bloody or gruesome picture that I come across while I’m checking Facebook, I may just pass out and injure myself.  The worst part is there is no warning…I’m just innocently scrolling through my news feed and then *bam* there’s a picture of someone’s baby entering the world or a nasty bloody cut.  In all seriousness…STOP!  Again, I really do want to see pictures of your sweet precious newborn, but have some discretion and please don’t put the pictures of junior emerging from you on Facebook (yes, I’ve really seen that).  In fact, I’d really appreciate if you’d only post pictures once you’ve cleaned all the baby gunk off him a little.  And sorry but there’s no time I’d ever want to see your bloody injury, so just don’t do it.

4. posting a new picture of yourself each day that looks just like the one you posted yesterday – Why?  These are always just of your face (sometimes with the classic duck lips) so I can’t even see if you have on a good outfit.  I promise you haven’t changed that much.

 

5. I need attention posts – You know, the ones that are intentionally vague with the hope that people will ask you to elaborate.  Examples include, but are not limited to, “So sad…”, “crying…”, heartbroken :(“, “MAD!!!!!”.  You might as just well write “I want attention!”

6. back and forth posts that read like a text message – Please don’t blow up my news feed with you and your bestie’s whole conversation.  If it’s that long, just text each other.  Or Facebook chat.  Or send an email.  Or send a Facebook message.  Please.

7. practically naked maternity pictures – I’m not sure why people think that having a pregnant belly means you should post nearly-nude pictures of yourself, but the fact is…it doesn’t (although unfortuanltey many people post practically naked pictures of themselves all the time, pregnant or not, not cool).  Anyway, I love a good maternity picture.  Weekly updates are fine.  Just please stay clothed.  Thank you.  Sincerely, my eyes.

8. game/app/whatever requests – Nothing is more disappointing than getting a Facebook notification, only to discover that it’s just someone requesting you to play a game.  Rude.

9. linking Pinterest with Facebook so that everything you pin on Pinterest also shows up in my newsfeed – I’m probably already following you on Pinterest, and I don’t want to have to see the same pins twice.  A funny meme or picture every once in a while is fine, but every.single.thing you pin does not need to be shown on Facebook.  Check your settings.  Please and thank you.

10. Baby Gaga – We’re happy you’re having a baby, but nobody except you really cares about your baby’s progress at week 21 (or 25, or 30, or 40, or …).  Get an app or read a book.  No need to have that on Facebook.  (This is Michael’s contribution to this list, although I agree)

(edited to add a bonus that I just remembered…) 11. “re-post this” statuses – Guess what, I love my husband, mother, brother, God, the same whether or not I “repost this if you agree”.  I seriously can’t stand those.  They usually say “repost this if you love your so-and-so”, implying that if you don’t repost then obviously you don’t love them very much.  Baloney.

Honorable mention:

Source: someecards.com via Lisa on Pinterest

 

So what did I miss?  Feel free to leave a comment with your own Facebook pet peeves.

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday

blog domains and hosts {Works for Me Wednesday}

Ok, technically this is an “I need help Wednesday” post rather than a “works for me Wednesday” post because I need you lovely readers to give me some tips and advice this week.  I love blogging but I do it as a way to share my thoughts, not to do all kinds of cool technology things.  That part eludes me.

As of right now (as you can obviously see here) I’m blogging using wordpress.com.  Just the really basic, free wordpress.com.  What I’m wanting to do is to customize my blog a bit more, which from what I’ve read means I have to move my blog elsewhere.

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This is what I’ve gathered (but please, feel free to correct me!):

First I need to purchase a domain name (i.e. .com rather than .wordpress.com).  The only places I know of to do so are GoDaddy.com and Register.com.  For those of you who own your domain name, did you use either of those services?  If so, have you been pleased?  If not, what do/did you use?

The second step is what is giving me a bit of anxiety.  I really like WordPress.com and I’m quite fond of the fact that they do all techy stuff for me – spam filters, storage, etc.  However, they limit the add-ons and plug ins you’re allowed to use and there are several that I’d really like to have.  So…I want to move but I’m scared to do it myself because I don’t want to lose everything I’ve written so far.

From what I can find on the WordPress.com support blog, they recommend I move my blog to WordPress.org.  In order to do that I have to choose a host for my blog.  They have a list of recommended hosts, but the only one I had heard of is Go Daddy.  What host do you recommend?

WordPress also offers a service where I can pay and have their “Happiness Engineers” transfer my blog to the web host I choose.  This may be the best choice for me since I’m not confident about doing it myself.  Any thoughts on that?

Ok, so what I’m really looking for is someone who started out with a WordPress.com site and has since moved elsewhere.  I’d love to hear what you did to make that happen.  And even those of you who don’t use WordPress, I’d still appreciate any thoughts or advice you have (or links to tutorials, etc. that are written for non-techy people like myself).  I also know there are people out in blogland who do blog designing for other bloggers, but are there any people who would move my blog for me (for a price that wouldn’t require giving up my firstborn)?

Yikes!  So there are my big questions.  Please comment if you have any advice!

one lovely blog award

I feel so honored to have been nominated by Encourage One Another Daily for a One Lovely Blog award!  It makes me feel so good to know that people like to hear (read?) what I have to say (write?).

As part of my instructions, I’m supposed to tell 7 facts about myself and then nominate 15 other blogs that I would like to give this award to.

7 things about me (this is kind of hard since I recently posted 25 random things about me!):

1. I love big earrings

2. I’m really clumsy

3.  I don’t like my food to touch

4. ironing is my least favorite household chore (although vacuuming is a close second)

5. I’m right handed, but I’m left eye dominant (I use my left eye when looking through the viewfinder of the camera, I close my right eye and use my left when shooting, etc.)

6. I’ve never had a nosebleed (and let’s hope that never changes!)

7. I like the smell of fresh asphalt

15 of my favorite blogs – that inspire me, that I love to read, and that I think totally deserve this award:

To accept this award:

1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you.

2. Paste the award image on your blog.

3. Tell 7 facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other blogs that you would like to give the award to.

5. Contact the bloggers that you have chosen and let them know about the award.