Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Giving the Blog a Facelift

Well, I tackled something I was afraid to try today. I found out how to change this blog over to a 3-column format. It required editing the code and I was very concerned that I would screw everything up. I'd far prefer to use the standard Blogger templates but they don't provide one that looks like this.

Kind of a theme in my life -- and a metaphor for what's happening for me and Paul right now. We both would far prefer to have a simple life, to be able to find a ready-made situation that's just right for us, be able to plug ourselves in, and just go to work like everyone else. We like being self-employed but it's tiring to always have to work hard at doing so much ourselves!

But we both like things in our lives to be the way we like them. We don't like settling for something that's not really appealing to us. So, for example, when I needed a special feeling of home in order to move into a less than desirable rental several years ago I came up with the idea of putting in a fake fireplace. I searched and searched over the internet to find such a thing. They make them -- people use them for enclosures for gas fireplaces to make them look more like the real thing. But many of them were ugly and the ones that weren't were incredibly expensive.

Finally I determined to make one for myself. Keep in mind that I am not a carpenter, had never even taken a high school woodshop class, and had NEVER attempted something like this in my life. But I have been a bit of a seamstress and I've made my own patterns before. I thought to myself that if I could only find the items I needed to make it look good, "how hard could this be?"

One day I took a short trip into the mountains to poke around in the thrift stores and antique shops. I was hoping to find an old mantlepiece I could restore. That didn't happen within a price range I could afford but I did find a wonderful Balinese wood-carved mirror with doors that opened that had been ruined by being painted white and no longer had a mirror inside. I thought that if I painted it black it would look like one of those decorative wrought iron fireplace grates that are used to keep burning embers from flying out and burning the house down and it does. I took it home and, after the same kind of hesitation and hemming and hawing I did around redesigning this blog, just bit the bullet and dove right in.

Here's a picture of the finished work. It's in the spiritual counseling office I share with Paul now and it adds the perfect touch of homey warmth we wanted for that space.

Paul and I are spending a lot of time surfing the net and shopping around for the perfect yet inexpensive video camera to replace one we just sold because it didn't record in the proper format to simply upload to our Mac. I hope we don't regret that we sold that one because we didn't succeed in finding a replacement we're satisfied with yet. We know what we need exists -- we even have our eye on a Canon DSLR / video combination that we would love to have. (21 megapixels!) But so far it feels out of our price range. It's so new it's not even planned to be on the market until November and we're hoping we can sell the cameras we have and do whatever else we can to raise the money by then. But we haven't accepted the project entirely yet. Like the blog, like the fireplace, like any number of other things we have both done, we want to avoid doing the hard work of making this happen. We keep wanting to find a far less expensive ready-made solution we could just buy off the shelf now. But I keep having a sneaky suspicion that it's not going to work out that way. The tiny video camera we bought for $150 is awful and is going back to Circuit City tomorrow. We might try something else, a Kodak Easyshare that's on sale for the same price, and I still kind of hope that works out. But I wouldn't be surprised if we gave that one away, too.

So here's my new blog. I'm not sure if I like it yet. Still working out the details. But I'm proud of myself for giving it a try and I like that I figured out how to add a colorful photograph over the header.

Any comments or suggestions?

The cat who inspired the painting at the top of the page is in my lap right now. She keeps touching the keyboard with her feet and typing her additions as I type.


john said...


Linda in the Northeast Kingdom said...

Looks good, Sheryl

Sometimes doing the hard work is actually easier and faster than looking for the shortcut way.

I find if I have the skills or can learn them - doing it myself is often the preferred option. Maybe that's just me.

I end up feeling capable - like you and the beautiful mantle. I am glad that I have seen it in person in both locations.

The retreat center:
Glad you did the research to find out the right questions to ask.

I am certain that there are wonderful retreat centers as well as ones that are ripoffs.

Knowing the difference is a challenge and an important skill to have in our bags of tools.

One of my vision path mantras is asking:
"Take me where I need to go to do what I need to be doing/learning."

Bright colorful blessings for you and Paul from Vermont in the fall.


DreamWoven said...

the fireplace came out beautifully! did you change it to the 3 column format????

fluffnflowers said...

I think the facelift looks excellent.

No suggestions on the video camera, but I've been looking for one, myself. I'll be interested to see what you find.

I have trouble cutting squares, so I am entirely impressed with your fireplace. Amazing!

Sheryl Karas said...

Thanks for all the nice comments!

As for how I changed it...darn, I knew I should have bookmarked those pages.

What I did was type "3-column template" into the Blogger Help search engine. It gave me a link to Blogger Tips and Tricks which is a website not associated with Blogger. I typed the same thing into their search engine and found it there.

Did the same thing to figure out how to put a picture above the title but that was somebody else's website.

It involved going into the section titled "edit html" both times. Scary but really not as hard as I thought.

Brandon said...

Blog looks good. I need to give mine a facelift as well.