My site’s past layouts.

With the help of Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, I took a look at the layouts I used to have on here. It started off pretty awful until I finally found a WordPress theme I liked. See, I know a little bit of HTML and CSS, but not enough to code an entire WordPress theme by hand. I can’t do sidebars or widgets. So what I do is I look through WordPress themes similar to what I’d like my site to look like, and just fiddle and tweak until I’m happy with it.

I experimented with different backgrounds until I finally decided on none at all and widened everything. I couldn’t decide how I wanted the header to look. I pretty much decided on how the sidebar should look right away, but wasn’t sure which widgets I wanted where, and finally added a photo of myself after noticing most bloggers do that now. I changed the fonts a few times too, after finally figuring out how. I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from fellow bloggers, and still do, so my blog will probably never be finished. But for now, I’m pretty dang happy with it.

Screenshot from 9/29/2011

Screenshot from 9/29/2011

Screenshot from 12/2/2011

Screenshot from 12/2/2011

Screenshot from 10/30/2013

Screenshot from 10/30/2013

Screenshot from 1/17/2014

Screenshot from 1/17/2014

Screenshot from 8/8/2014

Screenshot from 8/8/2014

Screenshot from today.

Screenshot from today.

Wordless Wednesday: Growing a pumpkin vine.

pumpkin seedling

50 more things that make me happy.

50things

A while ago I made a list of “100 things that make me happy.” Here’s some more…

  1. Buttered sourdough toast.
  2. Carpeted stairs.
  3. Plain oatmeal cookies.
  4. Flowers made from seed beads and wire or string.
  5. #4: Flowers made from seed beads and wire or string.

    #4: Beaded flowers.

  6. Really old knick-knacks.
  7. Rosebushes that were allowed to grow tall.
  8. An animal gently snoring.
  9. Vine covered houses.
  10. Opening a new pack of pens.
  11. Smothering my dog with affection when he’s trying to fall asleep.
  12. Soft beds.
  13. Jigsaw puzzles.
  14. Frosted Flakes.
  15. Weeping willows.
  16. Brick houses.
  17. Soft stuffed animals.
  18. Blowing bubbles.
  19. The smell of potting soil.
  20. Museums.
  21. Stretching after waking up.
  22. The way squirrels twitch their tails.
  23. Having a mutual crush.
  24. Feeling like I’m dreaming when I know I’m awake.
  25. Organizing.
  26. Finger sandwiches.
  27. Trying to overcome a fear.
  28. Large windows.
  29. Pumpernickel.
  30. Gumball machines.
  31. The cracking sound an ice cube makes when I plunk it into my drink.
  32. Making inspiration boards.
  33. The Los Angeles Zoo.
  34. #32: The L.A Zoo

    #32: The L.A Zoo

  35. Checkerboard pattern.
  36. A recurring good dream.
  37. Dollar stores.
  38. Highlighters that don’t bleed through paper.
  39. The smell inside an auto shop.
  40. Sunbathing dogs.
  41. Trains.
  42. Sunflowers.
  43. Balconies hidden behind trees.
  44. College ruled paper.
  45. Flowerpots.
  46. Tall hedges.
  47. Overgrown clumps of daisies.
  48. The sound of sprinklers.
  49. Ground cover plants.
  50. Window seats at a restaurant in a perfect location for people-watching.
  51. Glass jars.
  52. Accidentally spraying myself with the garden hose.

Currently…

currently

Watching… The Twilight Zone. “My name is Talky Tina, and you’ll be sorry.”

Eating… Chicken strips and fries from Jack in the Box. And what’s supposed to be a Dr Pepper, but it tastes like diet Coke. DISAPPOINTED.

Working on… So many SMME letters. If I get one more from someone sending a poorly worded “From Santa” letter to their kid trying to guilt them into staying on the “nice” list… Parents, quit using Santa to make your kids behave and just teach your children to behave on their own. How do you expect them to know how to act once they stop believing in Santa?

Missing… The zoo, I haven’t been in at least a year.

Planning… On making lists on Bloglovin so I can follow more people and keep track of them all. I need to be more active on there.

Remembering… I need to water all my plants, including the outdoor ones I keep accidentally forgetting about. Good thing they’re hardy.

Attempting… To be more active with social networking, I can’t seem to kick this hiatus mode.

What I’m working on — Writing letters.

writing letters

Not only am I writing letters for Snail Mail My Email, I’m also trying to finish the rough draft of a letter to my penpal.

SMME has been growing in popularity each year thanks to being featured on sites like Huffington Post and Reddit. So far this year, people have sent over three thousand emails to be turned into letters. And the week’s only half done. To put that in perspective, that’s more letters in 3 days than were sent in all 7 days during SMME 2013. Luckily there are almost 400 volunteers helping out this year, so it’s not like I’m anywhere close to being alone on this. Compare that to the first year when I was one of 222 volunteers and a chunk of them bowed out after realizing just how much work can go into it. There’s no need to spend 60+ minutes on every letter, but this definitely isn’t the best project for someone who has almost zero free time each day.

If you’re interested in sending a letter to someone, go check out snailmailmyemail.org!

Snail Mail My Email — Turning your email into a handwritten letter to send anywhere, free!

smme2

For the past three years I’ve been a volunteer for a project called Snail Mail My Email, and it’s that time of year again!

Starting today until the 16th, you can submit an email through snailmailmyemail.org which is forwarded to a random volunteer who will handwrite it and mail it for you. Free! Volunteers pay for supplies (paper, envelopes, etc) and postage.

The project was started by Ivan Cash who’d originally only intended for it to be a one-time thing, but he received so many letters to write that he enlisted volunteers to help out. The idea is this project helps remind people how awesome it feels to receive a handwritten letter in their mailbox versus yet another email in their inbox, letter writing is almost a dead art and we’re trying to keep it from dying completely. It received so much attention the first year that Ivan decided to make it an annual event lasting one week every November. I don’t remember how I heard about it, but I was part of the first group of volunteers and I look forward to it every year, making sure I volunteer each time.

It’s too late to become a volunteer, but if you’re interested in sending a letter to someone, go check out snailmailmyemail.org!

smme

20 questions to ask a penpal to help get to know them.

Finding a penpal can be difficult. Keeping that penpal’s interest can be even more difficult. One way to keep a penpal entertained is to ask them questions, not only does that help you learn more about them but it also makes your letter fun to answer. Here are some ideas for questions you can ask your penpal:

  1. What’s the last thing you did for the first time?
  2. What smell reminds you most of your childhood?
  3. What are your passions in life?
  4. What are you most looking forward to?
  5. What are you least looking forward to?
  6. What’s something you need to get off your chest?
  7. What are your guilty pleasures?
  8. What’s your dream job?
  9. What celebrities do you find attractive?
  10. What’s a favorite memory of yours?
  11. What’s your most prized possession?
  12. What do you daydream about?
  13. What do you hope to accomplish before the year ends?
  14. What’s something you wish you were better at?
  15. Where’s your favorite place to just sit and think?
  16. If you could magically gain any talent, what would you choose?
  17. Do you have anything you consider a lucky item?
  18. Are there any funny stories a family member always shares about you?
  19. What time do you get up in the mornings if you have nowhere to be?
  20. What’s your idea of the perfect snack?

Be sure to ask questions related to what you’re writing about as well. For example, if you’ve just finished telling your penpal about your dog, ask them about the pets they’ve had. If you’re talking about vacations, ask if your penpal’s ever travelled. If you already know they’ve travelled, ask what their favorite trip was, or favorite location, etc.

Why I stopped using LinkWithin.

Ever since I started this blog, my top three referrals have been search engines, Pinterest, and LinkWithin. In theory, LinkWithin is a great idea, it’s good to show readers what else they might want to read on your blog. But the way LinkWithin works is by redirecting your readers through their site first, then directing traffic back to your site. If you care about SEO, this redirecting nonsense is actually hurting your page ranks. The term is “link juice” but that just sounds a little disgusting and causes me to imagine my links are actually sweating. I still don’t quite understand all this SEO business, so my links probably aren’t too juicy anyway, but LinkWithin was apparently stealing what little link-sweat I had.

linkwithin

Besides SEO reasons, I just got sick of seeing LinkWithin as an alleged referred considering they weren’t actually referring anyone to my blog. It’s an unnecessary step. I came across this blog entry at Geek In Heels that gets a little more in depth about it, and through that entry I discovered the plugin nRelate. I switched from LinkWithin to nRelate and not only have I finally stopped seeing LinkWithin all over my referral list, but I just think nRelate looks much better. It was very simple to install, but I also love that it’s customizable and it just looks cleaner in my opinion.

So if you care about SEO stuff or you also got sick of seeing “widget#.linkwithin” as a referral, I recommend checking out other options. Geek In Heels lists a few more in case nRelate isn’t quite what you’re looking for.

Day Zero task #45: Keep a “My day in six words” journal for six months.

open-journal-with-pen

A few days ago I made a new subdomain to start my Day Zero task of keeping a “My day in six words” journal. I’m not sure yet if my goal is to keep it daily or just a certain amount of times per week, I guess I’ll aim to update it daily for now and see how that goes.

The idea is simple enough: To summarize the events of my day in only six words. I’ve seen two different versions of this diary idea, either writing a full sentence to describe the day or using words and short phrases. I decided to go with the latter, I already knew trying to come up with a six-word sentence every day would be too difficult and turn this idea into a chore. I didn’t want that to happen.

I considered giving it a couple of weeks to build up some content before blogging about it here, but I realized if I do that, I might forget about it or just lose accountability. So, if you’re interested, you can keep up with that journal here.

Currently…

currently

Working on… Next year’s daily planner. I’ve started making my own because I’m so picky about the info I want in one, and I discovered a new way to make one so I’ve started DIY’ing earlier than usual. I plan to post a blog entry about it eventually, maybe in a month or two.

Eating… Leftover Halloween candy, of course.

Feeling… Worried about my dog, he’s rather listless today. I’m thinking maybe he’s fighting a cold (I never knew dogs could get the flu until this dog, poor thing’s had it twice in the ten years we’ve had him) or maybe he’s worn out from the excitement of last night. We kept him locked out of the front half of the house while the trick-or-treaters were out, so he wouldn’t scare the smaller children. He had access to four rooms, his food and water bowls, and the backyard through his dog door, but he spent the entire time confused and whining, so I’m sure it exhausted him. Hopefully tomorrow he’ll be feeling better.

Watching… Homestar Runner cartoons. They’re updating again!

Playing… Clicker Heroes on Kongregate.com. It’s a fun little time waster.

Enjoying… The beautiful sunset and cool breeze through an open window. A cool breeze! There’s actually a cool breeze! And it rained last night! In Los Angeles!!