Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Blog Banner How-To


I entertain myself by designing a new blog banner frequently using my own pictures (or my family's). Many of my banners have been fairly makeshift as I have learned more and more about tweaking my template. My current header is my favorite so far, using pictures taken by my husband and son on a backpacking trip. Since a friend recently expressed interest in learning more about how to tweak her template, I thought I'd explain here what worked for me in making my blog banner.

Recently I came across a fun site called fd's Flickr Toys. I have an Flickr account, but it is not necessary to use the site. The Flickr toy I used to design my header was the Mosaic Maker. I arranged the pictures for the top of my blog using three columns and one row. Once I created my mosaic, I saved it to Flickr and to my computer.

The next handy site I visited was Picnik, a FREE, online photo editing site. After acquiring my mosaic from Flickr (alternatively, I could have uploaded it from my computer), I clicked on the "Create" tab and used the Frames option to add a drop-shadow. I saved this copy of my Mosaic.

I must confess that I added the text to my mosaic using Adobe Photoshop. I realize that not everyone has that software, but many people have some type of photo editing software that includes the option to add text.

After adding text to my mosaic and saving it, I re-sized the mosaic to fit my blog. I did this in Photoshop as well, but it is possible to do it in Picnik.

In blogger, I looked in Layout >> Edit HTML and found this in my code:
/* Header
-----------------------------------------------
*/

#header-wrapper {
width:780px;
margin:0 auto 10px;
border:0px solid $bordercolor;
}


This told me that the width of my header is 780 pixels.

In Picnik, upload the most recent copy of the mosaic, click on the resize tab, and type in the pixel width of your blog header in the first box. (Mine is 780) Make sure that you check off "Keep proportions." Save the re-sized mosaic. This is the copy that you will upload to the header section of your blog in "Layout."

If anyone tries to follow the above instructions for creating a banner and has trouble, please let me know and I will try to explain better...

Last week, I posted the instructions that helped me put together my current template. Another helpful link explaining how to design your own blog banner can be found HERE at Design Mom blog.

Flickr Toys Mosaic Maker and Picnik: Works for me!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Time to Break Down, and a Time to Build Up

On Thursday, the kids spent some time building with Kapla blocks. Logan, as usual, thoroughly enjoyed knocking down the older kids' creations, but he also built with them. My baby is growing up! (We set the picture on the floor so that it would not fall from the wall as roofers installed a new roof that day.)

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Roses

Evan has posted pictures of roses at Colorado Kids. Enjoy!

Black Bean Mango Salsa

I must repost my favorite summer recipe now with a picture! I even ate this at breakfast yesterday...

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Black Bean Mango Salsa

2 15 oz. cans or 1 26.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 mangoes, diced or 1 jar mangoes or 1 16 oz. pkg frozen mangoes
1 can shoe peg corn, drained
1 c flat leaf parsley or cilantro chopped
1 c green onions (just the green part) thinly sliced
1 red pepper diced
½ c olive oil
¼ c balsamic vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate for hours to let the flavors mingle before serving. We like to eat this along with grilled sausage.

Apparently my cello case is quite comfortable...

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Logan - Speak

5/29/08 - Logan, commenting on his shorts: "Camo shorts. Clouds on it."

5/29/08 - Logan, talking to me about his cousin Josi: "I love her. She has hair. She eats food. She sleeps."

5/23/08 - "Daddy fly up in the air." (James was not able to oblige, but he and Logan did jump together. Logan was able to get his feet off the floor.)

Logan, when Sophie paused in her piano playing: "PRACTICE!!"

While banging on his scooter with a block: "Fix the van."

Me: "The sausage is yummy."
Logan: "Chloclate is yummy."

Logan: "Monster coming"
The family: "Oh no! Scary!"
Logan: giggle, giggle

Logan' comment when enjoying a bite he was eating: "This tastes gross." (He must have older siblings!)

Logan, to Evan practicing piano: "COUNT!"

James: "Can you say 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious'?"
Logan: "Okay. Docious."

Logan catching sight of mountains as we were driving: "Mountains. Wow! Blue."

While looking out a window: "Mama doesn't eat grass."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

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Works for Me: Template Tweaking

My blogging friend "Sunshine" recently commented that she needed to customize her blog, but didn't yet know how to go about it . I thought I'd post some links here that have helped me to tweak my own template.

The number one help to me in customizing my own blog has been the free e-book The Cheat's Guide to Customizing Blogger Templates written by Amanda at Blogger Buster. Amanda has written clear step-by-step instructions to get the job done. I followed her instructions to a "T" in the basic layout of this template (though I did go one step further in widening it) and am quite happy with the results. In fact, since Amanda regularly posts helpful tutorials on building a better blogger blog, I highly recommend searching her archives at Blogger Buster.

Blogger Buster works for me!

Next Wednesday, if there is interest, I will post some links that helped me to design my current blog header...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The View from Our Van

My friend Susan recently completed training to be a CPR instuctor. To get experience in teaching, she offered a babysitting class today at her house which Evan and Matthew attended along with two of her sons. The CPR portion of the class will be next week. I am thankful for the opportunity for the boys to learn practical childcare skills and lifesaving strategies from a mom that I trust. It has been too long since I was trained in CPR and rescue breathing.

Susan invited Sophie to stay and play with her youngest son, but I selfishly kept Sophie with me to keep Logan company. Logan enjoyed riding around in the "white van," sitting up high and watching the parade of vehicles go by. On the way back home, we ran several errands.

At a used bookstore, I "turned in" two paperbacks to be sold, which gave me in-store credit. When I walked in the store, I thought, "What happened here!" The usually neat establishment had books piled on the counter and boxes of books in the aisles. A gruff young woman reluctantly pulled herself away from looking at books to help me at the counter. I told Sophie that she could take Logan to look at the children's section, but when I walked back to it after giving the woman my books, the kids were in the wrong aisle. They apparently could not recognize the children's area for all the books lying around. It was a total mess! I looked with interest at a hardcover version of a book that we own in softcover, but which is falling apart. I raised my eyebrow at the $3.00 price-tag, and then re-shelved it in disgust when I opened the book to a torn out page.

As we attempted to find a treasure amidst the junk, the woman up front talked loudly with another worker about how she had just been fired from another job and how she had attended an event where everyone got smashed. Great atmosphere! I soon gave up finding a good book in order to use my credit and walked with the kids to the door. The woman, and two men who apparently worked there as well, stood talking near a sign requesting volunteers to help shelve books. One of the men asked me, "You didn't find anything today?"

I replied, "Not today, thanks," while thinking "and not any day!"

I predict a storefront vacancy soon.

In the afternoon when Logan took a nap, Sophie helped me to do some blitz-cleaning of the kitchen and other high traffic areas. I gave her some dried blueberries to snack on and sweeten the job. I appreciated her cheerful help!

I picked up Logan out of his crib to drive and retrieve the boys in the late afternoon. Logan did not fuss about the abrupt ending to his nap when I quickly told him we were going in the white van.

Driving away from Susan's house after picking up the boys, I asked them several questions about their day, when I heard a different voice say, "Hi." I glanced in the rearview mirror to spy a stowaway in the backseat. I laughed and threatened to take him to our house to be our slave, but instead turned the van around. Susan smiled questioningly when she saw us pull up in front of her house again, and then we all laughed when her son Ryan popped out of the van. She walked to the van door and joked that Ryan would be paying us $5 for gas money.

This evening, during our family worship, Evan gently interrupted me during my prayer to let me know that Logan had removed his diaper. We had to laugh and paused our prayer time while Evan re-diapered the boy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Toddler Can Read My Mind (and Other Thoughts)

Yesterday evening, Logan sat facing me when Sophie walked by. I looked at her, admiring her new casual dress that I bought for $6.80 at Kohl's (Score!) Logan wasn't looking at Sophie, but at my face. He said, "You like Sophie's dress." How did he know what I was thinking?!

I'm blogging right now, because I'm toast. Since we are on a summer break from schoolwork, I have started exercising again. I have been doing a fifteen minute T-Tapp workout, but this morning, I did the forty minute T-Tapp Total Workout. At first it felt great to be the "good kind" of sore, but now exhaustion has set in along with the soreness. I'm off to a good start, though, and I know from past experience that this exercise will get me in shape and more energetic! I thought I'd have to go through the instructional video about the exercises first to re-learn the workout, but I guess it is like riding a bike: my muscles remember what to do.

If you could look inside my refrigerator and freezer now, you would see another sign that we are on summer break. The organization and shining clean are beautiful to behold. Yeah, my kids think I'm a little strange too. Don't get me wrong, I did clean out my refrigerator during the school year, but not to this extent.

It is nice to get more cleaning and organization done, but I'm not getting as much done as I had hoped. I still have a toddler and a lot of distracting interruptions. But really, I'd rather have my toddler and the interruptions of my family than have a perfectly organized house!

James recently gave me an occasion to laugh my head off. While at the CO Railroad Museum, he walked out of the men's bathroom to come suddenly face-to-face with upon a woman in a burqa. He was so startled that he jumped, and then embarrassed by his reaction, he nervously said, "Hi." I think the burqa somewhat defeated the woman's desire not to be noticed. James certainly noticed her more than any other woman around!

This is an unusual post for me without pictures, but new pictures are up at Colorado Kids.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

CO Railroad Museum Part II

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Milk Cans



To see better pictures of the engines taken by my son (he took the pictures, not the engines!), visit Colorado Kids.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

CO Railroad Museum Part I

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Last Saturday, we visited the Colorado Railroad Museum...

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...to celebrate this guy's twelfth birthday.

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We hopped aboard a train to ride around the museum.

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We sat in an open car to bake in the sun to have an unobstructed view...

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of the old engines and train cars...

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and cabice cabooses.

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We saw the puffer-bellies all in a row...

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and waved at some friendly by-standers Uncle John, Aunt Angi, Conner and Josi!

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I shot him first!


More tomorrow...