Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5th, 2014 Now Easier To Read: The Blog Redesign

July 5th, 2014 Now Easier To Read: The Blog Redesign

It's been a couple of weeks or more since "anonymous" left a comment saying she had a hard time getting past the "ugly layout" of my blog. Honestly, I didn't care. I've never worried about having a "good looking" blog. My perspective has always centered squarely on content. If I were a little more computer savvy, I probably would have done something to change it along the way, but I'm not and it didn't seem to matter. The content was important to me, not the aesthetics. It's what's on the inside that really counts.

Then I starting reading several very friendly comments saying similar things, "I enjoy your blog but it is sometimes hard to read." This got my attention! Perhaps a redesign was in order, not because "anonymous" called the blog ugly, but because it needed to be easier on the eyes.  I have great respect and admiration for fellow blogger Loretta. When Loretta offered to do a redesign, I jumped at the opportunity. She's a very talented artist too! Her idea for the redesign wasn't just a whim, she put some careful thought into what you're seeing now. Every element, from colors to design, has a carefully thought out reason for being. If you haven't visited Loretta (Or as the blogging community calls her, Retta), I highly recommend her honest and real account of her journey. Visit her blog at www.lorettasjourney.blogspot.com/ Retta has been a wonderful supporter of my blog and journey for several years and this gift she's given me is greatly appreciated!

Part of this process involved backing up everything. When Loretta suggested doing it before the application of the redesign, she mentioned how sick she would be if any or all of the blog was lost. The mere mention of it sent chills down my spine. This blog means the world to me. I love it dearly, because it is me. Inside the archives is my life story, including the stories, in part--of the people I love in my life. I didn't realize how much this blog meant to me until I opened it up to see this redesign today.

I immediately became emotional. It was perfect and I was so proud. Suddenly I realized how emotionally attached I am to these writings. All of the positive effects this blog has had on me came flooding into my mind as I strolled around, checking out the new design as tears rolled down my face. If one of the ultimate goals of an artist is to summon emotion from the viewer, Loretta my friend, you did, beautifully. Thank you.

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I prepared some wonderful food today, had a great workout at the Y and spent some time tonight as a designated driver for a friend. It was a wonderful day. Tomorrow is poised to be even better. My grandson Noah turns 1 year old tomorrow and we're planning on a big party to celebrate. I'll be traveling to Stillwater to pick up mom and bring her back for this wonderful occasion. I'm bringing a few things to help out with the party supplies including: The ice cream. How wonderfully ironic! I'm not worried. I have my plan in place and I'll write about how I handled the party foods tomorrow night. I'm not sacrificing my abstinence from sugar for cake and ice cream, believe me. My focus will not be the party foods. My focus will be on family and for the most part, squarely on my little grandson. 

Becky asked a good question in the comments section of yesterday's post: "Do you have any thoughts about saving money on one's food budget? I notice that when you post a picture while grocery shopping, you typically have only a few items in your cart-- probably few enough that you can go through the express lane at checkout. And yet, your meals are always so delicious-lookiing, and varied. Do you tend to buy the same types of things, and if so, is it working well for you, tastewise and wallet-wise?"

Great question Becky! I prefer smaller, more frequent trips because if I buy too much at one time, I'm worried some of it might go to waste. This approach has likely saved me money along the way. I might be spending less on groceries than I once did on fast food and restaurant meals. I still eat out occasionally, but 90% of my meals come from cooking. This hasn't been easy. Before I started taking better care, I would regularly go three or four days without using my kitchen--except for breakfast, I've been in the breakfast cooking habit for a while. Seriously, there for a while almost every lunch and dinner was in a restaurant. In comparison, I'm saving money. When I was in full-on binge mode, it was nothing to hand over $20 to $30 dollars in a day through a drive through window.

I'm fortunate in that I'm buying for one. I spend approximately 40-70 dollars per week. I buy stuff on sale all the time too. I recently went through a sirloin steak phase (notice I haven't in several days) made affordable by a special meat sale I found at a small grocery store 20 minutes north of town. I buy most of my produce at our local Aldi store. They often have pineapples for 1.19 each and avocados for 49 cents. The one thing I splurge on is Tilapia loins from Schwan's home delivery service. I don't usually buy anything else from them because of the cost. I make an exception for the Tilapia because it's the best I've found and I've looked everywhere.

As far as the variety, I don't know. I try to get creative in my meal planning within the bounds of what I have. You can always count on cheese, Jospeh's Pitas, eggs, avocados and loads of fruit. The fruit has gotten expensive for me--but again, I look at Aldi first.  Measuring everything has helped too. I'm saving a bunch of food from the trash by only measuring what I'll be cooking at any one time. I think a key to this, for me, is making smaller, more frequent grocery shopping trips and making sure I use what I buy. Taste wise--oh my, yes!! I'm slowing down and taking great joy in the process of planning and preparing, then enjoying my food.

I hope I answered your questions, Becky!

Thank you for reading,
Strength,
Sean

28 comments:

  1. Yes, thank you, Sean, that was very helpful! Hope you enjoy your weekend, and Happy Birthday to Noah!!

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    1. Thank you, Becky! Experimenting in the kitchen is so much fun to me! One of the least expensive things I regularly prepare are tostadas with various toppings. I buy the big package of corn tortillas (uncooked), crisp them in the oven--then it's up to me what I want on top. They're cheap, fast, nutritious, filling--and just an all around value!! And they look good on a plate!

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    2. Haha. This helped me, too, Sean. We have an Aldi's about 20 minutes from here, but I've been afraid to try it. :o I'm not quite sure how it works. I'll have to call someone who goes there and find out the rules as far as bring your own bag, etc, goes. But I need to shop tomorrow and you've given me the oomph to try it. Well, you and the skyrocketing food prices that are going on here. :(

      Deb

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    3. I wish we had Aldi's out here in California!

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  2. You've given me so much from reading your blog over the years. So much to think about... to self-examine the things you bring up... to learn. Helping you with a re-design is just one way I could give back. I'm delighted you like it!

    And I know you'll have a fun and memorable birthday party for that one year old little man tomorrow!

    Retta

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    1. Oh Retta, I couldn't be happier with the redesign. I know I've said it a bunch lately, --and not to dilute it once more--but wow, thank you for the gift!
      OMGoodness--- I can't wait to see Noah today!! I can't believe he's 1 year old... So wonderful!

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  3. Sean, I've been reading your blog for years now and am pretty tech-challenged as they come, but never have had trouble maneuvering on here. I liked the old blog but this new one is nice too. :) I imagine when you put yourself out there like you do, for the benefit of helping yourself and others, there's always going to be someone who is negative or rude. I'm sorry someone as nice as you has to be subject to that. Shirley from TN

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    1. Thank you Shirley. You've always been such a wonderful supporter of what I'm all about. There was a time when I would let anything and everything bother me. My sensitivity was turned up all the way to 11... Understanding and embracing the truth about negative energy, that it isn't about me, more about the person distributing it, has really released me from wasting valuable energy and emotions fretting over something negative someone might say. There's a balance to be found, I think...if it is a well intentioned and well thought out suggestion/critique, I can usually recognize the difference--and I'm open to considering..never shutting out useful/good advice... It's usually fairly easy to distinguish the difference, thank goodness!

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  4. Your new layout looks great, Sean. Very clear and smart.

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  5. Much easier on the eyes. :-) Oh wait....maybe that's just just because I'm wearing my glasses today! ha ha ha

    Either way...keep on doing what you do!

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    1. I will MaryFran, I will!! Glasses help, I'm sure!! LOL

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  6. The new design looks great! Easy on the eyes for reading. Kudos to Loretta for the readability! :)

    High five for remaining abstinent during family celebrations. Gift to yourself and gift to your family relationships!!! Win-win. Abstinence allows me to connect fully to the event and other people (and maintain my weight loss!).

    I find I have to shop a couple of times a week for produce. It will go off if I over buy and try to wait. More kudos for cooking at home. Life long valuable skill. The money I spend on protein and produce is much less than on my doctors co-pays and junk food.

    Keep up the great work, Sean!

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    1. Thank you Karen! Ooooh...nice addition with the co-pays and junk food suggestion--SO TRUE!!
      The cooking has been a wonderful experience and the more I practice, the better I'm getting. I don't dread it anymore--I look forward to it--like it's an opportunity to create something fun. Amazing what a shift in perspective can do!

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  7. Hi Sean! I found you via Spunkysuzi so this is my first visit here and I did not know your old site. Love this one though! And I have to admit, if a blog is very cluttered or too hard to read (lots use very small fonts) then I will not come back, even if the content is great. To me blogging is also a very visual experience and so I am very glad that you decided to make yours a nice all-round place to visit! Your friend Retta did a wonderful job!

    It is refreshing to see a guy posting about weight loss, I will have to show this to my husband who also has a lot of weight to loose, as do I. So I will definitely be back here and add you to my blog roll.

    Finally, the shopping tips are great. I often overshop and I hate throwing away food but I am still struggling with planning my meals which makes it all a bit hap-hazardous. Seeing that you buy at Aldi (as a German I love Aldi!), does this mean you are not so concerned about buying organic foods? I always buy organic where I can but sometimes I wonder whether it's really worth it? Because it definitely is more expensive.

    Thank you! Kerstin

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    1. Please invite your husband over here!! Suzi is wonderful, isn't she? I've enjoyed following her for a very long time. I love her pictures too...especially when she takes us along with her on the walks through some of the most beautiful scenery.
      I love Aldi for the inexpensiveness, the value-- I'm not overly concerned with organic--if it's available and not too outrageously priced, I will go with organic... Organic purest have solid reasoning behind their passion--and I do appreciate their perspective, but sometimes the budget just doesn't allow for it...I'm shopping with a keen eye for saving money, period. I did buy some organic avocados the other day because they were only 19 cents more than the regular... And I do take advantage of fresh offerings from friends with over flowing gardens.. The yellow and green squash I've had recently was grown in the backyard of a friend of mine. We also have a local farmers market--straight from the farm type stuff...and it's often touted as organic... I'll be the first to admit, I'm not very educated on the benefits of buying only organic. I'm sure I could find a documentary on the subject that would frighten me into buying organic exclusively--but I'm not seeking it out. I feel better than I have in years and I'm being frugal along the way... I feel good about it.

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    2. Link sent to my husband! Re organic vs. conventionally grown food (funny that because organic used to be the conventional method!) this is a vast topic once you get into it! There is a list of foods where organic is definitely healthier vs. others where it doesn't matter so much, I try to stick to that. I actually have a vegetable box delivered every week and they offer a broad variety of foods and even household items. I love that I can recycle all the packaging back to them, to me that's a big plus as I hate packaging waste. But economics matter for us, too, and I will actually go and seek out our local Aldi and see what's on offer there. In the end it's all about balancing out our priorities :)

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  8. I just posted a huge comment and forgot to hit the publish button. so, here I go again! I need to get in touch with your blog friend, I need a face lift too!

    I no longer worry about money when buying food for myself. After all, I didn't concern myself with that when hitting my 3rd Burger King in a row during my binge-eating career.

    Vegetables and fruit costs are rising. I try not to worry about that while I select my food for the week. I do look for sales in the meat department but bottom line, I'm going to get what I need to be successful in maintaining a 100 lb weight loss. I have to be!

    Good for you on all points, Sean - blog aesthetics and continued great content.

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    1. I agree Gerri--I wasn't ever concerned about the crazy amounts of money I carelessly spent on 4th and 5th meals at the drive through... even when I really couldn't afford it--I suppose my budget suffered in other areas back then... I agree--i will get what I need to lose and maintain...I will continue finding strategic shopping maneuvers that give me what I need and can afford... I'm worth the extra effort! Thank you Gerri, for the wonderful compliments!

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  9. Well, I thought it was ridiculous someone complained about your blog format, however...the redo looks amazing and artistic. Makes me want to find someone savvy to redo mine!

    Regarding food costs - you get what you pay for. Think of the money you're saving on junk!

    We have an Aldi right over the border but I didn't realize it was a grocery store! I wondered if it was a hardware store. It's right beside Sam's Club, so it never seems busy. I will have to check it out on my next cross border shop, as the Canadian dollar recently had a rise.

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  10. Sean! I love this redesign! It's very clean and very simple. Message is always, always key, but when we can make it easier for the reader to access then we can impact so many more people. I kinda think of things like blog design as the bed linens - 800 tct Supima sheets and a soft down comforter (yes, even down here in the south in the summer) with some fantastic pillows won't make up for a sad mattress and scratchy sheets won't change how you sleep on a mattress that's good for you...but they will either enhance or detract from the experience. Some people are willing to tough it out; others aren't.

    I love that you were thoughtful and reflective and recognized the intent behind those that more kindly echoed anonymous. You and Retta have done a fantastic job here creating a space that not only shares your journey but welcomes others to join you on it.

    Bravo!

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  11. Love the new look. I figured that your mystery artist was Loretta. :) She does fine work, doesn't she? :D

    I'm so happy that even with the artistic improvements, Loretta remembered that a blog is to be read--not just looked at and admired as a piece of art. The new font is wonderful for me. (Thank you, Retta!)

    The new look is warm and inviting--and masculine. Not an easy combination. Love it--and I'm so glad that you do, too!

    Deb

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    1. Thank you, Deb. And you helped me in my choices of font, background and sizing, even though you didn't know it. I actually asked myself "Could Deb read this??" I'm so glad you find it easy to read. :-)

      MyGuy is always teasing me that I design "too girly". So I ran stuff by him for his first impression. I had originally chosen a soft yellow for the sidebars, but he thought it was too "Easter eggish". So roughed it up, by using an extreme close up of an old light bulb! Sean is always sharing his "light bulb moments" with us, so thought that was fitting. :-D

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    2. Awww. Thank you, Retta. :) That was very kind of you, and I appreciate it.

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  12. Like the new makeover! It seems more reflective of you as a person now, rather than where you were back in 2008.

    Since I'm shopping for one a lot of the time, I find that I don't waste as much produce if I shop 3 times a week or so and buying in small amounts. Planning some meals ahead helps too.

    Hope your lil grandson has a great 1st birthday :)

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  13. I love your blog no matter what the design but I must say I love the new one! I also tend to buy small amounts quite often as it helps me to find on sale items and fresh produce can't be beat :)

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  14. Honestly, Sean, I had no trouble with the old design. This one is fine too. Keep up the great work, my friend!

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  15. My first visiy here as well..Found you via Marions blog.
    Your blog is so good...the layout looks great and I feel its extremely sweet of Retta to do this:)
    I think thats a good idea. I will also try to not buy all at once.
    living in India has some limitations. ..like we dont get as many things..example. .egg whites liquid. So I hve to use lots of egg for whites etc.

    take care
    Z

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