24 before 24: Redesign my blog

I finally did it!

If you’ve been to this blog before, you may notice a few changes. Yes, I redesigned my site! I’m seriously so excited about the new look! It feels even better because I did it myself! It turns out that it wasn’t even that hard! Guys, this is a big deal! Exclamation marks all day every day! I was inspired my this post and decided that if I put in some work, I could change my blog all by myself.

With the help of WordPress, a free theme and a day’s worth of work using custom CSS and the WordPress forums, I was able to make my site look the way I wanted. I’m sure I’ll make more changes later on, but for now, I’m happy.

Here’s what Modern Notebook looked like before I started making changes:

Modern Notebook 1.2

And here’s what it looks like today:

Modern Notebook 2.2

Can you see the changes? It’s like one of those Spot the Differences challenges. Mainly, I wanted to make the site look more like my own and less like the theme because it is really common. My favorite colors are pink and gray, so I used those throughout the site. Even though I love pink and I feel like it goes with Modern Notebook, I wanted to minimize it while keeping it on as an accent color.

Let’s geek out about those details!

I upgraded from a free WordPress account to WordPress premium back in April, when I changed the blog’s name and URL. The upgrade comes with great options, such as the ability to customize with CSS. But I was lost and honestly, I didn’t even bother with it. I just figured I would have to take a class in CSS or do a ton of research before I could make any changes. That’s simply not the case though.

CSS can be really fun, especially if you have a customize tool and theme to work with. With the way my blog is set up, I just had to look at the framework of the free theme I was using, figure out what I wanted changed and make adjustments from there. It would have been a lot different if I was working from scratch. Knowing a little bit about how HTML works helped too, since CSS is different but similar.

Using CSS, I finally hid the pink polka dots that are signature part of the free Adelle theme. I also snipped off the end of he navigation bar, which looked  more like a ribbon before, and I changed it from black to gray. Adelle normally has squiggly lines between each section in the sidebar, but I changed them to straight lines. To make a cohesive look, I made the post date the same color gray as the navigation bar and changed it from an oval shape to more of a circle.

By the way, CSS stands for cascading style sheets. It’s often used to style web pages and interface with HTML. Or something like that.  read about it on Wikipedia and got a little lost.

Most of the work came down to Google + copy + paste = :) Add some critical thinking for a job well done.

Some of the changes didn’t even require CSS. For example, I added a new header to give it a signature touch, thanks to the help of my amazing boyfriend. We made the header together in Photoshop. (But it could be done using any free photo or design software instead.)

Then I worked on the sidebar to make it look special. I added in my blog’s categories with a text widget and HTML, only after going through all my posts to make sure they were each in the right categories. Then I added in an image to link to my summer playlist, which I plan to change out occasionally.  Finally, I used free social media icons from Carrie Loves Design and took out the old social widgets. To top it all off, I changed out my profile photo from last summer to a more recent one.

That about did it!

If you have any questions about how I made my site look the way I wanted, let me know with a comment or email! I’d love to help. If you have any advice or critiques about my redesign, please let me know! I’m totally new to this.

P.S. I’m trying to do 24 things before my 24th birthday in February, and this one is on the list. I know, I’m crazy. See the rest of the 24 before 24 list and then judge me.

My writing process

laptop

I first started this blog in the summer of 2012. With that said, I wouldn’t say I’ve been blogging for two years. I stopped and started until this past September when my posts became a little more consistent.

What really made me want to blog was seeing amazing personal lifestyle blogs in Blogland and making connections with fellow bloggers. It’s fun getting to know people and working through questions together. I’m very thankful for the women I have met through blogging for their encouragement and inspiration.

A few days ago Betsy tagged me in this “My Writing Process” tour. I had fun reading the other responses before sitting down to create my own.

1. What are you working on right now?

I’ve always got a list of blog post and article ideas going. I also have a ton of drafts saved with little notes about my ideas and half written posts waiting on a little something. I’m working on a few introspective pieces relating to feminism, more recipe posts and notes on my 24 before 24 list.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

As the others said, it’s mine. I have my own voice that I’m still developing. It also changes on the day and my mood.

There are so many great lifestyle bloggers out there, but ultimately we’re all different because of the life experiences that have shaped us. What I love about blogging is seeing how although people have similarities, we’re all unique and have something special to give.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I like to share what I feel strongly about. That may mean sharing something I’m very happy or excited about, feeling sad or angry about or any other type of feeling. I suppose I want to share both my concerns and sentiments with the world. But honestly, I’m still working through this question.

I’ve always felt a need to write from a young age. Since second grade I have been convinced that I should be a writer. But when my best friend since fifth grade recently asked me what I like to write about, I had a hard time coming up with an answer. Maybe that’s because there’s not just one thing. I like to write about things that are inspiring in some way. That could mean an amazing music video, people who inspire me, falling in love, overcoming difficult things, or something good to eat.

4. How does your writing process work?

Sometimes I sit down to write a piece and have it done in an hour. It may be something I just thought of that day. Other times I’ll be considering a topic for a month or more before I finally write about it.

Sometimes a post will start from personal photos I want to use and writing will be added from there, while others get photos added in at the last minute. This blog has seen cheesy phone photos (especially in the early posts) and better ones from my Cannon Rebel. No matter the visuals, I try to keep my writing interesting and engaging too, so the photos aren’t pulling all the weight.

I’ve written blog posts on the train, buses, the passenger seat of a car and from the comfort of my own home. I’ve also used a variety of devices, from mine and my sister’s Toshiba laptops to my boyfriend’s Mac, from my iPhone to my Windows tablet. I don’t have a real process or routine when it comes to writing. I’ve heard a lot of people say that, so I know I’m not the only one, but I think my writing and blogging could be improved with more structure. It’s something I’m working on.

I also always, always have posts in my drafts folder, notebooks with ideas and keep a running list in the notes app on my phone.

 

Thanks again for tagging me, Betsy! Now I’m suppose to tag three people. I choose Phoebe, Cassie and Monique. Let us know if and when you get to talking about your writing process. I’d love to hear about it!

Beer with a Blogger: Cassie of Witty Title Here

A few weeks ago, I met up with another blogger for the first time. Meeting people from online is not all bad, I tell you. I’m still alive and I got to meet this cool girl Cassie who runs the blog Witty Title Here, a lifestyle blog which features personal essays, photography and interviews. For her Beer with a Blogger series, I suggested we meet up at O’Brien’s Irish Pub in Santa Monica, because hey, O’Brien is my last name.
beer close up

It was so cool getting to sit down across from someone whose blog I had been reading for months and talk about blogging with someone who actually does it. I don’t know any bloggers in real life, so whenever I bring up blogging to my family and friends they just play along.

We talked about blogging (of course), places to visit in the area, books, feminism and the media. Cassie is a Journalism student too! She’s also a California transplant who moved across the country for school, which I find very brave. The girl is brave, funny, honest and smart. You can follow Cassie on Twitter here.

William O’Sullivan neon sign

The owner, William O’Sullivan came out to meet Cassie and me while we were taking photos of the outside of the building. He was really nice and friendly. He wanted to know what we were taking pictures for, understandably, and even went back inside to write down the names of our blogs. I thought that was sweet. Although he was born in Ireland, he decided to name the bar after a Star Trek character instead of his own last name.

O'Briens Pub outside

The pub seemed like a nice place and I plan on going back. I’ll have to get my family to go with me so we can all enjoy being there together. Fun fact: My sisters and I all have pajamas that say O’Brien’s Irish Pub. My dad got them for us from Old Navy one year.

Beer with a blogger

Photo from [Witty Title Here]

This was so much fun! I’m glad we met up, Cassie. We’ll have to get meet up again soon.

The Versitile Blogger

Versitile Blogger Award

It’s always nice to be nominated. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by Jasmine of Jazzed About Stuff, who just so happens to be a former college classmate of mine. Thanks Jasmine! As she wrote over on her blog, the idea is to choose 15 nominees, write 7 interesting/random facts about yourself and pass on the award. I’m assuming based on the name that the award is for blogs with a variety of topics.

 

Here are my 15 picks:

1) Alyssa Goes Bang

2) Awash With Wonder

3) A Novel Quest

4) Barrett All

5) Everygoodthing

6) Existation

7) Little Lessons In a BIG City

8) M Loves M

9) NDloveNY

10) Ohdizzle

11) So You Guys

12)  Welcome to Ladyville

13) The Wine Stain

14) With A City Dream

15) Witty Title Here

7 things about me:
1) I tend to leave a trail of bobby pins wherever I go. I’ll see them laying around places I have been such as the bathroom at my work, down the hallway, on my front porch, or in my boyfriend’s car. It’s kind of ridiculous.

2) Although I rarely cuss aloud, I don’t mind if other people do. Sometimes I like it. I guess somewhere along the way I decided that cuss words sound weird when I say or write them. People don’t expect me to, so they look at me funny when I do. Therefore, I just don’t.

3) My favorite movie is still The Lion King, hands down. I’m a little kid. Oh well. Also, I can relate just about everything to that movie. Here’s proof.

4) I don’t own a car and I rarely drive. If I do, that means driving my mom’s car while she sits in the passenger seat. Yes, even though I’m 23 and live in Southern California. Maybe I’ll write more on that later.

5) I met my boyfriend through our college student newspaper. The full story is here.

6) When I was in second grade, my teacher gave the class little award things and I got “most likely to become an author.” That made a big impact on 8-year-old me.

7) This is going to sound really weird, but I narrate my own life in my head sometimes. I’ll passively narrate what I am doing  in past tense. For instance, “I typed what I was saying and wondered if it made any sense at all.” Yeah, it sounds narcissistic and crazy but it’s true. I’ve always had this tendency. It’s something I tend to catch myself doing when I’m bored or anxious.

Welcome to Modern Notebook

20140414-091914.jpg

Those of you who have been following this blog may notice some changes. For one thing the name is different. For three years, my blog had been named Take Comfort Project and it lived at the domain http://www.takecomfortproject.wordpress.com. Note that if you type that into your browser you will still be redirected to the site at its new address.

I’m the type of person who will mull on a big idea for a while and then make the change overnight when the time is right. So, this wasn’t a hasty decision. I’ve been thinking about overhauling the design and name for about a year. I tweaked the design about a month ago. Now it feels so good to have finally, finally found a name that I love.

It’s funny, actually. I have been thinking of names for my lifestyle blog for quite a while now, but hadn’t settled on one until last night. When it came to me, I changed the domain right away and made a few changes to the sidebar as well.

I figure a name is pretty important, so it was important to make the change. I’m not sure how you all felt about Take Comfort Project. To me, taking comfort by diving into a it signified project like my blog. It also meant that the blog is a work in progress.

Of course, it still is. But I don’t want to think of it like an ongoing project any more. I want to be happy and proud of my little blog. That means all parts of it.

The name Modern Notebook just came to me last night when I was on the phone with my boyfriend. I had thought of a different name and looked it up only to find that the domain I wanted for it was taken. Then when there was a lull in the conversation I thought “What about Modern Notebook.” He said it sounded like a band name, which makes sense because he’s a musician. He would say that and I loved that he said it. Modern Notebook it is.

That’s what this blog is to me. It’s my Modern Notebook. It’s a place for me to write down my rambling thoughts, big ideas, goals, latest recipes, music I love and anything else I find notable.

The content won’t change, or at least it won’t change along with the name change. I’ll still be experimenting as I deem necessary. My enthusiasm for the blog has grown, which makes me really excited.

I hope you keep following along with me. I’m still navigating this, so I’m not sure about a few things. Do I have to update my Bloglovin’ page somehow? Anyone know? Any feedback on these changes will be much appreciated!

A big thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you blogger friends who have encouraged me to take this little project blog and make it better all the time. Your support means a lot to me!

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

I can’t believe I was nominated for a Liebster Award! Fellow Southern California blogger Sweet Helen Grace nominated me for the Liebser, which is an award given to bloggers with less than 200 followers.

Here are the rules:
You have to link back to the person who nominated you.
You have to answer 11 questions from the person  who had nominated you.
You have to make 11 questions for the persons that you are nominating.
You have to nominate 11 blogs with a little bit more or less than 200 followers (bloglovin) to answer your questions.
You are not allowed to nominate the person who nominated you.
Finally, you must let the people know that they have been nominated.

Here are my answers to Helen Grace’s questions:

1. What inspired you to start blogging?
There are three main reasons I was inspired to start blogging: 1) Other blogs inspire me. 2) I wanted to join the conversation. 3) I’m a writer majoring in Communication with an emphasis in journalism. I’m always hearing about the importance of blogging from my professor and others. It’s great for writing practice and getting work out in the world. This isn’t even my first blog. I had to make one for three different classes and have written for a company blog before.

Ultimately, I wanted to share my life with others and inspire people. I have always been inclined to share things about the LA area and new experiences on this blog. Although I’ve had this blog for two years now (wow!) I have never been very consistent or serious about it until recently. In the past couple months I’ve had more fun blogging and making blogger friends than ever before. It’s all about the community, after all!

2. If you could hop on a plane right now, where would you go?
Buzzfeed’s “What City Should You Actually Live In” quiz said I belong in Paris, so Paris it is! I’ve also been wanting to go to New York forever. Going during Fashion Week to visit my cousin who is a model sounds pretty cool. I also really, really want to go to Idaho soon to visit family.

3. What is your favorite place to visit?
My Grandma’s house in West Covina has always been my favorite. Does that count even if it’s only 15 minutes away from mine in a car?

4. Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
I had a speech impediment in elementary school and had to attend speech class because I couldn’t say my “r”s.

5. What is the last book that you read and how did you like it?
I need to read more! I think the last book I actually finished was Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua. Most of it was assigned reading for class. It’s really good and interesting!

6. What is your favorite hobby?
Well, I’m constantly reading blogs, articles and tweets on my phone, so I would have to say that’s my favorite hobby.

7. What is your favorite food?
Tacos, hands down! I love ground beef tacos, fish tacos, carne asada, al carbon, carnitas, Korean tacos and on and on.

8. What is your favorite item in your wardrobe.
Right now it’s this green army-style jacket with a feminine cut from American Eagle that my guy got me for Christmas.

9. Describe your personal style.
About half the days I dress casual in jeans and a T-shirt. The other half I’ll wear a skirt or dress and look like Zoey Deschanel.

10. What is one of your goals for 2014?
Graduating college is at the top of the list.

11. Name one thing that you can’t live without.
Three things came to mind: lip balm, coffee and my iPhone. They’re all about equal.

I am nominating:

All Things E
Belle Jeunesse
Brandy Alexander
Bright Greys
Coley’s Locket
if found, make.
Impeccably Kaili
The Glee Project
The S Diaries
Tightrope to the Sun
Yes I’m Crazy, That’s Why I’m Awesome

These are my questions for my nominees:

1. What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
2. What’s your favorite hot beverage?
3. What’s your favorite animal?
4. Tell me about the best place to visit in the state/province you live.
5. What is one of your favorite movies?
6. What is one of your big life goals?
7. How many countries have you been to?
8. Do you like the beach or mountains more?
9. How many siblings do you have?
10. Describe your personal style in three words.
11. Tell me some of your favorite song lyrics.

What I’ve learned about blogging

Although I still haven’t written very many posts on here, or stuck to a consistent schedule yet, I have been learning so much about blogging lately. I believe strongly in my school motto of learn by doing and I want to give this blog a real shot by putting in all I can. So to figure out what I want this blog to be about, what other bloggers are doing and some common themes I have been diving deep into the bloggoshpere. I’m just now coming back to shore after surfing around for about two and a half hours.

I learned some things about blogging in the process. Well, more like I was reminded of things. I pretty much already knew these things.

  • It’s supposed to be fun! Of course, I know this, but maybe I have been putting too much pressure on myself. I don’t want to be a full time blogger, although I do want to be a full time writer in some capacity or another. Therefore this blog should be just for fun.
  • I really can write about whatever I want. Although people have subscribed to this blog, my numbers are very low now, so I don’t need to worry about what an audience thinks. Besides, I do what I want.
  • I can make blogger friends. This part sounds pretty awesome. I plan on doing linkups and joining communities real soon.
  • It’s apparently not common to have a WordPress and Tumblr. So far I don’t know anyone with a WordPress and a Tumblr. Do I have to choose just one? I don’t want to.
  • Design is super important. I know this. I love design. I judge other people’s blogs by the design. At my day job, I’m a writer and more than half the office is made up of designers. Yet, I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to designing this blog. I’ll be upping up my game and teaching myself more about design (both graphic and web) every day.

Looking through some beautiful blogs, I was reminded of why I started this one in the first place. I started Take Comfort Project as a way to remind myself to take comfort in the little things in life. Stress less. See the good in life. Love more. Point out the good in humanity. I plan on doing all that more proactively and with purpose.

Those who know me best know that I can be a bit of a pessimist, but also always aim to see the good in life. Yeah, now that I wrote that I can see how it doesn’t make sense. Well, I like to think of myself as a realist, but sometimes I get a little too down. I want this blog to be a positivity project of sorts.

Tonight I found that there are some blogs devoted to positivity. I had no idea! These beautiful blogs include: The Nectar Collective, Call Me Sassafras, Chimerikal and Dear Harper.

Without risking saying too much, I’ll just say that sometimes I want to make a blog that’s all my favorite reads rolled into one. To name a few, they are: A Beautiful Mess, Delightfully Tacky, Everyday Feminism, Upworthy, Elizabeth Plank (for Policy Mic) and Writing In Bed. But that would be ridiculous.

Ultimately, I just want to be real and be me. I want to figure out who I am, but without being too self-centered. How about this? I’ll keep doing whatever it is I’m doing and you keep reading.

Losing unpublished work

Web browser

A few minutes ago I just tried publishing a post that I had spent about an hour writing. I put thought into every word, every sentence, before deciding it was done. It had a bit of depth, some humor and hints at heartache. I made a promise to myself in it, while showing showing some vulnerability but not more than I think is appropriate. I said what I wanted to say.  And then I hit publish.

The web browser loaded slowly but didn’t publish the story. It got stuck, confused and slowed down somehow. I don’t know much about the Internet in that sense. But I do know that I had forgotten to save a draft. When I reloaded the page, the story was gone. Nothing remained to show for my last hour of work, of staying up late when I have to be up for actual work tomorrow.

The funny thing is, I wrote about learning something new every day. Well, today I learned that I should always save my work before pressing publish. I thought I already knew that but I guess not. I’ll add that to the list of recently discovered pieces of wisdom.

Maybe I’ll elaborate on what I was going to say a different day. Now it is time for me to go to bed. I’ll have to make this a super short post today, but I’m sure to make up for it later.

To new beginnings

Sunset in my neighborhood

It’s been way too long! To be exact, it has been four months and 19 days since my last post. That is just beyond ridiculous for a break in blogging. But, I have decided to revive this same blog with the concept of taking comfort in the little things. So, why the big gap between posts?

It may appear that I just gave up. If that was your guess then give yourself a high-five, you guessed right. The reason I let this blog go back in June is because I had come to think of it as a burden and I wasn’t taking comfort in it. I found it hard to think of story ideas and thought of it more like work or homework than something fun. A blog should be fun, for goodness sake. That was it, I decided. If it’s not fun and I don’t seem good at it, then I will just hold of until the time is right and I have it more planned out.

Around the time I stopped blogging, I got a job at my school doing — guess what — writing for a blog! Yes, I’m living my dream. A few weeks later I got another job on campus basically doing telemarketing, which I stuck with until the beginning of September. That job was not exactly in my dreams, but at least my coworkers were nice. As it was summer and I wasn’t in school, I spent all my free time doing fun stuff and neglecting to blog about it.

Skip ahead to five months later and I am a bit more busy than before. I am still working as a writer/editor for Gas Creative Group at my school where I do blog writing and social media management. (You can read my posts on ASInside and I will post links to some here. The name may be changing soon, but I’ll keep you guys updated on that.) It’s fall quarter of my fourth year in college and more than halfway through the quarter.

As the end of the year approaches I’m thinking more and more about my future career aspirations (as in multiple times a day) including what internships I will do. Just the same, I will find time to blog.

Anyone with a blog could probably attest to the point that a blog takes planning and purpose. It takes some work and although it can be fun, it might not be fun and games all the time. That’s okay. I’m willing to work at it. After all, I have wanted to be a professional writer since I was in second grade. This blog adds to my writing life, so I love it!

Hi lovely people!

Hey, all you beautiful people! Summer is starting and that means I will be doing a lot of projects. As an aspiring journalist and future novelist, I plan to do some projects related to those fields (including this blog!) and keep you updated.  I will be posting about the DIY projects I try out from other blogs and writing about my day to day perfect mistakes. I plan to volunteer, search for an internship, make some money, submit stories to online publications, babysit my cousin, make clocks with my almost 100-year-old grandpa and start a fashion business with my childhood best friend. To keep up with my cupcake recipe testing, clock making, braid learning and t-shirt dying adventures, read on. I will be posting every day.