Surprise!

Hmmm…things look a little different around here today.

I’ve been working on a major site redesign for some time; I wanted something a little more “professional” looking and more well-structured than the simple layout I’d had for the last five years.  (Five years?  Wow…)  It’s been an arduous and rather stressful process, but it’s finally done, and I’m quite happy with it.

If you pop over to the Home Page, there’s a slide show – click on the title of the slide in the lower left-hand corner and it will take you to the blog portion of the site and list the category of recipes the slide is about.  The neat thing about that is that they can be changed very easily, reflecting seasons, holidays and trends.

Beneath the slides are 3 “call-out” boxes, similar to what was on the “old site.  I’ve done away with the link to the photography category, basically since I haven’t really taken a photo of anything that isn’t food or my grandson in quite awhile.  I’ve replaced it with a box titled “Resumé” that takes you to the “About” page (and because it goes well with “Recipes” and “Rants” – I’m all about alliteration these days).  I’m working on rewriting that, too, while I’m at it.

Beneath the call-out boxes is a section listing my 3 latest posts, 4 latest tweets, and pages I decided I needed to keep, but didn’t feel belonged on the “main” menu at the top – my blogrolls (which is going to get, you guessed it, cleaned up and re-organized), the section of my old “SAD” recipes, and the disclaimer I think is silly but is apparently necessary.  And lastly, at the very bottom is the copyright notice and links to my Facebook page, Twitter feed, Google+ profile and RSS feed.

I think it’s nice.

The About and Contact pages haven’t changed, but the Blog feed has.  If you land there, you have to click through to read the entire post, and you’ll notice the sidebars have changed.  I’m still working on this, so things will probably change a little on the right side over the next few days.  The format of the posts haven’t changed much, other than listing the meta information on the left, rather than at the bottom, making the area for the actual post more narrow, necessitating slightly smaller photos.  (If you go back to some older posts, you’ll see that the photos are running over into the right-hand sidebar – yes, I’m working on that, too).

The biggest change is the “Recipe” drop-down on the main menu.  I’ve had several requests over the last few months for a recipe index to make it easier to find specific recipes on the site.  I can understand that; when I started the blog in February 2008, I had no idea it was going to grow the way it has (60,000 unique visitors and 250,000 pageviews each month) and the category and tag structure leaves something to be desired.  The new recipe drop-down on the menu is going to do a lot to resolve this issue.

However, there is a drawback:  it has to be built entirely by hand, and I could not begin to build it until I implemented the new theme.  Right now, there are only a few recipes under appetizers and the grass-fed beef section of main courses.  Please understand this is a work in progress, and recipes will be added on a regular basis – daily, if I can manage it.  In the meantime, the categories and tags for the recipes are still intact, and the search function has been improved so hopefully that will help you find the exact recipe you’re looking for.

There are a few bugs to work out – mainly how the comments sections displays the stars when you rate a recipe – but I have to say I’m really very pleased with how it’s all turned out.  Do you like it?  Hate it?  Let me know – I really want to hear what you think!

RTT: The All-Natural NaBloPoMo Edition

Well, here it is Tuesday again, and for once I wish it were still Monday. But I’m still putting up the purple button and linking back to Keely, Proprietress Of All Things Random.

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It’s the first day of June, so a new header and color scheme is up at the Sushi Bar.  I’m especially pleased with my header, because it is the first one using a photo I took myself rather than stock photography.  It’s a macro shot of one of the blooms on the sage that is taking over the side of my house in my herb garden; I like it because it’s a flower, but food related.  Well, and it’s pretty.

You’ll also see some other minor changes. I’ve moved the blogrolls to a page of it’s own at the top.  It was simply getting out of hand and consuming my sidebar. There’s also a form on the Contact Me page, and I’ve added a more prominent RSS feed to my sidebar so visitors don’t have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page if they wish to subscribe to my blog.  There’s also a little social bookmarking toolbar at the end of the bottom of each post now, if you should wish to share any of my drivel.

I’m nothing if not a cockeyed optimist.

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I read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon this past week, as a follow-up to some research I’ve been doing.  The result?  I am absolutely appalled at the Standard American Diet.  And we are no exception – I have always made a conscious effort to stay away from the processed crap at the grocery store, but even we are eating much more poorly than we should.

So, this weekend was a saga of buying a freezer and hunting down a local source of 100% grass-fed, pastured beef – which was much easier than I ever expected.  But rather than bore you with that (I plan to do that sometime next week), let’s just suffice to say that I also made a foray into the land of granola-crunchers local health food store, and this morning I am eating 100% organic yogurt made from whole, un-homogenized milk mixed with some raw honey and flaxseed oil for breakfast.

I’m sure I’ll get used to the flavor.  Gawd, I hope I get used to the flavor…

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As you may have discerned from my title, I am going to participate in NaBloPoMo this month, which basically means I am going to post every single day for the month of June.  It also basically means you’re going to see a lot of photos if you mosey on over here on the weekends.  I did this last year in July, so I have some idea of what I’m getting myself in to for a change.

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And what would a Random Tuesday Thoughts post be without some random cuteness?

Random Cuteness

And that’s all I have for today.  Have a lovely Random Tuesday, y’all.

A New Look and New Links

I’ve been slowly getting around to this since Memorial Day weekend, and it’s finally done – my new Summer Theme.

Beloved is going to HATE it. The sidebar is way too busy for his tastes – I just got carried away with the daisy thing. I like it, though; besides, in a couple of months it’ll be replaced by whatever “Back to School” theme I manage to throw together in a fit of boredom (or celebration, depending on badly I want The Young One back in school).

I also expanded and updated my blogrolls, something that has been long overdue. And because I know you’re all just dying to hear all about these momentous changes, I’ll oblige.

I separated my blogroll into three separate lists: Midlife Schtuff, Not My Schtuff, and Random Schtuff. Midlife Schtuff is comprised of blogs who are all part of the Midlife Bloggers network set up by the wonderful owner of ByJane. Not everyone who is on her blogroll is on mine, but I’m working on it. Not My Schtuff are other blogs I read on a regular, if not daily, basis, and the Random Schtuff aren’t blogs, just links to useful or interesting sites that I frequent.

Midlife Schtuff has the most changes, since there were only three midlife bloggers listed in my old blogroll – ByJane, Merlot Mom and Nanny Goats in Panties, all of which are on my daily rounds. New to this list are:

A Different Nest – the blog of a “midlife mother of an 8 year-old son with autism and his 14 year-old brother.” I have sent the URL of this blog to my friend and guest-blogger, Trina, who’s Autistic 16-year-old son caused all the chaos with the cable bill, if you recall.

After the Dust Settles – I like Lynn’s blog. She is a nice, normal (and talented) wife and mother, with a nice, normal life. And her piggy banks are just too cute. And she’s a fellow fan of diet grape Faygo.

The owner of Between Us Girls “provide(s) information and inspiration to women who long to live healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.” Yes, she does.

It’s a Mad, Madge World – Madge is funny. Madge needs to post more often. Madge must have a life.

Librarian Lee‘s blog always seems so serene and tranquil…even when she’s writing about her car blowing up.

Karen at Midlife’s A Trip introduced an entirely new (for me) profession – Professional Life Coach. I never knew such a thing existed. She must be darn good at it too, because she has her own line of clothing and accessories.

Ms. Meta is a soul sister who also seems to have a thing for shopping and shoes. She is presently living in London. I am overcome with envy. I’d hate her if I didn’t like her blog so much.

Twenty Four At Heart – anyone who can openly admit she put her child on the wrong train (quite accidentally, but still) and post about this has me as a reader for life.

Three of the bloggers on the Not My Schtuff blogroll sort of get lumped together. They are the owners of the Big Mama, BooMama and Rocks in My Dryer sites, what I refer to as the “Hysterical Southern Mommy Bloggers.” There is a humor that is unique to southern women – something I miss a great deal – and these three women are just brimming with it. Make sure to check out Rocks in My Dryer‘s Works for Me Wednesday and Big Mama‘s Fashion Friday. Also, BooMama‘s post about her recent trip to Africa is a must-read. Be prepared to laugh until you’re ready to wet yourself. These women are just great – I may not agree with their views on religion and politics (but then again, I probably don’t agree with your views on religion and politics) but I love their blogs.

Other noteworthy additions to Not My Schtuff :

Shout – I’m not sure how she found me, but the owner of this blog left a comment on my blog, proving herself to be a woman of superior taste and intellect. I immediately bookmarked her site.

I think I found Sue Doe-Nim‘s blog via another blog, but I don’t remember whose. All I can say is this woman has cajones the size of mason jars. I am in awe of her ability to go for the jugular. Another immediate bookmark.

The owner of Thursday Drive is, judging by her picture, absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. She is also apparently a darn fine poker player to boot. Chalk up another “I’d hate her if I didn’t like her blog so much.”

Vintage Thirty – her header banner says it all.

What Works for Us – this woman is a serious photographer. I mean, really. And she gives really good Haiku.

Okay, I’m done. I’ve spent just about enough time on this today. I really ought to get some work done.