Many people go under the knife to take years off of their face. Nips and tucks are made, injections are administered and when the bandages come off and the bruising goes down, years have been taken off of their looks and they appear to have gone back in time.

That’s kind of what has happened with my theme.

Today’s Lesson

As mentioned in the “Inquiring Minds Want To Know” post, when I started blogging, the birth of this blog’s name first appeared in written form, in my notebook.

Over the past three years, I’ve tried to replicate that “feeling” with a theme for this blog, however no theme I found suited me, so I stuck with a more generic look.

When I recently spotted this theme,  I knew this was “it”.

Hence, the process began, and after weeks of tweaking,  it’s time to unveil my new look.

Although many bloggers use premium themes, I’ve stuck with free ones I find online. Granted, links are often required to be left in the footer, but for the work the theme author has put into creating these works of art, I feel it’s a small price for their contribution to blogosphere.

As I was working behind the scenes on my new look, I wondered why bloggers choose the themes they do.

So, now it’s your turn,

Today’s Assigment

Why did you choose the theme you use for your blog?

Is it a free theme? Or did you buy it?

Either way, did you also customize it to fit your needs?

signature for blog post.

P.S. I still have a few more tweaks to make to this theme, however in the meantime, if you find any links that aren’t working or spot other problems, please let me know.

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Look Who's Talking
  1. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    Great theme. If it came in green I might want to use it too. Don’t worry though, I’m not going to bite your style. This just so fits with how we both used to write in coil notebooks.

    I’m using a free theme that I am quite comfortable with. It does everything that I need it too without me having to worry about anything other than writing.

    I choose a grey background because it seems that everyone has a white background to their blog and I wanted something a bit different.

    I then just put up a header that really speaks to what my blog is about.
    .-= Check out Chase March´s awesome post: Laughs in the Mail =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Chase,

      That’s true. We’ve both spend a lot of time writing in our spiral notebooks, so I can see how this them would fit you, too.

      What I like really about your theme is your personalized header, and how you added your signature including the hand and pen. It always makes me feel you’re personally endorsing everything I find on your site – which, of course, you are.

  2. I like this theme. It’s you! I struggled to find just the right theme when I moved off Blogger to WordPress. I must have tried fifty of them on! I sent a bunch to friends and family and they had very strong opinions (surprisingly). We all finally settled on my current one, which was free. I did, however, pay the theme author to customize it for me. I needed a second sidebar on the right. It originally came with just one.
    .-= Check out Junk Drawer Kathy´s awesome post: I’m All For Eco-Friendly, But Geez…. =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Kathy,

      Isn’t that maddening (and fun, too) trying on those new themes?

      I know what you’re saying about having a second sidebar. It gives us a little more room to add things above the fold.

      Your blog has a very soothing feel to it. The greenish/gray background is very easy on the eye. Great choice.

  3. This theme looks really cool. Congratulations on the new theme!

    Our theme? It was created, and there’s nothing out there like it. Our theme encompasses more than just a certain look — we actually have a family that lives within it. Crazy, I know.
    .-= Check out Bamboo Forest – PunIntended´s awesome post: My Crazy Experience at Open Mic Night =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Bamboo,

      Yes. You do have an original theme. I’m wondering, the artwork you show on there, is that the work of your and/or your brother, Flying Llama Fish?

      I just noticed when I click on each of your pages, the header changes to display more of “the family”. What a creative idea.

  4. Deb DorchakNo Gravatar says:

    Barb! What a great makeover! Love it. Makes me wish I’d thought of it.

    1. Why did you choose the theme you use for your blog?
    I didn’t choose the theme, the theme chose me.

    2. Is it a free theme? Or did you buy it?
    Well, I guess you could call it free. Made it myself from a few odds and ends I had hanging around in the shop. 😉

    3. Either way, did you also customize it to fit your needs?
    For me, I don’t think I’ve ever used a theme straight out of the box. There was always a banner to change, or a color scheme to alter. These days when I do a new theme for myself (or when we customize for clients) we think about function first and then build around that.
    .-= Check out Deb Dorchak´s awesome post: Sirius Sunday: A Solid Kick in the Pants =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Deb,

      I never thought of it that way, but you’re right; themes do have a way of choosing us.

      I hear what you’re saying about not being able to use a theme straight out of the box. It seems like all of them are made better when we add our personal touch to them.

      And, if we don’t know how to do that, would you happen to know someone who does? 8)

      P.S. The theme you designed for your website is a real beauty. The star filled night sky captivate me each time I come and visit.

  5. Absolutely stunning!! Love it!!

    -Miche 🙂
    .-= Check out Miche – Serenity Hacker´s awesome post: Making Big Changes: Energy and Resistance =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Miche,

      This is your first comment here, but based on what I’m seeing on your blog, I’m guessing we’ll be seeing more of each other.

      By the way, I love the name you’ve chosen for your blog, and I see you’re a Thesis user, too. Looking good, Miche.

  6. CharleneNo Gravatar says:

    Love the theme – it fits so well! So nice to know that patience pays! As for mine, I had a customized banner made for Burke’s Bits, as well as for Search by Burke. The Burke’s Bits is in Typepad using basic 3 column style, while Search by Burke is being tweaked, again. It’s on Thesis, which I’m learning to use and employ for other people. Not sure what it’ll end up looking like, but at the moment I’m happy – is ready for the unveiling.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Charlene,

      I was just looking at Search by Burke. I like the way you incorporated the “wordle” (I think that’s what that is called). It’s a reflection of what you do.

      And with you using the same “mascot” (for lack of a better word) on both sites, that really helps to keep things uniform, too.

      From what I’ve read, Thesis is a great theme if a blogger is looking to personalize their site. Have fun tweaking.

  7. George AngusNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Cool. Very unique and inviting, I like it.

    I chose Headway for its ease of use and flexibility.

    Changing themes or the look of the site now and then is fun. It’s like re-arranging the furniture in the living room.

    .-= Check out George Angus´s awesome post: Lookin’ Like a Fool With Your Writing On The Ground =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you George,

      And…you just recently had a face lift, too. Isn’t it fun?

      You mentioned Headway. I’m beginning to hear more and more about them. It’s nice to know someone who’s using Headway who can testify to the ease of use in the event I ever go shopping for a premium theme.

      • Hi George and Barbara,

        I use Headway, too, and I’ve had an absolutely LOVELY time with it. I agree with George!

        Also, I did a TON of research before I bought a premium theme, comparing it to other options. I can say without a doubt that I made the best choice for me – I wanted complete flexibility, and that’s what I got.

        Let me know if you ever have questions about it or need tips about it.

        Barbara, I really like the look and feel of your facelift. Bravo!
        .-= Check out Lori (JaneBeNimble)´s awesome post: Random Acts of Kick Arse: Gratitude =-.

  8. Your theme does fit well but I was amazed at the old theme too! I don’t think I thoroughly explored it.

    My theme was created to match my website by Kim Woodbridge from Anti-Social Development. She did a great job of moving it over and getting it to fit. There probably will be some changes in the future and I just had the font enlarged to make it more reader-friendly but otherwise, I am happy that it coordinates with the rest of the site.
    .-= Check out Julie | Resume Services´s awesome post: Plan Ahead or Prepare to Fail =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Julie,

      Because this theme is a little busier, I’m trying to simplify this site as much as possible. When I used the other theme(s) I had more information in the sidebars and navigation bar, but have now moved some of that into the footer. Hopefully it makes finding things a little easier.

      I see you’ve had a facelift recently, too. The header and colors you’ve chosen make your site very welcoming and professional looking.

      I agree. Kim does great work.

  9. roseanneNo Gravatar says:

    Ooooh, looks great! What a stylish theme!

    My theme is just a little free one from ~ it’s quite generic and I see it all over the place (but somehow, I find comfort in that, as though I have found my allies). It really serves my needs, though. It’s clean, has a customizable header and lots of widgets. I feel like I have it suited up to serve my needs, until I get some html skills.

    I did customize the header ~ I actually commissioned an original drawing from an artist friend, which I felt would communicate the intention behind my blog. This header makes my blog look like a one-of-a-kind!
    .-= Check out roseanne´s awesome post: yoga for haiti: a compassionate response =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Roseanne,

      You’re right. The header you’re using does make your blog an original. In fact, I just had to take a second look at it as I had no idea you were using a generic one from WordPress. What you’ve done makes it look amazing. Great job!

  10. Lori HoeckNo Gravatar says:

    I LIKE your make-over! It rings and sings the feel you give to us readers of this blog. As a writer, the theme is VERY inviting.

    My header/theme combo reflect my history. It seems to translate well to visitors.
    .-= Check out Lori Hoeck´s awesome post: Dark side of narcissism abuses mind and body =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Lori,

      I’m happy to hear I’m conveying my intent with this new theme.

      I love how you’ve showcased a black belt in your header. There’s no misunderstanding what we’ll find when we visit you. You keep “kicking it”.

      BTW: I’ve often wondered, is that a photo of your black belt?

  11. suzenNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara! What a great make-over – it’s so REAL, it’s so YOU! I turned my make-over to a friend who knows what she is doing technically, since I don’t. It’s free stuff – you know me and free, haha – I picked the color and wanted butterflies – guess when I have my FACE facelift I may have a bit more input involvement!
    .-= Check out suzen´s awesome post: Baseball vs. Football =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Suzen,

      Yes. Free is good, especially since there are so many other areas of blogging (and life) on which we can spend money.

      How fortunate you are to have such a talented friend to create your header for you. She did a great job.

      Haha! Yes. Input is a good idea when you have your FACE facelift. 🙂

      • suzenNo Gravatar says:

        Hi Barb – Just a note about my big deal guest blog experience outside of my “niche” – I HAD asked her how long it would run and didn’t get a reply. I’d already told her mine usually run Mon thru Fri and if she wasn’t going to run it all week, let me know so I can put something on mine whenever she pulled the plug. Ok. So I run on her blog Monday. That was it. I was shocked to go there this morning and find her “partner” had usurped my spot. So I quickly cancelled out the link I had on my blog to hers, and moved my post (a Millie story) over to my blog. Had I known (if she’d answered me) it was only one day I wouldn’t have bothered doing it at all.

        My question to you is, IS there a “normal” time for a guest spot? The circle we both travel in seems to not be daily bloggers. Well, this was outside my circle (niche for sure) and I’m thinking I’ve gone a year without a guest blog spot and I will go another one!!! Kinda disappointed. Ahhh, another lesson in humility!

        • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

          Hi Suzen,

          I’m sorry your first guest post didn’t work out as you had anticipated. (I’ll be by to read it on your blog shortly).

          I do think the blog author you were guest posting on should have let you know how long your post would run prior to accepting it. However, with that said, there are no hard and fast rules for guest posts, either.

          In the past when I was posting five days a week, if someone guest posted, they were aware their post may only be on the home page for one day (unless they were in the Friday slot). Now they know it will be up for 3-4 days.

          Suzen, I wouldn’t let that stop you from guest posting as it can be a pleasurable and rewarding experience.

  12. Kelvin KaoNo Gravatar says:

    Nice makeover!

    I used a free theme. I wanted navigation on the left side, high contrast in color, big enough text, and also, I wanted tabs on the top, although that didn’t prove to be too useful in retrospect. In the future I plan to learn more HTML and CSS to give it a makeover myself.
    .-= Check out Kelvin Kao´s awesome post: The End of an Era =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Kelvin,

      That’s part of picking a theme, isn’t it? Knowing where we want the sidebars and what other options we can use.

      The orange you picked for your header along with the primary colors in your title are perfect for your niche. It has a “fun” feel to it.

      Learning HTML and CSS makes a huge difference with what we can do. Although it took me a long time to wrap my brain around it, I like how by just changing a few things, we end up with something that looks totally different.

  13. Alien GhostNo Gravatar says:

    Nice Theme, very original, and gives me the feeling that I’m sneaking in your notes when you are not watching! (mmm…let’s see…which other blogging secrets Barbara has here?) he-he!

    As for your questions:

    I’m in the process of updating my blog and already dizzy with all the free themes availables. So far I’m sticking with a free one that seems simple enough and will do the job without much tinkering (still undecided). The most important part right now is to jump from WordPress 2.6.1 to 2.9.1 for security and versatility reasons.

    .-= Check out Alien Ghost´s awesome post: Blog Update =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Raul,

      I don’t mind if you peak at my notes. 🙂

      I hear you. There are tons of free themes available. It’s hard to pick just one favorite. The only bad thing I’ve found with SOME free themes is the theme author (or maybe the person who showcases themes on their blog) will encrypt the footer so it cannot be changed or added to. Although I don’t mind having the links there, sometimes I like to add more of my own information.

      Yes. Keeping our blogs updated is very important. The updates often plug security leaks which could play havoc on our blogs if we were to get hacked. (I read your post and see that’s your goal for this week. Good luck).

  14. Hi Barbara – I love notebook details in themes. This one is so realistic, it’s as though you just stepped up and are looking down at what you were working on. Really nice!

    We started out with a free theme at PassingThru. But I couldn’t leave well enough alone. We use a paid theme with customizations I managed to figure out and promptly forgot. So now I’m really dangerous.
    .-= Check out Betsy Wuebker´s awesome post: Laying the Keel =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Betsy,

      Like you, I like “notebook” themes. When I first started blogging I used one for a short period of time, but at the time I didn’t know any coding, and quickly out grew it.

      Oh dear. It does sound like you do know enough to be dangerous. When making changes, just remember to make a backup before you begin. That one simple step can save you from a possible “crash” (been there, done that. 🙂 )

  15. CarlaNo Gravatar says:

    Your blog is beautiful! I love how clean, yet “comfortable” and cozy it feels.

    Why did you choose the theme you use for your blog?
    I wanted something that has color, but didn’t have a cluttered look and feel. Since I started this blog almost two years ago, I went from using, to a self-hosted blog, to a theme that I tried to design myself (and failed) to a theme that I had someone design for me to match the web store to the one I have now.

    Is it a free theme? Or did you buy it?
    It is a free theme.

    Either way, did you also customize it to fit your needs?
    I did customize it. I just basically added my logo and changed the color scheme – nothing too complicated. I am very new to HTML, CSS and working with WordPress themes so I am taking this one step at a time. When it comes to the design of my website and blog, I feel like I’m never “finished.”
    .-= Check out Carla´s awesome post: Too much paper! =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Carla,

      I see you’ve recently had a facelift, too. I like all the white space and your colorful logo. Clicking between your blog and website shows perfect continuity.

      Design a theme? You know, that’s something I would like to do, too, but will have to put on the back burner.

      Isn’t that the truth? We’re really never finished when it comes to our blogs. As we change or our needs change, so does our theme. No one can say blogging is boring, can they?

  16. Mike GoadNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve used a number of free themes over time, but I always ended up tweaking on them. I wanted something that I would be able to make work for me with minimal tweaking and without having to become an expert in php.

    I bought the developer version of Thesis because it also includes upgrades for all future editions, plus I can legally remove the footer link back to DIY Themes.

    I’m still tweaking it, but in a different ways and it’s much easier to change many of the fundamental aspects like fonts, column number and column width.

    I plan to make more changes, but not for a month or two.
    .-= Check out Mike Goad´s awesome post: Water Lily bud with dragonfly =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Mike,

      You too, have had a facelift. Looking good!

      The Thesis theme does appear to offer a lot of options. I look at your blog and then look at another (Thesis) and they look completely different. It sounds like you’ve found the perfect theme – easy to use, but yet it gives you the flexibility to make your site look different than others.

  17. Evelyn LimNo Gravatar says:

    Oh my gosh, another change….and so soon? Nevertheless, I can identify with the desire to find to a theme that reflects who you really are.

    I’m done with making changes for now…..I am on thesis and personally designed my header and logo. If I didn’t have a hand in some personal design customizations, I know I’d be itching to.
    .-= Check out Evelyn Lim´s awesome post: Attitude of Gratitude versus Appreciation =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Evelyn,

      Yup! Another change. Hopefully this one will stick for awhile. The last theme I used had a custom header feature so it was easy to change that, but I wanted something that reflected both me and the blog better.

      I remember when you unveiled your new logo. I love the butterfly and the globe. It’s so fitting for you, your message and your blog. It’s beautiful!

  18. LanceNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,
    The notebook sure does feel right here. It fits so well with the idea of this being like an online classroom. You have chosen well, Barbara!

    I am using a theme I purchased, the Thesis theme. I very much like how easy it is to customize it. All of the customizations I have done myself up to this point.
    .-= Check out Lance´s awesome post: Sunday Thought For The Day =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Lance,

      I’ve noticed you’re getting quite proficient at making those changes. I remember when you switched from the jungle header to your current mountain one. And you’ve also switched the sidebars and “widgets”. It looks like there may be a bit of a web designer in your blood. Keep up the good work!

  19. Wilma HamNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara
    What a great theme, love the note book, so you.
    We use a technical guy but I think the theme is free from wordpress but highly modified.
    I always like minimilists look in everything, my taste in decorating at home is the same as on the blog. I love simple lines, so that was not hard. Does your blog also represents what you like in general?

    At some point I thought Oh No, not like clothes, not a new fashion every month, because blogs kept changing and our first one looked quite old fashioned after a few months even.
    But I like what we have now and we use all our own photos which makes it fun and we only tweak little things.
    .-= Check out Wilma Ham´s awesome post: When is ‘enough’ enough? =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Wilma,

      You’ve raised a good point. Do our blog themes reflect who we are? I’d say to some degree.

      Isn’t that funny how that happens? We pick a theme that suits us, and before we know it, we want a change. Fortunately bloggers understand how that works, so facelifts are quite common.

      I, too, like how you share personal photos on your blog. I feel like I’m really connected with you and your message. That was a great idea.

  20. Hi there! Love your new look!! I use the free themes…only because I can’t make up my mind and change themes every couple of days and it would cost me a fortune to pay somebody to do that for me!! With the ones I use, it’s just a couple of mouseclicks and voila! Works for me!!
    .-= Check out Jeanne ~ bermudabluez´s awesome post: Blowdrying is the BEST… =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Jeanne,

      I agree. For those bloggers who love to change their themes often, free is the way to go. Like you said, with a few mouse clicks we can have a new look in an instant. Plus, with the selection of free themes, I don’t think we will ever run out of options.

  21. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara. That is an inviting header with that cup of coffee and that homey placemat. Where are the scones? 🙂

    I chose the Thesis theme for my blog because I like the white space. It has a nice clean look and is versatile (still needs a smashing header; later). Robin from Let’s Live Forever helped me do a few minor tweaks to the colours. And I found some code that I used to make the navigation bar look a little different than other Thesis themes — there are a lot of bloggers using that one.
    .-= Check out Davina´s awesome post: This Effortless Brilliance =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Davina,

      LOL, you must have read my mind. I actually thought of adding a scone to the header (must have been cause I was eating one while I tweaking), but decided that might make it look too cluttered.

      White space is good, isn’t it? It lets the content of a blog shine and then when you add photos, they really stand out.

      Speaking of headers, they can make a big impact on a blog. Even if two bloggers are using the same layout or theme, the header can make them look totally different.

      P.S. When the time comes, I’m sure you’ll find a header that suits you perfectly.

  22. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    Very nice.

    I like that you focused on creating a certain feeling and ambiance. I’m very much a fan of notebooks, notes, and lessons learned.

    For my theme, I focused on simplicity with depth. I wanted to avoid the “tip of the iceberg problem, where info gets buried.

    It’s actually driven from user feedback. I wanted plain-text and rough-around-the-edges. Over time, more readers convinced me to add pictures and go more pro. I tried to keep a sense of canvas, white space, and painting information.
    .-= Check out J.D. Meier´s awesome post: Spiritual Intelligence =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you J.D.,

      I think what you’ve done with your blog works perfectly for the message you’re conveying. And you’re right, reader feedback can guide/push us into a different direction when it comes down to how we present our information.

      Your comment reminds me of how different themes are more appropriate for some blogs than they are others. In your case, your site AND information are more “professional”, whereas for other blogs, a more laid back theme works best.

  23. Hi Barbara – Beautiful! It feels like I could just walk right into the screen and sit down with you to enjoy that latte. You know me, free, WP, no bells and whistles. I’m thinking about some upgrades in the coming months, but I will still go with the free stuff (and a good tech person to help me).
    .-= Check out Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s awesome post: Meaning Mondays: The Singing Blog Edition =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Patty,

      Come on over. I’ll have the lattes ready. And scones, too. 🙂

      Like you, I’ve gone with mostly free stuff, too. There’s so much out there to choose from. And you’re right, a good tech person is always great to have access to.

  24. Oh Barbara,
    Love it love it love it love it love it…..sooooooo much!!
    So gorgeous….When it loaded i was like..this isnt BWAB..and then i saw…and i cant stop seeing..its that gorgeous. So You..warm and inviting. And the notebook it such a gorgeous touch. My my…see i tell you..everytime i come here and see all your tweaks its like a little nudge for me to selfhost 😉
    Since i am on i chose the theme that suited me best functionality wise..and also something i could customize the most. Hence Vigilance is my choice as of now. But who knows the future might see me shifting to something else..all depends on you and your tweaky new nugdes 😉
    Much love,
    p.s. Keep shining….this theme really does make you shine even brighter 🙂

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you for all the kudos Zeenat,

      I like your idea of choosing a theme that lets you do some tweaking, and as you’ve shown us, you’re very proficient at making those changes. One great thing about being on is you get practice at modifying your theme and when and if you decide to move to a self hosted blog, you’ll have some coding already behind you.

      Have no fear. When the day comes you decide to switch, I’ll be here to answer whatever questions I can. And what I can’t answer, I’m sure someone else here will be more than happy to oblige.

  25. HilaryNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara .. great new theme – so you .. notebook to hand, ready for the world. I have to move from Blogger shortly – so we’ll see what pops up! Themes and names – are always fascinating to see and read .. and good to learn from – others imaginations! Enjoy the tweaking process – and have a good busy week, by the sound of it! Hilary
    .-= Check out Hilary´s awesome post: The Wigmaker, “Cottonpolis” and the first factory =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Hilary,

      I’m so excited for you. Soon you’ll be moving from Blogger and expanding that which you share with us. I know you have your hands full now, but when the time comes, you know where to find me if you have any questions.

  26. Avani MehtaNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara, what a lovely theme! I absolutely love it. It fits your blog perfectly. Gives a warm, friendly feeling. I would have never guessed this is a free theme.

    I am currently using Grid Focus. Although, you will hardly see any similarity between both (have changed it beyond recognition :)). I liked grid focus because the code was simple and easy to change. Very well written. I wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted my site to look. So a tweak friendly theme made sense.
    .-= Check out Avani Mehta´s awesome post: The Day Simplifiers – 10 Fabulous Motivators That Inspire You To Take Action Part IV =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Avani,

      Grid Focus? That’s a new one to me. It sounds like that would be a great theme for those bloggers who, like you, want to tweak their sites, but may be a little intimidated.

      Thank you for the thumbs up on Grid Focus.

  27. Sweet! Barbara, well done. I bet you have a big sense of relief now that your new theme has been launched.

    I have a premium theme and yes I most definitely customized it to my liking (and still tweak).

    I chose that theme because all my other themes just felt too corporate and I wanted my blog to be a little more representative of me.

    It has more of a *grungy* look to it… or maybe alternative look.
    .-= Check out John Hoff – WP Blog Host´s awesome post: John’s Top 5 Crash and Burn Blogger Mistakes Which Keep You Poor =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you John,

      Don’t you know it? Not only did I get my new theme released, but as of today, I also have a lot of my year end work load done and behind me. (well, with the exception of tax prep – ugh!)

      I like your grungy look. It definitely suits your personality and your blog. With your website being your “professional” site, on your blog you can “let your hair down”.

  28. Silly GirlNo Gravatar says:

    The makeover is beautiful. Especially the notebook. It makes me feeling like I am taking notes. Excellent job!
    .-= Check out Silly Girl´s awesome post: It has begun =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Silly Girl,

      The notebook really makes this theme, doesn’t it? When I first say it, it reminded me of us bloggers who before blogging were probably handwriting our thoughts and ideas on paper.

  29. Barbara,

    I love the new theme. Your blog is very inviting.

    I don’t like to change themes. I started with the default WordPress theme, then found a free theme with yellow lilies in the header. Yellow is my favorite color, and of course, given my name, I love lilies. 🙂 That theme was beautiful but not as functional as I’d hoped.

    Since I also create blogs/Web sites for author clients, I bought the complete package of all the Revolution themes when Brian Gardner came out with them. I’m still using them now as I can use any of the themes for unlimited clients, but I customize each one. I don’t think people easily recognize most of the sites are built on some variation of Revolution.

    I had a graphic artist create a new header for me with my beloved yellow lilies, and though I’ve used the theme quite a while I don’t plan to change. I like to stick with something I like and that works.
    .-= Check out Lillie Ammann´s awesome post: Interview with Aggie Villanueva =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Lillie,

      I just learned something new about you. I didn’t realize you created websites/blogs for others. That’s good to know.

      I agree. Brian Gardner did a fabulous job with the Revolution theme and like you said, with tweaks, you can change it to meet each customer’s needs/desires. It’s so versatile.

      I clicked over to your site and checked out your beautiful header. Not only do I like the lilies, but I also like your title: “A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye”. Very creative, Lillie.

  30. Hi Barbara,

    I love the new look! It is just perfect! It is so inviting and warm. I just love it.

    As for me, I first had a free theme which I used for about six months. I then decided to get a new theme and looked all over for one but nothing felt right. I then saw the Thesis Theme and I loved how clean and professional it looked. So I went ahead and bought it. I was able to have it reflect what I wanted which was great.

    I do think it is nice to change things every now and then so we shall see what the future holds on my blog.
    .-= Check out Nadia – Happy Lotus´s awesome post: My New Career: How God Has a Sense of Humor =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Nadia,

      Ah, another vote for Thesis. You know Nadia. I look at your blog as well as all the others that run Thesis and they all look different; each reflecting the personality of the blog author. That’s a great selling point to Thesis.

      Yes. Change is good for us bloggers, and as we grow as bloggers, it’s often reflected in our theme.

  31. DaphneNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara, your new theme looks wonderful! Congrats on finding something that you feel fits your blog better.

    I have used free templates online and then tweaked them as much as my limited html coding knowledge has allowed me. I have tried to make it fit the feel that I want it to have, to be inviting to my readers and to make it easy for them to find posts that might interest them.

    Thanks for sharing your new look!
    .-= Check out Daphne´s awesome post: Distance and Distantness =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Daphne,

      That’s a good point. Not only do we want our themes to suit our personality and the topic of our blog, but we need them to be easy for our readers to navigate, as well.

      Thank you for bringing up. In the process of picking a theme, we often pick something we love, but forget how our readers will interact with it.

  32. DotNo Gravatar says:

    Another change? You’re as bad as I am. I’m about to change, too.

    As I was reading, I kept thinking, oh, I hope it’s not mine, I hope she didn’t choose the one I’m about to use. Then when I saw how long it took to load, I knew. It’s the same one I’ve been customizing to use on Deeper Issues. Sigh. Well, it is a beautiful theme, so enjoy it!
    .-= Check out Dot´s awesome post: Comment on Assorted Subjects by Jannie Funstet =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Dot,

      You know, as I was customizing this I thought of you. We must be “theme sisters” as we both enjoy looking and/or using different themes so much. How ironic you had picked the same one. Great minds…? Yeah?

  33. SamanthaNo Gravatar says:

    Wow, this is an amazing theme.. It does look like a premium theme though, and not a free one. Can I ask which site you found it on? I promise I won’t steal it for myself 😉
    .-= Check out Samantha´s awesome post: =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Samantha,

      I agree. It does look like a premium theme. Although I did a lot of customizing, I found it pretty easy to work with.

      I got it from Templatelite There’s also a link to his site in the footer. Brian is the theme author and all of his creations are gorgeous.

  34. DominiqueNo Gravatar says:

    I recently redid my blog layout, too. In my case, I’d been using a plain, green template…which was boring, boring, boring.
    I found some relatively easy instructions for adding a custom banner to my site at Typepad and decided to test drive them. In my case, I used a photo that I took of a rocky beach along Lake Superior as a banner background and found a font I liked to superimpose my blog’s name and tagline over the photo. The rest of it was just deciding column widths, colors, etc. I’m still deciding whether I like what I’ve done at this point…or if I want to tweak it again a little bit.
    .-= Check out Dominique´s awesome post: Photo Friday: Nature’s icy artistry at Manistee =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Dominique,

      I like what you did. And, as you know, Michigan is my home state and Lake Superior holds many precious memories for me.

      That’s one great thing about our blogs, we can tweak them to our heart’s content – each tweak making them more “us”. Isn’t it fun?

  35. Wow, congrats on the new look! Mine’s a free theme but I did pay the designer for a few changes. I chose it because of its simplicity.
    .-= Check out vered | professional blogger´s awesome post: Thoughts On The Very Important Subject Of Showing Cleavage =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Vered,

      I like your theme, too. The simplicity of it lets you showcase your great posts with no distractions to your readers. I also like the polka dots; that’s something I haven’t seen on any other blogs.

  36. Wow Barbara!
    What a great new theme! I love your header, too. It’s all so welcoming! The picture you chose for this post is awesome, too.
    .-= Check out Jodi at Joy Discovered´s awesome post: A Small Dose of Self-Care =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Jodi,

      Like you, I enjoy the “welcoming” feeling of this theme. It feels “warm”, doesn’t it?

  37. Gorgeous new look. Wow. I’m speechless. AND jealous. AND highly motivated. Thank you so much for always being one step.

    .-= Check out Julie Angelos´s awesome post: 7 killer buzz words that add extra value. =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Julie,

      Your comment reminded me of how when I land on blogs where the author has changed their theme, it makes me itch to change mine, too. 🙂

  38. Dennis EdellNo Gravatar says:

    Very nice look, it really does fit; good job!

    My theme for DSWM was custom to my specs from head to toe. My main priority was plenty of space (boxes) to display stuff.

    I have since upgraded the theme, still custom from the same designer, to be able to display even more but very neatly and user friendly…this is what I may use on the new blog. 🙂
    .-= Check out Dennis Edell´s awesome post: The Time Has Come. The Deal Is Done. It’s Time To Move!! =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Dennis,

      Ah. You’ve been taunting us about your upcoming move to your new blog, and I see you’ve done it. How fun it will be to see the new site evolve. I’ll keep checking in and watch for the changes.
      I KNOW they will be fabulous.

  39. RobertNo Gravatar says:

    I have yet to find the theme that fits what I am looking for. I have changed the look of my site about four times over the last year. The current theme is acceptable but not quite right. I am searching in earnest for the right fit and I believe it is critical to find it. I like what you have here but its not for me. I do like the info available here and will be back frequently.
    .-= Check out Robert´s awesome post: Obama pushes reform of Bush education law =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Robert,

      Finding just the right theme can be a real challenge. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I would see a theme I think might work, but when I test it with my posts and the information I want to share, it wouldn’t look right and I was back at square one.

      Keep looking. The perfect theme is out there “somewhere”.

  40. A BishtNo Gravatar says:

    i liked your theme. It rightly mirrors– Blogging without a blog title. But I think the font can be made a little larger and the number of posts per page can be reduced. just a suggestion.
    .-= Check out A Bisht´s awesome post: Functionality Update =-.

  41. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Thank you A Bisht,

    You know, I wondered about the font size. I’m thinking if I enlarge it one more pixel that might do it without making the type look out of proportion to the column width.

    Posts per page? I have that set at five. What have you found works best on your blog?

  42. elmotNo Gravatar says:

    For me I chose the theme on my blog for the following reasons:

    -it fits the niche of my blog which is more of news and current events
    -it is seo friendly
    -it is not that difficult to use and navigate, not at all complicated
    -it is beautiful, the design is simple yet somewhat with elegance
    -and of course it is a free theme.
    .-= Check out elmot´s awesome post: A Democles Sword on Bloggers; The Case of Ella Ganda Sued for Libel =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Elmot,

      The points you listed are all valid. Not only should we consider how the theme fits our content, but if it’s easy for our readers to navigate and if it’s SEO (search engine optimization) friendly.

      And yes, beauty and the price are considerations, too.

      P.S. Your theme is a perfect fit for your blog. Great pick!

  43. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    Well, I believe you have found your theme! It fits you to a “T”.
    I know it took you a while but nothing like finding the one. Looks like everyone agrees as well. Congrats!

    Mine is with wordpress as well and finding it took a while for the niche I am in.
    .-= Check out Linda´s awesome post: Riding The Solar Roadway To A Green Future =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Linda,

      Your comment reminded me of how when we look for a theme, it helps if it fits our niche. With you blogging “green”, the choices are more limited unless you were to have one custom made. I think you’ve made an excellent choice.

  44. Beautiful theme! I love it and it sooo suits you. I think I mentioned before that I actually broke down and paid to have a custom theme designed. I hated to do it, but I totally love the results.
    .-= Check out Heather Villa´s awesome post: What to do When the Ship is Sinking =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Heather,

      I can see why you love your theme. It’s a classic beauty and is a perfect reflection of professionalism. With you being a business coach and consultant, your theme shows you’re serious.

  45. MaryseNo Gravatar says:

    First time visitor. Great face lift! I chose my theme on WordPress because it was free and it was breathing. The colors, the picture, it all was the perfect fit for what I wanted to achieve. The name came to me in a dream. It all worked out well.
    Best wishes!
    .-= Check out Maryse´s awesome post: Labor of Love =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Maryse,

      Welcome to the Blogging Without A Blog virtual classroom. 🙂

      I was just looking at your theme. The photo takes me away and with the blue background, it has that feeling of serenity. And your name, that is SO original. I’ll come by, visit and read what you’re sharing. Looks fascinating.

      P.S. I hope to see you here again soon.

  46. KarenNo Gravatar says:

    I love your new theme! And, I really couldn’t tell it was a free theme. It’s really your strong feelings about the theme that come thru!
    I recently switched over to making my own webpage with blog using my mac and Iweb, as I wanted to streamline my budget. It has actually made me feel more creative as I make the changes and choose the themes!
    Anyway, congrats on the “facelift” and really happy I found you-I’m learning a lot! 🙂

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Karen,

      You’re right. I have very strong feelings as to what I wanted to project and even though I’m not completely done tweaking, I’m almost there.

      I just checked out your sites. What you’ve done is phenomenal. I love how you used a layer over a photo for the background of your text. Very original.

      A chicksinger? Where might I find a sampling of your voice. I’d love to hear your sing.

  47. Oh!!! Wow!!! I cannot tell you how much I love this look!

    It’s my journal! My pen — I used a fountain pen from the 8th grade on, until I found the roller ball I use today. I never could stand ballpoints, and pencils dulled too quickly for writing. And I ALWAYS use a spiral-bound journal, and it MUST look and feel classy.

    Plus you’ve poured me coffee, with cream, and invited me to share thoughts.

    What could be better! I LOVE IT!!! I even love the bookmark to the right. (I cut and use booksmarks from old paintings of mine that were going nowhere else but to the bookmark heap.)

    Okay, I’ll stop screeching and jumping up and down now…

    I apologize for getting here late but a wormy virus struck me from FaceBook and I’ve had to find it (in my bootup memory) to delete it. It’s okay now.

    Seriously, I think you’ve found the right look for your blog. We’ll be neighbors. We’ll have to be — we may have to borrow coffee now and then. At least sit and sip and share…
    .-= Check out Barb Hartsook´s awesome post: What Do You Think Makes an Effective Tweet on Twitter? =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Barb for all of your kind words and enthusiasm.

      Fountain pens? I used to love them, too. Even took a calligraphy class as I loved the beautiful text they created.

      And paper or journals? Like you, I’m pretty picky too.

      Yes. I have coffee here, too. Just like you on your blog.

      Definitely! We can lend coffee to each other and sit, sip and share. Hey, that sounds like a good tagline. 🙂

  48. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    This is just great Barbara – feels just right to me.
    Thank you for sharing so much and so many how tos

    I do not do any of the themes or graphics – though I take a few pictures now and if they are not too blurry my IT girl uses them. She picked the ladybug ( symbol for women recreating herself) and although I send the quotes for the top of the page. I do not even know how she picks the ones she uses…I have to catch her between semesters to get changes…

    on Biking Architect A group of us write ( I do most of the research and writing right now) and IT girl does all the layouts picture changes etc. We are getting more and more readers but no one ever writes comments. Lots of reads from Scandinavian Countries and big East Coast cities in the USA…

    I just like the themes she picks a great deal.

    I really like your redo…
    .-= Check out Patricia´s awesome post: Vitamins =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Patricia,

      How fortunate you are to have someone work behind the scenes for you. That lets you concentrate on sharing your words of wisdom on two blogs.

      I found that fascinating about the Biking Architect blog getting so many hits from Scandinavian countries and the East Coast. One never knows, you could pick up some consulting work based on what you’re sharing.

  49. MarelisaNo Gravatar says:

    I love this theme Barbara. I purchased the Thesis theme a while back (about $80) and I paid $40.00 for a custom header, so I guess in total my theme cost $120.00. I like how my blog looks, although I’m waiting for it to generate more money and then I’m going to get a professionally customized theme. 🙂

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Marelisa,

      I remember when you switch over. $120 isn’t a bad price to pay for what you’ve got as it works perfectly with your topics and what you’re trying to convey.

      I was just looking at your header. The green is so cheerful and lively looking. Great job!

  50. RibbonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara…
    well done… it looks great and works well.

    best wishes

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Ribbon,

      I truly appreciate you coming by and showing your support. See you soon. 🙂

  51. […] week, she brought her Blogging Without a Blog classroom into the coffee shop. She offers you a rich cappuccino with creme,  and opens her […]

  52. Hi Barbara, I Had an initial shock when a came over , was looking for your blog which you have given a brand new look , it looks totally different. Wow! You seem quite good with making big changes .Love the outlook but couldn’t find the home button to navigate back to the main page..I guess I would find my way around the next time I visit. I am currently using thesis (Paid) its apparently meant to be easy to use..I give it 95% … may upgrade and continue use it ..
    .-= Check out Fatibony{self help wellness}´s awesome post: Finding Your Inner Strength =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Fatibony,

      All that tweaking was lots of fun for me. I’m happy to hear you like it.

      You’re right about the “home” button. I need to add one. Currently the only way to go “home” is to click on the title.

      I was just looking at your blog. I would have never guessed it was Thesis. You’ve done great at personalizing it.

  53. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:


    First, I love the new look. I think it fits your theme much better than much better than those in the past. It still has the “teaching” feel but gives it more of a “conversation” feel.

    You may have noticed I’m commenting under an new blog url. I have been working on starting a blog for the company I work for and we are using WordPress. It’s funny you should ask about the theme I chose. There is so much to learn with WordPress and the “lingo” is so different from Blogger that I’m a bit overwhelmed. I chose a theme from the archives of that gave me some flexibility I was looking for, but I know it’s a little drab at the moment. I know nothing of plug ins and will have to read up on those. So much to learn! Eventually I hope to spice things up and make it tie in with our website. For now, I’m learning as I go, but I’m up for the challenge.

    After I figure out the WordPress thing, I guess I’ll have to put more effort into SEOs. Not looking forward to that one, though.
    .-= Check out Debbie Yost´s awesome post: What Sets Us Apart =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Debbie,

      I’m happy you pointed that out to me – that you were commenting using a different URL. I checked out your company blog and you’ve done fantastic for being so new to WordPress. If you have any questions or problems, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’ll do whatever I can to help.

  54. PeggyNo Gravatar says:


    I LOVE your new theme! LOVE it! It so fits your blog and as a reader, it’s like I get to peak inside your notebook 🙂

    My Serendipity site is still on the free wordpress platform…sometime this year, it will undergo a face lift and a move to a self-hosted platform…

    My Stepmom’s Toolbox uses a free theme – I have contemplated buying Thesis but with so many free themes out there that meet my blogging requirements, I’m happy to stay on the free side of things.

    Once again – love the facelift!

    .-= Check out Peggy´s awesome post: Your Moment of Bliss =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Peggy,

      You’re right. There are a lot of free themes out there that meet the needs of many bloggers. And, for bloggers who want additional options, the premium themes offer even more. Isn’t it great we have all of these choices?

      P.S. You can peek into my notebook anytime you want. 🙂

  55. Barbara,
    I love your new look! I chose the Thesis theme because it looks so clean. I chose the fish because they look bold. I’ve been thinking of changing it all but someone told me your blog loses it’s page rank if you do. I’m thinking if you can do it I can do it! Love it!
    .-= Check out Tess The Bold Life´s awesome post: Born To Run =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Tess,

      I like the fish on your theme, too.

      As for losing page rank if we change our theme, it seems like I heard that a long time ago, but I’ve stopped worrying about the numbers so I just “do it”. 🙂

  56. I am a new visitor to your blog so I don’t know what it looked like before, but I do think it is a very fitting theme.

    I love experimenting with themes and I have been known to start a new niche blog just so I could design a new theme. I quickly realized that I couldn’t maintain that many blogs. Someday, when I have time, I may make those old blog designs available for other people but right now it isn’t high on the priority list.

    I’m an artist so there is always that part of me that wants to be very creative (thus the many blog designs). However, my primary blog design is designed to be professional and complimentary to the overall design of the primary home page of the domain. It is a combination of several free themes and the design is still a work in progress.
    .-= Check out Leisa Watkins´s awesome post: Dan Caro Lives Life Without Limits =-.

  57. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Welcome to Blogging Without a Blog, Leisa,

    Prior to this theme, I used one which was rather generic; a thick header which had the custom header feature so I could change the photo if I wanted.

    I was laughing at the part where you wrote that you would start blogs so you could use the themes you had created. That sounds like something I’d do, too. It’s just so much fun to experiment.

    What you’ve done on your current blog looks great. I like your idea of taking ideas from several different themes and combining them into one. Great job!

  58. Keith DavisNo Gravatar says:

    A car, a house, a wordpress theme… when I see something that’s just right, I know I’ve found what I’ve been looking for!

    I first spotted my theme over at Elegant Themes… fell in love with it straight away.
    Decided that I had to learn something about wordpress and wait for the right time to buy the theme.
    The right time was when the £ was good against the $.

    I bought the theme (well joined the theme club) for less than $20 and I’m still in love with it.

    Any regrets?
    No and yes.
    It’s not a fast theme, and with Google now looking at page load times, I might have chosen a faster theme.

    C’est la vie!
    .-= Check out Keith Davis´s awesome post: Practice, practice, practice… =-.

  59. Gregg ZbanNo Gravatar says:


    This theme looks great! But I must confess, when I saw the title I thought it was about a personal face lift…lol. This is becoming more and more a real option as I am about to turn fifty (god…that hurts even to write!).

    So, excuse me while I toss out all my original mental comments and come up with something new.

    OK….here we go….”darn nice theme Barbara”!
    .-= Check out Gregg Zban´s awesome post: The Fine Art of Reciprocation =-.