Thursday, September 16, 2010


Hello, all! Some of you may be surprised to see a post from this blog popping up in your reader—we've been dormant a long time. This blog was a collaborative effort by a group of busy moms, and over time we got too busy to keep it chugging along.

I have left these archives in place, though, in case they're of use to new bloggers. And while we've retired this site, there is another website—not affiliated with the women who used to blog here—that offers tips and support for bloggers. I encourage you to visit

Happy blogging!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Adding Fun Clipart to your Sidebars

Lissa has been helping me periodically to spruce up my blog and I though I'd share some fun little tips on how to add Clipart or images to your sidebars. In my Sweetness and Light weblog I have added some charming clipart from Antique Clipart. There are many other images sites around the web if you google a bit. Lissa has some darling black and white designs at Bonny Glenn that has truly added some spunk to her sidebars as well.

So for the nitty-gritty (applies to Typepad).

Once you have selected some images you like,
save them onto your hard-drive and upload them into your files section in the Control Panel. Then decide which Typelist you'd like to add the image to and select the list. You can attach the image anywhere into your list or in the label section of a Typelist and this will attach it to the list title (see example in my right sidebar labeled "Sharing is Twice as Nice").

The code to insert is:

[img src =[a href="http://urlgoeshere/"]
(please change the square brackets to the pointy ones)

and if you want to make it as a link you would use this code:
[a href="linkURL"][img src="imageURL"][/a] .

This is a nice way to thank the site that is offering their lovely images for web users by attaching a link somewhere within your blog. To insert the image url into the code simply copy and paste the image url into the space within the code. (Remember to change to brackets to pointy ones).

I hope this is helpful to someone. Let me know if you have any questions, I know I've asked Lissa just about ALL of the questions there is about template tweaking, so I'm happy to help too if I can!

Have fun!! Blessings!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Using as a Sophisticated "Google Reader"

I've been using for quite a long time to keep track of links I'm interested in. What I discovered recently is that you can use it to share links relating to favorite topics in the sidebar of your blog.

If you look in the sidebar of Studeo, you can see three sections of links near the top "Prayer Requests", "Interesting Stuff" and "My Posts Elsewhere" (or something along those lines). My sister has used it even more extensively here.

The way you do it is this:

First, you need to set up an account at and start tagging favorite posts, websites and articles (somewhere on the site is an option to add a button to your browser - makes it REALLY easy).

To set up a "link roll", on the page go to "settings" and then "link rolls" and build your own widget. There you can select a title, pick which tags you want included, how many links you want to show at a time, whether you want "bullets" to delineate each item, etc. Once you like the look, just cut and paste the code into your sidebar.

One of the nice things is that the title of the link roll will link directly to your entire list of articles containing the same tag.

Just in case that's not clear, I'll walk you through an example from my site:

I've been tagging my posts on other blogs "myposts" so that I can easily access them on Studeo. When I went into the "link roll" segment of (under "settings"), I titled my widget: "What I'm Blogging About Elsewhere" and chose to only include articles I had tagged with "myposts".

Cut and paste the code into an HTML page element on Blogger (I imagine it works similarly on Typepad, Wordpress, etc.) Voila.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Backing Up Your Blog

Meredith of Like Merchant Ships asks how to back-up a blog.

There are several ways of doing this, including saving your posts as a *.doc/Word file, or turning your blog into a book. (HT: Mary at The Vocation of Motherhood)

Your blogging host also should have instructions in their FAQ or Help file that will enable you to do this (almost) painlessly. Some of the most popular ones:

  • Basic Typepad instructions for making backups, from Neville Hobson.

  • If you've got a blog at, follow Lorelle's instructions.

  • For the Blogger blogger, here's how.

  • For wordpress (not users, you need to go into cPanel/
    phpMyadmin and backup the database from there. Detailed instructions can be found here.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

To everything there is a season

This time last year, I was barely blogging or even turning on the computer. Our darling Eileen had come to grace our lives forever, and her presence melted all words from my mind. I remember thinking how much I wanted to keep up "Cottage Blessings," but it was just impossible. The problem wasn't primarily a lack of time or energy either--the words simply were not there. Last July's archives contain only four posts: a meme completed by my eldest daughter, a picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a photograph of one-month-old Eileen, and a link to a Cottage Garden post about Luna moths. This July, by contrast, has been my most busy "posting month" ever, with a new entry written almost every day from our temporary home in San Francisco, a city bursting with ideas and inspiration.

Comparing the two Julys side by side, each with its unrepeatable joys, stories and memorable moments--one mostly unwritten and the other well documented--makes me realize more than ever that there is a time in our lives for everything. During some seasons of Motherhood, we are inspired to share our thoughts and stories, and during others we are called to silent reflection. Mary "pondered all these things in her heart."

Often, mothers leave thoughtful notes on their blogs saying, "I'm sorry I have been away so long" or "I have been doing a terrible job in posting." We all strive to be faithful to any task we take up, and it is natural to feel a bit bad when our blogs fall out of rhythm for a while. Still, I would say that this, like so many aspects of Motherhood, is part of God's plan for us. We should expect those inevitable quiet times, not feeling the least bit sorry when they come, but embracing them wholeheartedly.

Let us rejoice in both the stories and the silence.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Typing Tip: How to Make an Em Dash

This tip will probably be of interest to only a tiny percentage of nitpickers people, but on the off chance I'm not the only detail-obsessed nut out there, I offer this tidbit.

In printing, an "em dash" is the term used to describe the longish dash that sets off a word or phrase within a sentence—like this!

Since typewriters didn't have an em-dash key, two hyphens became the standard substitute--like this.

Either way is considered correct, nowadays. But if you like the look of the em dash, you can make it by pressing the shift, option, and hyphen keys at the same time. Like—this—! Ooh, how very dashing!

Emily Dickinson would approve.

Opening Links in a New Window—Yes or No?

Here's an interesting post from Swank Web Style on why links shouldn't be opened in new windows. What's your take?

Using a Reader to Make Blog-Reading Easier

The following is a question and answer from the Moms Who Blog discussion group. (You can join that group by clicking the link in the sidebar. And you don't really have to be a mom to join—it's just a place to discuss blog-related topics.)

My answer here is unpolished, so if any of the other MWB contributors wants to chime in with more info, feel free to hijack this post!

A reader asked for an explanation of blog-readers like Bloglines and Google Reader. Here is my response:

Great topic!

A reader (also called a feed reader) makes it easier to keep up with multiple blogs. Let's say there are 40 blogs you really really like and try to read on a regular basis. (That sounds like a lot, but I think I actually have something like 300 blogs in my list! Yikes!)

You can read them by clicking on each blog individually, through your browser bookmarks or whatever, OR you can use a feed reader to see what blogs have been updated since your last visit.

Google Reader and Bloglines are the two most popular readers. I've used both—I like Google Reader the best, so I'll use it for this example. Bloglines works pretty much the same way, though.

You create your Google Reader account (or sign in with your gmail address) and then you'll need to "subscribe" to the blogs you like to read. Each blog publishes something called a "feed"—this means the text (and sometimes images) of the blog's posts gets fed to the readers.

Most blogs have a button you can click to "subscribe to my feed" or it will say RSS feed, something like that.

Or—even easier—from the Google Reader screen, you can drag a "Subscribe" button to your browser's toolbar. Then, when you're on a blog you want to subscribe to, just click that button and it'll be added to your Google Reader subscriptions.

You can set up folders or categories to organize your blogs—I have folders for homeschooling blogs, kidlitosphere, politics, food, close friends, crafts, frugal blogs, and miscellaneous.

Once you've subbed to your favorite blogs, you just go to your reader and you'll see a list of all the blogs with new posts since your last visit. If you click on the blog name, the posts will appear. Some blogs publish their entire posts to the feed readers; others publish excerpts only, and you have to click over to the blog to finish reading the post. (Full feeds are much more convenient for the readers, of course, but that does affect the blog's page views since you don't have as many people clicking onto the blog itself. I publish a full feed for Bonny Glen, but for Lilting House I have to publish excerpts only.)

There are other handy tricks you can do with your reader, such as Google Reader's nifty "Shared Items" feature (see my shared items here, for example), but their main purpose is just to pull all your blogs into one place for easy reading.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Blogger Hacks: Top Menu Bar

I can't believe how easy this turned out to be, but this is a "hack" that you'll want to try after you've backed up your html code!!!

My husband found some coding from this site that was along the lines of what I was looking for. It turned out to be just two segments of coding that was easy to manipulate (and since I wasn't using the search feature - I'll leave that to the Blogger top bar - I was able to simplify the coding even further).

Here's what you do (this is the actual coding I just added to Studeo - it's the menu just under the photo which offers choices like "About Us" and "Book Lists"). Naturally this is set up for a certain width - 796 I believe. It may take some considerable adjusting to use it for a different width:

Add this segment of coding to the top portion of your html coding (I have mine between the "Blog Header" segment and the "Posts" segment.

/* Menu
----------------------------------------------- */

/* The outer menu bar box */
div.menuBar {
width: 793px;
height: 36px;
padding: 1px;
border: 1px solid #000000;
margin-top: 1px;
margin-bottom: 1px;
margin-left: auto; /* center horizontally */
margin-right: auto;
background-color: #b3b3b3;

/* The boxes that go inside the menu bar */
div.menuBarBox {
width: 110px;
height: 32px;
border: 1px solid #000000;
margin-right: 1px;
float: left;

div.menuBarBox a {
width: 110px;
height: 30px;
padding: 1px;
border: 1px solid white;
float: left; /* have to float to put elements next to each other */
text-align: center; /* we put the align here cause the text is inside us */
background-color: #ffffff;

/* The current page also has this style, which just changes the background color of the box */
div.menuBarBox a.true {
background-color: #ffffff;

/* The links within menu bar box */
div.menuBarBox a:link {
font-size: 18px;
text-decoration: none;
line-height: 32px; /* using this to center text vertically. Could also do so by changing padding/height of menubarbox */

div.menuBarBox a:visited {
font-size: 18px;
text-decoration: none;
line-height: 32px; /* using this to center text vertically. Could also do so by changing padding/height of menubarbox */

div.menuBarBox a:hover {
background-color: white;
color: black;
font-weight: bold;
This is the segment where you can adjust your colors and such.

Next, add the following segment to the bottom half of your html coding. I have mine between the "header-wrapper" segment and the "cross-col wrapper" segment. Unfortunately you have to go change all of the "<"s to "("s (same thing for the opposite direction). You'll save yourself a lot of time if you just copy and paste this segment from my source code here):
(div class='menuBar')
(div class='menuBarBox')(a class='false' href='' title='Home page')Home(/a)(/div)
(div class='menuBarBox')(a class='false' href='' title='Meet the Family')About Us(/a)(/div)
(div class='menuBarBox')(a class='false' href='' title='Our other websites and various projects')Projects(/a)(/div)
(div class='menuBarBox')(a class='false' href='' title='Miscellaneous and Possibly Useful Information')Highlights(/a)(/div)
(div class='menuBarBox')(a class='false' href='' title='Book Lists of All Sorts')Book Lists(/a)(/div)
(div class='menuBarBox')(a class='false' href='' title='Favorite Links')Links(/a)(/div)
(div class='menuBarBox')(a class='false' href='' title='Photos and Drawings')Photos(/a)(/div)

Change all the links, labels and titles as desired. Make sure you don't accidentally erase any of the quotation marks when you edit things - that'll make a real mess of things.


UPDATED: This is Lissa chiming in to say I was sure I had posted here about adding a top menu bar to Typepad blogs, but it turns out I only mentioned it on Bonny Glen.** Here's the link to the post where I found instructions: Jimmy the Geek's Typepad Hacks. You can only do this with a Pro level account, and you'll have to convert your design to Advanced Templates. (Which turned out to be a very simple thing to do.)

Jimmy uses vertical bars to separate the items in his menu; I changed mine to little leaves (click on Bonny Glen and you'll see what I mean) by replacing the bars with image code:

(img src="http://yourimageurl")

(Replace the parentheses with pointy brackets, and of course you have to upload the image to your Typepad Files (under Control Panel) first, in order to get the URL.)

Just make sure you backup your template before attempting any of this tinkering! I tried mine out on a test blog first.

**UPDATED AGAIN: I knew I'd posted about top menu bars on this blog! I found it buried at the bottom of this post. Aha.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Creating a Border Around Posts and Sidebar Items

I have been asked to explain how I created a thin-lined box around each of my posts and my sidebar items on my personal blog. When I first learned how to do this, it was from copying a template that I had made for me long ago, so hopefully I’ll be able to remember all the steps!

This may work with other Blogger templates, but I have used "Minima" for all of mine, so this is what I know best, and what I'll be using for this explanation.

First, find the place in the HTML for your template that says:

.post {
margin:.5em 0 1.5em;
border-bottom:1px dotted $bordercolor;

You then need to add a few lines describing the border, as below. I added a background color which changes the color inside the box I’ve created, and "padding" which keeps the post text a certain distance from the box (like a margin). You can create a boarder with a wider pixel (px) width, but I like the thin look of 1 px.

Here are the changes:

.post {
background: #ffffff;
margin:.5em 0 1.5em;
padding:8px 8px 8px;
border:1px solid #000066;
border-bottom:1px solid #000066;
border-width:1px 1px 1px;

To do the same on the sidebar, find:

.sidebar ul {
margin:0 0 0;
padding:0 0 0;

And make similar changes as above, adding lines for background color, borders, and padding:

.sidebar ul {
margin:1.5em 0 1.5em;
padding:8px 8px 8px;
border:1px solid #000066;
border-bottom:1px solid #000066;
border-width:1px 1px 1px;
border-bottom:1px line #000066;

The numbers represent html color codes, you will choose colors you like, based on the rest of your template look.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Typepad's New "Pages" Feature

One of the features I have admired (envied) on WordPress blogs is the ability to create separate pages connected to the blog. The pages are usually accessed via tabs in the top menu bar. The blogger might have an About page, a Links page, etc—the sort of info that can really clutter up a sidebar. Moving this info to a separate page makes for a cleaner, more readable blog.

Here's an example of a WordPress blog that uses pages for organization. There's the home page, the about page, and the links page.

Well, TypePad has now added a Pages feature too. Hooray!

You'll notice the "Create a new page" or "list pages" options in your Typepad user panel, next to "Create a new post" and "list posts."

There are endless ways to use pages to organize your blog. I'm in the process of setting up a "Best of Bonny Glen" page, where my best posts will be organized by broad category. Right now I have a Bonny Glen Highlights typelist in my sidebar, but I think having these links on a separate page will work better (and hold more information). I'll put a link to the Best Of page at the top of my sidebar, next to my Archives link.

I also created a page for recording our ongoing list of family sightseeing adventures now that we live in Southern California. Again, I put a link to this page in my sidebar.

Other page content ideas:

• Booklists
• Photos
• Homeschooling plans
• Recommended resources
• Prayer lists
• Used books for sale
• Family bios

The sky's the limit!

To allow your readers to access your pages, Typepad lets you add a Pages list to your sidebar (in the same way you add a list of Recent Posts or Recent Comments; simply go to "Edit Content" to select the Show Pages option). Or if you want a more customized link, you can put it in a Typelist, as I did with my "San Diego Sights" page—I wanted to include a photo button to make the link more eye-catching.

You can even create a top (horizontal) menu bar like on WordPress blogs—if you're comfortable working with Advanced Templates in TypePad. TypePad Hacks explains how.

UPDATED TO ADD: I did it! Created the top menu bar, that is. I followed the simple instructions in that first link, and it worked perfectly. A caveat, though: in order to install the menu bar, you've got to convert your template to Advanced Templates. And TypePad widgets don't work with Advanced Templates, just FYI. I had to go in and manually insert all the code I had formerly installed as widgets: "subscribe to my feed" links, mybloglog, sitemeter, and so forth.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hosting a Blog Carnival

A great way to bring new visitors to your blog is to volunteer to host a blog carnival. Here are a few thoughts on successful carnival hosting. Please feel free to add your suggestions to the comment boxes.

Begin with a Subject you like
If you’ve been hesitant to volunteer to host a carnival try beginning with a carnival on a subject you are passionate about. Most likely, this is the main subject of your blog and the carnival will make a good fit with your overall theme. The carnival will be a win/win for you and your blog. You will find out about other blogs and posts on your favorite topic in addition to bringing readers to your blog.

Decide on a Theme
How will you organize the posts you receive from others?

Sherry at Semicolon used each day of the month for the Third Carnival of Children's Literature Poetry edition.

I used the virtues of Our Lady when hosting a Loveliness of Motherhood carnival.

Decide on Style
Will there be something that is frequently repeated?
Try to establish a consistent way of writing this.

For example Melissa Wiley at Here in the Bonny Glen hosted the Carnival of Children's Literature: Broken Toe Edition. All the posts are in bright blue links while the author's name and blog are in bold.

The group blog 10,000 Birds used green to highlight each of the posts for their carnival
Carnival of the Recipes: The Meatless Edition . If you stop by their blog be sure to check out their suggestions on hosting a blog carnival as well!

Badge or Clipart
Consider making a badge or simply using some free clipart which will be displayed proudly in each of the participants' posts. (antique clipart)

Dana, from Principled Discovery used airplane clip art for
Taking Flight, Week 37 of the Carnival of Homeschooling.
Dana also did a fabulous job of integrating all the links and crafting a carnival which read like a story.

Consider creating a mailing list
Respond to each entry via email. Create a list for this specific carnival in your address book. When the carnival is up at your blog, you can easily send a message via the list to each of the participants that the carnival is ready.

If you feel you might have missed a link, the email list can be a source for double checking the entries you received.

Try to Personalize
A blog carnival is basically a blog post with a lot of links. The goal of creating an inviting carnival is to try to integrate the links so that the whole reads like a narrative.

Mark Chu-Carroll of Good Math, Bad Math makes the Second Carnival of Mathematics: The Math Geeks are Coming to Town! read like slapstick comedy.

Try to read each entry and respond to the participant by making a small comment about the entry to the submitter. Sometimes, you receive feedback which helps to personalize your carnival.

The comment section offers a rich field for personalizing your carnival. Read the post and comments.

Photographs make any post leap off the page. Anne from Hawaii's Palmtree Pundit 72nd Carnival of Homeschooling is greatly enhanced by her use of photographs.

Encourage early submissions
Post plenty of reminders your blog and other blog meeting places.
Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight is very good at reminding her readers of her Nature Carnivals.

If you receive a few entries each day, it won’t be difficult to read each post carefully and make a personal reflection on the post. This will help to make your carnival stand out.

Practical preparations
Open a draft file for your carnival at your blog. Set the date on the post to reflect the scheduled date. Often the carnival time is set to midnight.

Be careful not to lose any links. I also like to keep a Word document going. I copy my blog post and paste it into word. (Helps with the spell check.)

Many bloggers have a practice blog where they try out new themes without alerting all their readers. Many blog sites offer free blog hosting, consider putting your carnival up at your practice blog and check through the links. Once satisfied, you can transfer the post (edit html to edit html) to your public blog and announce the arrival of the carnival. (In my last carnival, I used a lot of images. It was a great help to use my practice blog to iron out the placement of the pictures.)

If you don't have a practice blog, you can try out some theme/color variations in some of your regular posts before the carnival. Some alterations look different once the "publish post" button is pressed.

It's always great to have a proofreader. Ask a friend!

Try to have your carnival ready in advance so that you give yourself a little room in case your family needs you.

A final thought, if you like the idea of hosting a cocktail party but you don’t like to do dishes, hosting a blog carnival is a great option. With a little preparation and planning you can bring together bloggers, engage in stimulating conversation, get to know new people *and* leave the dish towel in the drawer!