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Hello friends!  Notice something a little different?  If you are in a reader or on email you may want to hop over to the blog and check out the changes!  Welcome to my latest DIY Project - my new blog design.

I have been working on this for almost a full month now.  It helps that in a past life (aka when I first graduated from college) that I used to be a Software Analyst/Web Programmer.  However, any language that you don't use regularly you forget, so I have been slowly poking through different on-line tutorials and tips to get it set up just right.  It has probably taken a combined total of 30-40 hours of work, but I am really happy with the results.  This was also my first foray into graphic designing and I am quite pleased with how they all turned out.  Check out my new button below!  You can grab one over on the sidebar if you would like!


Now, I did all of this for free.  I don't have the $$ for a fancy software program for the graphics - so I downloaded GIMP which is a free.  Learning to use it has seriously taken me a couple of months, but there are some great resources and tutorials out there if you want to learn.  The actual coding of the design was the hardest, but again if you have some background in coding and you google what you want you can find it pretty easily.  For example, try searching for "how to add a 3 column footer to a blog" and you will see a ton of tutorials on it.  I also used a lot of the free resources for buttons, fonts, brushes, vectors and widgets.  Some of the best were these:

- Buttons: The Ultimate Round Up of Buttons from 1st Web Designer was a fantastic resource for ideas for social media buttons.

- Fonts: There is no other resource than Dafont.com as they have the best font resources ever.  I even found fonts similar to the ones used in the Facebook and Twitter logos so I could make my social media buttons custom colored to match the blog!

- Brushes: Ok - this was the turning point in my blog design - learning how to install custom brushes into GIMP so I could make those cool burnout details in the header!  Free Brushes.com and BrushKing were two fantastic sources.

And if you don't feel like programming - check out this beautiful collection of blogger templates from Blogger Tricks.  I almost went with one of these - but I wanted to combine some of the best ideas in all of them so I ended up customizing my own.  That site has great tips on customizing your blogger blog including video tutorials that show step by step how to do some of the more complicated things like adding meta tags and creating favicons.


There are also some new fun things that I would like to take you on a tour of if you don't mind.  I have decided to add personal ads to the blog and there are now four new 120 x 120 ad spots that are available.  Info and pricing are in my Sponsor section and I do have a special ad launch price if you are interested!  Sponsors of Frugal with a Flourish will get more than just an ad button - I am offering a full range of promotional activities.  So if you are interested, please drop me an email.

Next, I really did appreciate your survey feedback from last week and there were two things that you overwhelmingly wanted.  One was video tutorials (cringe!) so I will work on that.  The other thing was a Facebook Fan Page.  Most of you seem to be on Facebook, so I have created a new Facebook Page.  Please hop over and join me there!  There is also a link to this, my twitter feed, and all my subscription options over to the right! 

I hope you like the new design!  Please poke around and let me know ASAP if a link is broken or there are any other issues!  I have been obsessively tweaking colors and fonts for days now!  Are there any specific questions you have about the redesign that I can answer for you?  Have you tried to do something similar?  Lemme know!

8 frugal friends said ...

Dottie @ Tadlafleur said... @ July 11, 2010 at 10:58 AM

I like the new look. I have downloaded GIMP too and I need to take the time to figure stuff out. I would love to do some of the things you have done. Happy Sunday!

K @ My Forgotten Favorite said... @ July 11, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Love the new look Jess! And thanks for sharing all the great tips!

Zondra Art said... @ July 11, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Beautiful and very interesting look.
I like it:)
Kisses and regards.
Zondra Art

Amanda @ Serenity Now said... @ July 11, 2010 at 7:22 PM

Very nice, streamlined look. :) I like the blue. Thanks for the visit today! :)

Centsational Girl said... @ July 11, 2010 at 10:31 PM

Gorgeous ! Love all the touches of lavender. Congrats to you my friend !
xo
Kate

Jan @ bobbypins boardwalk said... @ July 12, 2010 at 12:23 AM

Ooohhh. This is so nice. I'm totally jealous. I want a makeover!!!

the BLAH BLAH BLAHger said... @ July 15, 2010 at 6:39 PM

LOVE it!

Diana G. said... @ July 16, 2010 at 5:39 PM

I LOVE the headboard for your in-laws master bed. That one I'll have to 'file away' in my future projects file (which is quite a fat file) - thanks for sharing with us!

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