Take Two

Hello neglected little blog! Miss me?

Turns out, I made plans, and the universe laughed and did the complete opposite. That whole ‘less‘ thing? Yeah, the first half of 2013 has been crazy busy in my world.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I’ve been working on some super-cool projects and busy is always good for business. But in the grand scheme of things I had time to do, blogging (and actually taking time for me) fell low on my priority list.

So, what have I been up to?

I did some work for a marketing agency where I got to work on some stuff for a couple of car companies. (I wish I could be less vague, but I can’t. The most I can say is if you’re one of my sisters, you’re driving one of those cars…)

I’m working on a total overhaul of a site for a grocer in San Diego. This one I cannot wait to show off, because it is *gorgeous*. Jeff at Tribe Creative did a great job on the design and between us we have pimped the site out to do all sorts of awesome things.

I mentored at a recent Ladies Learning Code Event. I’ve done a few of the Introduction to WordPress and Introduction to HTML/CSS sessions and they are always great fun. They sell out within a day or two, so if you get a chance to go to one, definitely take advantage (they have events across Canada).

I took a full week off and did absolutely nothing. Actually, that’s not completely true. I may have accidentally gotten hooked on Candy Crush, which is probably the most addicting game ever, so I spent a lot of that week playing that. But after the crazy long days I was doing for many months, the sitting around and doing nothing was so needed.

We started decluttering the house. Turns out we have a lot of stuff (not that I’m surprised by that, but holy geez, we have a lot of stuff…), so I’m making plans to sell the big stuff (appliances, furniture) and then donate the rest.

I got plagiarized for the first time. I know I should be more bent out of shape, but the guy who took sections of my company site and used them on his own changed them the first time I asked, so in the end it’s now just something I can say, it happened to me too.

I started reading again. When I left publishing a few years ago, I stopped reading books. Mostly because I didn’t really have the time, starting a new business as I was, but partly I was just a little burnt out. Then I discovered my library lends ebooks through an app I already have and actually has more current books than the last time I looked and I got back in the habit. Contrary to what I used to read (a lot of romance), I’ve been reading a lot of biographies (Mindy Kaling, we totally need to be best friends) and non-fiction books, which is a big change and kinda fun. I’m also looking for good books to read, since I’m so out of touch, so suggestions are welcome.

And, in the coming soon part of my news, I’ll be speaking at WordCamp Hamilton on June 21st. I’ll be talking Child Themes, so if you’re in the area, I’d love to see you there!

So tell me, what’s new with you?


Pretty Your Blog: Add a Custom Default Gravatar

One of the big things I wanted to do with this blog was share the fun I have playing with WordPress. Since there are a hundred and one blogs out there that focus on beginner tutorials, I wanted to do something a little different – something a little more personal, and something that involved adding a little pretty. So, I’ve added a feature called ‘Pretty Your Blog’, where we’ll talk about little things you can do to your WordPress blog to make it a little prettier and a little bit more yours.

In this tutorial, we’re going to add a custom Gravatar to your comments that will appear for all users who don’t have a Gravatar of their own. This way, you can match this image to your blog.

Gravatar is a super-useful tool that lets you create an avatar and associate it with your email address. Once you’ve set that up, every time you comment on a blog – yours or someone else’s – that avatar will appear next to your comment, like this:

Custom gravatars

So, let’s add one to your site.

Step One

Go to a post on your site that has comments. Right-click on the page and select View Source (You can also use Firebug to poke around your code) and scroll down to code that will look similar (not exactly) to this:

Notice in that code it gives a height and width of 48? This tells us that our gravatar image should be 48px wide and 48px high. We want to match the dimensions on your own site so that the new image fits in the space.

Step Two

Open your favourite photo editor and create an image that fits these dimensions. If you don’t have a cool software like Photoshop on your computer, you can use the free and pretty darn awesome Pixlr, and play with your images right in your browser. Make sure that if you have the option, you’re saving this file for the web, and that you save it as a .png file.

In my case, I created an image based on my logo:

Add a Little Pretty Default Gravatar

Step Three

Go to Media > Add New and upload this new image to your media library. You’ll notice that when you do this, WordPress will generate a URL of where this image lives on the web. Copy this URL and save it for later.

Step Four

Open up functions.php in your theme folder. There are a few ways to do this. If you’re making any changes to your theme files, I strongly recommend creating a child theme. This keeps all of your customizations in a separate theme folder, so that if your theme ever gets updated, you won’t lose your changes. You can access your theme files either from Appearance > Editor or by accessing your site via FTP. I prefer the FTP version, because you can back up the file you’re changing and re-upload it in case anything goes wrong.

A few caveats about using your dashboard:
1. Be sure to back up any files you plan to change so you can easily revert back if something goes wrong.
2. Some themes break if there’s an error in your PHP in the functions.php file. This will give you the white screen of death and you won’t be able to access your site. If this happens, you will need to FTP in and replace the file you changed with the old version of the file.
3. It’s not as scary as it sounds, but better safe than sorry. <g>.

Step Five

Before the last PHP close tag ?> (or, if there isn’t one, at the very bottom of your functions.php file), add this code:

Note this line in the above code:
$myavatar = 'http://www.addalittlepretty.com/wp-content/themes/alittlepretty/images/gravatar.png';

Replace the URL (between the two single quotation marks) with the URL to your new Gravatar image… the one we saved for later.

Step 6

If the code worked, we can now go to Settings > Discussion from our WordPress dashboard. Scroll all the way to the bottom and you should see your new Gravatar at the bottom of the list of default Avatars:


Choose your image and Save your changes.

Step 7

Go back to that post with comments, and refresh the page. You should now see your new image for all your Gravatar-less commenters.


Word of the Year

It’s after midnight, and I’m just finishing up work for the day. Yes, I started at about 10:30 this morning, with a break midday to run out for a personal appointment, but that’s still a good 11 or 12 hours I’ve spent at the computer. And it got me thinking about this year and what I want to accomplish.

I’ve noticed that a lot of bloggers are setting a Word for their year – a word that represents the tone they want to set for 2013. And while I jokingly declared this year the year of Laurie, I think I need a word to aim for too.

So my word this year?


Less time spent staring at my computer and not at real people.

Less (okay fewer, so we can be grammatically correct) missed soccer times and long walks with Oscar.

Less stuff cluttering up my house and keeping it from being the sanctuary I want it to be.

Less crap cluttering up my mind and less holding on to past hurts.

Less food that isn’t good for my body and isn’t worth the calories.

Less (fewer, again < g >) excuses for why I don’t have time to exercise or to take Laurie time.

Really, just less bad stuff and more letting in the good stuff.

Because joking or not, this is the Year of Laurie. :)

What’s your word of the year? Did you write a post about it? Add your link to the comments so I can check it out…


A new year, a new plan

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Fireworks

I’m not sure it was the smartest thing in the world to launch the blog and then take some time off for the holidays, but there you go.

I try not to make resolutions, because I tend to break those pretty much within the first week of January (often the first day. <g>), but I do have plans for the new year that I’m working on getting into motion.

1. The Budget
I’m a little intrigued by the envelope system that I’m seeing so many people following. I don’t really budget per se, I know generally how much money is coming in every month, and what my fixed expenses are, and I aim not to spend more than the difference, but I can be a bit of a splurger, and I would like to have a bit (okay a lot) more in the savings account than is currently there.
Scarier was realizing how much I’ve paid towards my mortgage in the past four years, and how little it’s decreased in that time, so my biggie, in addition to having more of an emergency fund, is getting that mortgage paid off quicker.
So, the big plan is a spending fast on the wants – jewellery, clothes, shoes, purses, makeup, electronics, etc – for the next three months at least. Better tracking of what’s being spent and where is also in the works, and once I know where the money is going, I can attempt a real budget to start hitting the financial goals.

2. The House
We’ve lived in this house for not quite four years, and we’ve been in a ‘we really need renovations’ place for that entire time. It started when our contractor disappeared right after I bought all new cupboards for our kitchen (fortunately, we hadn’t paid him yet), but those cupboards are still taking over the entire living room, the stuff for the kitchen is all over the basement and every room is sort of trickling down into overflow from things that need to be in other rooms.
This blog is a big part of the house plan – I’m hoping to document all the stuff I want to do here, and that putting it out onto the net will get me out of procrastinating on all the things that need to get done.

3. The Balance
I’ve gotten to a point with my company where I work probably more than I should, though I am doing a lot better at being firm about not working on the weekends. But, because I work from home, it’s a lot harder to turn off at the end of the day and there’s been more than a few nights that have found me still coding at 2 a.m.
My plan for this year is to actually use the room I have set as my office and at the end of the workday, close the door and leave work in that room. This should give me more time to tackle the house projects too, though I kind of feel like I won’t know what to do with my non-work time.

4. The Body
Oh, you know, the whole eat better, exercise more thing. :) I’ve added Treadmill Time into my daily schedule (starting with tomorrow’s work day), so it’ll be a start.

So, that’s the plan. Let’s see how well I can keep it by the end of the year…


I think I’m ready to launch…

So, today we really go live, instead of the I’m almost getting there message I’ve had up for way too long. If you were a subscriber from ‘The Rauch Motel’, I’ve changed the feed and redirected it here, so you won’t need to do anything.

If you subscribe to Bloglovin’, I’ve added it to this site, so you can now follow me there too.

And if you’re new, welcome. Glad to have you. 😀