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Setting the New Welcome Table

If you are currently seeing these words in Google Reader or Bloglines, you may not know that anything has changed.  But…um…something huge has happened, at least it’s huge in my world.

I’m self-hosting.

What do you think?  When Lindsay asked me how I envisioned the new space, I told her I wanted it to be the visual equivalent of IKEA.  Clean lines.  Functional.  Space saving.  Streamlined.  I hope the new space is easy to use, easy to view.

Why the move now, after over three years on Blogger?  I mean, it was pretty apparent to me after the first few months that I was in this for the long haul.  Perhaps I should have switched over in 2007.  But I’ve always been a late-adapter and I usually wait until the moment comes to me rather than push myself to be ready on an external timeline.  And one morning, I woke up and decided that I could do this, due to three main impetuses:

  1. I wanted to be able to upload sound files and have them look nice too.  I’ve used the still-picture-and-youtube trick in the past, but I wanted to be able to record myself playing the Irish Penny Whistle or have the Wolvog sing “Helter Skelter” and have it simply be an autoplayer embedded in the post.
  2. I wanted the site to look a little more…mature.  Is that the right word?  I felt self-conscious that I wasn’t self-hosting and I’ve been at this for a long time.  At the same time, I’d say to myself, “but Postsecret doesn’t self-host.”  And finally, I realized that I wanted to self-host–that it wasn’t a real-sites-self-host sort of thing, but more of a desire to have my space honestly be my own and under my control.  It’s sort of the same thing with the curtain-door in the kitchen of my house: we lived without doors for years and it never bothered me and I pointed out a lot of reasons why I didn’t need doors.  And putting in curtains instead of doors is not more “mature” per se, but it gave me the control I needed.  If that makes any sense.
  3. I wanted to ensure the longevity of the site.  I’ve always assumed that one day, when I am finished writing here, I will pass the site along to another person who will take the reins and continue with the idea, adding in their own story.  And while that day is far off–I assume it will be a bit like this self-hosting move, where I wake up and it simply feels like the right thing to do–I wanted to make sure that I had done this heavy work now rather than leave someone to do it later.

So this is my new home.

And it terrifies the crap out of me.  And I have spent a good chunk of the last week in tears.  And Brice at Bluehost is more god than man.  And Lindsay deserves a pie and I will make her one this week.

In addition to being a late-adapter, I am a poor adapter.  That’s probably the best way to describe me.  I’m excited to try new things, but I tend to get overwhelmed quickly, start to doubt my capabilities, and then tune out–spending more time contemplating my anxiety than paying attention to what I need to learn.

Pulling together this site felt a lot like being back in printmaking class, the one where the one-armed boy was king simply because he didn’t shut down in the face of new knowledge, but instead paid attention to the instructions and followed them.  He had beautiful plates throughout the whole year.  I had beautiful plates only in the spring, and only after I stopped allowing my anxiety to be louder than my teacher’s voice.

Lindsay got to witness my fantastic breakdown a few hours into the process of building this site.  I had such deep regrets, my first instinct was to walk away from the whole thing.  I had nightmares that night that involved bumping into an old friend I knew from college and haven’t seen since.  In my dream, I tried to hug him from behind and he coldly said, “why are you hugging me?  I don’t want you to touch me.”

I woke up in the morning and decided that I had three choices.  I could be myself and wait until the buzzing died down on its own as I usually did and get to a place where I was comfortable with self-hosting, perhaps a few months from now.  I could quit the idea of self-hosting.  I could remind myself how much time I waste worrying and jump into this feet-first, learning everything I can about this new software without worrying about how long it takes.

So that is what I did.  I took my time and built this site and played around with the different features and asked a lot of questions.  And when I was ready, I moved the old blog over, redirected the links, and settled in.  Oh, and the whole thing was a goat rodeo that ended well with a massive headache to boot.

And now the time has come to welcome you in and perhaps even propose a toast to the future of community.  Please raise your pomegranate martini–to our corner of the blogosphere, our collective community, our individual spaces.  May they always feel welcoming, may they always be a home.

Er…and um…what do you think of the new space?


1 C. { 09.28.09 at 10:33 pm }

It’s beautiful. Of course it is, but it bears saying: everything you want it to be, it is (and you are)–professional, open, welcoming. A toast to the new here!

2 Michelle { 09.28.09 at 10:54 pm }

A big toast to you! Congratulations! I love the new site!

3 Battynurse { 09.28.09 at 10:58 pm }

I love the new space and welcome to your new home!!! I think it’s great and good for you for jumping in feet first. I will say though it freaked me out a little because it showed 31 posts from you in my reader and all I could think was “but I caught up with her on Friday, could she have written 31 posts that quickly!”

4 Decemberbaby { 09.28.09 at 11:08 pm }

I love it! It’s gorgeous and bright and fabulous!

5 edenland { 09.28.09 at 11:13 pm }


*Walks in and admires the new spacious living room*

I love what you’ve done to the place!! And it’s still you, still your voice. Well done.

6 Lin { 09.28.09 at 11:16 pm }

Mmmm…thank you for the pom martini! And, thank you for the beautiful new site. Off to get used to the new digs! 😉

7 Sarah { 09.28.09 at 11:18 pm }

love the new digs! And the anxiety over-riding your ability to learn, I get that completely.
Now, would you like a new houseplant? xxx

8 fattypants { 09.28.09 at 11:18 pm }

It is wonderful. So bright and everything looks great.

9 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 09.28.09 at 11:31 pm }

I love the clean look, but I do miss the old beautiful header.

Hope you’re feeling settled now and that the rest of the transition is smooth!

10 Gwynn { 09.28.09 at 11:37 pm }

It’s lovely! Congratulations!! I know what it’s like to live with that anxiety (I started my first blog in October and didn’t get up the courage to hit the publish button until February!) But I’m so glad you soldiered on. This site deserves it’s very own place. Welcome home Stirrup Queens!

11 Kymberli { 09.28.09 at 11:45 pm }

Just adding in my homewarming wishes here, too! The new site looks great. I’ve been thinking of decluttering and cleaning up my space for a while now — the fresh, clean look here may just give me the motivation to do it over there.

12 Lavender Luz { 09.29.09 at 12:02 am }

Wowwwweeeeee! I love it. Totally worth the breakdown.

(easy for me to say).

13 BabyMakingJourney { 09.29.09 at 12:06 am }

I do pull you up in Google Reader first- but when I saw I had 40 something new messages I knew something what up. 🙂 Congrats on the new Stirrup Home!!

14 Rach { 09.29.09 at 12:07 am }

I’m with baby smiling in the backseat, I miss the header 🙁 I miss the colour the old site had….I say this even though my blog is about to undergo a huge change itself!

Look it’s your blog and as long as YOU’RE happy with it thats all that matters, we are all but visitors. And how chuffed was I to find that I had to do nothing to add you to my reader list, did it all automatically – gee technology still amazes me!

15 Wishing4One { 09.29.09 at 12:09 am }

I love it. It is beautiful. I am so sorry now that I sent you that email, like you needed another question at this time. I have updated your links ony my blog, and again congrats, what an awesome location for your ever flowing wealth of info. xoxoxoxo

16 deathstar { 09.29.09 at 1:15 am }

I actually like it – I really do! It much cleaner, simpler to navigate. Though it did take me a minute to figure out what the pomegranate seeds were.

17 Kristin { 09.29.09 at 1:35 am }

It is amazing!

18 luna { 09.29.09 at 1:55 am }

congrats on the new digs! bravo and kudos on the big move.

I like the look and especially the pomegranate seeds, though I do miss the old gorgeous header art.

19 geohde { 09.29.09 at 2:22 am }

Very nice, Mel.

I’m not used to reading you on a while background, odd how things like that change the feel of a blog.

Now I understand why my reader has been picking up dozens of old SQ posts all day 🙂


20 Betty M { 09.29.09 at 3:13 am }

Loving the new look. More mature. Cleaner, easier to read, way quicker to load on the phone – excellent. Only niggle is the typeface under the title and for the pomegranate seeds but that is just pernickty!

21 WiseGuy { 09.29.09 at 3:18 am }

Alrighty! I am dedicating the last cup of chai I had to the new look and new abode of SQ!!! I like the new interface….it is less colour heavy than the previous one….but …

a) My eyes did not adjust to the new interface. Was in a little shock *hangs head in shame*

b) Would LFCA continue in the previous place, or a new abode?

c) W

22 WiseGuy { 09.29.09 at 3:20 am }

Woops, I accidentally hit the Submit button!

c) Would you tweak this layout a little more to have the columns emerge cleaner?

Welcome to your new abode and we will throng this website as much as we did in your previous home! 🙂

23 karlinda { 09.29.09 at 3:59 am }

It looks great! Congrats on the move.

24 SCY { 09.29.09 at 6:17 am }

It’s beautiful Mel 🙂 Really beautiful – well done!


25 Angie { 09.29.09 at 6:37 am }

It is like a virtual Ikea–all clean lines and Swedish. I do love the pomegranates in the header, and as buttons. So cool. Thumbs up from one dbm in the corner.

26 Shelli { 09.29.09 at 6:54 am }

I love it. I went the way of the pared-down look myself a few months ago, and still love it.

27 Lyrehca { 09.29.09 at 6:55 am }

Love the new streamlined look. Congrats!

28 Orodemniades { 09.29.09 at 7:13 am }

I freakin’ love it!!!!!1!!eleventy!

29 tash { 09.29.09 at 7:16 am }

I’ll say something as soon as I can get my jaw off the floor. I feel like I’ve just experienced a “reveal” on a design show.

30 LJ { 09.29.09 at 7:29 am }

Well done my dear. While I may have brought some code to the table, your perseverance built this site.

31 Kir { 09.29.09 at 8:24 am }

Mel, it’s wonderful. (although I resist change and like LOTS of “Stuff” so the old site might have been overwhelming, but it was comfortable to me…I like me my chatkes..Is that the way you spell it) however, it’s your voice and your space and I really like it. Congrats and welcome to your new home!

32 Life in Eden { 09.29.09 at 8:29 am }

It is beautiful and chic … just like this cool furniture store I know. 😉

33 Heather { 09.29.09 at 8:30 am }

I love this new site! It loaded much faster for me. I’m so proud of you for jumping in head first! I KNOW this was huge for you! CONGRATS!!!

34 loribeth { 09.29.09 at 8:44 am }

It’s looks great, Mel. Definitely different!! (& I’m another person who doesn’t do change easily or well) but I like it!

I knew something was up when I saw 35 new Stirrup Queens posts in my reader last night. ; )

35 Katie { 09.29.09 at 8:44 am }

I love it!!! It’s simple and clean and fabulous! Congratulations!!!

36 Delenn { 09.29.09 at 8:53 am }

I miss the purple…but the clean is keen!

37 Calliope { 09.29.09 at 9:14 am }

it is so perfect & so beautiful. I am so proud of you!!!!!! It feels like a crisp and refreshing space.

38 niobe { 09.29.09 at 9:19 am }

Love it!

If you’re in the mood for a couple of very minor suggestions, read on, realizing that my aesthetic taste may be entirely different than yours. If you’re not in the mood, stop right here.




Minor suggestions: I think you might want to tweak the column size a little, since some of the edges are getting cut off.

Also (and it depends on your vision for the blog and all of that) but I might add a tiny bit of color — even if it’s just a pale grey or some extremely subtle or maybe play around with the placement of the sidebars or perhaps add a little more space between the header and the blog text — to make the layout a bit easier on the eye.

I love the clean, uncluttered look of the header, but the blog itself is a little hard to read, given the colors and multiple objects in the sidebars.

39 Katie { 09.29.09 at 9:19 am }

Oh my, love the new scheme, and ditto the pomegranate seeds!

40 Natalie { 09.29.09 at 9:33 am }

Love it. Good job, Mel! I can’t do anything but self-hosting… but then, I’m a web designer and I have serious control issues. LOL I think you’ll really appreciate the freedom!!

41 MeAndBaby { 09.29.09 at 9:38 am }

Love the new site! Kudos to you for self-hosting. I thought my reader had issues when I suddenly had a gazillion new posts from you. This makes perfect sense. Very nice. Congrats!

42 Kate { 09.29.09 at 9:43 am }

Congratulations on the new site – it’s very much like IKEA – clean, functional and relaxing. Well done!

43 Eve { 09.29.09 at 9:46 am }

Looks great! Love the clean look. Congrats on taking a risk!!!!

44 andreajennine { 09.29.09 at 9:58 am }

LOVE the new space; it looks fabulous!

45 mrs spock { 09.29.09 at 10:15 am }

I was wondering why my Google Reader was showing 32 posts for today. I was like, whoa!, Mel has been prolific!

I like the new site- it seem light and airy.

46 Quiet Dreams { 09.29.09 at 10:17 am }

Love it! Much better than IKEA! 🙂 And hopefully my wallet will not be empty when I leave. 😉

I was so happy to check in after YK and see the poms. They make me so happy.

And kudos to you for challenging yourself and doing something so scary. Maybe next time it will be easier.

47 Mya { 09.29.09 at 10:30 am }

I really like your new space. Much cleaner and easier to navigate.

48 meghan { 09.29.09 at 10:34 am }

Welcome!! I love your new place. You need to have a little housewarming party, a la the Lushary perhaps??

And selfishly, I am even more excited about this move because I can now read you at work!

49 a { 09.29.09 at 10:52 am }

Goat rodeo…hahaha!

Google Reader knew something was up, just not quite what it was!

I love the pomegranate header, but I do agree with Niobe. The margins/column sizes need a little tweaking. The IComLeaveWe button is obscuring your words, and the comments are running outside the lines.

Nice job overcoming your doubts and learning new things. It’s a new adventure!

50 serenity { 09.29.09 at 10:56 am }

I LOVE IT. It’s gorgeous and perfect and very YOU. Give it some time, and I promise you’ll love your new space just as much. If not more.


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