It Won Awards from Its Peers

Gardens of Ohio
Gardens of Ohio
Gardens of Ohio Lens

Gardens to see in Ohio won awards of LOTD and Purple Star on Squidoo.

Each blog and website niche has its own style, and ‘Gardens to see in Ohio’ is an example of a lens that the Squidoo community approved of, and it is a very helpful resource for those wanting to visit Ohio and see some gardens.

To learn more about Squidoo:

You can join Squidoo, to write your own pages, earn some income, or just participate in the community.

Join Squidoo here.

HTML and CSS 101

For the extreme basics:
What is HTML?
The abbreviation of Hyper Text Markup Language.
It was invented by “the father of the internet”. It is the code that writes the information you see in a visual and organized manner. A programming language, it uses a combination of tags which are encased inside the greater and lesser signs:<>

There are all sorts of tags which rule how words and images are set up on the browser screen. It has been changing in order to give a more uniform set of commands across systems and browsers.

What is CSS ?

It is an abbreviation for Cascading Style Sheets. Another programming language that is used in tandem with the HTML language, it directs the details of how the HTML tags look, the appearance or styling.

Size, position, color are all examples of details that CSS is now used to dictate. CSS creates some of the same style and look that used to be only available through the use of images, all with different typefaces, additions such as borders, and more.

I have some links to online help, but if you really want to learn it right and know what you are doing, get a reference book. The one illustrated here is for beginners.

Links I refer to:
HTML tags
CSS Tutorial

Generally, begin learning the HTML and then add skills in CSS.

Themes for WordPress

I changed my theme on, my garden site, again. Elegant themes created one that was far superior to the others that I had used previously. The others were clunky and slow loading, this one is much faster; it also has all the slots for a garden site: lots of images to draw interest and videos along with widget spaces, etc.

Still if I was going to go back to one of the previous ones I would choose the Studiopress type based on Genesis. I was always happy with that, but I had used an early free one and they no longer supported the free themes, so I stopped using it.

These are the companies I would most recommend, although I know Thesis get a lot of love from many people. For a free theme I like this one, ‘Swift’. I wanted to learn how it worked and that is why I keep it. It has lots of power and customization for a free theme.

I highly recommend a couple premium theme sites for those who use WordPress:

Genesis Framework for WordPress

Good Related Posts Code For Blogger

related posts
handy script

I recently changed my theme template for blogger again. They have a vanilla one that is much like the one ported from Elegantthemes that I was using. I had changed the theme on my garden website, so I no longer needed something that related as closely. Still, I should brand it to relate to the whole “Ilona’s Garden” group of sites. Something else for the to-do list.

But -as usual- when I pressed the save button to change the template, I also had forgotten my customized add-ons. Using the related post’s scripts and the collapsible scripts means they should be added manually –before saving! Duh.

What You Really Want To Read About

Anyway, the original post with both the code and directions for installing it are on the post, “Related Posts Widget”.

Now everything works again (still have to get the analytics and the collapsible code in place). One day I will remember to do all the fine points… I change themes and templates enough that it should be second nature by now.

Anyway, I love this code, it is so much better than the LinkIn one that I used before. I don’t like the way it takes over your keyword and has the link to distract people from what you hope they will do …read more of your posts!

See it in action

New Directions and Online Time

I’ve started in some new directions with my writing and webpage work, it is requiring lots of time to acquire the knowledge and do the work. That is the number one lesson for those who want to build a career in an online business: it takes work, time to learn, and time to show results. Patience and grit are two very good qualities to cultivate.

OK, what new directions exactly?
One of the main ones is Squidoo, and I will be writing more about that in this blog, the other -which seems to ride sidecar in about every online endeavor I know – is marketing. So posts here will have sections on Squidoo and on marketing.

I’ve had one online guru tell me essentially that Squidoo is not a good use of my time and effort. I respect that person immensely, but I am willing to follow what I think is a good direction for me at this time in spite of that advice.
The cons cited:
Squidoo is “home to more spam than you can believe”.

“don’t do stuff that lends itself to that kind of associated company. There’s very little upside when Google bans or downgrades your stuff because of the rest of the content in there.”

As I have been digging further into Squidoo’s forums and related blogs I know that is a concern in their community and one that they are attempting to address. It is unclear how effective those steps are or will be…. they are fairly new and vastly stepped up due to Google’s “Panda” algorithm, which has rearranged how search traffic is directed towards some of the big “site farms”, places which have loads of people making their webpages, like Hubpages and Squidoo, etc.

Why is all this important? On two counts. If you write online in a blog or have a website, you want that sight to have eyeballs to read and interact with it. If you want to make money online you have to be seen, be known (branding), and be trusted along with knowledge of marketing. It takes a specialized type of knowledge and effort, lots of effort, for both. this site can help provide the first part…. the second part is totally up to you (but you can be encouraged and supported in the endeavor!)

That is it for now, friends. Next up I will start writing about the Squidoo experience.

Expect to see ( then linked here)

  • What Is Squidoo
  • How to Build Lenses
  • Marketing and Moneymaking on Squidoo
  • What I’m Doing on Squidoo

Save Time in Launching Your Blog

I’ve worked very hard for many years getting some of my blogs to just be on the horizon level. I’ve had periods of success and periods ( and blogs) which languished in no man’s land. I might switch emphasis, but I don’t quit. In trying to improve my blogging ( I’d say I became serious about it a year ago or so) I joined Third Tribe, read boatloads of Problogger and Copyblogger posts – along with many others. So this is a post to save you time in covering some of that ground.

Success is more than talent… it took me a huge portion of my life to get that. Tuck it into your consciousness, now, and save yourself lots of grief and frustration.

I mentioned the ultimate guide for a blog launch and reiterate it here. Get Tentbloggers Starter Kit. It is the easiest, most succinct, compendium of starter advice. While you are at it, pick up his plugin for wordpress which adds your author information on your rss feed. I wish I had that YEARS ago. Because people are shameless about taking your crafted blogposts for themselves.

Stayed tuned for more updates to how to blog better, and expand your social media presence.

New WP Update Messed Up My Visual Editor

The 3.1 has messed up the visual editor on several blogs of mine, including this one. I haven’t found the conflict yer, which is what I guess the problem would be. It could be inside the themes or one of the plugins. I hope to find the answer soon.

Ultimate Guide for Blog Launch

all along the avenue
I’ve been a fan of “Tentblogger” John Saddington for a long time. He has some awesome posts on his site for everything you want to know about blogging, especially about getting started. I came across his “Ultimate Guide which is like a sitemap to all the important steps to take in getting a start in blogging.

Great reference tool to put into your bookmarks!

The Ultimate Guide to Launching Your Blog

I Want To Be Rich, I Want To Be Famous, I Want A Blog!

rich n famous

rich n famousYou are smarter than that… but the headline grabbed you. What fool says things like this? Well, from a TV ad I saw recently, and from lots of stuff I read online, there are many such fools. But not you, and if you read on I will tell you things that I know about this. Things that will help you if you are just starting out. You’re looking at what you think are my proofs, aren’t you? The proof is in the pudding and all that…  “If this blogger is so knowledgeable, why doesn’t she (first lower indicator and expectation arrives with gender- I’ll share on that later) have lots of hits, lots of comments… at least a blip on the horizon?

OK, here’s is part of what you learn from this post:  some things NOT to do, which can be just as important as the things you should be doing. Number one….

Things NOT to Do

(1)  If you change your website url…. people will no longer find you, and worse case scenario (like here) is that you will have to start all over again. In a much tougher competitive environment.

(2)  Second mistake I’ve made… but on purpose… is that I haven’t updated this blog. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it for a long time, and I was busy working on my other blogs. So this one just sat and became the sandbox for theme problems or tryouts I worked on, again, for the other blogs. The inverse rule: what you must do when you blog, is update regularly. You must write content. a blog cannot thrive if it is set up like an old static website. In fact, online activity has changed so much that websites cannot simply sit there without updating and lots of new content being created. The people who surf and use the web can no longer waste their time on sites that don’t care. Lack of updating on some sort of regular basis (it can be monthly or weekly or daily) is showing indifference.

Alright… that is enough for now about things I learned the hard way. Let’s talk about things I know now, and that you will hear from some very successful bloggers if you dig around finding their secrets of success.

A blog has to be marketed. This is what those promises of making an easy website and getting found in the search engines don’t tell you honestly. It is a lot of work and you have to sell your blog and your writing. You will be in the process of branding, creating your own brand. Like Coca Cola hopefully, but that is part of what sets your blog apart from gazillions of others that are populating the web. If you work very, very hard to write and create a beautiful website, it will not be read unless you market it. There are many things to do in this, but for this post let’s just promote the idea, in case you weren’t aware how much this matters.

A blog should have an adequate, nice looking theme (design or style). right now this one is very plain, but that is all right. It has many features in the backend where the work of functioning resides, it is pleasant looking in the way it uses the page space, and the navigation works well. Believe me on this. I have sites where I didn’t begin with good navigation and although I had been aware of this, the themes sometimes didn’t work well with what I was trying to do, either. It is hard to fix this. Not impossible, but try finding a theme that makes it easy for you to show off your pages and your posts to the readers… don’t make them dig for the information they need.

Be SEO friendly. This goes along with the importance of marketing. The search engines are what people use to find your posts and thus, your blog, which will make you famous, if not rich. Well, it will help put on on the map anyway. I bet you use Google, or if you are an iconoclast, Bing, to get here. Because I sure am not linked from anywhere. Not even from my own blogs yet. (SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”).

  • Before you do anything change the url structure you use. If you are using a wordpress blog… or even a joomla cms or anything that has goofy numbers and no search terms or key words in the link, Change It Now… you will be so grateful someone told you about this early. Make it pretty- something that includes the post headline, etc. maybe under the category. Do it now before you have lots of posts and changing it cause weirdness in the way wordpress finds your posts and the solutions tell you to do scary things like change your htaccess file.  Don’t know what that is? Just change the url structure now. Please. This is found ( in WordPress) under “Settings” and “Permalinks”.  More info on that.
  • Learn about SEO,  copywriting ( which is what you do when you make your headline interesting, your post readable, and other good things like that). You can find helpful information on site like Problogger and Copyblogger.  Google, itself, will helpfully tell things that will help them serve up your site more easily.
  • Learn how Facebook and Twitter can be used to market your blog and grow community. These are two aspects that not only make blogging more fun for you and interesting for your readers, but are two easy ways to market without as much time, money, or expertise as some of the other methods. If you don’t know about this side of the social media coin, it is not a steep learning curve, just one of the steps that many people use now for online communication.

Of course, if you would like it to be just you and and your blog, forget everything I’ve said here.

And, oh yes, I almost forgot. If you are a woman you must work much harder to have a high profile blog. But maybe “Mommybloggers” break the rule.

About Beginning With WordPress


wordpressI see many new people coming into the blogging and website scene who want to use WordPress as their platform. That is a good thing, but in the learning process they want to skip the basics and jump into advanced level customization, even before learning how to navigate the basic posting and administrator processes. That is not such a good thing.

I see frustration ahead for those people.
Continue reading “About Beginning With WordPress”

Add A Special Character

Sometimes you want to write something and use a character that isn’t on the keyboard – there are alt formulas, but I found they don’t always give the desired result. So sometimes I need a chart to refer to. My favorite one disappeared from the net, so I had to go looking and found this good resource:
ok- so now it is easier to just list them here!

¢ – cent
£ – pound
¤ – currency
¥ – yen
€ – euro sign
§ – section
© – copyright
® – registered trademark
™ – trademark
° – degree – e.g. 45°
¹ – superscript 1
² – superscript 2
³ – superscript 3
· – middle dot
¸ – spacing cedilla
¼ – fraction 1/4
½ – fraction 1/2
¾ – fraction 3/4
¿ – inverted question mark
× – multiplication
÷ – division
• – bullet = black small circle
◊ – lozenge
℠ – Service Mark
℃ – Celsius
℅ – care of
℉ – Farenheit
№ – numero symbol – number sign
℗ – Sound Recording Copyright
℞ – Prescription Take pharmaceutical symbol
Ω – Ohm
℧ – Inverted Ohm
☀ – sunshine – sun
☁ – cloudy – cloud – dark cloud
☂ – raining – rain – umbrella
☃ – snow – snowman
☄ – shooting star
★ – star solid
☆ – star outline
☇ – lightning
☈ – thunderstorm
☉ – sun
☊ – ascending node
☋ – descending node
☌ – conjunction
☍ – opposition
☎ – phone
☏ – phone symbol outline
☐ – check box
☑ – check box check mark
☒ – ballot box with X
☓ – St. Andrew’s Cross
☚ – left-pointing index finger
☛ – right-pointing index finger
☜ – left-pointing index finger
☝ – upwards pointing index finger
☞ – right pointing index finger
☟ – downwards pointing index finger
☠ – skull & crossbones
☡ – caution sign
☢ – radioactive sign
☣ – biohazard sign
☮ – peace sign
☯ – yin & yang
☹ – frowning face
☺ – smiley face
☻ – black smiley face

☽ – waxing crescent moon
☾ – waning crescent moon
♈ – Aries
♉ – Taurus
♊ – Gemini
♋ – Cancer
♌ – Leo
♍ – Virgo
♎ – Libra
♏ – Scorpio
♐ – Sagitarius
♑ – Capricorn
♒ – Aquarius
♓ – Pisces
♔ – White King
♕ – White Queen
♖ – White Rook
♗ – White Bishop
♘ – White Knight
♙ – White Pawn
♚ – Black King
♛ – Black Queen
♜ – Black Rook
♝ – Black Bishop
♞ – Black Knight
♟ – Black Pawn
♠ – black spade suit
♢ – red diamond suit
♣ – black club suit = shamrock
♤ – red spade suit
♥ – black heart suit = valentine
♦ – black diamond suit
♧ – red club suit
♨ – hot springs
♩ – musical quarter note
♪ – musical eighth note
♫ – musical single bar note
♬ – musical double bar note
♭ – flat note
♮ – natural note
♯ – sharp note
✁ – cut above
✂ – cut here
✃ – cut below
✄ – scissors
✆ – public pay phone
✇ – film reel – tape spool
✈ – airport jet airplane
✉ – envelope mail email
✌ – victory sign
✍ – signature – sign here
✎ – pencil diagonal down
✏ – pencil
✐ – pencil diagonal up
✓ – check mark
✔ – heavy check mark
✕ – multiplication sign X
✖ – heavy multiplication sign X
✗ – ballot X
✘ – heavy ballot X
✝ – Latin Roman Cross
✞ – Latin Cross 3D shadow
✟ – Latin Cross outline
✠ – Maltese Cross
✡ – Star of David
❛ – quotation mark single turned comma
❜ – quotation mark single comma
❝ – quotation mark double turned comma
❞ – quotation mark double comma

I used it to find the checkmark I wanted to denote that I had finished a job on the to-do list on my Garden File blog. ✔ just copy and paste!