Migrating from Blogger to Wordpress

I recently had the unique opportunity to migrate from Blogger to Wordpress easily with some help from someone who knows how to do these things. It was a chance to edit the blog as I have a lot of posts about preparing for law school and other things that aren't part of my life at the moment. I'll still leave my old blog up here at blogger, so those people who find that info useful can still access it. The process of migrating from Blogger to GoDaddy hosted Wordpress was a tad confusing so I'm posting this to help anyone else who may be considering it. Here is the new blog: Black Guidebook.

  1. Get a domain & hosting - here are a full set of instructions "How to Launch a Blog for Under an Hour for Super Cheap"

  2. Install Wordpress - There has been a lot written on how to do this so I won't go into this here. Either google how to do this or have somebody do it for you. For me, the main barrier that prevented me from doing this a long time ago was this intimidating step. Serendipity struck when I met Johnny B. Truant who setup wordpress, installed my plugins and theme and everything for me FOR FREE. He will do the same thing for you through the end of the month in order to drum up interest in his website. There is no catch, I just have to pass on the good karma by thanking those who helped me by recognizing them. So thanks Johnny, you're awesome. The guide I linked to above has instructions on how to do this, but it is so much easier to farm this out. Then you just login and it works like blogger with a dashboard and everything ready to go. His website is Learn to Be Your Own VA.

  3. Move over your posts and comments - This is the perfect time for me to start over so I'll be editing out a lot of my old content. I'll leave it live on the old blogger space. There is something to be said for starting over, but I have some items that I want to keep. To actually do this just go to www.yourblog.com/wp-admin/tools.php then Import. Select Blogger from the list and enter your login information. Hit the magic info and it brings over all your posts and comments. I did manage to delete 4 posts that I didn't mean to when editing through the old ones to refocus the content.

  4. Fix all your internal links. If somebody clicks on your old website post links you want them to go to the post located on your new website. To do this: Login to Blogger. Go to Settings. Select Publishing. Click the top link, “Custom domain.” They will try to sell you registration here so you have to go to Advanced Settings. Save your new address. Now all your links will transfer automatically to your own domain, but you’ll need one more step to transfer your blog home page over. Make sure you do this AFTER you transfer all your posts.

  5. Transfer your Google hits by redirecting direct visitors. Login to Blogger. Go to Layout. Go to Edit HTML. Place the following code anywhere after <head>: <meta content='0; url=http://YOURNEWURL.com/' http-equiv='refresh'/> This sends visitors to your blog homepage directly to your new address.

  6. Transfer your subscribers/feed - Sign up for a FeedBurner account. Set up a feedburner feed for your new blog. Login to Blogger. Go to Settings. Go to Site Feed. In the Post Feed Redirect URL box, enter your new FeedBurner address.

Total cost $80 for a year of hosting an domain registration. Total time spent, including editing out old posts 4 hours. Minimum amount of time needed to get up and running, 1 hour.


Have a Travel Mug of Green Tea

This Wednesday was Earth day so for this Friday's tea cups I chose these cute succulents planted in china cups As of yesterday, artist Rebecca Marshall of The Cat Bird Nest is selling them on consignment at Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco. Of course today I'll be having my tea in a travel mug on Alaska Airlines. 

Going green while traveling is hard, but I have made a few little travel green steps:
  • I bring my own empty travel mug. No Starbucks cups or plastic beverage containers onboard for me. If I forget my travel mug I hold onto my cup through the entire flight for refills so I don't go through more than one.
  • I pack a travel pashmina to throw over myself. Its more snuggly than an airline blanket and cuts down on their laundrering. I similarly don't use the airline pillows, many of which are thrown away after only a few uses.
  • In the comments section of my hotel reservation (there is always one) I tell them to remove all toiletries from the room. I bring my own, which I refill over and over and that saves me from having an allergic reaction to Marriott soap and saves a plastic bottle from biting the dust for my 1 night stay. Still haven't figured out how to save the other 8 towels in the room.
  • I only use carry-on luggage and I try not to bring things I don't need, this saves pounds of CO2 from being released carrying my stuff around.
  • I bring my own reusable purse sized tote with me. Its so easy to accumulate little plastic bags from everywhere without it. On the trip home I used to use the drycleaning bag from the hotel for my laundry, now those items go in a little tote as well.
  • I have my flight carbon offset (which doesn't make me feel unguilty and many have said isn't effective, but I do it anyway to support local renewable power sources)
So happy Earth Day, happy Friday and enjoy a cup of tea while plotting ways to be green this weekend. 

The succulent tea cups are on sale at Flora Grubb Gardens (1634 Jerrold Avenue, San Francisco) for $24.95. Rebecca Marshall also has a line of handmade jewelry for sale; learn more about her work at The Cat Bird Nest.


Carry On for Weekend Trip

Tonight I'm off to Florida for a weekend meeting. I have 3 evenings to myself and my hotel is inside Disney World. We'll see if I can look up a friend who is nearby and spend some time hanging out. Simple weekend trips call for a 4-wheeled rolly bag and a handbag big enough for a few magazines and possibly a laptop. I love this leather bag from Lovegrove & Repucci. It is inexpensive and has a cute detail of the key ring.

Vegetable tanned leather. Red nylon liner, inner zip pocket, magnetized closure. Saintly ring attached to red cord to always keep things close by.

8 3/4" x 10 3/4"
$49.00, Buy it here.


Earth Day Discount

I like free stuff. I bet you do to. So here is a freebie (plus shipping) for you. Click on the image above to go to their website. The coupon code is EARTH09. I just tried it and its still working. I love the Butter London polish. I have posted about it before when I was loving their Take Me to Bed Red color.


Monthly WW Update and Inspiration

I haven't moved a muscle to exercise in almost a month. No, I didn't give up on WW. I had foot surgery and have been unable to do more than situps. My one month surgery milestone falls on the same day as my next flight, the earliest he would let me get back in the air. I did find it interesting that:

"The British Government has declared war on obesity, and among its first targets are drinkers. According to British government intel, 'The average wine drinker consumes an extra 2,000 calories a month - the equivalent of 184 bags of crisps.' This comes via The Telegraph, which further notes: 'Few middle class drinkers realise that a couple sharing a bottle of red wine a night are both consuming the equivalent of a Snickers chocolate bar in alcohol.' Appalling. You'd never see the French government release such data."

So my inability to have even an occasional glass of wine because of my meds is saving me a snicker bar every time. Of course, wine is actually ok for you in moderation and as long as you plan it into your overall day. Speaking of planning, I have been tracking and trying to hit my points every day, but with the complete lack of exercise I'll be happy to have a maintenance when I go back next week for weigh-in. I did find the above photo very inspiring. She's exactly my height (5'6") and got down from 211 lbs to her current weight using weight watchers and yoga.


Spring Cure: Week 4 & 5

The Apartment Therapy Spring Cure hits week 5 this week and oh my goodness they picked our worst room, the office. I never did our week 4 post so count this one for both.

Week 4 To Do List:

Deep Treatment (Living Room):
  • Clean up living room and related closets.
  • Repairs are being taken care of this week.
  • Declutter books and all media.
  • Cancel 75 percent of the catalogs you receive. - Catalog Choice let's you unsubscribe en masse.
  • Empty outbox this week. - Freecycle is so much more convenient than driving to the Salvation Army.
  • Confirm what you need to increase or decrease color in each room.
  • Identify what you need to increase or decrease softness in each room.
  • Cook three meals at home this week.
  • Send out your invitations to your post Cure Party.
One-Room Remedy (Laundry/Workout Room):
  • Begin shopping list and enter all prices into a spreadsheet. - We're trying to do everything ourselves without buying too much new. Hubby has asked for a circular saw so he can make me a bench himself and spend less than the $249+shipping that the bench I want costs. His hope is to use it on enough projects versus buying new items to ultimately justify its cost.
  • Decide on the total scope of work to be done. - Breaking the room into 3 seperate areas: landing strip, laundry and workout spaces.
  • Consider hiring a professional organizer. - Nope.
  • Visit a paint store this week to find samples. - Sherwin Williams thought it would be cheaper to give me a fan deck than to keep giving me paint sample strips.
Week 5 to-do list:

Deep Treatment (Office):
  • Take care of repairs this week. - Closet doors fixed.
  • Clean office area and related closets.
  • Vacuum, dust and mop throughout.
  • Declutter files.
  • Tackle the cord octopus.
  • Try a one-day media fast.
  • Buy fresh flowers.
  • Choose at least one hard or soft thing to add or subtract.
  • Cook three meals at home this week. - Chicken Parmesan, Zucchini Strand Spaghetti, and Pizza, it's been a very Italian week.
  • Go to bed early and read before sleep. - It's like an extra weekend day.
  • (Optional) Look into wireless technology. - We're totally set up wirelessly with our router. I would like to also get our printer setup to wirelessly print from our laptops, but that would cost money that isn't in the budget right now.
One-Room Workout (Laundry/Workout Room):
  • Order from your shopping list. - We hit up Lowesfor coat hooks and to look at counters and organization for the laundry area, we'll try and make the rest ourselves.
  • Try paint samples in the room and finalize paint choices. - Choosing the right shade of green which was both energetic for exercise and calming at the same time was hard. I'm still not sure that what we have is right. From time to time it looks like mint chocolate chip ice-cream instead of zen green, but maybe after the room is finished we'll feel differently.


Pacific Plans

Red Junk, originally uploaded by wenzday01.

I wrote about planning our 5th wedding anniversary trip recently in my post "Daydreaming of Europe," well there has been a change of plans. I have been invited to a conference in Singapore the 16-20th of July. So rather than being apart, I'm bringing him with me instead. We'll be crossing the Pacific instead of the Atlantic this summer. I'm going to miss going to Amsterdam, but I'm excited because this will be our first trip to Asia together. Singapore itself isn't really going to fill a week of our time so we'll have a long layover in Hong Kong first. I am just now starting the planning for the trip. I have two fresh Moleskine books which I will distill all of the guidebook and internet info into. I like to make my own guidebooks. They are smaller to pack and more relevent than carrying a huge guidebook. I have now spent over 15 hours looking up things to do and experience. I have a feeling that unlike Paris or London, which really do have a Top 10 list of must sees, we'll be spending a lot of time wandering around.


Have a Cup of Tea

Friday afternoon and I'm dreaming of taking some time off, going home early and having a cup of tea and reading a book for pleasure. Have a cup, it revives you!

This week's cup comes from The Cherry Blossom girl. It's is one a exquisite fashion blog for girls who love tea parties, believe in wonderland and wear pretty dresses on their search for it.


Summer Inspiration from Gwyneth Paltrow

I subscribe to Gwyneth Paltrow's newsletter GOOP. Her surprisingly down to earth newsletter has me watching new movies, trying different workouts and generally thinking that celebrities can be more down to earth than I ever thought possible. Her most recent post was about her Spring looks. While I won't have the budget to buy a $750 dress from Burberry on a whim, I was inspired by her looks and came up with a couple cheaper looks of my own. These two outfits would be perfect for Spring. I'm hoping the weather will cooperate and allow skirts in the near future. If I hit my 10% weight loss goal before it sells out, this purple dress will be heading my way.


Have a Cup of Tea

Danish potter Arendal Keramik makes these teacups. Without a handle you would have to cup them in your hands. Today that sounds very good. I just want to warm myself with a cup of tea. It revives you.


13 Habits of Zen International Travel

Zen Garden, originally uploaded by euart.

Everywhere I travel I see different types of travelers from the harried and stressed who would rather be at home to those who seem to be having the time of their lives. I like to be somewhere in between, in a state of travel zen, with everything researched so that I can be flexible, but not so planned that I am insulated from my surroundings. I want everything to feel familiar, but uncomfortable, because I want to experience what is going on around me.

I don't want to be a road warrior who soldiers on and only sees hotels and airports constantly. My personal travel philosophy is just like the Russian literary term Ostranenie: having the "familiar and commonplace made strange or alien." What you see below are my 13 Habits of Zen International Travel. Even if you haven't figured out your personal travel style, you can follow these on your next trip and perhaps discover your personal travel style along the way:

1. Source your information the way you want to. There is no "right way" and doing it somebody else's way can stress you out. If you need a travel agent, fine. For me a search of travel blogs, a dictionary and a read through of several online guidebook sites and some e-mails to friends who've traveled or live in the area will put me on the right track to start off. My husband wanders Europe with his Rick Steve's guidebook firmly in hand.

Our online favorites:
  • Travelpod - to find the bloggers who have gone before
  • Virtual Tourist or Nile Guide - make your own guidebook online and then print it to take it with you.
  • Trip Advisor - found a great hotel in Venice there, gives unfiltered reviews unlike Expedia and others for both activities and accommodations
  • Fodors - Traditional guidebook online. Good walking maps to print out and put in your travel journal.
  • Frommers - Another traditional guidebook with good online material.
  • Rick Steves - We buy Rick Steves books because they are actually worth taking with you, but for brainstorming and day dreaming about Europe his website is a good place to start.
2. Determine what culture means to you. None of my friends travel the way I do, even my own husband travels differently. We each have different styles of travel, different things we enjoy, and different levels of comfort in uncomfortable or foreign situations. And that is ok.
What is culture? For me to experience a local culture the way I want to usually means that I know someone on a first name basis who lives there and take their advice into account when planning my trip. If that isn't the case then I make friends with the concierge or find a local who blogs.

I don't want to just hit up the top 10 sites and call it a day and never encounter a local except in a financial transaction. That might not be you. Your goal might be to relax, to have a good time and experience the culture through the food, the music, or the shopping. Make sure that you plan your trip with your definition of culture in mind.

3. Be loyal, it pays. Be loyal to an airline or at least an airline alliance. Stay in the same hotels when possible, or get them to give you mileage instead of hotel points. It is worth it to me to spend a little more to buy a plane ticket that is an Alaska airlines partner than to get the best deal.

If I am forced to buy a ticket with another airline I will register for their frequent flier program, even if I think I'm never going to fly that airline again. I can use those miles on things other than flights. My ill used American Airlines miles that I got from flying one of their small partner airlines just turned into 5 magazine subscriptions, which will serve as workout and layover reading material over the next year. If you need to keep your miles from expiring you can buy a few miles for cash. Even a small earnings will protect the rest of them from expiring most of the time.

I have switched from earning miles on my credit card to earning cash back. I was earning enough miles for a mileage fare to anywhere within the US each year. With my cash-back card I can use the money to buy the ticket outright and bring my husband along with a $50 companion fare (can't do that without spending double miles) and still be eligible for upgrades because it isn't a mileage ticket. I also then earn miles on that flight, bought with cash. So what do I do with all the miles I earn? I save them for buying tickets to really expensive places like Europe where I can't use a companion fare.

Why is this a zen habit? Trust me, when you're sitting in a seat the folds completely flat into a bed on a 13 hour flight and have a warm shower at the elite lounge to look forward to when you land you'll know the feeling of true travel zen. Staying loyal means more than just seat upgrades and free flights, it means a consistent travel experience. I know the ins and outs of Alaska airlines, its partners and a few hotels. It means I'm not stressed figuring out something new at 2am. And if something goes wrong, I know the policies of those I'm dealing with so I can immediately get my issues resolved.

4. Know where you're going. This can save you time, money and frustration. Sounds pretty basic to know where you are going, but you can never assume that your taxi driver know where you are going unless you are in London. I have had taxi drivers in Los Angeles force me to get out and ask for directions halfway to my hotel and overpaid for cabs in Chile. You must know your address in the native language. My Spanish speaking friend who I met up with in Chile paid less than half of what I did for the same 4 words of conversation. You don't necessarily need to print out directions, but maybe you should jot down at least the cross streets in your travel notebook. For every trip I take I put together a travel notebook with little directions and maps in it to our hotels, it has saved me more than once.

5. Research when things are open yourself. Guidebooks are great, but they are written once a year at the most. I think going to the website of the attraction directly will save you time and money. We didn't wait in line at the Vatican because I booked a tour with them directly on their website and walked past 300 odd people in line right to the guard who looked at his VIP sheet and moved the velvet rope. We didn't wait anywhere because I had done my research. I also wasn't disappointed by a museum being closed, because I had checked ahead of time. In my notebook I jotted down a list of opening times to way more places than we were expecting to go and when the weather changed our plans in Paris and made Versailles miserable, we hopped the train back to town and had 3 good options to choose from. No stress, no fuss.

6. Take cash. Credit cards can be convenient, but their international transaction fees of up to 3% are not. Even with cards like those from Citi that don't charge the fee there will be situations like using mass transportation, tipping, and others where cash is a must. Get it before you go because there is no guarantee of an ATM when you land. You may have to search one out the next day after you arrive. Make sure the bills are new and have no writing on them. It is far worse to end up short of cash with no credit card option than to have to redeposit it when you get home. Put your cash in a money-belt if it makes you feel better, I don't do this, but if it makes your travel more zen, go for it. I do always have my passport attached to my body and not in a bag and NEVER in a safe.

7. Pack according to your travel style. I would challenge you to do a one week trip with just carry-ons. If you aren't convinced that it makes your life easier, then it may not be for you. Whatever happens, you must carry all of your own luggage during the experiment, don't let your husband/sig-other/friend or others take away your chance to truly live with less by hauling it for you.

I have two ways that I travel, with a wheelie bag and purse for business trips within the US and with an above seat bag and messenger style bag when my means of transportation is primarily mass-transportation or when I leave the US. I have tried other styles, like taking 3 full size suitcases and 2 carry-ons for a 1 week trip and it just isn't worth the hassle. For more ideas, you can read some of my posts on traveling light, or check out the sites OneBag.com and One Bag One World for some great information about how you can pack everything you need for weeks at a time into one bag.

8. Pack according to your tech level. I am not a low-tech traveler, I am a low weight traveler because of my carry-on only packing style. This means that I spend a little extra money on fewer devices. I bought an unlocked cellphone with a built-in GPS, mp3 player, 5mgpx camera, video camera, and wifi just so that I wouldn't have to pack each of these items separately if I need them. With the wifi I can even leave the laptop at home if I need to. I also bought a 13.3" Macbook and gave up my right-click privileges just to get the decreased weight and increased battery life that it comes with.With those two items I can do whatever I need to with less than 5 pounds of weight. Again, this might not be your style, you need to evaluate. If you're going to take a ton of digital photos for instance, you might consider getting an SD card reader for your iPod to download them every night so you don't have to pack a laptop for instance.
Learn to enjoy the process of travel as much as the destination. If you aren't comfortable using Skype for your international calls home, get a phone card before you leave.

9. Let people know your plans. You can meet up with friends who will also be travelling to the same area using websites like TripIt. I also recommend registering with the State Department before you go overseas. This way if anything happens in the area that will effect you the State Department can find you, evacuate you if necessary and provide help. You can sign up for e-news or text messages while you're away. https://travelregistration.state.gov/ This is one case where having the government know my business sure makes me feel better.

10. Know this: All plane tickets are changeable no matter what is written on them, and any fees for changing can be waived with the right airline agent.

11. Creative lodging opportunities can completely alter how you travel. Hostels are not always what you think, many of them have private rooms with bathrooms included, and they almost always cost less than hotels. Homestays are also getting more popular, allowing you a chance to save money and easily meet new people. If you can be loyal to a hotel brand go for it, it will make for a consistent travel experience and overall less stress, for this anybody can use Marriott.com or Expedia, but if your travel philosophy calls for more creativity check these out:
12. Don't have a To Do List that is Inflexible. There is nothing worse than feeling like you "have" to see anything and that this is a once in a life-time opportunity. This mentality will just stress you out. In Rome last year I packed way too much into our 2 days and it was the most miserable part of our trip. In London I let hubby do all the planning, or um, not planning ,and we had a fabulous time. Allow yourself to get lost in a city. If that stresses you out, plan a walk by taking a walking tour or hike:
  • Paris Walks - absolutely fabulous tours, they even let us use the value we lost by missing our Chocolate Tour of Paris (stupid Italian trains) for another tour of Montmartre, fabulous in every way
  • London Walks - great tour of the Tower of London where we learned way more than the average tourist wandering around with the beefeaters. We would go on their tours again in a heartbeat.
  • Every Trail - find local hiking trails
  • Google Maps - I put all of the recommended sites from all of my sources into one Google map as I do my research and then plot out my own little walking tour. I sometimes post them here.
13. Enjoy the process of travel as much as the destination. Ok, this isn't entirely possible, but we can all work on it. At least do your due diligence and see which of the coach seats is best. Treat yourself to a day pass at an airline lounge on a long layover. Don't drag so much stuff through the airport. Invest in a pair of noise cancelling head phones. Don't go for the cheap airport food, McDonalds will leave you feeling queasy. Stay hydrated. And just relax more now that you have planned, packed and prepared according to your own personal travel philosophy rather than what you think you should be doing.


Have a Cup of Tea

Have a cup of tea. It revives you. I love the jewel blue of this tea set. The image is from Domino (may it rest in peace) and I can't find out the manufacturer, but isn't it lovely?


Spring Cure: Week 3 Landing Strip


We have never had a very organized way of getting into and out of the house. Our landing strip where we can always find our keys, the mail, my purse, and any items that need to leave the house that day is actually a jumbled mess taking up 25% of the available counter space in our kitchen. It is completely ineffective and often results in the mail spilling out onto the dining table only to be thrown into a laundry basket and transferred into an unceremonious heap in the office floor every time company is coming over. It's a good thing that I pay my bills online or my tendency to never deal with the mail would doom my credit score.

This week's action items:
  • Create a landing strip to ease the transition between the house and out. No matter what this will not be a horizontal surface.
  • Unsubscribe from mass mail to keep the paper from coming into the house in the first place. To add your name to the do-not-mail list, register online at www.dmachoice.org/dma/member/regist.action
    and www.optoutprescreen.com for credit card offers
  • Install coat hooks in entryway so we stop draping our coats over the dining room chairs
  • Buy a bench to use to put on shoes and store hats, gloves, and mittens in