My new muse

As most of you know, I’ve been working towards a revamp of my blog. It’s been fun and frustrating. But…there’s hope! Today I learned about a new tool that really knocked my socks off!! It is uberlicious in potential….eeeekeee….

It all started when I signed up for Kristen Lamb’s Blogging to Build Your Brand workshop. As I worked with the incredible #WANA711 group coming up with new content ideas and a posting schedule, I realized that content and consistency were only part of the blog picture for me. I felt I needed a new look to tie it all together; to make sure that visually, when you land on my blog you get a sense of me.

After having surfed and admired a ton of pretty spiffy blogs designs, I developed a serious case of blog envy. This wasn’t surprising for me. I am definitely drawn to colorful, pretty things. For instance, when I took up golf four years ago, I had to have cute, matching gear; a pink bag, pink clubs, and matching pink outfits and shoes (in the right shade of pink, no less). Yes, I even have the cutest pink shot counter. It’s an illness, what can I say?

Even hubby didn’t find it unusual when I started talking about wanting my blog look to match all the new, great content (not to mention my sparkling personality) that I had planned. But…how???

I use for my blog and the great thing about it (other than it’s free), is that it’s very plug and play. You sign up; pick a template and BAM, your blog up is up and running in minutes. And there is some functionality you can to customize depending on the template such as the header, background, widgets etc.

But with all these great, fabulous designs visions floating in my head, I am finding the template thing kind of limiting. I have surfed and searched through all of them and nothing speaks to me. Nothing stands out. Nothing rocks my world. I mean what I have is ok, it’s nice; but it’s not me.

When I read Carrie Spencer’s post on domain names and WordPress, it became clear to me that to gain the freedom I want, I’ll have to make the move to at some point. Although it requires self-hosting, meaning there is a cost, it gives you true design freedom. However, even with the thousands of templates and plugins to choose from, I still feel like I’d still need some CSS or web design knowledge to take my blog design to the Natalie level I envision.

Well then Adobe steps up the plate with a whooper in my inbox this morning and I’ve fallen in love.

They have launched a new technology called Muse (beta form) that enables graphic designers to use familiar, free-form tools that we are used to in InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator to design and publish HTML and CSS websites—all without writing code or being restricted to templates.


Check out the videos at: and be prepared to have your socks blown off.

I downloaded the beta version immediately and am super psyched to get started playing around (stay tuned for my feedback in later posts). I mean, I am not graphic design genius but I certainly know my way around Adobe’s three design suites to perhaps pull something together.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t envision having my own blog designed from scratch tomorrow. I still have a lot to learn. I will stick with my plan and buy a premium theme this month to get the “pop” that I want while learning about web design via Muse. But at least now I feel like my web design learning curve may not be quite as steep as I thought. And that’s…uberlicious!

What do you think? Do you have enough graphics background to use this tool to take your design to the next level? Think you’ll try your hand at Adobe’s Muse?



  1. I don’t think I’ll be trying this anytime soon because I still don’t quite know the ropes of what I already have. However, I do seem to be drawn to blogs that have their own domain names because of their great graphics so I could see myself trying this further down the line. The nice thing is because of Kristen’s class and our great group, I have you, Carrie and a host of other tech savvy people to lead me in the right directions. I can’t wait to see what you and your Muse come up with!

    • Thanks so much Kate. It can be intimidating. Although I am no web design or graphics expert, it is stuff I’ve been dabbling in for about 10 years (variety of jobs) so it’s not quite as scary for me and it’s always something I’ve had an interest in so…what better place to learn, practice and explore than on my own blog. 🙂 Thank you so much for the encouragement and vote of confidence – really helps keep me inspired and fired up. And when it’s your turn (which I am sure will come), I’ll definitely be there to help and offer any advice or assistance.

  2. It sounds exciting, natalie, but I don’t knoiw if i could handle it. i don’t know CSS and think, for me, it would be tough to learn. I can find my way around and I have a website that I designed for my sports gear shop, but it wasn’t complicated and it doesn’t pop the way you describe, though it’s good for what I sell. How about you learn this and then teach us how to do it? 🙂

    • Hi Marcia, it sounds like you might underestimate yourself. Already created a website – amazing! I am happy to go into this blog design thing first and share any knowledge I might gain. Lord knows it’ll take me the next year but here’s hoping we can all learn and grow along the way. 🙂

  3. I’m super excited to see if you like this. We have CS5 and I can maneuver my way around Photoshop, but the other two baffle me. Maybe it’s time I get out my CS5 for Dummies book!

    This sounds like fun. Have fun playing and learning. We’ll be here cheering on the new look.

    • Awwww…thank you Tameri! It feels great to be so pumped up and see such potential. I am super excited about this new software because I really think it’ll ease the web design learning curve for sure. I’ve always felt like I should be able to develop something in Photoshop and somehow export it as a website and it sounds like Muse will enable us to do something like that. I can’t wait to try it out; I’ll definitely keep you posted.
      Absolutely…pick up your Dummies book for the others; I guarantee you’ll love them! Check out for some fantastic tutorials as well. If you know Photoshop even a little, the others run so similar you’ll find them easy to maneuver. InDesign is ahhmazing and is super easy to learn and master. I love it. Master pages are a dream. If you are doing brochures or newsletters, it’s fahhhbulous. Illustrator however has been my nemesis and has had the steepest learning curve. I think it likely has the most “power” for creating true graphics and drawing but I’ve found it tough to self-teach. Because I know Photoshop better I tend to find ways to make whatever I want work in that (my graphics aren’t advanced :-)).
      I love the cheering section – woot woot – thank you!!!!!

  4. I admire you for wanting to host your own blog. I couldn’t do it. Though I have to say with the Muse software it might be possible for beginners to use. I hope you share your adventures in redesigning your blog. I cant wait to see the blog you make with it. I too love pink.

    • Thank you Megan! Like I said to Kate, it’s intimidating so I plan to just take it step-by-step with no rush. I will definitely share my adventures and lessons learned as I go. Hopefully that will give everyone the motivation to take their own blogging leaps, whatever they may be.
      Pink rocks!! 🙂

  5. Elena Aitken says:

    I’m impressed.
    Your blog looks great, but I know we all have in our minds what we want them to look like. I’ve been struggling with that myself. BUT… I’m just not ready to make the leap yet.
    Can’t wait to see what greatness you come up with.

    • Thank you Elena. I was actually just admiring your blog this morning – I think it looks great. But yeah, I agree, I think we all have ideas in our heads of what we’d like to see and sometimes our limited experience sort of holds us back. I think it’s all about pacing ourselves. This blogging thing has a bit of a learning curve beyond just writing and I think as we grow and learn, our blog will mature and change with us. When you are ready to take the leap, I am here to help in any way I can. 🙂

  6. Jillian Dodd - Glitter, Bliss and Perfect Chaos says:

    I think your blog looks fantastic as it is!! I’m still learning wordpress, so trying to combat anything else at this point, would be too much to deal with.

  7. I’m too intimidated to play around with software like that, but I like my blog as it is for now. I can’t wait to see what you come up with though! 😀

    • Your blog is gorgeous. I agree, it can be scary Angela. I think having years of playing around with other Adobe programs eases my own fears but we’ll see once I get in and start fooling around. I may regret having ever attempted it. Tks for the vote of encouragement. 🙂

  8. Natalie, I like the clean look of your blog. And the header stands out, but it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the blog. Great job.

    At some point I might move my blog to WP but the whole process just scares me. Right now I’m on Blogger, which offers a lot of templates, plug and play options and overall it is an easy way to have a free blog. I only had a serious issue once (recently) when I tried to change my blog address to my own domain purchased from GoDaddy. Something in the process didn’t work and my blog couldn’t be accessed for a few days. I was frantic! Carrie offered good advice (thank you, Carrie!) and I also got a few pointers from the Google Blogger forum. I hope to make the domain switch soon — just need to sit down and do it 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the vote of confidence Angela, I really apperciate it. Yes, I’ve seen some nice blogs on blogger with a ton of functionality. It’s about sticking with whatever works for you at the time. 🙂 I agree, moving the blog to an entirely new format is definitely scary. I saw that you were having issues when you tried to switch to your own domain – ugh! Nothing more frustrating than that but thankfully you didn’t lose it or the content entirely…phew…. and I am glad to hear that it hasn’t scared you off entirely and that you’ll make the attempt again. I think in our efforts to branch out, we learn so much. Best of luck and I can’t wait to watch your URL go custom. 🙂

  9. I totally went through the same thing in regard to my blog’s design when i first got started. I’m on blogger and back then the templates were sooo limited. I remember picking this one template purely because it looked good in pink. But my blog just did not reflect the vision I had for it or the color scheme I truly wanted. My blog design was the digital equivalent of someone walking around with a bad haircut.
    I haven’t a clue about photoshop et al or html and last spring i finally bit the bullet and had someone design a custom blogger site for me. I have been thrilled with the results.
    Good luck with the design work. You’re very lucky to have the background to be able to do that yourself. If you get stuck and want some help, let me know. I would recommend the person who did my blog without hesitation.
    btw, love the avatar – very cute and full of personality. 🙂

    • LOVE it! What a perfect analogy…walking around with a bad haircut. LOL. That’s so very true. Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s nice to know I am not alone. I am going to go with a premium theme for now and see if that helps while I try to figure out how to design my own but, like you, if I can’t master something I’ll suck it up and pay someone…I think it’s worth it to have something you love and feel reflects your personality.
      I absolutely love your blod design and have admired it for quite some time. If I can’t manage to swing something myself, I’ll definitely buzz you for the name of your designer – they did a GREAT job! Very hip, trendy, and CUTE! To be honest, your blog (style, content, tone, voice) is an inspiration to me and is very similar to what I’d like to do with mine – I think it rocks! I don’t know how many times I’ve laughed out loud reading your posts and enjoyed the more serious ones just as much. And the cat pics…OMG…I must have spent an hour yesterday trying to come up with a funny caption but I suck at that stuff. Regardless, I grin every time I see the pic…a riot! Seriously, fantastic blog on all fronts and hat off to you!
      Thanks for the avatar compliment!!! 🙂 I am in love with my alter ego…LOL!!

  10. OMG Natalie! Love the redesign. And the handbag saying “urban redneck” is too cute. Your graphic image looks like you have cleaned out Beverly Hills for sure. I’m so glad you’ve found what you’ve been looking for in terms of design. I know you’ve gone through a few different ideas and starts.

    I’m still hunting and know my current theme will change. I feel like breaking into U2’s hit “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” I don’t have a graphics or techie background so I hesitate to use more advanced tools or consider moving to other hosting platforms. I know it will come and I’ve been focusing more on the content reboot, so I will quell any blog envy. Bwahahaha. Oh and Blackberry envy. Ha ha ha. Hey, if you see a silver CRV that has crossed the border, cruising down your block blasting Prince music, then a sprightly writer type dressed in black jumping out to grab the Blackberry, pay no attention to the crazy gal. 🙂

    • Awww…thank you Barbara!!! 🙂 I really appreciate such great feedback – luv it! I can almost hear U2…LOL!!! I know it’s tough, especially when you have little experience in graphics or web design. It’s intimidating and scary. But hang in there. I think with time and playing around with WordPress you’ll amaze yourself with the little tips and tricks you’ll pick up. And if I can help anytime, don’t hesitate to fire me off an email and I can see what I can do. In the meantime, I think focusing on your content reboot is fantastic and definitely the priority. You go girl…

      WAHAHAHA!!! Love it…I will be looking over my shoulder for the silver CRV!!!! 🙂

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