steve.fm

A work in progress

Today is Equal Pay Day

Lately, it seems like there is a day for everything, but Equal Pay Day is worth observing — and it’s a cause worth supporting.

Equal Pay Day was started by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 to highlight the gap between men and women’s wages. Equal Pay Day is held every April to symbolize how far into the year women need to work to make what men did in the previous year, according to the NCPE. It is always on Tuesday to “represent how far into the next work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.” In other words, because women earn less on average, they must work longer for the same pay.

Absolutely bananas.

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The Food Lab: Real Texas Chile Con Carne

This past Christmas, my wife’s parents bought me The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt. It’s definitely one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever owned. Kenji sets up a great foundation for every topic, and encourages experimentation to achieve better results.

The first full recipe I attempted was the Real Texas Chile Con Carne. Using whole dried chiles for the base made for an impossibly rich and smokey flavor. I shared it with friends this past February and can’t wait to make it again. From the recipe:

Real Texas chile con carne is made with beef, chilies, and not a whole lot else. This is the real deal. A bowl of hot Texas red with chunky, fall-apart tender beef chuck and fresh dried chilies.

Why this recipe works:

  • Using a blend of whole dried chilies delivers maximum flavor to the stew.
  • We sear whole chunks of beef chuck before cutting them into chunks. This ensures that the beef sears instead of steams, delivering better browning and more flavor in a minimal amount of time.

Note: This makes for a moderately hot to hot chili. You can vary the heat by adding or removing the hot chilies and the canned chipotles.

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Re: Design

Redesigning things is one of my favorite things to do. While that can come at the expense of other creative pursuits, it can also have a positive effect – Blowing up and rebuilding designs enables me to do more. I hope this new format will be a step forward.

I want this site to be more than just a collection of posts about building the site. Instead of building a "meta-blog" about creating a blog, I'd want to create a site that lets me flexibly post things that cater to my interests.

In the future, I'm hoping to post more about photography, to share things I find, to post recipes I've been making, or to post updates to projects I'm working on. Caverly.co will continue to be my place to explore regular creative projects. The hope is that this site will be a home for writing, photographs, and sharing.

Defining the Problems

As I mentioned earlier, much of my motivation for changing a design hinges whether or not that design is working for me. This could be expressed in myriad ways, but it typically boils down to two things: first, a lack of features or functionality, and second, my desire to shake things up and try something new.

This time around, it was a bit of both. Recently, in my spare time at work, I've been working on tackling a few deficiencies with our WordPress deployment. It's not typically something that I get to do, so I was excited to get my hands dirty and solve some problems. Once I cleared those out of the way, I realized I had whet my appetite to solve some of my own problems.

In order to tackle problems, I find that it's helpful to define them. Primarily, I didn't think the format of the site lent itself to different types of content. Secondarily, I didn't like how unfinished things felt. I'm fine with having a site that looks like a rough draft for a little while, but the last time I tackled something was in September 2016. It was time for an upgrade to fix some of these issues.

Finding Inspiration

After I looked at the default WordPress templates, I started to think about the elements I would need for the type of site I was hoping to create. My favorite publications these days are newsletters like NextDraft, online and print magazines like The New Yorker, and mostly technology blogs like Daring Fireball. (I also spend far too much time on Pinterest and Instagram.)

In capturing the essence of my favorite sites, I wanted posts about the same topic to be more easily discoverable. I can read for hours by scrolling a feed of posts or clicking through to items that are truly related. WordPress has a great taxonomy for organizing content, so I decided to start there. I would continue with my long feed of posts, but create more meaningful links to related content. I would also build sections for popular posts, monthly archives, and popular categories to help generate more interest.

Now that I had figured out what components I wanted to include, i turned my attention to creating a visual design with more finish. Oftentimes, to overcome blank page syndrome, I'll look through photographs to find scenes or colors that inspire me and drop them right into an artboard. I used the above photo of the mountain from Unsplash and created this design. 2017 Redesign

Implementation

To be honest, there's probably a good amount of this design that I'll never implement – like that featured post section with the hero image; it's super snazzy, but having to click to "read more" isn't something I love making people do. If you're already here reading, I'm not going to stop you. There are probably parts I'll implement that aren't a part of this design as well – like pagination, and a footer that lets people know who made the site.

I spent the majority of my weekend coding the design into a new WordPress template. All-in-all, I'm happy with it. It's a great start.

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