WordPress tip: Elma Studio

I had a self-hosted WordPress blog for five years, until early 2012. WordPress taught me (almost) everything I know about HTML and CSS and enabled me to work with (and bemoan) any other content management systems in my professional life. This blog is hosted at wordpress.com, so customization is limited and I cannot code my own themes from scratch, nor use downloadable free or premium themes. This is the only downside of wordpress.com for me; otherwise it’s very user-friendly and I have not missed my self-hosted blog.

However, coming across the fantastic themes over at Elma Studio I briefly considered going back to being self-hosted just to be able to use them!

I love that the themes are so simple and clearly structured, as well as the font and color choices. My favorites are definitely their two latest themes but any one of them costs just 12 Euros (or about $16) to download.

I have not yet used any of the Elma Studio themes that are available for purchase. I am, however, using their theme “Yoko” which is freely available to wordpress.com users and I love it. Again: everything is clean and simple, and there are none of the ugly surprises that are so common in free themes like comment fields that don’t match the rest of the design or off-center images.

Elma Studio is Hellen and Manuel, a German web design team. Naturally, the website and all themes are available in English – but I’m all the happier to promote some excellent WordPress work from my home country.

Were I to make the switch back to a self-hosted blog, I would most definitely make use of their special bundle offer which gets you access to all ten themes currently displayed on their website as well as all new themes that will be released within one year after purchase (at least six). The bundle costs 36 Euros (or about $48).

Visit Elma Studio here!

PS – I am not in any way paid for writing this post. Elma Studio have never heard of me.

Hometown art

I found these two Cologne themed postcards in a bookstore a few weeks ago. Aren’t they lovely? I especially like the bottom one with all the different icons representing everything Cologne – or Köln, in German – is known for: Carnival, the locally brewed beer, its shopping streets, the Kranhäuser, the riverboats, its football club, the cathedral, the vast green areas, its zoo, Old Town.

I plan on framing these and putting them somewhere in my room, or maybe the kitchen.

(Postcards by: cityproducts.de)

Movies to see in January

There’s lengthy periods over the course of each year where not a single movie that comes out even so much as catches my attention long enough to read a one-sentence synopsis. But when I was paging through the magazine of our local movie theater I saw eight (EIGHT!) movies that I’d like to see – and they’re all being released (in Germany) in January! I’d say that is a good start for 2013, in terms of movies. I don’t actually expect all of them to be good, I’m just saying they sound interesting and might be worth a shot.

Here they are:
Zero Dark Thirty (politics, Osama Bin Laden, torture, morality)
Movie 43 (ensemble cast, likely hilarious for all the wrong reasons)
Silver Linings Playbook (rom-com)
The Impossible (tsunami, survival, gut-wrenching I expect)
Flight (air planes, Denzel Washington)
Rust and Bone (French)
Lincoln (history, politics, dialogue heavy)
Gangster Squad (Ryan Gosling in old-timey suits)

Refer to parentheses for reasons as to why you, too, should see those films.

Any movies to add to the list that you’re looking forward to in 2013? Any favorites from last year that I should watch?

One of my favorite things

I love winter. And Christmas. This entire season brings so much joy to me that I basically find myself waiting for it all year round. December is easily my favorite month of the year. If I’m lucky, we get some snow here before Christmas as well – and that is always the icing on the cake.

I love baking Christmas cookies. I love Christmas lights in the streets and decorations in stores and lit up trees on central squares and of course the Christmas markets. I love the cold; scarfs, coats, boots, mittens. It not only refreshes me physically but mentally, for some reason. I feel excited and alert and so, so happy this time of year. And I love coming home to a warm home; candles, tea, books, movies…

My absolute favorite Christmas movie is “The Polar Express” (trailer here). It’s a kids’ movie, obviously. But it’s a beautiful story and very well made and it has Tom Hanks. Need I say more? Alright: the soundtrack is fantastic. FANTASTIC, you guys. I love it more than the movie itself, I think. So if you can’t bring yourself to watch an animated film about the magic of Santa, listen to the music at least.

Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?

Three songs

Here are three songs that make me want to be stupid in love. They’re mostly cute and full of cliches, and therefore perfect. Be advised that players may take a sec to load. Be also advised that I plan on sharing more songs soon so come back, my lovelies, always come back. Heh. For now: ENJOY. And feel free to share your current favorite music with me! I love discovering new tunes.

“Kiss Me” by Ed Sheeran:

“Sleeping To Dream (Live)” by Jason Mraz:

“Can’t Help Falling In Love (Live)” by Ingrid Michaelson:

You need to watch “Generation Kill”

I just re-watched the entire HBO mini series “Generation Kill” so I could write a decent review about it but then I got very caught up in the sheer awesomeness of the show and I forgot to write down some notes that could’ve helped me explain to you why, exactly, this show is so awesome. I’m sorry I failed you all. The upshot is this: You need to watch “Generation Kill”.

I come to this as a crazed Alex Skarsgård fan (he plays Sgt. Brad Colbert in the series) but I promise you my love for this show has almost nothing to do with that and everything to do with this: the excellent writing, and the realistic portrayal of the Iraq War from the perspective of soldiers on the ground, based on the eye-witness accounts of reporter Ewan Wright who was embedded for two months with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the United States Marine Corps during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Prepare to fall in love with these men. Prepare to feel angry, and angrier and angrier, and prepare to weep for them, and all other young soldiers who were sent into Iraq without a hint of planning. Prepare to not ever want this series to end, and when it does, prepare to feel a strange loss.

A review of “Generation Kill” appeared in The New York Times in 2008. I don’t agree with some of the things said in it – it also reveals quite a bit of the plot – but if you’re interested, you should read it. Or go watch some clips on YouTube. And then watch the show. It’s really, really good.

(Image source: seriesaddict.fr)