tranquil-wp wordpress theme landing page screenshot

WordPress Theme From HTML

Since completing YelpCamp, I decided to start another Udemy course that taught me how to create a site in Bootstrap (which I already knew how to do) and then walked me through how to convert it to WordPress.

The course used the same Bootstrap layout for all students and I did not personalize it because I wanted to get a sense of the conversion process. I can get fancy later.

This means that I was back to working with PHP which has been really frustrating because it has not been updating properly in any of my browsers.

This has been causing me a problem the last couple of days, but I have learned what I need to do to work with so it is no longer a problem (I will write about that in my next post).  My teacher, Chris Dixon, was especially helpful with this and helped me solve a problem I had been having for months.

The lack of refreshing was the reason I was against learning PHP, and now that that is solved, I am glad I did this course because I have a much better understanding of how a WordPress site is built from the ground up.

Additionally, I am starting to see the similarities between building YelpCamp in Node.js and building a WordPress theme with PHP.

For example, this is the third course that has taught how to use partials. I found this concept very confusing at the beginning, but I am starting to get a handle on it and I love how it tidies up my code!

But the most valuable section of the course so far has been learning about a plugin called Advanced Custom Fields.

Years ago I started using themes that I could customize in a similar way to this plugin. It partitioned the page into deliberate sections and I liked that flexibility but I always found them quite tricky to use with any sense of finesse.

Chris Dixon’s videos on Advanced Custom Fields gave me a clear sense regarding how to use them and made it clear to me that I can simply use the Advanced Custom Fields plugin to any themes that I create manually.

That being said, these two weeks felt like I had strayed a bit from my intended course of JavaScript learning.

I am still super jazzed to continue to go deeper with JavaScript and this felt a bit like a side-project and it took a bit more time than I expected.

At the same time, completing Chris Dixon’s WordPress to Bootstrap course on Udemy was so good that it also made me want to go deeper into PHP and really get deep with WordPress.

Tranquil Spa WordPress Theme in GitHub (the one I created using the Udemy Course)

tranquil-wp wordpress theme landing page screenshot


And let’s not forget…






Certificate and Review: Colt Steele’s Web Development Bootcamp (Udemy)

I know that sometimes certificates don’t accurately represent proficiency in a subject, especially with something like web development, but I like posting them when I get them, especially when the course took several weeks to complete.

Here is my latest certificate! This one is from Colt Steele’s Web Development Bootcamp (Udemy):


My Review of Colt Steele’s Web Development Bootcamp (Udemy):

This was a fantastic course and I wouldn’t change it in any way, except perhaps to leave out the last section on “JavaScript – The Weird Stuff” because after an intense Node.js learning experience it feels like backtracking by having a detailed discussion about the different ways to use ‘this’ in JavaScript.

I wish I had more to say but that’s it. This was a fantastic learning experience!

And THE BEST course I have taken on Udemy.

I have taken many courses on a variety of subjects and about 5 courses so far on programming, including a very in-depth Bootcamp that focused on PHP rather than Node.


The reason it is the best course is because Colt teaches in a clear manner, and the coding challenges, code-alongs and main project (YelpCamp) are at the appropriate level for the instructions offered just before the challenge.

Also, he outlines EVERYTHING beforehand which I find extremely helpful.

What I mean by that is that he (1) gives you a syllabus at the beginning, and then (2) at the beginning of each section he offers an overview of what will be learned in that section and then (3) at the beginning of most videos he outlines the main points of that specific video/lesson.

When I know what is coming it makes it easier for me to remember the main takeaway concepts while I am learning, and also helps me to review if I get stuck on a topic in the future.

I also love that there was one LARGE project and that each part of building that large project related to a number of mini-projects that were offered beforehand, as practice, before messing with the code on the large project.

This was great because the repetition of building each page in the mini-project helped in the large YelpCamp site because it reinforced the specific code and where it goes.

Again, this repetition helps me to retain the information.

I can easily see myself using the course again to build a site that is something I am into, like favorite books or favorite movies. This would reinforce the process and if I did it enough I feel that this course is comprehensive enough for me to consider myself proficient in this Node stack as long as I got to the point where I was coding without assistance from the videos.

My point is that there is a ton of information in this course and totally worth every dollar and every minute I devoted to it.

Colt has a great sense of humor and I love Rusty. They made a potentially dry and complicated subject very fun!

Also, Ian (the T.A.) is fantastic and very quick to respond to questions. I highly recommend reading the questions from other students for each video just for fun and extra learning.

If you are really interested in learning JavaScript to operate both front-end and back-end web development, this is a fantastic step in that direction!

Here is my other post about YelpCamp.

Here is my build of YelpCamp.

Time to Leave my Cave and Start Meeting People

Most of my life my socializing has been centered around the entertainment industry. This was especially true when I lived in Los Angeles.

These days I have enjoyed being in a quieter space, but perhaps committing to learning on the computer every day has made me too comfortable with sitting in front of a screen.

Several years ago I ran into a friend from high school. He and I planned to hang out but he said he did not return text messages because he still had a flip-phone and hated to text with it.

I was surprised to discover how weird I felt to dial a phone number to actually TALK TO SOMEONE on a phone.

How novel!

My point is that socializing is a skill like any other and I am good at schmoozing but I wonder if I could lose my touch if I stayed away from people too much.

And lately, I have been craving some socializing!

I feel if I spent too much time at the computer, I may be at risk of becoming more reluctant to socialize, which is unusual for me.

And there are so many great coding groups and resources around me! I think I would be missing out if I didn’t at least check it out.

I have found several interesting meetups on that are centered around coding and technology: JavaScript, WordPress, Web Development, The Internet Of Things, Hackathons…

My hesitation is that I do not know if I am a strong enough coder to really connect with people who have been doing this a long time, but I am drawn to groups because I feel it would make the process so much more fun and I could learn so much from people who have gone before me.

Frankly, I have been hungering for more social interactions. It is challenging because I have a good structure to my morning and socializing at night might throw that off, but I think it is worth it and I can keep a balance if I pace myself.

And, of course, I intend to reconnect with my entertainment industry roots as well. I have grown fond of left-brain people, but I miss hanging out with creative folks!

I just need balance my time in front of the computer with time with human beings.   🙂


YelpCamp (created in Node.js) complete!

I am not sure if it is Colt Steele’s awesome instruction or the fact that I just find JavaScript and the node.js stack much easier to grasp than PHP, but I must say that it was a pleasure building YelpCamp and I can see the use in going through and creating databases for a whole bunch of databases with Node of things that I love just for the fun and learning of it!

I also want to add that it was a pleasure working in Cloud 9 to build the Node.js database. There were no updating or caching issues like I have in PHP, so the work went smoothly, and if something was NOT working, I knew it was my coding, not a quirk in my system that makes me unable to refresh the page.

Anyhoo, here is my version of YelpCamp. It was created as a code-along for the Udemy course I just completed, but it gave me a thorough overview of using MEN stack (MongoDB, Express, and Node) and reinforced my previous learning of connecting with databases.

(I am also stoked that I have a better grasp of how to deploy with Heroku!)

FYI – The database is being hosted by


The Making of a Portfolio

I am in a weird state right now.

I have several projects to display that I have been working on over the last several months, either with a course or on my own, and I want to make a portfolio.

I want to make it in WordPress because I am familiar with WordPress.

I want to redo this site. I want to make it from scratch. And I want a blog.

The thing is that despite my knowing Bootstrap quite well, I am in need of converting it to WordPress, which I do NOT know how to do yet.

I have done a few searches and there are some playlists in YouTube. I tried one. It crashed and burned.

The reason this is weird is because I would much rather focus my energy on continuing to get deeper with Javascript, not going back into PHP (which I did not enjoy as much) and have to learn how to use PHP within WordPress, which seems rather specialized, even though it is widely used.

I see the usefulness in learning this, though. There are probably a lot of people out there like me who want to convert a Bootstrap or HTML website to WordPress.

I am exploring some courses in Udemy and hoping I can learn this fast and then get back to learning JavaScript.

But I am also tempted to just customize a template that has already been created. I just don’t want it look like I am trying to mislead people by using a WordPress template I did not make from scratch.

But I don’t think most developers/designers built their WordPress themes from scratch anymore. I think most of the work that gets done professionally is customizing a flexible theme.

But I would like to see if I can do the conversion from Bootstrap to WordPress myself. If it takes too long I will abandon that route and head back to JavaScript. I think the learning I receive from the next JavaScript course I have selected is going to allow me to really start building some cool stuff after I finish.

But right now I am still working with MEN stack (Mongoose, Express, Node… No Angular) and am enjoying the process. It is a perfect balance of progress and challenge.

My First Coding Interview – Got to Stage 3 in the Process!

When I sent in an application for a WordPress Developer posting for a company called Cafe Media, I did it because I love their content, (especially on their website Revelist), but I didn’t expect to get too far into the interview process because I am still at the beginning of my journey into PHP.

I applied because I have been using WordPress for 10 years and felt that I co9uld be successful in the position because the job description asked for someone that was good with working with customers and had strong writing skills. I felt I would be able to help with that because, while I am not an expert in PHP yet, I have a deeper understanding of WordPress than a lot of WordPress users and I have been a paid writer in the past.

I am a fast learner so I felt that I could pick up the PHP in a matter of weeks on my own, and I did have a starter background in it already- I had just finished a huge section on PHP in Udemy and can read it but not code in PHP on my own yet.

Well, I didn’t get the job and that’s ok. I was told I need to learn more coding and might be true.

But I am excited because I got to the third step in the interview process and even passed some tests in step 2, which was a delightful surprise and inspires me to keep going in this morning study habit I have created!

Back to the Backend: Node.js, MongoDB & Express

I have completed the JavaScript section of Colt Steel’s Web Development Bootcamp which was an awesome review and also added clarification to concepts that I was not getting the first time I dove into JavaScript a few months ago.

Now it is on to the backend development portion of the class. So far so good. I am looking forward to learning Node.js because I don’t think I care for PHP right now. This is too bad because I love working with WordPress, but I was not thrilled with they syntax of PHP. Maybe it was the presentation of the last course or the fact that I was having trouble getting pages written in PHP to update in my browsers (both Chrome and Firefox had issues with this, despite using FireFTP).

I am thoroughly enjoying using Cloud 9. Everything refreshes so beautifully.

And so far, using Node.js is making a lot more sense to me because Colt is walking us through the WHYs of all the code we are writing, and also because it is in JavaScript, the syntax is not completely foreign to me.

47th Armament & Electronics_new

My Uncle’s New Website

Over the holidays my uncle lamented that his old HTML Angelfire website was not functioning properly on his Internet Explorer browser and that he would have to recreate it on another platform.

He didn’t know that I had been taking deep dives into front-end development, and I decided this would be an interesting opportunity to work on a project that was aimed at someone that didn’t need or want to pay for hosting or a domain name, that

  • didn’t need or want to pay for hosting or a domain name, that had
  • had visitors that didn’t mind typing and using a longer sub-domain, and
  • had to stay relatively simplistic because the users were mostly over 60 years old and had minimal Internet experience.

The Old Website

If you are on a browser that can see the old version of the site, it is pretty clear that updates were made over the course of a decade, but that these updates made the site more confusing.

47th A&E Squadron Home Page_old

I felt that visitors wouldn’t know where to go first to find the information they needed quickly.

Before the days of blogs, my uncle constructed this site and then updated on the pages that seemed appropriate.

But old sites are static and, updating used to be challenging because it was hard to convey the newest information while also keeping archives on the site for visitors to look back and see older updates.

Because my uncle didn’t need or want to buy domain and hosting, I decided to build the site on, which I actually found more difficult to work with than because my choices in design were severely limited and I also am not as familiar with’s dashboard, which is similar but has different offerings than

For example, offers a limited number of plugins that will work for basic users, but does not seem to have a marketplace like

The goal was to organize the information that was on the old site in a way that would allow the users to find what they are looking for more quickly, but also for my uncle to be able to use the dashboard and make additional pages and posts in a logical way.

The Updated/New Website


The first thing I did was try to break the information and pages down on the old site into different categories, which would end up being in the main navigation bar.

Everything pretty much fit logically except for a few pages, which I easily placed in the navigation bar as a subheading under the About page.

I debated making the old reunion pages Posts or Pages, but I went with posts for two reasons. One was so that I could give this site to my uncle with a few blog posts already posted.

The second reason was because, in the future, my uncle could make a new post to the blog with additional pictures for reunions that have yet to happen as of this writing, but then he could add the page easily as a subheading to “Past Reunions” using WordPress’s menu tools, or by adding the category “past reunions” which would add the new post as a subheading to “Past Reunions” automatically.

All the other pages were transferred to new pages, aside from some “news” that was no longer news, like what they were serving for dinner at the reunion in 12014.

But I figured if my uncle still wants that information on that page, he could put it on there himself and that would be good practice for using and learning a new system to maintain his website.

That is also why I left a couple of widget with the filler text. I wanted to show that he could put something there if he wanted to, but also make it imperative to change it or delete it, which would force him to explore and figure it out on his own, which I believe he can do successfully.

A Couple of Great Articles to Make the Most of 2017!

Happy New Year!

If you have been keeping up on my blog, you know that most mornings I have chosen to take a few hours to study coding, and have been doing so consistently since August 2016.

Here are a couple of articles that have really helped me stay focused on my studies…

Maybe they will help you with what you want to accomplish in 2017!

8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8am (by Benjamin Hardy)

This was the first article I read by Benjamin Hardy and I read it at the beginning of the summer (which really helped me to jump into those cold showers… much more challenging in December!)

But it also got me to realize that the best time to leverage is the morning and that if I am willing to get up before work and before everyone else in the house, I can create a consistent schedule and goals that take methodical behavior (like learning to code).

This Morning Routine Will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week (also by Benjamin Hardy)

This was a good follow-up to the first article because it taught me to value my mornings as the best time to do heavy lifting with my brain.

I now guard my mornings carefully. It took several months to teach those around me not to disturb me between 5am-8am, but they can see the positive changes in me from this discipline I have adopted.

I often accomplish much more than the 3-5 hours of focused morning work, but it is nice to know that if my afternoons get busy with unimportant activities or life-maintenance habits (like sorting receipts), I have made strides in my life in the first portion of the day.

It also allows me to *gasp* have more fun later in the day!

I make my strides first thing in the morning and allow myself to blow off a little steam at the end of the day.

That offers me a greater sense of joy that allows me to work harder and with greater mental clarity the next day.

It is draining to chain myself to a computer for 12 hours straight in the name of “working hard” but if I can accomplish the same thing in 4 hours by staying focused and change up my focus with tasks away from the computer for the rest of the day, I can come back stronger at the computer the next day.  🙂

Looking Back on 2016: Coding & Time Management

In my last post, I wrote, “But I am still up most mornings finishing 2-3 hours of coursework before my official day begins.”

I am posting on the last day of 2016 that I am celebrating that I have been dedicating these 2-3 hours every morning to learning coding since August.

I have only missed 12 days since August 16th.

The minimum number of hours of studying each day was always 2, but some days I completed several more hours and that doesn’t count side projects or a lot of work I would do later in the day.

But at that bare minimum, that means I have done 2 hours of studying each day for 123 days in 2016.

That means that I studied at least 246 hours since August, but it is probably closer to 500 hours of study & practice.

Just this week I have studied/practiced 30 hours, and that feels closer to what I have been doing since August, so after 20 weeks working 30 hours per week, that gives me 600 hours.

My point is…
I am usually a sprinter when it comes to learning, but I am happy because I have been doing a little bit each day to build my knowledge and experience in the field of coding and programming.

And aside from giving up a bit of sleep in the morning, I have been able to continue the activities I was doing before I started studying coding.

And I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

I look forward to continuing in 2017!