A New Design

at a flower stall in Venice

When my five-year-old daughter asked me what work I was doing on the computer, I was working, not procrastinating by checking email or blog comments or looking at Pinterest.

“I’m designing a website.” And with a pause…”It’s a page on the internet.”

Would she understand? I wonder if I should try to explain the internet, but I can’t. How do you explain one of the world’s greatest marvels to someone who is only five?

But apparently the internet needs no explanation because she is five already, after all. She knows how to play Angry Birds, and she wants her own email account.

For a moment it occurs to me that she will never have to live without the internet, and instead she will have to learn to take breaks away from it so she can hear herself think and to contemplate her own thoughts. I hope she knows that even if you don’t post a picture, the event still happened, and you don’t always need to tell everyone what you’re thinking and doing and reading all the time.

Years ago (it feels like ten, but it is closer to twenty) I went out with a guy who had a job at The Internet Store. Yes, the Internet Store was the actual name of the store, and people would go to the store to buy the internet for their homes and take classes to learn how to use Yahoo and email. It was all very high-tech at the time because that was when people still carried pagers.

Years from now we will be the grandparents of the internet age, the people who remember all the clunkiness and when it used to take five minutes to view an image on the desk computer from our dial-up modem.

The internet is one of my top-ten great loves. Who knows what may come, but until then, I’m very pleased to make this part of it.

To go along with the times, I gave the site a new design (I prefer to call it a makeover). I hope you enjoy it. It works well on phones and tablets too, if that’s your preference. (You can resize your browser to see how it will adjust to fit on those screens.)

Since it’s still new, it might be a little bit wonky as I work out any remaining kinks. If you’re using Internet Explorer 8 or older, your life will be better if you upgrade to IE9. If something looks funny on your screen, you might try resetting your browser’s cache so everything will load fresh. If you have any questions about it, let me know.

I’m very pleased to show it to you. I know it’s not easy to adjust to a new look, but I hope you like it too. I put a lot of thought into how people use this site and how to make the older posts easier to find. (After you’ve tried it out, you can email me suggestions.)

Feel free to take a look around. (Click here if you’re reading this via rss or email.)

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. LOVE it, Rachel!! Looks great on my iPad. I’ve been a reader for years now and generally hate change, but I didn’t wince once when I came upon your new site. :) Great job!!

  2. I like it. ;)

  3. Wow! What a transformation. It looks great on my iPad. It is so streamlined. It really features the content and embodies your “Small Notebook” spirit! Great Job!

  4. Robin from Frugal Family Times says:

    Love the new design, Rachel! We did the same thing recently (though not ourselves – we don’t have those talents).

    Sometimes my husband and I will mimic the old logging on the Internet sound, just for fun ( you know the: dailing and the the woo-wee-doot-dat-doo-woo…). Our kids, 8 and 5 look at us like we are completely nuts! They’ll never know what that weird song we sing really means!
    Robin from Frugal Family Times´s last post…Frugal Review: Bodum BISTRO blade Coffee Grinder

  5. I have to admit that I do not like this design as much. It is not intuitive and very hard to find past articles. The center-centric design may work for a company that is selling a product (with the left and right columns devoted to product categories and cost/cart information respectively), but a blog should follow a more traditional left to right flow. It is jarring and feels busy.

    • Oh and the title “Small Notebook” is way to small. You may want to consider enlarging the font.

    • I know it’s surprising when a site looks different. The Blog looks quite traditional if you prefer to read it that way, and the Table of Contents can help with finding past articles (I’m still adding to it, but it has quick links to all the topics).

  6. I’d love if you had a few more posts about raising children in the internet age. How do you set boundaries? How do you make good habits? How do you set good examples? Etc.

  7. I think it looks beautiful!

  8. It looks lovely! So fresh and clean.

  9. This looks great, Rachel. Nice job! I’m still finding my way around my new design, unpacking boxes and figuring what to hang on the wall. :)
    Lori @ In My Kitchen, In My Life´s last post…Breakfast Burritos for a Crowd (or for one!)

  10. I love it! Very simple, which I feel totally is in step with your philosophy. Great work!

  11. I think your new site looks great! It’s got a wonderful fresh feeling to it. Love that your content takes centre stage, because your content is fantastic. Over all it seems to reflect your passion for living simply beautifully. Great job!!!

  12. The new design looks very nice. Clean and fresh.
    One thing you might want to consider is changing or cropping the peony picture to exclude the euro symbol on the price tag. It may give the impression that you are based somewhere in Europe. Maybe that only strikes me. Anyway, nice makeover.

    • I was living in Italy when I took that picture. It will change to reflect the image of the latest post every time I publish a new one.

    • The euro symbol on the peonies made my afternoon, actually. I lived in Europe for almost 2 years and still miss it. When I saw your photo, my eyes misted automatically and at first I couldn’t figure out why. Then I looked closer and noticed the euro symbol–and I realized that shot reminds me of the farmer’s markets in Germany. :)

  13. The revamp looks great. Keep up the good work, I love your site.

  14. Thanks for all the feedback! I’m interested in what you have to say.

  15. My sweet, departed Dad got into computers in the late sixties, and I started working on them when we still used paper cards that got “key-punched.” I reflect often, now, on his generation – that gathered ’round to listen to the radio, saw the invention of TV, and wonder about the babes being born now, what their futures will see long after I’m gone? My husband and I made a decision to embrace changes, disconcerting though they may sometimes be, selective – but informed – about our participation, keep our minds engaged in the present, and our hearts involved in the spiritual, to aspire for serenity in uncertainty. All that to say, Rachel, the higher value for me is your responsiveness to your audience, whatever the results turn out. Love the new design!

  16. Your new design is fresh, feminine, and clean. I like it. However, as most blogs are generally large box to the left and the small columns to the right, this will take a little getting used to. But…I am seeing some things I haven’t seen….and that is a very good thing….and it will help me (and others) click around and ‘visit’ longer.

  17. I like it. It has a fresh and interesting look. The little note section will be fun to keep an eye on. I also appreciated your thoughts on the Internet. What an amazing creation! I am sitting in a caravan in a small country town in outback New South Wales, but still able to connect to the world. It is truly a world wide web. However, I also agree that we need to help children learn to take breaks from it and enjoy the world around them — to learn how to integrate it into their lives and not allow it to dominate. Good luck with the new look!

  18. I really love it! It does take some getting used to, but that’s not a bad thing. My favorite addition (at least I think it’s an addition since I normally ready SN from my reader) is the little notes section at the bottom. I’ll have to click over more often. ;) Very nice, Rachel!

    • Thanks, the Notes section is new. It will be an easy way to share links and what I’m reading without having to write a whole post.

  19. I occasionally make changes to my blog too – I think of it as mini reorganizing for a change of scenery. Good work!

  20. Thanks for thinking about your tablet audience. I’m reading this on a nexus 7, and it reads very nicely. Thanks!

  21. I really like the new look.

  22. The site is beautiful! I love the simple, streamlined look.

    I also have a five year old. Whenever he wants to know about something (a dinosaur for example), he’ll ask me to look it up on the computer so he can see pictures. It’s amazing to me that he has already figured out that you can find whatever you want to know on the internet! It starts early now.

  23. I have been following your blog for several years…

    I guess I will get used to the new design.
    Donna´s last post…Recycle #9: Ralph Lauren Sheet and Pillowcases

  24. I like the new look and agree that making your page work for tablets and phones is really important these days. I was just at a meeting my local public radio station hosted (Minnesota Public Radio–the big one in public radio terms). The news director gave a talk about the future (or lack of it) of radio and in it he put out the statistic that 44% of Americans own smartphones. 44%!! Can you believe that?

    That said, I’m glad you replied in a comment that The Blog link looks more traditional. I like it, and that it allows me to just scroll through all your latest posts.

  25. Love the new design and also a frequent reader of blogs on my Ipad and your site works well on this.

    I am a frequent reader and was worried that you hadn’t updated in a while and now I see what you were up to :)

  26. I am big into family and community legacies. I really like what you have to say about us being the grandparents of this new age. It brings up a lot of memoiries of me dragging a phone with a long telephone line attached to it, and the wall, throughout the main floor of my house ten years ago.

    I also remember sitting in my friends basement as we played on her apple computer – gosh – maybe 26 years ago. I can assure you they looked a little different and the graphics were not to scale but we thought it was amazing. We wanted to print banners for everything.

    Thank you being a catalyst for flooding my mind with memories:)

  27. I think your new design is wonderful.

    Also, I was so happy to read that you admit to loving the internet. I do too, and I think we (including me) have a tendency to complain about it and focus on the negatives–how much of a time suck it can be, how much junk is available, and so on. But really, it’s an incredibly amazing invention that I’m willing to openly appreciate.

  28. Love the new look, Rachel! Very simple, fresh and clean. :) It gave me an idea of how I’ll organize my blog, too.
    Trish @ The All-around Mom´s last post…KOTEX® Steps Up for the Modern Working Woman {Press Release}

  29. Lakitia A. says:

    I love your site. I come here for tips all the time (going to do the chocolate syrup recipe soon). I like the update as well. I do have one question: Are you going to do an updated house tour? I’m a new member to the site and I didn’t see any updates on the renovation.

  30. I like it! Very nice. Love your blog!

  31. I like it! It’s not the traditional layout that you see so often, but I think that’s why it works. Different is good!
    Kristin´s last post…I love wall collages

  32. Love the look, Rachel. So clean. Room to breathe.