the blog got a makeover!

March 24, 2013

In case you haven’t noticed (and if you read the blog via email subscription or RSS feed, you might not have), The Same Rainbow’s End has been the recipient of a lot of aesthetic updates in the past week or so, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

When I first started the blog back in 2011, I installed the Coraline theme from WordPress. I liked it because the design was simple and clean, and I could do all sorts of tweaks to it. I installed Typekit to manage my fonts. I learned how to do basic CSS edits. Right after I moved to Saudi Arabia, I created a logo for the blog and built a header around it. Even though I used the very basic Coraline theme, all of these little things meant that I managed to turn the Coraline theme into something that really felt like my own.

But over time, I started feeling constrained by the Coraline layout, mainly because of its wide margins. As I started adding more and more photos to the blog, I realized that the layout was really not good at accommodating photography, especially photos in landscape orientation. I wanted a layout with narrower margins, one that better utilized screen space.

I love WordPress in all of its incarnations, but blogs don’t give you full creative control over your layout. A self-hosted blog does. Plus, there are lots of other things you can do with (the list of plugins is endless!) that you can’t with So I decided to bite the bullet and make the switch.

Once I did, I turned to Noor AlQahtani to help me build a new blog layout. Noor is a graphic designer based here in Riyadh, and she worked with me to put together a new layout that met all my needs. She was fantastically patient with me as I nitpicked details (I can be a bit obsessive about details) and made requests. And now, quite frankly, I think the blog looks amazing, thanks to Noor!

So now I have those nice narrow margins that I have been craving, plenty of room to post nice big photos, whatever shape or orientation they happen to be. I may go back and update old posts to fit better into the new layout…but that’s one of the five kajillion things on my to-do list, so it may not happen for awhile, if at all. But I’m focusing on moving forward, so even if I never get around to updating photos in the old posts, hopefully the bigger photos will also be better photos, deserving of all that extra space! icon smile the blog got a makeover!

Beyond the blog layout, the logo that I put together has also received a makeover. When I first put the logo together, it looked like this:

tsre logo the blog got a makeover!


I wanted to integrate our two flags into a design that gave a little nod to the Disney Pixar movie Up and its celebration of adventure (even when the very best adventure is just…life). Up was the theme for our wedding (yeah, sounds totally nerdy, and it kind of was, but it was also pretty adorable, if I do say so myself), and it is one of our favorite movies, for several reasons:

1. We saw it for the first time together in the theater, in 3D, when we were living in Springfield, Missouri. That may not sound so very significant, but we loved it so much, we had to go see it again…and the next time, we took our moms (Saleh’s mom was visiting from Saudi Arabia at the time, and my mom was visiting from Koshkonong, Missouri, a two hour drive away. Let’s just put it this way—both of our moms journeyed to Springfield to see Up with us. One journey was probably a little more intense than the other). This was long before we were engaged. I think we were trying to subconsciously convince our mothers that we were Carl and Ellie.

2. Speaking of us as Carl and Ellie…well, it’s kinda true. It’s easy for us to see each other in the main characters. Saleh is a lot like Carl, the main character in the movie—sometimes a grumpy old man on the outside, but always with a sweet, snuggly center. I’m a lot like Ellie, Carl’s wife—not quite as rough-and-tumble as a little girl, but definitely a dreamer of adventures from my earliest years.

3. We are convinced that Dug, the primary canine character in the movie, is a biographical sketch of our Labradoodle, Parker.

4. We’re from two vastly different cultures, obviously, and sometimes it seems like we might as well be floating around in a balloon-propelled house, because we don’t know where in the world we’ll permanently land. But we know life will be one heck of an adventure, that’s for sure.

5. We love traveling and seeing awesome new places, and we daydream about the places we want to visit together. And yet, despite the penchant for literal adventures that we share with Carl and Ellie, we also know that the greatest adventure will be the life that we share, no matter how simple and outwardly boring it may be.

So, yeah. All of that is what went into the logo. I liked the way the logo design turned out, but as time went on, the colors became just a bit too bright, cutesy, and cartoonish for me. (Which, let’s face it, a heart floating away on balloons is kind of incurably cutesy, but I’d be lying if I tried to convince you that I don’t appreciate cutesy. I mean, my wedding was based on a Disney movie.)

So I enlisted the help of a lovely Romanian artist named Oana Befort to give my logo an update. She beautifully rendered the heart and balloons of the logo in watercolors, while I tweaked the flags to match. So now, it looks like this:

saudi american heart the blog got a makeover!

Still cutesy, just the way I like it, but now…to me, it’s become a work of art. I love the textured colors and the slightly rough edges–just like life, it’s the rough edges that make it more beautiful. I think it’s perfect.

Along with the logo, Oana also created the cloud and rainbow graphics that you see now in the header. And speaking of rainbows, and while we’re on the subject of where the blog takes its aesthetic inspiration from, in case you’ve ever been curious about the blog’s title, here’s your answer.

The blog is named after a lyric in one of my husband’s and my favorite songs, “Moon River.” The music was composed by Henry Mancini and the lyrics were written by Johnny Mercer. It was first sung by Audrey Hepburn in one of my favorite movies, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and it won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1961. The lyric that the blog takes its title from goes, “Two drifters, off to see the world. There’s such a lot of world to see. We’re after the same rainbow’s end.”

This song–and this movie–have extra special meaning for me, because they were the theme for my husband’s proposal, which you can read more about here. He doesn’t love Breakfast at Tiffany’s the same way that I do, but he very much appreciates “Moon River,” and he appreciates that I adore all things Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly, and Audrey Hepburn. That’ll do. icon smile the blog got a makeover!

So that’s why the header includes a rainbow, in homage to the blog’s title. It’s because we’re after the same rainbow’s end.

So that’s what’s going on behind the scenes here on the blog. I’m still learning my way around my new version of WordPress, and finding new things all the time! So there will probably be a few changes here and there over time as I learn more about what all WordPress can do. But for now…I’m pretty enthralled with things just the way they are.

And now…back to my regularly scheduled rambles. icon smile the blog got a makeover!


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  • Norma ortiz

    Luv the new makeover!

    • Nicole

      thanks! :)

  • LeVonia

    Love it! And, love the story behind your title. For some reason, you and Saleh just touch my heart.

    • Nicole

      awww, thank you, levonia. you are sweet!

  • Noor

    I am really glad that your happy with your new look :) And NO way were you a bad client get real you were so sweet. And your story is beyond cute mashAllah

    • Nicole

      thank you for everything, noor! can’t thank you enough, especially for telling me i wasn’t a bad client, lol. the whole time i was thinking, “she is going to think i am totally nuts!” ;)

  • Noor

    I WISH half my clients were as nice as you. I mean alhumudullah most of them are nice but some people are just rude and mean. Your more of a dream client lol.

    • Nicole

      well, you are officially my design guru! :)

  • mabsootah

    Love the new design!!! And I love Noor’s stuff- I follow her on Pinterest for some great ideas! :)

    • Nicole

      thanks! i’m trying to get more into pinterest; i’ve had an account for ages, but i’ve never really done much with it. but i’ve been following noor from day one! :)

  • kaye

    Hi nicole can i hve ur email please i just want to ask a very important matter…i have a saudi boyfriend for two years now…i know u r married with a saudi..

    • Nicole

      hello, kaye. you can email me by clicking on “contact” (at the top of the page, underneath the header) or by clicking on the mail icon in the “this is me” section in the sidebar. :)

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