firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:seems like what I'm trying to do would be really easy, but I'm not finding much other than trying to manipulate styles and I'm not even able to do that at this point as the administrators page forces a template.
Judging from qour question, I'll assume you got the following things down:
* installing and configuring a s9y blog
* installing and configuring plugins needed
* adding content (text and images)
Other than that, all that's really left to do is change the visual appearance of your blog. And that actually is
manipulating styles. That's all there's to it. Sure, you'd want to add that (or another) image to the header. Some themes allow to add your own header image already, and if not, it's not that hard. As for the “warning” box, the HTML nugget plugin should be perfect for that.
So what you need is to adjust the theme of your blog to look like this, or let's call it “to look like you want it to”. There are various techniques involved in this, most notably styles (CSS), maybe
I don't know whether you know CSS, but it is something everybody can learn and we can help you with in the forums. Probably the easiest way is to look for a s9y theme that looks almost
like what you want and adapt that. For instance, you might see a theme you like, but it doesn't have the right colors. And that's pretty easy to do.
I would, however, recommend that you check out the 2k11 theme. It is probably the most modern theme available for s9y as of now. It also works well on mobile devices, which is nice to have. Also, it does offer a way to add a header image out of the box, although that won't be positioned the way you might want it to be (but that can be fixed later). Try getting your blog set up the way you want it to be, with all plugins installed, configured and assigned to the proper sidebar.
Then, try http://yellowled.github.io
and see if you can get your blog to almost
look the way you want it to with that. Anything you can't do after that will probably need a little manual adjustment.