when designing a page in html, I no longer have the kitchen sink option in terms of codes
You should still be able to get the extended toolbar. The theme shouldn’t take that away from you unless there some sort of server conflict.
when placing widgets, there is no footer area in which to place them, just add below, add above etc.
You setup your footer columns from your Theme Options page — Appearance > Theme Options > Layout > Footer
Is there an easy way to change the color of titles and post links in a widget or category page. I seem to be stuck with grey/black on grey. Interestingly, the roll over link color changes to “as set”, but the primary remains grey/black. I’m just trying to kick visual cues up a notch.
There are CSS customizations you’ll need to make to the theme. For CSS changes, it’s a good idea to use a tool like firebug or Google Chrome’s built-in developer tools to locate them and then put the edits either in your child theme or in the “Custom CSS” option on your theme options page.
Also, here’s a helpful tutorial on how to use Firebug – http://vimeo.com/20917974. The only thing I’d suggest not doing is actually making edits to the theme’s CSS files, as it shows at the end of that video. However, the video serves as a good introduction to Firebug and how it can be used to find what CSS is effecting certain areas of your site without ever digging around in any files.