Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February Photo Wrap-Up

     I can't even describe how much fun I've had participating in the February Photo-a-Day Challenge hosted by Fat Mum Slim!  If you've read Hello, New Day from the beginning then you know that I was inspired by Shelley from The House of Smith's to start a blog just so that I could link up to her blog party which features links to other Photo-a-Day Challenge participants:

     As if that weren't enough, another favorite blogger of mine, Rebecca from Simple As That, hosts "a month in photos" party that I love to view every month - and now......I'll be goin' to the party!

     I had no idea that I would enjoy writing so much or that I would {LOVE} photography and the creative outlet that it provides.
     I'd like to quickly thank my readers for your encouragement and support!  You (and your comments) are so appreciated!
     And now..........without further ado.......... my February photos in review:

your view today | words | hands | a stranger | 10am | dinner | button | sun | front door | self-portrait |
| makes you happy | inside your closet | blue | heart | phone | something new | time | drink |
| something you hate to do | handwriting | a fave photo of you | where you work | your shoes |
| inside your bathroom cabinet | green | night | something you ate | money | something you're listening to | 

     Each photo has a story that goes along with it.  To see them, just click the Photo-a-Day Challenge category on the sidebar over there ----------------------->
     I'm super excited to begin the March Photo-a-Day Challenge tomorrow!  If you'd like to follow me on Istagram, you'll find me as catherinel618. 

So Much to Feel Good About

     My favorite song right now is "Good Life" by One Republic.  It's a joyful, upbeat song that reminds me to appreciate what I have.  With lyrics like

"...oh, this has gotta be the good life...",

"...please tell me what there is to complain about?...", and

"...we have so much to feel good about...",

it just makes me happy.  Sometimes when the kids are at school and I'm alone in this peaceful house, I'll play this song on my computer, savor my cup of coffee, and smile.  A good life indeed.

Photo-a-Day prompt: "Something You're Listening To"

     I have "Good Life" as the ringtone on my iPhone.  Sometimes when my phone rings I don't want to answer it because I want to hear the song!  A few years ago I discovered a very cool website, Phonezoo, that lets you create a custom ringtone for your mobile phone.  You can create ringtones from any song that you legally own a copy of (i.e., you bought it on iTunes or you own the CD and it's copied onto your computer).             
     If you'd like to create your own ringtone, I would like to share with you a little tutorial to help you do just that:

Custom Ringtone Tutorial

1.  Go to Phonezoo.

2.  Create an account (it's FREE) - there's a green "Sign Up" button at the top of the screen.

3.  Once your account is created and you're signed in, click "Ringtones" then "Create From File

4.  Next, click "Browse" and find the audio file that is on your computer.
If you have iTunes, then you might find the file in your iTunes directory.  This is what the path to my audio file looked like:
c:/Libraries/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers/No More Beautiful World/Hello New Day
In my example, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers is the Artist name, No More Beautiful World is the Album name, and Hello New Day is the song title.

5.  Once you've found the audio file, click "Open" and you'll see this same screen but with your song selected:

6.  Select "yes" if the song has a copyright (I think all songs will be unless it's an original of yours).  Then click "Next".

7.  Phonezoo will upload your song and take you to this Edit Audio screen:

8.  From here, you can follow the directions that are listed on the right side of the screen.  One thing that may not be intuitive is that you can click and drag the part that's highlighted in orange.  That is the piece of the song that will become your ringtone.  You can choose how long the ringtone is (up to 30 seconds) and whether or not you want it to fade in or fade out.
     At any time you can press the orange play button to hear the highlighted selection.

9.  When you're satisfied with your ringtone, click "Save and Send to Phone".

10.  Follow the instructions from Phonezoo from here and you should have successfully created your custom ringtone!

Please let me know if you have any questions.

P.S. I went through this process as I was writing the tutorial so that I could document each step.
Since computers are so different, I'm not sure if there are instances that may come up
that could make these steps not work for some people
(e.g., different operating systems, different mobile phones, etc.)
If you try this tutorial and it works, please let me know.
If you try this tutorial and it doesn't work, please let me know.  Thanks!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Pretty Penny

     A pressed penny, or elongated penny as they are technically known, is a penny that's been flattened then embossed with a design for the purpose of creating a commemorative or souvenir token.  I had never paid attention to pressed penny machines like these until I had kids:

     These machines can be found in almost every tourist attraction, theme park, and museum here in the United States.  For anywhere from 50 cents to $1.00 (plus a penny), the machine turns your penny into a wonderful, very inexpensive souvenir.
     It's a brilliant idea, really, and one that I wholeheartedly embrace.  Sometimes I cringe at the cost of the trinkets and souvenirs that tempt my kids.  I can't even tell you how many stuffed animals we've paid $15 and more for that are now just part of the huge unmanageable pile in their bedrooms.
     But the pennies...not only do the kids get to put money into a machine (which is a thrill in and of itself to most kids), but also they get to watch the process of the penny morphing into something else.  And there are even cute collector's books like these that the kids can keep their pennies in.

          For today's Photo-a-Day Challenge prompt, "money", I photographed some of the pressed pennies that my children have collected.

Each penny brings back fond memories of fun times and new adventures!  And moms and dads everywhere can be thankful that this is one souvenir that doesn't cost a pretty penny.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mama Always Said To Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

     Last week my husband and I watched a movie called "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead."  It's a documentary about a man who embarks on a journey to lose weight and regain health by doing a juice fast.  Here's the trailer:

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead - Official Trailer from Team Reboot on Vimeo.

     It is a very inspirational and educational film.  You can watch the entire 1 hour 37 minute movie right here on your computer.
     After the movie, we wanted to taste the Green Juice that was highlighted in the story.  It's delicious and refreshing!  And since I've started to focus more on my own health and fitness, this juice is a perfect addition to my ever-improving diet.  I'd like to share the recipe here and encourage you to try it if you have a chance.

Green Juice
2 cups kale
2 cups spinach
1/2 cucumber
4 stalks celery
2 green apples
1" ginger root (which I don't like so I leave that out)

Here's to your health!

Photo-a-Day Challenge prompt: "Something You Ate"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Like Night and Day

     I love to take pictures!  But I'm not a photographer, at least not in the sense that I know what I'm doing when I take pictures.  I've always used a point-and-shoot camera and, until recently, NEVER adjusted the settings.  I would simply point.  And shoot.  Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.
This is the camera I use these days:

     Lately I've become obsessed much more interested in photography and what all the buttons and settings on my camera mean.  It's extremely satisfying to take a photo that has some thought and planning behind it and see successful results.  Gee, it's like photography's an art or something.  ;)
     Today's Photo-a-Day Challenge is "night."  I wanted to photograph the city lights of the Salt Lake Valley here where I live.  I see them all the time and their beauty and vastness never cease to amaze me.
     Since I wanted to be able to post my picture today, I planned ahead and went out Thursday night to capture my night photo.  I took my camera and tripod to a location that I pass everyday when I pick up my daughter from dance class.  It was night.  I had my camera and my tripod.  So I photographed what I saw and the results were NOT satisfying.  When I uploaded the photos to my computer, this is a sampling of what I saw:

Yuck.  Not exactly the beauty I wanted to capture.
     So, disappointed but not disheartened, I turned to the one resource I can almost always count on: Google.  There is so much information available about how to take photographs at night.  I weeded through the sources and got some very helpful tips that led to my expedition last night.  Armed with my camera and tripod I set out to test my newfound knowledge.  Here are my results:

     Much better.  I was amazed as I took the photos to see how much of the city lighting I could capture even though it wasn't completely dark.  And I LOVE the silhouette of the mountain range - those are the Oquirrh Mountains that line the west side of the Salt Lake Valley.
     The photos from Thursday night compared to the ones I took last night are as different as night and day, wouldn't you say?  For both photo shoots I had set my camera to the "night landscape" scene feature and I used my tripod.  The difference can be attributed to these two tips that I gleaned from my Google research:
1.  Use your camera's automatic timer to take the shot.  Even though you're using a tripod, the camera's shutter will be open for a few seconds and you need to make sure there's absolutely NO movement.  Using the timer ensures that you don't move the camera at all during the shot.  Then once the shutter clicks, wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.  You want to be sure that the shutter has closed before you move the camera.
2.  Timing!  Take your night photos during late dusk, that period of time when the sun has set but there's still a bit of light in the sky.  That way you'll have less black areas on your photo.
     I hope that these tips are helpful to you as well.  Have a wonderful day, and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Mushroom Kingdom

     This is what my boys' bedroom looked like for several years (the decor, I mean.  Not the cleanliness and order):

     It was a pretty cool room for two young boys: one wall was a mural of the planets and sun and there was a Moon in My Room light and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling.  I had picked it all out myself when the boys were little.
     Then my oldest son (10 years old), the one who already knows more about the mysteries of outer space than I ever have or ever want to know, informed me that the mural had to go.
     "Why?", I asked.
     "Mom, it's not an accurate depiction of the Solar System [insert a bunch of technical jargon here that I didn't understand...something about how the courses of the planets are off] and besides, the wall isn't big enough.  Look--Neptune is cut off!"
     Oh-kay then.  Who am I to argue with that?
     So we brainstormed some ideas for their bedroom redo and came up with a theme that we were all excited about:
Super Mario Bros.!
     It's not just my boys who love this video game.  My husband and I do too.  I have terribly fond memories of playing Super Mario Bros. with my husband when we were in college.  We would stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing that silly game.  
     The setting of the game (in case you've been living under a rock for the past quarter century) is the Mushroom Kingdom.  With some paint, some really cool wall decals, and some new accessories, we created our own Mushroom Kingdom:

     I ordered the wall decals from  They're excellent quality, restickable images that were super easy to put on the walls.
     For the paint color I took a picture of the Mushroom Kingdom (from the decal instructions) to Sherwin-Williams and had them color match the sky in the picture.

     The framed pictures above each bed are jigsaw puzzles that the boys put together this past summer.  We just applied Mod Podge over the finished puzzle, let it dry, coated the other side, let that side dry, then framed them in frames from Hobby Lobby.

     To make the question mark block shelves, I started with this ClosetMaid Cubeicals® 2 Cube Organizer shelf that is available here from Target.

I wanted the backs of the shelves to look like they were made out of bricks so before I assembled the shelves I used black electrical tape to outline brick shapes on the back piece of the shelving unit.
     For the question mark blocks, I found yellow Cubeicals Fabric Drawers at Lowe's (my Target didn't have the yellow drawers in stock).  I used Microsoft Word to create a large question mark that I printed and cut out to use as a pattern (font: College/size: 900).

I traced the pattern on a piece of white canvas fabric that I'd gotten at my local fabric store, cut it out and glued it on the front of the drawer with fabric glue.  The four dots on the corners of each drawer are circle shapes created the same way in Word (size .8 circle).   

I really wanted some fun lamps to put in the room, so I made Bob-omb lamps.  For non-Mario aficionados,  this is a Bob-omb:

I found these black lamps at WalMart and simply cut out white vinyl ovals for the eyes (I used my Silhouette but you could just as easily cut them out by hand.)  Easy peasy and oh so cute!

     And last, but not least, the Super Mario Bros. Pipe Wastebasket!  I knew that the pipe from the game would be a perfect garbage can, but how to make it?  I experimented a bit and this is the result:

Today's Photo-a-Day Challenge prompt is "green"!

Here's a little tutorial on how to make your very own Super Mario Bros. Pipe wastebasket:

Pin It

I found the black garbage can at WalMart (I can't find it on their website to show you, but it was $5.88.)

The first thing I wanted to do was remove the top part of the top because I wanted to have just the lip around the top of the can when it was finished.  To remove this I used my X-acto knife to slowly "saw" the top part off.  I would caution you to keep the blade pointed away from you when you're sawing.

Cutting this part off wasn't hard; I simply took my time cuz I didn't want to cut myself.  

Then I set the ring on the top of the wastebasket and cleaned up the little plastic pieces that were sticking out. I used the X-acto knife to shave them off.

The final step was to paint the wastebasket green.  I used this Krylon Fusion spray paint (color: Spring Grass) which is made for plastics and it was AWESOME!  Easy application and excellent coverage.

If you're new to spray painting or would like some great tips on spray painting, check out this informative post by Centsational Girl.

     And that's it!  The Goomba that you see coming out of the pipe is one of the wall decals.  If you decide to make your own Super Mario Bros. Pipe Wastebasket, leave a link in the comments below - I'd love to see it!

I'm linking up to:

Thrifty Decor Chick

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