“This is my Pajamas”: Customize Your iPhone Ringtones

My daughter, out of the blue, started to occasionally speak with an accent that sounds somewhere between a southern drawl and a cartoon character. Around the same time, she also started doing this random thing where, while getting ready for bed, she would stand there naked and dramatically point to herself and say “This is my pajamas” in her newly affected accent.

These two things combined always make us bust up in laughter. Surely there must be some way to immortalize this memory. So I recorded her saying it one night with the Voice Memo utility on my iPhone. Then it dawned on me, it must be pretty easy to turn this little tidbit into a ringtone or alert. Why wouldn’t the rest of the world want to hear this soundbite every time I get a text? Totally entertaining, not at all annoying.

Elise’s iPhone Alert

Like back when phones started getting more sophisticated (what, 5 years ago?) and as a joke I changed my ringer to play Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean. Seriously, nothing turns a dead silent workspace or BART car into a chuckle-fest like getting a phone call with that as your ringtone.

Billy Ocean – Carribean Queen. You’d laugh, right?

Back to today, it turns out it’s pretty easy to make your own tones for the iPhone 5. I can’t speak to other phone makes and models but with a little googling, I am sure you could make magic happen on your device.

MAKE CUSTOM RINGTONES & ALERT TONES – w/ Voice Memo on iPHONE 5
Step 1: Open the Voice Memo recorder in your phone’s utility folder.

Step 2: Record what you want to use as a tone. I found that 1-2 seconds was plenty for an alert. 5-10 seconds seems good for a ringtone.

Step 3: When you’re done recording tap the “list” button to listen to your sound. If your sound needs to be trimmed, tap into the sounds info and then select “Trim Memo” and a yellow slide bar will appear. tap/hold/slide in the left and/or right side to trim off what you need. When you’re satisfied with it, tap “Trim Voice Memo”

Step 4: On the sound memo’s Info page tap “Share” and email yourself the sound file.

Step 5: Go to your computer and download the sound memo file from your email to your desktop and rename it to something you’ll remember when it appears in your phone’s tone list. When you’re renaming, also change the name of the file extension from .m4a to .m4r. You’ll get an alert saying “Are you sure you want to change the extension from .m4a to .m4r?” go ahead and click “Use .m4r.”

Step 6: Connect your phone to your computer. These are iPhone to MacBook instructions but I assume PC or Mac, as long as you have iTunes the following is universal. Double click the .m4r file to open it in iTunes. This will add it to your iTunes library under Tones.

Step 7: In iTunes, go to View -> Show Sidebar. Then in the left sidebar, open the “tones” folder in your library. You should see your new sound tone listed. Drag and drop this tone down to your phone. This adds it to your phone automatically under ringtones (because of the .m4r extension).

Step 8: On your phone, go to Settings->Sounds and then Ringtone (and/or individual alerts). You should see your new sound listed at the top of the “Ringtones” list. Select it and voila! Then call/text/email yourself to hear your new tone.

It sounds like more steps than it is. Once you have it down it’s quick. Experiment and personalize your phone with your kid’s laugh, your cat’s hiss, or your first ukelele chords strung together… whatever, play around and let me know what you come up with

Bunk Bed Forts!

Bunk Forts!

Bunk Forts!


After all of this adventuring lately, I was itching to do something hands-on creative today so I dug out a project that’s been sitting in the back of my head for awhile. Ever since getting the kids a bunk bed I’ve wanted to make it into a bed-fort and today I finally pulled it off.

My kids share a room and at the rate we’re going with house hunting they will continue to do so until they graduate high school. Lucky for me, at 6 & 4, they don’t mind sharing and actually I don’t think they would have it any other way. But when four people live in 1000 sq ft, it never hurts to find creative ways to carve out a little more personal space and privacy. Plus the fact that bunk bed forts are obviously awesome.

I headed to Ikea to pull together the few items I would need to perma-fort the bunk bed…

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

A Few Simple Things

A Few Simple Things

                                                    
MATERIALS
– 2 curtain wire packs
– screws
– wire cutters
– Phillips screwdriver
Curtains
Kura bed tent for top bunk

TOP BUNK
This should have been the no-brainer in the project. Go to Ikea, get the tent thingy that goes on an Ikea bunk bed, put it on the bunk bed. DONE! Nope. Oh Ikea, why do you almost make it easy but then make that last 5% such a pain in the butt? Of course this tent thing doesn’t fit ALL Ikea wooden bunk beds, just the one we don’t have. So it’s up there for now, but the hooks don’t fit so it keeps getting knocked off. I need to rig it to be more sturdy maybe get some velcro strips and wrap then around the tent poles and then around the bed.

Wire curtain hangers in progress.

Wire curtain hangers.


BOTTOM BUNK
For this I got two of the curtain wire packs from Ikea. Dang it Ikea, really? Everything BUT the screws included? Ok, so I fumbled around the tool area in the basement and dug up a couple but I don’t think they were long enough to really anchor in the wood. I went ahead with them and screwed one set in along the inside ledge of the bunk bed along the length, then one along the width (see pic). While the curtain wire did hang, it doesn’t seem sturdy enough and I had one already pull out of the wood. The screws I had were not right. I’ll probably change them out with a screw or bolt long enough to go entirely through the wood and then fasten a nut on the other side. Or maybe just a longer screw and a little wood glue. I am going to research but for now, it’s in place and looks good.

For the fabric, I found these owl curtains in the kids section of Ikea. They were way too long so I cut them to the size I needed and (GASP!) fake sewed them with the iron no-sew adhesive stuff. Let’s see if it holds up. I made the third curtain with the leftovers from the original panels and might make some pillow cases with the remaining scrap.

So there are some things I need to work on to make this concept more solid so that 2 hyper kids can’t take it all down in an instant, but those adjustments should be simple. The entire project, including Ikea-time, took only a couple of hours. The kids seem to love their new forts and, coincidentally, have their first sleep over friends here enjoying them too.

Gotta have lanterns inside, especially happy ones.

Gotta have lanterns inside, especially happy ones.

Elise's new bottom bunk fort.

Elise’s new bottom bunk fort.

Sleep Over!

Sleep Over!

Bunk Bed Forts!

Bunk Bed Forts!

Adventuring: Coyote Point & CuriOdyssey

Shhhhh… I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’s a GOOD one that my friend turned me onto recently. The local libraries in the bay area (and maybe beyond?) offer free tickets to local museums and attractions. Places like the Academy of Sciences and the Discovery Museum. For free.

Right? I know!

The program is called Discover & Go and all you need is a library card. The selfish me didn’t want to tell you because the number of passes to some venues is limited. However the loudmouth me, as usual, won out. This is the same “me” that feels compelled to tell a stranger who compliments my shoes that I got them for a buck at Target when a simple “thanks” would do.

Moving on along, we tried the Discover & Go program today by downloading and cashing in a free admission to CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point. We’ve been to Coyote Point before and it’s a pretty awesome place even without entering CuriOdyssey. It’s a regional recreation area located on the water in San Mateo, not far from the airport. This is key because not only do you have panoramic views of the bay, but the kids get to see large airplanes down low as they go in for a landing. And then there’s the playground, which I’ll get to in a second, but first some tips:

On a walk at Coyote Point a few months back. We love this spot.

On a walk at Coyote Point a few months back. We love this spot.


Coyote Point Adventure Tips:
– Pack a lunch and make a day of it.
– Start with Magic Mountain playground and hit CuriOdyssey a little later to catch the animal show.
– Have lunch at a table away from the playground so kids actually eat rather than beg to play. Better yet, face the airport direction and you can watch the planes come in.
– Get an ice cream at the snack bar and stroll the path along the water.
– Head over to CuriOddyssey after lunch for a couple of hours.
– At CuriOddyssey don’t miss the animal show. Make sure to line up early to get passes. They are free with admission but they go quickly.

Ok, more detail on each spot within Coyote Point…

Magic Mountain Playground
This is a pretty awesome playground with something for all ages. There’s a huge castle structure with a giant slide as well as a bunch of smaller kid play things. Jack’s slide tip: Go down on your sweatshirt for a turbo boost.

The dragons nose... serious photo op if your kids aren't burnt out like mine.

Castles and Dragons.

Tip: sit on sweatshirt for speed.

Jack’s Tip: sit on sweatshirt for speed.

zip line back & forth

zip line back & forth

CuriOddyssey
We spent a few hours here and that seemed like plenty of time to meander through things. There are some hands on science exhibits as well as native California animals. The focus on native animals was great to give the kids an idea of what’s around them in our state and what to look for on our next hike.

Science is awesome.

Science is awesome…

and so is sand.

…and so is sand.


and bees are also pretty kick-ass. Especially female bees who we learned basically do everything.

and bees are also pretty kick-ass. Especially female bees who we learned basically do everything.


Peregrine Falcon at the animal show.

Peregrine Falcon at the animal show.

We learned a number of things today but my favorite? That, when diving for prey, the Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal on the planet, reaching speeds of over 200mph. The cheetah? 75mph. AND they are local so maybe our next adventure will be Peregrine Falcon spotting.

The Info:
Coyote Point Recreation Area
1701 Coyote Point Dr, San Mateo, 94401
FEE: $6/car park entrance fee

Magic Mountain Playground at Coyote Point
FREE with park entrance

CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point
http://www.curiodyssey.org/
Admission: $4 for 2-12, $6 for 13-17 & seniors, $8 adults

Take-Out Box Thank You “Cards”

Unbelievably, the last day of school jumped on us out of nowhere. I know everyone says it… time flies, it all goes by so fast, etc, etc. But Kindergarten was warp speed ahead. Snip-snap, this year is done.

Sharpies!

Sharpies!


Jack was officially “promoted” to 1st grade today and, since we’ve been spinning in end of school activities, we kept it pretty simple in the thank you department. We made some cookies in custom decorated Chinese take-out cartons for his Kindergarten teacher and his after-school care teachers.

I picked up these blank Chinese take-out cartons at the party store for less than a buck. Rather than make thank you cards, we did it directly on the take-out boxes themselves. Jack was all over the box art, I was on cookie baking duty, everyone participated in cookie eating.

We kept it simple, some Sharpies and some imagination…

Jack's school mascot is the owls.

Jack’s school mascot is the owls.


Nature Scene

Nature Scene


color explosion

color explosion

frog study

frog study

                                                                    

Buerre & Sel Jammers

Buerre & Sel Jammers


RECIPE
We filled the boxes with one of our favorite cookies: Buerre and Sel Jammers (Bon Appetit). With “butter” in the recipe’s title, how can one go wrong?

Baking Machines

Baking Machines


Are they done yet?

Are they done yet?

Happy Running Day: My Ultimate Running Music Mix

Happy National Running Day! Yes, it’s an official National “Day”: http://www.runningday.org/

In honor of this occassion (and to complete the Make Stuff Up challenge for today) I made my ultimate running mix for an 8 mile run. Then I ran to it. Now I am writing about it.

My Run: San Francisco on the left, Oakland on the right.

View on My Run: San Francisco on the left, Oakland on the right.

Now, I didn’t just slap some songs together and call it good. The base compilation is tried and true for me, but this morning I polished it up a bit. Added some songs, removed some dead weight, timed it approximate to my 8 mile pace, and added my favorite cool down song. I just finished my run to it and, I must say, it was timed pretty perfectly and kept me moving. Also, I am fortunately to look at this while I run:

My Run: SF on the left, Oakland on the right

If it makes you feel any better, this stretch is often windy

Ok, so the mix is admittedly Modest Mouse and LCD Soundsystem heavy but, in ratio to how much I typically listen to either of those bands while running, I’ve actually held back. Do you remember that feature in Rolling Stone Magazine… something like what five albums would you be stranded on a desert island with? Well, if I was stranded in a desert marathon (hypothetically speaking of course), these would be my choices:

LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
M.I.A. – Kala
Modest Mouse (a mix from multiple albums)
This American Life (yeah, it’s a radio show)
and then the following compilation…

MY 8 MILE RUNNING MIX:
(This was timed for an 8 mile, 9:35 Pace)

Blitzkrieg Bop – The Ramones
The Corner – Common
All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem
We Are Young – fun.
Thrift Shop – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Cars – Gary Numan/Tubeway Army
Common People – Pulp
Paper Thin Walls – Modest Mouse
Infinity Guitars – Sleigh Bells
Boyz – M.I.A.
The Message – Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
Gratitude – The Beastie Boys
Jerry Was A Race Car Driver – Primus
North American Scum – LCD Soundsystem
Time To Pretend – Mgmt
Jumpers – Sleater-Kinney
Florida – Modest Mouse
Ode to LRC – Band Of Horses
Little Motel – Modest Mouse

LET’S BREAK IT DOWN…
WARM UP
Blitzkrieg Bop – The Ramones (Shock myself into action)
The Corner – Common (Then normalize into warm-up phase)
All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem (a little faster now)
We Are Young – fun. (youth anthems help me run faster)

PACE INCREASE:
Thrift Shop – Macklemore (How can this not make you run with a smile?)
Cars – Gary Numan/Tubeway Army (steady pace)
Common People – Pulp (deceptive at the beginning)
Paper Thin Walls – Modest Mouse (continue the increased pace)

PUSH IT!
Infinity Guitars – Sleigh Bells (crap, the wind on this stretch! Help me blown-out guitars!)
Boyz – M.I.A. (push it harder!)

HALF WAY THERE CRUISE:
The Message – Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

PICK IT BACK UP:
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
Gratitude – The Beastie Boys
Jerry Was A Race Car Driver – Primus

CRUISE IN THE ZONE:
North American Scum – LCD Soundsystem
Time To Pretend – Mgmt (A new addition and maybe my new favorite)
Jumpers – Sleater-Kinney
Florida – Modest Mouse

HOME STRETCH:
Ode to LRC – Band Of Horses (could overlap as either a run or cool down walk depending on your pace)

COOL DOWN – WALK:
Little Motel – Modest Mouse

Give it a try and tell me what you think. Or, better yet, tell me what you run to.

Link to my mix on Rhapsody: http://www.rhapsody.com/members/e5gu/playlists/mp.170616073

Button Bracelets: An Addict’s Story

I am kinda cheating because I really didn’t make this today for the Make Stuff Up Challenge. I am writing about it today but really it was part of a making binge on Sunday.

Finished Button Bracelet

Finished Button Bracelet


If you recall, on Sunday I made some tie dye tissue paper flowers for my neighbor girl’s birthday. But what I didn’t tell you was that there was a bit of a compulsive edge to that day. Really, I couldn’t stop making things. And in between waiting on my tie dye paper to dry for the flowers, and my bead bowls to melt in the oven (more info on that another day) I couldn’t just let it go and do something responsible like clean the house, hang out with my family, or shower. Like I said, it was a binge. It was not healthy.

The kids, who originally were planned participants, had realized by the third craft that I had moved into crazy town. They headed off to play in the backyard. But come on kids… button bracelets?!?!

And to be honest, while I loved how the paper flowers turned out, the other crafts of the day suffered from manic energy. I like the concept of these bracelets, I like the buttons, I am just not sure I love how it all came together. Plus this was really meant as a kid’s craft activity so I’ll try it again sometime when I haven’t burnt out the family with my addictive behaviors.

Things You'll Need

Things You’ll Need


SUPPLIES:
– Elastic Cord
– Buttons
– Crimp beads

HOW TO:
– Cut a piece of elastic cord about twice as long as you want the finished bracelet to be
– Weave the elastic cord in and out of the button holes from back to front, then repeat.
– Once it’s the right length, put each end through a crimp bead (or two for extra strength)
– Use needle nose pliers to “smash” down the crimp beads
– cut the extra cord off

Stringing the Buttons

Stringing the Buttons


Finished Bracelet

Finished Bracelet

I got this idea from a Martha Stewart Kid Craft Article. This would be cute with vintage buttons but things were a little limited in the Notions department of my local craft store so I ended up with these transparent glittery ones. This would also make a good craft for a kids party with lots of bright colored buttons to choose from.

Oh, and BTW… I craft-crashed over the last 24 hours which is why I have nothing new to write about. I am going to recover over the next few days with some more abstract interpretations of “making.”

Up Next: Something with music.

Tie Dye Tissue Paper Flowers

Tie Dye Tissue Flowers

Tie Dye Tissue Flowers


It was my lovely neighbor Vivian’s 8th birthday today. I’ve known her since her chubby toddler cheeks moved in six years ago so I wanted to make her something special. I didn’t have all the time in the world, her party was in a few hours, so I landed on giant paper flowers. Simple, I had all the stuff, and still a bit of a new challenge for my Make Stuff Challenge. Not nearly as time consuming or precise as the paper flowers I made for Teacher Appreciation Day, these were fun and very free form. So free form that to be honest they were one big experiment.

I based the flower design on those tissue paper pom-poms. The paper dying job was a guessing game but turned out pretty well for it being the first time.

Here’s what I did…

Supplies

Messy Stuff


SUPPLIES:

  • Plain white sheets of tissue paper
  • Food coloring and/or watercolor paints
  • Paintbrush
  • A bowl
  • Floral Stem Wire (thick, like 18 gauge)
  • Scissors
                                                                               
    First I stacked 8 sheets of the tissue paper and accordion folded it. Then I cut a half circle on each end.

    Accordion Fold

    Accordion Fold

    Petal Cut

    Petal Cut

                                                                 
    I filled a small bowl with water and some drops of pink food coloring. I then dripped various colors of food coloring straight onto the white tissue paper on both ends and then quickly dunked the entire paper into the bowl. I then flattened it out and painted some green watercolor on randomly and left it to dry on the grass.

    Food Coloring Drip

    Food Coloring Drip

    As the paper dried a bit, I carefully pulled the sheets apart to help speed up the drying.

    Wet version

    Wet version

    Once dry, I then re-folded the sheets in an accordion fold and tied a floral wire stem around the middle and twisted it tight. Then I carefully pulled up each sheet on both sides until it was puffy.

    Fold

    Fold

    Twist

    Twist


    Carefully Pull Up Each Sheet

    Carefully Pull Up Each Sheet


    Close Up

    Close Up


    Both Flowers

    Both Flowers

    Things I Learned:
    – Tissue paper is surprisingly tough, it withstood all of this dying and pulling pretty well.
    – The color dried much lighter than I thought it would.
    – Don’t worry if your hands are all dyed up, it comes off after a couple of hand washes.
    – The experiments could go on infinitely. I think it would be cool to paint glue on each tip and dip in a little glitter. Or watercolor paint a bunch of colors all over the paper rather than drip color on. Basically I learned I will be playing around with this concept more.

    Vivian loved her flower as did Elise who got the other one of the two. I twisted it around the post of her bed… floral stem wire is good that way.

    Elise with Flowers

    Elise with Flowers