Monday, January 14, 2013

Neilsen Ratings

In the beginning of December the Nielsen people contacted us asking if we would be willing to be a part of their Nielsen ratings survey.  Being the avid TV watchers we are we decided, why not?  The five one dollar bills they promised us were all the incentive we needed! 

Our package, including our diaries (and cash!), arrived a few days before our week of logging began.  We were a bit disappointed that our week was during many of our favorite shows hiatuses, but we still managed to watch many of the other shows that we like to watch.  We were also able to log any shows that we watched on our DVR.  At times I felt like we HAD to watch TV and tried to watch all of our shows during that week.  Other times, knowing that I had to log even snippets of shows, I avoided turning the TV on at all.  I was also slightly embarrassed to log our usual Saturday morning shows, 'Born to Explore' and 'Sea Rescue', considering there is no one under the age of 12 (or even twice that age!) living in our household!  Overall, it was very easy, unobtrusive task. Though, come to think of it, Mike did most of the logging (and more of the TV watching in general) so it didn't really affect me much at all!  I'd like to think that our participation will keep many of the shows we watch on the air for a long time.  I can see 'Born to Explore' being a Saturday morning staple for the next 15 years...all because of me!

Mike sealing up our diary

Ready for Nielsen to add our TV viewing to their statistics

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Project MCP - December

The year has come to a close and I have completed my participation in Project MCP.  In total I submitted 42 pictures; only missing about three themes.  I found the project challenging in a good way.  It forced me to think outside of the box and to just get out and have a purpose when taking pictures.  Some weeks were harder than others - with both the theme and making the time to take the pictures - but I felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that I gained some knowledge and experience in the process.  Admiring other peoples photos also pushed me and gave me new ideas to work with.  I recently pushed myself to work primarily in the manual mode of my camera when 'playing around' as well. 

Project MCP has changed formats, moving to Facebook and focusing more on editing challenges this year.  I still feel like I should hone my skills on the basics of exposure and composition (and tackle manual mode more) and don't really care to follow Project MCP for their editing challenges quite yet.  Not to mention that it's on Facebook.  So, I have followed a group of regulars to another Project 52 that has a similar format and am looking forward to starting fresh.  I will probably continue to share my submissions at the end of each month so keep an eye out for them!

Here are my December Project MCP photos:

Project MCP / December / Favorite Christmas Decor
December Week 1 - Favorite Christmas Decoration

We didn't have our decorations out yet so I took this picture of the
Hallmark snowman that St. Nick brought me.  Project MCP / December / Favorite Christmas Decor
December Week 1 - Favorite Christmas Decor

I submitted this late, but my beach themed ornaments from all of our travels really are my favorite.
And, this photo is better than the previous one!
I still love my snowmen though, St. Nick!

Project MCP / December / Tradition

December Week 2 - Tradition 

Hiding the pickle
    Project MCP / December / Christmas Spirit
December Week 3 - Chrismas Spirit

Beleiving in Santa Claus
I guess I did start to play around some with editing.  Honestly, I prefer my photos to look as true to life as I can.  I don't have issues with others doing natural edits, but I can't get over seeing my photos looking different from real life.
Project MCP / December / Christmas Wish
December Week 4 - Christmas Wish

A Nook!

Sometimes a nice B&W works for me though!  It's not often, but I really did like this over the color version.
I also forgot to crop this one.  I meant to to change the composition a bit (I could have cheated and posted that instead!), but it must not have hurt much since it was featured on the blog (though, being Christmas week I think there were very few submissions!)


Project MCP / December /13
December Week 5 - Thirteeen

Did you know there are 13 card of each suit in a deck of cards?
I found that interesting considering that cards are a big part of gambling and that the number thirteen is considered an unlucky number.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chris gets Crafty: Purple Martin Birdhouse

Every year for Christmas for the past few years my mom has given us all some type of crafty challenge.  One year we had to make a gingerbread/Christmas house out of a supplied foam craft kit.  Another year we had to make homemade ornament.  This year we had to build a birdhouse.

I was telling a coworker about this years challenge and she mentioned a birdhouse that her father made out of an item found at certain grocery stores.  She said she could acquire this product for me as I was not able to find one at the stores I frequent.  Weeks went by and I kept reminding her, but she never produced the item.  With a little more than a week before Christmas I had to come up with another plan.  (I won't be sharing my original idea in case we have this challenge again!)

I had already been considering purchasing a gourd from Amish Gourds and decided to go back to that plan.  I had also read up on birdhouses and how certain birds like certain sized entry holes that are a certain height from the floor, etc.  I then discovered that this site had kits available for making a birdhouse for a purple martin.  Even though I've never seen one of these birds in my yard I thought I would follow the instructions and hope that maybe I could attract some!

I had thought that my husband would have the necessary tools to complete the project, but I was mistaken.  After a trip to the hardware store and a large chunk of change (for a birdhouse) taken from my wallet I was all set to start the job.  I did need some help with operating the tools and devices but I mostly managed to complete the project on my own.  I think for my next craft, I shouldn't go so far above my head so that I can finish it on my own!

Using a 4.5" hole saw to saw out the entrance and clean out holes

Inside of the gourd

Still sawing

Finished with the holes

Caulking the entrance and clean out cylinders with
 premium polyurethane construction adhesive (PPCA)
Notice the nice smooth line

Though I'm not a fan, I guess these birds like white houses.
 So, I completed it by painting it with the same paint my kitchen cabinets are painted!

Once at my parent's house we had to present our birdhouse and then we all voted on which one we thought was the best based on design, function, and looks.  In the first round of voting it was a tie between myself and my brother/niece's house.  In the end I came in second.  Not too bad!  However, being that I'm the only one with a yard with trees I now have to hang all the birdhouses in my yard.  I'm pretty sure a few will fall apart after the first rainstorm!