Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Free Program Helps You Deeply Customize Your Wallpaper

Free desktop wallpaper image organizer
is a free program that allows you to customize your computer's "wallpaper" with your own photos.

And when I say "customize" I REAAAAALLY mean customize!

Among its many features:
  • Pull photos from ANY source, including your internet photo account, random photos from the web, etc.
  • Free desktop wallpaper image organizer
  • Manage how the pictures appear on your desktop.  You can configure a montage, use a single image, whatever!
  • Automatically switch out your photos with whatever frequency you set.

I use it on both XP and Vista machines and it's stable.  It handles dual monitors with no problem but has a little trouble with three.


Store Holiday Stuffed Animals and Books With Your Xmas Decorations

Christmas Decoration Storage Tip:  Round up all of your holiday related stuffed animals, toys and books and store them with your Christmas decorations.  Bust them out again next Christmas for an added layer of holiday fun!


Use WD40 To Keep Snow From Sticking To Your Shovel

WD40 prevents snow from sticking to your shovel
TIP: Spray your snow shovel with WD40 to prevent the snow from sticking and making the chore even more miserable than it has to be.

You can also use a no-stick cooking spray but it won't last as long.

Extra tip: be sure not to get any oil on your gloves!  Makes it tough to hold on to the shovel!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Use Cookie Cutters For Toast, Pizza!

Use cookie cutters for morning toast

TIP: Use your holiday cookie cutters for toast and pizza!  In fact, I use non-seasonal cutters all year round!

The best selection of non-seasonal cutters can be found at AC Moore.  Last time I checked, Target had a limited selection and Michael's had squat.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Communication and Discipline

Create a plan for communication and discipline with your children
J & D are really good kids.  And eM and I recognize that a lot of that comes from them.  But we do however give ourselves credit for planning the ways in which we communicate with them and discipline them.

So it's probably no surprise that we're fans of the show Super Nanny.  I found an article on the show's official site that really captured our current communication/discipline processes and gave us a few new ideas.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another Free Favorite: Volumouse!

Free program allows volume adjustments with mouseVolumouse is one of the those little programs that I can't live without and can't remember what life was like before I found it!

How would you like to be able to control your pc's sound from the wheel on the mouse?

Well download this little beauty and you can!

Free program allows volume adjustments with mouseI've got mine set to work whenever I mouseover the desktop or a title bar.  You can configure yours anyway you'd like.

It's a free program, and it's been stable on both my Vista and XP machines.

Scroll down the and click the automatic download link.

Pump up the volum...ouse.....


Children and Marital Happiness

Children and marital happiness
This op-ed piece points to research that challenges both the conventional wisdom that marital satisfaction increases after children arrive and the research that suggests that all marriages experience a decline in happiness after children arrive.   I've highlighted some of the key points.

What are your thoughts?  Please add them to the comments.

Olympia, Wash.

HALF a century ago, the conventional wisdom was that having a child was the surest way to build a happy marriage. Women’s magazines of that era promised that almost any marital problem could be resolved by embarking on parenthood. Once a child arrives, “we don’t worry about this couple any more,” an editor at Better Homes and Gardens enthused in 1944. “There are three in that family now. ... Perhaps there is not much more needed in a recipe for happiness.”

Over the past two decades, however, many researchers have concluded that three’s a crowd when it comes to marital satisfaction. More than 25 separate studies have established that marital quality drops, often quite steeply, after the transition to parenthood. And forget the “empty nest” syndrome: when the children leave home, couples report an increase in marital happiness.

But does the arrival of children doom couples to a less satisfying marriage? Not necessarily. Two researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, Philip and Carolyn Cowan, report in a forthcoming briefing paper for the Council on Contemporary Families that most studies finding a large drop in marital quality after childbirth do not consider the very different routes that couples travel toward parenthood.

Grid O' Life Updated!

New info added to , everyone's favorite guide to supplements...


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Make DIY Mummy Dogs The Next Time You Pull Dinner Duty

DIY mummy hot dogs
Ariel the Mermaid and her brother
at her preschool Halloween parade

I made these MILF's (Mummies I'd Like to Feast upon) for J and D's Halloween dinner.  Everyone was pretty pleased and so I've definitely added them to the small but popular sillyDaddy dinner repertoire!

DIY mummy hot dogs
Here's what you'll need to make your very own mummy dogs:
  • Pillsbury Crescent Dough
  • Pack of hotdogs
  • Mustard
  • Cheese
  • Rolling pin and flour (for the rolling pin and your rolling surface)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Carve A Cool Jack-O-Lantern This Year - It's easier than you think!

DIY Jack-O-Lanterns
I always wanted to have a go at making a jack-o-lantern with a fancy pattern.  J was old enough to enjoy it this year so we gave it a try.  Turned out pretty well (see pic above), it wasn't as tough as I thought it would be and there’s still time for you to do the same this year!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Introduce The Kids To Classical Music With These High Energy Baroque Tunes!

sillyDaddy loves him some Baroque!

J and D throw a nightly dance party in the living room and they love to bust out moves to either classic rock, childrens' tunes or, you guessed it, fast paced Baroque.

DIY Classical music for kids
Early Baroque Hottie
In sillyDaddy's humble opinion the Baroque and Classical are two of the most enjoyable of all the .  Sure, they all have good stuff to offer but generally I find the Renaissance/Medieval periods and earlier to be a bit too druid; the Romantic and later - a bit too schmaltzy.

Listening to baroque even produces a documented .  Granted, you have to occasionally suffer a little harpsichord but hey, it's all good.

Tip: choose "allegro" movements which have lots of energy if you want your kids to dig it.

Don't know where to start?  sillyDaddy can help...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Re-purpose Baby Food Jars To Store Your Miscellaneous Hardware (And prevent archeologists from finding your skeletonized remains)

As a boy, I always loved going into my uncle's workshop.  His father built (and I mean "built" literally) the home where my cousins were raised and where he and my aunt still live.  His workshop contains equipment accumulated over two generations and his work bench shelves are lined with jars filled with hundreds of random pieces of hardware.

There's something really nice about looking around that shop and thinking about how the equipment and hardware has been used and about all of the projects and all of the problem solving that's gone on there.

I wanted to recreate some of that same feeling in my much smaller shop.  I don't have a lot of equipment but I do have a growing collection of miscellaneous, loosely organized hardware.  To make my shop extra cozy, I decided to use some of J and D's very first baby food jars to store my odds and ends.

I was sharing my idea with my grandmother and she suggested I mount the jars to the bottom of each shelf to free up all the space below.  Hey, I guess they're right; senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose*.

DIY workshop organization

Here's how to do it:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Get The One Free Program I Download For All My Relatives

DIY PC optimization
is a program that deletes all kinds of stuff that bloats your computer and makes it run slower.

I've used this absolutely FREE application for over a year and I've installed it whenever a family member has asked me to work on their pc.

This application helps to optimize your system and protect your privacy by deleting all kinds of third party applications, browsing history and unwanted cookies and it cleans up your registry files.
DIY PC tune up
You can set it, as I do, to run when you start up your computer.

The download is easy and it's FREE!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Grid Of Life - stay on the grid if you want to live!

[UPDATE: The Grid O' Life has been updated with some new information.  Bad news for folic acid and coffee lovers (in fact I'm pretty sure that if you wash down your folic acid with coffee your pancreas will explode).  Good news for Vit D.]

I've tracked medical journal articles related to a bunch of key health topics for the last couple years.

The articles were interesting but I wanted to connect all the dots so I could really begin to use the information - especially considering sillyDaddy's age and the pesky linear nature of time.  I also thought it would be a cool thing to share with family and friends.

So I spent some time recently putting the findings into a simple grid to make the info a bit easier to consume (click on the image below).

No, it's not an all encompassing list.  It's a compilation taken from the legit journal articles I've read over the last couple of years.

A green cell indicates a positive effect.

If something catches your eye I recommend you go to and conduct a search to read the associated reports.  ScienceDaily pulls the latest articles from a range of journals from across the world.

Key nutrients for healthy living

BTW Dad, if your doctor recommends statins for your high cholesterol,


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do Your Children Push The Boundaries? It May Be A Sign Of Future Leadership Abilities

Children pushing boundaries a sign of future leadership skill
Your last nerve.
Kids plucking your last nerve?

Considering the "I have to run down to the 7-11 for cigarettes" ploy, never to return, even though you don't smoke?

Well check out this article published today in ScienceDaily - your little envelope pusher may be the!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Make A Batch Of Bugs!

I'll show you how to make a cool batch of lady bugs and butterflies – and I’ll tell you the secret that the pastry chef fascists don’t want you to know!  (what…too much?)

DIY cupcake bugs

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cocktails With eM

DIY cocktail
eM isn’t a big cocktail drinker so when she asked me to make her something the pressure was on. 

Friday, September 18, 2009

Get On-Line Crime Reports For Your Neighborhood

This free site takes information from participating police departments and plots crimes against a Google Map interface...
DIY Crime prevention

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Make Jewel Encrusted Rings For Your 3-Year-Old!

Dude, you have to be secure in your masculinity and leave all the macho bull s#it behind when it comes to doing stuff for your little girl.  Case in point

DIY pipe cleaner rings

I recently made these cool rings for J.  I also made one for eM so that they could have a matching set...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Prevent Housework Arguments!

You don’t need a PhD in marital counseling to know that perceptions about who is, and isn't, pulling their weight around the house can fuel some pretty heated “discussions” (although it helps if a PhD has written a ).

eM and I both like the house tidy but I’m way more detail oriented than she is (believe me, it's a curse).  I used to occasionally get ticked off because I didn’t perceive that eM was doing her fair share of the housework.  What I finally realized was that she wasn't slacking, in fact eM works her ass off, she just wasn’t noticing the same things I was noticing so they weren’t a priority for her like they were for me.

Prevent arguments over housework by organizing a chore list
And eM was doing lots of other things for the team, like managing our household cash flow and all of the grocery shopping, things I wasn't thinking about while I was focused on the cleanliness of a particular room.

There were also occasions when eM thought I was taking care of a task and I thought she had it covered. As you can imagine, hilarity ensued.

So, once again, eM and I saw eye to eye on the need for a plan.  Here’s how we went about taking all the ambiguity out of our household division of labor...

Friday, September 4, 2009

You Have A Smoke Detector – Why Not A Flood Detector? A product you need and never knew existed!

We’ve had a couple of water intrusions in our house.  The first came when I wisely put a fine mesh screen over a storm drain in the bottom of the stairwell outside our basement door.  The first big rain sent leaves down the stairs which promptly piled up on the mesh creating an watertight seal, sending the water that was meant to go down the drain directly under the basement door.

The second was when eM 1) neglected to change the lint screen on the outlet hose from the washing machine and 2) didn’t check to make sure the drain was clear in the outlet tub.

I realized I needed to find something to give us the heads up when water starts flowing where it’s not supposed to...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Save over $800 In The Next 12 Months On Your Energy Bill – Without Replacing The Windows!

In December of 2008 we got a shock when we opened our power bills (get it?  shock - power...)Our combined power bills were up 22% versus the previous December!

I did some further digging and discovered that our cost per unit of energy had gone up 32% during that same period - greedy utility company bastards!

I immediately started working on a plan to turn things around.  Since January we’ve saved over $493 (and 31 cents!) on our combined energy bill versus the same seven months last year.

Save energy, save money with a DIY energy saving plan

I’ve often heard that the greatest savings comes from replacing old windows.  Our home was built in 1960 and the original, horrible, single pane windows are still in place.  We’d love to replace them but that’s just not in the budget, even with available stimulus plan money.  I needed a plan that didn’t involve a massive cash outlay...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Express Your Innermost Dad!

DIY t-shirts

If you’re a dad you probably use this expression frequently.

Why not memorialize it in a t-shirt.

And why not make one for everyone in the whole blaspheming family?...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Welcome to Slime Fest 2009!

Ahhhh yes.  Slugs come from miles around just to crawl on our screen!

Look closely and you'll see there were five slugs on the screen at the kids bedtime and two more arrived about 15 minutes after I took this picture.


Is our screen made of slug crack?  Is this retribution for the pounds of salt I poured on so many of their brethren in my youth?  Is dragging their bodies across the screen sexual in some way?

Whatever's going on, it's freakin' us out man!

Garden slugs climb the screen
Garden slugs climb the screenGarden slugs climb the screen


Friday, August 28, 2009

Enjoy decent scotch on a budget! (And here's an idea for drinking it in the summer)

Back in the pre-eM, J & D days I was crazy for the single malts.
I spent time pondering scotch on oh so many levels - even thinking about what kind of ground the water flowed over before it was collected and used by the distillery.  Yes, I know...

Anyway, if you're like me and you're on a budget it's extremely hard to justify spending the cash to keep a supply of the single malt stuff.

A friend's dad recommended the well known blended Dewer's so I gave 'er a swirl.  Good, but I thought it a little bland.  I've tried a few other blended scotches since then and I've settled on Johnnie Walker's Red Label (just a reminder that I am in no way paid by any manufacturer or service provider).  Nice flavor profile and you can buy it in a big 'ol jug and often on sale!
 Scotch in the summer

Now some of you may be thinking, "sillyDaddy, scotch isn't a summer time drink."  Well I've got a simple "recipe" that I find INCREDIBLY refreshing.

CommandCentral - how to add an additional monitor without buying a new video card

Here's a shot of my cozy home work station.

DIY computer monitor addition
You may have noticed that I have a few monitors.

If you're not a software developer you may not need four.  But everyone could use a second monitor!

If your PC doesn't support two monitors you may have thought your only choice was to take your machine to your local tech store and have an expensive video card installed.

You have another option!

All you need is an available USB port on your PC and a VGA-USB adapter.

I've shopped around A LOT and found the best value at the moment (just a reminder that I am in no way paid by any manufacturer or service provider except for the random GoogleAds that are on this web page).

DIY Framed Earring Organizer

As I've mentioned before, eM has many wonderful qualities. Organization, however, is not among them.
She takes her earrings off and usually drops them on the nightstand - perfect level for D to come along and pick one up for an impromptu earring tasting.

I read about this idea and thought it might help her keep her earrings organized.  It was pretty easy and, as you can see from my pic below, it ended up looking pretty good.  Best of all she's actually using it and D hasn't put anything crazy into his mouth for at least 30 minutes.

 DIY framed earring organizer
I had a bunch of old framed pictures in the basement.  The frames are in good shape so I picked one out, removed the glass and backing but kept the nice double mat.

I took a trip to the local craft store and bought a black plastic mesh usually used for crochet for about a $1.  I fit it to the back, threw in some extra tacks and glue and let it set.

I already had the glue, tacks and matted frame so my total cost was about one dollar!

If you're reading this and you likie, leave a comment and I'll shoot a pic of the back.


Horrific Playroom Scene

playroom scene

I work from home on Fridays.

This is the tragic scene that unfolded before my eyes when I opened my office (the guest room) door.

What horrific scenes have you witnessed around your house?


Welcome to sillyDaddy

Hello friends!

Try as I might I couldn't find a blog that combined
  1. Real world parenting tips for the first time dad
  2. Real world marriage tips for the first time husband
  3. DIY help for both household projects and crafts
  4. Technology tips
  5. Reviews about things I need and products I can afford
  6. Written from a regular guy's perspective, i.e. a guy who's not a professional writer, or wealthy, or living in NYC without a car, a yard or a house to maintain (not that there's anything wrong with any of those things).
If you likie what you read, then please use one of the numerous methods in the column to the right to follow along.