Liam’s New Rain Gutter Bookshelves

You’ve heard the phrase, “Get your mind out of the gutter,” but maybe in this case, the gutter is a good place to be…

Recently, we stumbled across a blog post about rain gutter bookshelves and decided that these would be good to put on the big blue wall in Liam’s room as a clever & inexpensive (less than $15!) way to the handle some of the oversized books that won’t fit on his regular bookshelf cubbies. So we decided to turn today into “Project Saturday” and get busy.  Below is a before picture of the wall:

We spend a lot of time reading to him from the comfy recliner in his room so putting the bookshelves below the window seemed like the perfect spot.  After some measuring, leveling & drilling, here’s what we ended up with:

Here’s another couple of pictures with some books on the shelves:

We were happy with the end result and Liam was excited to see some of his favorite books prominently displayed.  Now he just has to decide which book to read first.

If you’re interested in putting up your own rain gutter bookshelves, read the tutorial at Raising Olive’s blog post. And be sure to check out the Rain Gutter Literacy Revolution for a more in-depth look at the effect of displaying childrens’ books facing forward.

What are some innovative ways you’ve handled book storage in your home?

Leaping For the Frog

Y’know how suddenly, you (or more likely, your better half) decide that you desperately “need” to redo a wall with that trendy new “Frosted Mojito,” “Dried Plantain,” or “Hula Blue” color? Yeah, those diabolical little paint swatch strips practically leap off the endcap featured prominently at the home improvement store to snare you as you unwittingly try to make it to the checkout with wallet intact.

Ok sure, a couple of your walls could use a little freshening up, but it’s such a hassle because you don’t want new paint slathered all over your pristine door trim, crown molding, or cabinetry. So what do you do? Well, you could try to be like those smarmy designer guys on HGTV and just cut in free-hand to get that perfectly clean, straight edge. Um, yeah. No, you grit your teeth and reach for the dreaded blue tape.

Oh yeah, we’ve all been there—you lay on the blue painter’s tape with meticulous precision to mask off the baseboards or windowsills, only to find that when you peel off the blue tape, the new paint has seeped right unerneath it in spite of your good intentions and tedious prepwork. Worse yet, as you’re removing the blue evil, you find that it has latched onto the trim paint that it was supposed to be protecting and peels chunks of it right off! You can almost hear the wicked cackle of the evil scientist who brewed this stuff up.

Well, good news is, you may never have to buy another roll of that aggravating adhesive tape from Hell again. Forget the blue, think green!
FrogTape logoFrogTape is a new painter’s masking tape with ‘PaintBlock Technology’ that activates When latex paint comes into contact, creating a micro barrier along the edges of the tape that helps prevent paint from bleeding underneath. No, really. In fact, the “sodium-based super-absorbent polymer” in FrogTape creating that barrier is the same chemical compound that causes diapers to gel when wet. No, really! And FrogTape won’t tear off the paint it’s protecting when you remove it. No, really!!

Just smooth the tape down as you apply it and you’ll end up with clean, crisp paint lines afterward. Yup, it’s that simple. Okay, it is a bit pricey at $5 for a roll (wider widths ratchet the price up another buck or two). I know, I know… You’re screaming “$5 for some masking tape?! What kinda crack ya smoking over there?” But this stuff is fantastic! Splurge on a roll and you’ll never go back to the blue junk again.

Note that FrogTape comes in a plastic canister and it’s not just for looks. You want to keep the tape stored there to help maintain its freshness and keep the roll from getting dinged along the edges. And when the roll is all gone, the empty container can be used for storing spare parts or pitched in your recycle can. (You do have a can in the garage for recyclable plastics, doncha?)

New Year, New House

Rob hinted in a previous post that big changes were coming for 2010.   Well, we finally got Liam potty trained so we decided that, with all the money saved on Pull-Ups, we could afford to buy a new house!

So, after more than 17 years, dozens of coats of paint, several major renovation projects, and countless memories, we’ve actually said “goodbye” to our old home, packed up our stuff, and moved on down the road.   Scary?   More than you could know!   Kinda sad?   Yeah, it’s tough to imagine that the old house isn’t our home any longer.   Exciting?   Unbelievably!   Here’s the front of our new house, a.k.a. Kirkwood Manor:

front of new house

We did some prep work before the move-in and after nearly a full day of grueling wallpaper removal, we got Liam’s new room ready for paint — and in his favorite color, of course!

Liam’s room wallpaper removal
Liam’s blue room

With lots of help from Ryan, we finished painting Liam’s room, the office, the dining room ceiling and the living room before the big move.

Liam was very excited about helping to prepare for the move.   He couldn’t wait to box up his toys and put them with our other boxes.

Liam boxes up his toys

So on February 27th we officially moved into our new house. We couldn’t have done it without the tireless help of Ryan, Martin & Adrian.   Thanks guys for giving up your Saturday to help us and thanks to Linda for loaning us your trailer!

The Move Crew

Stay tuned for more pictures as we finish unboxing and settling in at the house!
If you are lookig for new interior ideas go to Northern Lights Exteriors and start a new life!

Big Boy Bed

Liam made the transition from his baby bed to a "big boy" bed this past weekend.   He was so excited when they delivered the bed on Saturday morning!   We temporarily moved the baby bed to other side of his room (just in case) but he kept insisting that we get it out of there because he’s a big boy now.

He did really well with his nap Saturday afternoon and then slept all that night (with only one roll-off mishap).   Luckily his giant, fluffy bear Hugo "caught" him when he rolled off the bed at 5:30 on Sunday morning.   Rob bought a couple of swimming pool foam noodles that we put under the fitted sheet on each side of the bed to create bumpers for the sides and that seems to have solved the rolling off problem.

twin-size bed

After naptime yesterday, we decided to take the old crib apart and Liam even helped remove screws with the cordless drill and bag up the little pieces.

The headboard is still in transit and we haven’t installed the bedskirt yet so I’ll update this post with another picture when all of that’s in place.

Update:   The ready-to-assemble headboard finally arrived so here’s the completed bed with headboard, noodles and bedskirt all in place:

twin-size bed

We’ve also finally updated the Liam’s bedroom page with some photos and details of his room.   Be sure to take a peek!

Liam the Builder

Our little guy has gotten into watching Bob the Builder lately and we frequently hear him singing the theme song at night after he goes to bed.Bob the Builder

Recently Rob did some digging in our backyard to get rid of a tree root that was threatening to cause trouble with the patio slab.   While digging, he veered off an inch too far in one direction and severed two sprinkler pipes & a sprinkler control wire.   Well, that set off a whole chain of events and needless to say, we ended up with a pretty big hole in the backyard by the time he dug out more to fix the damage.   There for a moment, I was thinking that I might be getting the swimming pool that I’ve always dreamed of having… well, okay, it wasn’t really quite that big.

But you can just imagine how excited Liam was to see this giant hole in the yard with a mound of dirt sitting beside it… oh, it was calling out his name!   For days he was drawn to it like a magnet whenever we’d go outside.   The time finally came to fill in the hole so I bought him a new scooper shovel just for the big event.   Of course, more of the loose dirt went in the air and on him than in the actual hole, but he was definitely a man enjoying his labor.   Here’s a video of him singing the "Bob the Builder" theme while he works:

So Long, Summer!

September 21st might’ve officially marked the last day of Summer, but this past weekend signalled the real end of the season — the final grass-cutting of the year.

And so it was with a heavy heart that Liam & I dragged out our trusty lawnmowers and gave the yard what’s likely to be the last grooming for the season.   For those who know us, you’re probably all too aware of just how much mowing the grass has quickly become one of Liam’s most-treasured pasttimes since Dede & Karen bought his bubble mower back in July.

Liam always lights up when mowing time comes around and toils with unflagging resolve to keep up with me even in spite of the thick St. Augustine turf that bogs his little mower (and feet) down.   Even with sweat rolling off of his little brow, the tireless tot just keeps going — it absolutely breaks his little heart when the job is done and we have to put away our equipment.

He’s so enamored with helping with the yardwork that he’s still reeling from the trauma caused when Clems borrowed our (real) lawnmower last month and we were out of commission for several days!   And Clems still gets a sound scolding from Liam (including some fierce finger-wagging) anytime the topic comes back up!

I can only hope that leaf-raking will be a suitable substitute…

Rob and Liam mowing grass


As a longtime fan of Will Wright’s city building simulator game SimCity, I’m very familiar with the term NIMBY, which is an acronym for "Not In My Back Yard," a phrase used to describe resistance from citizens to the development of landfills, affordable housing (especially multi-family housing), industrial facilities, or other services or structures.   In the game (as in real life) citizens frequently boycott controversial, unsightly, or distasteful things from being located in their neighborhoods even if they themselves and/or those around will benefit from the construction.

Likewise, there’s an opposite acronym for those rare occasions when the people are excited about something new in their neighborhood — YIMBY.   And YIMBY, or "Yes In My Back Yard," is our new motto now that our swanky "Veranda" is complete!

The patio cover project progressed very rapidly and construction has actually been done for several days now, but we wanted to wrap up a few finishing details before the unveiling.   For more details, be sure to check out our Veranda & Back Yard page.

Completed patio cover

Of course, you can also peruse our 2Dolphins Resort & Spa page for revealing looks & other ongoing home improvement efforts throughout the rest of our house.

Meet Me On the Veranda

The combination of old shingles and some recent storms with very high winds led to many of Permian Basin area home with roofing problems.   Although we couldn’t detect the damage, it seems that we were among those.

But it seems that the timing was fortunate — having just finished our master bath renovation about 3 weeks ago, our ever-reliable contractor Truett was available to tackle another project that Dede has wanted to do for several years. All furniture we ordered from  We decided that this would be a good time to cover our patio so the roofing work on that could be done at the same time as the new shingles are being installed on the rest of the house.   Yup, so even while we’re still rebounding & cleaning up from the bathroom redo, we’ve launched into yet another large home improvement project.

Here’s a pre-construction shot of our back yard with the then-uncovered patio:

Backyard patio photo

And here’s a peek at the first day’s progress:

patio cover construction

It’s at odd times like these that my inner nerd kicks in and I start wondering about silly things like the term “patio.”   A little Googling revealed that patio is a Spanish word originating in the 1800s that typically refers to a courtyard or paved area adjoining a house.   I also learned that, since we’re covering our patio, it’s now more appropriately considered a “veranda.”   While it sounds like a Spanish word — especially when I use my best Antonio Banderas voice — veranda is actually a term imported from India that refers to a gallery or porch with a roof supported by columns.

I like the sound of that.   Veranda.   Who knew we were so multicultural?

I’ll post more photos as this project progresses, but in the meantime, you can peruse our 2Dolphins Resort & Spa page for revealing looks at most of the other areas of our house & ongoing home improvement efforts.
Read this article: Cleaning tips from Empire Capitol Toronto.

Makeover Over

shower icon by Simon MirfinDede took the inaugural shower this week in our new master bath!   The renovated bath feels much larger & brighter and we’re really happy with how well the mix of materials complement each other.   Visit the updated Master Bath page for details & photos!

And feel free to roam around on our 2Dolphins Resort & Spa page for other revealing glimpses of our home.

Master Bath Makeover

Our much-needed, perpetually-delayed master bathroom renovation project is finally underway!

Our master bath’s step-in shower developed a slow leak into an exterior wall, so we’ve been planning on gutting the tiny bathroom and remedying the problem before it could cause any real structural damage.   We’ve been working towards this for well over a year, saving our pennies, assembling materials, & finalizing design choices while our trusty contractor Truitt has been tied up on another job that kept expanding.

The layers of construction dust settling throughout the house and the mess are a challenge (to say the least!) but since this is a room that sees heavy use everyday, we’re excited to finally have the makeover in progress!   We’ll update the Master Bath page soon, but in the meantime, here’s a teaser glimpse of the new glass block shower stall:

glass block shower wall

Be sure to check out our 2Dolphins Resort & Spa page for revealing looks at most of the other areas of our house and our ongoing home improvement efforts.