Last week we gave you the rundown on our wireless DIY home security system search and selection process. After much deliberation and research, we decided to purchase the 2Gig Go!Control system to meet our needs. It seemed to offer the best combination of features, capabilities, aesthetics, and price.

Before I bore you with the details of our install, there's a major question at the end of this post that we need all of you to weigh in on. So even if you don't care at all about this awesome topic, please check out our big debate.

A few days after placing the order, I eagerly awaited the arrival of my box o'goodies. I don't care what it is, if it's a technology item and I ordered it, I get a little bit of nervous anticipation before it arrives. When the box showed up at our door I eagerly tore into its contents like a nerdy kid on Christmas.

This happens to be one of those projects that we've put off for years. We've been talking on and off about a new system since our old one had its first problems back in 2006. But as much talking as we did, we never actually pulled the trigger. To be totally honest, I'm glad we hadn't. Waiting has allowed the technology to come up to speed with the smartphone world, while the hardware has gotten lower profile and better looking. Once the box arrived at our house, well, it got real.

The project quickly moved from concept to reality, and it was up to me to make sure the box didn't sit in the basement collecting dust like so many other projects we'll get to "some day."


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Comments 30

The snow has tapered off and cold air has flooded the area, ensuring our snow cover will likely last for quite some time. While we may not have gotten the 24" I would have loved, the 7"-8" we did get is wonderful snow. Lulu has been romping in the back yard about 30 seconds at a time.

I went out and snapped a few photos around Old Town and enjoyed the peacefulness that is very unique to quiet falling snow. I decided to play around a little bit with HDR photography and wanted to share some of my favorites for the day. Here they are in no particular order.


Snowy Old Town Home


Captain's Row


711 Prince Street


Lee Street Sledding


Meeting House


Crooked Alley Views


18th Century Clapboard Captain's Row


Union Street Public House Icy Lights


Snowy Captain's Row

18th Century Fairfax Street


Narrow Victorians of Fairfax Street

Well, I finally got my wish for a good snow in Alexandria that isn't completely interrupted by rain! Lulu is sort of loving it, but it is COLD out. She loves the snow but hates the cold, so she just keeps running out through the snow and right back inside.

I'm going to be heading out in a few minutes to take a whole bunch of final snow 2014 photos. More updates later. I'm like a kid on a snow day today.

In what may be the final act in the winter that never ends, we're slated for another major winter storm. And if the forecasts and talking heads on television are correct, this storm has the potential to be the true cherry on the top of our wintery Sunday, bringing as many as 9" of sleet, ice, and fluffy white snow. As it's become tradition, we've setup our front window webcam so you can keep an eye on what we're seeing.


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I feel like this winter will go down in the record books as the longest, coldest season in history. Perhaps not because of the true weather stats, but between the posts of misery on Facebook, piles of soggy boots and socks, and drawn looks of anguish on parents' faces every day yet another snow day is announced, I think 2014 is a real competitor if only in spirit.

The frigid temperatures have caused many, ourselves included, to embrace full-on hibernation mode, spending countless hours barricaded indoors near the fire, and eating and drinking to warm the body and soul. This winter I've embraced many of my classic winter recipes, but I've added a new warm and healthy soup to the mix. This creamy carrot soup is healthy, filling, easy to make, and inexpensive. It's quickly become a go-to meal in our house. 

In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm oil. Add onion, stirring occasionally. Cook until softened, 5-6 minutes.

Add carrots, cook, stirring occasionally, 5-6 minutes. (While a bit more expensive, you can save the step of peeling the carrots by buying bagged baby carrots. All they need are a quick chop.)


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A little while ago we shared our plans to purchase a new security system. Since we already had an existing (but dated) system, we had a solid understanding of the drawbacks and limitations of our existing system to help us in our shopping. However, I wasn't totally sure where to start.

While plenty of people purchase and have alarm systems installed each and every day, I needed to find a way to over complicate the process for myself, all in the hopes of simplifying it for other people. As you may know, I bring a very long and storied history of over complication to the table, and if I can justify this self inflicted burden though some sort of weak martyrdom, I'll welcome the excuse.

I've actually been working on this post for a while. My goal here is to make the whole process as simple as I can, because it really is simple, but all of the details and requirements make it seem way more complicated. Hopefully I'll be able to do a decent job of reducing the whole process into a nice little nutshell. Today I'll cover the alarm system basics and how we selected the system we're installing.

For me, the primary caveat of this project is that I really want to understand the whole alarm system process, from shopping and selection to install and activation. Rather than having an installer come in and pitch me a system and service, or having a sponsored post from some alarm company outlining what's out there with a lean towards their offering, I want to see what's on the market. I want to research what I will be purchasing, and I want to be the installer, select who the monitoring company will be, and (most importantly) ensure the purchase price and monthly fees are competitive and not exorbitant. The problem with all of this, up until a few weeks ago the whole genre of alarm systems and alarm companies was sort of a shady black box to me.

Personally, I just feel like an alarm system should be one of the things in your house you really and truly understand, not one of those things you don't know how or why it works. Otherwise you end up in a situation where the thing that's supposed to be giving you peace of mind and protecting you is actually making you feel uncomfortable and intimidated. That's where we were with our old system.


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We've all likely seen it in magazines, or heard of it being done from a friend or antiques dealer, or witnessed it in a friend or family members renovated bathroom, and it seems like a pretty straight forward and simple idea. The concept is one that can both save a few bucks, add a little character to a room. What am I talking about? I'm talking about taking an old low dresser, side board, or buffet and transforming it into a bathroom sink or vanity.

Really, the idea seems like it should be so easy. Just take an old vanity, cut a few holes in the top, drop a sink or two in, call it a day. Better yet, don't even bother with the old top, take it off and grab a piece of remnant marble or granite, pop in a sink, and you've got yourself a one of a kind vanity.

I have to admit, at first my mind went to the good old "Yeah, that'll be no problem." But then reality set in and I realized that pretty much anything involving retrofitting an existing piece of furniture to be something else, let alone one where you must ensure plumbing has a place to run, is an entirely new set of challenges. Sure, the Pinterest boards are alive with the look of effortless simplicity. "Here, here's a stunning before and after!" We all collectively ooh and ahh at the magnificence of the piece, like a couple of grandmas at a fireworks display.

Slap that little Pinterest price tag ribbon on the piece to add a little salt to the wound. "Wow, would you look at what someone was able to accomplish for just $150.00! Take that, $3,299 Restoration Hardware mass produced double vanity, I'm all in, and I'll raise you a bundle of character you can't possibly be dealt in your hand." Ignore the man behind the curtain and the fact the $150 tag is only talking about the faucet hardware.

Gone are the nitty gritty details, the hole necessary in the cabinet interiors that look like they were chewed by beavers, the sweat and tears no doubt shed while trying to wrestle this piece of furniture from intended purpose into the submission induced new life it's surely meant to lead.

The sad fact is that the majority of these such re-purposes, or "up cycles" as it is often called, end in wasted effort, broken dreams, or in the worst case scenarios, a pile of useless kindling created from the lethal combination if craftiness, power tools, and the haze of an Internet inspired dream.


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