Last night I realized that we have several items that we've either asked for your opinion on a topic and haven't shared our final verdict, or given you periodic updates on a topic and then kind of petered out without a more recent status. You may have been able to tell from our less frequent updates, but Wendy and I have been busy with a capital Bee.

Don't worry, this isn't a "woe are we, having no time to do anything because we're just so busy, how do we simply make it through the day, please tell us how great we're doing and it's going to be okay." I hate blog posts like that, and I bet you do too. In fact, that's probably why we're Internet friends.

In reality, we're super busy because work has been crazy for me with lots of change, new responsibilities, and cool things like mobile app development (that I don't want to bore you with). And Wendy's job has been gangbusters, with new listings, representing buyers, and what seems like a constant stream of home inspections and settlements. And we're not even to the busy time of the Alexandria real estate year. And of course there's been the little "situation" with Lulu's cancer recurrence, and even Mel's had his share of unplanned vet visits.

In all this means that we're so swamped that we really haven't had much time to put into our house work or writing as many blog posts. Hope you haven't missed us too much.

But I digress...time for some closure on a few items.

First of all, thank you to everyone for chiming in on the bedroom wall vs bathroom closet alarm panel debate. Let me start by revealing who in our household prefers it where.

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Comments 10

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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Comments 6

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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Comments 5

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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Comments 6
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