The weather is finally warming up, and so are our moods. While we're still in the early stages of working our way through the insurance claim process to repair our damaged plumbing and heating at the new house (and still feel totally depressed and overwhelmed by both the magnitude of the project and all of the decisions we need to make in a very short period of time), we've been trying to make progress on other projects in the meantime.

We spent a large part of the day yesterday at the new house. Alex worked on the living room plaster restoration, and I researched lighting and paint options for a front porch spruce up. We've been looking for weeks for new front lights in an effort to replace the existing pair that looks a little past its prime (behind me in the photo below, taken the day we closed on the house). 

We're trying to keep our style relaxed and informal in this house, and I pulled the trigger and ordered a pair of these outdoor sconces from Lighting Plus's "urban barn" collection. 

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As of today we're saving $45 per month by using Google Voice and an OBi VoIP bridge for our home phone!

If that's not a infomercial sounding beginning to a blog post, I don't know what is. But we are, and it was really easy to setup. If you're like us and you still have a land line, and you've been interested in how you can use Google Voice for your home phone, this post is for you.

We're always on the lookout for ways to save a few dollars by altering our approach to normal things. And over the past few months we've been trying to take a critical look at our monthly spending in order to figure out which superfluous items can be eliminated from our monthly budget. When looking over our monthly expenses one of the first items we realized as a potentially unnecessary expense was our Comcast cable bill.

While dropping cable and joining the "cord cutter" movement is a possibility long term, we love TV and I don't see dropping cable anytime soon (though the new Dish Sling option is pretty appealing, and we'll see what Apple might offer in the next few months). However, the bundled services on cable seemed like it might be a good place to find some cost savings.

More specifically, I was looking at the $45 per month we were spending on our landline turned VoIP home phone service. Yes, that's right, $45 for the series of telemarketing, survey, political ad, occasional Microsoft Scammer, and periodic calls from our parents, grandparents, and other people from at least one generation older than us. In short, we were getting about 2-3 useful calls per month, and we were paying a lot for it.

I started to do a bit of research into the various options to drop our landline. Many of our friends don't have a landline any longer, and really the only reason we still had it was for our old security system that we replaced last year. So technically, we didn't really *need* our home phone. But our phone number has been our number since we bought our house 12 years ago, and we're sentimental and nostalgic and aren't ready to get rid of it.

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On Wednesday we shared the before & after of our antique store find buffet turned bathroom vanity.

This was a major moment of progress for our bathroom, and though we're not done yet, it went a long way to making our bathroom feel "complete." But in order to check this major step off of our list, it required something that's been in short supply for some time -- space in the basement to paint the doors and drawers.

While I had painted the vanity body in place in the bathroom using our HVLP spray gun, this was before the bathroom was a finished bathroom, so overspray and a cloud of paint dust hanging in the air wasn't a big deal. But now that we've got ourselves real walls, floors, and finishes, my only real option to paint these doors and drawers was in our crowded and hoarder-esque basement.

As you may already know, you really need a dedicated spray booth area for this sort of work. Somewhere that you can spray to your heart's content without the worry of dust and debris falling into your work. Also, somewhere you really don't care will get totally covered in paint. Many people setup a dedicated extra room in the basement, or a portion of the garage or shed for this duty, but in our house, no such space exists. The only thing we have is our complete disaster of a basement.

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Now this might come as a total shock, but Wendy and I have multiple ongoing projects.

No, no, I'm serious! Can you believe it?

While we may have a literal disaster when it comes to our heating and plumbing at our new house, and we're overwhelmed almost to the point of panic attacks (if they weren't so often interrupted by catatonic paralysis) when we start to research our options, that's not to say it's taking all of our time. Estimates, insurance, and continued uncooperative weather have meant this isn't going to be a quick fix by any means.

The good news is that we still have a bathroom to complete in our house! Yes, yes, we're still working on it... again, can you believe it? You can't? I had hoped you thought more of me.

Though DIY ADD, with a side of disaster, may have gotten the best of us over the last several months, the unfortunate delays in our new projects mean we can focus on knocking out some of our ongoing projects. More specifically, we can finally finish up our master bathroom vanity project within a project. I guess our projects are like onions, they have many layers.

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Old Town Alexandria in the snow is nothing short of magical. 

I don't care how many times we experience snow storms in Alexandria, the day of the storm and immediate aftermath never get old. Sure we're too far south, too much a warm climate for people in the area to act reasonably around snow. And the people of the area sure take a verbal beating from real snow areas like Boston, but just forget about the pandaemonium that ensues when a few flakes are predicted, the all out rush on TP, bread, and milk that give area grocery stores nicknames like "Soviet Safeway," and the non-stop news coverage where the likes of Pat Collins reports live from some random roadside in some crazy snow outfit measuring depths with some amazing snow stick. Forget all of that and come along with me to appreciate the scenes our lovely snow has to offer.

Though this winter has been long, cold, and full of frustration for us, I really don't mind one last hurrah of a snow storm before we head towards spring. 

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