Saturday, February 28, 2009


With the house looking so good we thought it was a good idea to protect it. After watching HBO's, The Wire, some of you understand Baltimore. While you may think having a rottweiler is a big enough deterrent, with a face like this and his love for coach leather collars (Thanks mom!) we're not sure he'd scare an intruder.


In order to supplement our furry security system we ordered the Simplisafe system. The total cost of the sysytem was $320, $15 monthly monitoring fee, and it took about an hour to install. I am very impressed.

I first heard about Simplisafe from unplgged, and it seemed promising. I was skeptical, but after doing some research we decided on this system for the following reasons.

  • Easy installation - After all the work we've done on the house I was not about to rip open the walls to run more wire. Hell no. This meant we isolated our choices to wireless solutions. I read reviews on some wireless system there were many comments of how difficult they were to install. The review I read for this system said it was easy, and after installing it I couldn't agree more. The key fob is actually a thumb drive too, so all you do is plug it into the computer and the software contained on the drive walks you through the install. The folks who made this install software must have been trained by apple, because the process was idiot proof.

    Details like batteries and the double sided tape were included. Simplisafe even has little pull tabs that activate the sensor batteries, so no need to open the units to activate the sensors. Most other systems I found online were BYO-Batteries and even charged extra for the double sided mounting tape. This attention to detail really helped to install this system quickly and easily.

  • Doesn't require a landline - We don't have a landline and even most of the wireless systems require a landline. Not quite wireless, eh? With land lines running $25 a month, and then ~$15 a monthly monitoring fee this didn't seem like a great deal. The other option was an extra $250 up front equipment cost for a GSM chip and the monitoring would then be $26 a month. Again, hell no. This system uses the REFLEX wireless network - the same network the "I've fallen and I can't get up lady" uses. If it's good enough for g-ma, it's good enough for me.

  • Inexpensive base system - The base system with a main keypad, siren, key fob, motion sensor, two door/window sensors and a panic button runs $225. Very nice!!!

  • Inexpensive components - After paying only $225 a month and it only having 2 door/window sensors, I figured additional sensors would cost a small fortune. Not so. Each extra door/window was $10 and $15 for an extra key fob. Me likey.

  • Competitive monthly monitoring costs - Cruising around the intarweb we found deals as low as $9 a month, but this required a landline. Without a landline, things were looking more like $25 a month (plus the up front cost). Simplisafe monitoring runs $15 a month. Not the cheapest, but totally reasonable.

  • Looks cute - We spent time making the house look nice and modern and we didn't want some clunky system. You can barely see this system at all, as all the sensors are small and sleek.

This system isn't for everybody, as does not have fire monitoring. This wasn't an issue for us. My concerns going forward are that this is a relatively new system, so we'll see how easy parts are to get in the future and and if their customer serivice is any good. In another few month's I'll post a follow up review on my thoughts on the system, but so far I am very impressed. Another bonus of the system is that we can even take the system to our next house - all we'd need are a few new pieces of double sided tape.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another Look at the Living Room

My parents have been beggingasking me to post pictures of the house. I've been feeling lazy. Not much has changed since I posted pictures a month ago, other than some base trim, paint and other miscellaneous crap.

Here is a before picture of the dining area looking into the kitchen before the renovations.


We moved the kitchen from the back right of the house to the left side, and added a half bathroom in the back right corner. In the dining room we removed the faux fireplace, changed out the light fixture, laid floors and decorated. It looks much better now.


A lot of the items we used in the dining area and living room are discussed here. A new addition is a 5x7' wool rug we score for $123 on clearance from

Backing up a few steps, you can see the redone stairs.


The stairs were very squeaky. The old stairs treads were screwed into the base thingamajig (I don't know the technical name of the main stair girder) to remove any squeaks. New treads and risers were laid over the old stairs. We used pine treads custom stained and polyurethaned by moi, and 1/4 luan plywood for the risers. The trim up the stairs was redone, and after a coat of white paint to the risers and trim the stairs look like a million bucks. Our teak and peacock blue MCM rocker we scored off ebay looks hawt too.

The TV wall and bookshelf area is also looking a lot better. Before.




I still need to shim a few shelves, run some wiring for the home entertainment center, and straighten the tv. All in due time. I must say that we love our 50" plasma tv. The Queen likes watching the Real Housewives of Orange County, while I prefer to spend time playing XBox 360 games on it.

We finally got our white leather arielle ottoman from Macy's after over six months. We keep it at the front of the house when we're not using it to avoid cluttering the space. We got around to hanging the drapes from Ikea; the pattern helps add some intrest to an otherwise boring wall.


I also changed out the old light with the Fado light from Ikea. We figure it will go well with the custom transom that is forthcoming.

Friday, February 6, 2009


    "Not all those who wander are lost"

    -J.R.R. Tolkien

It may be a bit late for new year's resolutions, but I haven't felt like I was ready for a resolution until now. I couldn't make a resolution until after we had gotten the house in a fully livable state and the refinance was over. With that complete it has allowed me to reflect on a resolution.

My resolution is to wander more.

When in the middle of a renovation your life is consumed by to do lists, list of materials to buy, lists about lists and other miscellaneous lists. Now, I just want to wander. I want to explore things. I want to do things I've never done, see places I've never seen, and learn more.

I stumbled across a blog entry that was a year in review, of which the last six months of thier 2008 was traveling around Southeast Asia. Reading this made me want to go back to that area of the world. It made me want to go back and get lost in the 35 acres of Chatuchak Market. We probably only saw a couple acres of it. I want to again swim in the Andaman Sea, head to Chiang Mai, jump over to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat, skip over to China, or proceed onto Bhutan. I daydream of Bhutan often...

Since we went to Thailand two years ago we're also thinking of heading other places. A few other ideas are heading to Greece, Turkey, Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia), France, or the Netherlands. My mind is filled with endless possibilities. The euphoria of possibities excites me; I guess it my natural tendency to enjoy a state of maximum entropy - that state where anything is possible. Now we just need to formulate a plan to make this all happen. We're shooting for late spring early summer for our endeavor.

While this year will still contain small projects, and we will save for other larger projects, I want to make sure to make the time to wander.