Today we are on day two of our laminate flooring installation! All the carpet is going away and being replaced with lovely laminate flooring. The cats are at the vet (on “vacation”) during the install, and I’m working from home keeping an eye on the dogs.

New Flooring, Day 1

Yesterday they tackled the living room, dining room, and hallway.

New Flooring, Day 1 New Flooring, Day 1 New Flooring, Day 1 New Flooring, Day 1 New Flooring, Day 1

Today they are doing the bedrooms, and tomorrow they’ll finish it off with the entertainment/media room.


If you have a WordPress blog and allow comments then you know spam can be pain. It can get very time consuming having to go through the spam queue and sort out the real comments from the spammy ones. Luckily it’s fairly easy to keep your blog spam-free with just a few simple steps.

3 Ways to Combat WordPress Spam

1. Use Plugins

I’ve tried a few different plugins over the years, and these three have been working really well for me. Also, the WordPress Codex has a guide on how to deal with spam which includes a few recommended plugins. Either way you can’t go wrong with a plugin or two.


Akismet comes by default with every WordPress install, so all you need to do is sign up for a plan, grab an API key and then you’re on your way.

AVH First Defense Against Spam Plugin

AVH First Defense Against Spam
This plugin will check to see if the commenter is a known spammer via Project Honeypot, Stop Forum Spam, and Spamhaus. If so, they’ll be blocked from leaving a comment.

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin
G.A.S.P. adds a checkbox to your comment form for your users to verify they are not a spammer. It’s a lot more convenient than using CAPTCHAs, and it does the trick at helping prevent spammy comments.

2. Close Your Comments

Close Comments in WordPress
In Settings > Discussion there’s an area under Other comment settings where you can close comments on posts after a certain period of time. Spammers tend to target older posts, so enabling this feature will definitely help. I have mine set to 60, but you can do whatever amount of days is comfortable for you.

3. Use a Comment Blacklist List

Comment Blacklist in WordPress

If you go to Settings > Discussion there is an area called Comment Blacklist. Any words you list here will comepletely blacklist a comment containing those words. If you’re not sure which words to put in you can use a premade list to start.

The good thing about this is by implementing a list of common blacklist words it reduces an amazing amount of spam; however be warned! The downside is if someone posting a legitimate comment uses one of those words their comment will be immediately deleted, no notification or anything.

Since implementing the blacklist in conjunction with the other plugins and keeping my comments closed I’ve seen a major decrease in spam on my blog. What methods do you use? Got any recommended plugins?

Additional Resources


Working in an open office environment can make getting things done a little distracting at times. There’s multiple conversations going on, people walking in and out of the office, phones ringing, etc. and sometimes it can be a challenge to focus. Next thing you know the day is over, and it feels like nothing got done. Here are my methods on how I stay productive and focused.

5 Essentials for Staying Productive & Focused

1. Create a To-Do List

When I have a list of all the things I need to accomplish for the day it really helps me weed out other distractions. If I don’t come in to the office with a plan then I find it very easy to get sucked into checking my email all day, or I get put on things I don’t necessarily want to do. I personally like using Any.do because they have an app for my phone and Chrome extension, so I can easily sync up all my tasks; it’ll also remind you to go through your tasks at the beginning of the day if you have remaining items, and starting your day with a to-do list is definitely key.

Also, if one of the items on your to-do list is getting your small business off the ground, check out Kabbage.com. Kabbage prides themselves on helping entrepreneurs increase productivity in order to achieve their goals by providing small business loans.

2. Stop Checking Email

It’s so easy to get sucked into the black hole that is email, especially when most of the email coming through is customer service. I don’t like letting things sit for too long, but sometimes I get too eager to address emails that next thing you know I have spent the entire day dealing with emails. Instead of checking my email all the time, I’ve been setting aside time throughout the day. I’ll check my email when I first get in, around lunchtime, mid afternoon and right before I leave.

3. Put on Headphones

I find I work best listening to music that doesn’t have people singing, which is why I enjoy movie score/soundtracks so much. I have a couple different playlists on Pandora and Spotify that are my go-to when I need to focus. Putting on headphones and listening to my own music allows me to completely focus, drowning out other conversations/disctractions going on in the office. Plus, in my office, putting on headphones is the signal to everyone, “I’m busy. Don’t bother me.”

4. Checkin With Someone

Have someone that can hold you accountable for the things you plan on accomplishing. I don’t like the feeling of having to tell someone I didn’t get something done when I said I was going to. I try to checkin with my Creative Director every morning to let him know what I have going on. I’ve found that when I let him know what I have on my plate he doesn’t bother me for other things because he knows I have a plan to get other stuff done.

5. Take Real Breaks

It’s so easy for me to grab some food for lunch and come back to my desk to pick up where I left off. I never have a real lunch break where I’m not doing work. I’ve learned that when I force myself to take a real break, like watching a show on Netflix instead of working on my lunch, I really do better the rest of the day.

These are my five essentials for staying focused and productive that definitely work for me. Any other tips I should know about? What works for you?


When we first moved in to our house two years ago we got the entire house in a fresh coat of paint within three months. Since then we’ve felt a little “painter’s remorse” so we’ve been gradually repainting most of the rooms. One of the mistakes we made was never really settling on a whole house color scheme.

First House, Color Scheme, Round 1

Above is what I consider “round one” of our colors. Instead our color palette was very beige, safe, and disorganized. Most of the beige colors like for the dining room and living room didn’t look much different than the default builder off white that was on the walls when we moved in.

Since we’re getting all the carpet pulled out and laminate flooring put in next week, we’ve been busy repainting the walls that we’ve had second thoughts on. We’ve also took this opportunity to come up with a more cohesive color scheme.

First House, Color Scheme, Round 2

Here’s how we came up with our palette (courtesy of this guide from Teal and Lime):

Step 1 – Choose a Color Scheme

I chose a monochromatic color scheme which means I’m using different tints/shades/hues of one color – in this case turquoise. Doing this allows me to accessorize with greys, whites, and yellows.

Step 2 – Choose Your Neutrals

Choose a White: Ultra Pure White – Behr. We’re only using this white for trim, baseboard, doors, and ceilings. It’s Behr’s standard white, so it makes everything easy.

Choose a Neutral: Gentle Rain – Behr. It’s got a nice cool tone to it which goes well with the turquoise colors we’re using. We’re also using Subtle Touch and Porpoise which is from the same family.

Step 3 – Choose One Bold Color

Jamaica Bay – Behr. This is our living room color, and I used a bit of it in my office closet.

Step 4 – Choose a Friend for Your Bold Color

Aqua Smoke – Behr. This color is being used in our kitchen, guest room, and eventually laundry room.

Step 5 – Choose an Accent Color

Mirage Lake – Behr. This color I am using only in my master ensuite, specifically in the area where the toilet and shower is. I’m contemplating maybe using it in the media room in place of the green, but I do love the green we chose out there so we’ll see.

The only room we haven’t decided on a new color for yet is the guest bathroom. I’m still not quite sure how I want to design that bathroom yet – perhaps the Apartment Therapy Style Cure starting up on the 23rd will help me figure this one out.


Yesterday Joshua and I came home after spending five days at Convict Lake with the family for the annual family vacation.

#convictlake #hike #vacation

The last time we were at Convict Lake was four years ago, right before we got engaged, and we stayed in a huge house with Joshua’s entire family. This time we stayed in a two bedroom cabin with his immediate family.

Our Cabin

Our first full day we spent at the lake. We took a hike around the entire lake, which was about three miles. About halfway around the lake we took a break in a nice secluded beach area.

#convictlake #hike #vacation

The next day we ventured to Mammoth Mountain where we rode the gondola to the top of the mountain.

Riding the Gondola View from the Top of Mammoth Mountain

The views were absolutely stunning!

The next day Joshua and I drove to Tahoe to visit my Uncle Steve and Aunt Patty for a couple of hours. On our way back to Convict Lake, a storm rolled in and we had the most spectacular lighting show all night long.

A Storm is Coming

We had plenty of rain throughout the night and into the next morning.

Yesterday on our way home we stopped at Mono Cone for lunch and then briefly explored the salt flats at Mono Lake.

#monolake #saltflats

It was so nice to get away and relax in the mountains for a few days!