Summer LAN Party

This weekend we had our annual Summer LAN party.

The Gaming Boys The Gaming Boys

As usual, we made our famous dip and had an amazing array of food brought by others.

The Food

My sister’s boyfriend came up for the weekend and made tacos. They were SO good!

Dani's Boyf Grilling Meat for Tacos

Because of the drought, heat, and fire ban we couldn’t break in our recently created fire pit.

The Fire Pit

But we lit a couple citronella candles and placed them in the pit, so we had a “fire” to gather around, hehe.

Mr. Big likes BBQ

Mr. Big had a great time socializing, especially around the barbecue.

Sleepy Gamers

And everybody slept quite well! People who spent the night left around 1pm, so the rest of the day was spent cleaning and relaxing.

Looking forward to our next LAN party – New Year’s Eve, when we can really break in the fire pit!


Two Fridays ago I showed you our new front door, and here’s how it looks after a fresh coat of paint…

Painted Front Door

Saturday morning I went over to The Paint Spot and picked up two quarts of paint: Benjamin Moore’s St. Lucia Teal for the front and a white semi-gloss by Pittsburgh Paints.

Joshua helped me remove the hardware and after a couple episodes of Property Brothers played in the background, my two coats of the front of the door were done.

The front of the door is painted! Benjamin Moore's St. Lucia Teal #lovehome #diy

I don’t know if the fact it was 100+°F out or what, but the Benjamin Moore paint went on so smoothly! I was very impressed, and I can see why everyone is such a big fan of this paint.

Painted Front Door

Today our new front door was installed! It looks pretty!

New Front Door

Our previous front door had some swelling issues ever since we moved in, and recently it got so bad to where we couldn’t lock the deadbolt. We’ve tried trimming the door (it’s solid wood) to make it fit, but eventually we realized that the door frame and door itself were never properly installed to begin with.

Current Front Door

You can see that our attempts to trim it have left us with a few gaps which is not great with the hot summer heat right now. We decided that it would be best to get a brand new door, one that’s fiberglass to prevent warping and a new frame.

We spent a couple weekends checking out a few local places that sell doors/windows, and we ultimately landed on this one from Lowe’s.

Joshua with our new front door!

After we picked out our door we set up a time for Lowe’s to come out and accurately measure our door frame for the install. Once the measurements got back to the store, we paid for our door and installation. About 24 hours later we got a call to setup a time for our install.

And today, the door was put in!

New Front Door New Front Door

I also ordered a shiny new handle for it off eBay which arrived yesterday, just in time for the new door to be installed.

Society Brass Collection 858w 15 Hawthorne Handleset Made By Kwikset

Since the door comes primed, I had to start thinking about what color(s) I wanted to paint it. After looking at some Pinsteration I knew I wanted to go for a light turquoise for the front.

benjamin moore wytheblue

Front door in Wythe Blue from hiya papaya

benjamin moore st. lucia teal

Front door in St. Lucia Teal from Rebecca Lukens Designs

The two colors I was leaning towards: Wythe Blue or St. Lucia Teal, both by Benjamin Moore. Last weekend I checked out a paint shop a couple miles away from my house that carries Benjamin Moore paints to get the swatches.

Up until this point we’ve always been close to Home Depot and/or Lowe’s, so that’s where we’d always get our paint. Shops that carried Benjamin Moore ‘nearby’ were few and far between, so it always bummed me out looking at other blogs/Pinterest where all the paint colors were by Benjamin Moore. Now, there’s a place closer to my house than Home Depot/Lowe’s is, so I’m happy I can finally use Benjamin Moore colors in my house!

We decided we’re going to go with St. Lucia Teal, so we’ll be doing the painting next weekend.


A couple weeks ago I was able to convince Joshua to get a FitBit since he’s been tracking food and exercise through MyFitness Pal. He picked out the FitBit One, and one week later I sold myself on getting the FitBit Flex. I’m also using the Weight Watchers ActiveLink to track my activity points. Both have things I like and dislike about them.

My Fitness Tracking History

I got my very first fitness tracker, an original FitBit in 2011. I was really excited to have a fancy device that tracked my activity as well as my sleep. My FitBit acted as a pedometer, so I was able to track Weight Watchers activity points by punching in my steps on eTools.

My FitBit Has Arrived

Overall I really liked it, but I did have some issues with it. First off, I wore it on my bra so I was constantly taking it off and putting it back on which caused wear and tear on the area it clipped.

Cracked FitBit Ultra from 2011 Broken FitBit Ultra from 2011

Two months in the backing broke off, so I contacted customer support. They sent me a new one free of charge, and I was back in business. A few months later it appeared a thin layer was peeling off, plus I went off Weight Watchers for a time, so I got rid of my second FitBit. I could have had another replacement, but at the time it wasn’t worth the effort. By then new models had come out anyway.

When I rejoined Weight Watchers last year I was thrilled to learn they had their own fitness tracker: the ActiveLink. I purchased one immediately. It was significantly cheaper than a FitBit up front, but the downside was I had to pay $4.95 a month to use their services. Despite that, I was still pleased with how it worked. I felt like I was getting an accurate measurement of my activity points since it’s so easy to overestimate your activity (and underestimate your food).

There were certain things that I did miss about the FitBit, mainly the pretty interface and the detailed fitness/sleep information, and after convincing Joshua to get one I convinced myself to get one as well.


FitBit or ActiveLink?

Depending upon which FitBit you get, you’re either wearing it on your wrist, chest, or waist. I’m using the Flex, so I’m always wearing it on my wrist; the only time I take it off is to shower. The FitBit itself is a small unit that fits inside a wrist band, but it can also be taken out to put in the charger. It wirelessly syncs, so as long as you are near a computer with the wireless dongle or near your smartphone with the app installed, your info will always be up to date.


  • Tracks all your activity and sleep.
  • Starts tracking immediately – no assessment period.
  • You can set a silent alarm.
  • Free online and mobile tools (set goals, track trends, log food and more).
  • Works with a variety of fitness/health apps on your smartphone such as MyFitness Pal.
  • Beautiful interface for the web. Seeing all the different tiles and getting that visual overview is what helps motivate me.
  • Wirelessly syncs to your computer. The only time you need to plug it in is to charge it.
  • Ability to view your progress throughout the day, both via on the FitBit itself as well as on your smartphone/computer.
  • Fancy app for your smartphone that also wirelessly syncs. Very nice UI as well (hey I’m a designer, these things matter).
  • No longer limited to the USB version. I got the Flex so I can wear it around my wrist.
  • The Flex has a wide variety of colorful wrist bands if you want to switch things up.
  • They have a scale that works with your FitBit to sync your weight, BMI and body fat.


  • A little pricey up front – $99.95. We got ours at Target with our RedCard, so we got 5% off.
  • Doesn’t work in conjunction with Weight Watchers. The only information you can use to generate activity points is steps.
  • Can wear down over time.
  • The Flex doesn’t show the time. I feel like I am wearing a watch as it is, so why not add the time?

Weight Watchers ActiveLink

FitBit or ActiveLink?

The ActiveLink is a clip-on unit, so you can wear it on your chest, waist or as a necklace. I wear mine on my bra, and the only time I take it off is when I shower or go to sleep. When you first start wearing it you go through a one week assessment before it starts tracking your activity. That way it can properly assess your baseline – the level you need to reach before you can start earning activity points.

When you set it down on a flat surface, you can view your progress based on how many lights light up. It works in 25% increments, and when you reach 100% (four lights) the whole thing will light up like it’s doing a victory lap to show you’ve met your activity goal for the day.


  • Syncs up with Weight Watchers eTools.
  • Tells you exactly how many activity points you got for the day.
  • Cheaper than a FitBit up front.
  • Clips onto your bra a lot easier than the FitBit One/Zip and is more discreet (it’s flat).
  • It’s waterproof.
  • Shows your progress throughout the day.
  • Offers challenges to encourage you to move more.


  • Has a monthly $4.95 fee.
  • Have to be a Weight Watchers member AND have eTools
  • The one week assessment period when you start prevents you from tracking any activity.
  • You have to reach a baseline of activity before earning activity points.
  • Doesn’t sync wirelessly. It’s a USB, so you have to plug it in to your computer to have your data synced.
  • No fancy app for your smart phone.
  • Weight Watchers has scales but not one that can wirelessly sync with your ActiveLink like the Aria can with the FitBit.
  • Difficult to track progress throughout the day if you’re wearing it in your bra.
  • You won’t know how many total activity points you got for the day until the day is over (midnight). This can be frustrating if you swap activity points for food.
  • It doesn’t track your sleep as well as a FitBit. Technically you can see what hours you were active vs when you weren’t, but there’s no sleep mode.
  • Doesn’t work in conjunction with any other health or fitness apps like MyFitness Pal.
  • You lose the ability to manually track your activity. This can be problematic if you forget to wear your ActiveLink like I did one day and didn’t get any credit for three hours of yard work.

The Verdict?

I love both, but if I had to choose it would be the FitBit; the only thing that keeps me using the ActiveLink is the fact it tells me exactly how many activity points I’ve earned. In the event that my ActiveLink dies or gets lost, I probably wouldn’t replace it though. If Weight Watchers could take everything I like about the FitBit and do that, then I’d be set. Or if FitBit could calculate activity points. For now, I’m going to continue to use both.

Additional Resources


When we first saw our future home online via MLS we were presented with a beautiful green front yard.

The official photo on MLS

The official photo on MLS

On the day we physically step foot on the property we were greeted with the current homeowner attempting to water dead grass. I guess he didn’t realize that spraying weed killer over the lawn would kill the weeds and the grass.

Front Yard

The yard consisted of dead grass surrounded by a cement horseshoe outlined with pea gravel plus a weird brick layout near the steps, a poorly maintained rock garden in the middle, an awkward white box covering the sprinkler valves and no working irrigation. Definitely not great curb appeal at all.

We consulted with Joshua’s adopted dad (he’s a professional landscaper) on what to do with our front yard. We knew we wanted to keep things simple and just have a nice yard with grass and some shrubs. The first step was to clear the clutter!

Front Yard

We dug up all the pea gravel, removed the random trees (like the one right in front of the doorway) and killed any remaining weeds. Then we removed the weird brick pattern and the cement horseshoe.

Brick and Cement Removed Brick Removed

Now that everything was removed it was time to prep the yard for sod and irrigation.

All Soiled Up All Soiled Up

We laid down a few inches of amendment on top of the current dirt. Then we used a tiller to mix everything up. We also rented a stump grinder from Home Depot to take care of the two tree stumps.

First Round of Tilling Smoothing Out the Yard

Joshua’s adopted dad helped us with the irrigation, and then we were finally ready to order sod!

Grass in the Front Yard Grass in the Front Yard

We started off 2014 with a beautiful green lawn! Then we topped it off with some solar lighting and white rocks in the middle. The previous two weekends were spent prepping the irrigation and planting shrubs (Japanese Boxwood ‘Green Beauty’) in front of the porch.

Front of the House Zen Garden - sort of Front of the House

All that we have left is finding something to plant near the side of the garage, replacing the front door, and adding some decor to the porch!