Saturday, January 11, 2014

Thanks for visiting!  While I'm still happy at home in my first house o' dreams, my blogging focus has shifted to those times when I wander from home to explore the homes and lands of others.  Check out www.bethstravels.com for travel photos and tales, or visit any of the blogs listed on the right side of this page - they're the ones I go to for inspiration on home improvement and enjoyment!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Watercolor Windows to the World

There's nothing like a Pinterest Challenge to make me set aside my chaotic life and join in the fun!

 
I've been doing a lot more pinning than practicing so far this year, but when I saw this Pinterest post in January, I immediately got to work.
 

Side note: if I could follow only one board on Pinterest, it would be Meredith Heard's "Artsy."  It's a perfect blend of DIY and random beautiful things.  Like those Peacock feather shoes?!  I'm in love.
 
"Watercolor cities" was intriguing, and the website even more so.  Maps.stamen.com allows you to create three different unique versions of your favorite cities. It's a gorgeous option for which I might actually spend my hard-earned cash and yet, happy day, it's FREE.  You type in the city name just like any other online mapping service, then you choose from Terrain:
 
 
Toner:
 
 
And Watercolor:

 
All three have great artistic possibilities, but my favorite is definitely the watercolor.  Those who follow my travel blog will understand why I had a difficult time narrowing down my list of favorite cities; while it's free to create a jpeg of the map art, it's not free to get it printed.  I love Phoenix but even in watercolor it just looks like a blob of brown land:
 
 
 
So  I went with Washington, DC:
 
 
New York City:
 
 
And, of course, Havana:

 
I didn't need large prints but I didn't want them to be glossy so I had to mail-order them from Walgreens rather than picking them up.  It would have worked perfectly if I'd actually placed the order online...I was so distracted when I was doing this that I never finalized the order and then got grouchy that Walgreen's took forever to ship it.  Fortunately, they sent me an e-mail to see if I wanted to order the photos that were still in my online "cart" - without that reminder, this project might never have been completed.   
 
The photos are perfect in 5x7 matte finish, and have taken a much-appreciated spot on the growing gallery wall in my travel-themed office.
 
 
Check out the gorgeous things other bloggers were inspired to do for the Pinterest Challenge!  Sherry, Katie, Megan and Michelle each have websites with their projects and links to hundreds of others.
 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

All About the Numbers

The problem with my address is that it's not logical.  Without providing the details you're never supposed to put on the internet (and hasn't this week been a bizarre lesson in how deceiving internet relationships can be?!), I can tell you that my address doesn't make sense based on the nearest cross streets.  To make matters worse, my house hasn't ever actually had any address numbers posted.  I'm sure there are emergency concerns like the ability for paramedics to find my house if necessary but my real concern for now is that the pizza delivery guy has a hard time finding my house.  Clearly a situation that needs to be addressed.  (Get it, addressed?)

I started with this idea from Pinterest.  It's cute and it's temporary - no need to drill holes into the brick of my house, which terrified me.  


I never actually got around to painting numbers even though the tutorial made it look pretty easy, because in the process of looking for the number stencils I am sure are somewhere in my craft cabinet, I came across the 2" letter stickers I had left over from my subway art project.  They are really, really sticky so while they may not be as permanent as paint they did at least help.


While the numbers (and yes, I realize there's only one number in these photos...I exercised my not-so-superior photoshop skills to help protect the innocent) are pretty, they're only helpful if you're already standing in front of my house and their usefulness disappears completely at night.  Since pizza is usually delivered after dark, it was time to get serious about the situation.


Dad helped guide me away from the bizarre idea of drilling into the brick wall.  For one thing, numbers tended to just blend into the shadows and textures of the wall.  And for another, I really just didn't want to.  I really like nice address engraved plaques but they're expensive and I never could decide on one even if I wanted to spend that much money.  So instead the target became the white board that runs across the front of the porch.  After months of looking at lovely black numbers sitting on the bench inside my front door, today I finally tackled it with the help of my trusty assistant.


And not to brag about my success, but it turned out perfectly - they're even centered and straight.  Bring on the pizza!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Paper Pile Crisis of 2013

I'm organized at heart.  Things like file folders and pen holders have always made me smile.  Yet somehow in the chaos of Real Life, those obsessions have been buried under unopened mail, unstapled tax paperwork and coupons that are never redeemed.  It's the start of a new year so I avoided resolutions and just decided to do something about the mess. 

I'd gone through this process before, with short-lived results.  As soon as I learned how expensive file cabinets are (even IKEA wants $100 for one!), I went into Plan B: baskets.  When I was in my apartment, this system worked...the file folders fit perfectly, the baskets slid in and out of my Expidit bookshelf smoothly, and Organized Beth was happy.  But then time went by, paperwork associated with homeownership avalanched, good couponing intentions continued to go unfulfilled, and soon I had not just this:

But this:


 And this:

It looks harmless enough, but  stacks of paper in front of the light switch - not to mention right next to the flame of my gas stove - are never a good idea.

First I tackled the kitchen mess with a trip to Target.  For $7.99 I got this place to put bills, coupons and pens...and a nice splash of teal to blend with my shades-of-blue breakfast nook.


In addition to removing clutter and fire danger from the kitchen, this wonderful little mail center helped me clean out the paperwork that had cluttered the desk in my office.  That clutter distracts me when I'm trying to write or study Spanish (both on the new year's list of resolutions!) so now I have no excuse not to accomplish my goals.  Except for that whole having a job thing.

Clearly the mail center was no help for file folders, however, so instead I turned to Craigslist where I found an old file cabinet for $5.  The seller was a mile from my house (nice surprise, since usually everything I find on Craigslist is as far across the Phoenix area as possible), the cabinet was as good as you'd expect a $5 treasure to be, and I was optimistic.  Staples failed to acknowledge my Under $5 File Cabinet Policy - I had to pay $10 for the metal inserts that are necessary to hang file folders - but still, even with my less-than-great math skills I know that $15 for a file cabinet is better than $100!

It definitely still needs some love but that makes it more fun.  In the near future I'll prime and spray paint my new friend to cover up the chips and the sticker listing the name and address of a previous owner (from Minnesota - that cabinet's done some traveling!).


And even without a pretty outside, the inside of this baby is gorgeously organized and all ready to help me do my taxes quickly!





Monday, December 31, 2012

Shades of Grey

For about 18 months, I've focused on every part of my house except the part that guests don't see.  I wouldn't say that I have totally ignored my bedroom because I did buy nice linens but the fact is, it's a mess and it's always been a mess and it drove me crazy every time I thought about it.  The random moments when I would get motivated meant more than one wall in the room looked like this:
 
 
For a type-A gal like me, that incompleted blotchy effect was worse than not having any new paint on the walls at all.  So this weekend I decided to finally do something about it...yes, that's right - I spent hours online.  I was comforted/discouraged to learn that apparently finding a correct shade of grey is a universal difficulty.  (Apparently there's a best-selling book about how one lady had to try 50 shades of the color...?!)  I'd already given up hope that the perfect shade for my living room would also work for the bedroom - that gorgeous Graceful Grey turned a rather disheartening shade of greige in the low-light room.  7th House on the Left's perfect shade was way too dark for the room, as well.  One blogger recommended Behr's "Secret Passage" but when I searched for other success stories most bloggers said they'd tried Secret Passage and instead turned to Behr's "Dolphin Fin."  (Sorry I can't credit these blogger color guides because I forgot to keep the websites open...thanks to the many people who spent time sharing their grey struggles with fellow pilgrims like me!)
 
Dolphins are one of my favorite animals and since I'd already struck out on the "Porpoise" shade from Disney (too purple...and you thought I was kidding when I said I'd tried every shade of grey available!) I was happy for another shot at including the underwater kingdom's greatest resident.  I think the only way I hadn't discovered this before is that there is no "Dolphin Fin" sample at Home Depot...it's a secret only those dedicated to pouring over tales of strangers' painting tales can uncover, apparently.  The good news: after a full Saturday of painting and making a big mess, it is perfect. 
 
 
Not too light, not too dark. Juuuuust right.  And look how beautiful it makes those baseboards look!  There's still a long way to go for this room to be finished, of course.  The biggest project is the wall behind the bed.  I painted it white with intentions of using that gorgeous stencil I won to add pizzazz to the room, but haven't made up my mind about whether or not it's worth the effort.  Until I decide the wall should look like this:
 
 
It will continue to look like this:
 
 
It doesn't look bad white but I left the corners unfinished as motivation to finish that wall soon by either stencilling it or painting it to match the rest of the walls.  I think the issue is the mental block I get every time I hear the word "stencil" because it still makes me think of the horrid rosebuds-and-ribbons pastel border I tried to paint around my bedroom when I was a teenager.  I'll have to work through that.
 
Also still on the list: a full-length mirror.  These IKEA mirrors work - and I still like them, despite the numerous times HGTV show hosts mock them - but I'd like to get something more solid.
 

 And I definitely need a new light.  Thanks to a birthday gift from my friend Lesli I'm closer to getting a gorgeous new overhead gem from Lowe's, but since lighting options are even more complicated than shades of grey that could take awhile.


With all the splotches on the wall covered in smooth, castle-in-a-cloud kind of grey, it's easy to ignore the undone details.  Cheers for starting 2013 with only three small areas in my house still to be painted!
 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Presents for Free

It's the season to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like the fact that the tree in my front yard that looked like this in March:
 
 
Now looks like this:
 
 
Though I love just about all the man-made decorations on both indoor and outdoor trees this time of year, I'm pretty sure this one is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen on a tree.
 
 
And as if that's not enough, the front yard is going to get another boost free of charge due to my neighbors' charity.  A few weeks ago an online bulletin board post offered over 400 old bricks to the first person willing to come get them.  As I was planning for an after-work truck rental from Home Depot, the neighbor then offered to let me use his old trailer to haul them to my house...and offered to hook the trailer up to his truck.  And did I mention all of this was free of charge?  Bricks are very expensive and that cost was one of the things holding up progress on my landscape design (one of the far-too-many things holding up progress, but an important one!)  Now I'm delighted to have these old bricks piled neatly in my backyard awaiting their time to be transplanted to my front walkway! 
 
 
I hope your holiday week is filled with generosity from nature and neighbors!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Back to the Drawing Board

My intentions were so good after my last post, and with motivation high I marched to Michael's to get materials necessary for a neighborhood-specific map ornament similar to this one:
 
 
The blogger who created that beautiful ornament used a glass ornament but I couldn't find them at Michael's - these cardboard ornaments for 99 cents seemed even more ideal, though, since Mod Podge can get a bit slippery.

 
I printed off Google maps of my neighborhood, cut the maps into pieces that could be glued onto the balls, and got this mess.

 
Clearly I forgot that not all maps are equal...these online maps lack color and character, and unfortunately I didn't realize that until my craft looked like a messy, wadded up ball of newspaper.  I'll keep the ornament for myself - it can go along with that sheep ornament that was a happy disaster last year - but the neighbors' gifts will have to turn to another idea.