Deck Decor Re-do on a Budget: Part 1

Happy hump day readers! This week's DIY is part one of my Deck Decor Redo-- my low-budget answer to all the cute pictures in magazines and on Pinterest of adorable outdoor spaces. 

1. Step one was finding the right furniture, which was an extended process of Craigslist trolling and sticking to a solid budget of under $100 for two chairs and a small table. I was hoping to find wicker that was a good price with the cane in good condition. 

2. Once I found the right chairs, negotiated the right price ($75), and wedged them into my Toyota Corolla (not easy), it was time to pick a color. I went with a soft warm yellow spray paint made by Rust-oleum. I felt the color would be bright without being overpowering and would compliment lots of other colors. And how often do you get to paint in REALLY perky colors? I mean really. Make sure to choose one that works for outdoors and is meant to adhere to the kind of surface you chose. I used four cans for the two chairs and one table, which was more than I thought, but the cans are only $4 each (at Home Depot) so that was okay by me.

3. Then get to painting! As with all spray painting, you want a well ventilated space like a garage or driveway and to cover all the nearby surfaces. Spray paint travels so just assume it will get on anything in the general vicinity. 

4. Start with the bottom and use light layers, spraying 6"-10" from the surface. It is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint. Look at each part from lots of angles, especially if you are using a light color as it can be hard to tell where you've covered. 

5. Let the bottom dry (time per can recommendation) and then flip everything over and paint the top side.

6. Allow the paint to cure at least 24 hours, more if it is humid. And ta-dah! A beautiful outdoor furniture set that cost you $100!

The cushions were $15 each (50% off at Cost Plus World Market) and I splurged on the pillows, spending $25 on the stripe and $40 on the rainbow petals both from Dot and Bo. More than I would usually spend but LOOK AT THEM.

All in all, a pretty good project coming in at under $200 total!


Hope you enjoyed this mid-week DIY-- more from this series is coming soon so I hope you'll come back for more budget-friendly projects and inspiration. Have a project you'd like to share? Burning DIY questions? Hit me up on the social media and use #bettybetatester to show of your DIY skills! xo

Summer Succulents

Welcome back, Beta Testers! I can't tell you how thrilled I am to not only be done with spring quarter, but also the PNB season is done! Three cheers for only one job and being done with school 'til fall! 

So let's dive into a little mid-week DIY, shall we? As I think you might have noticed, I love plants and having bits of green life in the house makes me heart happy. However,  I am plagued by forgetting to water said indoor plants and have frequently killed them (don't be like me). SOLUTION: succulents. Not to get all pinteresty on you, but succulents are adorable and are a great way to get more green inside and out.

Replanting Succulents

  • Make sure you have a plant that is appropriate for where you intend to have it. Indoor succulents don't do well outdoors and outdoor varieties are often less happy indoors. 
  • A container for your new friend. When it comes to selecting a container, expect the unexpected! Use an old tea tin, mug or jar. Anything will do! 
  • Washed gravel to promote good drainage
  • A bit of extra potting soil, loam or sand is preferable. You can also sometimes find "succulent" soil blends which you could also use.

As with all other planting, you'll want to shuffle the roots around and pack the new soil around it. Usually, you would want to water well after replanting anything, but in this case just give it a light mist with a spray bottle. 

E voile! Easy peasy and adds a delightful pop of green to any room. 


Hope you enjoyed this quickie project and I promise we'll be back to our regularly scheduled projects soon! In the meantime, keep up with me on social media and share your DIY questions, flops and successes with #bettybetatester or in the comments below! xo 

Budget DIY Closet Organization

Happy Hump Day, beta testers! It really doesn't feel like a Wednesday (three day weekends always mess me up in a good way) but it really is! And that means it's time for your Weekly DIY.  

I'll tell you a secret. Despite my rigorous cleaning in many areas, there are some closets, drawers and corners that I NEVER CLEAN. I said it. NEVER. But sometimes, after about the millionth reusable grocery bag falling on your head, it's time. 

The culprit is my front hall closet and let me tell you, this gal does EVERYTHING. This closet stores coats, some shoes (kind of), cleaning supplies, the brooms, vacuum (and all it's attachments), our VAST collection of reusable grocery bags and a chest of drawers we use to store serving pieces, candles, placemats, etc. It's a big job and right now, nothing about it is working.

Budget DIY Closet Organization

1. First thing? Take EVERYTHING out of the closet. Yep. Everything. Sorry, but there's no way around this and if you don't you're bound to miss something wedged at the back.

Okay so I didn't take out the chest but that is HEAVY you guys. I did take this opportunity to sweep and wipe down the shelves though. 

Okay so I didn't take out the chest but that is HEAVY you guys. I did take this opportunity to sweep and wipe down the shelves though. 

2. Separate everything into piles by use. Grocery bags here, cleaning supplies there. This will make it easy to see if something just doesn't belong. You may also realize, "wow I have a lot of crap".

3. Once you have your categories, make sure you want all of those things in this closet or at all. Is there a better place for shoes or the random box fan? (Answer: yes.) Set those things in your FIND NEW HOME area. Then ask yourself how many placemats do I really need? If the answer is none, start your DONATE pile. You will undoubtedly also come across actual TRASH so you'll want a pile for that too.

Off to Goodwill with ye!

Off to Goodwill with ye!

4. Now is the (sort of) fun part. Decide how you want to store all the things that are going back into your closet. Make a list of the organizers that will suit your needs. I like baskets, they corral all manner of small items and are easy to grab. I needed 2 large ones (one for vacuum stuff and one for the infernal grocery bags) and one smaller one for cleaning supplies. I also have 4 brooms/dust mops so I definitely needed some kind of hanger thing. Make note of any measurements you will need while shopping (like how deep your shelves are for example) so it will all fit perfectly!

5. Now to the store! I went to my Fred Meyer but if you don't live in the PNW, you don't have one of those. It's like a Target but with more coupons. All in all I spent about $70 and if I had been really shrewd, I would have surfed the sales to make sure I was shopping with a sale AND a coupon. But alas, I'm not that good. 

6. Once you get home, it's time to put it all back together! In this process (and in the first few weeks) you may find that you need another thing or a different thing, so I leave the tags on until I'm totally sure I like how it's working. Try not to get discouraged if it isn't perfect the first time, it's all about the process. Best laid plans and all.

7. DO NOT FORGET to actually drop off your donations, throw out what you designated as trash and really truly find a new home for the stuff that no longer belongs. And voile! Transformation complete!


Have you taken on any big reorganization projects recently? Share your closet makeovers with #bettybetatester on twitter, instagram and pinterest. Questions? Comments? Let me know in the comments below! xo

Long Weekend Lovin'

Welcome to Sunday, good reader! Hope you are all reading this on Monday evening after an extremely satisfying 3-day weekend! I myself plan to be enjoying a delightful hike to Teneriffe Falls

This week, I thought I'd share a few pics of how my garden is coming along! I'm so happy with everything (with the exception of the Sunflowers...don't even get me started), and can't wait to eat more of the veggies!

The lettuces have gone INSANE. It's about time to thin the carrots and the beans & peas are starting to really climb. 

The lettuces have gone INSANE. It's about time to thin the carrots and the beans & peas are starting to really climb. 

Little squashes and cucs coming up and the tomatoes are starting to bloom!

Little squashes and cucs coming up and the tomatoes are starting to bloom!

Smorgasbord of deliciousness

Smorgasbord of deliciousness

This year's seasonal flower pots! With some mint and rosemary thrown in for good measure.

This year's seasonal flower pots! With some mint and rosemary thrown in for good measure.

Check out my previous post for tips and tricks for planting: Landscaping on a Budget pt3. And now, let's get down to the fun part...

Gems of the Internet

Ireland votes! And becomes the first country to approve marriage equality by popular vote!

Emma Sulkowicz has carried her mattress to class at Columbia every day and now to her graduation. An inspiring piece of performance art.

Fabulous photos posted to Facebook by Design Father by French photographer Julien Knez, showing Paris in the 1940s against a backdrop of how the same places look today.

UK-based artist Marija Tiurina brought some wonderfully untranslatable words to life through her illustrations.

My old classmate Jay has provided you this easy chart to determine your 2016 presidential candidate. You should probably also follow his blog, he's smart AND funny. 

This week was brilliant 19th-Century artist Mary Cassatt's birthday! Here's one of my favorites:

Learn even more about Mary Cassatt's life and work on the  Artsy  page devoted to her

Learn even more about Mary Cassatt's life and work on the Artsy page devoted to her


How is your garden looking these days? Show off all your hard work with #bettybetatester! Stay tuned to the blog and my social media for a great (and cathartic) new series on de-cluttering and organizing... I can barely wait to show off all the space I've made so far! xo

Lazy Sunday & More Budget Veggie Gardening

Happy Sunday! Hope you have enjoyed some time to sit, time to read, talked to friends and found yourself ready for another week. This weekend found a new addition to my ever-extending family and the as-yet-unnamed baby boy is a tiny reminder for me that there is still a bit of wonder left in the world. I can't wait to meet him!

On a fun note-- a while ago I was asked to write a guest post for my friend Scott, who you may remember him from his Sock Monkey interview a few years ago! Make sure you visit his blog, not only to read my exclusive recipe but also start following him because he is awesome for helpful tips and techniques, as well as recipes. Check it out on cookwithscott.com.

As promised, dear readers, here is what I elected to plant in this year's veggie garden! I came to these selections based on the seed recommendations in the book I mentioned earlier in the week (The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb). Her appendices are a wealth of resources and I highly suggest you get your mitts on a copy. I also chose based on wanting as many heirloom varieties as possible as well as on arbitrary criteria like prettiness. 

It got a bit crinkled while I was planting and you may note that some things have changed since I drew this plan-- yours will too and that is totally okay!

It got a bit crinkled while I was planting and you may note that some things have changed since I drew this plan-- yours will too and that is totally okay!

I was able to order the seeds online from four different suppliers: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Annie's Heirloom Seeds, Territorial Seed Co and Botanical Interests. I got great customer service from each supplier, though some had better shipping prices than others and none of the suppliers carried every seed variety I wanted, hence the mix-n-match. I did realize that it was impractical to do everything from seed, even in my temperate climate. I opted to buy starts of tomatoes (two slicing and one cherry variety) and herbs (basil, thyme, and oregano in the bed and rosemary and mint in their own pots as they have a tendency to take over). I also included flowers because 1- it's my party and I want to and 2- they make great companions for veggies! Sunflowers make me happy and they also help sweeten your cucumbers (yum!) Marigolds are a pest deterrent, are edible and I have dried and infused them for natural skin remedies. Nasturtiums are also edible and attract pollinators.

There are tons of ways to try your hand at companion planting:

When it came to planting, I followed the instructions on the seed packets (except the row-style spacing, as that is the point of postage stamp gardening). So far, I have planted my lettuces, carrots, beets, nasturtiums, marigolds, sunflowers, jerusalem artichokes (a gift from a friend tossed in at the last minute), beans, peas, tomato starts, mint and rosemary. Once it gets a little warmer I'll be planting the rest of the herbs, cucumbers and the squashes. Whew! 

Now I know what you're all thinking--- "This sounds great... but how much did it cost?!" Well I'll tell you, gimme a second!

  • Building Materials: $95

  • Soil & fertilizer: $65

  • Seeds (plus shipping): $80

  • Starts (so far): $25

Total: $265 plus about 7 hours total labor for building, filling with soil and planting

It seems like a lot but I'm hopeful that I will get a LOT of veggies out of it and that with this big up front investment, I'll save in the long run by growing my veggies instead of buying them. I'm also hoping later in the season to build a hoop cloche around the bed to extend my growing season even further and of course I'll show you how I did once I get there. 

Now for the good stuff...

Gems of the Internet: LadyWeek

The Illustrious Anne Wheaton (wife to Wil) tricked assh*le GamerGate-ers into donating to Freminist Frequency! Way to turn some hate in to some good.

Shit People Say to Female Directors. I just can't with people sometimes. 

Favorites Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer celebrate JLD's last f*ckable day in this brilliant sketch

If you're like me, you can't seem to get enough of Amy Schumer this week so get a dose of body confidence with this speech she made at The Gloria Awards Gala

Herstory is made this week with (finally!) confirming Loretta Lynch as the new Attorney General. She is the first African American woman to hold the position. Knocking down that glass ceiling with justice.


Hope you've enjoyed this week's flood of Betty! If you just can't get enough of me and you want to see more pics of my garden as it grows, check me out on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest! As always, I wanna know what you think so keep the comments, questions and suggestions coming along with your own projects at #bettybetatester. xo

Veggie Gardening on a Budget

If you've read more than a few posts of mine you no doubt already know that I love a good deal and I love to DIY, so it only seems right that I would want to build and tend my own vegetable garden. 2015 will mark round 3 of attempted vegetable gardening, but this year I think I've nailed it. The past two attempts have been marred by a move in the middle (not good for happy veggies) and a combo of weird weather, bad container locations, and not enough givin-a-shit. HOWEVER, I have conquered all these factors and bring you...

BUDGET RAISED VEGGIE BED

First, you want to decide on your location and the size of the bed. I chose the sunniest corner of my front yard as the vast majority of my back yard barely gets filtered sun. It's pretty common for people to have raised vegetable beds in the front in my neighborhood so I'm good with it. I decided to make the bed 4'x6' so I'll get a decent yield, but it wont be unmanageable. 

Next you need to acquire your materials. I went to Dunn Lumber, a local lumber yard because a) they are close to my house and b) offer great prices and service. I had them cut the lumber into the lengths for me but if you have the tools and want to cut it yourself go for it! You could even see my Ladder DIY from September for a detailed how-to.

  • Two 4' and two 6' pieces of 1"x12" Cedar lumber -- you want cedar because it is untreated (pine and other lumber is treated with chemicals that can leach into your veggies--ICK)
  • 6- 2"x2" Garden stakes at least 12" long (mine are 24" because that is all they had)
  • Fasteners, I used screws and a drill but you could use hammer and nails-- whatever you have is fine
  • Roll of landscaping fabric
  • Staple gun (optional)
  • Measuring tape, pencil, scissors, moxie

Once you've wedged the lumber into your Toyota Corolla (for real, though) and safely gotten it home, lay out the pieces where you envisioned the bed to go. Is this really where you want it? I hope so, because moving it, while possible, is a bitch. 

For the next step, you may need a buddy to hold the lumber while you fasten them together. I'll wait. Got a buddy? Good.

Place three screws vertically, spaced evenly from one long side into a short edge. Repeat until you have a box! 

The landscaping fabric wasn't wide enough, so I had to layer two strips the length of my box to get the right width.

The landscaping fabric wasn't wide enough, so I had to layer two strips the length of my box to get the right width.

IMG_0009.jpg

Roll the landscaping fabric over the bottom of the box and staple it along the edges and trim away the extra. This is an optional step, but if you're putting the bed on (rented) grass like I am, you can't dig out the sod and need some way to promote good drainage and keep anything from growing up from the ground through the box.

I didn't get any good pics of the stapling process so you'll just have to use your imagination. It was majestic, I assure you.

I didn't get any good pics of the stapling process so you'll just have to use your imagination. It was majestic, I assure you.

Now is the do-or-die moment of placement. Seriously. Choose wisely! Can we move on now? Fantastic. Cut six 2" slits in the landscaping fabric in the corners as well as halfway along the long sides of the box. You may need more stakes on the sides if your box is much bigger, use your best judgement. Use a hammer to pound your stakes through the fabric and into the ground, making sure the stakes fit particularly snugly in the corners of the box. The stakes should go at least 3-5" into the ground so she'll be good n sturdy. Depending on your location, this make take some doing. This is where the moxie comes in. 

Screw the stake to the box from both sides of the corner, being careful to miss where you have previously set screws. Repeat the process until you have a sturdy awesome veggie box! 

Then you have to fill it with dirt. And by dirt I mean soil. I used a combo of Cedar Grove vegetable garden mix and Cedar Grove compost. I used this soil calculator to determine how much I would need for the size of my bed. That website is pretty awesome for other stuff to, so I encourage you to poke around. Their articles are super helpful.

It takes a LOT of soil to fill a box like this and raking it in is not for the faint of heart, but OH SO WORTH IT

It takes a LOT of soil to fill a box like this and raking it in is not for the faint of heart, but OH SO WORTH IT

Ta-dah! Sort of. What do you do now, you may say. Well, if you're me, you buy the Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden book that was just re-released or check out her website and drool over the prospects for future gardening ventures and start mulling over what you want to plant. You should also stay tuned for Part 2 of this post where I plan out the garden, get to the planting and size up the full budget! The building of the bed took a couple hours and the spreading of the soil took two of us 90 minutes or so, so take that into consideration when planning your own veggie garden. Not too much time/labor so far, but we've only just begun...


Going on your own gardening adventure? Share it with me on social media with #bettybetatester and check out what others are getting up to! As always, I welcome your questions, comments and suggestions either here or via bettybetatester@gmail.com - XO

Weekly Wrap-up

Welcome to Sunday, readers! I hope you had lovely weekends where you got time off to sit and enjoy life. These moments can be rare sometimes and I hope you soak them up when they come along. 

If Spring Cleaning was on the docket for you this weekend (it definitely was for me), I have a quickie DIY for you! If you're like my household, you use the dishwasher packs instead of liquid or dry dishwasher detergent. I love the packs because they take the guesswork out of starting the dishwasher and I've never had spots on my dishes. Lately though, I've been thinking about how many things we use in the house that can be made with simple ingredients for much cheaper. Thus... homemade dishwasher cubes! 

DIY Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Cubes

  • 1/4c baking soda (any brand)
  • 3/4c Arm & Hammer washing soda
  • Lemon juice (just enough to coat, maybe a few tbs)
  • Ice cube or baking trays (mine are Wilton silicone treat-moulds)
  • White vinegar

1. Mix the baking and washing soda with the lemon juice until it is damp, but not soggy

2. Press the mixture into your trays. Make sure these molds are smaller than the soap chamber on your dishwasher!

3. Let dry overnight, pop out and store in an airtight container.

I love this DIY because it is super easy and requires very little. Also one box of baking and washing soda and one bottle of lemon juice could keep you in dishwasher cubes for YEARS. For best results, I have taken to adding a couple tablespoons of white vinegar to the "jet dry" chamber. Not only are my dishes sparkly clean, but so is my dishwasher! It's pretty easy for me to keep a small jar of white vinegar under my sink with the jar of cubes so it doesn't really feel like an extra step.

Now for this week's...

Gems of the Internet (with bonus links!):

 

In honor of one of my favorite book's 90's anniversary, 50 of the most beautiful quotes from  The Great Gatsby  by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In honor of one of my favorite book's 90's anniversary, 50 of the most beautiful quotes from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


So how was your week? Keep up with all the fun on social media and tell me what you'd like to see by dropping me a line at bettybetatester@gmail.com!  xo Betty