artsy fartsy,  Buddies,  crazy stuff,  house-sitting

Done Diddy Done Done!

star bright

Sigh. The house is done. Two days and it’s entirely unpacked. Well, except for five boxes of really boring computer parts in the guest-room closet and a mysterious collection of boxes in the garage that I can’t get to because I stacked up the packing paper and collapsed boxes from the rest of the house so high it would be like climbing Mt. Everest just to get to them…so I’m just going to leave those for the Actuallys. Or maybe they’ll save them for me for the next time I come cat-sit.

I’m actually kind of sad the fun is over. It was like Christmas, unwrapping everything. The professional movers wrapped everything in copious amounts of clean butcher paper so it was really a complete surprise every time I tore open a new box. Would the contents hold a supply of paper towels or a sword from the far East? Or maybe the other princess slipper!?

view of the library from the master bedroom

That was the funny part: how things were grouped together in boxes. You can tell the professional movers speed-packed. It was almost like unwrapping a time capsule. Whatever they came across went into the box. Rather than sorting like items and wrapping them together they just moved from left to right. Paper from the desk, photos of Annalie, a cat toy and a shoe! Why not?! Throw it all in, tape that sucker up and mark it “Office.” It was a hoot.

living room nook

Unlike all the times I’ve moved with my parents, nothing was dirty or dusty or ruined because it got left out in the weather. I didn’t discover any mice or anything broken. It was all very pleasant. Every box held a new surprise, something I had never seen before, some little puzzle piece to try and decipher. I hate to say that I’m the snooping type but unpacking the Actuallys was like unpacking stories from exotic lands. There were rugs from Morocco, puzzle boxes from Japan, paintings from Hong Kong…it was like unpacking for Marco Polo.

piano in better light

They’ve traveled the world and though they don’t have a lot of “stuff” per se (which is nice because too much clutter is a huge headache, believe me) they do have quite a few trinkets from far-off lands that are just dripping with intrigue. No, not that kind of intrigue. But I do plan on asking to hear the stories behind each item.

the royal wardrobe

And then there’s the part of me that just likes to find solutions. I would love love love to be on one of those shows that organizes people and turns a mountain of clutter into something perfect and orderly. I find great pleasure in thinking up new ways to put things together to make life easier, more efficient and fun. (Not that I’m taking credit for Annalie’s closet. It was pretty much like this when I got there. I just thought it was a pretty photo.)

Annalie's Art Studio

What I’m really proud of is the art studio I created for Annalie out in the garage. I guess the above photo doesn’t do much for it but it’s really really cool. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Annalie has a lot of art supplies and fun crafty bits. She’s a child after my own heart. But her supplies were scattered around in strange places. She had a lot of fun things in her closet but no real table to work on them.

I know she does her crafts in the kitchen with her mom but that was tricky too because it wasn’t really her space. I personally hate it that I have to clean up my art projects every day in time for dinner. If I could have a studio to leave my paintings in while they are in progress, I think I would die of happiness. That’s every artist’s dream, right? A room of her own.

le laundry

When I saw that the Actuallys had this HUGE garage with a simply divine laundry room, I shook my fists at the sky and yelled “Why me?! Why can’t I have this house?!!! Why do I have to wash my clothes with frat boys and homeless people at the laundromat?!!” Just kidding.

What I actually thought was, This garage would make a perfect art studio! It’s clean, it has a floor you can drip paint on, it has natural light…it’s perfect! It’s not even hot out there. Because it’s below their house (they have a split-level), the air-conditioning from the house seeps down into the cool garage below. I just love it. If Annalie doesn’t use it, I will!

Which is all part of my evil plan! Ha ha, hee hee, ho ho!


  • beck

    Oh man. If my house ever gets done being remodeled I need you to come help me organize functional ways for things to work. 850 square feet with 4 people. I’m always looking for a better system!

  • jac

    whoah. you’d get an extremely warm welcome if you ever decided to come to NYC/NJ and all the coffee you can stand. i’d throw in quite a bunch of perks too. all you would have to do is make my place as cute as you made the actually’s place! even and fair trade i think ;-)

  • (another) bethany

    what a delicious thing to come home to! i’m queen of rearranging around here, not just unpacking. when i get frustrated, the furniture all moves … so very therapeutic :). that art studio is to die for :). btw, speaking of artists and women and rooms of their own, i think you MUST see “Who Does She Think She Is?” I’ve been meaning to email you about it anyhow. Betting it will play out there somewhere soon, tho it only had a week in one theatre in NY. Absolutely a must see for creative moms. Documentary about the choices mom artists feel they must make. I’m still chewing on it and what it means for me.
    Congrats on a great unpacking job!

  • margalit

    I know you’ve always wanted to come to New England. You want to see the Atlantic Ocean. You want to explore Boston. You want to come unpack and declutter my house. You want to go through all the boxes that have been sitting in the basement or the attic for 4 years now and find the missing oriental rug. You eyelids are getting heavy. You are getting sleepy. Sleepy. Sleepy….. now, when I snap my fingers you will wake up, get on an airplane and fly to Boston….. SNAP!

  • bethany actually

    I think you’ve stumbled onto a whole other career here!

    I can’t wait to get home tomorrow and see all the wonders you’ve done in person! Woohoo! And I cannot tell you how nice it is to know that when I get home my house is going to be clean and organized! But please note: I don’t expect the bathrooms to be scrubbed or the kitchen to be spotless! Don’t worry about those. Just remember to feed the cats and we’ll be good. :-)

    Also, I hope you aren’t disappointed when the stories behind many of those “intriguing” pieces are something like, “Troy saw it in [insert port he’s visited in the Navy] and thought it was cool. So he bought it.”

  • lynne

    Me’ thinks you will have to print another business card very soon with Secret Agent Josephine Interior Designer. You are a tremendously good pal to have. Lucky Bethany. I have a feeling she’s a special lady too and deserves to have a good friend like you.

    Jai and I were going though old boxes last night in a small effort to get organised. We have old framed certficates of his Grandpa’s that we are still hanging on to with the idea of one day we may have a house big enough for Jai to have his own study and me my own art room. Until then my desk is still ensconced in my bedroom and his in the area between kitchen and living room. One day we will have it all organised :)

  • Mr. Actually

    I do have many stories behind those items. I may have just liked the item and bought it in some far away port city, but I have stories about said port city and what led me to that particular store (or, possibly, “forced” me to that particular store, but that’s another story). I have plenty to share and look forward to answering all your questions. Let’s just make sure we have plenty of coffee.

    The house looks great. I am really looking forward to coming home and seeing with my own eyes what you have done.

  • Kritter Krit

    Okay. STOP. I’m totally fixated on the sparkly star. Where in the world did you get it?? (Please don’t say a yard sale.)

    Beautiful organization job! Wow, what a friend!!

  • bethany actually

    Kritter Krit – I bought the star when we lived in Ottawa, ON, sometime around 1999-2000. It was in the 50%-off bin at the gift shop in the National Gallery of Canada. Those type of star lamps were really in vogue back then, and normally were $40-70, depending on how big they were. I was quite pleased with myself for getting this one for CDN$15, which at the time was about US$12. :-)

    That’s probably not very helpful to you, is it. I bet if you google something like “star paper lamp” you can find some. Oh, yep–the first link that came up when I googled that exact phrase was this one.

  • BeachMama

    SAJ, what a fabulous job you did. And I know it was so much fun. I love unpacking for others, my cousin didn’t take me up on the offer to help last summer and I think she was sorry after we left, it is always better to have someone else do it (I think). If I ever move, I will send you and BB a ticket to come help out ;).

  • falwyn

    I know you have multiple requests already… But you’re welcome to come do that to my house! :) Though I’d probably have to throw out half my stuff before you could. Ha!
    Lovely job. You are talented! Believe me, it is definitely a talent!