kriselkeeper: April 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Kid Korner

Before having a child I couldn't understand why parents had kid crap all over the house. Did the ability to put anything into containers disappear? Well, now that I have a child...a 17 month-old I clearly understand. No sooner do you put a toy away than the kid is right behind you pulling it back out.

For a while I wanted all of P's toys in her room. Then I realized how isolating that must be. I feared it would translate to her as: mommy doesn't like my toys, mommy doesn't like me. I was inspired once again by my friend Tracy and her home. Her kid's play area is right in the heart of the home, exactly where the kids should be.

So, my challenge began. How do I incorporate a kid play area into our living/dining area while keeping a grown up feel...and trying to move towards more modern?

I rearranged our furniture and out of it a free corner in the living room came about. That would be P's space. My parents gave us the Jill table and little Jake chairs from Room and Board. It was a great start. The corner still looked empty, not fun. Wall graphics would work but would it be too much kid in the middle of our house?

I found great wall graphics from Boodalee at For $55 you get three trees, with leaves you can layout yourself and lots of animals to also fill your forrest. I found it to be the most wall coverage for your buck.

So far I'm happy with how it's turning out. I still need more kid friendly, warm a chalk board. To be continued...


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The dog ate my chair

Our old dining chairs. The torn tanker and his buddy "Mr Cheap Office" in the back ground. Yes, it was bad.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Bertoia, Bertoia

Our Bertoia side chairs arrived yesterday! I got them on ebay. 4 for $375 plus $50 shipping. I'm sooooo excited and relieved. We have not had dining chairs since we moved into the house. We've been using a cheap office chair and a torn to shreads tanker chair. The tanker use to be beautiful but it was covered in silk and the fabric didn't last long. Over the past year the foam and filling have come out. Our close friends make fun of us and say it looks like we have a dog.

When guests came over we brought out our exercise balls. The guests got chairs and we used the balls, which means we couldn't have more than two people over at a time and we were perpetually bouncing. The "pea" was the only lucky one with her own high chair.

The drama behind getting dining chairs is too much to chronical but I'm sure we are not the only couple to move into their first home, together with children, and debate whether to get "the good stuff" or Ikea. We are eventually hoping to have Tulip chairs in the dining room but I fear what they could look like 10 years from now. Instead of an investment they'd turn into a money pit. So we considered getting something cheap at Ikea or Target just to get us through the "crayon and spilled milk" years. We couldn't do it. Besides, cheap but still "designer-looking" enough at Ikea didn't get us below $75-$100 a chair....same ballpark as these Bertoia.

The wait and search on ebay and Craigslist was well worth it. I love how these look in our home. Again, I am blown away at how much a simple piece of furniture can change the essence of a room. The dining room table was practically a gift from our friends and neighbors John and Craig. That was our first Mid-Century piece in the house and for days I couldn't stop looking at it. Finally, he has four buddies worthy of his company. Now I need a pendant that can "hang" with them. Ok. time for me to go to bed!

I love their silouettes!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

My Payne

This is my friend Tracy and my daughter "Pea".

In February of this year I had an abortion. I was 23 weeks pregnant. The baby had hydrocephalus. It was a severe case, it was doubtful he would even make it through the birthing process let alone live a fulfilling life.

It took a while get test results and come to the conclusion that we needed to do this. My husband and I were devastated.

During the weeks we waited and hoped the baby's issues would resolve themselves in utero I needed something to take my mind off the situation. I needed to feel productive so I started working on our front lawn. We tried to grow grass when we first moved in, but grew weeds instead. After a year of wasting water on weeds I was done and ready to do some xerscaping.

We live in the San Fernando Valley. I want to do a drought tolerant, some-what native garden that still has a green feel. The cost of keeping the lawn green in the summer is just too much and it's not an eco-friendly solution. In January the weather was cool and lovely so I started my project which I know will be a long, work in progress for a few reasons.

1. I don't have the budget to spend a couple hundred dollars at a time on plants.
2. With the "Pea" my time is very limited as well.
3. I"m learning as I go. This is all new to me so I'm planting and replanting.

My friend and neighbor, Tracy, has been a huge support for me through all my difficult times. Knowing I was on a gardening mission she introduced me to a great nursery, Theodore Payne. I bought California Rockflower, Vine Hill Manzanita, Creeping Snowberry and a few Fescue grass varieties. I haven't killed any of them to date. It's so amazing how many drought-tolerant plants there are. Most people think I'm going to fill my front lawn with cactus. On the contrary, these plants are green and leafy, what you would expect to see in a New England landscape.

Most of my work so far has been pulling weeds and prepping the ground for planting. I'm also working on the side median that faces our neighboring school. I feel so bad the kids have to look at our God-awful looking yard with knee-hight weeds. I promise, come the new school year it will be beautiful.

Gardening and the support of my friends and neighbors are what have helped me steer clear of sinking into depression after what I've been through. For some reason watching my plants grow helps me feel better. As if being able to keep them alive counteracts the baby that I couldn't. Tracy listened to me share my pain as we shopped for plants on many occasions and that has given me sanity.

My front lawn is looking better. Slowly but surely. It will forever remind me of the child I lost but in a good way. When I work there I feel quiet and calm and sometimes I feel like my lost child is with me. The plants are a reminder of the cycle of life and how we must all take care of each other. I take care of the plants, the plants take care of me and Tracy took care of me.

And my son, I hope to see you and hold you in my arms in another life.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Succulent Satisfaction

In an effort to give our house a more stylized modern feel, while on a budget, I'm trying to incorporate little accents that will in time take us from "Home Depot" remodel back to Mid Century glory.

Yesterday, I finally did an arrangement of succulents in a square pot I bought at Potted in Los Feliz. I've seen so many of these fabulous arrangements in my favorite stores. I've been dying to try one myself but was intimidated because I know nothing about succulents and there are so many varieties. I think I did a pretty good job and I love looking at the arrangement that now lives on our dining room table.

Any project I do these days is done in segments. An hour here, half hour there. It's impossible to finish anything while being the main care-taker of a 17 month old. The trip to Potted was a last minute detour from another project in the area. Once I had the pot I knew I needed to fill it or else it would end up in the garage with some of my others.

We got home, I had 30 minutes to get the rest of the "ingredients" while our housekeeper watched the "Pea". Closest place was Home Depot, I got soil and lucked out with their good selection of succulents for a decent price. Sometimes I find my lack of time helps me to not over think a process. The design turns out better than what I would have done in my "pre-mom" days when I had all day to think about every, single, tiny detail.

I didn't get to pot the plants until 9:30pm, after the "Pea" was fed, bathed and put to bed. I can't believe something as simple as planting a pot can take me most of the day to do. Now I find my small accomplishments to be huge victories. My new modern pot compliments our Eames office table. I love them steps.

Succulent varieties starting at top right: Rainbow Bush, Cremmosedum "Crocodile", Anacampseros Rufescens, Crocodile again, Graptoveria "Opalina" and in the center, Aeonim "Catlin Hybrid".