kriselkeeper: April 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Landscaping the Entry

The landscaping of an entry way is very important. It's the welcome you give people and in a way says something about you.  I've given this space so much thought...too much thought.  The whole front yard is my nemesis to be honest.  

When we first moved in the grass was dead.  Dave felt it was important to get lawn in and to let the neighborhood know we were here and had plans on making the house beautiful.  He spent $700 on a seed and labor to make the front of the house respectable.  That was a wasted $700....even he'll cop up to it now.  Maybe because I'm from Florida, where grass grows without trying thanks to all the rain, to me green does not equal a lawn.  A lawn is just grass, no weeds. A pristine carpet of lush grass that feels soft between your toes is what a lawn should be to me. Our front yard was full of weeds from the start. If it's constantly mowed it looks ok but it feels awful to walk on it in your bare feet. It's always been awful. 

About a year into our move we came to the realization that keeping a lawn alive in the summer, in the San Fernando Valley, was a huge expense.  Our front yard alone was costing us $300 a month.  We also have a pool, so between the front and back that's $600 a month June-October.  One of them had to go and it most certainly wasn't going to be the pool!  The whole front of the house is now drought tolerant landscape.  You can't think drought tolerant without thinking succulents. I love them so I thought it quite appropriate to place them in the space just outside the door. 

Back in March I bought pallets of plants. Succulents and flax for the entry and lavender for the north side of the yard.  I have a plan for lots of lavender which I'll share in a future post.  It took me about a month to go from buying plants to finally having them in the ground.  

The process went as follows:

We had river rock laid over plastic tarp.  I moved the river rocks around the corner to the side of the house.  Under the plastic, crab grass grew this long, viney, tangled mess to where ever it could make it's way out from under the plastic. It took some major weeding despite the ground cover.
  I've read in a few different sources that newspaper is a great weed barrier.  I don't know what happens after it gets wet and old but  I thought I'd give it a try. 
And finally mulch on top and a finished product.  We get our mulch from the city. So far it's been clean and quite lovely and freeeeeee! 


Friday, April 22, 2011

Curbed LA

I recently found the site CurbedLA.  Maybe I'm the last one to come upon it. I freely admit there are areas where I'm so very "last year" and often "last decade".  If I ever think I've got it going on all it takes is a visit to iTunes.  Lady who? Bruno who? 

Architecture is one of my passions so I'd like to think I'm a bit more current in this area.  So, I found CurbedLA and it's become one of my daily reads. They also have versions for six other cities nationwide.  I love it for a couple reasons.  It's got interesting real estate articles and pictures. Not just the sophisticated Gehry and Neutra news but also developments that are impacting LA's urban planning and.... juicy "tabloid news".  For example, they had an article about the Chateau Marmont and how you will get banned for tweeting bad celebrity behavior. And there was a picture and link about a couple having sex on the rooftop of an architecturally significant building on the USC campus.  Who knew there was architectural tabloid?  It really is a great mix of news.

However, the real reason I started reading it is that I'm trying to out smart Dave.  He knows this city inside and out because of his 14 years of being a location scout.  Every time he gets a job and I hear him talking about it I try to name a location he doesn't know.  I came close....once. Turned out he knew the place I was talking about, he just forgot he had done a job there a few years ago.  I'm hoping the next time he needs to look for Mid Century homes I'll be able to name a little undiscovered neighborhood I read about on CurbedLA. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kaffir Lily

Kaffir Lilies are one of my favorite plants.  Ours just finished blooming. Their flower make me so happy.  It looks like a full bouquet but it's just one stem. Kaffirs bloom once a year from late winter to early spring. It's a unique plant because it likes shade, yet the flower is a burst of color.  Most flowers need plenty of sun, but not this one. 

I have our Kaffirs in two spots; by our front door and in our "bedroom garden" which is just outside our bedroom window, between the house and the wooden fence. I need to relocate the ones by the front door.  In summer they get hit with too much direct light for too many hours. Now that they've finished blooming I can move them with the others and further my plans for the bedroom garden. The ones in the bedroom garden are thriving.  I recently read they like to grow in clusters so I will do some rearranging with their long lost friends.

I love it when I wake up, open the blinds, and there's an amazing cluster of these "waving" at me first thing in the morning.  They just make me happy.  I don't know why exactly, but they do.  If you have an area in your yard that's heavily shades and you wish to see some color, these are your ladies. They're not drought tolerant though. In fact, the soil must be kept moist. If you're interested and want to know more, you can read about them here.   


Friday, April 15, 2011

My Big Fat Glass Jars

P has become my sou-chef in the kitchen, 
so there is an ever present step stool for her. 

A while back I was so excited to get a set of canisters from our cool neighbors.  As amazingly cool as those canisters were to look at, they weren't very practical for my kitchen routine.  I ended up with two different sets of canisters on the counter and none of them contained anything I used on a daily basis. They were basically just serving a decorative purpose.  Unfortunately, the look wasn't turning out as I had hoped.  The kitchen looked cluttered with so many ill matched canisters on the counter.  And despite all those containers, I still had to pull down more every time I cooked.   

I cook daily.  I cook a lot.  I make everything from scratch; salad dressing, pancakes, waffles, pomodoro sauce and once upon a time baby food.  It was while I was pregnant that I began to eat organic. But it wasn't until I started looking into baby food for our 6 month old, at the time, that I became aware of every single ingredient.  I slowly eliminated anything pre-made.   It's necessary to add preservatives and extra salt to food that's suppose to stay on a shelf for an extended period of time.  I didn't want the added chemicals in our systems.  If you're interested in the subject a good book to start with is this.   

So, back to the canisters.  One day I realized that I pulled out my jar of flour 2-3 times a day.  It got me thinking. Why didn't I put the things I used most often out on the counter in big, cool looking jars?  Great. Now I knew what I wanted but I also had a set of requirements for these jars: 
  • Well sealed, so no bugs or air got in the food. 
  • Big enough to comfortably hold an entire bag of flour with extra room for easy scooping. 
  • A wide mouth for ease of scooping and measuring. 
  • Easily open with one hand, as often the other hand is holding another ingredient. 
  • Look cool. 
 And the jar that fit the bill was the Montana jar by Anchor Hawking.  They're not Mid Century or totally modern but they do fit all the functionality points and come very close to the design point.   

I've had these jars for four months and I love them.  I can't even begin to tell you how much easier it is to scoop out flour that's right there in a jar beside the food processor. Before I had to haul out another canister and figure out where I'd temporarily put it with all my already existing mess.  I risked pushing the ipad right off the counter. (btw, the ipad has been incredibly useful in the kitchen.  More than I ever imagined.)

Fortunately for the overall design and color palette, the ingredients I most often use are also of similar color: flour, sugar, oatmeal and rice.  The last jar is for my weekly baked goods; cookies, muffins or bars. (We just finished off the last round when I took this picture.)  I believe a jar full of something homemade makes everyone happy;  specially a little host and her little guests.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Egg on My Walls

Sometimes I juggle too much.  I tried to make a quick meal before heading out for ballet class with P last week.  Thought I was so on top of it all. Dinner would be ready when we returned.  Instead I made a huge mess.  I left three eggs, in boiling water, on the stove and forgot to turn it off. When we returned, a cloud of smoke welcomed us in when I opened the door.  You would think I would instantly remember the eggs. Instead, I looked for an electrical fire because what else could it have been? I didn't leave a fire hazard behind. Not me!  

Needless to say, I spent the following day cleaning up egg off of EVERYTHING! I had to pull out the 12 foot ladder to get it off the ceiling.  The stove and cabinets were a mess. I even found a chunk of yolk on the sofa at the far end of the living room.  Scary.  The cleanup was a pain but it prompted a major spring cleaning.  It felt so good to do and now it feels even lovelier to live in. 

Sometimes home projects have nothing to do with remodeling or drastic before and afters. (The egg mess was drastic but very hard to capture the details on camera.) They do have everything to do with cleaning and maintenance.  It's amazing how much time they take up but they are the constant "oil changes" of the house that make it last.  
 The "after". A spotless kitchen!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Can You Spare a Strip?

When I laid out the Flor tiles in the entry way, I had to cut 2.5" off each one so the runner would fit properly.  I ended up with 10 strips of carpet. I decided to join them all together to make an entry matt for the sliding door in the dining room that leads to the backyard.    It ties both entry doors together surprisingly well. Because this is in strips instead of squares it matches without being too matchy. 

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Friday, April 8, 2011

What do you think?

What do you guys think about these chair pads? I know they're not the the bikinis, which traditionally belong on these chairs.  However, I've always  thought those pads were too thin.  I got a lot of weight resting on my hiney so I'd like some good cushion for our long, leisurely lunches and dinners.  Plus, the bikinis start at $69 per pad!  These were $6 a pad. That should give you an idea of where I got them.  Yep, Target. 

I've been looking for a cool looking pad for a while now.  When we were in Palm Springs three years ago, we stayed at the Parker Hotel. They had these cushions on their Bertoias and I really liked them.  
So, I've been looking for something similar.  Last week I was zooming through Target when I spotted these cushions. For $6, I at least had to try them.  Dave wasn't gung ho until I mentioned the price.  And to be honest, I normally think that's not a good reason to buy something. You should like it all the same if it was $1 or $100 or else you end up with a house full of $1 junk.  However, I like them and because they were so inexpensive I won't freak out if we spill red wine or blueberries on them....very feasible with a 3-year old.  

So do you all like them or has my money saving brain totally ruined my designer eye? 

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Friday, April 1, 2011

From the Ferdig Files

Dave (my husband) had to scout for modern homes a few weeks ago.  I love snooping through his pictures when he's on this kind of assignment.  One reason I like his pictures so much more than a magazine layout, for example, is because he gets to capture the real living state of every house.  He's not doing an actual photo shoot. He is scouting for homes that will be used in a movie or commercial.  So, people don't make their homes picture perfect when he arrives. Dave gets to shoot the house as breakfast is being made, or the groceries are put away or when the kids just came home from school. In other words, the "mess" of life is happening.

I think great design comes from knowing how a house flows and then laying in the furniture and accents accordingly.  With Dave's pictures you get insight immediately at how these homes flow.  I can look at an Eames lounger in a million magazines and store showrooms but nothing will give me an intimate feel for that chair as when I see it in a real living home.  The Eames molded plywood chair can be used in so many different ways and not always as a chair. But, you won't get to see all it's creative uses in a showroom. 

So, here are some shots of a house Dave scouted. I don't know the house, it's locations or it's owners. I do know I love the lap pool. I LOVE the kitchen cabinets with the integrated fridge. I LOVE how the children's furniture is just as much a part of the living room as the adult pieces. And I of course, love their windows.  

Images courtesy and copyright 2011 David S. Ferdig Photography