kriselkeeper: May 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jar of Goodies

If you have kids you know there's toys and then there's little knick-knacks that get accumulated at every turn.  You can't toss them out because they're "very special". They don't belong to any collection and they're so small they get lost when thrown into bins.  These little pieces were driving me nuts until I started reading "The Happiness Project".  I'm loving this book. The author, a mother herself, wrote about the organization of these very items.  Her solution was to get a big jar to collect all the little figures, balls, etc.  It's simply perfect!  The jar looks very cool on a shelf in P's room.  She can see all her "special things" and they're all in order in their very own place. I didn't even have to go out and buy a jar. When I bought the giant jars for the kitchen I moved the flour and sugar out of their old jars into the new ones.  The old flour jar became the new toy jar!
The jar actually blends in with all the books on the shelf.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

BBQ Baby!

Memorial Day weekend and we FINALLY got a grill! 

If you are familiar with Mid Century Modern homes you will know that many of them are not insulated.  It wasn't a practice in the building process during the 50's and much less in Southern California.  Every summer I am dying in the kitchen. It's hot in our house and the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and make it worse! I try to come up with all sorts of "oven-less meals" which for me is hard because I hate microwave food. 

We've been looking at grills for 2 years now!  Gas, not gas, gas to hook up to an existing gas pipe we have, stainless, retro-colored, with the works, without the works, etc, etc.  Then last weekend we went to our friends for dinner.  They live in the South Bay and they have exquisite taste for food....and they can cook like nobody's business.  They don't use a gas grill, only charcoal and that meal was the final vote that tilted our decision to a charcoal grill. 

Friday night I had to go to Home Depot and Dave and P came along to look at grills. They had this cool looking orange one called a Stok. We loved it's color of course and the price, $99 on sale.  Tonight we had our first bbq meal at our house. It was sooooo good.  Dave can cook a mean burger and corn on the cob....and he's got the face to go with it!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Front Yard Progress

The front yard is finally getting a make over! I have weeded out this space 4 times since we moved in 3.5 years ago only for it to fully grow back because we lacked the time, energy or money to follow it through to completion.  We hate how the front of our house has looked but the weeding is back breaking work. Our San Fernando Valley soil is clay and weeding this stuff has literally destroyed my knuckles.  For Mother's Day Dave got me some help to clear out the entire front yard.  What I thought would be a weekend project has turned out to be on-going since May 8th.  I can't complain.  This time I'm not doing any of the work and the progress is coming along. 

Despite my protests we ended up using weed killer.  Turns out all my half starts at tearing out this space only made things worse.  With each time I weeded and didn't finish, it allowed the weeds to come back even stronger. They dug deeper and grew around the existing plants that I do want to keep. The only way to insure the crab grass won't come back and ruin the work were about to do is to spray with weed killer.  And so we they did and it's one reason why this is taking longer than planned.

First they tore out the grass/weed and hauled it all away.  Then they sprayed and we waited a week to see what was still alive.  Last weekend they tilled up half the yard and resprayed.  This weekend they're suppose to come back and till up the other side and respray. 

It's rained quite a bit since this project started. I thought it would dilute the weed killer and ruin the progress but it's quite the opposite. The weed killer is still doing it's job and the rain allows us to easily spot where the crab grass is still alive.  I know the weed killer will save us money and a lot more work but I can't help but think about the toxic crap that's filtering into our soil.  I hate it.  On the other hand I can't let all this time and money go to waste.  I'm grateful someone else is doing the spraying. I make P run into the house past this area.  We won't be in this space until the mulch and decomposed granite gets put down.  

The progress looks like this so far:

Second Week:

Third Week:


Saturday, May 28, 2011


I'm not a fan of ivy.  It's incredibly invasive. It takes Borax to kill it. Rats love it.  

On the other hand, it's green and drought tolerant and when well groomed it does look pretty.  I've spent the past three years cutting back the ivy that grows over our back fence from the neighbor's yard.  Then one morning not too long ago, I was standing at the back door looking at our back yard.  I was day dreaming of all the possibilities for the space.  A current goal is to make the concrete and slated areas more lush and greener.   It dawned on me that if I let the ivy freely grow it would make the entire fence green and therefore give the pool area a lush feel!

I've stopped trimming and like a short hair that's growing out, this in-between phase is annoying.  There are patches of green here and there which give the fence an unkempt look.  I'm hoping in the end the whole thing will look beautiful.....and I'm also hoping the neighbors don't get bored with ivy one day and decide to get rid of it!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Palm Springs

Dave had to scout in Palm Springs this past weekend so P and I grabbed our bating suits and leisure wear and tagged along to the desert.  These "workcations": trips done for work with a vacation squeezed in,  are always last minute.  Sometimes they can be a juggle for me but I wasn't about to pass up Mid Century Modern heaven.

We were put up at the Holiday Inn, which was quite nice and in tune to the Palm Springs feel. They've done a pretty good job of "upscaling" the brand.  But, it was no Ace Hotel.  We did go over to King's Highway for breakfast. The hotel and the meal did not disappoint.  As always, it's the details that make a place so perfect. 
 King's Highway
Ace Hotel Lobby

The pool at the Ace Hotel

Dave had to shoot in the morning and afternoon. He managed to squeeze family time in the middle of the day.  He drove me to a couple of thrift stores and shops but I didn't find anything we needed that was within our budget.  After dropping Dave off at the airport to rent a car I had about a half hour to kill before DWR opened. I decided to drive around and look at houses in the meantime.  I came upon a garage sale and found these three Hoop chairs for $200!  Yep! $200 for all three!

I was so excited! I texted Dave a picture. He said to get them but he didn't understand that I wasn't at a store. I had to run to the ATM to get cash.  I drove off and half way to the ATM I realized I was on the phone with Dave and wasn't watching where I was going. I didn't write down the address before leaving either and I do not know Palm Springs very well.  Luckily, Dave with his genius sense of direction got to the house before I started driving back and texted me the address!  Phew! 

I saw great chairs and said "I'll get them!" not thinking about how to get three patio chairs into a Prius with a child!!!! P wasn't in any rush to leave. She was happy lounging on one of the chaise chairs for sale while watching us play rubix cube with our three hoop chairs and the car.  

In the end it all worked out but I had the luck of timing that day. Within seconds of arriving on the scene another woman arrived and wanted the chairs as well.  Thank God I claimed them and thank God Dave arrived to get me back to the house and to load the chairs in.

I'm thrilled with our weekend purchase.  I did go to DWR after but as usual, even a sale at that place is $1000 over my budget. But I did see these two pots across the street and I had to photograph them for reference.  Loved the plant combos as much as the color combination. 

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Monday, May 23, 2011

My Man's Large Prints

Saturday mornings have become my "mama alone time".  Dave has P for the morning and I get 3-4 hours to myself.  As I was hanging out in our bedroom with nothing but quiet and my own thoughts I realized  we have very blank walls. I need some large art.  Lucky for me I don't have to go very far or spend anything at all.  Dave has about 15 large print photographs (20x40) all custom framed from a photo show he had a few years back.  Most of the photos are from our trips to India and a few from a work trip to Malaysia.  I hung up one of my favorites. It's perfect.  It reminds me of the adventures we've had and how those experiences bonded us right from the start.  

When Dave came home and saw one of his pieces up on our wall he was beaming with pride.  I should have done this a long time ago. I need to go through his stash for more of my favorites before he starts selling them on etsy.  Although I want to keep these to myself, I know I should at least share his website. You can find it here

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Mulberry Tree! In our backyard!

Over P's spring break we took care of the silk worms in her classroom.  In order to get this "priveledge" you had to have a Mulberry tree handy.  Silk worms only eat Mulberry leaves and they eat a lot of them. They need new leaves daily, hence why you need to have access to a tree.

I knew P wanted to take the worms home so I looked all over our neighborhood for a Mulberry tree.  It didn't even occur to me to look in our own back yard.  It wasn't until I brought a leaf home from school,  that I realized we have a Mulberry tree!  I guess it takes having a 3-year old and her school "pets" to figure out what's growing in our own yard...and to learn more than I ever wanted to know about silk worms! 

On another note;  I really need to power wash and paint the house!  Those walls are starting to bug me too much. 

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Freebie Lamp

A few weeks ago I was driving home through our neighborhood when I saw stuff on a front lawn with a "free" sign.  I drove by slowly and then had to go back for this big bertha.  I debated grabbing it.  I have no idea if it works. I have no place for it. It'll be a good while before I find her the perfect spot.  

On the flip side how could I resist such a cool lamp...even if its dirty and without a shade!  When we got home P kept telling Dave "It was freeee! It was freeee!". Dear God please don't let my daughter grow up to be a dumpster diver because of the bad example I'm setting.  Big Bertha came with instructions and exact dimension for a shade.  She obviously came from a kind home so I must "make her shine"!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

It's become a tradition that on Mother's Day I get to garden for as long as I want. Dave takes care of all meals and of our daughter.  This year when he asked me what I wanted I said "two Mexicans" help me dig up the front yard. (Since I own my "Latiness" I'm allowed to say that) Dave has a guy, Salvador, he's been thinking of using as a gardener. He called him to use some of his crew and to get a feel for how good they would be.  

Two guys showed up an hour and a half late on Sunday.  When they took a look at the area they needed to pull up they said we should use a machine to do it.  They needed $120 cash to rent it and come back the following day.  Monday, they showed up 2 hours late without the machine. At noon they said they were going to pick it up and would be back. I never saw them again or heard back.  I had to call them and they said they'd be here on Tuesday first thing in the morning.  Tuesday they showed up 2 hours late again. By 10am it turned out the machine was broken.  They promised me they'd have it fixed and be back on Wednesday.   

Yesterday evening Salvador came by. He hadn't heard from his crew.  He saw what they had done so far and it was not a good job and using a machine was pointless.  He promised they'd be here today, Wednesday, by 7am.  No one came.  Supposedly Saturday Salvador himself is coming to do the work.  I'm not even frustrated because this is par for the course!  We've had such bad luck with gardeners.  I really want a kind, nice, patient, inexpensive Japanese man who knows about plants and organic gardening methods.  Is that too much to ask?

Anyway, I wasn't going to let my Mother's Day tradition go to waste.  I still did a bunch of stuff. I mowed and trimmed the backyard, cleaned up the Cala Lilies, potted and repotted lots of succulents. I weeded the south median (the one I work on every year) and cleaned up our gutter. That median still needs much more work.  

I'm keeping my fingers crossed the front yard becomes a blank slate ready for me to plant and border soon.  Poor Dave is frustrated his Mother's Day gift has turned out to be such a bust.  But I am so happy for it.  Even though it seems it'll take a week to finish at least it's not me doing the back breaking work....for once!

A few pictures of the work done.

I potted a Euphorbia tirucalli 'sticks-On-Fire' plant that has been in it's little plastic pot since March.
Some of the succulents I had planted together back in the fall needed to be separated.  I noticed one plant became the dominant one while the other two were over shadowed. So I pulled out the "runts" of each pot and gave them a home of their own. 

 Our back lawn! I love it. I have to say this back yard full of grass is such a delight to have. In the summer it's really refreshing and I love playing or reading with our daughter in this space.  The back hedge is entirely rosemary.  I remember when these guys first went in almost a year ago.  I'm excited about how tall they're getting! I use rosemary a lot for cooking. It's lovely to have an entire hedge of it.