kriselkeeper: November 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

50 Spots of Shade

We are now in full fall and gearing towards winter. The temperatures have dropped quite a bit by now but not too long ago it was incredibly hot.  I started writing this over the summer and am finally getting back to it now, so keep that in mind as you read on. 

Our electric bill in the summer is usually crazy expensive!  I hate being in the San Fernando Valley when it's hot.  Our house was built in the mid 1950's. People must have been more tolerant of being uncomfortable back then. We had no insulation in either the ceiling or walls making it difficult to stabilize the inside temperature.  No matter how long the AC runs it never cools down.  Then we made some changes to the house and the bill and my hatred have both been tamed!

First we added insulation!  That was a big move!
Next we added more shade to our back patio by doing this:
We used sailing sails. I shared more about it here.

We covered the area between the house and the carport with shade sails. I shared more here

And we used exterior curtains which I wrote about here.  

The entire back wall of the house which is usually fully exposed to the sun is now shaded!  The electric bill went from $1000-1200 every two months to the $700 range!  The house has on many occasion been TOO COLD in the summer. We've had to turn the AC off!!!! I can't even believe I'm writing this! 

Before the changes, during the months of June, July, August, September and part of October the AC ran non-stop!  Now we don't turn the air on until noon on a 100 degree day and 2-3pm on an average summer day.  It stays on until around  6-7pm. We get in the pool so we turn it off again and then we turn it on when we are getting ready for bed.  Three out of four of us need it cool to sleep well.  Majority rules.  

I've noticed that even when it's 80 degrees inside the house it's tolerable because it's shady. But if it's 80 degrees with the sun hitting you then it's unbearable.  The shade has helped tremendously!  

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Potted is Celebrating 10 Years!

Potted is one of my all time favorite stores in all of LA.  They have unique things and their store is so well done and inspiring that you want to linger and then take it all home. Which is one reason why they are celebrating 10 years!  

Potted also happens to be co-owned by Mary Gray, one of the few people who gave me a break when I first came to Los Angeles. Mary was an established and successful set decorator when I was trying to break into the film industry.  She took me on without knowing anything about me and let me shop for her.  She was also kind to me. It is so rare to experience kindness when you're starting out in the industry.  

As time went on Mary gave me another huge opportunity. She let me decorate a set by myself. It wasn't just any set. It was a big commercial with multiple sets. Barbara Ling was the Production Designer and Bob Richardson the DP.  I remember holding my breath as they both walked in to look at the set for the first time. But, I figured if Mary trusted me it should be ok and it was.  Since then, and after, me leaving the film industry Mary has been a role model and mentor.  Her store doing well is not surprising.  She is incredibly talented with impeccable taste and a heart of gold. Why would she not be doing well?  

The LA Times did an article on Potted last week.  We happened to be passing by on our way back from downtown so we stopped in.  It's not just my favorite store, it is also P's.  She loves it! She's developed an affinity for air plants and the unique pots that suit them best. Potted has plenty of both.  We bought a few things including this lovely planter by Esther Pottery from here in Los Angeles. I'm absolutely in love with it....along with everything else in that store! 

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Monday, November 10, 2014

A Mid-Century Renovation

I see a home renovation in our neighborhood and I can't help but be politely curious. However, if it's a Mid-Century home I am an all out stalker.  This house is about 5 blocks away from us.  I've been watching it for a while. It went on the market for about a day and then the for sale sign came down and the chain link fence went up.  I feared it would get demoed because the house has no back yard. Zilch. Seriously the house is about 20ft from the neighbor's fence.  But it does have a massive front yard which was filled with loads of trees and thick ivy.   I figured someone would prefer to reconfigure the large corner lot. But instead it's getting what seems like a marvelous redo and a major extension to the sides. I'm guessing the square footage has doubled. The ivy is gone and the trees have been thinned out. The front is getting some sort of exterior living space that looks to be blending well with the house's Mid-Century lines. I'm dying to go inside. I'm actually dying to see the plans and drawings.  If only I had some sort of architectural press pass, was taken seriously and allowed to do an interview.  One day... Anyway, the house is looking beautiful and I'm excited to see it develop!

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Night Lights

"And God said let there be light"!  That's how I felt when we turned on the new backyard lights for the first time! It was magical!  Now that we're into fall, with shorter daylight hours, I'm very happy they are extending the use of our pool deck.  

HOWEVER....there's one problem in this picture.  Thank God I have smart, kind friends. And thank God I post lots of pictures to Facebook.  When my friend Lonnie saw this picture he sent me a private message. In the kindest way he pointed out that I had an electrical wire running right over our pool.  And in the kindest way he pointed out that electrical and water do not mix.  Anyone else would have said "hey dumb ass do you plan on electrocuting your kids"?   And he was the one and only person to point out this grave mistake despite the picture getting quite a few "likes".  So I am very grateful to Lonnie.  Since then we've repositioned the lights at a safe distance around the pool, not over it. I like the configuration in this picture better but aesthetics must take a back seat in this situation!  

I learned a few things while doing this project, besides fully understanding the fatal combo of water and electricity.  Here are a few tips if you are looking to string your own lights. 

  1. First these lights are called "carni" or "carnival lights", "globe lights" or "bistro lights".
  2. I bought my lights on sale at Target. I didn't know exactly where I wanted them or how many sets I'd need so I didn't plan this entirely through.  After I bought 6 sets of lights and had them somewhat in place I read the fine print on a sticker attached to one of the globes. It said these are not intended for long time external use, 90 days max.  So, I would suggest buying permanent, exterior lights from a place like this.  They have lights meant to stay outside and they have them in varying lengths. The Target lights only allow you to string 2 sets back to back so you are limited in how far you can go from an outlet. 
  3. If you are stringing a big section like what I did you need galvanized steel cable to hang the lights from.  You'll need this kind of kit or you can get your cable custom cut at the hardware store with the hooks and adapters that best suit your needs.  You have to consider what your lights will do in a windstorm. You don't want glass globes cracking all over your patio floor. 

I'm so happy to have these lights up. They really make the backyard feel special. If you've been tempted I say go for it!  And for the record, Friday Night Lights is one of my all time favorite TV shows.  Love Coach Eric Taylor!

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hose Reel

We were in desperate need of a hose reel for the back yard.  Our 100ft hose was constantly snaked around all over the place. This was the hose on a good day:

Everyone tripped over it because it's in a high traffic area.  However, I didn't want to settle for a cheap plastic reel from Target or Home Depot. I wanted a nice one that would last for years and not degrade every summer.  I wanted an industrial looking, wall mounted, pivoting hose reel. And so I found this one at Gempler's .

I've loved it!  The pool area and side yard are in two different directions; the hose unwinds easily either way. It's effortless to reel out and reel in.  I would love to have a bright yellow hose to contrast against the grey thing at a time.   

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Vertical Garden

It's been so long since I was last on here.  We had many projects come together during the summer. But, then the girl's started school and I was overwhelmed.  Both girls are now going either full time or part time. You'd think it would give me more time to write.  But to be honest, I needed time to focus on me. Time to hike and go back to yoga. Time for our poor dog Penny who gets whatever time I have leftover from the kids. She is patient but her sad face tells me when she's had enough. Also with the girls being in school comes 40 hours of mandatory volunteer time.  I love being a part of their school community but it doesn't come without it's additional commitments.  Anyway, here I am. I'm back.  I've missed this outlet. 

One project I complete was starting a vertical garden. As I've mentioned before, our west and north walls are very sun exposed.  The only plants successfully growing on the west side are succulents, and not all succulents can take the heat.  My plan, or dream, is to successfully grow edible plants vertically along the entire west wall so when I look out I'll see a wall of green. Here is the beginning of my adventure! 

I think part of what's harming the plants are the ceramic pots they're in. They only intensify the heat. So, I thought what if the plants are "hanging" and not coming in contact with the hot floor? I started looking into Wooly Pockets, which I've been eyeing for quite some time now. But, I wanted a product that was better priced. I want to cover a large space.  I found these on Plants on Walls.  They're 3'x2' and they have a drip irrigation line already running on top so you can plug it in.  I decided to start with one of these. With twelve pockets I could do an entire herb garden.  

Next, I had to figure out how to hang them.  To avoid damaging the fence I thought I'd configure another option.  I saw these palettes below at Whole Foods. It looked like a good way to go. I pulled out my tools and Dave picked up a palette I saw on the curb about a block away.  

I got to use my new Kreg jig and I love it. Can't wait to do more with it!

Construction finished! Mission accomplished! Now time for the gardening. I left that in P's hands which she took care of very well!

The finished product is up and running and doing well. Some of the plants aren't too happy in this spot. Others, like strawberries, are very happy campers. I'm considering doing this section with just strawberries. 


I like how the plants look pool side. It's much nicer to glance out from our dining table and see green, green we can eat.  This is the beginning of a good direction.

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