Author Archives: erin

Sudden impact – 2 day yard makeover

My husband has accused me of cheating on him… with our yards. He says I spend all kinds of time lavishing them with attention and I get all excited when presented with a fresh bloom. In another life I will be a landscape designer. There are a lot of similarities to graphic design but with an added layer of complexity. You have to consider seasons, growth and whether the damn dog will tear it up.

A friend of mine was recently visiting from Southern California and asked if I would come down and help re-design his yard. Before you start thinking, “oh sure he wanted you to come and work on his… yard,” I’d like to clarify that Peleg is my gay boyfriend so of course everything about this project was super fun and totally fabulous. I do not cheat on my husband with other people’s yards. Just ours.

Great bones but very linear and in need of some color.

I asked Peleg to send me the dimensions of all of the planters, get everything cleaned out. No weeds, rocks, old roots etc. and have a drip system installed before I arrived so that we could get it all done in two days.

I also sent a list of questions about how he intended to use the space and how it should feel when he walked outside. Then I gave him the task of going for a walk in his hood and taking pictures of plants that he liked. This is a great way to figure out what will grow successfully in your own yard.

We went with a succulent garden, perfect for this dramatic area.

We went with a succulent garden, perfect for this dramatic area.

We found plants in varying heights, textures and colors. When you’re doing a planter, you want to put tall stuff in the back so you can see all of the different plants.

A huge part of landscaping is the hardscape. That’s the patio, gravel, trim around the planters. We had a beautiful brick patio to start with but since we were planting succulents we would need ground cover in between plants. We chose a light gray/tan gravel to contrast with the brick and plants.

Gravel keeps the weeds out and adds interest.

Gravel keeps the weeds out and adds interest.

We had two hard-working helpers so I placed the plants where I wanted them to go and the guys got to work putting them in the ground.

We picked an amazing small tree as a focal point and anchor in the corner.

We picked an amazing small tree as a focal point and anchor in the corner.

Peleg had a nice outdoor sectional but didn’t like the way it fit on the patio. We pulled the pieces apart for flexibility and added a small beverage table. We created a conversation area that focused on the view. The patio is large and Peleg likes to entertain a crowd so we also purchased two gray adirondack chairs and created a second seating area, also with an incredible view.

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Conversation area with an amazing view. Not a bad napping spot either.

Adding two chairs creates another view opportunity and they can be easily moved around.

Adding two chairs creates another view area and they can be moved around.

We added some potted plants to other areas so that no matter where you look, you see something organic and colorful. Peleg has another fabulous patio that we decided to use as the outdoor dining area.

Dining area before.

Dining area before.

After.

After.

Hanging baskets with more succulents to tie the areas together.

Hanging baskets with more succulents to tie the areas together.

 

 

 

These hanging baskets added interest to the yard and also draw the eye away from the neighbors fence. We planted night blooming jasmine in this area so it would smell like heaven during evening entertaining and climb up the wrought iron fence so that eventually it will be a wall of fragrant flowers with year round greenery.

The total cost for this project was a little under $3k for plants, dirt/gravel, lighting, labor and furnishings. We saved $ by using as much of what was already available as we could and buying some of the more exotic plants at a fancy pants nursery where celebs shop and buying the rest at Home Depot.

We decided to name some of the plants, I figured that would inspire Peleg to nurture them. Naturally, the focal point plant was named after me. Duh. And the phallic cactus was named after our friend Steve.

Now Peleg is ready for me to go back and tackle the front yard. Oy.

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Comfy Guest Room

My daughter went away to college and when she didn’t move back home after the first year my sons went on a campaign to put a pool table in her room. So we did. After 4 years away, she came back home for a few months until she could afford her own place. Since her old bedroom is now the Pool Room, she moved into our guest room. With her effin’ cat. Who tore up the carpet trying to escape.

This is how a lot of my home projects start, with one repair that snowballs into a total makeover. I figured if I have to replace the carpet, I might as well paint while the room is empty. And now that I’m painting a new color I’ll have to get new bedding. And since I’m starting over, I might want to rearrange the furniture because I haven’t hurt my back lately.

Vintage-y guest room

Vintage-y guest room

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Sitting area, comes with a free dog.

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Vintage family photos mixed with antique prints warm up the room.

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Homey collection of prints and photos in a simple arrangement.

The afternoon sun shines on the bed so this room might have to double as the Afternoon Nap Room. Now I just have to redo the attached bathroom, stay tuned!

 

 

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Saddle Up Fabric Inspires some stitchin’ and bitchin’ cowgirls!

I’m so inspired by cool home decor sewing projects but most of them cannot be created with a screwdriver or nail gun… I’m really gonna have to take a sewing class this summer.

This is a super sassy wall covering quilted by one of my mom’s lifelong BFFs. She gets together with a bunch of other quilting divas and they do group projects. I’m guessing they drink and cuss while they’re at it. Click here for Quilting Treasures or here and here to purchase fabric.

Love the "hanger" and the 3d details on this...

Love the “hanger” and the 3d details on this…

Wish I could do this.

Wish I could do this.

Love the details on this one.

Love the details on this one.

 

 

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psychokitty throws a california dinner party

Dinner in my backyard.

Dinner in my backyard.

I didn’t even realize I was being a psycho until most of my so-called friends called me that when I told them my plans for not one, but two, dinner parties in three days. I was thinking it was super efficient to entertain a couple of days apart since I was renting tables, dishes, etc. Am I right? The first group were U.S. members of my husband’s cult board and the second group was the international cult board. I like to be compared to Martha Stewart (but with a pinch of Jennifer Aniston) as often as possible AND I just traveled to Italy where every meal is described by region, so I decided everything had to be local.

I dragged my husband’s sober ass to a winery about 15 miles south of my backyard to pick out wine. Did I mention that he doesn’t drink and my favorite wine is Coors Light? Luckily we have lots of alcoholic friends who are willing to educate us. We picked out a Pinot Noir (which is apparently what the Kool Kids are drinking) and a Chardonnay for those who prefer beer and juice boxes. Of course we had to have wine from Napa Valley, since it’s a stone’s throw away and known around the world.

Custom maps so my not-local guests could see where the wine comes from...

Custom maps so my not-local guests could see where the wine comes from…

I thought beer tasting would be a nice start (not because I was trying to get everybody wasted in case they were no fun) so I got local beers too, from hubby’s college town and San Francisco (also in the hood) and one from San Diego just because it’s called Arrogant Bastard. How could I NOT serve that? I included salty crunchies on the bar because I know how people love to feel like a blowfish and because you need something to taste between beers so they don’t all taste the same. Turns out the guests were fun and they REALLY like beer so my next event will definitely include beer tasting. It also kept them happy while I got dinner on the table.

Itty bitty beer glasses so we don't get too hammered.

Itty bitty beer glasses so we don’t get too hammered.

The food was totally California, basically healthy with lots of fresh veggies. From my garden. (fist bump with explosion here) I’m way more into setting a sassy table than cooking so I won’t bore myself with descriptions of food that was already made and consumed. In summary, it was good. I did different dishes for each dinner so that I wouldn’t have to eat the same thing twice in 72 hours cuz it’s all about me. I made some of it and ordered some from a friend’s super awesome gourmet food delivery company, Culinary Courier. I highly recommend this option if you are a dumbass with tendencies to over commit.

Custom coasters in case anyone forgot I like to design stuff.

Custom coasters in case anyone forgot I like to design stuff.

I think it’s the little details that make some parties way more awesome than others. It’s the small flower arrangements (so you can see the person across the table from you), fun coasters (design your own and order them from StationeryHQ.com), mixing elegance with down home goodness… we had s’mores around a fire pit for dessert and since I won’t eat manufactured marshmallows (read the ingredients sometime) I ordered all natural buttercream marshmallows from Kerfluffles. Hence my reputation as a psycho party hostess. For the record, I’m not quite crazy enough to make marshmallows myself.

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Casual and simple, feet in the grass. That’s how we do it in California.

I think the whole “California” thing was a hit with our guests, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “we could never have a nice dinner outside like this, it would be too cold or too hot/humid/mosquito-filled.” There was a lot of prep involved but most of it took place before everyone arrived so I actually got to relax and enjoy the evening too. Which is nice, since we’ve already established that it’s all about me.

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