Tuesday, June 28, 2011

3 Great Years

Today is mine and Andy's 3rd wedding anniversary!  I won't get all sappy on you, but it's been a wonderful three years.  We've started a new life for ourselves in Delaware and we're very happy.  Below are some pictures from our wedding in honor of the occasion.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's Getting Closer

The beginning of residency is only a week and a few days away.  Hard to believe, surreal, unbelievable...all these things are what come to my head first.  However, I'm really excited because I have a great intern class!  I'm already certified in PALS (pediatric advanced life support) and I have my ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) cert tomorrow morning.  By the end of next week I will be certified in PALS, ACLS, FCCS, and ATLS.  Yep, I'm awesome.
  This is also an exciting weekend.  My friend Whitney is coming up from D.C. to visit and I have all sorts of fun things planned.  I will leave you with a couple pics of Whitney and I.  I will be back in the next few days with a fun recap!

This picture was taken at Club Luna in Huntington, WV, which is no longer in business.  It was this great little martini bar with delicious tapas.  They were known for their great specialty martinis and sangria.  My favorite martini of theirs was a gin martini base with muddled cucumber and fresh cucumber slices.  So refreshing!
Christmas 2009?  Whatever it was, we had a blast getting to see each other.  Heather is on the far left..I've known her since I was born, and now she's an actress in LA.

Also...on June 28th Andy and I will have been married for 3 years!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fresh Herbs and Landscaping

In my last house in WV we were able to have a little garden area with veggies and herbs.  Here in Delaware I don't have grass out back so a garden was not in the cards.  However, I knew that I wanted to have some fresh herbs lying around for cooking.

The picture that is the new header on this page is my funky new example of planting herbs.  Even if you have the teeniest, tiniest patch of dirt you can plant 4-5 different herbs.
The idea for this arrangement came about when me, Courtney and my mom were at a local nursery and saw them displaying plants this way.  The pole is actually a piece of rebar....that stuff they use to reinforce concrete and buildings.
Here's how you do it...
1.  Buy a small piece of rebar at your local hardware store.  $1.99
2.  Spray paint the rebar with any color that you would like....unpainted they're kind of a gross rusty color.
3.  Pick our as many herbs as you think will fit on your piece of rebar.
         -  From the top to bottom I have basil, rosemary, and cilantro.
4.  Buy pots for the herbs...they must have a hole in the bottom.  $3 a piece for terracotta pots.
5.  Courtney and I painted these pots with chalkboard paint, and it looks totally cute if you write the name of the herb in chalk on the side.
6.  Also feel free to paint the rims bright colors like Courtney did.
7.  Throw some potting soil in your herb pots and plant them.
8.  Make sure to water them at least once daily.  I've been doing twice daily since it's been so hot and humid. 
Courtney doesn't really have an outdoor space, so she put these in her kitchen window and they look great!!  All they need is sunlight, whether or not you put them indoor or out.

Let's talk landscaping...or lack thereof.  When Andy and I moved to this new neighborhood, we were drawn to how manicured and landscaped everyone's lawns were.  Everyone had flowers and beautiful trees that were well taken care of.  However, our house had not been loved in the landscaping department.  Basically, the people who lived here had never trimmed any of their shrubs or planted flowers since they moved in. 
This is us when we moved into the house.  Check out the overgrown, 1980s style holly bushes.  Bleh! These pieces of crap are for people who don't like to do anything in their yards.
 This is the overgrown backyard (and that's Andy's fish tank stuff.).  These people seriously had no sense of style when it came to their yard.  Really???  I think we'll just plant random bushes wherever we feel.
  My parents came up for the weekend with the only intention being that they were going to help with landscaping.  My parents have a beautiful yard because they love to garden and plant flowers.  They were such a big help to me, and gave me the landscaping as a housewarming gift.

First off, we ripped out all of those plants in the retaining wall.  They were both overgrown and unsightly, and I prefer lots of color in landscaping, not greenery.  Also, there was no mulch and the sellers had just thrown down ugly rocks. 
Now when you look at this you might be thinking, "Well now there's nothing there."  The plants I picked out are perennials (will come back each year) and will get very big and full.  Unfortunately, you have to start small. The yellow flowers in the center are St. John's Wort, and will grow to be a huge cheerful yellow bush.  The 2 plants flanking each side of that are a really pretty species of daisies in white.
 All you had to do here was fill the space with potting soil, plant the flowers, and then cover in black mulch.  I also added little solar lights for a nice little touch.

This is the side of the yard where I now have my herbs planted.  I also have 2 extra pots beside the herbs....one with a roma tomato plant and the other with a yellow bell pepper plant.

This is the entrance into the laundry room from the back porch.  The hanging pot was painted bright yellow already and I also found it at the nursery.  The flowers that are in there are beautiful and bloom up a bright orangey yellow.  The pot on the ground has white impatiens.

Remember those ugly holly bushes????  Gone!!  We ripped those suckers out and planted 2 pink knockout rose bushes.  I can't remember the name of those yellow flowers, but they're just being used as filler for now until the rose bushes get full grown.  Also added solar lights up here along with a flag with our initial.
 Table with 6 chairs..$100 on Craig's List.  Umbrella $40 at Big Lots.

There you have it.  The newly landscaped Whitley lawn.  Throughout the week, people stopped to tell us that our yard hadn't looked that good in 20 years.  One quick last note...the light fixture above our street number was also replaced.  ($19.99 at Lowe's)  The initial fixture was a hideous brass one.

Stay tune for my next post!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Good Morning, Delaware!

That post title is meant to be sung to the tune of "Good Morning, Baltimore" from "Hairspray" the musical.  (Go listen to it if you're not familiar.)  Andy and I are completely moved in and have worked out butts off getting the house ready before we both start working.  We've painted, installed wood flooring, bought new furniture, and even got an outdoor table and umbrella for our patio seating.  Yep, we're totally adults now.
I want to address some of the home improvements I've done in this post.  First off we'll start with how I refinished my old desk from childhood into a modern, revamped awesome piece of furniture.  My childhood desk was received at Christmas when I was probably 9 years old. It was a cherry desk with brass fixtures and a hutch.  (It was very "in" at the time.)

As you can see, the desk has been well-loved and was pretty beaten up by this time 17 years later. I decided against the hutch since I'm using this a piece in the front room of my house.  It's still functionally a desk, but is also a great little place when you come in the house to sort mail and pay bills, etc.

  If you're not too familiar with painting or refinishing pieces of furniture, you should know that if you either want to paint or stain the piece, it will take some work.

Should you choose to stain...
1.  You can buy stripper (Not A stripper), which is a very toxic chemical that removes paint and varnish.    I decided against this because of its toxicity not only to the environment, but to me also.
2.  OR, you can buy a sander and sand the entire piece down to the original wood.  I've sanded many things, but this desk would have been too difficult since it has a lot of intricate details and spindles.
3.  After the piece has been sanded and stripped, you can feel free to apply the stain color of your choice.
4.  Brush stain on, let it sit until it reaches the desired shade, then wipe the stain off.
5.  Voila!!  Staining is a very simple process as long as you do it correctly.
The people the sold us the house had no clue how to properly use stain, and painted it on like paint.  Needless to say, it was a total Bi*$% sanding and stripping those damn cabinets.

Should you choose to paint....
1.  Simple painting over a stained and varnished desk will not work.  Paint will NOT adhere to that type of finished surface.
2.  My good friends over at Lowe's showed me a type of primer to use on wood since I simply wanted to paint the desk.  This white primer goes directly onto your piece of furniture and dries within minutes.  When you paint this on, it will look very streaky, but don't worry, it will turn out right.
3.  You can now paint the piece of furniture however you choose.  I chose a high-gloss black paint for the finish.  I wanted the desk to be very French boudoir....I also went crazy and added lime green accent paint.

Does it look fab?  I'm not going to lie....I am totally pleased with myself over this piece.  It turned out way better than I ever anticipated.
Other quick tips....
1.  A simple, inexpensive way to spruce up furniture is to buy new fixtures.  You can find them at normal hardware stores, but they don't have the really unusual, funky fixtures.  I got all of these fixtures at Hobby Lobby for almost nothing.  I waited until they had the fixtures 50% off.  The handles were $2 a piece and are a black and cream ceramic with brass trim.  The knobs were $1.50 a piece and are a bright chartreuse.  So for less than $10, I added completely new fixtures.  Remember this for all of the furniture around your house.....desks, nightstands, dressers, even door handles.  Go to estate sales and buy crystal door knobs.  It will instantly add flair and value to your home or apartment.  Oh, and by the way, all you need is a screwdriver to replace the knobs...no fancy tools required.
2.  Let's talk paint.  I developed my pro painting skills from my mother.  Sorry to any professional painter out there...I will never be needing your assistance.  Choosing your paint color can be a daunting task.  Then after that you have to pick the finish!!
Flat:  Just as it says in the name, this paint has absolutely no shine to it.  And honestly, I've never used it for anything.
Matte:  Teensy bit more shine, but still very dull.
Eggshell:  This is my personal favorite finish.  This is your most basic finish for painting walls.  It provides a little bit of sheen but not too much as to make your walls look too crazy.
Satin:  This is also another option for walls and also for cabinets/vanities.
Semi-Gloss:  This is a great finish for furniture and cabinets.  It is very easy to clean and wipe down, and provides the amount of shine you want in an area like the kitchen.
High-Gloss:  I have to say that I had never used high gloss until I repainted my desk.  But it's the bomb!!  There is this awesome table in Pier One that was somewhat of an inspiration piece for me, but it was $300!  

At the end of the day I spent about $40 on refinishing the desk...which is a helluva lot cheaper than a new desk.
$10 in fixtures
$30 worth of paint...black paint and primer.  (The green was free because Courtney had leftover paint.)

Stay tuned for later when I talk about my new landscaping!!