Summertime Shenanigans

Long time, no updates from me. Sorry. But I’ve been busy. I mean really busy.

As I mentioned in my last post (which, yikes!, was over a year ago), The Boy and I bought a house together in 2015. In addition to settling in, we’ve kept ourselves busy painting all but one room and the upstairs hallway, building a storage shelf in the garage, replacing an exterior door, installing a storm door, and having the most decorated holiday house/yard on the street. You’d think we take the summer to relax and enjoy some free time. But no. Instead we took on more than we probably should have. Way more.

On March 27 (count ‘em, that’s nearly eight months ago), we started our backyard transformation by cleaning up a part of the yard where I originally intended to put my garden. Long story short, that’s not where my garden ended up because of sunlight, but the area needed cleaned up—and so began our never-ending battle with rock.



Due to my schedule and the weather, we didn’t actually install my garden until mid-April. We used a temporary fence until my schedule freed up more and we could build and install a custom fence for the garden. Doesn’t it just look so cute? (Please note that between the bottom two pictures the aforementioned rock has been added between the garden bed and the fence.)

Andrea's garden


After the garden, we turned our attention (1) expanding our pond, (2) improving and expanding our patio, and (3) cleaning up and dealing with all the river rock used in the existing landscaping, which much to our disdain and almost demise, turned out to be very poorly installed. Now don’t let me lead you astray. We fully intended to do the pond expansion this summer because the pond had really become a hobby of The Boy’s and the existing pond left something to be desired. (Though let me tell you, I likely wouldn’t have agreed to such a project if I could have conceptualized what The Boy had in mind…) The patio project, however, was a bit of an afterthought. At first we thought we were going to do a deck, but the existing concrete really threw a wrench in our plans. So, on a last minute whim (and by that I mean there was a both a major sale and an 11% sale at Menards), we designed our patio and placed a gigantic order.

On July 12, our order was delivered to our house. All 18 pallets of it. For better or for worse, it was officially too late to turn back…


On November 12 (count ‘em, that’s four months since the delivery), I was able to take decent after photos of the pond and patio.






As much as it pains me to say it, neither of these projects are 100% done. Rather they are “done enough,” in that we can’t do the finishing touches with winter right around the corner. The pond needs edge treatments, like plants and landscaping, and we need to work on the transition between the patio and yard. Comparatively, these finishing touches are small tasks, but nevertheless require us to revisit our projects in the spring.

Additionally, (because why wouldn’t there be more?), after the garden but before the pond and patio, I applied for and received a sustainable landscapes grant from the City of Lincoln. Through the grant, homeowners receive a 50% cost-share to incorporate sustainable landscaping into their properties. I chose to do rain barrels and a rain garden. We installed the rain barrel system ourselves, but worked with Finke Gardens for the design and installation of the rain garden. Any other year, I might have been tempted to install the rain garden myself, but by the time we had the rain garden installed the first week in October, I had already had my fair share of dirt for the summer. Plus, as easy as it might seem to install a rain garden, this summer’s work taught me that all landscaping tasks are harder and take longer than you think. Needless to say, coming home to a finished project that I didn’t have to do was a much welcome feeling.



So there you have it: a garden, cleanup of existing landscaping, a pond, a patio, a rain barrel system, and a rain garden. All in 230 days.

In hindsight, it might have been a better idea to do the pond this year and the patio next year, but we managed to pull it off—thanks to some awesome help (namely The Boy’s dad), fantastically warm fall weather, and lots of painkillers and patience. As you might imagine, there were many times in the midst of these projects we wanted to quit. (In fact, there was even one day that I really lost my cool and threw a rubber mallet across the yard—it wasn’t pretty but I should get some bonus points for consciously avoiding the fence.) Thankfully, though, the few bad days that each of us had never fell on the same day, so one of us was able to pull the other one along so we could make progress.

Now that I’m safely in the done or very-close-to-done stage of these projects, I can honestly say it was worth the time, effort, and money. We really do have a whole new backyard. I can’t wait until next summer when we can actually enjoy it.

P.S. I promise to follow up with more photos details about the garden, pond, and patio.


Changin’ It Up

Life has been full of change lately. Most notably, The Boy and I bought a house. It’s been a crazy whirlwind since (and I’ll eventually share photos), but we’ve gotten settled enough that I was able to take on a little project (because why would I wait until the boxes are unpacked to start something?!).

With a new color scheme throughout my house (where I opted to not cover the kitchen ceiling with green floral wallpaper like someone did in our rental), it was time to change the color of my wine rack. Before I unveil it’s new look, though, it’s only appropriate I remind you of where it started.

Remember, I repurposed an old school entertainment center that my parents had tucked away in their basement.


Then a couple years later, I turned it into a wine rack (with substantial help from Uncle Buck).


Now, a couple years later and as my first project in my new house, I stripped it,


primed it,


and painted it. (Can I just say paint sprayers are totally worth the investment?!)


And might I say, it looks pretty good in my dining room. Not only does it contrast the blue wall well, it compliments Mocha Jo’s fur-tone nicely (check out Mocha’s “let me look off into the distance” pose.)


The color and size of the wine rack turned out to be perfect for the space, not to mention it gave me much needed access to my wine… And, thanks to a pretty awesome paint stripper, it was a relatively easy project. If only the other project my sister and I have going on could be this easy…

But alas, I’ve completed my first non-house related project in my new house and I’m one step closer to being able to park in the garage. I can’t wait for all the exciting future projects I’m going to take on, but for now, my sister and I need to finish her project (and I should try to finish unpacking).

‘Tis the Season To Be Crafty

I can’t believe Christmas has already come and gone. Last year, as you may remember, I was in the holiday spirit, like really in the holiday spirit. This year, not so much.

I wasn’t my usual Grinch self, but I think I was in denial that it was December because (1) the weather didn’t feel like December weather and (2) I’ve been so busy that my sane state of mind was (and still is!) stuck in October. Therefore, I am sad to report my holiday crafts are fairly limited this year. However, I think the awesomeness of the few crafts I did makes up for the limited quantity.

I started the Christmas season off strong, dragging my older sister into my office to help me do a little holiday decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving. Borrowing concepts from a few images floating around Pinterest, my sister and I converted the reception area into a pseudo-gingerbread house.


As is, I thought it turned out pretty awesome, but the icing on the cake (or frosting on the gingerbread) was the built-in lighting of the reception area. It’s as if our architects planned for something this awesome to happen!

gingerbread-reception-lightedNext I made a holiday sweater that, without a doubt, takes the cake for “most original.” It’s a Barney-in-a-speedo themed holiday sweater. Please take note that this sweater also accurately depicts Barney’s inability to reach the top of the tree because of his short arms. #dinoproblems

barney xmasBelieve it or not, I made this sweater for the head honcho of the company I work for. He made a comment about the turkey sweater I wore before Thanksgiving and I mentioned, “oh just wait until Christmas.” Ultimately, I walked away from the conversation set on making him one and immediately began scheming with a coworker on what to make (so oddly enough, there’s a reason behind Barney in a speedo). When it came time to give it to him, I wondered if I’d gone too far (because, well, I do that sometimes), but he liked it. He really liked it.

And last, but certainly not least, for my work department’s holiday party, I made a pair of holiday sweaters for The Boy and me. I toyed back and forth between two concepts and ultimately settled on innuendo-based concept: “Jingle My Bells” and “Feel the Joy.” Needless to say, we were a hit at the party.

innuendo pair

I will say, The Boy was a really good sport about wearing this: he wore it for nearly 40 minutes at the holiday party (38 minutes longer than I expected). I will probably never get him to wear it again, but that’s what photos are for!

Like I said, my holiday spirit seemed to be lacking this year, but at least the caliber of my holiday crafts didn’t suffer. Plus, it seems Mocha Jo’s holiday spirit was limited too…


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Furever Family Day

Today is an extra special day for The Boy and I: it’s Mocha Jo’s Furever Family Day.

One year ago, we adopted our little Mocha Jo, and all three of our lives were forever changed. To celebrate, we had a party, complete with a made-for-dogs peanut butter cake.


We also had party hats, which Mocha Jo wasn’t exactly a fan of.

party girl

At least not until her dad showed her that cool kids wear party hats.

mocha and her dad

But more importantly, there was cake and ice cream, which Mocha Jo was a fan of.

cake and ice cream

Mocha eating

It’s hard to believe it has been a whole year since we brought her home, but it’s been a great year. The Boy and I really couldn’t have adopted a better dog. She is the sweetest and most humble dog you’ll ever meet.

It makes my heart happy that The Boy and I could give this once stray dog a better life. Between her parents (who are clearly wrapped around her paw) and her ever-doting aunts and uncles, two sets of grandparents , and all her friends (seriously, she has more of a social calendar than I do…), Mocha Jo’s life is now full of love.

She’s certainly gotten the happily ever after she deserves.


What a hunk!

This news is long overdue, but nonetheless exciting: I am finally an aunt!

Last month, my older sister adopted Hurley, an almost 5-year-old yellow Labrador.

meet hurley

My little nephew is crazy, but oh-so adorable. I don’t think I have ever met a dog who likes to fetch quite as much as he does. And, we’ve officially deemed him a little dog in a big dog’s body. Regardless of how many times he has and will continue to tromp over my vital organs while I am on my couch, he always means well – except for when he feels his tennis ball is being threatened.


During his first couple of weeks, Hurley was pretty anxious about his new home and family; but as he continues settling in, it is clear Hurley is the perfect addition to my sister’s life and our dog-loving family (particularly since he completes the lab trifecta). And, as far as Mocha Jo is concerned, well, let’s just say she has a new best friend.

mocha and hurley

While Hurley has enough energy to seem like the younger one, he has taken little Mocha under his wing, showing her how big dogs swim at the dog park. I’d love to go back to the days when Mocha and I left the dog park completely dry, but it is both entertaining and endearing to watch the two together.

Welcome to the family, Hurley!

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The end of a season

For the past two weeks, I have been jazzed to give my 14-year-old volleyball girls their end-of-the-season gift. It is common for me to be excited about unveiling my end-of-the-season gift, simply because I give my team pretty unique gifts, but this year I was more excited than usual.

Last year, I was pretty ding-dang-dong impressed with my gift from last year (which I just now realized I never blogged about…), but this year, I outdid myself.

This year, I used my graphic design skills to create a 12×36” team poster for my team.


And I tell you what, the looks on the girls’ and their parents’ faces were priceless. Their reactions made the time and effort I put into this project totally worth it.

Because of how awesome my gift was, I went to my volleyball club’s award night this past weekend convinced I would win the “best coaches gift” award (a completely non-existent award I was going to award to myself after I confirmed I did in fact have the best team gift). While I am still certain I would have won this award, should it actually exist, my club awarded me something better: coach of the year.

While I am excited and honored to be named coach of the year by my club, the award took me by complete surprise. Since I was so wrapped up in a make-believe award that I was going to award myself later, I completely forgot my club even named a coach of the year. So, as the director was leading into the award, I started trying to guess who of the coaches I know would win it.

Then the club director said “Andrea” –  to which my mind immediately jumped to the other Andrea who coaches for our club.

But then, the director said “Gebhart” – to which my immediate response was “oh?!” (Seriously, you can even ask the girls that were sitting next to me.)

As 400-some people started clapping for me and looking in my general direction, it dawned on me that I won an award, an award that was not a figment of my own imaginative yet somewhat narcissistic imagination. I made my way up to the front and as the director said some nice things about me, I stood there, looked at all the familiar faces in the crowd, and thought how lucky I am to be part of such a great club.

I have coached for Nebraska ONE for five seasons (I think?!?), and I cannot even begin to imagine coaching elsewhere. The players are fantastic, the players’ families are amazing, the other coaches are incredible, and the directors are supportive. This club is also a continual reminder of the reason I love volleyball: the family that comes with it. Nebraska ONE truly has become part of my Nebraska family.

So, while I went to our awards night ready to give myself my own make-believe award, I left humbled and grateful.

After having a successful season, designing an epic team gift, and being named coach of the year, I’d have to say it was a dang good season!

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Mocha Jo Rescue Day

Today is a special day in my house.

Today is Miss Mocha Jo’s Rescue Day.

One year ago today, during a bout of particularly cold winter weather, Kathy from K9 Coach Learning Center opened both her home and her heart to our little Mocha Jo.

Mocha Jo rescue

Like last year, today is a winter weathery kind of day. A few inches of snow have already fallen, the wind chill is in the negatives, schools and offices are closed, and we’re expected to get several more inches of snow over the next 24 hours.

While Mocha and I did venture out in the winter weather for a quick trip to the dog park, it made my heart happy knowing that she is comfortably on the other side of the winter weather this year. Actually, she’s very comfortable this time around…

mocha jo cozy

In addition to a trip to the dog park, Mocha Jo also got a special rescue day treat.

rescue day treat

As I mentioned before, The Boy and I don’t know all the details of Miss Mocha Jo before Kathy brought her in (and maybe it’s best we don’t know), but it’s a bit of a sore spot that we don’t know her actual birthday. However, between The Boy’s and my early February birthdays, it’s only appropriate that Mocha’s rescue anniversary allows her to have an early February celebration, too.

A Year to Remember

As you may recall, I kept myself pretty busy during December. After crafting holiday sweaters, making stockings, holiday shopping for both the family I “adopted” and my own family, and doing a few small crafts for The Boy’s family, I ran out of time (and effort) to do something for my coworkers. It’s not that I don’t value them as much, but I figured seeing almost all of my holiday sweaters was gift enough, at least for the time being.

However, over my short holiday break, I put together a gift for each of them. Knowing that they’d be getting the gift after both Christmas and New Years, I wanted to make sure my gift wasn’t too holiday specific and semi-practical.

What I ended up making for each of them is a 2014 memory jar, or a jar in which you collect memories throughout the year and then on New Year’s Eve you look through your memories to remember all the little things that made the year great. This concept is all over Pinterest, and I’ve always wanted to do it myself, but have never gotten around to it because I didn’t have a cute jar to collect these memories in. Thus, I figured if I removed the obstacle that prevented me from starting, I could probably get others to do it as well.

Using jars, wired ribbon, one garland, twine, and some hot glue, these are the jars I crafted for my wonderful coworkers.


As one might suspect, the ones with flowers were for the ladies.





With the flower jars going to the ladies, the non-flower jars went to the guys. And no, your eyes are not mistaken, the jars for the guys are smaller because I figured they were less likely to buy into the concept. But, just as the jars for the ladies were, each guy jar was unique too.




Overall, these jars were really well received. In fact, my coworkers liked them a lot more than I anticipated, expressing to me their intent to collect memories throughout the year. Most of my coworkers have kept their jar at work simply because seeing it on their desk is a consistent reminder to contribute memories as they happen; and, several of them have since added memories to their jars. It could be like many new year resolutions in that their interest in the idea fades, but if nothing else, many of them will have at least a small handful of memories to look back on.

Here’s to 2014 being a memorable year!

12 Days of Holiday Sweaters FAQs

Throughout my 12 Days of Holiday Sweaters I was asked various questions about my sweaters. As many of the questions were the same, I decided to treat you all to a frequently asked questions post. The questions and answers are below, but first, here’s the final collection of holiday sweaters.


Why not? There was no real driving reason for doing this except that I was in the holiday spirit and feeling crafty. I also get a kick out of holiday sweaters but am too cheap to buy the really good ones. I figured I could craft several good ones for less than what it costs costs to buy one (save for the ones at secondhand stores).

Why 12?
I chose “12 Days of Holiday Sweaters” primarily as a play on “12 Days of Christmas.” Beyond the name, though, my 12 sweaters have no other correlation to the days of Christmas. Ideally, I would have done 25 Days of Holiday Sweaters but I didn’t have the time or the willingness to craft 25 sweaters this holiday season.

Where did you get your sweater ideas?
While I would love to say my sweaters the pure products of my imagination and creativity, I can’t. Some of the sweaters are based on personal connections (Days 2, 5, 8, 10), others were inspired by images I saw on Pinterest, which I pinned to my holiday sweater board. (You should follow me if you don’t already!) However, regardless of the originality of the idea, I tried to add a personal touch to each sweater.

Did you have any help?
I had some help from my older sister. She did a lot of the leg work for Day 3 (which I failed to giver her credit for before…), and she and I made Day 1 together.

Additionally, The Boy was my sounding board (and cheerleader) throughout the whole process.

How long does it take to make a sweater?
It really depends on the complexity of the sweater, as well as how much craft glue and puffy paint there was. Day 10 took about 20 minutes, Day 11 took about an hour, and Day 7 took about 4 hours (but I was simultaneously making two…). Overall, for most of the sweaters, I’d say it took anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours for each.

What materials did you use?
On the majority of my sweaters, I used felt, Aleene’s OK To Wash-It craft glue*, Tulip slick puffy paint, permanent marker, hot glue, jingle bells, buttons, and fluff balls (not really sure if that’s the technical term, but that’s what I call them).

Obviously, some of the sweaters required specific materials that I purchased with purpose (i.e. a baby doll) — however, I did my best to use what I had on hand rather than buying everything new.

*As a side note, and I am receiving nothing for this “endorsement,” I would highly recommend Aleene’s OK To Wash-It glue. I used a couple other glues that I had in my craft supply, but this glue consistently yielded the strongest stick.

How much did you spend on making these sweaters?
This is a hard one to answer because I tried to use whatever I had on hand and I was pretty frugal with all of my supplies. However, I would say between the 11 shirts I had to buy ($65.56) and the supplies I bought (about $40), I spent just over $100 dollars. Definitely not cheap endeavor, but for 11 exciting, creative holiday sweaters that will likely become family heirlooms (in my head anyway), that’s not too bad.

Can you wash the sweaters?
I probably could, but I won’t. I used OK To Wash-It craft glue, which implies my sweaters are washable, but a lot of my sweaters had other components that aren’t washer friendly. For example, Day 7 has googly eyes and Day 12 has a baby doll on it. Basically, what I’m getting at is these sweaters are gems, and I’m not willing to risk destroying my hard work by throwing them in my washing machine.

Any last reflections?
Yes. First, selfies are hard. Second, this forever changed my perspective on what my dog is capable of when I’m not home. Third, cheap, plain male baby dolls are really hard to find. Fourth, a good sweater strikes the oddest yet friendliest of conversations in public spaces.

Overall, I am glad I did 12 Days of Holiday Sweaters. Towards the end, I was losing steam and interest, but I had a fun time crafting them. I think it was a good way for me to express my new-found holiday spirit. And, as an added bonus, I’m forever set on holiday sweaters..

Day 12: Reason for the Season


Today is the day! Today is Day 12 of my 12 Days of Holiday Sweaters. Today’s sweater is one of the reasons I event started this holiday venture.

I cannot credit today’s sweater to my own creativity. I actually saw something similar on Pinterest and couldn’t stop laughing. In fact, a couple of my friends saw it there too, pinned it to their own boards, and then sent me direct links to make sure I saw it. Needless to say, this sweater screams Andrea.

However, before I unveil Day 12, let’s do a recap.


And now for the big reveal…

Inspired by this sweater

And without further ado…

Here is my twelfth and final holiday sweater for the  2013 holiday season:


Unsurprisingly, the shirt is a little front heavy.



So there it is. The final holiday sweater.

From the “My First Christmas” shirt to the eyes that close when the baby is laying down, this is without a doubt my favorite sweater of the bunch.

Miss Mocha Jo was also a fan.

with child


All jokes aside, it’s been a fabulous holiday season. For the first time in my family’s memory, I actually got into the holiday spirit. I had holiday home decor, I decorated my office (photos may come later…), I made other various holiday crafts, and I even “adopted” a family.

While I had fun with all my decor, crafts and sweaters, “adopting” a family added the most joy to my holiday season. There’s nothing more humbling than knowing you helped make another family’s Christmas morning a little more jolly. I drink my coffee black, but my coffee was plenty sweet this morning.

Happy holidays!