Give thanks.

27 November 2014

27 November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
have a blessed day -

Things I'm thankful for [2014]

25 November 2014

25 November 2014
I'm really bad at being thankful.
Does anyone else realize this once Thanksgiving rolls around each year?

I think about the meaning of the holiday, and then can count on one hand how many times I've stopped to be grateful for the blessings in my life since the previous year's Thanksgiving.

It's sad. But it's better than never being grateful whatsoever, right?
So here's a list of things I'm thankful for this year.
{warning: some more serious than others}

my husband David
my beautiful daughter Kateri
my faith
easy-button onesies
the ability to work from home
good friends
wind whipping through the trees
extended family
old college friends
new married friends
leggings that go past my feet
carpet to walk on
Raisin' Cane's
& diet soda
writing inspiration...when it comes
the ability to blog
the friends I've made through blogging
and a cool glass of water
my healthy & the health of my family
boots to keep my feet warm
the joy of motherhood
the pain of motherhood
everything I've learned from my first 6 months as a mom
snow & rain
skinny jeans that fit just right
weddings to celebrate
new babies to love on
music to listen to while I work
an unbelievably easy baby
a sound machine for said baby
a house that we love
the cuteness of my daughter
the ability to say the phrase my daughter
comfy blankets
watching TV with my husband
tuna noodle casserole

Glass Block Window {a semi-tutorial}

24 November 2014

24 November 2014
...aka how we spent our entire weekend! YAY!

Going into this, David and I had very little idea of what we were going to run into. We'd visited Menards, gotten all of our supplies (or so we thought...duh duh duhhhh), and listened to the guy explain to us how to assemble the stuff. But that was pretty much the extent of our foreknowledge. I watched a couple very-not-helpful Youtube videos and tried to Google some tutorials, all to no real benefit.

So we jumped in feet-first, like we always do with our home projects. It's more fun that way, isn't it?

First of all, most websites say that this is a one-day project. It took us the entire weekend basically, with a couple breaks to eat and go to church. So it really depends on what your window looks like when you begin, and I guess also how prepared you are with materials and things. If we had bought all of the things beforehand, and already had the window out and prepped for the blocks, then yes - one day project. Otherwise no.

Also a very important note: we would NOT have been done with this project if David's family hadn't come and given us some major help. We'd still be shower-less in our house and also freezing cold in the entire house -- they were a huge help. So thank you Gokies!

So here's what we did.

1. Rip out old window.

This part will depend on what you're dealing with in your house. Our windows are all original (minus the ones we've replaced, basically) so from around 1930, which means they're very heavy-duty and pretty well installed, but not super good at keeping cold or wind out. This one was pretty easy, though - we pulled back the siding on the outside, unscrewed the screen, and then cut the weights to get the panes out.

Here's what it looked like inside the frame without the window in:

Some of that is frame, some of it is plaster-lathe behind the tile, and the big hole is where the weights for the window were.

2. Frame out window.

We had a pretty unique situation because our window needed to be 100% waterproof, seeing as it was smack dab in the middle of our shower. Previously there was a separate shower curtain attached and hung above the window on the window side of the shower, and another one where a regular shower curtain goes, so the quarters were pretty tight. This was a big reason we chose glass block - we were never going to need to open this window, and buying a custom waterproof window was not in the budget.

Being waterproof meant that we had to use vinyl (plastic) boards for the sill, frame, quarter round, and decorative pieces. But before that went in we installed a regular 2x4 to attach things to. (I was lucky enough to attend a baby shower during this part of the install, so I don't have many pictures of what I mean.)

still ripping out the old stuff...
All gone!
Now just imagine a 2x4 right in between the yellow siding and the plaster-lathe back you see in that last picture.

3. Add sill to window.

Ours, like I mentioned, was made of vinyl board. David & his dad used cardboard to make a template of the grooves it would need to fit into at the bottom, and then traced and cut using his miter saw. If you're not worried about water, or if it's going in a basement, you might not even need a sill. Ours had the benefit of being additional storage in the shower, which was sorely needed.

It's pretty self-explanatory, especially if you're the woodworking type. (I'm not. Ohhh man am I not. But my husband is.) I also don't have a picture of it. But here's a cute one of Kate "consulting" with us on the project's progress.

work clothes are so flattering
4. Etch the glass block.

While all that is going on, have your awesome mother-in-law and sister-in-law etch the glass blocks for you, because you couldn't find a combination of design on the premade blocks that you liked enough to buy.

We started with these blocks, from Menards, as our base:

Then we used this product, Armour Etch Cream, to etch one side of them. You can also find it at Hobby Lobby - and use a 40% off discount on every one if you happen to take 3 separate trips to get a new bottle each time. But you can also buy it on Amazon.

David and I tried some test blocks ahead of time, to see how long we needed to apply it for. Turns out you need quite a thick layer of the stuff on there, and leaving it on about 15 minutes seemed to give the best results. Obviously that's just for this type of block though, so I highly recommend testing the stuff out before you use it on a lot of blocks.

We (they) used a paintbrush to apply it on, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then washed it off down the sink.

Here are a bunch all done:

A couple bits of advice. Definitely remember to shake the jars of cream, cause it can get a little splotchy if it isn't shaken well. A blow-dryer is helpful in the drying process. And remember that people will probably not be inspecting it from close-up, so it can be somewhat uneven and not noticeable.

We also only etched one side of the glass on purpose - but if you wanted more "coverage," you could certainly do both sides. But one was good enough for us.

5. Start installing glass block.

We made some mistakes here - so I am going to warn you: measure, measure, MEASURE like 100 times before you buy your glass block and set out a really nice pattern and then etch those blocks, only to discover they don't fit once you include the height of the spacers or the frame you have to install at the last minute.

The interlocking spacers (which you buy next to the glass block at any home improvement store) were very very easy to use, but they added a lot of height to our window total that we hadn't anticipated. So we had to redo our entire design a couple different times - which added to our 4 trips to Menards in the same day total. Luckily the etching doesn't take very long, so we were able to catch up pretty quickly once we figured out what we needed.

But I highly recommend using the spacer method, rather than mortaring the whole window. You can do both, but the (enormous) advantage to the spacers is you can easily change it around until you like what you have with no mess!

also take goofy photos to relieve stress
The only difficult thing was putting in the very last block - we chose the top middle one to do, and it took one person on either side of the window kind of banging them in at the same time to get it to fit correctly. But it wasn't terrible.

6. Install trim around the inside of the window.

Measure and cut, etc. Again we used vinyl, which is more expensive, but was totally worth the expense for the water-proof-ness. Since we were attaching it to plaster and tile instead of drywall or a stud, we had to use Liquid Nails instead of drilling it in. It actually worked pretty well, and was easy to sort of wiggle around if we needed to.

We used at least 2 tubes of regular construction adhesive ($1.50 each!) and then a half of another tube we had at home. After the main pieces of trim, we added a quarter-round and a smaller decorative piece on the insides, aka to border between the glass block and the trim pieces.

Then we sealed the glass block with their special glass-block sealant and then caulked everywhere we could with some pricey silicone bath caulk. We really needed it to be waterproof so we didn't skimp on the caulk.

And here's the finished product!

And that's that!

In terms of satisfaction, this project really ranks up there on my favorites list. It was a one-weekend thing, which far outweighs the 4+ months the Kate's room took. Plus it is SO pretty to look at now that it's done, and it brings so much light in that was covered up before, it's great.

I highly recommend using glass block if you've ever doubted it before. It looks super cool and I'm so happy that's what we chose.
What projects have you been doing lately?

7QT #27: Jonas, crooked desks, and HG

21 November 2014

21 November 2014
So, David's been complaining that he doesn't have a new post on my blog to read every day at work. I know he's my most avid, if not most vocal, reader - so this one's for you, honey. Another week of quick takes!

1. Don't judge me, but this song has been on repeat-repeat-repeat this week for me.

Yes. That is Nick Jonas's new single, Jealous. I was a HUGE Jonas Brothers fan when I was young...and probably too long into semi-adulthood, but this song is so SO SO catchy. I think I've listened to it upwards of 100x on Spotify this week. My followers are probably starting to get concerned about me.

I'll come back and let you know how the rest of his album is after I get past this song. It might be a couple months though, so don't hold your breath.

2. I moved my office upstairs to our attic this week, because the whole basement-mouse-thing plus the advent of freezing cold temps thing was just not a good mix for me and Kate every day.

I'm happy with the change except for one minor detail - the floor is like, markedly crooked up here, so my computer screen and desk are at an angle. This is something I've never experienced before but wow, does it make a difference! Right now I'm compensating slightly by putting coasters under half of my computer's base, like so:

But eventually I'm going to need a more permanent solution. I'm just too lazy (and too weak to lift up my desk while shoving something under the legs) to fix it right now.

3. How about a picture of Kate this Friday morning?

She is pretty stylish, if I do say so myself. Stripes on her shirt and leopard-print faded jeans, with a cuff? I have to say - it's way more fun to dress her than to dress myself on the daily.

4. I have a $50-or so gift card (from a return) to spend at Urban Outfitters, and I need some help deciding what to get. What of these do you like the most?

here - Minnetonka!


here, and with pants, obvs

5. The new Hunger Games movie comes out this weekend. And I love the Hunger Games, but I am very interested to see how those who haven't read the books experience the last two movies. I mean, I don't want to give any spoilers away will probably not be 100% happy with the ending, at least in one regard or another.

Is it mean of me to kind of laugh at those who are going in unprepared? If so, I'm sorry...but it can be funny to those who know what's up. 

6. On a much more serious note, do you use a humidifier in your baby/toddler's room during the winter? I've read quite a few sources that highly recommend it, and I think we might start having to do that for Kate. She wakes up pretty much every morning with some sort of cold-like symptom - a runny or booger-filled nose, or a croaky throat, or something like that. 

At first I thought it was just from the sudden cold snap we had (60° in the morning, 7° that seem evening), but now I'm thinking it's from the dry air.

But then again, I could just be new-mom-freaking-out for no reason. Got any tips for me?

7. This weekend is a project-heavy one. David's parents and sister are coming up to help us install a glass-block window in our bathroom, and since there are like tutorials on the internet of how to do so, I'm planning on writing a big post about it.

It's going to make me Pinterest-famous, I just know it (heavy, heavy sarcasm). Get super excited if you're into that sort of thing. Otherwise, well, just skip it I guess. 

Linking up with Kelly again this week! Hooray for the weekend.

What we're up to...

18 November 2014

18 November 2014
Recently the blog has taken a back seat due to real life and busyness, as I'm sure many of you can understand. The holidays are just a huge time to get everything done all the time, and we definitely fall under that umbrella. This last weekend was our first "free" weekend in approximately 2 months, so yeah, things were kinda crazy.

And then our "free" weekend ended up including a dinner with friends, a very-necessary trip to Menards for a home improvement project, a fraternity alumni Husker game watch party, and a Husker volleyball game and dinner with my parents. So much for not being busy.

Anyway, since so much has been going on I haven't gotten to blog/journal about what's been up lately! So in lieu of a longdrawnoutneverending recap post, I'm going to shorten it up with a picture recap as best I can. And heeeere goes!

I was the matron of honor at Caitlin's wedding last weekend. (I can't believe it's already been a week!) This involved a lot of finagling of Kate's schedule and lot of baby-watching by David. I think he was a little nervous going into the weekend because he was in charge of her solo for a big hunk of time, but he did great! We all survived and thrived and had a great time at the party of the year.

I was hella nervous for my speech but I think it turned out okay. Obviously the best man outdid me - he had PROPS, people - but that was just to be expected. I said all the words and I didn't faint and I got real close to crying so win-win-win all around. It was fun and I was so beyond overjoyed to watch two of my bestest friends commit to their vocation to each other.

So as I was the matrĂ³n of honor (inside joke), I hosted/helped organize the bachelorette party. Seeing as we are not the typical bachelorette type-group, we went to dinner and then came back to our house to hang out, open the presents, and watch a movie. David and I spent a good part of the previous week cleaning up our basement to turn it into more of a room and less of a storage unit than it had been. So we go downstairs, first played some Mario Kart, and then the bride-to-be requested that we watch Tangled. (Fantastic choice, obviously.) About 20 minutes into the movie, a shadow appears on the ground and all of us look up to our pipe and see A FREAKING MOUSE RUN ACROSS THE PIPE ABOVE OUR HEADS AND INTO THE WALL.

Commence really girlish screaming and freaking out by 8 was as hilarious as you might imagine.

Of course I was completely grossed out because hello, I've never seen a mouse in our house before so that's disgusting. So we transferred the party up to our living room and tried to forget all about it. But yeah, it was a tiny bit disheartening. I've been walking on eggshells in my office (which is in the basement) ever since.

This little sweetie has been in a lot better of a mood lately. Less fussy in the evenings, taking better naps, sleeping longer at night, etc. etc. It's been a joy recently to see her change so much from day to day - I swear every time I see her again in the morning she's bigger and looks different from the night before.

I made this delicious crockpot potato soup the other day - find a similar recipe here. I switched it up a bit and used half regular potatoes and half sweet potatoes - which I LOVED but David was not a fan of because he's a sweet-potato-hater. But it was delicious if you like 'em. (I also added about a cup of regular milk, and some spices for the last hour of cooking because it was a little bland for my taste.) This soup is best served with a heaping pile of bacon, a generous sprinkle of cheese, and something to dip it in.

One more for good measure: this scene has been a pretty regular occurence around Casa de Gokie lately. Kate's itching like CRAZY to get to crawling, but so far the fact that she has to have her knees and her hands touching at the same time seems to escape her. So there's a lot of the above happening, or pushing off with her hands and wondering why her legs aren't following. It's absolutely adorable and I am super excited but also dreading when she finally figures it out. #parenthood

Til the next riveting post...

7QT #26: around the webs

14 November 2014

14 November 2014
So, Caitlin is on her honeymoon this week. I started writing her an email to tell her of all the wonderful things she was probably missing on the internet, and then realized that she shouldn't be the only one privy to all this wonderfulness! So, dear readers, I've decided to share with you. It's your lucky day! I'm joining Kelly who's in for Jen this week for a good link-up. As per usual.

1. Death Comes to Pemberley

If you're as Austen-obsessed as I have been since a pre-teen girl, this is a must-watch. It's currently available free to stream on the PBS website so get your butt over there and watch it now! Death Comes to Pemberley is a novel by P. D. James, and now they've adapted it into a Masterpiece movie. What more could you want? Also, for all you Doctor Who fans (more on that later), Jenna Coleman plays a perfect (and I mean perfect) Lydia, so don't miss it.

2. Death of Conversation

image copyright babycakes romero (via)
I thought this photo series was really telling - and also rather embarrassing. This photographer takes photos of groups of people all on their smart phones. I had a viscerally upsetting reaction to these photos, both because I am so so guilty of doing this and because it is a really disheartening thing to see in so many instances. Here's to a new resolution to putting my phone away when I'm around the people I love and enjoying actual human interaction with a purpose.

3. Taylor Swift's Blank Space video

(embedded to it here)

Yeah, it's buzzing around the internet like...well, a Taylor Swift music video. It's worth a watch though because it so perfectly plays into and against every single TSwizzle stereotype ever. Her music video director is a super genius for getting her to do this. (Or whosever job it is to do that...I'm a little foggy on the deets.) Also, this article explains why and how she does what she does and it's definitely worth a read - thank you to an old priest friend on Facebook for sharing it with me.

4. Jimmy Fallon + Bradley Cooper Laugh Fest

(another embedded here here here)

Okay, you've also probably seen this already - it's a little old. But if you haven't taken the time to watch 2 grown, famous men laugh ridiculously cutely for approximately 10 solid minutes, it is worth your while. Talk about a mood lightener! Jimmy's laugh comes in a close second to Amy Poehler's laugh out of laughs-I-love-of-famous-people (also Kevin from the Office and Tina Fey are on that list, it's a weird obsession, don't judge me) so this video is pure gold. Or if you want, save it for a rainy/snowy day mood lifter.

5. Fly Over Me

photo by Lauren Justice, via Fly Over Me blog
So, I met some pretty cool people as an English major at UNL, including a group of students who, just for fun, decided to document the life in small-town Nebraska - Valentine, to be exact. There was a Kickstarter campaign (fully funded and more), a blog, and now there's a documentary in the works. I just saw this article on Facebook and needed to share it. If you've ever wondered what Nebraska was like, or if you're a sentimental Nebraskan like me, it's definitely worth the read.

6. Once Upon a Time

Yep, I'm going to write more about my current TV obsession. (You've been warned.) Now, Kendra and I agree about a lot of things...and I found out again this week that includes how wonderful OUAT is. Go read this recent post of hers and then click "Start Watching" on Netflix. I'm pretty sure you won't regret it.

7. Doctor Who

Series 8 has ended - cue sad music. And although I haven't season the two-part season finale episodes yet (I'm looking at you, David), I'm a little disappointed with this season. Perhaps the finales will redeem it, but for me this has been a rather lackluster time for the Doctor and Clara. Now this isn't to say that you shouldn't be watching Doctor Who (you definitely should!) but just to say that I hope series 9 picks up a little bit and brings back some of the writing and characterization we all love so much. //end sad rant

Got anything else out there on the internet I've missed? Hit me up in the comments! (And head to This Ain't the Lyceum this week for more Quick Takes!)

Until next week -

Brace yourselves...

11 November 2014

11 November 2014
all the posts about winter/snow arrival are coming.
Including mine! mwahahaha.

In other words, it snowed here and I'm super excited about it.

Please excuse our perfectly-placed garbage can.

So, I know some people dread the arrival of the cold, and snow, and the shorter days. Buuuuut I really like it. I'm cold-blooded at heart, what can I say? I kind of love it when the sun sets at a ridiculously early time and evening drags on for hours and hours.

Even though this snow really took everyone off guard, I'm still loving it. As you can tell by the still colorful leaves in the picture, even the tree in our front yard wasn't ready for the quick freeze. It went from 65° in the morning on Monday to 18° by about 9 p.m., so yeah - it was a quick turnaround.

Winter reminds me that I love curling up by a fireplace (when I'm around one) with a good book. The whole hibernation aspect make me crafty too, working on Christmas presents and just things for wintery weather - scarves, hats, etc.  Luckily I have a feeling we're in for a long haul of a similar winter. Lots of cold, lots of snow, and lots of long dark nights. Lucky me!

5 months

10 November 2014

10 November 2014
Whoa, so blogging has obviously taken a back seat recently - albeit understandably now that CAITLIN is MARRIED... it was a busy week or so and I'm so happy for them now that they are married.

But that is a different photo-dump post. This is about how Kateri turned 5 months old like 2 weeks ago and I'm just now getting around to a monthly post about her. Whoopsies.

Kate turned 5 months old! What the what - where has time gone??

Weight: By our not-so-scientific scale, which consistently was wrong during pregnancy and has never instilled me with much faith, Kate's around 17 lbs. But that's pretty up to flex so we'll see at her 6 month appointment where she's at!

Height: Ditto. Also I can't find my tape measure sooooo we're guessing a little longer than last month so that would be around 30 inches?

Firsts this month: achieved expert-level rolling over! She can go from back to tummy and back around as much as she pleases now. I can barely put her down on her back for more than a minute without her ending up on her stomach! She's also for the first time making consonant sounds instead of just pterodactyl noises, including very vague sounds that might be a "ma" or a "da." But we're not getting our hopes up.

Babycakes (from David's cousin's 2 year old girl who misunderstood Baby Kate...too cute)

Other things to note:
-She finally has enough upper-body control to look at a person's face while they're holding her, or as it may be, their very very shiny and irresistible necklace.
-She's grabbing everything and putting everything in her mouth, including notably this month my hair, our iPhones, and even my lips and chin (on separate occasions).
-She is soooo close to crawling. She can get her butt up in the air quite well during tummy time and is slowly inching up with her hands, but for now it's mostly just very slowly turning herself in a circle inch-by-inch.
-Sleep training has been meh this month. She was great for a week or two and then daylight savings time ended and everything went to h-e-l-l. So we're working on that again.
-She's nursing about 5-6 times a day, sometimes 7 if it's a hungry day. She's tried a very select few real-food things (and by try I mean a tiny dot on my finger into her mouth) and always has a very puzzled look on her face when it happens.
-Kate can sit up by herself for about 30 seconds at a time, which is just too cute.
-I'm sure I'm forgetting other things but...what are you gonna do?

We love you, darling girl!

Baby's first Halloween

04 November 2014

04 November 2014
Okay, so Halloween happened...and pretty much as atypical as possible, I didn't take very many photos of my baby on her first Halloween.

I've got a few that will suffice but major new mom fail! I was supposed to take hundreds, nay, thousands! And I didn't. I've got a total of 12? And most are blurry? Apologies.

We dressed up as:

Mary Poppins, Bert the Chimney Sweep, and the Dancing Penguin from Mary Poppins!

David and I sewed Kate's costume all by ourselves, which turned out to be a learning experience (first time with velcro, first time I completely misjudged my child's head and accidentally made her a yamaka rather than a stocking cap). And it was also about $20 cheaper than buying a penguin costume from somewhere online, so all around a pretty much huge win in our minds.

Here she is close up:

Ugh, I just want to squish her cheeks looking at this picture. But she's napping, so I will restrain myself.

I'm not a big Halloween person, but I did enjoy making and seeing Kate dressed up much more than I ever thought I would. Who knows, maybe I'll turn into David and have it become my favorite holiday? (Probably not, but you can never tell...)

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