Wordless Tuesday: Balloon Edition

So as promised, here's part 2 of our fabulous Saturday! After the bike ride, we rested up a bit and then headed over to the Hot Air Balloon Festival! I'm going to try to let the pictures speak for themselves instead of yakking on and on about everything we did. Put on some soothing music and enjoy this photo story.

Okay, I have to interrupt here with a little bit of an explanation. Once it was dark, all the balloons lined up and would flash their burner-thingies on and off in time to music. It was REALLY neat. Like giant fireflies. So that's what the night pictures are about.

Okay one more interruption. I just wanted to point out how you can see the reflection of the balloon in the water of the pond. How cool is that!?! Okay, back to being wordless.

Me again. Don't you love this picture where all the balloons are all lit up together? It took me forever to get that shot! It was really just chance. Out of about 300 pictures, one of them was bound to get them all lit up together. Okay, carry on.

Boy, I'm really bad at this wordless thing. I almost didn't include this last shot but it was the only one with both of us together. Ignore the face I'm making and the fact that it's slightly out of focus and that it looks like I have multi-colored Micky Mouse ears on my head.

Ta-da! So that's my (not quite) wordless picture story of our Saturday. Not pictured, but definitely added to the fun-ness are the two bags of kettle corn that I consumed while watching the show. It really was a blast. I think we're going to make it an annual thing.
Maybe by next year I can actually work up to being wordless.

Blatent Neighborhood Coveting By Bicycle

Oh hey. Everybody have a good weekend? We had a great one. In my continuing effort to spend less time staring aimlessly at the TV and more time outside and doing things around good ol’ K-town, I scheduled another action-packed Saturday for us. And unlike the “forced fun” Saturdays (which are fun, but still forced), Tony seemed to be eager to do this fun. So I can actually say that a good time was had by all.

In fact, it was so much fun that I’m splitting it into two posts…not so much because of the length of detail by detail fun-ness, but because I took pictures to document all of our fun, and nobody wants to see one post consisting of 50 billion pictures. (Instead, I have very thoughtfully split it into two posts of 50 billion pictures. You’re welcome.)

Anyway, part one of Saturday started at 10am, which is a respectable time to start any fun, so the day began on a good note. Tony and I loaded up the bikes and headed downtown to join the Knoxville Bicycle club’s monthly ride. This is the same bike club that sponsored the Downtown Scavenger Hunt, and I must say that I LOVE. THESE. RIDES. This is a fabulously well-planned and fun group, and I’m totally addicted to their trips. So as soon as I heard about the September ride, I marked it on my calendar and off we went. If you’re anywhere near Knoxville and can ride a bike, look these people up!

The ride wound through several of the old historic neighborhoods, including 4th and Gill, where I have decided I want to live one day, even if it means in a box on the sidewalk. All of the houses were built in the 1890’s and are absolutely beautiful. I went weaving up and down the streets shouting “Look at that one! I love that one! Oh Wait! LOOK AT THAT ONE! I LOVE THAT ONE!” I also tried to take pictures of all of my favorite houses (read: All of them) while I rode, which mostly resulted in pictures of my bike pedals and the ground. Since the edge of my shoe fails to really convey the beauty of this old neighborhood, I recommend you take the photo tour on the neighborhood website. I sooooo want one of these houses. They’re crazy out of our price range even if we were looking to move now, but I’m putting them on my “someday” list. I told Tony that if we could buy a house there, I could ride my bike to work. The gas savings alone could probably pay the mortgage, right?

Photo: A bajillion bikers gathered in the park at one of the home tour rest stops.

In addition to riding around in real life Architectural Digest, the weather was beautiful, and we had a really good turnout. There were hundreds (250 actually) of bikes in all sizes and shapes from really fancy professional bikes to bikes towing kiddie carts. There were two person bikes and recumbent bikes, and one bike towed a rolling stereo, which provided bike-themed music as we rolled down the street. I’m sure we looked like a giant bike parade. People came out of their houses and waved. It was like the bike version of a big dog party (minus the tree, of course...although there were two dogs that ran down the street with us), and after the ride we all ate pizza back in Krutch Park. (Because everybody knows that pizza is calorie-free after a bike ride).

I hear the next ride is to look at Neighborhood Christmas decorations. I may actually brave winter weather for that one. Especially if it involves "my" new favorite neighborhood, and assuming the residents haven't already called the cops on me for loitering in the street and waxing poetically about the souls of old homes.

Tomorrow: The second half of our fun filled Saturday, in picture format. Stay tuned!


The Ye Ol Company softball team won their first game of the season last night, mostly due to the fact that I was not there. While I was home blowing my nose, the rest of my stalwart teammates were fighting out a very close game. They ended up battling back in the last inning, and managed to hang on to their win, 11 to 10. So that makes us….1 and 7 for the season. So much for our perfect record.

I’m not sure I’m cut out for softball. After two months of play, I still have the “don’t hit it over here!” jitters. Fierce competition doesn’t seem to be my thing, even in the remedial just for fun league. (Now, if this was a step aerobics league, or a Pilates league, or something like that, I’d be all over it. But it’s hard to revel in the thrill of competitive sports when you’re lousy at the game). Actually, I’m not sure I’d like it even if I was good at it. I don’t really have a “rip the competition to shreds” personality. I’m more of the “whatever dude” personality. Not exactly conducive to a major league career.

Still, I like the comradely, and it’s been fun getting to know my co-workers outside of work, and I like my little shirt with my number on the back (which makes me feel all softball suave, even if I’m not). I might even think about possibly maybe consider playing next year. Maybe. But I think I’m all softballed-out for this season.

Which is why my competitive streak is happy that our 1 and 7 season didn’t make the playoffs.

My Business Software Professor Would Be So Proud

So what do you think of the new title header? I made it myself, and without that dern high falutin' Photoshop that everyone is always raving about too. (Not to say that I didn't try Photoshop, and vectors, and whatever else goes along with that...I just didn't know enough to make it work). Cause while everybody else I knew in college was majoring in graphic design, I was a business major. And business majors don't do Photoshop. But then I said to myself, "Self. You should not be all discouraged because everyone else in the world knows Photoshop and you do not. You should play to your own strengths". And for me, that's my old friend Microsoft Excel. So I imported some pretty pictures from the Interweb, (Pictures of fabric swatches if you're curious), twiddled with them in Excel, and viola! Instant header!

Not too shabby for a business major, no?

So What Are You Wearing?

My cold lingers on. I think we’re on Day 9 of my trials and tribulations. This is the same cold that Tony so lovingly shared with me last week. DESPITE me taking my body weight in vitamin C (the taste of which I have really come to despise) AND the gross cough medicine AND gagging myself with the throat spray while Tony took NONE of it, his cold miraculously disappeared as soon as it became apparent that it wasn’t going to help him get out of whitewater rafting. My cold, not to be a copycat, went the opposite direction and stepped it up a notch. Not enough for me to actually go to the doctor, but enough to keep me hacking and sniffing and carrying around partially shredded wads of damp, germ-filled tissues.

Yeah, I’m bringing sexy back.

Stupid cold. It was okay when we both suffered together, because the sounds of extreme nose-blowing isn’t as disgusting when both people are doing it, but as soon as his excess mucus disappeared, I was left being the gross one. The good news is that I’ve purchased enough cold medicine that I’m now on the FBI’s watch list as a possible meth lab dealer. The bad news is that it doesn’t seem to help.

As an added bonus, I have also developed a barking cough that sounds like a basset hound with a mega-phone and the gravelly two-pack a day smoker’s voice. I’m thinking of starting a new career as a phone operator for a 900 number. Rasping out “so what are you wearing?” should be an easy way to bring in the cash needed for more ineffective cold medicine.

I hope the Feds are paying attention.

The Orange Was So Two Minutes Ago

Don't panic! You're still in the right place. I've just been doing a little redecorating. It isn't finished yet (as you can tell by the header-or lack thereof) but it's getting there. What do you think so far? Any colors that are hard to read? Any spacing that looks weird? Let me know. I'll probably be messing with it off and on all week.

Not Rain Nor Sleet Nor Coughs And Sniffles Will Keep Us From Our Appointed Fun

Tony and I have colds. He picked it up from someone at work and promptly shared it with me. (Such a sweetheart). As soon as I felt it coming on, I went on the cold offensive and promptly ate my body weight in Vitamin C. I’m not sure if that works, but like the popular girls faced with the school nerd, I’m determined to ignore said cold until it gives up and goes away.

We both need to get over these colds fast because I have planned another exciting and engaging day of fun for Saturday, and I am determined that we are going to enjoy it. We, in the latest installment of what Tony calls “Forced Fun”, are going white-water rafting. I am stoked. Tony is less enthusiastic.

I try to make it a point to go white-water rafting every year, as evidenced by these pictures here. I figure that if we’re blessed enough to live so close to class 3, 4, and 5 rapids, then we have a moral obligation to sit in an inflatable raft and bounce our way down the river. Tony does not share this opinion however, and has always begged off on trips.

When a co-worker offered us two free (FREE!) seats to raft to Ocoee this year, I decided that it was a sign from the Heavens that we needed to go on this trip. And so I ran home to tell Tony all about our exciting opportunity.

“No thank you”, he replied.

It seems that Tony does not like rafts. Or rivers. Or rocks. Or water splashing on him. I pooh-poohed all of that. He just does not understand the fun that he’s missing. He pointed out the less-than-enjoyable (for him…I loved it) kayaking trip. Rafting is nothing like that, I told him. Sure, there’s a boat, and paddles, and water, but other than that, completely different! He was not convinced, but being the loving and wonderful husband that he is, agreed to suffer through the trip for me. (Normally I would feel all guilty for forcing him to do something that he doesn’t want to do, but I just know that once he gets out there, he’ll love it! Besides, he needs his horizons broadened, and nothing broadens horizons like a rapid named “Bone Crusher”. I think it will be good).

So colds or no, we’re going white-water rafting. The high for the day is only going to be eighty, so the morning might be a little chilly invigorating, but I’m sure the adrenalin will keep us warm. We also have to meet up at 7:15 am (yak! Barf! Boo!) but that’s only to ensure that we have plenty of raft time all the way down the Ocoee.

All I have to do now is figure out how to keep our fun-enhancing stash of Vitamin C and Kleenex from getting wet.

Lunch By Any Other Name Is Still Lunch

The scene: My office
The back-story: My throat is a little sore today, so I decided to have a nice hot cup of beef bullion. I unwrapped the bullion cube.

Coworker 1: What’s that? Chocolate?
Me: Bullion cube.
Coworker 1: What?
Me: A bullion cube. For beef bullion.
Coworker 1: Beef what?
Me: bullion. You know, for flavoring? Tastes like beef…only cube shaped. You put it in hot water and it dissolves.
Coworker 2 (who has been listening in and decides to help): Kinda like instant lemonade, only beef flavored.
Coworker 1: (looks disgusted): Beef lemonade?
Coworker 2: (Nods seriously) Beef-ade.
Coworker 1 looks shocked at the idea while Coworker 2 somehow manages to keep a completely straight face.
Me (attempting to salvage the conversation): Soup broth! It’s like soup without any noodles or anything…just the broth.
Coworker 1: Ah! I get it! That sounds a whole lot better than beef-ade. (Glares at co-worker number 2).
Coworker 2: (deadpans) Also known as beef juice. Either way.
Coworker 1: (looking thoughtful) Huh.

This is about the time that I laughed and accidentally snorted “beef juice” (or beef-ade…either way) up my nose and into my sinuses. Not the best way to make your throat feel better, but funny all the same.

Consider This Your Quirky Canvas

So I’m in the mood to change my orange here on the ol’ blog o’ fun. I’m okay with the orange, but maybe not quite so much of it. Maybe just orange on the sides, and something not so blaring in the middle. Like cream. Something easier on the eyes when trying to read. My only problem is that I can’t seem to figure out how to do that. Anybody know a web designer/computer guru/12 year old kid who might know how to do this? I’m looking for orange sidebars, but a cream main body. Something easy.

Unless of couse you know someone who is bored and needs a challenge. And doesn’t need money, cause the blog doesn’t exactly have an operating budget. I will be glad to put a Design by … button on the side. (You can even make the button if you want). I also write a fantastic recommendation letter if you’re into that kind of thing. If that's the case, (or if the whole blog look just chaffes your artistic soul and you've taken pity on my feeble design attempts) feel free to go nuts and do a complete overhaul. I’m open to suggestions. Show me what you’ve got.

Gimme quirky.

Dear Lou's Resulting Comic Wedgie

Oh ya’ll, I’m about to share a very important lesson with you. Don’t be all cute and try to tell Lou Piniella how to do his job. Otherwise the Fates will raise their eyebrows and say things like “So you think you can do better, do you?” And then they’ll smack you upside the head and your softball game will go Down. The. Toilet.

Like when you told Lou that he just needed to get his players to just hit the ball and stop stranding runners on base, and then you went to bat in your little game and proceeded strike out TWICE, both times being the third out and stranding your fellow teammates on second and third base.

That’s what they call irony, my friends.

Or how about when you told him that his stinky team needed to play some better defense and stop letting the other team score so much. Then, with two minutes left in the game, being up by one, you let a line drive to right field (where absolutely no one has hit the ball all night) come flying over, take a weird bounce 4 feet in front of you, go careening off to the side, and roll all the way to the fence, thus allowing the two runners on the opposing team to make it easily to home and beating you 7 to 6.

Not so many smug comments to the Cubs now, you’ll notice. (Although the missed line drive did bring up some other rather interesting comments, mostly involving not-nice-words that I yelled as I chased the ball back to the fence).

Anyway, the point is that the universe tends to recognize flippant smuggery (yes, I just made that up) and it corrects it by arranging to have you “brought back down a notch”, usually during bouts of physical activity, as they have the best embarrassment potential (although high school reunions and meetings with upper management are also up there).

So with the universe giving me the whole “Take that Mrs. Smarty Pants!” while bestowing a cosmic wedgie, I sent my most sincere telepathic apology to Mr Lou Piniella, sir, for telling him how to run his team. They are doing the best they can. And Lou, ever graceful when accepting an apology, decided to actually win a game.

Did I mention the irony?

Dear Lou

Dear Lou Piniella,
Please make your Cubbies play better, because they have now lost seven out of the past eight games, and while I personally could care less, it makes the hubby cranky when you lose. I tried to tell Tony (that’s my dear hubby, by the way, and a lifelong Cubs fan at that) that he shouldn’t be surprised because you guys ALWAYS choke whenever it gets close to playoff time, but Tony is a true Cubbies optimist, and he actually thought that since you were winning earlier in the season, this year might actually be “your year”. So you see Lou? All of Tony’s hopes and playoff dreams are depending on you and your stinky team not to blow it.

Now, while it’s true that I mostly sit on the couch and read while the game is on, Tony’s anguished cries have caused me to glance up often enough that I have noticed some things that might help you out.

Number one: Don’t let the other team score so many points. The Reds are stinky! You let a stinky team beat you! This mostly happened because you let them score a lot. Try not to let this happen with St. Louis tonight.

Number two (and this one is important, Lou): Score some runs. You seem to be very good at getting guys on base, but you’re missing the part where you actually bring them around to run across home plate. They have to actually touch home plate in order to get a point. 10 guys stranded on base on Saturday! This makes Tony very sad, which in turn makes me sad. You’ve got the hard part down…now just finish it by running to home plate.

Number Three: it doesn’t count to get 14 runs in one game but none in the other seven. It’s not collective across the season. You have to score the most points in each game for you to get the win. I just wanted to make that clear because I notice that you guys tend to rack up the points one game and then not hit anything the next three. It’s not NASCAR. You have to win each time.

Number Four: This doesn’t have anything to do with winning, but I thought I would bring it up anyway. The spitting in the dugout? Very gross Lou. I don’t care if it is just sunflower seeds. Spitting is yucky. You shouldn’t let the players do that. No one wants to see that. It’s just gross. Your women fans are very turned off by all the hocking up of phlegm and spittle and who know what else. Cease with the spitting.

There you go. I’m no baseball expert, but I think if you follow my suggestions you’ll be back to winning in no time. (And then you’ll get to the playoffs where you’ll lose in the first round, but hey, you’re cursed by a goat so that’s to be expected). In the mean time, try not to upset Tony so much. Despite a lifetime of evidence to the contrary, he still thinks you guys have a chance. Plus, he works hard, and he deserves to come home and watch his beloved baseball without getting all bummed when you lose.

Thanks for understanding,


I’ve been AWOL lately because I’ve been down in Savannah. My grandfather died on Monday, and Tony and I went down for the funeral on Wednesday. While I’m sad to see him go, I think my whole family will attest that he’s in a much better place now. Alzheimers was giving him a lot of trouble there at the end, whereas now his mind is clear and he feels no pain and confusion. Grandpa loved to tell stories too, and I figure he’s thrilled to have a whole new heavenly audience that hasn’t heard any of his stories before (of if they have, they’ll enjoy them anyway, because it’s Heaven).

He was a husband, father to six kids, a Navy man, a veteran of both WWII and the Korean War, a captain of the volunteer fire department, grandfather, and great-grandfather. The memorial service was standing room only- that’s how loved he was.

To me, he was just Grandpa. He did a fantastic impression of Daffy Duck that I thought was the funniest thing ever. He had a trampoline in his back yard. He had tattoos on his arms. He had a model of a sailing ship with millions of lines and riggings and other tiny details that endlessly fascinated me. And when we came to visit, he’d grab us up and yell “Gimme some of that sugar!” while he peppered us with kisses and tickled us with his scratchy beard. When I eventually got taller than he was, he’d tell me to plant a kiss on the top of his bald head (which for some reason cracked him up every time).

So I’ll miss him, but I’m not worried because I’ll see him again. When my time comes, I have no doubt he’ll meet me at the Pearly Gates, wrap me in a big bear hug and yell, “Gimme some of that sugar!” And I will...right on top of his head, like always.

Bathroom Makeover Project

Ya'll remember how I decided to redo my hall bathroom from the sophisticated yet poopy brown to something lighter and less cave-like? Well, after a weekend of hard work, would you like to see the results?

Before picture: It's brown and gold and dark blue. Definitely in need of a makeover.
The first thing I did was go out and buy a gallon of Kilz to cover the brown. Only the brown wasn't going down without a fight, and even the Kilz was having trouble covering it evenly. The original plan was just to paint the walls a lighter color (blue of course, because why should this room be different than every other room of my house?) but the unevenness of the Kilz put the proverbial wrinkle in that plan.

Enter Plan B: Wallpaper. Now, at first I was worried that wallpapering the bathroom was "out", but a quick perusal of Southern Living Bathroom edition proved otherwise. So I drug Tony and I headed off to Lowes for some wallpaper. I was all set to look through dozens of sample books, but it turned out that the perfect paper was already in stock and waiting to be purchased. It's hard to tell in the pictures, but the wallpaper is textured like Venetian plaster, with white and cream/bone/almond coloring. Bright, but still works with my bone toilet and shower.

THEN I decided that floor to ceiling wallpaper might be boring, and that we needed a nice contrast color. I hemmed and hawed over paint samples for about an hour before deciding on a lovely shade entitled "Milky Way" by Valspar. Technically, it's a blue, but it's a dark blue with a bit of green, so it's not like any of the other blues in my house. Works for me. (Tony says it works for him too, but after being stuck in the paint department for an hour, I think he would have claimed to like anything).

THEN I decided that the gold fixtures that I had with the brown just weren't cutting it anymore, so I spray painted them silver again. (I know this sounds odd, but it actually works out rather well, and gives you some subtle yet neat swirl effects in the paint. Plus it's cheaper than buying all new towel bars and toilet paper holders).

The brown cabinet above the toilet was wrong, wrong, wrong with my new look, so I took it down and replaced it with two white smaller cabinets that we had in the attic. Much cleaner looking, with a more contemporary feel, don't you think?

Lastly, I painted the oak cabinet white. The wood was all tired looking, and needed to be restained or painted or something. And since the name of my new look was bright and clean, I went with white. Looks like a whole new cabinet, doesn't it?

We still need to switch out the old sink faucet for the new one that we picked up, and I want to add some kind of chair railing to delineate the wallpaper from the paint, (I'm thinking a nice row of decorative tile will do the trick) but even I wasn't in the mood to go back to Lowes for the 5th time in two days however, so that will probably wait until next weekend. All in all, however, it wasn't a bad little do-it-yourself project. Ya'll look for it on the cover of next year's HGTV Kitchens and Baths book.
Bright, beautiful, AND budget-friendly...
New faucet: $50
2 rolls of wallpaper: $14 each
Wallpapering equipment: $10
Quart of Valspar Milky Way: $7
Quart of white paint for cabinet: $7
Silver spraypaint: $3
Kilz: $14
Not having a bathroom that looks like a cave: priceless