Pretty in Purple

I decided to try the Wordless Wednesday over at 5 minutes for Mom.

These are some of my bea-u-ti-ful flowers that have decided to grace me with their presence this year! And you know that they had to be blue/purple, because everything in and around my house is that color! Try not to be too horribly jealous of my brilliant blue spring bouquet.

10 *Blogs* on Tuesday

One of my favorite blogs, Big Mama, has changed her address, and for about two weeks now, I've been meaning to go in and correct the address to her new blogsite. (Can we say procrastination anyone?) Then, as I was digging through all the messy HTML here on the sidebar, I realized that I added all these great new blogs to my bloglines after the Ultimate Blog Party but I never told anybody who they were. Very selfish of me, I know. So today's 10 on Tuesday is going to be a bit of a change. Instead of 10 of my random thoughts, I'm giving you 10 of my favorite blogline blogs so that you can read about their random thoughts. So as usual, here they are in no particular order:

Queen of Dirty Laundry

Fully Alive...Ready to Smile

Confessions of an Apron Queen

Adventures of the Reluctant Housewife

Monkey Barrel Musings

Skimbaco the Lifestyle

Fashion Paramedic

Bleeding Espresso

An Island Life

Muckboots N Aprons

I'll warn ya, they're a pretty diverse lot. We have blogs from Finland and Canada and Italy and Costa Rica and Hawaii. We have urban blogs and countryside blogs. We have Mommy blogs and non-mommy blogs. They are funny, serious, happy, sad, silly, wise, and wonderful. Each one brings something a little different to the table, and I would even go as far as to say that they all might just be a little quirky.

*Of course, this is just the tip of the bloggy iceberg, but I could only pick these because its 10 on Tuesday, not 546 on Tuesday. If you aren't on the list, don't worry, I didn't forget about you. I'm just selfishly keeping you all to myself for a little longer.

Five Things Meme

This one has been floating around the blogosphere (most recently from Pink Paper Peppermints), and since I can't say no to a list of lists, I decided to jump on board.

The Rules
1. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
2. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves a comment letting them know they've been tagged and to ask them to play along and to read your blog.

What I was doing 10 years ago - 1998

1. At this time 10 years ago, I was getting ready to graduate high school.
2. This would have been about the time of senior prom, so lots of drama there.
3. I would start UT in the fall, so I'd be worried about leaving all of my high school friends and meeting new people. More drama.
4. I would have to pack all my Earthly belongings into a car and head over to my new home, the dorm room.
5. It was a huge time of change (for the better) in my life, but frankly, just remembering all the drama is exhausting.

Five things on my to-do list today -

1. Put presentation together for Thursday's meeting with upper management.
2. Do regression analysis for thesis (I told myself that I was going to do it this weekend, but I'm a horrible procrastinator).
3. Plant the blackberry bush in the back yard.
4. Find out why stupid dental insurance that is supposed to be covering Tony is pretending that they've never heard of him before.
5. Schedule pickup time for Knox Area Rescue Ministries to pick up furniture that I am donating to make room for new hot tub.

Snacks I enjoy-

1. Mozzarella Cheese sticks
2. Brownies (is that a snack or a dessert? I'm going with snack...sounds less fattening that way).
3. Grapes- red seedless
4. Chex Mix (with Cheese-its! and pretzels! and lots of wheat chex because they're my favorite!)
5. Chips and queso (from Chili's!)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire -

1. Buy a summer home in Chicago for Tony so that he could go to all of his beloved Cubs games.
2. Buy a winter home on an island in the Caribbean for me
3. Provide grants for charities in need.
4. Get a maid and a cook and a massage therapist on hand at all times.
5. Restore old houses and warehouses into urban lofts

Five of my bad habits -
(what bad habits? I'm sure I don't know what you mean!)

1. Complete lack of self control when it comes to eating junk food
2. Sporadic exerciser at best (complete non-exerciser at worst!)
3. Procrastination (did you see the thesis paper, or lack thereof, above?)
4. Being a complete cheapskate a tightwad penny-pincher overly thrifty...sometimes, on occasion...if you count that as a bad thing.
5. Rarely bother to wear sunscreen

Five places I have lived -

1. Savannah GA
2. Atlanta GA
3. Suffolk VA
4. Smyrna TN
5. Knoxville TN

Five jobs I've had -

1. Dentist Office Manager/occasional holder of Mr Slurpy the spit sucker
2. UT Resident Assistant
3. Summer Conference Desk Worker
4. Import Agent (yes Seinfeld fans, I've actually worked in import/export...although I would have rather been an architect).
5. Project Manager

Five bloggers I tag -

1. Diverged
2. Rediscovery

3. Adventures of the Reluctant Housewife

4. Fully Alive...Ready to Smile

5. Life is a Marathon

The Race

On your mark...

Baby wave petunias peek through the soil...

The clematis starts its way up the trellis...

Get set...

The Rhodie gets ready to bloom.

Same for the weeping cherry tree


Daffodils go crazy!

Nothing says spring like tulips!


We hit 1000 people for the month! Woo hoo! As far as I can tell, the 1000th visitor hails from Fort Worth, Tx and showed up on March 26 at 10:16pm (although not sure if that's my time or Fort Worth time). We've come a long way from the first month, which had exactly 6 visitors (and 4 of them were me).

You Thought You Missed 10 On Tuesday, Didn't You?

I know it's Wednesday. I just thought I'd mix things up a little bit...keep you on your toes. Actually, I just got busy with something else and forgot to post yesterday. Mea Culpa. But better late than never right?

one- My in-laws are coming in this weekend! Actually, that's not a bad thing. I like my in-laws. I just have a lot to do before they get here. I'm kind of in the middle of about 6 projects, so practically every room of the house has half constructed, half painted, half completed parts scattered all over the place. I'd like to get those projects finished before they arrive on Friday, but I'm not sure it's going to happen. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

two- The house may be in disarray, but the garden is in its prime. I did a bulb check yesterday, and I'm pretty sure that all the tulips and the remaining 40 or so daffodils are on schedule to burst open with color right about the time that Tony's parents show. This is really the best time of the year for my flower beds, if I do say so myself. The grape hyacinths, scilla, crocus, and daffodils have been blooming strong all month, and in the last week the regular hyacinths have bloomed too. The moss flox is starting to flower right now, and the tulips should be opening by the end of the week. I'm very excited. Go flowers go!

three- Oh ya'll, I feel gross. Yesterday I ate everything I could get my hands on. I don't know what came over me! It was like I was possessed! Someone brought in chex mix with Cheese nips (soooo yummy!) and I ate that. Another person had a HUGE pile of Easter candy, so I ate that too. Then I got home and had a huge slice of Easter cake, a bag of beef jerky, a can of black eyed peas for dinner, a few handfuls of croutons, and more chex mix (sans Cheese Nips since I didn't have any). I was an eating machine! And no, before you even think it, I'm not pregnant. (Although it is that time of the hormonally unstable month, so maybe that explains it). Either that, or I have a tape worm. After the cramps, bloating, and sudden bouts of weeping though, I think I'd really prefer the worm.

four- A couple of people have asked about the Snore-No-More, and if it provided any snoring relief after I held it under Tony's nose while he slept. The answer is somewhat. I do think that it reduced the amount and intensity of the snoring, although it didn't completely eradicate it. Mom and Dad have had much more success with it that we have though, so I think it varies depending on the kind of snorer you are. I definitely recommend if you're looking for something to try. It can't hurt, and like I said, it did help us a little. Plus, I think it also helped with my sinuses at night. I didn't feel as congested and stuffy as I normally do. And the 100ml (supposed to be a year supply) was only $20, so it won't break the bank to try it out. The lid has a website (www.arraby' and a phone number (1-877-743-3744) if you want to give them a shout.

five- So apparently my brilliantly brilliant Easter basket cake idea was already done in last year's Parenting magazine. Hrmph. Of course, I don't read Parenting magazine, so I'm still claiming it as a personal creative victory.

six- Speaking of cake, the hormones-masquerading-as-tape-worm are clamoring for something else to eat. Shut up hormones!

seven- I got an email not too long ago from the BlogHer ads people (look to your right, see that ad there? That's them)- and it told me that they were doing a ton of new ads in the near future. And I got all excited, because so far I've only seen 3 PSAs and 2 ads for the BlogHer conference on here. Not that I dislike the PSAs and the BlogHer conference, but they've been on there for about a month, and I'm sure if you were going to click on them, you would have done so already. *Subliminal message: Click on the ads! Quirky gets money when you click on ads! So far she's only made about 60 cents for the whole on the ads!* Anyway, I'm told that new ads are coming, so if you're thinking about going to the BlogHer conference, or donating to the Humane Society, or whatever, you better hurry and do it now!

eight- I make it a point not to say anything specific about Ye Ol Company, but they've recently given me a project that uses my newly acquired MBA skills in an area that I'm interested in. I can't really say more than that, but I can say that I'm having a blast with the project, and if it works out, I'm hoping that in a couple more months, it will expand into a full-time position. Fingers crossed!

nine- I was reading an article on Slate yesterday about the slow death of the phone book. And really, I think it's time. At least have an opt out feature, because I never use the actual book for anything anymore...I can look it up a lot faster online. Save a tree- skip my house in the phone book handouts. Or better yet, let the students at Tufts University have it- they seem to have come up for a good use for phone books.

ten- Okay, I don't want to jinx anything, but we're getting reeeeeally close to hitting 1000 visitors for this month! I'm super excited. 1000 visitors may not be a big deal for those super blogs, but it's pretty major for little ol' me. I'd like to have one of those bells ringing and balloons falling from the ceiling and confetti flying everywhere deals for the 1000th visitor, but my html isn't that sophisticated. You'll just have to pretend. If the past few days have been any indication, we should hit 1000 sometime today or tomorrow. It could be you! Right now! Yaaaay!

The Dating Meme

So waaaay back on March 18th, Erin over at Fully Alive Ready to Smile tagged me for a meme, and I tried to do it, I really did, but it wanted five different answers for just about every question under the sun, and I just couldn't handle that kind of pressure. I went completely brain dead. So instead, I'm offering this substitute meme as a gesture of peace and goodwill, and because it only wants one answer per question.

Instead, I give you the Dating Meme.

1) What is one life lesson that you learned while dating?

Don't pity date. I learned this one in 9th grade. I was totally caught off guard one day when one of my guy friends "asked me out" (which at this age is basically like a title promotion with no pay get a "boyfriend" but you never see each other outside of school). Anyway, I didn't like like him, but I didn't want to hurt his feelings, so I said sure. Only it turns out that he didn't like like me either...he just decided that it would help his coolness rating if he had a girlfriend. He made a list of "acceptable candidates" and worked his way down the list until he found one dumb enough to say okay. So we "dated", except that absolutely nothing changed between us. As a matter of fact, I forgot that we were "going out" completely, until the day that he told me that he was breaking up, and I responded with "with who?" (In hindsight, I don't think he appreciated that. I think he had expected me to be more broken up about it. Oh well). Anyway, I learned absolutely nothing from that "relationship" except that I felt really stupid when I found out that I was just another name on his list and he was just using me to up his cool status, and I went along with it because I didn't want to hurt his feelings. Hence no more pity dating.

2) What was your best date ever?

I guess I better pick one with dear hubby, shouldn't I? :-) I'd say that our best date was after we were married for a few years, and wasn't really a "date" at all. I came home from work one night and Tony had made dinner and set the dining table (we never eat at the table) with our nice wedding china and goblets and everything. He even lit candles (although to be honest it was my Yankee Candles, so everything had a mixed smell of lemon meringue and Ocean Breezes, but still...) It was totally sweet and totally out of the blue, and a very romantic gesture when I didn't expect one at all. My snuggle bear is so good to me.

3) Worst date ever?

I guess it would have to be in college, and it wasn't that the date was all that's not like he was a prison escapee or abandoned me at a biker bar or was just that it was painfully obvious that we didn't click. (Have you ever thought you connected to someone while you were in a group setting, but when you actually went on a date one on one, you realized that you have absolutely nothing in common?) We went to a really bad student-written play at the University playhouse consisting of the main character rolling around in a shallow pool of water and wailing for an hour and a half, followed by an awkward dinner where the only thing he talked about was how cool his friend was. (Like, total friend hero worship here. I think he really wanted to be on a date with his friend instead of me...I know I did). Anyway, we toughed it out for a few hours, he gave me a horrible goodnight kiss that reminded me of kissing a dead fish, and we never went out again. Like I said, not that bad, and yet somehow still manages to trigger my gag reflex.

4) What's the longest time you ever dated someone?

Does marrying them count? Because even though we are married, we still go on dates. If that counts, then we've been dating about 7 years. If marriage doesn't count, then 2 years...I date everybody for two years. Apparently I was a marathon dater. Tony knew we were meant to be when he made it past the two year one previous to him had done so.

5) Breaking up is hard to do...What was your hardest breakup?

I'd say it was one that I had in college, and it was my fault that it was so hard because I was trying to remain friends with the guy, so we kept going to dinner and watching tv together and stuff. Which seemed like a great idea to me, but to him looked a whole lot like sending mixed signals. The poor guy didn't know what kind of relationship we had, so the uncomfortable stage lasted forever instead of being a clean break. Another lesson learned I guess.

6) Are you still friends with anyone you've ever dated?

No, but it's not like I hate them either. It's just that we are no longer in contact. (Exception: I was included on a mass mailing not too long ago from an ex who had just become an uncle. He had pictures of his new nephew, and I think he sent it out to everyone in his address book). Other than that, I'm not sure where any of the old boyfriends are or what they're doing. After we split, they went their way and I went mine. I think it's better that way really. (See the clean break lesson above). Not that I would mind if they looked me up and sent me a "How's life?" email, but I'm not looking to reconnect with anyone on any level.

There you go. Fascinating stuff I know. I'm tagging Erin back again since she seems to be on a meme theme (it rhymes!) and hasn't done this one yet, and the Seester because she changed boyfriends more often than underwear and has some really good stories, and anyone else who is looking for something to write about and needs an easy topic. Just try to keep it family friendly, and remember that what you put on the Internet stays there forever, so be careful naming names.

Easter Cake!

Happy Easter everybody! I wasn't going to post today because we're off spending Easter with my family, but the cake I made for Easter lunch was just too cute not to share (if I say so myself). It's Pillsbury Funfetti cake because in addition to being my favoritest instant cake mix EVER, I think the multi-colored sprinkles have a certain Easter-ish quality . Originally I was just going to toss it in a regular old 9x13 cake pan, but it turned out ours was dirty, and I was too lazy to wash it thought I could really be more creative anyway. So I put the cake in a bundt pan instead. Then I realized that if you don't flip the bundt cake upside down, then it looks kinda like an Easter basket. Hmmmm. (Well, okay, an Easter basket with a hole in the middle, but we'll get around that). As a matter of fact, if you just skim a little cake off the top with a knife, it gives you a nice flat cake top AND is the perfect amount of cake to cover over above-mentioned hole. Then ice with Funfetti icing, make a wicker basket look by dragging the prongs of a fork through the icing, and top with "grass" and Easter basket goodies. (I used green sprinkles for the grass. Ideally, you could do green food colored coconut shavings for more realistic basket grass, but I don't like coconut and it's my cake so neyh.) For the coup de grace, I finished by using a zip tie for a handle. Instant edible Easter basket cake, and all without having to wash the 9x13 pan!

Okay ya'll, I'm out again. Have a happy and blessed Easter!

Road Trip!

I took a road trip this weekend! Originally Tony and I were going to head over to Nashville to see the Hawks play the Predators, but first all the tickets were sold out, and then Tony got called in to work, so I just ended up heading to Nashville by myself to visit my long time buddy N and her most adorable (and my personal favorite) baby Eli.
I knew he wasn't going to remember me since I hadn't seen him in forever, and I'm pretty sure that his long-term memory isn't that developed yet, so the best I could hope for was anything other than terrified "stranger danger!" screaming. I was in luck. I got a momentary "Who the heck are you?" look, and then he laughed and grinned and we all settled down to play.
Who did you say that you were again?

Eli is a whopping 10 months old now, and is into everything! He can walk if he's holding onto his Mr. Hippo push cart, and he has 6 whole teeth, and he says "ma ma ma ma ma", and he has no less than three million toys, all of which sing to him, and flash blinking lights, and count to him in Spanish. (All the toys are bilingual toys now- Eli knows more Spanish than I do). I'm not sure where Nicole gets the energy to keep up with him day after day either. You have to be constantly vigilant about where he is and what he's doing, because if you blink for even a second (say, for example, the exact second that his mama went to the bathroom and left Aunt Quirky in charge) he's off and running crawling at roughly 95mph. I had to jog to catch him before he made it out of the living room and into the kitchen. N was really good about it though. I got to play with him and carry him around and give him his bedtime bottle and strap him into his car seat and everything, and not once did she act like she was concerned that I was going to break him.
Aunt Quirky (with no makeup and weird hair), playing with Eli and his pink cell phone while Kermit looks on in the background. Is it just me or does Kermit look really concerned about my baby handling abilities?

Not that it was all about Eli though. Nonononono. I swear I talked N's ear off for a full 24 hours. While I can keep up with some of the stuff she's into from her blog, it's just not the same as being able to sit down and really talk to someone. (Well, talk and go to Target and buy some shoes, and watch a movie, and play the Wii, and shop for skirts, and eat cookies for dinner). N is one of those friends that it doesn't matter how long it's been, we can just pick up again right where we left off, and it just rolls from there. Plus I'm now completely in awe of her, because somewhere along the way, she also turned into SuperMom.

N and Eli play on the floor. Notice how she looks fresh and nicely groomed, and I'm the one who looks like I haven't slept in a year! How'd she do that?!?

Anyway, it was a quick 24 hour visit, but it was totally worth it. I really enjoyed seeing N and getting to spend time with Eli. I had a blast with my old friend as well as with my new one.
And the drool wasn't even that bad.


So we're trying something new here in the House of Quirk. Remember when Mom and I went to the Home and Garden Show? Well, Mom picked up a jar of Arraby's Snore-No-More, and reported instant results with it. She brought the jar over last Sunday for me to try and see if it works on Tony too. He's not a bad bad snorer, but he has really narrow nasal passages, so if he's in any kind of position where his nose doesn't have 100% air access, things can get a little rumbly. So far I've been combating this by reaching over and pinching his nose closed while he sleeps. (This isn't as bad as it sounds). Eventually, he'll shift in his sleep to try to open up his airways again, and then I let go. That gives me some peace until he shifts back into a snoring position again. I was really looking forward to Snore-No-More so I wouldn't have to spend all night attempting to suffocate my dear hubby by cutting off his air supply.

The idea is that it works like aromatherapy, and the scent opens up the nasal passageways and stops the snoring. It's Marjoram oil with some other stuff thrown in, and it has a very distinct odor. Not a bad odor, but definitely noticeable. Kinda of like floor cleaner smell, with mint and a hint of citronella candle thrown in. It's strong, but then, that's kind of the point. Like I said, once you get over the strength of it, it doesn't smell bad. The instructions say that before going to bed, you should take 4-5 deep breaths of the stuff, and then leave it uncapped at your bedside while you sleep. Then just cap it again in the morning. I figured that it couldn't hurt, so we gave it a try.

I'd like to report that we immediately followed the scientific method and created the ideal environment for a series of experiments to see if Snore-no-more was really effective, but sadly, my lab rat test subject doesn't seem to want to cooperate. Tony, for some reason, seems to be in snoring denial. He's totally immune to the fact that he sounds like he's swallowed a whole fleet of 747 airplanes while he sleeps. He says any snoring I hear is because 1) I'm dreaming, 2) it's the cats, or 3) I must be hearing myself snore. (The fact that I'm awake while all this snoring is going on is completely inconsequential). Anyway, because he's just sure that the doesn't snore, he doesn't think we need Snore-no-more, and seems determined to thwart my experiment at every turn. The first night, Tony claimed objection to the smell and only pretended to breathe it in, all while executing exaggerated facial expressions and crinkling his nose. (The poor thing- I make him do so sniff a jar before going to bed so that I can have a little quiet at night while falling asleep).

Tony: There. I smelled it. Well, Goodnight. (Then he rolled over and not 10 seconds later, was snoring up a storm).
Me (reading in bed when the snoring starts, thus sparking this mental conversation with myself): Uh-oh. More snoring. Why didn't it work? I'll tell you why it didn't work- he didn't really breathe it in. He's so silly. Still, we have snoring going on, just as loud as ever. Wait a minute, didn't he just say goodnight about 10 seconds ago? He falls asleep fast, but that's really really fast, even for him. He must have been really tired. He must-
Tony (suddenly rolling over to glare at me suspiciously): Hey! I'm snoring here! How come you aren't saying anything about it?
Me: How did you know you were snoring if you were asleep?
Tony: Uh...I heard myself.
Me (growing suspicious): You heard yourself snoring while you were asleep?
Tony (looking sheepish): Maybe. The point is Snore-no-more doesn't work!
Me: Hang on. You're FAKE snoring in order to discredit Snore-No-More?
Tony (totally busted): Maybe.

You can see that we don't exactly have an unbiased tester here. Once he REALLY went to sleep, there was still a little snoring, but it was quieter and less annoying. So the results so far are that maybe it works, and maybe it doesn't, or maybe it would work if Tony actually inhaled deep breaths instead of only the shallowest breaths over the jar. (I swear, microscopic organisms take deeper breaths than Tony does). I'll keep you posted on any progress we me beating him in the head with the jar of Snore-No-More until he loses consciousness, and then putting it right under his nose until he breathes deeply. 'Cause we're all about the scientific method here.

One More Than Nine and The Day Before Wednesday

Welcome to today's 10 on Tuesday! Let's just jump right in, shall we?

One- As I was reading my bloglines of my favorite bloggers today, I noticed that one of them, Adventures of the Reluctant Housewife, mentioned me! How cool is that? It appears that she's stealing the 10 on Tuesday idea, which is fine with me since I totally ripped it off from Pink Paper Peppermints. And so the Interweb cycle of life continues. I'm such a trendsetter!

Two- I like to play a game with myself while my lunch cooking in the microwave each workday. I put my frozen meal in, key in the time, and then stand against the counter. Then I lean my upper body backwards slightly and use my stomach muscles to keep myself in place. I see if I can hold the position until the microwave dings. It's only for a couple of minutes, but I figure that if I work those pesky stomach muscles a little bit each day, then maybe they'll look good by swimsuit weather. No one can really tell that you're doing anything unusual because it just looks like you're leaned up against the counter. Try it.

Three- Well, this is the last week of the Cheerios experiment. I'm not sure that my results will count for anything though, since I have discovered that according to the official Cheerios challenge, you're supposed to eat a cup and a half of Cheerios, twice a day, along with exercise and a diet low in cholesterol, for six weeks. I've only been eating one cup of Cheerios once a day, and only on weekdays. If it works, then good for me, and if it doesn't, then no harm done. Besides, those study participants deserve to have their cholesterol lowered. I'm not sure I could stand eating 126 cups of Cheerios over a six week period. I'm pretty sick of them now as it is.

Four- I'm concerned that the new Horton Hears a Who movie will completely destroy the book. Has anyone seen it? I haven't seen it yet, but the commercials for it seem to take a whole lot of liberties with the plot. I'm a book purist, so movies based on books make me cringe anyway because Hollywood always feels the need to "spice things up". But Horton? C'mon guys, don't ruin Horton! He's a vital piece of my childhood! If you've seen the movie, let me know what you think. Is it good, or is Dr. Seuss rolling over in his grave? You gotta respect The Seuss.

Five- I'm happy to announce that I have finally jumped on the fashion bandwagon and purchased myself a pair of flats. (They've only been popular for what, a year and a half or so?) I read an article that said that you could wear flats instead of tennis shoes for the ultimate in shoe cuteness, and I thought, why not? Just slipping into a pair of flats will be faster than tying shoelaces anyway. (Always practical- that's me). So I hurried over to Target and found a lovely pair of little black ballet-like flats. They have all kinds of prints and patterns available, but I thought I'd start conservatively and see how often I wore them. (Although I really like these and these and these too.) I can always expand into leopard print later.
Six- Speaking of fashion, it just hit me that Easter is this weekend and I don't have an Easter dress. I guess I'm just going to dig through the closet for something that I already have, because I don't have any time to go shopping. Besides, with our crazy Tennessee weather, there's no telling if I will need a sleeveless sundress or a winter parka. So far, the extended forecast says it'll be 60 degrees, but it can turn on you at any moment. Fingers crossed for warm weather.

Seven- BigMama wrote a post a few days ago about her daughter Caroline deciding that it would be a good idea to color her own rear end with a purple permanent marker, resulting in some excess purple ink finding its way onto her nice white toilet seat. BigMama was wondering 1) what would possess someone to want to color their own derriere purple, and 2), how to get purple permanent marker off of a white toilet seat. After I finished laughing until I cried and then laughing some more, I had to admit that I could totally see where Caroline was coming from. While I have personally never considered coloring my rear purple, I must admit that I have in the past enjoyed drawing on myself. (Although I suggest washable markers, not permanent ones). I think it is the same thing that makes people want to get tattoos, or do henna drawings on themselves. Or maybe it's just that stomachs and arms and legs make such fun canvases. Anyway, the great thing about washable markers is that you can color all over yourself and then just step in the shower and have it wash away. I highly suggest it as your next rainy day activity.

Eight- Oh ya'll, I just realized that the due date for my thesis is only four weeks away. That's super scary, because four weeks is not much time at all, especially since I've been slacking lately waiting for inspiration to hit. I have a lot left to do on it, and I'm not looking forward to it. I used to think my topic was mildly interesting, but now it bores even me to death. I pity the poor professors who will have to read it (and listen to my presentation on it, and grade it). I won't be sad to see the end of it at all.

Nine- So here's a freaky little sibling mind warp thing: Yesterday I posted the Irish toast in honor of Saint Patrick's day, and unbeknownst to me, the Seester ALSO posted the SAME Irish toast to her blog AT THE SAME TIME! What are the chances of that? Out of millions of things to write about on Saint Patrick's day, we both picked Irish toasts. And out of millions of Irish toasts (and there are a lot of them because those Irish, they love to toast), we picked the same one! Spooky huh?

Ten- I'm going to visit an old buddy this weekend! Since I'm off for Good Friday, I'm taking a short road trip over to see Eli and his Mama from Rediscovery. We've known each other since the 6th grade, and she was my college roommate for a semester for my freshman year, and even through we haven't seen each other in forever, she's one of those friends where you can just instantly pick back up with no matter how long it's been. I'm very excited. I also haven't really seen the town that I grew up in since I left for college, (10 years ago!) so it'll be interesting to see what all has changed around there. And okay, I admit that I'm kinda excited about seeing Eli again too, even though his mama tried to totally scare me off with this post about how drooly he is. (Mental note: bring lots of towels).

So that's that. Random? Yes. Helpful? Probably not. Entertaining? I hope so. The point is, it's Tuesday, and there's ten of them, so it counts as a...10 on Tuesday!

Get Your Green On

In honor of the good Saint Paddy, I present to you this Irish toast:

“May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.”

Ya'll Come Back Now, Ya Hear?!

Well, I guess the giant blog party is officially over today. Now all that's left is to take down the streamers and sweep up the cake crumbs. It was fun while it lasted. I'm exhausted from all the blog hopping, but on the other hand, I "met" some really great bloggers that I can't wait to go back and read. My Bloglines is bursting at the seams from all the new blogs that I've added over the last week. (If you don't have Bloglines, I highly recommend it. It's like one stop shopping for all your blog reading needs. It's really easy. Just sign up for free, tell it what blogs would like it to keep up with in your blog feed, and presto! you can see who has posted recently and read them all from one place! Of course, Quirky is a Compliment would need to be the first one on your list, right? Right.) I was only able to make it through 150 blogs out of the total 1500 (give or take a few), so I know that I missed a ton of great blogs. I'm still working my through all the partiers who left me a comment though, so if you came by to say hello, don't worry, I'll still be by to visit you...eventually. The list of prize winners will be announced on Monday...I put about 20 prizes on my wish list (hey, might as well be thorough!), so here's hoping I'll get picked for something. *Fingers crossed!*

I already can't wait until next year's bash!

Project: Cat Tree

As promised, here's the step-by-step for the world's easiest cat tree!

My cat Mason loves to climb on EVERYTHING! He likes to be as high as possible, especially out on the screened-in porch, where height gives him a definite bird stalking watching advantage. Since he and his brother Dixon are turning 5 this month, I thought that a cat tree would make a perfect gift. If you've ever looked at the cat trees available in the store however, you'll quickly discover that a) they're really really expensive, 2) they aren't that attractive, and 3) the taller they get, the bigger the base has to be, thus more floor space gets consumed. I take issue with this because 1) I'm cheap economical, 2) who wants a shag carpet-covered mound in their house?, and 3) I have limited floor space on the porch. So what's a cat mommy to do? Just make my own, of course!

What you'll need:
1/2" thick Plywood for base*
pvc pipe or metal pole- 3" interior diameter
pvc end cap
shelf brackets
1/2" thick plywood for shelves and top platform
fabric of your choice
Velcro strips
1" hole drill bit
carpet scraps
non-slip shelf foam (optional)
3-Styrofoam disks
shower curtain tension rod
wood glue

*I started with this existing scratching post base that the boys ate the top off of (they have a real thing for feathers), thus leaving a perfectly good scratching post behind. If you don't have a scratching post already laying around, don't worry. Just attach a plywood base to your pole. For reference, the base on this one is 9" x 12", so it gets bonus points for having a small footprint.

The first thing I did was to measure the height from floor to ceiling where the cat tree would go. Since I didn't want a large base, the tension pole needed to be able to reach the ceiling in order to stabilize the tree. They sell tension shower rods at wal-mart in various sizes. Hint: If the largest size doesn't reach the ceiling, you can raise the "ground" level by putting a wood block inside your pvc pipe for the bottom of the rod to rest on.

This next part keeps the tension rod centered inside the pvc pipe. I cut the Styrofoam disks (3 for a dollar at the dollar store!) to fit the inside pvc pipe snugly. Next, I drilled a hole in the center of each disk using the 1" drill bit. (Mmmm! Styrofoam doughnuts!) Then I removed the cap from the end of the tension rod and slid the foam disks down the pole to be positioned at the bottom third, middle, and top third of the tension rod. Replace the rod cap.

Next I slid the pvc pipe over the tension rod/Styrofoam doughnuts. (I recommend that the pvc pipe be no higher than you can reach...This is for easy assembly and so that you can get your cat off the top shelf in case he's *surprise surprise* not listening to you when you want him to come down). I wrapped the pole with carpet scraps (left over from when I redid the carpet out on the screened-in porch) and plenty of rope for scratching. I secured both to the pvc pipe with glue. Then I attached the pvc pipe to the existing scratching post (or a base board if you don't have a have one) with more glue and let dry.

After that it was power tool time! I cut up some scrap plywood to make into 5 shelves that are 9"x12" each. I attached a shelf bracket to each shelf with screws. Next I cut more plywood into a 12"x12" board for the top platform. Since the tension rod goes through the middle of the platform, I drilled a 1" hole in the middle of the top platform and the middle of the pvc end cap. I lined up the holes and secured them together with screws.

To soften the wood shelves and make the tree a little more decorative, I took this lovely striped fabric ($1 per yard in the Wal-mart clearance bin!) and covered the shelves and platform. (In addition to matching the porch decor perfectly, I think green and blue stripes says classy but playful at the same time. Don't you agree?) And because the tree would be a) outside, and b) instantly covered with 500 tons of cat hair, I also wanted them to be removable so that I could take them off and wash them occasionally. Note: My sewing skills basically peaked in 7th grade Home Economics, when we sewed pillows. Therefore, all my sewing projects are some variation of the pillow case. No exception here. These material covers are basically little pillow cases that Velcro closed on either side of the shelf bracket. Same deal with the platform, only don't forget to cut a little hole in the middle of the cover for the rod to go through.
I was a little worried that the material might slide a little bit on the board if say, a certain kitty cat was to launch himself off of it while going 95mph in the heat of a cat fit, so I took some of that no-slip foam shelf paper stuff ($1 at the Dollar Store) and stapled it to the shelves and platform before putting their pillow cases on. It cushions it a little bit, and it keeps it from sliding.

The last step was just to attach my shelves to the pvc pipe. I started at the top under the platform and screwed the shelf brackets into the pvc, dropping 11" below the one above it and staggering them around the pole (side, middle, side) in a stair step pattern. My cat tree is in the corner, so my shelves just go back and forth on the front of the tree, but if you have yours in the middle of the room, you could conceivably have the shelves wind all the way around like a spiral staircase. (Photo note: Don't worry, the cat tree isn't really's just my lousy photography).

And that's it! Tighten the tension rod until it is secure against the ceiling and let kitty go crazy! Your cat tree should be nice and study without having to take up valuable floor space, and without having to look like the cat has taken over your decorating scheme. And then won't you be the cat's meow!

Mason tries out the new cat tree. He thinks it is purrr-fect!

Diez on whatever Tuesday is in Spanish

Guess what day it is- That's right, it's Tuesday! And for my established readers (all three of you), you know that that means it's 10 on Tuesday time! Oh stop groaning- they aren't that bad. You'll scare the new readers reader that I managed to lure over here from the blog party. Anyway, every Tuesday, I list 10 random little things that I pull out of my...I mean, off the top of my head. These little things would never be substantial enough to become a post on their own, but but with their powers combined they easy post to write! (You thought I was going to say Captain Planet, didn't you?) Okay, here we go:

One: Like any good post, we'll start with chocolate candy- specifically little balls of goodness called Sixlets. Anybody remember those? I had a dream about them over the weekend. Tony said that they didn't make them anymore, but when we were in the dollar store buying beef jerky yesterday, there they were! I bought a bag just for fun, and have been enjoying their dark chocolaty goodness in the little candy shell ever since.

Two: You know what? That whole sentence about buying beef jerky in the dollar store makes us sound like total rednecks, doesn't it? The truth is that a few years ago, I wouldn't have given a dollar store a passing thought. I mean, if it was only a dollar, it had to be junk, right? Not anymore. I wandered in there by accident about six months ago, and I was really shocked at all the name brand, quality stuff in there. I mean, I had just purchased shampoo at wal-mart the day before for $3-4, and here was the EXACT same shampoo for a $1! (Which made me really mad at Wal-mart for scalping me like that...low low prices my rear end!) Anyway, we don't do a ton of shopping in the Dollar Store, but we do swing by there for some specific things, such as beef jerky, which is really quite tasty, and the $1 bag would cost me $4 at Wal-mart. Tony also buys Dad's Root beer there, which is apparently something that he drank as a kid, and was excited to find again since it isn't sold anywhere else.

Three: As much as I hate hate HATE having to get up an hour earlier on this whole Daylight's Savings Time thing, I must admit that I do enjoy having an extra hour of light when I get off work in the afternoons. Plus, the weather is supposed to be sunny and mid-60s the whole rest of the week, which is soooo nice. Hooray for spring!

Four: In fact, I'm taking one of my sacred vacation days tomorrow to spend the whole day playing in the yard. I'm going to start by picking up a truckload of mulch and mulching the new flower bed that I made, and then I'm going continue project Stepping Stone, and then I'm going put down some grass fertilizer, and then I'm going to make an arbor for my grape vine. Or as much of that as possible anyway. We'll see how it goes.

Five: Speaking of my little grape vine, I'm eating the best grapes right now! (I just thought you guys should know). I really wanted some chocolate after talking about the Sixlets, but in an effort to eat better, I reached for the grapes instead. I brought a fruit basket to work a few weeks ago and set it on my desk right where I could see it. I keep a couple of apples, my bananas for my Cheerios, and a bunch or two of red seedless grapes. Anyway, these grapes are fabulous! And huge! They're like, the size of small plums, and so sweet and juicy! I hope my grape vine that I'm planting will end up with fruit this good. (Probably not, since these grapes came from Chile, but I can dream...and eat these grapes in the mean time).

Six: Speaking of Chile, according to my Spanish word of the day email from, today's word is mediado, which means halfway through...which is fitting because we're now over halfway through the 10 for Tuesday. See? 10 on Tuesdays are both fun AND educational!

Seven: For those of you who care, I'm starting the regression analysis on my thesis now. My hope is that one of my six independent variables (x) will prove to be statistically significant in influencing my dependent variable (y), which is namely, forecasting variations between initial forecasts and actual shipping volume over a period of eight months. I'd like to have at least 3 variables that influence forecast accuracy, but after a precursory look at the scatter plots, I'm not so sure that will happen. Hey! Hey! Wake up! You're drooling on your keyboard...

Eight: Remember the 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets that I picked up at the home show? Well, I picked up another set this past weekend. (I also picked up two sets for you Stepher). I guess the word is out on these sheets now, because it was an absolute madhouse around the booth! I had to karate-chop two old ladies and full body tackle a third in order to get the king size. It was worth it though if my sweetie-pie can sleep his way through satiny soft goodness.

Nine: Well, the cat tree has been a huge success, except for one tiny flaw. It seems that Mason can climb up the cat tree, but hasn't quite mastered climbing back down the cat tree. If he's low enough, he'll jump from the cat tree down to my bench. If he's not low enough, he'll just sit on the cat tree and yell until Tony or myself rescues him. Dixon has so far decided to keep all four kitty paws planted on terra firma. I keep meaning to post the cat tree step-by-step guide, but I have to upload the pictures first. Next post, I promise!

Ten: Looking back over the post, it occurs to me that some of you may not be familiar with Captain Planet, (and thus missing my witty witty joke up there at the beginning). Captain Planet and the Planeteers was an extremely cheesy cartoon that ran in the early 90s, when I was roughly 10 years old. It had a fascinating little theme song that went "Captain Planet! He's our hero! Gonna bring pollution down to zero!" He was a blue-skinned superhero with a green mullet, and he ran around with 5 suspiciously diverse children who each had a ring that represented an earth element- Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, and Heart. Whenever the kids came across the polluting super-villains (who enjoyed dumping toxic sludge into the river just for fun), they would point their rings together to summon Captain Planet, who would, with much seizure-inducing light flashes, appear and yell, "By your powers combined...I AM CAPTAIN PLANET!" Then he would use his numerous super-powers to beat up the polluting super-villains and teach an important lesson about how to recycle. Unfortunately, this kind of exposure explains a whole lot about who I am today.

Okay all you Interpeeps, we've learned about Captain Planet, my thesis topic, the Spanish word of the day, and that Sixlets still exist at the Dollar Store. I suppose that'll just about wrap things up for today! If you're here from the blog party, welcome and nice to meetcha'. If you leave a comment, I'll look you up and return the favor. For the non-party readers, show the newbies how the comment thing works here on Quirky.


Random Quirky thought of the day:
It's after lunch here, and as I work my way through my post Healthy Choice Pepperoni Pizza routine, I can't help but wonder: What's the deal with dental floss? Why, with all of the technology that we have available today, do I still have to jam both hands into my mouth with the goal of getting tiny pieces of string stuck between my teeth? I mean, I'm pretty sure that there are caveman drawings of some poor guy threading pre-historic rope around his gums. Why hasn't floss been updated? Am I the only one who despises cutting off vital finger circulation with roughly 200 feet of floss wrapped around my thumbs (and it slips anyway!) Am I the only one who can't get my hand back into my mouth far enough to get that last molar? Am I the only one who gets the piece of floss finally jammed down between my teeth and then can't get it back out again? (I have a very crowded lower jaw. It can't be helped). Why don't we have lasers or pepperoni-zapping light beams or tiny teeth cleaning robots yet? Sure, they did invent mint-flavored floss, and I appreciate that. And I do like those little picks that have floss stretched between them so that you can hold them easier, but that still requires at least one hand in my mouth. So where's that good old American ingenuity? Put those R&D labs to work Oral B! I need an automatic self-cleaning flosser that doesn't require me to open my mouth beyond human limitations, or tie up either hand. And it'd be nice if it played mp3s or converted into a flip-phone.

Just something to think about.

UBP update- It's day 4 of reading through all the blogs on the Ultimate Blog Party. At this point, there are more than 1000 blogs listed, so there's no way I'm going to make it through all of them. I'm both still excited about some of the great blogs I've found and tired of looking at them at the same time. I'm made it through blog 125 so far, and I'm leaving comments on every blog I look at, because deep down, we're all comment junkies right? And they're real comments about what that person talked about...not just a cut and paste "Come to my site!" comment.

Blogs Blogs Everywhere!

If you have not been over to the Blog Party yet, I highly recommend it. The last time I checked, there were 800 blogs listed on Mr. Linky. That's HUGE! That's like, the size of my entire high school! Or the number of miles from here to Dallas. Or the number of times that I've said, "Okay, just one bite of cake".

I'm busily working my way though them all. I have a system. I started at number 51 (that's me!) and so far I've worked my way down the list to number 100. At this rate, I should be through all the blogs on the list by the year 2027. The good news is, I'm finding a lot of new blogs to read. If I find a blog that sounds interesting, I jot it down so that I can come back to it later. (So far I think I've jotted down about 48 names). There are some really fantastic blogs out there! It almost makes it worth staying at until 2am trying to get on the party list Thursday night.

I've also noticed that there are A LOT of Mommy bloggers out there. A lot seem to have two kids, A LOT seem to homeschool, and A LOT seem to be good Christian women who love the Lord. Rock on, Mommy bloggers! Of the non-mommy variety, I've found exactly...two. (We are a small but dedicated group). Oh well. Kids, no kids, it doesn't matter to me. I'll gladly read about your kid flushing your keys down the toilet as long as it isn't happening to me.

In other news, I spent a couple of hours today putting the finishing touches on the cat tree for Mason and Dixon's birthday. I've taken a lot of pictures through the entire process so I can show it to you step-by-step. You'll be so impressed with how easy it is that you'll be making them for all the cats in the neighborhood.

For now, I'm back to reading blogs. I'll be happy reading blogs until my eyes fall out of my head...Good thing there are no kids around to flush them.

Doin' The Robot Dance

It's time for the Ultimate Blog Party!

Welcome to Quirky is a Compliment, blog partiers! (Yes, I'm the one doing the robot dance over in the corner). Feel free to let your inner-quirk run amok here...Heaven knows that I do. As a matter of fact, that where the title came very own mother described me as Quirky one day, and while I was trying to decide whether or not to be insulted, she went on to explain that she meant the unique things that each of us bring to the table, and that I should take it as a compliment. So I do, and here I am.

Currently I'm 27, married, no kids, 2 cats (Hey! They count!), working full time and getting my MBA at night. I live in beautiful Knoxville TN, in the heart of the Smokies. (If you want to know more random stuff about me, see the 100 things link. If you want to know more about life in Tennessee, see Tennessee Living).

The blog is a bit of a mixed bag- a few stories, a few DIY projects, a few daily accounts, a few funny things, a few serious things, even a recipe or two. For example, yesterday I recounted a light-hearted story about my evil childhood school bus driver. The day before that, I was attempting to convince my husband that we absolutely needed a hot tub (anybody out there have one? Do you like it?). Last weekend I worked on a DIY custom cat tree/scratching post project. Before that, I was doing the funky chicken dance in the middle of my office because I found out that I got an A on my Marketing Strategy paper. You get the idea. You never know what you're going to get, but chances are it will be quirky.

But enough about me. Tell me about you. I'm a bit of a blog addict, and am looking for some new blogs to add to my daily reading collection. Leave a comment with your blog address and I'll come check you out.

Anyway, thanks for coming to the blog party! You want some punch or something? I'm parched from doing the Robot all day.

Oh, and just in case I get picked for a fabulous prize, here's my wish list:
70 — Chocolate Provided by: The Chocolistas
117 — $25 Gift Certificate Target Provided by: Mommy Bytes
147 — Triple Metal Earrings
102 — Fortune Cookie KitProvided by: Jane
91 — Burt’s Bees Naturally Ageless skin care lineProvided by: Geggie
58 — Customized 6 Week Fitness PlanProvided By: Cindy Posey, Go Workout Mom
21 — Foot RevitalizerProvided by: ORNA
60 — $25 Gift Certificate AmazonProvided by: Judy
88 — Ethan Allen’s Style BookProvided by: Southern Hospitality
90 — Fused Glass PendantProvided by: Lucky Girl Trading Co.
79 — Skin Care KitProvided by: Hick Chicks Soap Barn

I also wouldn't mind winning : 123, 94, 59, 55, 53, 67, 46, 45, 39, 24, 129, 140 and 152.

The Wheels On The Bus

I passed a school bus on the way into work today, and it reminded me of all the times that I rode the bus to and from school. With the exception of a couple of years of middle school, I was a latch key kid for most of my school-aged existence. (That used to be the norm. People nowadays think that letting your kid come home to an empty house is a horrible, horrible thing. That's not the problem. I didn't mind being the first one home..the problem was how I had to get home in the first place).

Let me tell you about school busses, just in case your memory has gotten fuzzy. They smell bad. They pick up at the crack of dawn in the mornings. The other kids are loud. The bus driver is insane. Your legs stick to the vinyl seat in the summer time. They'll leave you if you're even an nanosecond late to your stop. Your window is always stuck in a position that you don't want. There is no air conditioning. And did I mention that the bus driver is insane?

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure there are some very nice bus drivers...those are the ones that have only been on the job for about 15 minutes. Driving a school bus is one of those occupations that will slowly yet inevitably drive even the most centered and serene person absolutely bonkers. The longer they've been driving, the crazier they become. You can tell exactly how long a bus driver had been at it by the severity of the eye twitch and the degree of paranoid mumbling. It's an art really.

Take for example, Mr. Ronald. Mr. Ronald had the honor of terrorizing me when I was about 12 or so. He looked to be about 200 years old, but I'm sure some of that was due to the premature aging caused by spending his days with 50 or so 12 year olds. That man hated kids. I have no idea what possessed him to become a bus driver. He would spend the entire ride picking his nose and glaring at us in the giant mirror that hangs in front of the driver. Then, if you looked like you even thought about talking too loud, or turning around in your seat, or sneaking one single Goldfish cracker out of your lunch box, he'd call you up to the front of the bus where he would spend several minutes yelling and shaking the nose-picking finger at you. You never knew what was going to fly off the end of that finger. Repeat offenders took to wearing rain coats.

Worse than that is why the state allowed this guy behind the wheel of a school bus, since he was obviously blind as a...well, a blind guy. Mr. Ronald had a bad habit of taking corners a little too sharply. Have you ever driven through your neighborhood and seen street signs ripped out of the ground? You no doubt shook your head and muttered something about hooligans. Oh, but it wasn't the hooligans! It was Mr. Ronald! (The hooligans were cowering in the back of the bus screaming "Watch out!"). Mr. Ronald would take the turn so that inevitably, the road signs would catch on the open windows of the bus, rip out of the ground, and drag about 15 feet before falling off. You'd be innocently riding along with your head leaned up against the glass, trying to catch a few more minutes of early morning shut-eye before school when BAM! a stop sign slams up against the window and "Washington Road" catches on the frame just inches from your face. I'm serious! Mr. Ronald had the only bus in the county where the kids fought over who HAD to sit by the window. Eventually we worked out a system where some kid in the front would yell "Sign!" at every intersection, and the rest of us would duck and cover.

As blind as Mr. Ronald was to street signage, he had eyes like laser sights when it came to squirrels. The only thing that Mr. Ronald hated more than little kids was a squirrel. As our bus route would meander through the tree-lines streets, Mr. Ronald would amuse himself by keeping a sharp watch for any squirrels stupid enough to even think about racing across the street. I think, in all honesty, that the opportunity to hit squirrels is why he became a bus driver in the first place. As soon as one furry squirrel toe touched the asphalt, Mr. Ronald would jerk the wheel, swerve across two lanes of traffic and flatten the unsuspecting creature. Squirrels that were technically still on the sidewalk were fair game also. I figure Mr. Ronald and his yellow squirrel-squishing machine were responsible for cutting the Tennessee gray squirrel population in half.

Mr. Ronald drove my bus for two years before retiring, or finding other ways to torture little kids, or being chased out of town by Squirrel Lovers of America...I really don't know. One year he was there, and the next year we had a new driver. Looking back, it's funny how a guy who seemed so monumental as a kid turned out to be just a blip in my overall childhood. I guess that's the thing about growing up- the wheels of life, much like the wheels on the bus, DO go round and round.

The squirrels learned that the hard way.

*Disclaimer: My observations about school bus drivers stems directly from my experiences with Mr. Ronald (which may or may not be his real name- I actually can't remember). I'm sure other bus drivers are perfectly lovely. Please don't send me hate mail because you and/or a loved one happens to drive a school bus.

Blog Party

So hopefully by now you've noticed the Ultimate Blog Party button over there on the Sidebar O' Fun, but in case you're not one of those detail-oriented people, let me bring it to your attention. Look over there...yeah, to your right...down a little...little more...yeah, right there. You see the button that looks like this?

Ultimate Blog Party 2008

That's your official invitation to the Ultimate Blog Party 2008 hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom! Everybody who's anybody is going to be there, and while normally I'm an anti-social hermit who doesn't "do" parties, I'm willing to make an exception when it's a blog party. The party starts on Friday and runs all week, and there were over 1000 participating bloggers last year! And it has prizes! Just for showing up! How cool is that?

Of course, I can't just go by myself, so if you're a fellow blog buddy, or even a faithful reader looking to expand your bloggy horizons, then you absolutely HAVE to come with me. I need a wingman here! Me and my blog homies will be there REPRESENTIN' yo!

So put your dancin' shoes on and busta groove- Blog Party 08 starts Friday!

10 on Tuesday aka Stuff That Isn't Important Enough To Get Its Own Post But I'll Tell You About Anyway

You know, I'm really starting to like doing these 10 on Tuesdays. I think I'm getting the hang of it. At least they're getting shorter anyway. Here we go:

One- It's friends of the library week for all you K-town locals. It's at the conference center in case all you bibliophiles are looking for another fix.

Two- The weather has just been fabulous lately! 60 and even 70 degree highs for the past three or four days! I love it! Of course, it'll snow tonight. That's just east Tennessee weather for you though. If you don't like it, wait 15 minutes and it will change again. No word on what to do if you DO like it and want it to stay warm and sunny though.

Three- Speaking of warm weather, I have decided to celebrate the coming of spring with a new smell. Normally, I'm not really a smeller smelly person who likes scents. Anyway, it all started when someone at Ye Ol Company brought in some foaming hand soap that smelled like coconut. I didn't notice it at first because I was lamenting what the humidity outside had done to my hair (Why didn't someone tell me I was sporting the Don King look?!) but then after I washed my hands, I couldn't help but be reminded of warm tropical air and sunscreen and ocean breezes. And I thought, "This is nice. I like this smell...I should smell like this more often." So I went out and purchased coconut shampoo and conditioner, and coconut and cucumber hand lotion. It's my way of ushering in the warm breezes of spring...even if my coworkers wonder why I keep sniffing my hands like that.

Four- Mason and Dixon turn five years old on March 19th, so I'm busy making them a homemade cat tree for a present. I know Mason will really love it, since he likes to climb on things, but I think that the scratching post part will make Dixon happy also. I don't normally make cat birthday presents, but this is really easy to do, and its a major birthday milestone, so why not? I'll post pictures of it when I'm finished because really, everybody could do it. Have a cat? You need one of these.

Five- I almost have Tony convinced about the hot tub. At first, he was like, "what? We don't need a hot tub!" but then I started telling him about how we could get a little portable one, and it doesn't require any special electrical wiring because it just plugs in to your average outlet, and RecWarehouse just happens to be having a scratch and dent sale on their hot tubs right now, and really, what's a little scratch/dent? The next step is to actually go visit some showrooms in person, where Tony will inevitably want to buy the first one he sees if that means that he can avoid going to 50 other stores to "comparison shop". Unfortunately, we'll have to get rid of some existing junk clutter possessions in order to make room for the new hot tub. Obviously it's garage sale time.

Six- In addition to adding a hopefully soon-to-be hot tub, I've also decided to redo the basement workroom. Right now it's a big space that we don't really use very much. Sure, the washer and dryer are down there, and I have a couple of workbenches and desks to do my crafty stuff on, but I really want to make it a space that people want to hang out in. Maybe like a den. I'm going to start by repainting it. I have a purse-full of paint chips that I snatched from my last trip to Lowes. I'd really like a bluesy-green feel down there...kind of like a sea green with an Asian flair. Tropical, but not seashells and starfish kind of tropical. Maybe more like Zen tropical. We'll see. Pictures of that too when it's finished.

Seven- The Seester's school parody is today. She's directing it this year, and it sounds like it's going to be quite the show. Mom and Dad flew up to see it, but alas, I must miss it. Go check it out if you're in the Boston area. And tell her Quirky sent you.

Eight- I've decided to put the Lady Joy statue outside. I've taken the required security precautions by putting up my new fence and lock, and now this is my way of thumbing my nose at the birdhouse snatchers. In the paraphrased words of Braveheart, You can take away my birdhouse, but you'll never take away my freedom (to put out lawn ornaments, that is)!

Nine- Speaking of the backyard and fences and such, Home Depot has some bamboo screens that I really like. At first I just purchased one to make it harder for nefarious trespassers to get over my chain link fence in the back, but now I've decided that I really like the way it looks, so I'm going to get some more. Plus, it makes a nice backdrop for my plants, which is an unexpected benefit of having your birdhouse stolen. Go figure. Every cloud stolen birdhouse has a silver bamboo lining.

Ten- Tony loooooves the new sheets that I picked up at the Home and Garden show. I do believe that 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets has spoiled the boy. Last night he kept mumbling in his sleep about how soft the sheets were! There's another home show this weekend at the Expo center. I think I'm going to drop by and see if the sheet venders are there. If they are, I'll grab another set or two because at this point, I don't think Tony will tolerate our old sheets anymore (he's addicted to the life of luxury now). And yes Stepher, they are the extra deep pocket ones that can accommodate your pillow top, so let me know if you want me to pick up a set for you too. Only $20 plus a nominal shipping and handling fee!

Hmmm. Looking back over the list, I see we have a lot of craftsy/home decorating stuff going on, both indoors and out. It must be the warm weather. It makes me feel very industrious, which is a good thing because I must admit that I've spent most of the winter sitting on my keister in front of the tv. No matter, all this new stuff will give me plenty of things to share with all four the multitudes of loyal readers. Feel free to share back.

Good Fences...

Today I built a bigger fence. Our existing chain link fence now sports a privacy fence gate.

And a lock and chain.

This doesn't stop someone from just going to the back of the house and jumping the fence there, but at least they can't waltz right in anymore.

I hope.

The Birdhouse

Someone stole my birdhouse.

I have a row of 7 birdhouses hanging on my fence in the backyard, and while I was out in the backyard enjoying the fabulous weather, and I noticed that my ladybug birdhouse was missing. We had some pretty strong storms this past week, so I figured that it just blew off the fence. (This birdhouse was really too big and too heavy to blow off the fence, but it was the only explanation I could think of). I looked all over the yard. I looked under the porch. I looked in the neighbor's yard in the off chance that it somehow flew backwards over the fence and into the neighboring yard. No birdhouse. At first I was just puzzled. I thought maybe I had put it in the garage and just forgotten, but there's no reason why I would have done that, and it wasn't in the garage anyway. I asked Tony if he'd seen it. I even called my mom to see if she had taken it and just forgotten to tell me. Anything to avoid the truth that someone had come into my yard, past my house, through the gate of my fenced-in yard, and taken my birdhouse off of the fence where it was hanging. Why would someone do that? Why would someone take what was obviously a favorite ornament out of someone's yard? In a backyard! A fenced backyard! It shocks me and flabbergasts me and...hurts me that someone would have so little regard for someone else's property. I feel like someone broke into my house.

I have to admit, I cried. Not for the birdhouse, although it was a Christmas gift from Tony's family, and one of my favorite ones. More because someone so callously invaded my sanctuary and took something with no regard to how I would feel. I spent time and energy and money finding just the perfect things to go in my yard. I enjoy sitting on the porch and looking at how everything goes together. Each little thing has a story behind it, and each thing means something to me. It breaks my heart.

I'm also hurt to think that the thief could be one of my neighbors. We've lived here for two and a half years, and I just can't image that one of my neighbors took something just because...I don't know why. I want to think that it's a stranger...some random roving birdhouse thief that doesn't live around me. But we live up a really steep hill on a private cul-de-sac on a dead-end road. No one comes up here without a reason. And no professional thief takes just a birdhouse. Tony tells me that it was probably a kid. Some kid whose Mom likes ladybugs, so he took it and gave it to her for her birthday or something. Some little kid who doesn't know that stealing is wrong and just wanted to make his Mom happy. I like that story better because at least that way it was taken for a reason, not just out of meanness or to hurt me.

I'm not sure what to do now. I purchased a statue for my flowerbed last week. It's called the Lady Joy, and I had been eyeing her for a while because she's not exactly cheap. But I really really liked her, and she's just perfect for what I had in mind, so I bought her as a present to myself. She's been in the living room for the past week while I finished the flowerbed where she's going to sit. Now the bed is finished, but I can't put her out there. What if the birdhouse thief decides he wants something else? One of my wind chimes, or the Lady Joy, or my gas grill? What's to stop this stranger from coming back and picking through my things like a smorgasbord of free trinkets? I could put all my stuff in the garage, but I didn't buy everything to sit in a pile in the garage...I bought it so that I could set it out and enjoy it.

Anyway. I guess in the scheme of things, a stolen birdhouse isn't all that much to get upset about, but it's going to take me a lot longer to get over the fact that my backyard isn't the safe sanctuary that I thought it was.

And along with my ladybug birdhouse, I've lost a lot of trust in my fellow man.