An Adventure with a Taterbug!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

To New Beginnings

“No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!”

- C. JoyBell C

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Great Lady is Gone

Hello, world!  Hope all is well with you on this fine Friday.  Good news is that it is payday once again...bad news is that my car is in the shop and it will be a nice $589 to fix it.  Yikes!  I am a poster child for Murphy's Law. 
Lindy Boggs

Yesterday, the funeral services for former congresswoman Lindy Boggs took place inside the St. Louis Cathedral here in New Orleans.  Ms. Boggs was a forerunner in many ways.  She was the first woman elected to congress from Louisiana, she lead the rally for equal rights for women, she was a single parent of three children after her husband disappeared over Alaska in the 70's, she was ambassador to the Vatican under Bill Clinton and she was a damn fine woman...regardless of what your political persuasion.

Lindy's French Quarter House
I had the pleasure of meeting her many years ago down in the French Quarter.  I was home visiting from college, I think, and as we often did, took a short drive down into the Quarter to walk around, eat, see the sights and do some shopping in the French Market.   As we were walking down Bourbon Street who should pop out of her front door but none other than Lindy herself.

My grandmother was the first to recognize her and she proceeded to have a very long conversation with Lindy and even had their photo taken together.  She was so gracious and must have spent about 20 minutes just chatting away with my Nana and us.  It was about nothing in particular that I can remember but I just remember her being so nice and personable.  When we left, she said she was headed down the street to get some groceries from the A&P and wished us all the best.

Possible Conversation in Heaven
It was so strange to meet someone that had been an icon in my state and the entire country and also a great role model.  She was so down to earth and kept telling my grandmother that she was just a young thing compared to her.  Whenever politics would be talked in her presence, my grandmother would always tell the person about the time she became friends with Lindy!

Two great ladies that are no longer with us but most likely getting reacquainted with each other up above.

Love ya,

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Let Your Inner Beast Free!

Hello, world!  Where ya been?  Wait, I’m the one that has been incognito haven’t I?  Let me give you a quick run-down on what’s been happening in my world lately.

First, I know I haven’t mentioned this before but the company I work for is in the process of being purchased by our largest competitor and because I work in the corporate office, most likely my services will no longer be needed once the sale is completed at the end of this year.  With that said, I began the job search process about a month ago.  As you know the economy is in the toilet even though all the politicians in DC swear it is getting better.  Yeah, right!  Easy for them to say I guess, with their big salaries, paid benefits and cost of living stipend.  Maybe I should go into politic.  Wait, I have morels and character so I would suck at politics.

Anyway, I interviewed with a company two Friday’s ago and then re-interviewed last week and received an offer on Friday.  Yeah, me!  So super excited to be doing something I love again and really excited to be challenged by learning another industry.  I promise more details on that will be coming in the future but for now, that sums up what has been happening.  Now I am in the process of finishing up some lose ends here at work before my last day on Friday, August 9th.

Happy Dance!
So, what else have I been doing lately?  Not too much.  Taterbug came home on Saturday from her week with her dad and all is right in the world now.  {Happy Dance!} Camp finishes up tomorrow and school starts on August 14.  This weekend will be filled with school shopping to finish up our last minute supplies, shoes, uniforms, etc.   Good thing tomorrow is payday!

The Bug wanted me to do something fancy with her nails because she has been growing them out all summer.  She always had beautiful nails until she started school then she began picking them to death and they became nubs. With all the swimming and other fun this summer, they really have gotten quite long and pretty.  Her grandmother on her dad’s side has beautiful nails as did my grandmother so I hope she inherited their genes.  I, on the other hand (pun intended) only have nice nails when I have acrylics!

All Types of Styles
When I was at CVS yesterday looking at new polish for her, I saw these cool nail stickers by Sally Hansen.  After reading the box and checking out all the cool colors and designs, I decided to get two to try out on the Taterbug.  I chose the zebra print and some black and white bones with pink ribbons on their skulls.  VERY CUTE!

Once we got home, I had her scrub her hands and put on her jammies.  I wasn’t sure how well these suckers would work on her hand since the nail beds are so small.  Surprisingly enough, Ol’ Sally H. thought of everything.  The packet came with 16 strips and I was thinking why not 20?  Well, each strip is two sided so it is like you got 32 and not only 16.  There were plenty of strips left to do both her nails and mine.  We even have enough to do one other person or repair any that got ruined. 

This is What You Get In a Box
You start by determining which strip size fits your nails best.  Then you file the nails and the polish them to make the stickers stick better.  I did this on her nails but not to mine and didn’t see any difference in sticking power.  If anything, mine seems to work better.  Next you peel off the clear cover off the sticker then you peel off the white back.  Then you stick the paint sticker to your nail starting from the cuticle to the end of your nail.  The trick is to try and stretch the sticker before you actually finish applying it.  It is really easy to reposition before you actually stick it so don’t worry about not having it right.  Once it is in place, you just stretch it to the very end and your nail will actually cut the sticker off.  Flip the sticker around and repeat on the same nail but on the other hand since chances are they are all the same size.  Once they are all on, you use the nail file included in the box to file any excess sticker parts still on your nail to make it smooth.  I also used the wooded stick they included to push out any bubbles or to better adhere the sticker to your nail.  The pointed end of the stick also works great to cut off excess pieces of stickers around your cuticle or fingers.

Want to know what was freaky?  As soon as you opened the package, it smelled just like you opened a bottle of polish.  It is so cool how it is actually polish on sticker that are as thin as skin.  I say it was super easy and took about 15 minutes to do a whole set of nails.  They are much faster than painting them and waiting to have one coat dry before adding a second coat.  Also, there are so many styles and colors that it would be very easy to find something fun for a quick change.

My Fat Fingers!
The package says that it will last about 2 weeks so we will see.  So far, it appears that the stickers have “cured” overnight because they are much firmer this morning than they were last night.  I was kind of scared to wash my hair this morning because I thought they would wash off in the shower but if anything, they got even firmer.

I typically don’t wear polish on my fingers because it never lasts.  I am curious as to how this holds up.  When I am ready to remove it, the box said you just wipe off with polish remover.  I will let you know how it did.

Moral of the story:  Sometime you have to let your wild side show and try something different!

Love ya,

PS:  Today is our 1 month anniversary of blogging together.  Where are you taking me to dinner? :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

School Days

Hello, world!  Yesterday was a really fun night.  I had the honor of having dinner with some of my most favorite moms (and grandmom) from the Bug's school.  These ladies are funny, smart, beautiful and a hoot!  After much laughing, smiling and complaining, we all found out that we aren't that much different.  We have kids that don't pick-up after themselves, we have kids that either won't stop eating or won't eat anyting at all, our kids are getting too big for their britches and we love them unconditional!

A few tidbits that was uncovered last night:

  • Kids have an uncanny ability to remove all their clothes in one fell swoop that results in the underwear and pants/shorts being merged into one unrecognizable twist;
  • When you have multiple children it is strange how vastly different the personalities and  mannerisms are from each other even though they have the exact same DNA makeup and have the same upbringing;
  • If our kids don't hurry up and read their summer reading books and do their book reports, someone is going to die; and
  • If you hear your mischievous kid snicker, she most likely locked the bathroom door locked all of you either outside of it or inside it in which case you have to call your mother who lives 30 minutes away to come and release you from inside the bathroom. (Note to self: if you turn the locks around to teach said child not to lock the door you can't get in, make sure she doesn't lock it before you all get stuck inside...oh, and have a cell phone handy -- thanks, NS for the helpful hint.)
I think the best part about Taterbug's school is that, while it is kind of small (only one class per grade up to 8th grade), we have been together, for the most par, since kindergarten.  Her class is made up of mostly girls and I always said that the guys will grow up to be very well adjusted husbands and be great dads to their daughters because they all know how to play dress-up and house and are very used to being bossed around by girls.  I fell for those poor guys!

Since they have been together for so long, it is so cute to see how they protect each other and are so caring of each other almost like a family.  For example, it is perfectly fine for them to pick on each other but don't let someone from outside of the class dare to pick on one of their own.  They will close ranks and circle around the "outsider" to make sure that they leave their bud alone.  Got to love playground politics!

I had a very unique school experience.  I went to public school and we were co-ed until 4th grade and then once we hit middle school, we were separated by sex.  We were the only public school system in the US that was set up like that and it lasted until my junior year when in 1988 someone finally sued the school board to force them to go co-ed.  The reason behind that suit was that they claimed that it was unfair because the girl schools had home economics and the guys had shop class.

I had mixed views on this change.  I was a typical teenage girl and would love to be exposed to guys day in and day out at school rather than just weekends.  On the other hand, we had a good thing going at school.  Because we didn't have those stinky boys next to us, girls didn't worry about their hair and make-up all the time.  Granted, we did do our share of primping but not nearly as much if we would have had a hunky guys sitting next to us in class.

Also, because we were all girls, it help instill leadership skills because we were the presidents of the organizations, we were the ones that made the decisions on class projects and events, we were the ones providing feedback to school leadership on service projects and such.  We didn't have a boyfriend influencing our decisions on things at school.

So the time came to decide if I would stay at my existing high school my junior year.  This school was being turned from an all-girl high school to a parish-wide magnet high school and the boys would be outnumbered 30 to 1.  This school was less than two miles from my house and in walking distance.  My other choice was to go to the boys' high school where I would have to take a school buss (cringe) to and from school and where the girls were outnumbered 15 to 1.

What did I decide to do?  Me, who was very active in school.  Me, who was into playing sports.  Me, who wasn't going to let some guy make the decisions for me.  Well, I did what every 15 year old girl would do who was fiercely independent...I went to the boys school because, let's face it, boys are cute and who didn't want to sneak a kiss in the halls between classes?  Screw making a difference and leading the next generation to greatness!

My High School Love!

You know what the funny part in all this ended up being?  Low and behold, the boys were even more wowed and intimidated by us girls then we were of them and they were more than willing to move out of the way and let us rule the school.  We continued to be the leaders.  We continued to make the decisions on where we saw our class headed.  We continued to wrap the guys around our little fingers!

Lessons learned:
  • School buses suck so make friends with someone who drives in your neighborhood so you can give them gas money to avoid the stigma of riding on the bus.
  • Being outnumbered is a good thing when it comes to a boy/girl ratios.
  • Leaders are born, not made.
  • Change is not always a bad thing.
  • Girls learn early on how to get their way around a guy.
I loved my last two years at the boys' high school.  To this day, I feel closer to that school than I did at the other high school, event though I spent an equal number of years at each.  There was something cool about being at the same school that my dad and uncles went.  There was something special about being a part of history by being the second co-ed class.

Fighting Owls!
The school is still there but it has changed a lot since Hurricane Katrina wiped it out.  Some of it was rebuilt better and more modern then it could have been back in 1954 when it opened.  Heck, when I graduated back in 1990, we didn't event have air conditioning and only had just gotten ceiling fans.  No matter what, I will always bleed maroon and white...go, Owls!

Love ya,

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Times Have Changed

“You need a little bit of insanity to do great things.”


“My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud.”

- Henry Rollins

Can I Call You Hank?
Hi, ya world!  I felt like today was a good day for another quote but couldn't find one that fit my mood.  When I ran across these two, I knew they were meant to be shared.  They are by musician, writer, jouralist, publisher, actor, radio host, comedian and acitivist Henry Rollins.  If you are a fan of the TV show, Sons of Anacrary, you may recognize him.

You might remember him from his first stab at mainstream music back in the 80’s when he was the front man for the punk rock band, Black Flag.  After they broke up, he started Rollins Band and they got pretty popular in the mid-90’s.  Though neither band were my cup of tea, I lean more toward top 40, classic country or whatever the Bug lets me listen to, I knew him by site but not by name. 
Henry with the Rollins Band

After picking these two quotes, I wanted to see who the heck Henry Rollins was before I link his name with mine.  I mean, what if he was some Nazi General that was found hording millions of stolen artifacts from the war.  Not an association I would want, I tell ya!

So, what is a girl to do?  Go to Wikipedia of course!  I just love Wiki, but who doesn’t, right?  I am that girl that used to love reading the encyclopedia that my mother bought one volume at a time at Winn-Dixie.  These puppies would site on a treasured spot high above it all in my sister’s room.  I would have to climb on her bed to get the volume I wanted to read.  Keep in mind, I don’t think we ever got an entire set because we missed a week’s because we went on vacation or shopped at another grocery store.  I think it was V that we were missing and who wants to know anything about volcanos, Vermont or vasectomies anyway.
Who Didn't Have a Set of These?

I never considered myself a nerd but I did love to read the encyclopedia.  I also loved to read the new phonebook when it came out.  Now that I think about, I might have been a slight nerd after all.  It was always fun to look of the names of people you knew or boys you liked in addition to see if there were any new people in the book with your same last name.  Maybe my fascination with the phonebook is because we never had our number published so we were never in the book.

I can’t tell you the last time I used a printed copy of an encyclopedia or phonebook.  Wonder what libraries did with all their old tomes?

Love ya,

Monday, July 22, 2013

Long, Lazy Weekend

Hello, world!  I am so lazy!  Typically, I am running non-stop all the time with little to no down time.  It is a running joke around the office that when I am asked how my weekend was, I typically can list about a dozen things that were done or accomplished in two short days. 

A Little Blue

Not this weekend!  The Taterbug is spending the week with her dad and left Saturday morning.  Let’s just say that I was not a happy camper to be without her for any extended period of time so you could say I was a little blue.  What did I do?  Well, I stayed in my jammies from Friday night until 2pm Sunday.  Yep, you read that right…me, stayed home and just vegged in front of the TV watching the Hallmark channel.  You know what that is, right?  That is the single woman’s worst enemy.  Plot: Every leading lady faces some tragedy or adversity, loses the guy, meets a (long-lost boyfriend/new guy in town/well to do business man) and lives happily ever after.  Yeah, right!

I didn’t feel like running out to get groceries until Sunday afternoon so I didn’t eat much on Saturday.  I decided I wanted some comfort food but didn’t want to make anything too exciting.  I had some leftover hot dog buns, milk and eggs so I decided to make bread pudding.  I typically like to have raisins in it but didn’t have any so I improvised.  Here is what I used to make the bread pudding:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 6 hot dog buns
  • Course sugar
  • Butter

Preheat oven to 350°, spray baking dish with Pam and set aside.  Beat milk, eggs, cinnamon and sugar together well.  Add torn up buns to the mixture, stirring often.  Add in almonds then pour into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle a generous coating of course sugar then add a couple dabs of butter to the top of the dish.  Place in pre-heated oven for 45 minutes and that’s about it.  It should be very soupy when you put it in the oven.  If not, add more milk and make sure all the bread has absorbed the egg mixture.
Colored Sugar

I had this for lunch and dinner on Saturday and again for breakfast Sunday.  I’m not proud.  It was good, though.  It looked good too because the only course sugar I could find was rainbow colored and it added a happy color to an otherwise drab dessert.  I promise to do a much better job of taking photos of my adventures.  I didn't even think of snapping any of this...sorry! 

What types of goodies do you like to eat when you are feeling a little blue?  I guess bread pudding always reminds me of my grandmother because when she wasn’t bringing a pie to Sunday dinner, you could bet she would have either bread pudding or fig squares in the back of her van.  I would love to have her recipe for fig squares.  They were so good and she would get the fresh figs when she went to visit her in-laws in the country.  They would melt in your mouth they were so good!

Kitty had a lazy weekend, too 
 Love ya,

Friday, July 19, 2013

Where Does it Go?

Hi, ya, world!  Happy Friday!  Know what makes it event is payday!  I have to ask myself, though, where does all the money go?  I got paid via direct deposit this morning and logged into my checking account to pay some bills and after it was all done, I spent 72% of my salary?!?!?  The sad part is that I just paid stuff two weeks ago when I got paid.

Throwin' It Away!
I don't consider myself a spendthrift or even an extravagant person.  In fact, I am down right cheap at times.  I just amazes me how fast money can go out the window.  Talking about windows, about a year ago I had to get a new A/C unit shortly after I bought the house.  Good news is that when I bought the house it came with a home warranty as an inclusion and was paid by the seller.  So very happy about that because the unit only cost me $75 and the old one was over 18 years old.

Shortly after that, I heard a radio spot for a local company that said they would do a free home energy audit for your house.  Now I know there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Heck, I work in marketing for pity sake!  But I figured I would have them come out and check things out and then I would just say no to everything they tried to sell me. 

Sample of Paper Backed Insulation

This company was really different in that the guy was willing to come over at night after I got off work so it was very convenient to my schedule.  He was also the owner of the company who just happened to be over my way because he was leaving on vacation the next morning and needed to do a Sam's run to fill up on food before leaving for the beach.  He also was not really trying to sell me anything.  He said that my windows were great (newly installed when I bought the house), my A/C was great, my doors and sills were tight (sounds kind of kinky, doesn't it?!?!) and for the most part everything was in great shape.  Unfortunately, my insulation in the attic was kind of deflated, which I knew from the home inspection.

Sample of Pumped Insulation
So, I asked for him to give it to me much was he going to try to milk me to fix it.  Surprising, he said that he would recommend doing the spray insulation and not the foam spray because it is cheaper, quicker and for the size of my house and all the other good points he found, would make more sense.  After some measuring and some counting, he came back to me with a figure of less then $500 and he would throw in some other things like boxes over my lights, etc. that would run about $200 more.  I asked when they could do it and how long it would take before I signed on the dotted line.

Now before you accuse me of jumping the gun, I had already gotten a price from someone else to do paper insulation and it would have run about $750 and spray foam would have run about $1,800.  This was sounding too good to be true and I was cautiously optimistic.  He asked how did Saturday sound and I said, "Book it, Dan-O!"

Two guys showed up on Saturday on-time and were very clean and professional.  They got down to work right away and were done in less then two hours.  Additionally, they swept up after themselves and even asked if they should take their shoes off before entering the house.  Who does that? 

Round and Round, the Dials Spin!
The guys said that I should see a noticeable difference in my electric bill and it should be reduced by at least 25%.  That would a nice since I was running close to $200 a month in electric in the summer months and about $120 in the winter.  Low and behold, it was a big difference between the combination of a new A/C unit and the insulation.  This month's bill was the highest it has been since last June.  Ready for this....$60.21!  Yep, you read that right!  I have A/C set on 72 when we are home and 75 when we are gone, all last month I had the pool pump running 24/7 and the Bug has a terrible habit of leaving every light on in the house. 

Let's face it, it is hotter then you know what in Louisiana in June-August.  Heck, it can be pretty darn hot in December!  I have been super pleased with my $500 investment because it has saved me 300%.  I know that the improvement is not entirely from the insulation and that the A/C had a lot to do with that but I have to think that even if I only did the insulation it would have been a major improvement.

Why do I tell you all this?  1) I needed something to write about, 2) you must hear the same ads on your radio because everyone is going green and 3) don't come in with a preconceived notion that you aren't going to buy and then feel guilty because you do "cave."

Love ya,

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Humping Day

Hello, world!  Happy humping day!  What?!?!?  Did she just type that?  Yep!  A few years back, on a Wednesday morning, the Taterbug told me happy humping day.  When I explained that it is "hump" day and not "humping" she proceeded to tell me that it makes more sense to say humping since you are jumping to the next day.  Can't argue with that I guess.

My Leah

As I mentioned before, I have have a second daughter, Leah.  She joined our family back in May of this year and I don't know how we lived without her.  Anyone that knows me knows that I'm not much of an animal person.  Well, I am, but not one that thinks they are human and should wear stupid outfits or go to the store with you.  I mean, really folks, get a friend if you need that kind of relationship.  Anyway, I digress.

The Bug likes to go to the poor people zoo AKA Petco and look at the animals.  We usually spend about 20 minutes there and leave knowing that we can always come back tomorrow to visit.  This one Monday we went into the store and stopped at the cats to say hi and make meowing sounds to them.  There had to be about 5 cats in various colors and ages including a little kitten that had obviously hit the catnip a little too much.  Leah was the cutest and nicest one there.  She just wanted us to love on her through the cage and her fur was soooooo soft!  She was a little over a year old and the paper said that she doesn't like to be with other animals.  Me neither!

Her Favorite Thing To Do - Sleep!
Anyhow, the Bug started her typical pleading for us to get an animal and I said no as usual.  You see, Taterbug is scared of dust bunnies so I knew she would freak out and die if we brought an animal into the house.  Fish are a big step for her!  After telling her no, no, no a thousand times, I told her that we couldn't have an animal anyway because of the motion detectors on our home security system.  She said I needed to call "the man" to find out if there was a way to turn them off.  I said fine, I will tomorrow.

Next day, she was still harping on getting Leah and demanded once again that I call "the man" to find out about the alarms.  I did the typical scare tactics by saying that if we got Leah she would be responsible for cleaning the litter box and feeding her each day.  Of course the answer was a big, "YES!"

So that kitty really was so cute and I really was starting to wiggle once I got to the office.  I forgot all about calling "the man" about the alarm but I did call Petco to see if Leah was still available.  I spoke to a really nice lady and she said that she was available but that she had been there for awhile and she was afraid that the LASPCA would take her back.  You see she was a rescue that Petco houses for the humane society.  I didn't know that and that helped make my decision a little easier.  I didn't want to just buy a pet from the pet store.  I figured that if we were going to get one, I wanted it to be a rescue.  Come to find out, that is all their dogs and cats.  Cool.  Best part was she was all fixed and had a microchip.  Needless to say I asked the lady if it was possible to hold her until I could come that evening to pick her up.  She said most definitely.

First Night Home
So after a quick run to Walmart at lunch to buy a carrier, I go and get the Bug from her dad and the first thing she asks me is if I call "the man."  First, who the heck is "the man" she keeps talking about?!?!?  I was honest and told her that no, I forgot and needless to say, she starts a major meltdown.  I'm talking snot bubbles, tears streaming, face red meltdown.  I told her that we would have to wait a few days and she starts crying that Leah will go to another family if we don't get her.  I ask her if she would like to go visit her, all the while knowing that the carrier is in the back of the SUV and she hasn't seen it.  She said yes so we drive up to Petco and I ask her if she could carry something for me.  I open up the back of the SUV and hand her the carrier.  She looks at it funny, trying to figure out what it is when all of a sudden I see the light bulb go off and I go from being the worst mother on earth to the rock star that I am!
Stinky Kitty

Skip forward a few months and Leah has become my other daughter.  Not sure how we lived without her but glad to have her.  It took a couple of weeks before Taterbug worked up the courage to hold her and now they are best buds.

Couple problem we had at first was that the food they said to give her gave her some serious gas and she smelled awful!  I switched her food and it is much better now.  She is finally getting over her urge to wake me at 3a.m. by meowing into my face.  She does, however, love to invade your personal space and sit directly on your chest if you are laying down.  And those little paws can grind into your chest so hard that it makes you wonder how on earth something so small can hurt so much. 

Her favorite thing to do is sleep and her favorite toy is my slipper.  I swear that girl has a foot fetish because she loves sticking her face into shoes.  My girls are best friends and I love them dearly.  Glad to have my second daughter to keep me company when the Bug is away.

Love ya,

PS: Can't wait to come up with a great costume for Halloween!  NOT!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Life's a Bench and then You Sit On It!

Hi, ya, world!  Hope you all survived Monday and are rearing to go for a terrific Tuesday.  Yeah, doing much better today then this time yesterday.  Actually woke up on time and even managed to shave my legs for the first time since the beach trip, where they got scorched and blistered.  Looking good and the redness is disappearing.

So, as promised yesterday, I will share with you a craft or home improvement addition I recently completed for the Taterbug's birthday luau.  As I mentioned previously, I always do a luau theme and try to add something new each year.  Last year it was the house, pool and trampoline.  This year was a much smaller addition, a cinder block bench with cushions.

The (Almost) Finished Product
 What you will need to make the bench:
  • 24 - 8" x 16" Cinder Blocks
  • 4 - 1" x 6' Boards
  • 3 Tubes of Liquid Nails for Tile, Cement and Wood Applications
  • 2 - 24" x 16" Tiles
  • Measuring Tape
  • 3 - 12" x 12" Slate Tiles cut into 2-up rows (Optional)
  • 2 Quarts of Paint (Optional)
  • Paint Brushes (Optional)

It was really easy and an inexpensive piece of furniture to add under the carport.  I even drew some plans to help figure out what all I needed to get started.  Here you go with step by step instructions:

Step 1: Paint your cinder blocks and boards and let dry completely.  I didn't do this first and learned it is a heck of a lot easier to paint them before assembling unless you are a contortionist and enjoy sweating and bending.  I used a good semi-gloss paint and put on 3 coats because it really sucked up the paint into the grooves of the blocks.

Step 2: Measure the space where you want the bench to go.  The finished bench is approximately 8'8" in length so you need a good open spot to build this bench.  I centered mine under two windows that look out onto my carport from my kitchen.  If you are planning to put this on grass or dirt, make sure your location is as level as possible so that your structure is stable.  Because we are not putting mortar between the blocks, they could technically move as the ground shifts.  Keep this in mind when scoping out your area.

Step 3:  Think Lego's only heavier and not as easy to move!  That's right, start stacking your blocks starting with the base set of 4 blocks on the bottom.  These are represented above in row 1 of the diagram.  Once they are in place, put a second set of 4 blocks on top but make sure that your seams don't match up.  We want to do a criss-cross pattern, just like you do when building a wall with Lego's.  Once these look right, take off the top layer and squirt a generous helping of liquid nails onto all the tops of the bottom row of blocks being careful not to get any on the outside.  We want this to be hidden.  Now, re-add in your second layer.

Sorry, No Progress Pics

Step 4:  Next you will use only 3 blocks as represented in row 2 above.  Once you have your pattern right, remove the 3 blocks and add your liquid nails and replace the 3 blocks on both ends.  Almost done!

Step 5:  To help support the boards, place 2 blocks in the center between your to bases.  They won't entirely hold all the boards but will have a portion of each one.  Hope that make sense.

Step 6:  Add your 4 wooden boards to your base. I made sure that the first and the last board were all the way on the end and then added the middle boards, leaving a slight gap so that dirt and water could run off. Once these were in the correct place, I took them off, one at a time, and added liquid nails to attached them to the block bases and support.  Make sure you glue the one in the back first and work your way out or else you will get glue all over you.  (Voice of experience speaking!).  When this is all done, put something heavy evenly across on top of the boards so that they can dry overnight and not popup.  I put a bunch of umbrella chairs on them to hold them down.  If you have some leftover blocks, that would work great.

See the Lego pattern?
Step 7:  Now is the time to get creative.  I added two cap tiles to the two bases using liquid nails to give it a more finished touch.  I lucked up and found these on-line at Lowe's and had them shipped to the store for pick-up.  They also come in all kinds of colors.  I originally planned to use individual tiles but then I would have had to worry about grouting it and that was just a heck of a lot more work then I planned to do!  These babies were less then $2 each and in one solid piece of tile.  I also wanted a way to tie in the green bases with the pink boards and red brick of the house.  I found these slate tiles at Lowe's as well and cut them into 2" strips.  Add a little liquid nails and stick to the bottoms and you have a great accent piece.  It took 3 - 12" square tiles at about $2.50 each to do the accents.
Lessons Learned:
  1. Paint the blocks first
  2. Wear gloves when handling unpainted blocks or else you will get a blister on your thumb
  3. Bench will safely hold 4 adults and won't break or cause any issues
  4. You can make a shorter bench by using only 4' boards instead of 6'.  This puppy is really big but not overwhelming.
  5. Ask around, someone may have some cinder blocks they are willing to give to you or sell to you for less then you can buy at Lowe's or Home Depot

So you may have noticed my very colorful cushions on the bench.  After building it I realized that it was pretty deep and the brick wall was not comfortable.  I also wanted something that could get wet and not disintegrate the moment it did.  I started pricing 6' chaise lounge cushions and they were either too small (56"), too thin (1") or too expensive ($50+).  What is a girl to do?  Improvise!

What you will need to make the cushions:
  • 2 Large Beach Towels or Bath Towels
  • 3 Standard Pillows or 2 King Pillows
  • 4 Hand Towels
  • 2 Travel Pillows
  • Ribbons
  • Scissors
Step 1: Take your ribbon and cut it into 6" strips that will be used to bind the towels together.  You need quite a lot of these so recruit your helper(s) to do the cutting while you do step 2.  I was lucky enough to have the ribbon left over from another project so it cost me nothing.

Step 2:  Take 2 hand towels and fold them in half and then in half again and then in half again.  This will give you equal points to cut slits 1" from the ends.  Once they are both cut, match up the corners and start tying the two together.  When 3 sides are bonded to together, add your travel pillow and close up the remaining holes of the opening.  Kmart had a great sale on pillows and towels around this time so I was able to get them pretty cheap.
Hand Towel Showing Where to Cut

Step 3:  Do the same thing you did for the hand towels but now do for beach towel.  You will need to adjust where the holes are based on your pillows and towel size.  Again, Kmart had a sale and these guys were only $8.  Because I bought such a big towel, it was too large for the pillows.  I went ahead and rolled the towel before I tied it.  This gave it a really nice look and I was so glad I did it!  After you have added in the first pillow, cut 2 holes in the center near the end of the pillow so that you can keep it from shifting.  Add the next pillow and then holes again.  Finally, add in the last pillow and finish off the opening.
Here is the Finished Products After Surviving the Party
Lessons Learned:
  1. Sharp scissors are a must
  2. When you think you have enough ribbon cut, cut more
  3. Leave the plastic on the pillows so that you won't have to worry if they get wet since they are outdoors
  4. By using ribbon and not sewing the towels together, you can remove the towels and throw them into the washer if cleaning is needed.

Okay, not as cheap as it could have been.  I did have some pillows in the house I could have used but I wanted the plastic over them to protect them.  I also could have used some towels I already had but these were so darn cute and they tied all the colors together.

I hope this gives your some ideas to noodle around and maybe modify for your own use.  Please drop me a line or send me pictures of what you came up with.

Love ya,