Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Things To Do On Leap Day

Good Wednesday morning!

The Gallery Pics are once again left-overs. (Someone better be photo-worthy around here today, or Thursday's Gallery is going to be pretty sad!)

RANDOMNESS #1 - Well, it's time. Once again, I've left the Paula Deen Recipe Challenge to the LAST day of the month.

I will be baking all day today. Do not come by or call. I will not go to the door or answer the telephone. I will be up to my elbows in flour and cream cheese and eggs... oh, my!

But the result will be worth all the blood, sweat and tears. I just know it!

And tomorrow, not only will I reveal my finished February creation, but I will unveil the March recipe. (You're not going to believe this one!)

RANDOMNESS #2 - Dance Moms did not disappoint last night. There were THREE fights. THREE!

In Dance Mom World, that is good television!

RANDOMNESS #3 - I told you I would be making the Italian Meatloaf last night, and I did.

And, guess what? It was very, very good. Even Roxie liked it!

It was moist and tasty, and I will be making meatloaf again.

I can't imagine why I've never made it before.

Well, except for the part where you have to put your hands in the bowl and make sure ALL the ingredients are mixed properly. I could have done without that step in the meatloaf-making process. I'm shuddering just thinking about it as I type this paragraph.

NOTE - I recommend this recipe. But I really recommend you asking someone who doesn't mind mixing meatloaf by hand to handle that little task. (It would be worth giving them half of the finished product!)

Wednesday Wisdom - Tornado season in Alabama officially begins tomorrow, March 1. It's a time to be aware of weather changes in our area. It's a time to tune in and watch James Spann once or twice or three times a day. It's a time to be so thankful when your home and family are not touched by a storm... but a time to be ready to help those who have been affected.

"One of the things about a tornado, it comes so quickly you don't have time to get in a panic. If you do, you're probably not in one.” Mike Huckabee

Things To Do On Leap Day

One website I visited suggested using this one day every fourth year to do something for someone else.

Volunteer where you know help is needed. Give a hand to someone you know could use it. Go through an organization, or help a neighbor in need. But definitely do something for others.

Throw a casual Leap Year Party and ask participants for contributions to go toward a worthy cause.

This website used the term "Leaping into action to help others." I like that!

I think making the extra day a family tradition to find ways to help the less fortunate would be a great way to spend the 29th of February.

Other Ideas:

Bake muffins with your child and take them to elderly neighbors this evening to have for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Pay for the lunch of the person behind you in the drive-thru line today. Tell them "Happy Leap Day!" (Our church encourages this practice all year long.)

Call your local church, and ask if there is a need for any food or clothing in the Food Pantry. If there is such a need, shop with your child and deliver the items to the church.

Bake a pie or cake (homemade) for a friend who hasn't been feeling well or has been stressed at work lately. (Or stressed at home with a house full of preschoolers.)

Use your imagination and fulfill a need this February 29!

Have a grand Wednesday. I'll be back tomorrow with Blog Linkage and a fun Date... and pictures (I hope) of the February Paula Deen Recipe Challenge. Wish me luck!

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.


The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Italian Meatloaf

Good Tuesday morning!

The Gallery has some "new" left-over pics from the past two weekends. (I always keep a spare or two.)

RANDOMNESS #1 - I have a few new readers visiting A Simple Life, so the following is a list of posts (old and new) for them to check out when they stop by for a few minutes. (If you've been here awhile, you can skip on down!)

1. Things I've Learned While Raising Teens... A Humbling Experience - Go to my sidebar under Labels and click on the above label.

2. Go to www.belindafaulkner.blogspot.com. (This will take you to the original A Simple Life at a different website address.) Go to my sidebar and click on Josh's Journey.

3. Go to www.belindafaulkner.blogspot.com. Go to my sidebar and click on City Adventures.

If you're new, these things will give you an idea of what the blog has been "about" the last three years or so!

And thanks for visiting!

RANDOMNESS #2 - I'm beginning the 25-hour prep for my February Paula Deen Recipe Challenge today. If you need me, I'll be "sugaring" rose petals. (I am not kidding!)

RANDOMNESS #3 - Things I've Learned While Raising Teens... A Humbling Experience

Just Say "YES" - I read many years ago the best thing you can say to your teen is "YES." I cannot find the specific "how-to-raise-teenagers" book at this time, so I cannot tell you if it was Dobson or Barnes or someone else who made this suggestion. I can, however, tell you, I took it to heart.

By the time my kids reached the teenage years, the word "no" was one of the first to come out of my mouth. Until I read the aforementioned book, I couldn't even tell you how many times I had used the word "no" unnecessarily.

So I began with Austin and when he asked me one of the 1,000 questions he asked each day, I started listening more carefully, processing the information and saying "yes" whenever I possibly could.

"Can I go to Books-A-Million after school for an hour or two and just look around?"

First words that came to mind, "No. Not tonight. I'm having dinner at 5:30 and I have a lot to do, so I don't need to have to worry about dropping you off and picking you up in the middle of 'dinner prep' time."

Words spoken AFTER first words were PUSHED BACK INTO MY MOUTH. "Sure. We'll just have dinner around 6:30. No problem."

And guess what? It really wasn't a problem 90 percent of the time. And when I absolutely, positively HAD to say "no," all the "yes" answers helped diffuse the blow.

While Austin asked specific-type questions, Josh was a little more vague.

"Can I go driving up the road for about an hour? I need time to unwind a little and think."

First words that came to mind, "No, you cannot just drive around for no reason other than to drive around. That's nuts! However, you can go to the store and pick up a few things for me before dinner."

Words spoken AFTER first words were SHOVED BACK INTO MY MOUTH. "Okay. What direction are you heading, and when can I expect you back in the driveway?"

And guess what? Josh came home on time, visibly relaxed and much more content. And when I absolutely, positively HAVE to say "no," Josh still argues some and may be a little upset, but I have to believe he handles it much better than if I had never said "yes" before.

You see, Josh is different from Austin.

And while Austin and Josh ask about 1,000 questions per day, Roxie asks between 9,999 and 10,000 specific AND vague questions each and every day.

And they are rapid-fire.

And they are BIG questions mixed in with SMALL questions.

"Can I watch my friends play softball this afternoon at 5:00? Can I go with them to have a hamburger after the game? Can I go bathing suit shopping tomorrow after school? Can I buy two bathing suits and a cover-up before we come home? Can we go to The Galleria after we check the stores in our town? Can I sky-dive next Saturday? Can I sign up to work the Magnolia Festival in April? Can I order 14 dresses from the Alloy catalog? Can I get my hair cut tomorrow? Can we buy a horse? Can we have pizza for dinner."

First words that comes to mind, "NO! My goodness. Just go sit in your room and listen to music for a little while!"

Words spoken AFTER first words were CHOKED UPON. "Yes. Yes. Yes. We'll see. No. NO! Yes. You can order FOUR. Yes. Not today. Yes."

As you can see the YES to NO ratio is not as good as I would like, but it's getting there.

But guess what? When I absolutely, positively HAVE to say "no," Roxie still argues a good bit and is still upset for awhile, but I have to believe she handles it much better than if I had never said "yes" before.

You see, Roxie is a little different from Josh and Austin.

I just need to remind myself (DAILY) to stop and think before speaking. I learned this skill earlier in life, but somewhere along the way, it was a skill completely lost to me. I'm glad I'm finding it again.

DISCLAIMER - As always, I want to make sure YOU know I don't think I'm a perfect Mother of Teens. All I'm trying to do is strive and survive! My new motto!

RANDOMNESS #4 - Mikie and I were challenged to "serve" each other this week. We were reading about service to others, and it was pointed out that it is SO important not to just serve others around you, but to begin with your own spouse. I love that! Love it, I tell you.

So far, Mikie has done the dishes for me (twice), and I have thoroughly enjoyed the freedom from the kitchen after our family dinner is finished.

Of course, I want to do something creative and different for Mikie, so I found this new website (via Pinterest) and I liked what I read... a lot.

I know Mikie is super busy today at work and he will not have time to read the blog, so this will be a surprise waiting for him when he gets home tonight.

I'm going to make a "SOCK IT TO HIM" basket.

These are the items I'll be using:

A basket or gift bag

A pair of nice, soft slippers

New socks (With three men all wearing and sharing the same socks, it is so easy for wear and tear. He's getting new navy blue, black and white crew socks.)

Nail clippers

Foot lotion

Foot powder

Coupon for a foot massage (He's going to LOVE this one. The massage comes AFTER application of foot lotion, foot powder, etc.)

I want to give credit where credit is due. Go to www.darlingdoodles.blogspot.com for tons of great gift ideas and so much more. You'll enjoy this new website.

Italian Meatloaf

Also, to go along with the "serving your spouse" idea, I'm trying a new recipe tonight.

I am not a meatloaf person, but Mikie is such a person. I don't even know if the kids have ever had meatloaf because I've never made it.

The Italian part of this recipe makes it sound good to me.

You will need the following:

2 eggs, beaten
1 can (8 ounce) tomato sauce
1/3 cup ketchup (I'm going to substitute Ragu sauce.)
1 cup dry bread crumbs (I'm going to use Italian bread crumbs.)
1 cup chopped onion, sauteed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds ground beef
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Mix together well.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

NOTE - I'm also going to pour a little Ragu sauce over the top of the meatloaf or on the individual servings.

For the record, I'm making homemade mashed potatoes, too.

I'll let you know how the "spouse serving" goes as the week progresses. (So far, so good!)

Have a tremendous Tuesday. I'll be back tomorrow with Wednesday Wisdom, a Seasonal Tradition for the family, Randomness, pics and more, more, more.

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.


The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning!

The Gallery Pics are from Austin's birthday dinner last Thursday night, Austin's 21st Birthday Celebration Saturday afternoon, Josh's Choir Concert and MamMa's 91st Birthday Celebration Sunday.

We are "caked" out!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Last week, I posted all of the mountain pics (as you well know). I took a beautiful picture of Beverly, and I cropped it, but I didn't post it.

When she asked me where the picture was, I even argued with her and told her SHE was wrong and it WAS on the blog.

I am publicly apologizing to Bev... and the picture is now in the Showcase Pic spot.

That is my one and only public apology for the week. Enjoy.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Wicked was absolutely wonderful. Mike and I enjoyed it so much. We didn't know the story behind the play, so we had no idea how everything was going to end. We didn't know it was so funny. We didn't know any of the music, and it was excellent.

It was our favorite Broadway production ever except for The Lion King. (We saw The Lion King as a family eight years ago, and we still talk about that one!)

If you get a chance, please see Wicked. You will not be disappointed.

RANDOMNESS #3 - I wanted a Diet Dr. Pepper after I walked this morning... with ice... from Chick-Fil-A. So I made my way to the Chick.

When I arrived in the drive-thru line, I noticed I had NO gas. My needle was below the "E." Way below.

I looked in my wallet to get my debit card and discovered it was not there. I remembered seeing it on the dining room table at the house.

I looked in my wallet to get my "emergency" gas/credit card and discovered it was not there. I remembered seeing it on the dining room table at the house.

I didn't look in my wallet for cash. It was never there!

I did find a semi-used Chick-Fil-A card in the bottom of my purse. It had $1.84 left. Just enough to buy a small Diet Dr. Pepper... with ice... from Chick-Fil-A. YEA!

I reached into my purse to pick up my phone to call Mikie, and remembered my phone was sitting beside my debit card and my "emergency" gas/credit card on the dining room table at the house.

Hmmm. I asked myself the question, "Should I get out of the drive-thru line and try to make it home before I run out of gas?"

I answered myself, "No. You NEED that Diet Dr. Pepper. What's the worse thing that could possibly happen?"

Just so you know, my lips move when I have these conversations with myself. (One more thing that mortifies the 15 year-old chick that lives in my house.)

"The worse thing that could possibly happen would be running out of gas in the drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A without any money OR credit cards to remedy the situation. The second worse thing that could possibly happen is having to walk into Chick-Fil-A in my sweats with no make-up and bad hair because I had just finished exercising to ask someone if they could loan me their cell phone. The third worse thing that could possibly happen is having the most recognizable car in Gardendale totally STOPPING the most popular drive-thru in Gardendale... and that news getting back to my 15 year-old chick."

"Well, when you say it like that, maybe you don't NEED a Diet Dr. Pepper," I scolded myself.

But it was too late. I was at the speaker and I heard myself ordering the much-needed, much-desired soda.

And then I started praying.

And then I started praying, "Please, do not answer this prayer with a 'no.'"

And then I realized the person in front of me had placed 17 individual orders, and while the Chick has the fastest drive-thru EVER, 17 individual orders for one car slows a Chick employee down.

And then my prayers became more fervent.

And finally the lady in the car ahead of me left, and they THREW my Diet Dr. Pepper at me, and I got The Big Gold Van on the open road... where anyone and everyone could pass me when I ran out of gas. No pressure!

I'm home. I have put my debit and "emergency" gas/credit card in my wallet. My phone is in the waistband of my sweatpants. (I know. That may be too much information for a Monday morning.) And I am praying I'll make it to the gas station 1.4 miles away from my home when I leave in a little while.

If not, I'll give you a call!

RANDOMNESS #4 - Austin had a very good birthday. He loved the knife, Friday Night Lights DVDs, Mugshots Gift Certificate and Moneyball DVD. He really loved all of his money. And he loved his Refreshing Birthday Cake made with pineapple and mandarin oranges.

Since everyone in our family does not like cakes and fruit together, I decided to make a Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie so everyone could have something sweet. The Skillet Cookie was a hit!

However, even though I put the spoons in the skillet with the cookie, dumped scoop after scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the hot cookie and told everyone to dig in, the adults started putting the cookie on their plates.

That's not how Melia taught us to eat a Skillet Cookie.

Everyone is supposed to bend from the waist and lean to the middle of the dining room table and eat it until it is gone. Everyone. Together.

Maybe you need to be under 21 years of age to really enjoy the correct way to eat a Skillet Cookie.

RANDOMNESS #5 - MamMa had a Drop-In Birthday Celebration between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon. The cake was in the middle of her table and as family came and went, they enjoyed coffee, cake and a little visit. It was a lot of fun, and she had 17 people in and out on her special day.

And she looked marvelous!

Have a delightful Monday. I'll be back tomorrow with a terrific new recipe, Randomness, more pics... Ahhh. So many things to post, so little time!

Take care, and I'll talk to you tomorrow.


The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, February 24, 2012

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

I'm finishing up the week with the last of the mountain pics. Monday I'll have a ton of birthday party photos (Austin AND MamMa). The February party continues.

RANDOMNESS #1 - Mike, Melia, Roxie and I drove to Gadsden last night to meet Austin for a birthday dinner at Top O' The River. He is handling the big 2-1 very well, and I was so happy to see him on his actual "birth" day.

The family party is planned for Saturday. I still haven't decided on a "theme," but I'm thinking Thomas the Train. He never had a Thomas the Train party before. It could be fun!

RANDOMNESS #2 - 15th Annual Mountain Trip - Day Four - Usually, there isn't a Day Four of our Mountain Trip. Day Four consists of packing up and leaving the cabin by 9:00 a.m. (Alabama Time) and heading home. Day Four includes a quick lunch at a fast food restaurant right before we leave the great State of Tennessee. We always make sure the Faulkners are in The Big Gold Van and the Martins are in their car. Day Four is all about getting HOME.

But because of the "blizzard" conditions on Sunday night, we went to sleep thinking we didn't need to get up early because the roads would be beyond hazardous. Maybe we would leave late Monday afternoon... or maybe even Tuesday morning. We would just wait and see.

At 8:00 a.m., I heard talking in the den. Grandmother, Bev and Mikie were discussing options. And by options, I mean the snow was minimal, the roads were wet but not icy and it was pretty obvious we were going to be able to get off the top of the mountain BEFORE Tuesday.

After a quick call to the Cabin Rental Office, they assured us the roads were almost 100 percent clear, but they did give us until 10:00 a.m. (Alabama Time) to get the heck out of Dodge!

We got busy.

And at 9:45 a.m. (Alabama Time), we were ready to leave our little cabin in the woods and head to Knife Works.

In 15 years, the boys have never, ever missed a trip to the Knife Works... and this trip was not going to be an exception.

The adults got the mindset we were going to be a little later arriving home, and we leisurely browsed through the huge store.

Josh bought a new leather belt. Austin bought a pretty blue knife for Melia... because all chicks love knives. Right? Mike and I bought a knife for Austin (for a birthday gift). Brad bought a military knife. And Zac bought... Hmmm. I cannot remember what Zac bought. (I'm going to have to make a quick phone call as soon as I finish writing this post.)

There is something for everyone at the Knife Works. That means Katie, Roxie, Bev and I found a fudge counter. And not just any fudge counter. This particular fudge counter sold red velvet and chocolate fudge. Oh... my... goodness! Whoever thought of combining those two flavors in a fudge-type substance is a genius, and I hope he/she is very rich from coming up with that glorious idea.

About 80 minutes into our Knife Works stop, everyone seemed satisfied so we headed to our fast food destination an hour away.

We stopped at a brand new McDonald's which was so hip and happening, I felt a little out of place. But the food was the same. The food is ALWAYS the same.

We said our good-byes, made sure the right kids were in the right vehicles and headed toward Sweet Home, Alabama.

Everyone arrived home before The Faulkner Five because we had a little 45 minute detour (both ways) called "dropping The Boy off at his dorm." That was fine, but it put our arrival time at Faulkner Farms (circa 1842) around 7:34 p.m. (more or less).

That is late for me. Especially when Mikie, Josh and Roxie started asking "What's for dinner?"

I responded with an "I don't know. What are you cooking?" It was surprising how fast things settled down, and we ate our Sunday Night Cereal Meal. (I love Sunday nights. LOVE them!)

And that is the end of this Mountain Tale. It was not uber-exciting, but it was fun.

After all the tornado "stuff" and the rebuilding "stuff," Bev and family needed a break, and they all visibly relaxed.

No one really wanted to come home, but home is where our lives are... school, work and laundry. It was time to get back in the swing of things.

Until next year when we go on our 16th Annual Mountain Trip... and zipline!

Weekend Happenings

All I can say, is "Hold on! It's going to be a fast and bumpy ride!"

Friday - Austin is working at the Chick. Josh may or may not be hanging out with friends. Roxie may or may not be hanging out with friends. (Cliff hangers. I hate those!) Mikie and I are going to WICKED at the BJCC. The tickets were my Christmas gift to him, and we are so looking forward to seeing this wonderful play.

Saturday - Mikie is getting a haircut. (I know. Riveting information.) Josh is competing in the Scholar's Bowl. Roxie is getting her nails done. I'm getting ready for a 2:00 Family Birthday Party for Austin.

After the Birthday Party, Mike and I will be attending Josh's choir concert.

Sunday - At some point during the day (after church), all of us will be visiting MamMa for her 91st birthday. Austin and Melia will be going to see WICKED during the matinee performance (her birthday present from him). Josh will be going to his Senior Bible Study.

Austin will be heading back to Jacksonville Sunday night for a late night intramural basketball game. (His team is playing for the championship.)

Soon after Austin leaves, Mikie and I will be heading to the Tempurpedic for a good night's sleep before a busy week begins again.

I'm exhausted just typing the above, but I am looking forward to everything that is scheduled to take place.

Should be, could be, a very fun three days.

Have a wonderful weekend. I hope your plans work out, and if you have no plans, I hope you enjoy that as well.

Take care, and I'll talk to you Monday morning.


The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chattanooga Duck Date

Good Thursday morning!

More mountain photos today... and one of The Boy from way back when. He's 21 today! Happy Birthday, Austin!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Okay. I made the Pineapple Angel Food Cake last night. It was easy AND very, very good. I think I'm in love.

I will add a little more information to the recipe. I baked the cake in a greased 9" x 13" glass baking dish.

I baked it for a total of 35 minutes.

After 20 minutes, I put a piece of foil on top of the cake to keep it from getting too brown.

Other than those three little tips, that's all I have to say about the cake. Except it was moist, delicious and light.

I'm taking it to The Boy tonight to hold him until his REAL birthday cake and party Saturday.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Things I've Learned While Raising Teens... A Humbling Experience

How to NOT Embarrass Your Teen - I'm still learning regarding this topic, Folks, but I'm willing to share what little knowledge I have gained over the past few years.

How to NOT Embarrass Austin - Austin wasn't really a problem. He still yelled at me when he saw me unexpectedly. He still came up and hugged me in public. His friends came up and spoke to me. If the Big Gold Van drove past the high school, a line of teenage boys stood side-by-side and waved at me.

I had heard about how embarrassed teenagers were of their parents, but it didn't seem to apply to me... and I assumed it was because I regularly fed Austin and his friends.

If you feed them, they will come.

How to NOT Embarrass Josh - Josh was much like Austin. I didn't approach him, but he didn't seem to have any problem approaching me, talking to me, putting an arm around my shoulders. Sometimes he even sat beside me in public.

I had heard about how embarrassed teenagers were of their parents, but it didn't seem to apply to me... and I assumed it was because I was super cool and hip.

How to NOT Embarrass Roxie - This is the one I'm still trying to figure out... and I'm failing miserably as I type this.

I have found the following can and will embarrass and totally humiliate your teenage chick:

1. Breathing.

2. Wearing a Tigger sweatshirt in public.

3. Wearing loafers with sweat pants even though you are NOT getting out of the car, and you're coming home to put on your sneakers and the rest of your exercise clothes after you drop her off.

4. Waving at someone you know in a passing car.

5. Not waving at someone you know in a passing car.

6. Singing with the radio.

7. Wearing sunglasses with one missing earpiece.

8. Blowing kisses during a basketball game.

9. Cheering too loudly at a basketball game.

10. Not cheering enough at a basketball game.

11. Kissing your husband (her father) in the kitchen.

12. Kissing your husband (her father) in public.

13. Holding hands with your husband (her father) in private or public.

14. Ordering fried dill pickles.

15. Breathing.

This list is much, much longer, but I have other things to do today.

I am assured by mothers of 20-something chicks that this is yet another "phase." I take a great deal of comfort in that fact. But until then, I am still learning. The following story perfectly illustrates my current "season" of life.

I Broke My Toe

Roxie was eating breakfast with some friends before school yesterday morning. Since I wasn't exercising this particular Wednesday morning, I asked if she minded if I came along and visited with a couple of the other moms.

"No. That's fine," she assured me.

I knew the other moms didn't sit with the chicks, so we could visit and that would be fun... for me.

I also knew one of the moms dropped off a child at Bragg, so since she was getting in the car line anyway, she would take the group of girls to school together and that would be fun for Roxie.

Roxie and I were walking into the local Chick when the toe of one of my shoes caught on the sidewalk and I tripped. I caught myself, and I heard Roxie's reassuring, "Thank goodness you didn't fall. I don't think anyone saw you."

"Well, that's really not the problem here," I told her.

She looked at me. "What's wrong?"

"I'm pretty sure I broke my toe," I said, and I slipped my foot out of my shoe to survey the damage.

"Hmmm. Can you get your foot back in the shoe?" she asked.

"I think so. Yes. There. It's in the shoe, but it really, really hurts."

"Bless your heart. Can you walk?"

I took a couple of limping steps. "Yes. It is just super painful."

"I am so sorry. Do you think you can walk without limping and/or hopping?"

I practiced a second and found if I EVER SO SLOWLY walked on the injured foot, I could move it in a semi-normal fashion. "Yes, but I can't believe walking normally is good for a broken bone."

"Oh. I'm sure it isn't. However, if you can just walk normally, keep your shoe on, DO NOT mention you tripped in the MOST public place in Gardendale and smile naturally, we may be able to survive this horribly, horribly embarrassing situation."

"Okay. That's what I live for, you know. Surviving horribly, horribly embarrassing situations."

"I know, Mom. And I love you for it."

And while my toe appears to NOT be broken after all, it is swollen and painful and sad.

But it's all good, because I learned yet another way to NOT embarrass my teen chick.

Being a mother of teenagers ain't for sissies.

I may have that tattooed prominently on my 50 year-old body... but I have a feeling it might embarrass someone!

RANDOMNESS #3 - 15th Annual Mountain Trip - Day Three - We knew there was a chance of snow and/or rain on Day Three. Thus, the planned trips to Wonder Works and Knife Works. Inside places.

However, we were not prepared for the next morning. When we woke up, we were in "pea soup" fog. Thick, white, can't-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face fog.

We watched the weather. It wasn't very cold, but the forecaster suggested a "no traveling" day if it was at all possible. And since we were on TOP of a huge mountain with an unbelievably curvy road as our only way out, we decided to treat him like James Spann... and we did as he instructed.

You would think there would have been moans and groans and gnashing of teeth because our plans were cancelled, but it was really very, very pleasant.

We let the boys sleep until 12:30 p.m. (That's right. That's what teenage boys like to do, and we were all about making them happy.)

We also decided to have Zac's party mid-day instead of that night. If the fog ever lifted, he and the other guys could have a good time playing air soft. (Beverly had brought not only his new gifts, but Zac's air soft arsenal from home. Automatic weapons for everyone!)

The party went well. The fog did not lift.

Josh and Zac decided to air soft anyway. The fog did not lift.

We played games, watched television, napped and ate WAY too much. The fog did not lift.

Finally, about 4:30 the afternoon of Day Three, the temperature dropped and big, wet snowflakes began to fall.

Yes! We were going to get snowed in! No school Monday OR Tuesday because we weren't going to be able to get off the top of the mountain. And it would be considered an "act of God." Again... YES!

Wait! Before we got too excited, Beverly and I did an inventory of the food supply.

Slim Jims... Check!

Cheese Danish... Check!

Cuties... Check!

Leftover birthday cake... Check!

Okay. We had four out of five of the major food groups (meat, dairy, breads, fruits). We were good to go!

We went to bed relaxed knowing we wouldn't have to get up and hurry, hurry, hurry to leave our little cabin on the mountain.

But we were so wrong. (I'll have the last installment of this riveting mountain tale tomorrow!)

Blog Linkage - I have LOTS of local linkage today.

1. Go to eighteen25 under My Blog List and read the post entitled "(past projects) st. patrick's day" dated February 22. If you are looking for something special to do with the kiddos, click on any of the boxes under this link.

2. Go to Nesting Place under My Blog List and read the post entitled "Statement Pieces" dated February 22. This was a fun post to read. I tried to find the "statement piece" in each picture before she told me what it actually was (green piano, giant fish, etc.). I didn't do very well... but I am thinking of painting my old piano orange. POP!

3. Go to Six Sisters' Stuff under My Blog List... today... and tomorrow... and every day in between. You can scroll to the end of the page and click on "Older Posts" to catch up if you haven't been there in a week or so.

4. Go to Confessions of a Pioneer Woman under My Blog List. Scroll down to the post entitled "How Cowboys Say Good-Bye" dated February 21. I learned a little something by reading this post. It was sweet and interesting.

5. Go to Big Mama under My Blog List and read "It's so fluffy I'm gonna die" dated February 23. It's funny and light and true.

Chattanooga Duck Date

Once again, Birmingham Bargain Mom helped me out with a fantastic date idea!

Groupon has a deal on the Chattanooga Ducks in Downtown Chattanooga. The cost of an adult or child ticket for an amphibious vehicle tour of the Tennessee River is only $5 for one ticket. AND YOU CAN BUY TWO TICKETS. That's only $10 for a fun, memorable, fantastic Chattanooga Duck Date!

The renovated World War II amphibious cruiser ushers passengers across dry land and waterways in a one-hour tour of the Tennessee River and surrounding landscape.

If you think you have to go this weekend (and you can't possibly go this weekend), it is okay. The Groupon coupon expires July 25, 2012.

There is a limit of two tickets per person, but you can buy an additional 9 tickets as gifts.

For more details, Google "Birmingham Bargain Mom" and click on Coupons. When you reach that page, type Chattanooga Ducks in the Search Box and it will take you directly to the information you will need to buy these tickets.

What a great all-day date with one of your guys. Talk and listen to music on the way, eat at a fun place after the Tour (Chattanooga Choo-Choo) and then head home.


Have a terrific Thursday. I'll be back tomorrow with the last of the mountain pics and stories, Weekend Happenings and just a little bit more.

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.


The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Plan an Annual Family Vacation

Good Wednesday morning!

More mountain pics below. Surprise, surprise.

RANDOMNESS #1 - I just want to let you know I haven't forgotten about my self-inflicted Paula Deen Recipe-a-Month Challenge.

I know I have to buy roses, and carefully apply sugar to hundreds of petals.

I know I have to bake layer upon layer of cake to put UNDER the hundreds of sugared petals.

I know I'm running out of "month."

Please! Stop nagging me!

RANDOMNESS #2 - It looks like I'm going to be making the Pineapple Angel Food Cake today because if all goes as planned, Mikie, Roxie, Melia and I will be having dinner with The Boy tomorrow... because it is his 21st birthday, you see. (His family party is scheduled for this Saturday, but I would like to see him on the day I actually birthed him as long as I possibly can. I know. I'm a "helicopter" mom. Hover, hover, hover.)

Josh cannot attend because he has a choir concert. The same exact concert will be held Saturday evening, too, and that will be when Mikie and I see him perform. I didn't want you to think we were slacking!

Twenty-one years. Wow! That's pretty unbelievable. If Austin is 21, that would make me... Hmmm. Yep. I did the math. FIFTY!

RANDOMNESS #3 - 15th Annual Mountain Trip - Day Two - After a very restful night, we decided to get ready and head into town. Gatlinburg, Tennessee! Home of the Pancake Pantry... and lots of other stuff.

If you know a shortcut from our cabin, you can forgo all of the Pigeon Forge traffic and head straight to the five-mile Scenic Drive which takes you into Gatlinburg.

We know of such a shortcut. (And it is wonderful!)

Two miles into the five-mile drive, we hit the traffic. We slowly inched our way into Gatlinburg with another million or so people, parked in a deck and started walking.

I would like to point out three more reasons it is fun to travel with older kids.

1. They can tell time... or look at their phone. ("Meet us at the Pancake Pantry in one hour.")

2. They split up into groups and are safe on the "main drag" in Gatlinburg.

3. Even if you are a worrier (I'm talking about Mikie; not me), you continually bump into the groups three, four or five times in a two-hour period.

It's a win-win-win situation.

Our main purpose for taking the kids to Gatlinburg is to let them enjoy something we (the Parental Units) enjoyed as teenagers. The brisk mountain air. The fun shops. Funnel cakes. The ski lift. Watching taffy being made. Watching fudge being made. Buying taffy. Buying fudge. Looking at cute boys and girls from church groups walking up and down the same street. Ahhh. Good times. Good times.

We want them to "experience" Gatlinburg.

If it were up to the Parental Units, we would drive into town, eat at Pancake Pantry and drive back to the cabin. Quickly and efficiently.

It's a two-fer. A life experience for the kids and pancakes for the adults. And just so you know, the kids are Pancake Pantry fanatics, too. Well, except for Katie. She doesn't care for pancakes, but she does like the Pancake Pantry hamburger. (I know. I had no idea they served hamburgers either. It's just so wrong.)

Our day in Gatlinburg was warm by February mountain standards (about 57 degrees).

Our meal at Pancake Pantry was filling and incredibly delicious.

Our ride back to the cabin was quick (no traffic) and painless.

Upon arriving at the cabin around 4:00 in the afternoon, we all rested in our various ways (naps, texting, snacking, etc.), and then Mikie grilled hot dogs and hamburgers (as was our pre-trip plan for Saturday Night Dinner).

Day Two of our mountain trip ended on a very, very good note.

Day Three was going to be fun, too. Bev and I had planned a trip to Wonder Works, AND we were going to celebrate Zac's 14th birthday.

But something happened between 10:00 p.m. Saturday night and 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

And I'll tell you all about that... tomorrow.

Wednesday Wisdom - I'm going to share a couple of "mountain" quotes today.

I think there must be two kinds of people... beach people and mountain people. While I enjoy the beach, I will have to say I'm a mountain person.

When I vacation at the beach, seaweed in the water, a rainy day, red flags waving, etc. feel like a "wasted" day to me. The reasons I go to enjoy the beach can be interrupted or even ruined by things I cannot control.

However, when I vacation in the mountains, a rainy/snowy day is welcome. It means we are cabin-bound and we sit in front of a large fireplace and watch the scenery as it transforms. We sip hot chocolate and talk about going into town tomorrow... or maybe not. We play cards, pool and watch old movies.

There is no feeling of a precious vacation day being wasted.

Instead, it is being well-spent.

And that is why I think I might be a mountain person!

"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way.” Dr. Seuss

"Only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.” Richard M. Nixon

Plan an Annual Family Vacation

I know I've mentioned this before, but it doesn't hurt to repeat it every now and again.

If you do not do this already, try to plan an annual trip to the same place each year. It can be a camping trip, a trip to the beach, a trip to a favorite city in another state, etc.

Our annual trip is, of course, going to the mountains with extended family.

Not only does the trip become a tradition everyone looks forward to, but activities, food, etc. can also become traditions.

Below are some examples of activities you can do each and every year:

1. Going to a favorite restaurant.

2. Souvenir shopping.

3. Celebrating some one's birthday.

4. Having a special planned meal.

5. Having a similar family picture taken.

6. Soaking in a hot tub.

The list could go on and on.

It's never too late to start a tradition. Just try to be flexible if traveling with people outside of your own little family, and make sure you have something to appeal to every age group represented.

Will every trip be perfect? Uh, no. I don't think any trip is ever perfect. But you can definitely find memorable and/or fun moments in each and every vacation.

Coming home and hearing one of the kids say, "I can't wait until next year," makes everything worth it. (Well, almost everything!)

Have a whimsical Wednesday. I'll be back tomorrow with more mountain stories and pics, Blog Linkage (a lot) and a Date.

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.


The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

Good Tuesday morning!

Mountain pictures fill the Gallery this morning... and quite possibly every morning for the remainder of the week. What can I say? Our family is SO much more photogenic in the mountains. (Perhaps I should take Copper next year because he is certainly NOT photogenic in Alabama.)

RANDOMNESS #1 - Before I talk about our 15th Annual Mountain Trip, I just want to say Mikie and I watched our pre-recorded Pioneer Woman Cooking Show after arriving home last night, and it was good.

I now know how to make peanut butter cup s'mores AND chocolate mint s'mores. Oh... my... goodness! Who would have ever dreamed you could improve the original graham cracker/Hershey chocolate bar/roasted marshmallow s'more? Before I watched last night's show, it was inconceivable. (Did you know some people in Oklahoma use THREE large marshmallows on ONE s'more? I didn't. I mean, the marshmallow to s'more ratio is HUGE in Oklahoma. What can I say? We've been doing it all wrong in Alabama!)

I want to have a fire... tonight... in the firepit... TONIGHT... and cook s'mores! (I know I said "tonight" twice!)

RANDOMNESS #2 - Before and after we watched the Pioneer Woman Cooking Show, Mikie and I watched Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Fun fact for you... We are trying to eat at as many of the places shown on this show as possible. It's a "bucket list" thing.

So far, we've only been to four together. (I think Mike visited one without me in his travels, so, of course, it doesn't count.) One in Memphis, Tennessee (The Little Tea Shop), one in Jacksonville, Florida (13 Gypsies) one in Marietta, Georgia (The Marietta Diner) and one in good ol' Birmingham, Alabama (The Original Pancake House).

If all goes well, I'll be able to add another one to the list after Spring Break. But that's another story for another time.

I mentioned all of the above because cooking shows tend to get me in the mood to cook. The mood won't last long, but Tuesday night's menu is looking pretty good, Mikie. Don't work too late!

RANDOMNESS #3 - 15th Annual Mountain Trip - Day One - As the title indicates, this was our 15th Annual Mountain Trip with my side of the family. Fifteen years. That's a very long time vacationing with six kids.

When we first started, Zac wasn't even a year old and our oldest, Austin, was only five.

Now, Austin is 20 (practically 21), Brad is 19 (practically 20), Josh and Katie are 18, Roxie is 15 and Zac celebrated his 14th birthday this past Sunday in a cabin in the woods.

Vacationing with six preschoolers is very different from vacationing with six 20-somethings and teenagers. Very, very different. In a lot of ways, it is easier. Older kids are very good at entertaining themselves. They can fix their own snacks. They can fix their own drinks. They go to bed late. They sleep late. If you give them a specific time to leave the cabin, they work toward that end.

With the right mindset, it can be a lot of fun, and for the Parental Units it is very freeing.

Back in the day of six little guys, I was in charge of the craft portion of the trip, Bev was in charge of a birthday party (we usually go in January or February which means Katie or Zac celebrate a birthday in the mountains), the grandparents were in charge of planning one (and only one) outing (Dixie Stampede, The Aquarium, etc.) and the rest of the time was spent walking on the long, curvy mountain roads in front of our cabin.

We encountered dogs, horses, cows, but very few people. And that was fine with us.

With semi-adult people, the plans have changed a little. The craft portion of our trip has been replaced with group games and movie nights. We still celebrate a birthday, but Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey is a thing of the past. When we go on an outing, it can last all day long, and we don't worry about getting back for nap time. (Well, I do, but everyone else seems fine.)

But we're just going to talk about this year's trip. And Day One of this year's trip was exactly the same as the past 14 years... Let's-Get-There-And-Get-This-Party-Started!

Grandmother went up first thing Friday morning with Brad and Austin.

Bev's family followed around 2:00 p.m.

The remaining Faulkner Five left around 3:00 p.m.

We do not make fun plans for Day One. Day One is strictly a travel day.


That's it. That is the one and only rule for Day One. The people who arrive at the cabin before Aunt Belinda HATE this one rule, but they follow it to the letter because otherwise Aunt Belinda is not pleasant for the remainder of the trip.

And when Aunt Belinda is not pleasant... Well, I'll leave that to your imagination.

Day Two was fun, but we'll cover that in great detail tomorrow!

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

Another FINE recipe from Pinterest. I'm not making this until the weekend, because only Austin and I will enjoy this kind of cake. On second thought, I am not making this cake until SUNDAY because The Boy will need to take all remaining pieces of this dessert to Jacksonville. It will NOT need to stay in the house with me over one day.

You will need the following:

1 box angel food cake mix
1 large can crushed pineapple

1. Put dry cake mix in bowl. DO NOT add the water as directed on the box.

2. Add entire can of pineapple with juice.

3. Mix carefully until all dry mix in incorporated.

4. Pour into either a tube pan, a 9" x 13" pan or cupcake pan with liners. Bake at 350 degrees for the time listed on the box for the correct pan size. (It will be around 30 to 40 minutes.)

5. When sides pull away from pan and a toothpick comes out clean, cake is done.

If you try it before I do, let me know what you think. Otherwise, I'll give you the low-down next week!

Have a beautiful Tuesday. I'll be back on schedule tomorrow with more mountain stories (some of them actually true), a Seasonal Tradition, Wednesday Wisdom, more mountain pics, etc., etc.

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.


The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, February 17, 2012

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

The Gallery Pics are from last night's Ding-Dong Ditching outing. Today three of Roxie's best buds are trying out for Rockettes (our school's dance team).

Last year, Roxie made giant cards and attached a real Ding Dong (chocolate) to the card, rang the doorbell and ran like crazy. It was lots of fun.

This year, she wanted to do the same thing, but instead of a real Ding Dong, she decided to give the girls "lucky" socks for try-outs... so the cards read "You Knock My Socks Off" or something like that. Cute idea.

Ding-Dong Ditching with Roxie is very interesting. There are certain rules which must be followed.

1. The Big Gold Van cannot go. It is WAY too recognizable by everyone in Gardendale... much less her friends. We have to take Mikie's Edge or one of the boys' trucks.

2. I have to turn the lights off as soon as we enter the neighborhood. This is particularly dangerous because I, The Enchanting Belinda, do NOT have night vision. Or night vision glasses. So when I'm driving in the dark, I am REALLY driving in the dark.

3. As I pull up to the house, Roxie impresses upon me to be completely silent. However, she sounds like a herd of wild elephants running up the stairs and ringing the doorbell.

4. She also starts screaming, "GO! GO! GO!" before she gets to the car. I haven't figured out if she wants to jump into a moving car... if she wants to jump through the open car window... or if she actually thinks she's already in the car when she starts screaming, "GO! GO! GO!"

It's a lot of fun, and she's already planning next year's cards. (Shhh! Don't tell anyone. It's going to be a big surprise!)

Weekend Happenings

We're mountain bound this President's Day Weekend. This will be our 15th Annual Extended Family Mountain Trip, and we are ALL looking forward to the time away.

Our plans are pretty simple.

1. We will eat a good bit.

2. We will drink coffee on the deck overlooking the glorious mountain scenery.

3. We will sit in front of the fireplace.

4. We will watch movies.

5. We will play games.

6. We will go to Galtinburg.

7. We will go to the Knifeworks AND fudge shopping.

8. We will celebrate Zac's 14th birthday on Sunday.

9. We will relax in the hot tub. (Well, Katie and Roxie will. That is kind of their thing.)

10. We will have lunch at Pancake Pantry. (CAN'T WAIT!)

11. This year, we are going to try something new. We are going to WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge. (Have y'all ever seen the upside down building in Orlando or Pigeon Forge? That's WonderWorks, and according to some friends who have tried it before, it is a LOT of fun.) I'll have many pictures of WonderWorks next week.

We'll have five teenagers and a 20-something this year. When we started 15 years ago, we had six kiddos five and under... and I was only 35... and I looked really, really good. (Heavy, heavy sigh.)

It's different now, but it's a tradition our family has loved, and I hope it continues for a very, very long time.

I hope you and yours have a fantastic long weekend. I'll be back Monday evening with Mindless Monday and a lot of mountain pics. (You can check around 6:00 p.m. Monday night.)

Take care, and I'll talk to you next week.


The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, February 16, 2012

EVEN MORE Fun and Cheap Dates

Good Thursday morning!

I've added some oldies in the Gallery. When all else fails, I always go to the oldies!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Beverly Update - Some of you have been asking about my sister and family since they were hit by the January 23 tornadoes.

They moved into a very nice home ten minutes closer to school and work for Bev and the kids. It's in a very nice neighborhood, and it's a good place to live while they rebuild.

Speaking of rebuilding, they have taken the "top" of the house off, and will continue whittling it down so they can begin the rebuilding process.

Of the three cars destroyed, all but one has been replaced, and they are in the process of finding Katie's new "ride."

It will still be several months before they can go "home" again, but they are working toward that end.

It is still very stressful and sad, but at the end of the day, Tommy, Bev and the kids are doing well. We continue to be thankful it wasn't worse. We continue to remember and pray for those who lost so much more.

We have all been overwhelmed by people and their kindness (strangers and friends, alike). Our family has learned some valuable lessons on how to give in these situations.

And we are all ready for this to become only a story... "Remember in 2012 when... ."

Yes, we are all ready for it to become an old, old story.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I'm reposting one more Blind Date Story from years past. It makes me appreciate Mikie SO much more.


At certain times in my younger life, I was blessed (or cursed) with friends who had other friends they wanted to "fix up." Although the dread was almost unbearable, I would ultimately agree thinking, if nothing else, one day 20 years from then I would have something to blog about. (Just so you know, I know people weren't blogging 20 years ago!)

This particular story is probably number 11 or 12 in my Blind Date Career. I was, if anything, prepared for the absolute worse date in the history of the world... so you see I had a great attitude going into any and all blind dates.

My friend at work and her husband knew this wonderful guy who "would be just perfect for me." They would come along on the date (a UAB basketball game and dinner) to make things go more smoothly. (Actually, that was great. Having another couple I knew with me on a blind date was something I had never experienced before. No worries about conversation lapses; no talking through an entire date with something in my teeth because my friend would let me know; someone "talking me up" here and there.) This date already had more potential than all of my other dates put together.

I prepared myself for my blind date by buying a new sweater (I love sweaters... always my favorite form of clothing), a new pair of jeans and new earrings to match my new sweater... that I loved. If nothing else came from this date, I would have a new outfit.

I rode with my friend from work to the restaurant where her husband and "the date" would be meeting us. She had told me he was cute, and she had told him I was cute, so neither one of us was really expecting anything great or wonderful. However, Coach (not his real name) was a lot more than cute. Very, very handsome. Wow! I wish I had taken my camera. He was not blind date material at all.

Of course, being cute was not my strong point. I was, on occasion, funny. I was a good listener (if what you were saying was very interesting). I was tall, thin and had the softest hands on the planet because I slept with tons of Vaseline on my hands and feet with socks on them every other night of my life in my 20s. And usually when I first met someone on a blind date, I was wearing a new outfit. Those were my strong points.

I didn't know what Coach's strong points were other than he was very, very handsome. Have I already said that? During dinner, I also found out he was funny, and he thought I was funny (a plus). I'm not sure if he was all that interesting, but staring at someone without blinking because they are so handsome translates into attentiveness, so he thought I was a good listener.

At the basketball game, we talked and talked and talked, and I found out he had gone to church when he was a kid, but wasn't really interested in going right now. Well, I've got to tell you, with an ugly blind date that would have to be considered a "deal breaker." No, no, no. I'm just kidding. With me, that was a "deal breaker" with anyone.

My relationship with God came first, and anyone I dated seriously (meaning more than once) had to have that same commitment. It was the number one rule. The big one.

Gosh, he was handsome! No. A rule is a rule. So then and there, I "churched" him. I started talking about how I had accepted Christ as my Savior when I was 12 years-old, how much I enjoyed playing the piano at my church, how much I loved being Children's Choir Director, how I used to spend every Saturday in my teens visiting and working on the bus ministry, how my Granddaddy was a minister and my Daddy was a deacon, etc., etc., etc.

On the ride home from the basketball game, it was just the two of us. The conversation was very easy and natural... no awkward pauses. (Very rare in "blind date" circles.) We laughed, we joked and I "churched" him a little more by asking him to come visit my church with me sometime. At the front door, he looked at me and grinned, "It's a shame this isn't going to work out."

"Yeah, it really is," I agreed. "Are you sure you wouldn't want to come to church with me?" I asked hopefully.

"Maybe sometime," he said.

"Nope. The right answer would have been 'Is this Sunday okay with you?'" I said, only half kidding. He told me he just wasn't interested in church right now, and I appreciated his honesty.

Then he reached out and held my two hands. "Boy, you do have the softest hands in the world." My friend must have told him about my Vaseline/sock regimen.

"I know," I said with a sigh. He squeezed my hands, told me he had a great evening and then... drove off.

The next day my boss (a combination benevolent uncle/big brother) asked me how everything went. "Oh, it was fine," I replied.

"I'm sorry. It obviously didn't go well."

"No. It was a great date and he was a great guy... but I had to 'church' him."

"Oh, good grief. Why do you keep doing that?" my exasperated boss asked.

"One, it's important to me... and two, three and four, IT'S IMPORTANT TO ME," I tried to explain.

He shook his head, grinned and walked away. It was futile to try to talk "some sense into me," as he well knew.

My friend who fixed us up knew it, too. She came around the corner smiling, and said everything seemed to have gone well, but she had talked to Coach and he had told her the final verdict (attorney talk). "Well, maybe next time," she said cheerfully.

However, it wasn't the next time... and it wasn't a blind date. I waited patiently on the Lord, and was rewarded with the "whole enchilada" (a/k/a my Mikie). He loves it when I call him the "whole enchilada!"

I endured four or five more blind dates after Coach, knowing that the "right one" would ultimately turn out to be the one God had planned for me all along.

But, I'll always remember Coach fondly, because he was by far my "best" blind date. And having become a "blind date" professional, no one knew better than me that the words "best" and "blind date" rarely go together.

Blog Linkage - Compared to last week's list, this one is short and sweet... but good. Always good.

1. Go to Six Sisters' Stuff under My Blog List... today and everyday. They do not disappoint, but I especially like today's recipe. I've already printed it off to try next week.

2. Go to Confessions of a Pioneer Woman under My Blog List and read the post entitled "I Love" dated February 15. I LOVE her list. I am in the process of making my own... in no particular order.

EVEN MORE Fun and Cheap Dates

These ideas came straight from my favorite new website, Six Sisters' Stuff. Pick one (or two, or three) and date your spouse this month.

21. Restaurant hop. Go to a different restaurant for each course of the meal. Make three stops for an appetizer, main course and dessert. Take turns picking where to go!

22. Have a spa night. Since your husband/significant other probably isn't into manicures or pedicures, you could try massages, bubble baths, etc. You can buy some white towels and robes to make it really official.

23. Play 20 questions. Write a list of 20 questions to ask each other or find one on the internet. Go over your answers afterward.

24. Make breakfast together and eat it in bed (you could do this while the kids are still sleeping).

25. Exercise together. Attend an exercise class at a local gym, take a walk or jog together or do something active!

26. Go for a test drive. Head to your nearest car dealership and test drive your dream car!

27. Break a record. Read through the Guinness Book of World Records together, and find something the two of you could potentially achieve as a couple, and then do it together as a cheap date.

28. Cook a meal together. Find a recipe you've never tried and make it together. Be sure to include some dessert.

30. Write a bucket list. Make a list of things you want to do before you die and go do one to cross it off the list!

You've got a lot of datin' to do. Better get busy!

Have a great Thursday. I hope everything goes your way today. I'll be back in the morning with Weekend Happenings and more.

Take care, and I'll talk to you tomorrow.


The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mardi Gras Madness Party AND Shrove Tuesday Pancake Tradition

Good Wednesday morning!

I have a couple of leftover pics from the past weekend to add to the Gallery today. Yesterday, we were an entirely un-picture-worthy family.

I know. Hard to believe, isn't it?

RANDOMNESS #1 - You know what last night was, don't you? No. Not Valentine's Day Night. It was Dance Mom Night! And boy, did it deliver.

Shoe throwing, foot stomping, rip-roarin' fun! And that was just the Moms.

If you're ever feeling a little down about your parenting skills, I highly suggest watching this show. It makes me feel better about myself every time I sit down to watch.

And isn't that what good television is all about?

RANDOMNESS #2 - I had so much fun reliving yesterday's blind date (Big Fred), I decided to throw another one into cyberspace for your enjoyment!

A Blind Date Should Never Last Over 15 Hours... But This One Certainly Did

This blind date was initiated by a friend who thought I would "be a perfect fit" for her boyfriend's friend. We had so much in common. It would be fun. It would be enjoyable. It would be relaxed. It would be... a disaster.

My blind date had a real name, but he preferred to go by the nickname "Wild Man." Already, warning signals were going off in my head. "I will only go out with committed, dedicated, faithful Christian young men. 'Wild Man' doesn't sound like a committed, dedicated, faithful Christian young man's nickname," I told my friend.

"Oh. That nickname's a joke. He is totally opposite of a 'Wild Man.' That's why they call him that. It would be like calling you 'Shorty,'" she explained. Well, that made sense... sort of. So, I agreed to let her give him my number and waited for the inevitable awkward telephone call.

The call wasn't too bad. It was short and to the point, but we were strangers and we didn't really have anything else to talk about other than the actual "Blind Date Details."

His family owned a lake house and there would be four or five couples going to the lake for a day of skiing (I couldn't ski), boating (I could boat), and a cook-out before heading home that evening. I had become pretty bold when it came to asking for details which would matter to me, so I asked him if there would be any alcohol served at the party. "No. We don't do alcohol," was the short, but good, response. I would not know any of the other couples (my friend and her boyfriend were not going), but with that many people along, I knew if things weren't going well, I'd have someone to talk to.

Since the conversation was going very quickly, some of the finer points of the day didn't sink in until later... much later. Especially since the last thing he said was, "I'll pick you up at 7:00 Saturday morning." Hmmm. That was very early. But I knew since he was the host he wanted to be the first one at the lake to get the boat ready and open up the house, etc., etc.

"Okay. I'll be ready," I cheerfully responded, and we said our good-byes and hung up.

Then I started thinking. I had committed to an all-day date with someone I had never met and all of HIS friends I had never met. Worse yet, I had committed to an all-day date with someone I had never met, and I would be wearing a bathing suit most of the day (not good... NOT GOOD AT ALL), riding in a boat (imagine the bad hair day I was going to have) and starting out the day at 7:00 a.m. with puffy eyes and all the other things that come with NOT being a morning person. Good attitude... I needed a good attitude. Where was that thing?

Saturday morning arrived early (not so bright), but I was ready with an ever-so-new-and-concealing cover-up, as well as a change of clothes, make-up and major hair products. I was prepared for the worst. Wild Man turned out to be taller than me (good), nice looking (good), polite... he opened the car door for me (good) and was almost totally, completely, utterly quiet. I'm not talking "thinking before I open my mouth" quiet. I'm talking SILENT. He would answer questions if I posed them, but it was that Midwestern kind of answer... "Nope" and "Yep."

After 215 questions, I was done. I wasn't a morning person, and the mere fact I had come up with 215 questions before 8:30 in the morning was pretty impressive. I dug in my bag to make sure I had packed extra deodorant, because by this time I was drenched in flop sweat from the unbearable exertion of keeping a one-sided conversation going for 90 minutes! Where was that lake???

I had assumed we were going to the lake closest to where we both lived, about an hour away. However, as an hour passed... and another 30 minutes passed... and another 30 minutes passed, I had to ask one more question. "Where is this lake?"

I honestly cannot remember the name of the lake now, but it was two hours and 30 minutes away from my driveway. "I don't know why, but I just thought we'd be going somewhere closer," I replied quietly.

"Nope," was the only explanation I received.

I dug in my bag to make sure I had packed headache medicine. I had. I promptly took two.

From 8:30 to 9:30, not one word passed between us. I had asked earlier if he minded if we listened to the radio, but he had replied, "No reception." Ah. A two-worder! We were getting somewhere now.

We finally pulled into a driveway of a nice little lake house. There were two or three cars already there. I introduced myself to his friends, all of whom were very nice, and the day began. There was only one boat which pulled one skier and three passengers. That meant five in the boat counting the driver and five on shore. I opted to stay on shore for the first outing. I talked to the other four people left with me, and they talked with surprising enthusiasm about how much fun Wild Man was, how much they thought of Wild Man, how lucky I was Wild Man invited me to the lake, etc., etc.

"Does Wild Man actually talk to you, guys?" I asked.

"Oh, he just has to warm up. Then you can't get a word in edge-wise," they assured me. So there it was. It was me. I hadn't asked interesting enough questions to get him to "warm-up." I went into the lake house, found a piece of paper and tried so very hard to think of some new "material," if not for the day at the lake, at least for the horrendous 150 minute drive back home. Nothing... I had used up every question known to man on the way down.

Around 11:00, I started putting lunch items out and getting the counter organized for people to come in from the boat and start making their sandwiches, etc. I was fixing ice in the glasses when Wild Man and the first boating group came in from the boat ride. "Wow. What's the hurry?" one of the girls asked. "It's just 11:05. It's not time for lunch yet!" I decided then and there I did not like her!

"We usually ski until around 12:30 or 1:00 and then come in for lunch," someone else offered.

"Oh. I see. Well, when do we usually cook out?" I asked, bracing myself.

"Around 6:00 or so. Just whenever we feel like it," came another answer.

Oh, no. I'm not a math person, but that would put us eating around 6:30 or 7:00, cleaning up around 7:45 or 8:00, saying good-bye around 8:00 or 8:15, and then getting into the car for the 150 minute drive back home around 8:30. I wouldn't be home until 11:00 p.m. that night. Only 12 more hours to go.

I was in the next group on the boat. We rode until 12:30, and went back to the lake house for lunch. Everyone took their sweet time filling up on lunch, and group three got into the boat around 2:30. (I didn't mention that the entire time in the boat Wild Man never spoke... to me or anyone else. At one point, I asked one of the other girls if he indeed was fluent in English. Maybe that was the problem. I didn't speak Italian or Portuguese or Russian. "You are so funny! I think that's why he likes you so much.")

"He likes me? Did he actually say those words? Did that come out of his mouth?" I asked.

"No. You can tell by his body language."

I wanted to throw myself overboard.

At 4:00, I was sitting on the porch of the dock watching the boat. Think, think, think. How can I get home? Pray, pray, pray. Lord, how can I get home? Thirty minutes later, black smoke started coming out of the boat, and it barely made it back to the dock. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Everyone was very concerned, but no one more than me. What if one of these guys was a boat mechanic. I looked around. Everyone looked just as dumbfounded as the next guy. YES! I ran back up to the lake house, threw a bag of charcoal on the grill, added tons of lighter fluid and lit that sucker! We were about to start cooking out! You've never seen one person make 22 hamburger patties so fast in your entire life!

Even with the boat breakdown, we still weren't ready to eat until 6:00. I did all the clean-up, mopped the kitchen, vacuumed the den, and swept the deck (while everyone was still finishing dinner).

At 7:30, we got in the car... and the countdown from 150 minutes backwards began. Thirty minutes into our drive home, he put his blinker on. "What are you doing? Why are you getting off the highway?" I know I sounded almost hysterical.

"Gas," was the one word reply. I looked at his dashboard. We had 1/8 of a tank. We could make a two hour trip on an 1/8 of a tank. I did it all the time! He refused to keep going, so I had to add another seven minutes to the 150 minute backward countdown. Total dejection!

Not one word was spoken for the remaining two hours left of the trip. Not one. I AM NOT EXAGGERATING!

When we pulled into the driveway, he walked me to the front door. "I had a good time. Would you like to go out again?"

NO! NO! NO! I screamed inside my head. "I appreciate it, but I think we're better off just being friends," I said firmly, but politely. Friends who have never met and never, ever, ever speak to each other.

"Well, thanks for coming," and off he went.

I learned the most important lessons of Blind Dating 101 that day.

(1) Never, ever go on a blind date unless it is for lunch.

(2) Make sure the blind date is scheduled during the work week so you absolutely cannot stay over one hour.

(3) Always take your own car.

All three of these basic rules will ensure you will never waste an entire day of your life... and that you will never have to go on a first date in a bathing suit (albeit with a very nice, new cover-up).

DISCLAIMER - I said no "date" bashing. Wild Man was a gentleman at all times. He was a good driver and a generous, gracious host. He is now married to a beautiful, genteel woman, has four well-behaved children and is extremely wealthy.

I made that last sentence up. I never heard from him again (no pun intended). But I do hope he has all those things, and much, much more!

Wednesday Wisdom - I'm still sharing the love this week.

"No man is truly married until he understands every word his wife is NOT saying." (Love this one!)

"Love may be blind but marriage is a real eye-opener!" (True, true.)

"Love isn't blind; it just only sees what matters." William Curry (Ahhh.)

Mardi Gras Madness Party

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is a celebration of crazy costumes and wild make-up, masked balls and colorful parades. You'll want to explain some of the history to the girls some time during the festivities. (See below.)

Let everyone know if they want to attend the party, they are expected to dress the part! Get them started by including a Mardi Gras mask and a string of beads with the invitation. (If you're going to have a costume parade and judging, include it on the invitation as well.)

Invitations - If you want to make your own invitation, use layers of purple and green paper. Write out the invitation information with a gold gel pen and add some gold glitter at the edges. Now you have an invitation with traditional Mardi Gras colors.

Decorations - Decorate railings, mantles and windows with gold, green and purple metallic tinsel garland for a cohesive and shining Mardi Gras look.

Another great way to spread color and decoration throughout the room is with balloon bouquets. Group purple, green and gold balloons together. Place these bouquets at the entrance to the party, in the corners, along the wall, etc., etc.

Think feathers for your tables! Start with colorful feather masks and a balloon bouquet anchored through a Mardi Gras hat (poke holes in the top of the hat). Snake a green, purple or gold feather boa around the base, alternating the colors on different tables. Sprinkle gold coins (called doubloons at Mardi Gras), King Cake babies, and more beads on the table. Some Mardi Gras paper goods finish off the perfect Mardi Gras table.

Food - For your menu go with an assortment of finger foods like shrimp and/or chicken fingers, alongside mini servings of jambalaya, red beans and dirty rice. End with the traditional dessert... King Cake!

Activities - Have a costume contest and whoever has the most elaborate and creative costume is the winner! You can have you guests vote. Make sure to let everyone know on the invitation that there will be a costume contest so they can prepare!

Another fun activity is a bead collecting contest. Give everyone one a special string of beads with a Mardi Gras medallion. If any guest catches another guest saying the word "party," they get to take their special beads. The person with the most special beads at the end of the night wins a Mardi Gras crown!

Favors - Favors are an integral part of the Mardi Gras festival. Make sure you are handing out goodies all night long, just like the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Mardi Gras Beads - Beads, beads and more beads!

Mardi Gras Masks - Hand these out at the entrance to help get everyone in the Mardi Gras mood.

The Enchanting Belinda Says - If you decide to make this a spend-the-night affair, be sure and offer pancakes for breakfast the next morning. Explain this tradition to the girls before they leave.

What is Pancake Day? - Pancake Day (also known as Shrove Tuesday) is the last day before the period which Christians call Lent. It is traditional on this day to eat pancakes.

Why are Pancakes eaten on Shrove Tuesday? - Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that aren't allowed in Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter and eggs which were forbidden during Lent.

Just a little history lesson to make their pancakes taste better!

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Tradition

If you want an annual fun family tradition to look forward to each year, simply plan on taking the family out for a pancake breakfast every Shrove Tuesday (IHOP, Waffle House, Original Pancake House, etc.) OR fixing a big pancake breakfast before school and work at your home.

Make it a little more decadent than a normal pancake day. Be sure to have many, many different toppings, syrups, whipped cream, etc. (Oh. And serve them on green, purple and gold plates... EVERY YEAR!)

Have a wild and wacky Wednesday. I'll be back tomorrow with ten more Date ideas from Pinterest, Blog Linkage, and hopefully, hopefully a picture of something or someone from Faulkner Farms (circa 1842).

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.


The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Pound Cake S'mores AND Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Crescent Rolls

Good Tuesday morning!

I've added one last Valentine's Day pic to the Gallery below... and then it's off to something new and exciting!

RANDOMNESS #1 - I told you I would have last-minute Valentine's Day ideas this morning... AND I DO! Go to The Dating Divas under My Blog List and read today's post. After you finish, click on each and every little box beneath today's post. Good ideas GALORE!

RANDOMNESS #2 - Since today is Valentine's Day, I decided to hit the Archives and share a Blind Date Story from 2009.

No. I did not have a blind date in 2009. I was happily married to Mikie in 2009.

However, I did have 16 blind dates in my illustrious ten-year dating career, and back in 2009, I shared a few of those stories on the "old" A Simple Life (www.belindafaulkner.blogspot.com).

The one I'm sharing today is entitled "Big Fred," and believe me, your first date will seem wonderful in comparison.

Big Fred

His name has been changed. This blind date took place exactly 34 years ago. Wow. Time flies when you're having... FUN is not the word I would put here!

I was 16 years old, and had never had a date. (PLAY SAD MUSIC HERE!)

Were you like this? The day I turned 16, I just thought the phone would ring off the hook. "Have you heard? Belinda is 16 and she can date now. Get in line!"

Well, it didn't work that way for me. (Can you hear the bitterness?)

Several months after I turned 16, my pastor approached me about a young man he knew that was in seminary in Birmingham. The young man was going to be giving a short devotion at a Valentine's Day Banquet, and needed a date. Okay. Having no experience saying "no" at all, much less to my pastor, I agreed to let this young man call and escort me to the Banquet.

(For the record, the only thing worse than being on a 15-hour date in a bathing suit is going to a Valentine's Day Banquet with a complete and total stranger in a big, puffy dress... and having the obligatory Valentine's Day Banquet picture taken with said total stranger... and the date being your very FIRST date ever in your whole life.)

I was a picture in peach. Hair and make-up done to perfection. I was wearing heels because I had been assured Big Fred (another guy with a nickname) was much taller than me. And he was. He was probably 6'3" or 6'4" and he was a big guy. I still have that picture somewhere. An 8" x 10" glossy, Baby! (Even if I found it, I would not post!)

He picked me up, and he was very nice, handsome in his suit and tie and he seemed genuinely happy to see me. We arrived at the Banquet, had our picture made and he seated me at a table with a plate of banquet food while he went to the front of the Fellowship Hall to sit with the other speakers. He planned to give his devotion right after the prayer, and then return to sit with me. Unfortunately for Big Fred, this was a popular Banquet because during the prayer many, many people came in and sat down. When we said, "Amen," and I looked up, every seat around me was taken... with couples. Uh, oh. This wasn't good... or was it?

I saw him looking at me during his devotion, and surmised he was trying to figure out new seating arrangements. I looked around. The church Fellowship Hall was packed. No seats at all. I looked at him and shrugged helplessly. What was a girl in a puffy peach dress to do? I didn't know a soul (including my date), so I couldn't very well go around rearranging people to make room. I decided to quietly eat my dinner, and we could get together at the end.

Not Big Fred's idea of a good date. I looked up from my dinner in the middle of the main speaker's speech and Big Fred was motioning for me to come to the FRONT of the Fellowship Hall where he had pulled a chair out of a closet and squeezed it between him and another man. I shook my head and mouthed, "I'm okay," but it was not okay with Big Fred. His arm gestures got bigger and bigger. All of this was happening during the main speech.

As Roxie would say, "I was MORTIFIED," and I was not going to get up in all my peach puffiness and walk from the back of the Fellowship Hall to the front of the Fellowship Hall during the MESSAGE and sit down facing the audience. The odds of me making it up there without falling were not good at all... and just the thought of everyone watching my backside in my puffy peach dress as I walked down the middle aisle (the only aisle) was just too much. So for the rest of the evening, I avoided eye contact with Big Fred and became completely enamored with my chicken, green beans and rice pilaf. I never looked up until the final "Thanks for coming, and be careful going home!" Big Fred was very red in the face, and I couldn't tell if he was angry, frustrated or both.

As it turned out, he was embarrassed and sorry. He apologized a million times for leaving me alone at the Valentine's Day Banquet. I decided to be gracious, and I forgave him.

We got in his car and headed home. He was a nice guy. A Valentine's Day Banquet isn't a good first date or a good blind date... for anyone. He opened the car door for me, and then walked me to the front door. That's when everything got... awkward.

"I had a nice time. Would you like to go out again?" he asked.

"Sure," I said, and I meant it.

And then he asked the worst question you can ask on a date (the worst question to me, anyway)... "Would you mind if I kissed you good night?"

Oh, man. I had just met the guy... and we hadn't even spent that much time together. Maybe 30 or 45 minutes tops! But being INCREDIBLY young and stupid, I responded, "Well, maybe just one on the cheek." Ugh! How young and stupid can you be?

I closed me eyes and waited... and waited... and waited. I peeked out of one eye to see if he had left. Nope, still there. What must have seemed like 18 minutes to me, probably was less than ten seconds, but I was... how did I phrase it... YOUNG AND STUPID, and I just wanted to get it over with. I took charge of the increasingly embarrassing situation, stood on tip-toe and kissed him. I kissed HIM. (PLAY THEME MUSIC FROM JAWS HERE!)

Now, kissing him first was bad enough, but because he was so tall, and my eyes were closed, and I moved so quickly... well, I missed. That's right. I missed. I'm sitting here getting sick just thinking about it all over again. I kissed him right on the end of his nose. "Well, there you go," I said, and I darted into the house. I could hear him chuckling on the way back to the car.

Oh, the horror! What an awful first date story! What an awful first kiss story! Three words... AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL! Awful... but memorable!

Big Fred and I dated a few more times, and we had fun. It ended amicably and we went our separate ways. And I'm happy to say by the time Mikie came along, my aim was much, much better!

DISCLAIMER - I think I'm slowly, but surely, losing it! I told you I was going to post the Pizza Grilled Cheese recipe today, along with a Pinterest Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Crescent Roll recipe.

You may or may not have noticed... I posted the Pizza Grilled Cheese recipe LAST Tuesday.

However, I did promise a twofer for Valentine's Day, and I always try to keep my promises on major holidays. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Pound Cake S'mores

Pinterest scores again! This sounds like a Sara Lee Peanut Butter Marshmallow Chocolate Sauce sandwich to me. Delicious on so many levels!

You will need the following:

2 ounces semisweet chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
One 1-pound frozen pound cake (Sara Lee), thawed
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup marshmallow fluff
1 tablespoon butter, softened

1. Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. In a saucepan or in the microwave, heat the cream until hot (about 1 to 2 minutes). Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.

2. Using a serrated knife, trim off the top and bottom of the pound cake so that the cake is about 1 1/4 inches thick. Then slice the cake in half horizontally.

3. Spread one half with peanut butter and the marshmallow fluff on the other, leaving a 1/2" border all around.

4. Press the two halves together and spread the top and bottom with the butter.

5. Place the pound cake in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until warmed through, turning once (about 2 minutes).

6. Transfer to a cutting board and slice. Serve immediately with chocolate sauce.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Crescent Rolls

Another Pinterest delight!

You will need the following:

1 package Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Peanut butter
Chocolate chips

1. Separate the crescent roll dough.

2. Spread peanut butter over entire triangle.

3. Sprinkle 1 layer of chocolate chips.

4. Roll according to directions on package.

5. Bake according to directions on package.

6. Serve warm out of the oven with MILK!

NOTE - I added miniature marshmallows to the mix.

Have a lovely Tuesday and HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! I'll be back tomorrow with Wednesday Wisdom, a Seasonal Tradition and more good "stuff."

Take care and I'll talk to you in the morning.


The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning!

The Gallery Pics tell our weekend story... or part of it at least. I'll fill in the gaps with "words!"

RANDOMNESS #1 - Don't ask me why, but for some reason, I am craving Mugshots Peanut Butter Hamburgers on a daily basis now. Since Austin, Melia, Josh and Roxie attended the Rascal Flatts concert Friday night, Mike and I had a free evening. FREE, I tell you! And he said he would take me ANYWHERE I desired.

And I desired Mugshots. (I know. It's a little pathetic. But it was a lot good!)

After our delicious burgers, we headed to a couple of Red Box movie kiosks, but we couldn't find anything we HAD to see. Plus, it is hard to make a decision when there is a line behind you at the Red Box.

Reason No. 472 why I miss Movie Gallery.

Not to mention it was VERY cold.

Reason No. 531.

That's right. I have a list of reasons why I miss Movie Gallery... and it continues to grow daily.

We talked about going to see the new Tom Hanks/Sandra Bullock movie, but we both felt we would end up really, really sad, so we did like so many of our kind before us... we went home and watched some really good television (NOT), sat in our favorite chairs and waited for the kids to come home.

We are old.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I was sad to hear about Whitney Houston's death. I love her music. Always have and always will.

They played the video of her singing the National Anthem over and over again... and I have to admit, I love that video. The voice that came out of that perfectly shaped mouth was simply amazing. And the joy in her face while she sang... Well, it makes me smile every time I see it. Always has and always will.

The second most played video this weekend was from The Bodyguard. Remember? She was sitting in a simple chair in a forest with snow everywhere, leaning forward and belting out "I Will Always Love You." Effortless. Stirring. One of my favorite songs of all times. Always has been and always will be.

I want to watch The Preacher's Wife today... because it's one of my favorite movies, I love the two little boys and the music is simply divine.

But I can't, because they don't have it in a Red Box and SOMEONE closed Movie Gallery!

Reason No. 1,042!

I'm going to miss Whitney Houston.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Lauren's Baby Dedication went very well. She looked beautiful. She kept her bottle down. She cried for just a minute toward the end, but just enough to be cute. And then she sat down with her Mom on the second pew of the church and didn't make a sound during the rest of the service. Excellent baby.

And since I'm mentioning it. Matthew and younger cousin, Luke, behaved wonderfully, too.

There's a lot of "wiggle and giggle" possibilities with three little ones on the second pew in the front of the church, but they could not have been any sweeter.

Lunch and birthday cake for Mr. Faulkner after church was very good, too. We had Lauren-time, Matthew-time and Faulkner Family-time before we headed home.

Two February birthdays down... three to go!

RANDOMNESS #4 - Things I've Learned While Raising Teens... A Humbling Experience

Movie Etiquette - Around 14 years of age is the time when Mike and I started letting the kids go to the movies with a group... without one of us.

It is nerve wracking to say the least. Thankfully, movie theaters are usually in or around a strip mall of some kind, and that makes the "wait" (Code for STAKE-OUT) a little more pleasant for the parent or parents.

Here are a few survival tips for the "wait."

1. As a 50 year-old woman, it no longer bothers me to attend a movie by myself. Roxie says, "I would be totally mortified to watch a movie alone! It's just so sad." I remember when I would have felt the same way two or three decades ago, but now, it is really an enjoyable experience.

Sitting in a dark room with popcorn and a Diet Coke... I don't have to share. That's pretty much heaven on earth for a mother of teenagers.

Going to a movie in the same complex, but NOT the same exact theater is totally acceptable.

2. Grocery shopping is another way to wisely spend your time. Especially in the winter months. The groceries won't spoil during the remainder of the "wait" or the ride home.

3. I also have an "in the car" bag. This bag is imperative to the Movie Etiquette Experience.

It contains the following:

Diet Dr. Pepper
Another Snack
Another Diet Dr. Pepper

Of course, if it is evening, it is VERY important to be parked in a safe environment. Since we were at the RAVE in Vestavia this past weekend, I chose Mugshots for several reasons...

Good lighting.

Tons of people walking in and out.

Bathroom facilities.

They know me by name there... and they start cooking my Peanut Butter Hamburger when they see me walk through the door!

4. Finally, I have the Focus on the Family Movie Review in my possession. When the teens get in the car, not only do I know the Spoiler Ending of the movie, but I know how many curse words were used, the positive elements, the negative elements and everything in between.

A few carefully posed questions, and I know for certain everyone stayed in the CORRECT movie theater.

I forget the name of the first movie I dropped Austin and a friend off to see. But I do remember there was a sea lion in one scene that popped out of the carcass of a dead killer whale. (I know. It sounds like I took them to an awful movie, doesn't it? But it was good. I remember that. It was really, really good.)

"Well, how was the movie?" I asked the guys as they crawled into the Big Gold Van.

"Great," they responded. Hmmm. Not good enough. Time for the questions.

"Tell me about it. What was your favorite part?"

They answered by telling me about the scene that had been used in the movie trailer for the last two months.

Okay. Time to get more specific. "Did anything happen that surprised you or made you jump?"

Everything got very quiet. "No. I don't think so," they answered.

By this time, I was furious. They had slipped into a different movie theater... and had seen something totally inappropriate and unauthorized.

"What about a killer whale? Do you remember a killer whale?"

Austin's friend answered first, "Oh, yeah. Remember the killer whale, Austin? Remember? That was pretty cool, huh?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Killer whale. Cool," Austin repeated.

"I am NOT believing you didn't see that movie," I began.

"But we did see the movie, Mom. I promise," Austin protested.

Before I totally lost it, his friend inserted, "And the sea lion popping out of that whale carcass was a BIG surprise."

Busted... by two 14 year-olds.

That's okay. I don't mind a little joke every now and again at my expense.

As long as there is no real "theater-hopping" involved!

Have a magnificent Monday. I'll be back tomorrow with two recipes (easy, breezy) and some other Valentine's Day "stuff."

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.


The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, February 10, 2012

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

I have more FOOD pics in the Gallery today. Remember what I said yesterday? I'm going to have tons of people pics Monday. You'll see why in a minute.

RANDOMNESS #1 - Since most of you have a real life, this may or may not interest you. However, if any of you are like me, this will probably be considered IMPORTANT and PERTINENT information. The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, has a new cookbook coming out in March.

You already knew that. I've told you multiple times.

The last time The Pioneer Woman had a cookbook release, she did a book tour. However, she did not come to Birmingham.

You already knew that, too. I whined about it multiple times 18 months ago.

Well, she's coming to Birmingham! On April 4, 2012 at 6:00 p.m., Ree will be at the Books-a-Million at Brookwood to sign books!

And guess who will be waiting there for her from 3:00 p.m. until her arrival? That's right! The Enchanting Belinda!

Since I'm giving a copy of her cookbook away as the GRAND PRIZE for my 1,000th Blog Post Contest, I'm going to try to have her sign the book for the winner (as well as a book for ME)!

Isn't that exciting?

I've given you something to look forward to the next month or so.

Also, I'm looking for a line buddy. I need someone who will keep my space for bathroom breaks, pretzel breaks, Starbucks breaks, etc. Oh. And vice versa, of course. This someone also needs to be pretty handy with a camera. I want my picture taken with The Pioneer Woman. (I'll be bringing a step ladder so you can take the picture looking down on us... my most flattering angle.) I guess I need to also mention you need to be someone who does NOT embarrass easily. I may or may not be on my best behavior.

Let me know if you're interested in a little field trip.

RANDOMNESS #2 - One of the GOOD things about Facebook (in the middle of all the decidedly BAD things) would have to be getting reacquainted with old friends.

I spoke with my friend, Robin, last night for well over an hour. I haven't seen her in over eight years, and while we exchanged Christmas cards forever, in one of her moves, I didn't get the new address, phone number, etc. and thus, I lost her.

Her sweet daughter, Whitney, asked to be my "friend" earlier this week. I accepted, sent her an e-mail and within hours, I received the new information I needed to get in touch with Robin.

When Robin's children were born, I wasn't married yet, and I was at her house and with those babies all the time. They were so precious.

Last night, we retold one our favorite "Whitney" stories.

When Whitney was small, she had a very unique way of thinking. She was very smart, but she marched to the beat of her very own personal drummer. Bright-eyed, big smile, olive skin... she was such a beautiful child (who has grown into a beautiful young woman).

When she was a little girl, her grandfather (Robin's Dad), took the whole family on a beach vacation. A total of six grandchildren, all close in age, were included in this package.

Robin's Dad decided to take them to a souvenir store before they left to go home. He gave the six kids instructions to find an item that would always remind them of this particular vacation at the beach.

As I recall, that was the only stipulation.

The kids all came back with their treasures... shells, t-shirts, sunglasses. You know, the typical souvenir-type stuff.

Except for Whitney.

Whitney walked up with a very large stuffed animal. And not a sea animal. A fluffy, furry dog. A fluffy, furry dog with a price tag of $40 around his neck.

Robin's Dad had always understood Whitney and her way of thinking. It tickled him. But this didn't make sense at all. And the $40 price was a little steep compared to what he had expected to spend on a single souvenir.

"Whitney. I told you it needed to be something which would always remind you of our time together at the beach. That's a dog. That has nothing to do with our vacation at all."

Whitney looked up with her huge, dark eyes and simply said, "I'm going to name him 'Water.'"

Robin's Dad was tickled once again... and Water went home with Whitney.

Catching up with an old friend is so much fun. We had a really good time, and hopefully, we wont "lose" each other again.

Weekend Happenings

This has been a good week to look forward to a great weekend. The goings-on of this upcoming weekend got me through Monday, Tuesday, part of Wednesday and Thursday.

So here we go!

Friday - Melia called a few months ago and asked if Austin, Josh and Roxie would be interested in seeing Rascal Flatts Friday, February 10. Why, yes. Yes, they would!

Guess what? It's February 10, so Melia and three of the Faulkner Five are doing the Rascal Flatts "thing" tonight!

Which means Mikie and I are doing the date "thing" tonight. Yea!

We haven't decided on all the details, but we're looking forward to spending some time together.

Saturday - It's a spread-out/do-your-own-thing kind of Saturday.

Roxie will probably be attending a movie.

Josh is going to the movies with a friend.

Austin is working at the Chick.

Mikie and I will be doing around-the-house stuff.

Sunday - Now this is going to be a good picture day! We're all heading to Lakeside Baptist in Oxford for Lauren's baby dedication... and then we're celebrating Mr. Faulkner's 85th birthday with the whole family. My camera is souped up and ready to go!

Monday - I know I don't usually put Monday into the Weekend Happenings mix, but this is an exception. We'll be having our annual Valentine's Day Banquet for breakfast since Austin will not be home Tuesday night. Pink breakfast food, balloons, candy and cute little mailboxes filled with love and appreciation notes for all... at 6:30 a.m.

I won't be taking many people pics at this event because I have to be honest... I've seen the Faulkner Five at 6:30 a.m. It's not a pretty sight. (Slight shudder.)

I hope you have a fun-filled friend and family weekend, too. I'll be back with Mindless Monday first thing next week and a bunch of last minute Valentine's Day ideas. (If you get a minute today, check eighteen25 under My Blog List for MORE Valentine's Day inspiration. Giving you the link next Thursday would be TOO LATE!)

Take care, and I'll talk to you Monday.


The Enchanting Belinda
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