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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.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

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