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Friday, March 30, 2012

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

Okay. Roxie and Scotty are in the Gallery today... even though the Banquet was last Tuesday. I am as prompt as always!

RANDOMNESS - I've been trying to plan our Easter fun for this year. Since the kids outgrew Easter Egg Hunts several years ago, we've had The Amazing Race (Easter-Style), Survivor (Easter Island), an Easter Video Scavenger Hunt, etc. (I'll be re-posting all of these ideas the next two weeks, along with new ideas for people with smaller kids.)

My husband, Mikie, and my brother-in-law, Tommy, have been troopers. They have eaten their Easter lunch and immediately after led the two teams into battle each and every year. They have started fires (Survivor). They have driven all over the little hamlet of Trussville looking for an inflatable Easter Bunny to have their picture taken (Video Scavenger Hunt). They have walked/ran through a busy shopping mall keeping up with their "team," and making sure they were not arrested and did not cheat (Amazing Race).

This year, they are nervous. They aren't sleeping well. They jump at the slightest sound.

They don't know what to expect this Easter... and it is eating them up inside!

After years and years of hiding Easter eggs over and over and over again for six little guys, they were looking forward to "Easter" retirement. They wanted to eat a wonderful lunch, find a recliner and nap the afternoon away.

They have been sorely disappointed.

They will be sorely disappointed once again.

They just don't know it yet!

ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! - I'm going to post this little blurb today (first posted Wednesday). I won't mention it again until mid-August when we start talking about the 1,000th Post Contest.

I went through my imaginary Busy Basket in December. (I always go through my Busy Basket in December AND June.)

At this season of life, my Busy Basket contains the following (in no particular order):

Sunday/Wednesday church attendance
Sunday School Director for Middle School/High School
Attending a weekly Bible Study
Stay-at-home mom in the midst of transitioning to an empty nester
Exercising two to five times per week
Dating Mikie two to four times per month
Mother of a college junior (soon-to-be senior)
Mother of a high school senior (soon-to-be graduate)
Mother of a high school freshman (soon-to-be sophomore)
Completing the year-long monthly Paula Deen Recipe Challenge
Blogging (A Simple Life and 50 is Nifty... And Other Urban Myths)

Nothing about the above is particularly overwhelming by itself on any given day, but I feel the need to move in a different direction during the next few years of transition in my life.

Although I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging these past three and a half years, in September, A Simple Life will change drastically. It will either be totally "gone," or become a once-a-week blog. I haven't decided which, but I'll let you know as soon as I know.

My picture-of-the-day blog, 50 is Nifty, will be finished the day before my 51st birthday in August. I will not be starting another picture blog.

I will be having the 1,000th Post Contest in September. One thousand seems like a good stopping point to me. And it will be close to the four-year mark (October 16) of when I started blogging.

I know I'm telling you several months before the last post, but it will give me a goal to work toward, and putting it in writing makes it "final" in my mind.

And if you've known me two minutes, you know how I love goals... and putting things in writing!

Until the first of September, things will proceed as they always have on A Simple Life. Pictures, traditions, easy recipes, randomness and fun dates will continued to be shared until the 1,000 blog post.

So hang around until Fall. We've got a lot to talk about this Spring and Summer.

Weekend Happenings

I know what is planned for Friday. I know what is planned for Sunday. Saturday is a WILD CARD. That's right. It is anyone's guess!

Today, The Boy and I are going on a date. I'm taking him to the little restaurant in the middle of Whole Foods Market for lunch, and then we're heading to the Dollar Movie to see Mission Impossible. For some reason, neither one of us saw this movie... while Roxie saw it twice. It makes no sense!

Josh and Roxie are doing "friend" things this evening, and I hope Mike has some definite thoughts about what he wants to do for dinner (because I certainly don't).

Saturday may or may not be a fishing day depending on weather. Our lives and weekend plans revolve around the weather forecast in Alabama. Always.

Sunday we will be visiting with Mike's family celebrating Mrs. Faulkner's upcoming birthday. Also, since this is the year we "do" Easter at my Mom's house (we rotate), I'll get to see Matthew and Lauren this Sunday.

It's very important to miss as few months a year as you can when there's a newborn involved. They change week to week, and if you miss an entire month... Let's just say the kid could go from rolling over with no teeth, to walking and jabbering. It happens that fast!

(Can you tell Lauren has a new tooth I haven't seen yet? I cannot wait!)

What about you? Do you have some big upcoming weekend plans? Or are you hoping for a laid-back, see-what-happens kind of weekend? Either way, I hope it is wonderful.

I'll be back next week with lots of Spring AND Easter ideas. Visit if you get a chance.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Five Spring Date Ideas

Good Thursday morning!

I have just a few more Huntsville pics in the Gallery. (I misjudged.) Scotty and Roxie pics tomorrow, I promise.

RANDOMNESS - When Roxie graduates high school in a few years, I have a plan. I want to sit down with Mikie and my monthly Southern Living magazine and pick a little place featured that particular month to visit one day/weekend.

I know. I know. It seems daunting. But as I've said over and over and over, if it works out, GREAT! If we have a busy month and we cannot do it, IT'S OKAY! We'll try again the next month.

Flipping through the pages of this month's issue, there were several choices.

Long Weekend Trips

Day One - Travel to Savannah, Georgia
Day Two - Drive from Savannah to Beaufort
Day Three - Drive from Beaufort to Folly Beach
Day Four - Drive to Sweet Home Alabama

Day One - Travel to Macon, Georgia
Day Two - Drive from Macon to Milledgeville
Day Three - Drive from Milledgeville to Athens
Day Four - Drive to Sweet Home Alabama

Weekend Trips

Up, Up & Away Hot Air Balloon Festival - Tupelo, Mississippi

Symphony of Gardens Home and Garden Tour - Natchez, Mississippi

Franklin Main Street Festival - Franklin, Tennessee

Day Trips

Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment, Huntsville

Alabama Art Kitchen, Tuscaloosa

If you're familiar with Southern Living, you know they also list restaurants and other points of interest to visit along your travels.

Since I have so many older copies of Southern Living, I think I may use those issues to plan a couple of Day Trips to take with Mikie each year until Roxie graduates.

These are some of the things I've learned over the past six or seven years:

1. Once your first child enters high school, hold on. You are now entering the Warp Speed stage of life.

2. Once your baby enters high school, hold on tighter. There is no way to describe how fast life is going now. NO WAY!

3. In a few years, Mikie and I will be a couple again. We'll still be parents. We'll still want to be spending tons of time with The Faulkner Five... or Six... or Seven. (You know what I mean.) Mike and I will probably have more and more nights with just the two of us.

4. I want to spend that time wisely.

5. I want to spend that time intentionally.

6. I want to spend that time with my best friend of 28 years.

7. I want to be proactive. I want the transition from having a houseful of kids 24/7 to a family of adults living here and there to be easier than I imagine it to be.

Am I looking forward to this next season of my life?

That's a hard question to answer. I'm NOT looking forward to this fast approaching season of life when I will no longer be a 24/7 hands-on mother. However, I AM looking forward to the time of life when Mikie and I can spend more and more time as a couple.

I would be foolish to think it was not on the horizon. I would be lying if I said it wasn't going to happen.

As the uber-wise Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

I don't want to miss anything!

ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! - I'm going to post this little blurb today and tomorrow (first posted yesterday). I won't mention it again until mid-August when we start talking about the 1,000th Post Contest.

I went through my imaginary Busy Basket in December. (I always go through my Busy Basket in December AND June.)

At this season of life, my Busy Basket contains the following (in no particular order):

Sunday/Wednesday church attendance
Sunday School Director for Middle School/High School
Attending a weekly Bible Study
Stay-at-home mom in the midst of transitioning to an empty nester
Exercising two to five times per week
Dating Mikie two to four times per month
Mother of a college junior (soon-to-be senior)
Mother of a high school senior (soon-to-be graduate)
Mother of a high school freshman (soon-to-be sophomore)
Completing the year-long monthly Paula Deen Recipe Challenge
Blogging (A Simple Life and 50 is Nifty... And Other Urban Myths)

Nothing about the above is particularly overwhelming by itself on any given day, but I feel the need to move in a different direction during the next few years of transition in my life.

Although I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging these past three and a half years, in September, A Simple Life will change drastically. It will either be totally "gone," or become a once-a-week blog. I haven't decided which, but I'll let you know as soon as I know.

My picture-of-the-day blog, 50 is Nifty, will be finished the day before my 51st birthday in August. I will not be starting another picture blog.

I will be having the 1,000th Post Contest in September. One thousand seems like a good stopping point to me. And it will be close to the four-year mark (October 16) of when I started blogging.

I know I'm telling you several months before the last post, but it will give me a goal to work toward, and putting it in writing makes it "final" in my mind.

And if you've known me two minutes, you know how I love goals... and putting things in writing!

Until the first of September, things will proceed as they always have on A Simple Life. Pictures, traditions, easy recipes, randomness and fun dates will continued to be shared until the 1,000 blog post.

So hang around until Fall. We've got a lot to talk about this Spring and Summer.

Blog Linkage

1. Go to The Dating Divas under My Blog List and scroll down to the post entitled "Birthday Floats" dated March 26. Good ideas for making a birthday special at home.

2. Go to eighteen25 under My Blog List and scroll down to the post entitled "Half Dozen Cupcakes" dated March 28. I love this idea of gifting friends for no other reason than it is SPRING! How fun to give and receive this little gift.

3. As always, visit Six Sisters' Stuff under My Blog List. Get ready to read several mouth-watering recipes!

Five Spring Date Ideas

1. Plant a flower garden. If you have more than one child, plan on one-on-one time with each child by letting them pick out what they would like to plant (from a list of area-appropriate plants). Spend 30 minutes to an hour with each child planting their own special "row" in the garden.

2. Make a simple bird feeder. You can buy these kits at Wal-Mart or other hobby stores. After you build the bird feeder, paint or decorate with stickers. Fill with appropriate bird food for your area and find the perfect place to hang it. (If you have more than one child, you'll need more than one bird feeder. Spend the time one-on-one. You can spread this date over two or three days depending on how many children you have.)

3. Make a collage of all the things you'd like to do together this season. Get a pile of old magazines ready with scissors, glue and poster board. Sit down with each child (one-on-one) and let them fill a piece of poster board with pictures of all the things they would like to do this Spring. Over the next few weeks, make sure some of the activities actually "happen."

4. Plant a butterfly garden. Just Google "butterfly garden" and you'll have all the information you'll need to plant a small (or large) garden made just for butterflies.

5. Visit the library at story hour. This is a fun and CHEAP date. If you visit your local library regularly, call a different library within 20 to 30 minutes from your home to get a list of their activities. All libraries are so different. (I used to take the kids to the Hoover Public Library for puppet shows when they were small. They loved it!)

Have a terribly nice Thursday. I'll be back in the morning with Weekend Happenings. Hopefully, I will know what Weekend Happenings will be taking place around here by then.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Unique Easter Basket Ideas

Good Wednesday morning!

I'm going to finish putting the Huntsville pics in the Gallery today. I'll post a couple of Roxie and her friend, Scotty, on their way to his Wrestling Banquet tomorrow.

RANDOMNESS - Do you remember Planet Earth? I loved Planet Earth. We recorded all of the shows and watched them as a family during the summer.

Well, the makers of Planet Earth have started a new series called Frozen Planet. I love Frozen Planet. We're recording all of the shows so we can watch them as a family during the summer. Maybe on the deck. Under the stars. Surrounded by Citronella candles. Eating popcorn and drinking our soda of choice.

Polar bears, whales, seals, penguins... That's good stuff!

Set your DVRs or other recording devices for The Discovery Channel on Sunday nights. (Check for times in your area.)

ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! - I went through my imaginary Busy Basket in December. (I always go through my Busy Basket in December AND June.)

At this season of life, my Busy Basket contains the following (in no particular order):

Sunday/Wednesday church attendance
Sunday School Director for Middle School/High School
Attending a weekly Bible Study
Stay-at-home mom in the midst of transitioning to an empty nester
Exercising two to five times per week
Dating Mikie two to four times per month
Mother of a college junior (soon-to-be senior)
Mother of a high school senior (soon-to-be graduate)
Mother of a high school freshman (soon-to-be sophomore)
Completing the year-long monthly Paula Deen Recipe Challenge
Blogging (A Simple Life and 50 is Nifty... And Other Urban Myths)

Nothing about the above is particularly overwhelming by itself on any given day, but I feel the need to move in a different direction during the next few years of transition in my life.

Although I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging these past three and a half years, in September, A Simple Life will change drastically. It will either be totally "gone," or become a once-a-week blog. I haven't decided which, but I'll let you know as soon as I know.

My picture-of-the-day blog, 50 is Nifty, will be finished the day before my 51st birthday in August. I will not be starting another picture blog.

I will be having the 1,000th Post Contest in September. One thousand seems like a good stopping point to me. And it will be close to the four-year mark (October 16) of when I started blogging.

I know I'm telling you several months before the last post, but it will give me a goal to work toward, and putting it in writing makes it "final" in my mind.

And if you've known me two minutes, you know how I love goals... and putting things in writing!

Until the first of September, things will proceed as they always have on A Simple Life. Pictures, traditions, easy recipes, randomness and fun dates will continued to be shared until the 1,000 blog post.

So hang around until Fall. We've got a lot to talk about this Spring and Summer.

Wednesday Wisdom - The following made me LOL. (It doesn't take much.)

"The thing about quotes on the Internet is you cannot confirm their validity." Abraham Lincoln

Unique Easter Basket Ideas

I hopped over to www.themomcreative.com and found a post entitled 101 Easter Basket Ideas. I'm going to list a few on A Simple Life today, but I would encourage you to visit this website and see the many things it has to offer. Lots of good ideas.

Silly Putty (I always had Silly Putty in my Easter Basket. I like passing on the tradition.)

Personalized T-shirt

Family game

Gift card (iTunes, Target, etc.)

Plain wood, canvases or ceramics to paint (Suggest painting a cross or other Easter theme. You can use these for Easter decorations next year.)

Shaving cream

Aftershave

Fun band-aids (I've done this before. It's always a big hit.)

Fun summer shoes (flip flops or crocs)

Flower seeds

Gardening tools

Bug House

Flashlight

Pajamas

Temporary tattoos

Chia pet (Fun and funny gift.)

Comic books

Movie tickets (Start a family tradition of seeing a movie together the week after Easter!)

Magazine subscription

My kids (21, 18 and 15) still receive Easter Baskets, but the baskets now have an on-going theme.

Austin

SEC Draft Magazine
6-Pack Stewart's Root Beer and/or Cream Soda (Cracker Barrel)
Gift Card for Kindle
Favorite Candy Bar
Chocolate Bunny
Gum

Josh

SEC Draft Magazine
Cap or T-Shirt from favorite team or TV show (Ax Men this year)
Gift Card for Hamburger Heaven
Favorite Candy Bar
Chocolate Bunny
Gum

Roxie

Clothing Item (She's picked a new purse for this year.)
Gift Card for Alter'd States
Favorite Candy Bar
No Chocolate Bunny
Lots and lots of gum

Yes. Roxie has two less gifts in her basket, but her purse takes the place of those gifts. In no way is this chick being shortchanged. Although no chocolate Easter Bunny will be found in her basket (the chick doesn't like most chocolate), multiple packs of gum will make her very, very happy.

If you have some unique Easter Basket ideas, feel free to share. A Simple Life is always open for suggestions!

Have a fantastic Wednesday. Spring has sprung all over Alabama, and it is a beautiful day. I'll be back tomorrow with Blog Linkage and a Date. Everyone try to think of someone who needs an encouraging word today... and then give it to them. Call, text or e-mail to just say, "Hi" or "I was thinking of you." It could take less than a minute of your time, but it could mean the world to someone else.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bacon Cheese Potatoes

Good Monday morning!

I have added some of our first-day-in-Huntsville pics to the Gallery... and, of course, there will be more tomorrow.

RANDOMNESS #1 - I know many of you are wondering if I slept last night. Actually, I know most of you have your own problems and haven't given my sleep patterns another thought. However, I will tell you it is getting better. It isn't what I'm accustomed to, but it is definitely improving.

Now if I could just control my dreams a little bit. They are bizarre and disturbing.

A few nights ago, Eddie Murphy sold me a pair of shoes under a huge outdoor shoe sale tent. They cost $416.

Last night, I was co-owner of a chicken processing company... and we also made and sold Snickerdoodles. Just Snickerdoodles and raw chicken.

Don't worry. I'm making a doctor's appointment this morning.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Since The Boy is home for Spring Break and feeling much, much better (post-surgery), we have declared today "Moneyball Tuesday."

It is his favorite movie, and since I haven't seen it yet, we'll be watching Brad Pitt and baseball after lunch. (Guess what I'll be dreaming about tonight? That's right. I'll be working concessions at Brad and Angelina's wedding in Haiti.)

RANDOMNESS #3 - Roxie has a test Thursday, and I am so excited. Between Thursday and the end of school, every time one of the kids has a test, I'm going to stand at the front door and say as they walk to the truck, "May the odds be ever in your favor."

You know. From the Hunger Games!

I think it will be "great fun."

RANDOMNESS #4 - This morning, I watched James Cameron (from Titanic and Avatar fame) get into a tiny lime green submarine and go to the deepest part of the ocean.

No one has ever done that before. Ever.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. That man is a nut!

Bacon Cheese Potatoes (Slow Cooked)

I found this recipe on Pinterest (no surprise) from a blog called www.momswithcrockpots.com. (I love that name!) I'm going to try it before Easter to see if it is something I would take to a family gathering.

You will need the following:

1/4 pound bacon, cooked and diced
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 pound shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
butter

1. Line crock pot with foil, leaving enough to cover the potatoes when finished.

2. Layer half each of the bacon, onions, potatoes and cheese in crock pot. Season to taste and dot with butter.

3. Repeat layers of bacon, onions, potatoes and cheese. Dot with butter.

4. Cover with remaining foil.

5. Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours.

NOTE - The picture of the recipe showed red potatoes, so that's what I'll be using. I'll also be testing the recipe at 5 to 6 hours to see if the potatoes are already done.

Have a wonderful Tuesday. I'll be back tomorrow with a Seasonal Tradition, Wednesday Wisdom, pics and more.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning!

The Gallery this week will be full of pics from Brad's 20th Birthday Celebration AND our little overnight trip to Huntsville this past weekend. (Brad's birthday will be featured first, of course).

RANDOMNESS #1 - Our trip to Huntsville was very nice. The Westin is a lovely hotel with heavenly beds and heavenly showers and leaf shaped soap and green tea lotions and shampoos and an indoor/outdoor pool... and big screen televisions.

But, wait! There's more!

Bridge Street Centre is lovely as well. It's like a beautiful village of restaurants, twinkly lights and shops... some familiar and some not. (I'll have a picture of two our favorite shops tomorrow.)

Connor's Steak and Seafood Restaurant was very good. We sat by a fireplace and since the night was chilly, the management agreed to "turn it on!" It put out absolutely no heat, but it's amazing how much a fake fire can warm you mentally.

Monaco Pictures is a movie theater "experience." You buy your tickets online. You pick your time. You pick YOUR SEATS in the theater. You show up one or two minutes before the movie begins, walk in and your seats are waiting for you. Perfect seats. Aisle seats. Mid-way up the theater seats. Never, ever on the front row.

Hunger Games was AWESOME! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought the makers of the movie did an excellent job. Yes. They left some things out, but you cannot make four and five hour movies and expect people to attend.

I mean, I would attend if they offered free popcorn and sodas... and had a 15-minute intermission in the middle... and still charged ONLY $9.25 per ticket (and not the $18.50 I imagine a four or five hour movie would cost).

But that's just me.

If you have a chance to visit Bridge Street Centre for a day trip or even an entire weekend, I would recommend it. If you add a day, you could go to the Space and Rocket Center which is only TWO miles away.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I am a sleeper. I have always been a sleeper. I expected to always BE a sleeper.

If I sit in one position for over two minutes and 30 seconds, I will fall asleep. Forget about having to lie down. It is an unnecessary position for a sleeper such as myself.

Or a sleeper like I used to be. Heavy, heavy sigh.

I have become a light sleeper. I do not like being a light sleeper.

At 2:18 this morning, a bat flew into my bedroom window. That's right. A bat. It had to be a bat. Although I've had many "daytime" birds fly into my window over the years, I don't think anything has flown into my window at night. So it had to be a nocturnal fowl... which means a bat... or an owl.

Hmmm. I didn't think about an owl this morning at 2:18. It could have been a smallish owl. A large owl would have come through my window and landed on my bed, I think.

I'm sticking with the bat scenario.

Anyway, I'm tired because I've had three nights of "light" sleep. And although I've sat down for two minutes and 30 seconds several times, I am not drifting off into my deep REM sleep.

I'm hoping this is just a little temporary glitch in my sleeping pattern and nothing permanent.

One of the things I like best about being me is my ability to sleep.

It is one of my nicer qualities.

That, and I'm a lot of fun around 2:00 p.m. every afternoon. (That's my peak for the day.) Before and after... not so much.

Have a great Monday. I'll be back tomorrow with a great recipe, Huntsville pics, Randomness and more.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting, Tired and Grumpy Belinda

Friday, March 23, 2012

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

The Gallery is a little bare today. Just a couple of pics here and there. I will remedy that by Monday morning!

RANDOMNESS - This has been a very different Spring Break Week for The Faulkner Five. Usually, we GO somewhere at the beginning of the week so we can visit, play, watch movies all night, sleep very late the next day, etc., etc. the last part of the week.

It threw us for a loop when we started the week backwards, but in true Faulkner Fashion, we rose to the challenge! HA! We are now officially ready for Summer. And next week... Well, we don't want to talk about next week yet!

Austin - He is still doing well. He's a little better every day. He should have no problem being cleared to drive next Tuesday at his post-surgery appointment, and then things will start getting back to normal for him.

Josh - He has had a very laid back week which was needed. He's been "go-with-the-flow" personified.

Roxie - She'll run hard one day, and crash the next. Today's a crash day. She probably had the most difficult time adjusting to the change of Spring Break plans, but she has done well... and I've been proud of her.

Mikie - He has worked on cars (brake jobs), hung with the kids and has stayed up way too late most nights... but it's been good.

Belinda - Like I said earlier, Faulkner Farms (circa 1842) has that "summer" feel to it. Things are moving along at a snail's pace. We've had a lot of family dinners this week (which has been wonderful), and the dishwasher is constantly humming.

I know people with huge families usually get commercial-grade washer/dryer units (or more than one of each), but with my family of three men and Ravenous Roxie, I think at this stage of my life, I would love two (or three) dishwashers. That sounds really good to me.

If I ever start an advice column for Mothers of Teenagers, I think that's going to be number one or two on my list. Have one dishwasher PER grown man/boy in your home.

And my next piece of advice would be... Teach them how to load their own personal dishwasher!

Weekend Happenings

We'll be celebrating Brad's 20th birthday tonight at the rental house. We're looking forward to a time of coming together with Bev's family to celebrate an event on her turf.

And speaking of her turf, the house is coming along. They are putting down flooring and cabinets Monday. Within a month, the Martins could conceivably be moving into their old/new digs after the tornado destroyed almost everything January 23 of this year.

Tomorrow, the Big Gold Van is heading for Huntsville for a day of shopping, swimming, eating and watching HUNGER GAMES. After the movie, we intend to rest well on heavenly beds at The Westin before returning home Sunday afternoon.

And then we'll get ready for a week of work, school and Austin's Spring Break.

I hope everyone has had a good, restful week. I also hope your weekend is full of fun, family and good memories.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Date Questions

Good Thursday morning!

As promised, I have people pics in the Gallery. Not "good" people pics, but people pics nonetheless. (Josh is a little under the weather, so he declined having his picture made by his sister. I kind of wish all three of them had declined.)

RANDOMNESS #1 - Austin is doing GREAT! He gets a little better every day. He goes to see Uncle... I mean Dr. Buck next Tuesday, and after he is cleared, he'll be able to drive and get out a little. Since next week is officially his Spring Break, he'll just have that much more time to recuperate.

RANDOMNESS #2 - You may or may not remember the suede boot fiasco of November 29, 2011 when I spoke for a few minutes at "Tis the Season at the Chocolate Cafe." (I made the monumental mistake of picking out boots for my "speaking" outfit without Roxie's input... and paid for it dearly when she saw a picture of me in all of my "flat suede boots are for skinny jeans only" glory.)

If you were there, you'll remember I wore them with a pretty flowy skirt.

Not with skinny jeans.

At 50, I am forever excused from wearing skinny jeans ever again.

Wow. How did I get off the subject that fast and that far?

Anyway... A couple of days after Tis the Season, I received a call from Oak Grove First Baptist Church asking me to speak at their Spring Tablescapes event. I was totally honored and excited to accept. (The event has since been given the name WILD Women Tablescapes. I like that. I like that a lot!)

That date is fast approaching... Saturday, April 14 at 10:00 a.m. I'll be speaking about my daily attempt to live an "intentional" life that honors God. (I haven't yet mastered intentional living, but as always, I am striving daily. This is one of my favorite subjects, and has been for years and years, and I am so looking forward to meeting the ladies of Oak Grove First Baptist and sharing my heart.)

If you are interested in attending, the cost is $10 per ticket. For more information, you can call 491-1701.

Blog Linkage - I don't have a ton, but what I have is good stuff.

1. Go to www.kellehampton.com and read today's post entitled "3-21, 2012." It made me cry.

2. Go to Six Sisters' Stuff under my Blog List and pick any day you like. Always check out their recipe section to see if something catches your eye.

3. Go to Pioneer Woman under My Blog List and click on "Home and Garden" at the top of her page. She's starting her book tour. When she goes on book tour, she puts pictures of all the hotel rooms she visits under "Home and Garden." I LOVE looking at fancy hotel rooms. (I know. Pathetic.)

Enjoy!

Date Questions

Even though Mikie and I have been married 24 years, it's still fun to talk about something "different" when we go on one of our dates. It's too easy to fall into a comfortable silence or talk about the kids, house, dogs, finances, etc., etc.

Sometimes it just needs to be about US!

I found a list on a blog called Hopes and Dreams, and I've posted a few of the questions to ask on your next spouse date.

1. Describe three legitimate fears you have, and explain how they became fears.

2. List ten things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.

3. What are the five things that make you most happy right now?

4. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

5. What are your five greatest accomplishments?

6. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?

7. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?

8. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?

9. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?

10. List ten things you would hope to be remembered for.

Hmmm. You may want to give your spouse the list of questions before the date to give him some "thinking" time!

Have a tremendous Thursday. I'll try to do the same. I'll be back tomorrow with Weekend Happenings and a few more things to share.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hosting Tips

Good Wednesday morning!

More nature shots in the Gallery this morning. I'll be taking people shots ALL day today, so if you're in my neighborhood, be sure you look your best.

RANDOMNESS #1 - In 15 years, we have not gone a whole year without camping. Sometimes we camp in the Fall (my favorite time to camp), but in recent years, it has been necessary for us to go in the Spring because of volleyball, football and general Fall "busyness."

Since we had decided to try the train trip to New Orleans this Spring, I made up my mind NO MATTER WHAT, we would camp in the Fall.

It's a lot of pressure.

If we go in the Fall, that means we'll probably just have ONE AND ONLY ONE weekend conducive to everyone's schedule. One and only one weekend if we're lucky!

If we go on the one and only weekend, weather will not be relevant. We will HAVE to go if it is 15 degrees. We will have to go if it is raining. We will have to go if a member of The Faulkner Five is ill... and take them with us.

We will simply HAVE to go.

Because in 15 years of camping, we have never missed a year. Never. Ever.

And although I appear to be a hip, cool, go-with-the-flow Mom of teenagers, I have to be honest. I am a tightly wound, regimented, don't-mess-with-the-schedule 50 year-old menopausal mess... sometimes. Okay. Most times.

But in the defense of 50 year-old women everywhere, this didn't just happen recently. I was born that way!

"Why don't you just tent camp in the summer?" you may ask.

"Bees, heat and not enough deodorant this side of the Mason-Dixon line to contain all the teenager/semi-adult male body odor in a tent," I will answer.

"Well. Why didn't you camp during Spring Break and go to New Orleans on the train in the Summer?"

"Mosquitoes, heat, HUMIDITY and not enough deodorant this side of the Mason-Dixon line to contain all the teenager/semi-adult male body odor in a smallish hotel room," I will answer.

"What would happen if you just skipped a year of camping?" you finally ask.

"The world, as we know it, would end," I will honestly answer.

And I'm not kidding.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Okay. On to Plan B for our Spring Break getaway. Here's the itinerary... so far.

1. Saturday we travel to The Westin in Huntsville.

The Westin will give us a room with "heavenly" beds.

The Westin has an indoor/outdoor heated pool.

The Westin is on the same property as a large new-ish shopping mall.

We will enjoy all of the above until 7:15 p.m.

2. At 7:15 p.m., we have reservations at Connor's Steak and Seafood (also, on the property).

We will leisurely enjoy said steak and seafood.

3. At 9:00 p.m., we will stroll to Maggie Moo's and enjoy milkshakes/ice cream for dessert.

4. At 9:45 p.m., we have tickets to see The Hunger Games at the adjoining Monaco Theater.

5. Check-out isn't until noon, so we can sleep in, swim, shop, ride in a gondola, etc. and head home.

It has something for everyone. A bed for Austin. A steak for Josh. Shopping for Roxie. And Hunger Games for all.

I think it might work.

We'll see.

Wednesday Wisdom - I cheated and did the "Quote of the Day" thing. Some of them are pretty good, too.

Quote of the Day

"Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much." Blaise Pascal

Art Quote of the Day

"It takes a long time for a man to look like his portrait." James Whistler

Funny Quote of the Day

"Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and give her a house." Lewis Grizzard (I don't agree, of course, but it is pretty funny!)

Hosting a Girls' Weekend Party

I'm totally going in a different direction than planned. I read Nesting Place this morning under My Blog List, and she had a fantastic party (with pics) all posted, nice and neat. I'll share some of her ideas with you, but for the pictures and other specifics, head to her blog today. (Just click on Nesting Place under My Blog List and it will take you there in one second!)

I love hosting. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. I try to focus on doing things I like, and I try to avoid doing things I hate, even when it comes to hosting. (The Enchanting Belinda says, "GREAT ADVICE!")

I’ve learned that I enjoy decorating for a party with easy, creative designs, and I enjoy being able to cook for everyone (but not to the point where it keeps me in the kitchen).

1. Enjoy looking forward and anticipating the weekend. (I start setting up a week before. No one cares if pink decorations are out for a week at my house.)

2. Decide on a theme based on something general or an overall feeling.

3. Buy fresh flowers because I LOVE them, and they make me feel good. (Do something for yourself!)

4. Decorate with inexpensive "WOW" factor ideas.

5. Cook something I’ve made before, but only cook for the first meal. Also, make a few things ahead of time.

6. Buy some food pre-made. Semi-homemade works great for a fun weekend.

7. Say yes when someone offers help. (Ellen lives close enough to come early. She helped prep dinner and brought breakfast for the next morning!)

8. Enjoy the people when they are here and don’t worry about cleaning every part of the kitchen to perfection. I can do that when they leave.

I LOVE for my home to look festive, pulled together and extra special when I have a get-together, but I learned long ago not to try to come up with some elaborate theme (although having a general theme or purpose can be helpful). I wanted the theme or feel of the weekend to be girly, fun and relaxing. When you choose a theme, you want it to be something that will be a workhorse for you, not something you have to be a slave for. I used a few five-minute ideas that quickly added some whimsical girliness into my house.

(The Enchanting Belinda says, "She has a ton of pics with simple, but pretty, decoration ideas. Please visit her blog today.")

It’s impossible to capture the very best part of the entire weekend (with pictures). The real connections, risky sharing, tears, laughter, vulnerability and true friendship that continues to grow. I am so grateful this group of girls rose up and said “Hey, let’s get together.”

What part of your personality comes out when you are hosting? What’s your favorite and least favorite part?

Great post. Great ideas. Great pictures. It makes me want to host something today... or maybe next month!

Have a great Wednesday. This Spring Break is flying by, so make the most of every day you have with your kiddos... little or big.

I'll be back tomorrow with Blog Linkage, a fun Date or two and more.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Grilled Teriyaki Pineapple Chicken Sandwiches

Good Tuesday morning!

The Gallery Pic or Pics are leftovers... never before seen... photographic gems.

I need something exciting to photograph today. Maybe Roxie will give the beagles a bath!

RANDOMNESS #1 - The Pioneer Woman's second cookbook is out in stores and ready to purchase. I'm getting mine today, I think. But I'm going to keep it in pristine condition for her April 4 Book Signing at Brookwood!

I didn't have any takers on the "standing in line for four hours" proposition I offered a few weeks ago. I was forced to enlist Mikie. He'll let me take my bathroom breaks, pretzel breaks, Diet Dr. Pepper breaks, etc. as I wait to meet Ree.

Oh. And he'll take THE picture. Me and Ree. Not Ree and Mikie.

It will be a good day!

RANDOMNESS #2 - I haven't forgotten about my March Paula Deen Recipe Challenge. No, sir. I'm making Spicy Collard Green Wantons... and I'm promptly giving them to my brother-in-law, Tommy, and my MamMa. They love collards.

Me, not so much.

RANDOMNESS #3 - The minute we cancelled our New Orleans' trip, I started wracking my brain for a Plan B for Spring Break.

A Plan B which would be fun, yet doable for Austin and his six-inch incision.

A Plan B which would be memorable.

A Plan B which had something for everyone... a 21 year-old invalid, an 18 year-old guy's guy, a 15-year old chick and two tired 50 year-old parents.

Think, think, think.

Then it hit me!

And I'll tell you all about Plan B tomorrow! (Blog teaser!)

Grilled Teriyaki Pineapple Chicken Sandwiches

I found this recipe on Pinterest and when I clicked on the picture, it took me to the blog of a lovely Christian mom in Minnesota. (www.livinglight58.blogspot.com).

Since Mikie loves to grill (and I love it when Mikie grills), we're going to have these tonight or tomorrow night. (It depends on some plans we may or may not have.)

You will need the following:

Boneless chicken breasts (1 per sandwich)
Pineapple slices (1 per sandwich)
Swiss cheese slices (1 per sandwich)
Thinly sliced red onion (optional)
Teriyaki sauce
Hamburger buns

1. Marinate your chicken breasts in the teriyaki sauce for at least an hour.

2. Put the chicken on the grill and and flip it midway through the grilling process.

3. When you flip the chicken, it's time to grill the pineapple. By caramelizing the slices, it really brings out the natural sweetness of the pineapple. You only have to grill it for a couple of minutes per side.

4. When the pineapple is done, take it off the grill and toast the buns.

5. While the buns are toasting, go ahead and put the onion on the chicken breasts of those who like onion.

6. When the buns are nice and toasty, take them off the grill.

7. Spread the chicken out a bit so you can melt the cheese.

8. Finally, when the cheese is nice and melted, transfer the breasts onto the buns and top each with a slice of the grilled pineapple. The combination of all the flavors is amazing!

NOTE - If you want a bit of heat on your sandwich, you can add jalapeno slices.

It sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

When the kids were small, we had Hawaiian theme night on the deck. I would make Hawaiian Chicken on a bed of rice, fruit kabobs and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. We would drink out of plastic coconut cups. Roxie would serve us in her bright yellow bathing suit and grass skirt while we listened the the musical stylings of Elvis from the Lilo and Stitch soundtrack.

Of course, we had the tiki torches lit around the deck.

Ahhh. Good times! Good times!

Hmmm. I wonder if I can find MY grass skirt and Mikie's tacky Hawaiian shirt. I feel another theme night coming on. (And the eyes of my grown kid and teenagers are rolling all the way in the back of their heads!)

Have a fantastic Tuesday. We're in the mid-80s in Central Alabama... in March... this first day of Spring. I'm a little worried about what Summer is going to bring. Triple digits for three straight months? In Alabama, who knows!

I'll be back tomorrow with Wednesday Wisdom, a Party and maybe, just maybe, some pictures of super clean beagles.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning!

Okay. This is the "regular" Mindless Monday!

RANDOMNESS #1 - I'll go ahead and keep the list I posted earlier. It's here and there, but it is accurate.

1. Austin is recovering very well. He's still hurting, but each day is a little better. Thank you for your prayers.

2. Mikie and I are almost caught up on our sleep from our appendectomy weekend. Well, Mikie is. I never really catch up because of all the energy I expend walking and attending Body Pump classes, you see.

3. Our air conditioner is getting repaired this afternoon. Don't worry. The main part of the house is nice and cool. (The add-on where Mikie and I hide from the kids is where the problem lies.)

4. Austin's surgeon was Dr. Buck. I spent a lot of time trying NOT to call him Uncle Buck while we were in the hospital.

5. I miss John Candy.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I had a two-hour window to take Roxie shopping for much needed Spring Break items. (Bathing suit, Easter dress/Wrestling Banquet dress, Easter/Wrestling Banquet shoes, sunglasses... and shorts, if there was time.)

DISCLAIMER - Roxie isn't a wrestler. Her friend, Scotty, is a wrestler. He was her date for the Basketball Banquet, and she's his date for the Wrestling Banquet.

I didn't want you to think she had started a new sport. Although with two brothers in the house, she is a very good wrestler. She doesn't even worry about weight class. The bigger the brother, the harder he falls!

Roxie picked a mall (Brookwood) and off we went. While we enjoy shopping leisurely while sipping soft drinks and stopping for lunch to eat pretzels and people watch, we actually do a much better job when we "power shop."

With a little under two hours at our disposal, we found the perfect bathing suit, Easter/Wrestling Banquet dress, matching Easter/Wrestling Banquet shoes and two pair of sunglasses.

We didn't have time to try on shorts, but I was pretty pleased with the final results.

Oh. And we did get a pretzel to eat in The Big Gold Van on the way home.

We were happy. And that is saying a great deal. How often is a 15 year-old teenage girl AND her 50 year-old menopausal mother happy at the exact same time?

Don't answer that!

RANDOMNESS #3 - Although our New Orleans' trip was cancelled, our Spring Break is shaping up nicely. I think we're going to overcome our initial disappointment and just have a really nice, relaxing week (with a little surprise this upcoming weekend.)

RANDOMNESS #4 - Austin had two visitors from school yesterday... Matt and Tyler. They watched movies, talked and played X-Box while Austin tried to stay comfortable.

I made every "easy" dessert/snack in my arsenal... Peach Angel Food Cake (exactly like the Pineapple Angel Food Cake, but substitute a can of peaches), Hot Pepper Crackers, Chips Ahoy Pudding Dessert, Jello, and three kinds of muffins (Apple Cinnamon, Cranberry/Orange and Mixed Berry).

Most of it is gone, but that's okay. It was nice for the boys to drive down to check on The Boy, and I liked feeding them. Especially Tyler. He actually thinks I'm a good cook, and he requests things. And I make them for him because he is so appreciative.

I'll cook for that boy anytime!

RANDOMNESS #5 - We were able to have a Faulkner Family Movie Night Saturday, and we watched Real Steel. Even Roxie and I enjoyed what was supposed to be a guy flick. Very good movie if you have some extra testosterone in the house this week.

Just saying.

I'll let you get back to your Spring Break now. I'll be here in the morning with a new recipe, more Randomness, an update on The Boy, pics, etc.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More Weekend Happenings

Good Saturday evening!

I'm going to post more of Roxie's Basketball Banquet pics in the Gallery tonight.

I'm also going to tell you a little about our original Weekend Happenings.

If we lived in a perfect world, The Faulkner Five and the Tuggles would be within 20 minutes of reaching our New Orleans' destination at this very moment in time (6:38 p.m. Saturday night) via train.

We would be hailing a cab to carry us and our luggage to our four-star (Priceline) hotel. We would be ordering pizza and spending our first night in the Big Easy swimming in the heated roof-top pool while listening to live jazz being played from a courtyard in the street below.

Ahhh. Sounds dreamy, doesn't it?

I'll spare you the Sunday/Monday/Tuesday itinerary because it just ain't gonna happen this weekend.

Austin called Thursday (the day of Roxie's Banquet) complaining of a stomachache (left side). I didn't know if he had eaten something that didn't agree with him. I didn't know if he might have a stomach virus. I didn't know if he had pulled a muscle playing softball with the guys the day before.

Basically, I wasn't too worried.

Right before we left for Roxie's Banquet, I checked in with him. The pain had moved to the lower right side of his body. It wasn't a stomach virus. It wasn't something he had eaten. It was... "different."

Okay. I told him to lie down. I would call him in 30 minutes and Mikie and/or I would come get him if it didn't get better.

In the middle of Roxie's Banquet, Mikie checked with him again. He couldn't stand up straight and he couldn't make his 7:00 p.m. radio show.

It was serious now. Austin doesn't miss his radio show.

Mike asked him if he thought he could get a buddy to take him to an after-hour clinic in Anniston we knew about from a previous injury (worse dislocated finger in the history of Calhoun County). He said he could.

When he arrived at the clinic, there was a two-hour wait... and Austin was feeling worse.

Mikie headed to Anniston to fetch the boy, and I stayed home with Josh waiting for the call saying they were at the Bass Pro Shop. Upon receiving that call, I headed to St. Vincent's.

Even though the pain started in the left side, it was diagnosed appendicitis.

Long story short, Austin had surgery Friday afternoon and had his appendix removed. He is recovering from his first ever surgery very well, and in a couple of weeks, I hope he'll be as normal as he ever was!

We will reschedule our trip to New Orleans probably for the fall. (We want to go when it cool.)

And while we're disappointed, we are all glad Austin didn't (1) get sick on the way to New Orleans; (2) get sick in New Orleans; or (3) have to ride the train back to Alabama after an appendectomy.

The timing of everything couldn't have been better... and the Tuggles were wonderful which is why we like to do things with them. They are VERY go-with-the-flow!

I'll have all the details about what REALLY happened at Faulkner Farms (circa 1842) first thing Monday morning.

I'm sure it will be riveting reading!

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

This Weekend Happenings post has been interrupted by an appendectomy.

That's right.

The Boy is having his appendix taken out early afternoon. His appendicitis is in the beginning stages, and while he was in pain yesterday, he is resting comfortably with some morphine as we speak.

I'm changing clothes and heading back to the hospital to relieve Mikie at 10:30 so he can do the same.

I've added a few quick pics.

And I'll be back sometime tomorrow to update.

I hope you have a glorious weekend.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Break Dates

Good Thursday morning!

I have some leftover Botanical Garden pics in the Gallery this morning. I know that isn't shocking to anyone out there.

Roxie is attending her Basketball Banquet tonight, so I'm pretty sure I'll have a new bunch of young people photos in the morning. Wish me luck.

RANDOMNESS #1 - My new favorite TV show is The Big Bang Theory. I know what you're thinking. "The Big Bang Theory isn't a realty TV show. What is she doing watching an un-reality TV show?"

Let me just say, I'm just as surprised as you are.

However, Josh and I are watching it together and it is pretty funny. So funny, in fact, my new nickname for my second child is now "Sheldon." Of course, he hates it, but I think it is hilarious... so it's going to stick for awhile!

NOTE - This isn't a young kid show. I don't want you to think I would sit down with my five year-old to watch this show. Nope. Not gonna happen.

I wouldn't sit down and watch this with my pre-teen either. iCarly is perfect for that age (and I LOVE that show).

But Josh and I like this one, and unlike 24, no one gets blown up, run over or killed. (I find that very refreshing!)

Oh. Another reason Josh may not like the nickname "Sheldon" could possibly be because I called him "Jack" the two years we were watching 24.

That's a good nickname!

RANDOMNESS #2 - I have a bunion. On my big toe. I know. I wish there was a way to break it to you more gently, but it is what it is. A giant bunion.

I blame my age (which is 50), and genetics. (My mother has bunions, too.)

For any "bunion-less" people out there, a bunion is when your big toe points toward the second toe. This causes a bump on the outside edge of your toe.

My symptoms are red, calloused skin along the inside edge of the big toe; a gigantic bony bump at this site and pain over the joint.

I have all the symptoms. I have self-diagnosed myself using Dr. Google.

Even though I moisturize my bunion every night with Vanilla/Lavender Lotion, it is still there each and every morning. And it is still very sore. (Obviously, vanilla/lavender lotion is not the cure for gigantic bunions.)

Before actually going to a doctor to get a professional opinion, I have a few more things I want to try.

Compound-W and corn pads (just to name a couple).

I'm sharing this because I want you to know things aren't perfect at Faulkner Farms (circa 1842). No, sir. We have our share of earth-shattering problems.

This week, it is the gigantic bunion.

Blog Linkage - I'm simply going to direct you to two excellent blogs today.

1. Go to Six Sisters' Stuff under My Blog List. Go there every single day. Sometimes they have more than one post per day. And all the posts are very, very good.

2. Go to eighteen25 under My Blog List. You'll need to scroll down PAST the comments and click on "Older Posts" until you come to the one entitled "(birthday week) brown paper packages" dated March 12.

3. After you read this post, click on "Newer Post" (again, under the comments) until you arrive at the post entitled "(birthday week) let's celebrate books" dated March 14.

4. But, wait! There's more. After you read THIS post, click on "Newer Post" one more time. You will see a post entitled "(birthday week) kids' birthday cards" dated March 15.

Today's a "learning" day in Blog Linkage. Enjoy!

Spring Break Dates

Thanks to Birmingham Mom, I'm supplying you with a list of very doable, price-friendly dates to take with your child during Spring Break.

Please pick one (or more) of the following opportunities to "date" your child.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Hikes for the Tikes - Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Children will engage with nature through hands-on biology, storytelling and movement. (Indoor, hands-on activities if the weather is not pleasant.) E-mail events@freshair​family.org for more information or to register.

This event is FREE!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

2:00 p.m. - Ruffner Mountain CSI 101: Critter Scene Investigation

Have you ever dreamed of being a detective? After taking this course, you'll be a true nature investigator. We'll practice looking at nature evidence, including everything from scat, to tracks and broken branches. We will take a walk to search for clues and put our new found skills to work! Students will receive a CSI 101 Certificate after completing this course. The cost is $10 ($7 if you are a member). Reserve your spot at shop.ruffnermountain.org

Monday, March 19, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012


10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. - Pirate Party at McWane

Dress like a pirate and set sail for an educational voyage during the Pirate Party at McWane Science Center. Join our crew as we explore the museum and aquarium on a treasure hunt with fun activities. As you navigate your way through the aquarium, discover an octopus, touch a shark and see a horseshoe crab up close during exciting programs!

The cost is Admission to McWane (FREE for members).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. - Tiny Treasures at Oak Mountain State Park

Let's get DIRTY! Come dig in the dirt and turn over rocks to see the tiny creatures of the world. Meet at 10:00 a.m. at the Campground Pavilion (B-Side). This activity is FREE after you pay admission to Oak Mountain State Park ($1 to $3).

Friday, March 23, 2012

10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. - Story Day with NeNe at Whole Foods

Join NeNe in the cafe for stories, songs and snacks. This specific event is geared for toddlers... and it is FREE!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. - National Geographic Little Explorers at Pottery Barn

Learn about geography and critters with the National Geographic Little Explorers series. There will be hands-on activities, quizzes, songs and more at Pottery Barn. Kids ages 3 and up. The March 24 theme will be "Maps."

Oh, yeah! It's FREE, too!

I would SO do all this stuff if my kiddos were younger. (Call me if you want an extra adult tag-along! I'm pretty low maintenance if you don't count the multiple bathroom breaks! Oh... And I have to regularly moisturize my gigantic bunion. Other than that, I'm a very pleasant "date" companion!)

Have a terribly nice Thursday. I'll be back in the morning with Weekend Happenings, a tentative New Orleans' itinerary (very tentative) and, of course, Banquet pics.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Annual Balloons-in-a-Box Gift

Good Wednesday morning!

The Shepherd's Pie was a HUGE success. I know this because there are NO leftovers. Pics of the finished product are below.

RANDOMNESS #1 - Three out of five of The Faulkner Five voted together last night. And of the three that voted together, the newest voter in the family was the most well-informed. (He's taking Government this semester.)

The normal parent-to-child question of "Do you have any questions before you vote, Josh?" was replaced with "Have you heard anything about this guy in class, Josh?"

Yet, another humbling experience.

RANDOMNESS #2 - As I told you Monday, I am working on the itinerary of our New Orleans City Adventure.

There is an awesome World War II Museum in New Orleans. You start the tour by going to The Solomon Victory Theater to watch Beyond All Boundaries. The 4-D film is narrated by the wonderful Mr. Tom Hanks. (I love Tom Hanks.)

And get this. When a bomb blows up in the movie, your seat shakes. And when the weather in the movie is rainy, you get wet. And when the weather in the movie is snowy, an arctic breeze hits you in the face and fake snow falls on you.

How fun does that sound?

The guys going on the trip are all for it. Roxie... not so much. She would rather go shopping. I think we'll have to take a vote since there are five guys going to the Museum and there are five girls who may or may not want to check it out.

Roxie and I may have to break away to go boa and Mardi Gras mask shopping.

I always say, "A girl can never have too many friends... or boas."

RANDOMNESS #3 - Don't ask me why, but recently I have enjoyed making pancakes. Chocolate chip pancakes, vanilla pancakes, regular tasting pancakes. However, the pancakes I have been making are the "silver dollar" variety. Tiny, circular and neat.

I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and make giant, fluffy pancakes, so Monday night, I tried a new recipe... and it worked. The new and improved pancakes look like the pancakes at Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg.

Now, I have to work on different flavors. And for some reason, I'm looking forward to experimenting.

At 10:00 o'clock last night, I had a highly unusual (and short-lived) burst of energy, so I made a stack of fluffy pancakes for Mikie and the kids to heat up for breakfast this morning.

Even though I told the kids what I was doing (and they were excited last night), this morning Roxie forgot. Josh forgot, too. And Mikie had a breakfast meeting. Luckily, they'll be good for tomorrow's breakfast.

But it does kind of put a cloud over my "pancake-makin'" plans for tonight.

I was going to experiment with Coconut Mango Pancakes... Butter Pecan Pancakes... or maybe Hot Fudge Brownie Pancakes.

But now I have to wait until the fluffy ones are gone.

Otherwise, you-know-who will eat them.

And that would be bad. Really, really bad.

RANDOMNESS #4 - You may or may not have noticed today's Randomness was a bit more "random" than normal.

I cannot explain my thought process (or lack thereof), but I'll try to get it together before tomorrow's post. That's all I can do... try.

Wednesday Wisdom - I found the following quote on Pinterest last week, and I liked it very much.

"Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about discovering who God created you to be." Anonymous

It makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

Annual Balloons-in-a-Box Gift

I saw this on Pinterest, and I thought it would make a lovely tradition.

Pick a random non-holiday day during the year. (I would pick a summer day because all of my kiddos are home during the summer this year. I'll just go ahead a pick August 1.)

Fill one box per child with inflated balloons. (I think 10 to 20 would be great fun.) Before you blow the balloons up, put a $1 bill, love note, joke, etc. into each and every one.

If you have younger children, you could put a new crayon into five or more of the balloons, miniature plastic dinosaurs or jungle animals, rolled up sticker sheets, etc., etc.

Just use your imagination.

When the boxes are filled with colorful balloons, wrap them with brightly colored wrapping paper. Set the boxes at the foot of their bed OR at the breakfast table.

Could anything be more fun for any child (any age) to find than a large wrapped present filled with love and silliness on just a regular no-holiday day?

I didn't think so.

And to make it an official tradition, plan on doing it every year on the same day!

Have a lovely Wednesday. We are experiencing "on again/off again" thunderstorms in my part of the world. It's like someone is pushing a button. Thunder... check. Torrential rain... check. Push the "Stop Immediately" button... check.

I'll be back tomorrow with Blog Linkage and a fun Date. Visit if you have a chance.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Easy Shepherd's Pie

Good Tuesday morning!

There are more nature pics in the Gallery today. What can I say? With temps in the 70s and 80s this week, it's all about the nature!

RANDOMNESS #1 - I made the Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff this past weekend, and it was good. The kids liked it. I liked it. Mikie kinda liked it. He's partial to the Beef Stroganoff he makes (one of his culinary contributions to our family)... without cream cheese.

He cannot quite put his finger on it, but cream cheese doesn't go with everything. And definitely not Beef Stroganoff.

Oh, well. It was worth a try. (It's always worth a try.)

RANDOMNESS #2 - I'll be voting today, along with many other Alabamians. While I do not take the right to vote lightly, it is always a nice reminder when I see a new voter (Josh) eager to head over to polls after school today.

It's a really big deal, and I need to remember how big EVERY time I vote!

RANDOMNESS #3 - Spring Break is right around the corner which means the last nine-week period for this school year is about to begin.

In our family, this translates into Roxie becoming a Sophomore, Josh graduating high school and Austin becoming a Senior in college.

Wow. I'll say it again. Wow.

Pastor Kevin preached a sermon a few weeks ago, and he had some interesting things to say about "time." Other than saying "life is but a vapor," he touched on something I have always firmly believed. The older the kids get, the faster this roller coaster called life becomes.

I well remember the slow-paced life of the baby years. I was happy to stay at the house with the obligatory "two stroller walks a day." I would run to the grocery store when Mike came home to pick up a little of this and that, and return to the nice, simple, SLOW routine which belonged to me and Austin.

Then we added Josh to the mix. I wanted him to enjoy the same slow-pace life as Austin, but it was a little trickier as Austin was now an active preschooler with a three-morning-a-week schedule. Afternoons and evenings became our "down" time, and Josh, not knowing what he had missed, was content.

But time was starting to speed up a bit. I could feel it.

Throw a little Roxie into toddler/kindergarten world, and more adjustments had to be made. Mikie gladly picked up a couple of "parental" duties so Roxie could sleep in and enjoy some mornings at home. He took Austin to Kindergarten and later to his first grade class each day. Since Josh didn't go to school every morning, Roxie was able to sleep until she woke up several mornings a week... which was a good thing.

But time was starting to speed up even more.

I was so surprised how quickly Austin's elementary years passed. And then Josh's. And then Roxie's.

"Middle School will be different," I told myself. I would still be Room Mother for two different classes in the Elementary School, but Middle School would a be a "slowing down" time for at least one of my kiddos.

Wrong.

So very, very wrong.

If anything, the roller coaster was now going over 100 miles per hour... and no one was putting on the brakes.

Mike and I had already limited the kids to one extracurricular a year (each), and we kept summer extracurricular-free for family time. However, summers started becoming shorter and shorter, and fall extracurricular activities started before school began.

The roller coaster, which had been totally shut down during June, July and part of August, was now running 12 months a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day... or so it seemed to me.

Austin was in High School. Josh was in Middle School. Roxie was finishing Elementary School.

"High School will go more slowly," I told myself. "There will be days of laundry, cleaning and fixing dinner. My Room Mother days are over. I will attend ball games, concerts and other activities, but for the most part life will become more simple. I will breathe again."

Wrong.

So very, very wrong.

Josh became incredibly ill. Mike and I juggled two kids in school and one at home, and for a while time wasn't the big issue any longer. Balancing was the issue. Surviving was the issue. And it was difficult.

Three years went by in a blur, and Austin graduated from High School. While time wasn't the big issue in our own lives, the roller coaster had never stopped or slowed down, even though The Faulkner Five had stopped thinking about it all the time.

"Okay. Austin is in college. Josh is in High School. Roxie is in Middle School. Things can slow down. We can start to breathe again."

Wrong.

So very, very wrong.

And that brings us to today.

"All right. Josh graduates this year. Austin is supposed to graduate from college next Spring. Roxie will be a Sophomore. Thank goodness. Things can finally start slowing down, and we can breathe again."

Even as I type it, I know it isn't true. Things are speeding up. If I'm not careful, one day can literally melt into another... and another.

Making each day count is intentional. It is important. It is necessary.

Otherwise, one day you'll wake up and you'll be 50!

I know. It happened to me!

Easy Shepherd's Pie

I'm making this tonight. You'll understand when you see the ingredients. Meat and potatoes (and a few veggies thrown in for good measure). It's everything in one dish... and I like that.

You will need the following:

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 onion chopped
1 to 2 cups vegetables (I'm going to use Veg-All, drained.)
3 large potatoes
1 stick butter
1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, pepper and other seasonings of choice

1. Peel and quarter potatoes. Boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).

2. While potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons butter in large frying pan.

3. Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (about 10 minutes). If you are using Veg-All, add at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.

4. Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink. Add salt and pepper. Add Worcestershire sauce.

5. Add half a cup of beef broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to keep moist.

6. Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, and season to taste.

7. Place beef, vegetables and onions in baking dish.

8. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely.

9. Cook at 400 degree until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes).

Serve it with sweet tea and a salad, and you're done, Baby! I'll let you know if this recipe is a keeper or not tomorrow.

I hope you have a totally terrific Tuesday (imagine Roxie's eyes rolling way in the back of her head here). I'll be back tomorrow with a Seasonal Tradition, Wednesday Wisdom, a pic or two of the new voter in the family and a bit more.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning!

The Gallery Pics are from the Botanical Gardens... one of my favorite places. Mikie and I picnicked Saturday. We had good food, beautiful weather and we were even serenaded by a live band as we walked through the Gardens. (We were lucky enough to coincide our little field trip with a wedding reception. The bride had great musical taste!)

Lots of fun.

RANDOMNESS #1 - I do NOT like losing an hour each and every Spring. It's a mental thing, I know, but I truly need that hour... physically AND mentally.

However, I DO like adding an hour each and every Fall. That is a good weekend.

If there is a blank space on the ballot tomorrow (Alabama's primary), I'm going to
"write-in" my thoughts on keeping the Fall Add-An-Hour and getting rid of the Spring Lose-An-Hour.

Feel free to join me in this ever-so-important write-in campaign! I'm sure Mitt, Rick and Newt won't mind one bit!

RANDOMNESS #2 - If you decide to picnic at the Botanical Gardens in the next few days, the tulips are beautiful. I'm telling you this because the life of a tulip is brief. One giant thunderstorm and the tulips are gone and we move on to the azaleas and pansies.

If you are a tulip-lover, like myself, you will need to visit sooner than later... if you know what I mean.

Also, if you want a great spontaneous date, head to the Mountain Brook Village Western Supermarket (less than a minute from the Gardens) and pick out a fun lunch. Mikie and I had wraps and subs, a fruit plate from the salad bar, tart desserts from the bakery and Milo's tea.

They also had a full salad bar, hot soups, chicken wings, etc., etc., etc.

Mike and I walked into the Gardens with three small Western plastic bags, sat at a little bistro table under an about-to-bloom dogwood and leisurely ate our lunch... and people watched.

We then strolled through half the Gardens. Since it is so early in the season, we saved the other half of the Gardens for a weekend in April.

We were there for three hours, and it was relaxing and rejuvenating and FREE.

Well, except for lunch. We did pay for that. I don't want you to think we shoplifted food. Because we absolutely did NOT.

RANDOMNESS #3 - We did something we have never done before this past weekend. Mike booked our hotel in New Orleans on Priceline.com. And it worked!

Since we are going to be traveling by train, we wanted to stay IN the French Quarter so we could walk everywhere. Fun fact for you... The hotels IN the French Quarter are much more expensive than the ones on the outskirts of the French Quarter.

This is a City Adventure, and we want to have the most fun without spending the most money.

SO, Mikie went to the website and requested a FOUR STAR HOTEL in the MIDDLE OF THE FRENCH DISTRICT for $59 per night. And the computer did not laugh us out of the room. No, sir.

It apologized, and said they could not give us a $59 per night room at a FOUR STAR HOTEL in the MIDDLE OF THE FRENCH DISTRICT... but they could give us a $73 per night room.

Okay!

Considering the "outskirts" hotels were running $180 to $220 a night, this was very, very good.

But before we clicked the "okay" button, we had some fear and trepidation. That's right. I admit it. Although we were guaranteed a room for $73 a night at a four-star hotel, we had no idea which hotel would be picked. We also didn't know if we would be able to get a room with two queen-size beds instead of one king.

(I don't know how many of you can sleep with your entire family on a king-size bed, but The Faulkner Five are unable to do so... comfortably or uncomfortably. We just don't fit.)

And the "absolutely no refunds" clause was staring us in the face, too. It was unnerving.

Mike looked at me and said, "Well. Should we go for it?"

I squeaked, "YES!" and closed my eyes.

A mere 15 seconds passed, and Mike said, "Okay!"

And it was indeed OKAY!

We're staying at the Marriott French Quarter on Canal Street. One view is of the Mississippi River. The other view is of the French Quarter.

We have the correct number of beds. There is a heated outdoor swimming pool on the roof. There is a full weight room. There is a Starbucks in the lobby. We are within walking distance of everything we want to see and do.

As of this moment, Bill Shatner, the Priceline Negotiator, is our favorite celebrity spokesperson. I love him. I really do.

Now, we just have to firm up the itinerary, pack our bags and hop on the train in a few days.

Our City Adventure awaits!

Have a lovely Monday. I'll be back tomorrow with a new recipe and more.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, March 9, 2012

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

Mike and Roxie went on their annual Father/Daughter Valentine's Day Date last night. (Once again, I was flexible. Since February was FULL, we bumped the date to the first week in March. As long as we don't skip a year, I can be flexible. But DO NOT ask me to skip a year!)

They went to Firebirds for a steak and baked potato kind of meal (Roxie's favorite). They dressed up a little, and enjoyed three hours of Father/Daughter time. Since they were in the vicinity, they decided to have dessert at Krispy Kreme. Always a good idea.

The Gallery has a couple of pics of Mikie and Roxie before their big date.

RANDOMNESS #1 - I'll be posting my pics for the week on "50 is Nifty" some time today. I have found it is less time consuming to do this once a week instead of once a day. Snapping a picture a day only takes a second or two, but posting... Well, posting is another story.

Check over the weekend if you have a chance.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I've been very sore the past two weeks. More sore than usual. My exercise buddy, Cam, and I have been SUPER consistent these last two weeks, which I'm sure explains the extra soreness in unusual muscle groups in my body.

During my much-needed rest time (post workout), I came up with a list of Five Words and/or Phrases 50 Year-Old Women HATE, and I want to share them with you today.

1. Squat - Whoever invented this exercise should be shot. No trial. No jury. Just shot. And I know the 50 year-old chick who can do it, too!

2. Lunge - When you have toddlers in your life, lunging is a very normal, natural part of your day. You "lunge" as your three year-old starts running in a parking lot. You "lunge" when you see your one year-old putting something foreign in their mouth while sitting across the room. You "lunge" to answer the phone during nap time so the incessant ringing doesn't wake up the baby you just rocked to sleep.

Lunging in your 20s and 30s is not a big deal. It's what you do.

Lunging in your 50s is unnatural. It is unnecessary. It is a waste of precious resources.

Whoever invented this exercise should be shot. No trial. No jury. Just shot. And I know the 50 year-old chick who can do it, too!

3. Feel the burn! - If one more 20-something instructor asks me, "Can you feel the burn?" or says, "You should be feeling the burn now if you're doing the exercise correctly," I may mentally lose it.

In my mind if I feel something on my body burning, I should be stopping, dropping and maybe rolling.

4. Planking - Planking is a new exercise position invented by Satan himself. It's sole purpose is to strengthen the ab muscle group and build stamina.

I have no use for abs OR stamina at this stage of life.

5. You can do it! - This phrase is extremely irritating. It is the same phrase I used over and over and over when my three kids were learning to walk.

I am now convinced they finally did take their first respective steps just to shut me up.

I know that is why I push myself to finish the last "working track" of Body Pump. I just want to shut someone up!

I feel better now. Not less sore... but better!

Blog Linkage (Again) - I don't usually do this, but you simply must go to Six Sisters' Stuff under My Blog List and check out their "25 Parties for Boys" post. (It is beyond excellent!)

Go there immediately and stay as long as you like. You have my permission.

Weekend Happenings

Mikie and I have NO definitive plans this weekend. NONE.

And that's a good thing. I think we can fill it with some activities we both enjoy. (Personally, I would love to do the brunch and midday movie thing every Saturday from now until eternity, but I'm not the only one in this relationship... or so Mikie keeps telling me.)

Roxie does not have the problem on a "no-plans" weekend. In fact, she's doing a pretty good job of planning a great weekend after this busy, busy week of finals.

Austin is working at the Chick tonight, but I'm sure he has a good weekend planned, also.

Josh's plans revolve around movies, research papers and some much needed "catch up" sleep. The boy is tired.

It sounds like we'll just be passing each other through the revolving front door, doesn't it? And for the most part, I think that is a pretty accurate statement. But I am planning one big Faulkner Five meal. I just have to find out if it is going to be scheduled for Saturday breakfast, Saturday dinner, Sunday lunch or Sunday dinner. (I hope, I hope it isn't for Saturday breakfast, but if that's the only time we can sit around the table as The Faulkner Five this week, then so be it.)

"Why does The Enchanting Belinda sound so calm and 'okay' with such an 'anti-family togetherness' weekend on the horizon?" I know that is what you're asking yourself.

Well, we're going to New Orleans in a few days. That means we'll be traveling in a train car seven hours there and seven hours back... together. We'll be staying in a smallish hotel room... together. We'll be walking up and down and down and up the streets of New Orleans... together. We'll be sharing THREE meals a day (not to mention beignets during snack time)... together.

That's a whole lot of "together," so this upcoming weekend is going to be dedicated to giving everyone their own space.

It will make the New Orleans trip much more enjoyable if we don't leave the train station already tired of each other... as if that could possibly happen! HA!

Have a beautiful Spring weekend. I do hope part of our weekend includes a visit to the Botanical Gardens. As much as I love the color gray (and I really, really do love it), I'm in the mood for some pops of color. I think the Gardens could definitely provide this for me.

I'll be back next week with Mindless Monday and more Spring things.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Date Night in a Jar

Good Thursday morning!

I found some old (but unused) St. Patrick's Day plates yesterday... and from there I went shopping for St. Patrick's Day cupcake accessories... and then I baked festive cupcakes.

I felt just like a Preschooler Mom again. Ahhh. It was wonderful to be in my "comfort zone." Even if it was just for a little while.

And just for the record, teenagers like St. Patrick's Day Accessorized Cupcakes just as much as preschoolers do. Maybe even more!

Check out the Gallery!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Did you know there is an Italian AND Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade held in New Orleans the day AFTER St. Patrick's Day? Did you know we may actually see it? (I'm not really sure how the Italians fit in, but a parade is a parade!)

RANDOMNESS #2 - I'm getting into this "What was I thinking about three years ago?" thing.

According to the Archives, I was thinking about lists. (Some things never change, do they?)

Quarterly Family List

I'm sharing my March/April/May Quarterly Family List today since that is where we are season-wise. Again, everyone would have a different Quarterly Family List depending on size of family, activities you enjoy doing together, etc.

Date Roxie (3 times)
Date Josh (3 times)
Date Austin (3 times)
Date Mikie (3 times)
Fishing (5 times)
Family Movie Nights (5 times)
Family Game Nights (5 times)
Family Date (1 time)
Camping (2 times)
Drive-In (2 times)
Backyard Camp Outs (3 times)
Friends over for Roxie (5 - 10)
Friends over for Josh (5 - 10)
Friends over for Austin (5 - 10)
Football Parties at Lot (3 times) (This didn't make the 2012 list. Heavy sigh.)
Company for Me and Mike (3 times)
City Adventure to Nashville (1 time) (Just change "Nashville" to "New Orleans.")

This was my list for the Spring of 2009. I did not accomplish everything on this list. However, it was a "go-by" and having it in front of me for that time helped me do a great deal.

As I stated three years ago, if the list isn't completed, it isn't the end of the world. It just allows me to have a visual so I don't let three months slip by without "dating" or having enough friends over or playing football in the lot. (One more heavy sigh.)

Intentional. Intentional. Intentional. (It's my new favorite word!)

Blog Linkage - I have three very good posts for you to read today. Two of them are St. Patrick's Day "themed," so be sure to check those out if you're looking for ideas for this upcoming holiday.

1. Click on The Dating Divas under My Blog List. Scroll down their sidebar to Archives. Click on March 2012. Scroll down until you come to the post entitled "Flashback Friday: March 2011" dated March 2. They have lots of good ideas.

2. After reading that post, find your way back to the Archives and click on March 2012... again. Scroll down until you come to the post entitled "I'm Lucky To Have You" dated March 7. This is a good St. Patrick's Day craft to make for your spouse OR your kiddos... or both!

3. Go to www.kellehampton.com and read her post entitled "New" dated March 5. You can just feel the Spring in her photos and commentary. Wonderful, wonderful post.

Date Night in a Jar

Once again, my inspiration comes from a little place called Pinterest. This idea came from a blog called Life in the Green House (www.lifeinthegreenhouse.com). I'll be visiting more in the next few days, but my initial impression was "Wow! Good blog!" Go by if you get a chance.

Life in the Green House

I created this "Date Night In A Jar" for Allen.

I started with a plain mason jar with a wide mouth.

I used big Popsicle sticks and spray painted them different colors. Each color represented a different type of date (and each color was explained on a tag). The white sticks were used as fillers.

Red sticks had the more expensive dates painted on them. These dates require planning on our part.

Bed and Breakfast
Dinner at a fancy restaurant
Hotel stay for the night
Auburn home game and away game
Concert and dinner (his choice)
Concert and dinner (my choice)
Weekend away
Couples Massage

Dark pink sticks are "at home" dates.

Fondue and movie
Takeout and board games
1,000 piece puzzle and pizza
Football game and nachos
Popcorn and a chick-flick
Crosswords and breakfast for dinner
Make a dessert together
Friday Night Lights marathon
Homemade pizzas and an Italian movie

Light Pink dates are less expensive dates and do not require as much planning.

Dinner and a movie (my choice and his choice)
Laser tag and go carts
Mexican night at Cocina Superior
Drive-In date
Dessert only date
Window shopping for the house
Bowling
The Melting Pot
Coffee Date

Add a little key on the back of the "Date Night in a Jar" tag explaining the different colors.

The Enchanting Belinda says - I love this idea because you could create a jar for your husband AND each of your kids depending on their specific likes and dislikes.

It's yet another way the mason jar can be used for good!

Have a terrific Thursday. I'm off to run errands, but I'll be back for Weekend Happenings in the morn.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

52 Smiles (Pinterest Project)

Good Wednesday morning!

More nature in the Gallery today. It's everywhere!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Dance Moms did not disappoint last night. (I feel like one of the best moms in the world today thanks to that show!)

RANDOMNESS #2 - Our New Orleans' City Adventure is coming along nicely. I made a list of the FREE stuff to do in the City (and there is a lot).

Today, I'm working on the "must-see-and-do" stuff that costs.

We're traveling with another family, too, so I'm going to try to get with Julie and brainstorm after church tonight (and many nights hereafter).

We want to make sure there's something for everyone... and I'm sure New Orleans will not disappoint.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Do you ever wonder what you were thinking about this very day... THREE YEARS AGO? I know. Probably not.

But sometimes I do.

And when that happens, I just read an old blog post... and I have no recollection of having ever thought those thoughts before!

Moments Matter - Originally posted March 7, 2009

Okay. Everyone get ONE piece of paper and ONE pencil ready to go. Tonight before your head hits the pillow write ONE moment that really stood out today. ONE moment that made today, March 7, 2009 a day worth being alive.

It doesn't have to be huge. It doesn't have to be "special." In fact, it can be quite ordinary. A pretty spring day. An uninterrupted cup of your favorite coffee or tea. Curling up and watching Dora the Explorer for 30 minutes with your three year-old.

What will it be?

(I'll let you know tomorrow with my "moment" for March 7, 2012 turned out to be!)

Wednesday Wisdom - I chose today's quotes to go along with a new Pinterest tradition. SMILE!

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Mother Teresa

“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning 'Good morning' at total strangers.” Maya Angelou

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a
listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all
of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo F. Buscaglia

WOW! Guess who's going to try smiling a lot today?

52 Smiles

As I mentioned above, this is a Pinterest project from a blog (www.katherinemariephotography.com) dated January 4, 2011. Even though it would have been great to have found this in January, you can start next Monday... no problem!

And on the Whole Family-Participation Meter, this project is HUGE!

The blogger made a specific schedule.

Week ONE - SURPRISE! Anonymously leave a note, treat, artwork and/or gift for a stranger.

Week TWO - CREATE! Select a project that inspires childhood CREATIVITY!

Week THREE - GIVE! Pick a way to give that spreads LOVE, JOY and ENCOURAGEMENT.

Week FOUR - SERVE! Find a way to help others with your ACTIONS! (Volunteering and/or Community Service)

Week FIVE - THANK! Develop a way to express appreciation and gratitude to those who make our world a better place.

After the fifth week, you start over again... Week SIX - SURPRISE, Week SEVEN - CREATE, etc., etc.

She then posted an idea list to make it easier for you and your family to get started.

SURPRISE

Deliver handmade cards to a nursing home.

Take get-well balloons to hospital and leave with nurse for someone who is alone.

Leave bus or taxi fare for a stranger.

Plant a roll of nickels with a handwritten note at children’s play place.

Buy a copy of our favorite children’s book and leave in waiting room. (I LOVE this one!)

Play florist and leave small flower vases on doorsteps of strangers.

Leave stamps and a note by the mailbox inside the post office.

CREATE

Arrange for kids' artwork and carnation flowers to be delivered with Meals on Wheels volunteer.

Have kids color and design a joke book and leave in waiting room at hospital or doctor's office.

Deliver homemade get-well cards with ribbon and lotion to a Cancer Center.

Make a stationery kit with envelopes, fun papers, stickers and postage stamps for kids to deliver to nursing home.

Leave kid-made bookmarks (with scripture) in books at library.

Put together a salon kit with nail polish, lotion and glitter for a young girl at a shelter or hospital.

Make a "KIDS CREATE BOX" filled with glue sticks, paper and art supplies to leave at a shelter.

GIVE

Donate blood.

Deliver a goody basket for a nearby assisted living facility's staff and employees.

Have an extra large tip ready, order pizza and leave the tip regardless of service.

Send a box of chocolates to school custodians.

Drop off a new stuffed animal to the fire department so that they have one on hand for a child who may be in need.

SERVE

Find a busy place and hold open doors for 15 minutes.

Family sponsored food drive.

Prepare and serve lunch at a shelter.

Ask ten people if you can return their shopping carts in the parking lot. (I would love a kid forever if they did this for me!)

Road side trash pick up.

Invite someone who might be alone over for a special homecooked meal.

THANK

Leave thank you note and small gift for trash collectors.

Write heartfelt note to manager telling about a friendly employee.

Write five thank you notes to people that have touched your family's lives in small, yet meaningful ways.

Prepare treats for school bus drivers.

Honor a personal hero.

Send thank you notes to lunch staff at the high school.

Didn't this chick do a great job. As always, use your imagination and let your kids come up with some of the ideas, too.

If something was really, really fun, it would be okay to do it again before the end of the 52 weeks!

Oh... And don't wait until the weekend to start planning. It can be something you and your family talk and think about all week long!

Have an intentional Wednesday. Plan on doing something for someone else today... and follow through. (I'll try to do the same!)

I'll be back tomorrow with Blog Linkage, a great Date and more, more, more.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda
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