Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bisquick Chocolate Chip Cookies

Good Tuesday morning!

It's turning out to be a very good contest. Lots of entries... lots of re-entries... new people putting their name into the bowl each and every day!

It's anyone's $15 Gift Certificate, I tell you!

CONTEST! CONTEST! CONTEST! - This is my 987th post for A Simple Life. The countdown continues!

The Contest will be simple. The rules are as follows:

Beginning today, leave your NAME followed by the word "CONTEST" in the Comment Section of A Simple Life, e-mail me (mfaulkner1306@charter.net) or go to my Facebook page.

You can enter the Contest ONCE A DAY (each and every day including Saturdays AND Sundays) until Thursday, August 30 at midnight. (Your name could be put into the drawing bowl a total of 17 times between now and Thursday, August 30!)

I will write my 1,000th post Friday morning, August 31.

I will draw from a HUGE BOWL of names, and a winner will be announced the morning of Friday, August 31.

The winner will receive a $15 Gift Certificate to one of the following restaurants:

1. Another Broken Egg
2. Original Pancake House
3. Olexa's
4. Lucia's Italian Restaurant in Helena

It will be Winner's Choice!

If you win and you live somewhere other than Alabama, you will win a $15 VISA Gift Card!

"May the odds be ever in your favor!"

(I'm going to be saying that for the next 12 POSTS!)

NEW THING! NEW THING! NEW THING! - Since the fate of A Simple Life is still undecided (totally gone after August 31 OR once or twice a week updates instead of five consecutive days), I'm going to post one of my favorite posts each day from the past four years until the decision is finalized.

Camping Story - Coyote Attack - January 15, 2009

It was Austin's birthday, and we decided to take five buddies to Camp David for a birthday camping trip. (Camp David is our church-owned property in Cullman County. It is beautiful and has hiking trails, campsites, volleyball, basketball courts, small lake for fishing, etc., etc., etc. It is a perfect place to take several ten year-old boys. At the time we went, we enlisted our good friend, Kerry, the Eagle Scout, to go with us to enhance our camping experience.

We decided to pitch our tent far away from the pavilion and bathrooms on a hill in the middle of a group of tall pine trees. It was a gray day in March, cool and breezy... just right for camping.

The boys had a wonderful time setting up camp, playing, cooking on the fire... all the things that make camping great. Around 11:00, we called it a night, made the boys brush their teeth (kind of) and all of us, six boys and three adults, crawled into the ten-man tent. It was... cozy! After about 30 or 45 minutes of boys making "boy noises," accompanied with hysterical laughter (why is that sooo funny?), everyone settled down and went to sleep.

Kerry and Mikie had a snoring contest, and the boys continued to make "boy noises" even in their sleep, so I dozed off and on for a little while.

We had been warned a pack of coyote lived on the property. In all the times we had been to Camp David, we had never seen or heard them, so I did not think much about it, but on this particular night, I heard howling in the distance. The wind was picking up, too, so I felt a little anxious about being so far from the pavilion in case (1) there was a storm; or (2) we were being encircled by a pack of hungry coyote. I sat up and looked around. Nothing. Two men and six men wannabes, and they were dead to the world. I decided to stay awake and "keep watch" for a little while.

The wind continued to pick up to the point I was starting to get concerned. Cullman is famous for its tornadoes (or should I say infamous), and I was in a nylon tent... on a hill... surrounded by giant pine trees... with five little boys who were not my own... plus, one son, one husband and one Eagle Scout. Hmmm. It wasn't looking good.

As my attention shifted from the howling sounds coming from the nearby woods to the tornado activity picking up around our little tent, I suddenly heard the sound of howling once again, but this time much, much closer. In fact, it was clear to me it was more than one animal howling and the animals were moving in our direction... quickly. Hmmm. Tornado activity AND wild animals running toward us.

I decided to wake the snoring machines when BAM, BAM, BAM... I was actually hit by at least three of the wild, howling animals. The only thing separating us was a thin piece of nylon, and since we were wedged into the tent so tightly, I was directly against the side of the tent. I didn't have time to scream, but the three animals yelped in fear as they hit something solid (solid meaning ME).

I struggled to sit up in my sleeping bag, but I was zipped in tightly, and I was wearing way too many clothes. BAM, BAM. Two more direct hits. I looked around. Could I be dreaming? The wind was roaring, coyotes were yelping and slamming into the tent and all of the other eight people were totally zonked! What to do? What to do? BAM. Last coyote.

I reached over and shook Mikie awake. I didn't even mention the coyotes, but I did tell him my concern of tornadoes. "What do we need to do?"

"I think it will blow over. Just go back to sleep?"

"The only problem with that is... if it doesn't blow over, that means it touches down. Do we really want to risk that with all these kids?"

"Okay. Okay. I'll go to the truck and listen to the weather." That's the answer I was waiting for. So Mikie unzipped the tent and headed to the truck. As close as the truck was parked to the tent, I couldn't even hear the motor when he started it up because the wind was now so loud.

One minute passed... five minutes passed... ten minutes (or as I like to call it, an eternity)! I had no other choice but to wake Kerry, the Eagle Scout.

"Kerry, Mike's been in the truck listening for tornado warnings and he hasn't come back. I think he's asleep... or listening to country music. Can you go check and see what is going on?"

"I think it will just blow over."

"I've already had this discussion. Please go check on Mikie!"

Kerry's a good guy and quickly unzipped and headed out of the tent. I didn't think it possible, but the wind had picked up a little more and our tent felt like the stakes were being pulled out of the ground.

One minute passed... five minutes passed... ten minutes (or as I like to call it, "If some guys don't get back in the tent in 30 seconds, they're going to have a major Belinda Faulkner Fit to deal with the next few days")!

I stuck my head out of the tent. It was worse than I thought. Rain, deafening wind, thunder and lightening in the distance... and Mikie's pick-up truck less than five feet away with Mikie and Kerry sitting high and dry in the front seat. Were they... laughing? Oh, yes they were! I crawled out of the tent and walked (slanted) against the wind and knocked on the windshield. "Do you want to let me know what's going on?" I shouted.

"There's a tornado warning, all right, but it's for Northern Cullman County and it's almost over. We were just talking until it passes," Mikie responded cheerfully.

"Did it occur to you that I was waiting to hear what was going on to see if we needed to move the boys OR something?"

"I figured you had gone back to sleep."

"Are you nuts? Between the snoring, sleeping boy noises and getting hit head on by a pack of crazed coyotes (which, by the way, must have been RUNNING FROM A TORNADO when they hit the tent), I haven't been asleep yet!"

"Man... you're going to be grumpy tomorrow," Mike predicted.

I'm not sure, and I can't prove anything, but I think the Eagle Scout said, "Tomorrow?" under his breath.

I turned away and headed back to the tent. Going back was a breeze (pun alert) with the wind behind me, and I climbed into the tent. I was wet, windblown and muddy, so I decided to just lie on top of my sleeping bag until the sun came up. Since we were leaving Camp David at 3:00 p.m. the next day, I only had 12 more hours to go!

The next morning, the boys woke up rested and ready for fun. "Can we fish?" "Can we hike?" "Can we eat?"

As I started making pancakes, I told the boys about the coyotes and the tornado the night before.

"Oh, Mom. I bet it was just a neighbor's dog. It wasn't a pack of coyotes," Austin replied.

"Oh, yes it was. I know a pack of coyotes when it hits me!"

And then to add insult to injury, they turned to Mikie and Kerry, the Eagle Scout, and asked them if there had really been a tornado.

"Well, it was a little windy," Mike said.

"A little windy? A little windy?" I sputtered.

"If all that happened last night, why didn't we hear anything?" another little guy asked.

"I guess you couldn't hear anything over the snoring and 'boy noises' everyone was making," I grumpily mumbled.

"What the heck are 'boy noises,' Miss Belinda? Your mom is funny, Austin."

And with that, a decision was made. I would never go on another all guy camp-out with Austin, Josh and pals. I have gone up the next morning and made breakfast and "hung out," but as far as spending the night in the same tent... not gonna happen.

I guess the moral of this story would have to be, "There ain't a tent big enough for one husband, an Eagle Scout, six man wannabes and this tired, coyote-beaten mom." (Again, another great tattoo idea!)

Yep. That's the tent that slept NINE the night of the Cullman Camping Tornado! And Nathan. Nathan, who looks like he pitched the tent all by himself... NOT!

You have to love eight year-old boys. Austin and Nathan.

If there was a dog within 50 miles of our campsite, Neil would find it, fall in love with it and try to take it home.

I call this one "Boys on a Fence." Austin, Nathan, Trey and Neil.

Pancakes. The perfect camping breakfast.

One more of Nathan and Austin.

You may have noticed there was not a picture of Mom. Mom needs her beauty sleep before having her picture taken on a cold, rainy Saturday morning.

RANDOMNESS - I wore Spanx to church Sunday.

I realize that one sentence could pretty much stand alone. Explanation is not really necessary, but I would not be The Enchanting Belinda if I didn't over-elaborate... just a bit.

I bought a new outfit to wear Sunday morning.

You see, Mike and I have been Directors over the Youth Department for several years now, and we had decided it was time to retire from that particular job. And when I say "Directors," I mean we counted heads... and turned the number into the office on an official piece of paper.

It was all very complicated and stress-inducing, but we wanted to do our part for the Kingdom, so we sacrificed.

The above is actually not true. It was an easy job and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Youth Department. Well, the above is not true except for the part where I wore Spanx Sunday morning to church.

The new outfit was purchased because Jamin, our sweet, wonderful Youth Minister, wanted to say good-bye to us properly... in front of 251 youth and teachers... and I wanted to look really, really good.

And for some unknown reason, I equated looking really, really good to wearing a full-body girdle under my new outfit.

Not smart. Not smart at all.

Mike and I go to the Worship Service before Sunday School. I hate to say it, but Satan himself could not have devised a better form of distraction than the Spanx.

Between wondering if it was normal for body parts to actually go numb and/or practicing shallow breathing techniques for approximately one hour and 15 minutes, I have to say I didn't get much out of Sunday's sermon... and because of my constrictive undergarments, it was difficult to get a deep breath to sing any of the songs.

But I looked good.

Pale, but good.

Then, before I knew it, it was time for our "good-bye." Mikie and I stood in front of the large crowd and Jamin said some lovely things about us. (At least I think they were "lovely." Spanx tend to stop the blood flow above the neck and hours two and three of wearing them is kind of a blur.)

Jamin handed us an envelope with a gift inside. Jamin asked teachers and students to come up front and pray with us and over us... just as I was overcome with a massive hot flash. (And you can guess this next part. I don't think the excessive heat was because I was standing in front of a crowd OR because of the "Pause," but because I was that close to being with the angels.)

That's right, People. Wearing Spanx almost killed me.

I cannot recall the rest of the morning. I don't remember getting into The Big Gold Van or the ride home. I don't remember walking into the house or sitting down on the edge of the bed.

I DO remember telling Mikie to get out of the room because things were about to get ugly.

I DO remember wondering if I had the strength to get the Spanx off.

I DO remember looking for a pair of scissors.

And then, miraculously, I woke up... and I could breathe again... and I could think again... and I had a little color in my face again.

I'm still not sure HOW I wrestled the Spanx off, but after I passed out and woke up, I was a new woman.

A happy woman.

A content woman.

A woman who will not put a pair of Spanx on again until she's the Mother of the Groom or Bride... and even then it will depend on the dress. (Because if I can find a flowy, billowy, flattering puff of pastel material that looks good on me for my Mother of the Groom or Bride dress... I'm wearing it, People!)

Bisquick Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Boy will be heading back to college in a week or so, and I will be sending him a few homemade goodies to share with his roommate and friends. I know they like the Spiced Crackers and the Coconut-Caramel Brownies I make using a Ghirardelli Brownie Mix, but I may throw a batch of these cookies in the mix to see if they are a hit, too.

You will need the following:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
2 3/4 cups Bisquick baking mix
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup nuts, chopped (optional)

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. In large bowl, mix butter, sugar, vanilla and egg.

3. Stir in Bisquick mix, chocolate chips and nuts.

4. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet (about 2 inches apart). Flatten slightly.

5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Bisquick... It's not just for biscuits any more!

Have a delightful Tuesday. Austin is in Jacksonville (taking care of college-type business), Josh and I are headed to Hanceville (to take care of pre-orientation college-type business) and Roxie is doing the volleyball thing today, so I'm thinking a home-cooked meal may not be happening tonight... unless I make taco salad. I could probably handle that one. Hmmm.

Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow with Wednesday Wisdom, an oldie, a Seasonal Party, pictures and Randomness. Typical, typical Wednesday.

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


The Enchanting Belinda


  1. Contest

    Birds, coyotes, are you Dr. Dolittle? Animals - wild animals - do seem to really like you!

    1. "Like" might be too strong a word. You're entered again... and I marked your entry yesterday, too!


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