Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekend Happenings, Blog Linkage, Little Donkey/Steel City Pops Date

Good Friday morning!

How are you? I've missed you this week!

As you can see from the heading, we've got a lot to talk about, so let's get busy.

RANDOMNESS #1 - On Monday, I told you I ran out of time while posting the Sweet 16 Festivities. And I did. I did run out of time.

This is the left-over from Sunday evening through Tuesday morning.

After an all-day Saturday volleyball tournament and Sunday church and family birthday celebration, Roxie was exhausted at 4:00 when everyone left our house. Happy, but exhausted.

She went to her room, closed her door and took a much-needed nap.

Exactly 58 minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Taylor and Mary Allison had come to collect Roxie for another little surprise.

A quick tooth-brushing and hair-brushing, and she was out the door to be taken to meet a couple more girls and eat dinner at Habaneros.

I ask you... How much happy can one girl take?

Just so you know... She does not hug me like this when I wake her up unexpectedly. Roxie and Mary Allison.

And she doesn't throw her arms around me in the parking lot either. Roxie and Katlyn.

This is Roxie's "I-hope-they-don't-make-me-wear-the-giant-Mexican-hat" look. (I know it well.)

She wears the big hat well, don't you think? Taylor and Roxie.

This pic had TOO MUCH COLOR, so I toned it down a bit. Mary Allison, Taylor, Roxie, Katlyn and Kelci. Such pretty, pretty chicks.

RANDOMNESS #2 - As you might imagine, Monday was SO uneventful compared to Sunday, but we needed that quietness and sameness. You can't keep going on I'm-turning-16 adrenaline for days on end. It would drive your mother (and others) crazy.

But Monday night, while Roxie was spending her last night as a 15 year-old doing homework, picking out her outfit for her Driver's License picture, etc., some fun stuff happened in the front yard... and she found it before the sun came up Tuesday morning.

Taylor had asked me if she could decorate the yard the night before Roxie's birthday. When a teenager asks if they can decorate the yard, an adult's mind immediately thinks "toilet paper." Lots and lots of toilet paper.

Taylor told me she would do a good job, and she would be happy to clean it up Tuesday afternoon.

I told her, "No!" A rolled yard on your 16th birthday is a fun thing, and I didn't mind picking up toilet paper... not one bit.

But then, Taylor surprised even me. What a pretty, pretty birthday decoration. Balloons EVERYWHERE!

The balloons were even neatly placed exactly four feet apart all over the front yard, on Roxie's car, on the basketball goal, on the mailbox... I could go on and on.

It was breathtaking, I tell you. Taylor and Katlyn did an excellent job.

It made The Chick's day.

And then Ally drove in the driveway right before we left to take the Driver's License test.

I had told you Roxie didn't like sweets (other than caramel and Kit Kat bars), but I had forgotten about Milky Way Caramel Candy Bars, baby shower mints and ANY kind of chewing gum.

Thankfully, Ally remembered.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Then it was time to get the Driver's License. I was a little worried about Roxie because she was so hyped up on birthday happiness, I was afraid she wouldn't be able to concentrate on passing the test.

I even said, "Roxie. Why don't we get your license tomorrow. You're a little 'happied-out,' and I'm afraid it's going to affect your driving."

"No, no. I'll be fine. I just need a little caffeine to calm my nerves. Could we stop at McDonald's and get a large Coke?"

"Sure. And you can eat the candy bar and chew a pack a gum on the way to the Courthouse," said no mom EVER! (Except for The Enchanting Belinda!)

The Chick appears to be uber-confident 99 times out of a 100, but when she's nervous, she's extremely nervous.

This is a picture of her waiting for "her turn" to take the driving test.

She was a caffeinated, sugar-high mess.

Then she passed her test, and all of her uber-confidence returned... and then some.

And she gave me a ride home.

RANDOMNESS #4 - Okay. That's enough about The Chick. There are other members of The Faulkner Five who are crying out for attention.

That's right.

The Beagles have had enough.

My beagles can be described by one word each season.

In the Summer, The Beagles are LETHARGIC.

In the Winter, The Beagles are UNDECIDED. ("Do I want inside? No. I want outside. Nope. Definitely a mistake. I want inside.") And so it goes.

In the Spring, The Beagles are YOUTHFUL. They forget they are 70 years of age and they frolic and dig and play with puppy-like abandon.

In the Fall, The Beagles are NOCTURNAL. Yep. You read it correctly. They are up all night! Well, from 1:54 a.m. until 5:03 a.m.

Because animals are creatures of habit (which, by the way, I usually enjoy), in the Fall of each and every year, some kind of woodland animal makes an appearance in our neighborhood at approximately 1:54 a.m. each and every morning.

And although The Beagles are in a large fenced-in backyard, they try their best to scare, attack, ward off, etc., the woodland varmint.

This is, of course, their territory. They are very protective.

And they are very loud.

I don't know if it is a fox or a giant woodchuck (we've seen both in our neighborhood), or perhaps a small bear or coyote (we have not seen these in our neighborhood). Whatever it is, it causes my poor dogs to sleep ALL DAY LONG.

Except when I go outside to take their picture.

Sparkle will raise her head to look at me, but she will not stand. You can tell she's tired by looking at her half-opened eyes.

And Copper... Well, if I didn't know better, I would think Copper was a much younger dog at times.

I'm going to leave the gate open tonight, and hopefully, whatever it is will be chased away by two very heroic beagles tomorrow morning around 1:55 a.m.

Or vice versa.

I'll let you know the outcome.

Blog Linkage - Get ready for some good readin'!

1. Go to www.kellehampton.com and read yesterday's post entitled "Small Things." And don't forget to enjoy the pictures.

2. Go to Confessions of a Pioneer Woman under My Blog List and click on Photography at the top of her page. She's having another contest, and the entries are really, really good.

Little Donkey/Steel City Pops Date

If you have a kiddo who enjoys Mexican food AND popsicles, this is the date for you!

My friend, Cam mentioned these two places last week. She didn't eat at Little Donkey, but she did enjoy a popsicle at Steel City Pops. In fact, she enjoyed a Mango Jalapeno popsicle.

This intrigued me.

MJ (My Josh) didn't have classes yesterday, so I asked him to try a couple of new restaurants with me, and being the eternally-hungry 18 (almost 19) year-old he is, he hopped into The Big Gold Van.

We went to Little Donkey in Homewood. (It's in a little strip mall along with Steel City Pops. Is it just me, or does Homewood have the BEST strip malls in the world? Yeah. I thought so.)

Little Donkey is an authentic Mexican restaurant. And when I say authentic, I mean I haven't heard of all of the items listed on the menu.

For example, Josh ordered from the Mexican Street Sandwiches portion of the menu... and it was SO good. Not too spicy, but absolutely delicious. (The bread was out of this world!)

I ordered a small taco with barbecue pork, pineapple, cilantro and feta cheese on a homemade tortilla. Oh... my... goodness.

I want to move to Mexico... or maybe Homewood.

It's a pretty restaurant. Colorful and comfortable at the same time. I'm taking Mikie there very, very soon.

The sign may be simple, but the food is not. So, so good.

Make sure you or your date orders a Mexican Street Sandwich. You won't be sorry.

I know what you're thinking. "Where's the pineapple?"

It's on the bottom, my friend. On the bottom.

And how cute is this little guy?

Yep. Take your date for lunch to Little Donkey, and then walk two doors down to Steel City Pops for dessert.

Again, it has a simple sign, but the popsicles are anything but SIMPLE.

The lady at Little Donkey told me to try Strawberry Balsamic, but I had my heart set on Chocolate Chili Pepper.

Thank goodness, Josh ordered a plain banana popsicle. I had to take bites of his when my mouth started feelin' the burn.

It was good, but there was a burn!

Next time, I'm definitely going to order the Strawberry Balsamic!

Weekend Happenings

Our weekend can be summed up in two words... Josh's Birthday!

I'm sure there will be a few pics of Roxie, but not as many as the last two posts.

Like it or not, Josh, you're gonna be on the blog!

I'm going to finish my posts on Ovarian Cancer Monday. I don't want to rush through it, and I'll have more time this weekend.

Have a tremendous Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It's the weekend. Anything can happen!

I'll be back Monday morning with information and pictures galore. (You'll want to stop by, I am sure.)

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


The Enchanting Belinda

P.S. We play things other than volleyball around here!

And I'm pretty sure there's a football around here somewhere, too! I'll have to find that this weekend.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mindless Monday, Easy Caramel Frosting, A Different Taco Soup, What I Have Learned About Ovarian Cancer

Good Monday morning!

Today is the second official day of FALL. I love that about today! And in honor of all things FALL, I want to share some pictures I took Friday afternoon when Mikie surprised me with a late lunch date. That's right. He surprised me. And I made him stop by Leaf N Petals in Mountain Brook because I've been wanting to soak up all of their "pumpkin glory."

This is my "new" favorite pumpkin. It's gray. And I need one badly.

Someone call Mikie and tell him to read today's post.

I wish the front of my house looked like this, but since it doesn't, I'll just keep driving past my favorite nurseries during the months of September and October... and covet.

I have so many things to talk about, so let's get started!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Roxie had an all day volleyball tournament Saturday. Her team played at 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., noon, 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. They won each and every game until the 3:30 championship game.

And that's when things kind of changed.

They played well, but Clay-Chalkville took home the First Place Trophy... and Gardendale gladly took home the Second Place Trophy.

These are our JV Volleyball Chicks after their first victory at 9:00 a.m. Saturday. We had no idea it was going to be such a long (but fun) day.

In middle school, all of the volleyball players rubbed the bottom of their shoes during the game.

Do not ask me why. I do not know.

In high school, you rarely see a player rub the bottom of their shoe. RARELY.

Except for Roxie. She does it before each and every serve.

I think it's her "thing."

Kaitlyn's feet NEVER touch the ground.

I think that's her "thing."

Roxie and Hailey.

Laci, Mary Allison and Taylor. We call them "The Fan Club."

Is it just me, or do these look like a big ol' pile of white pumpkins?

Roxie and Kaitlyn with The Fan Club.

Two of my favorite volleyball chicks... Roxie and Kennedy.

Who am I kidding? I like them all.

That's not a bad lookin' trophy. Not bad at all!

RANDOMNESS #2 - Roxie doesn't eat many sweets. Other than a bite of vanilla ice cream, an occasional Kit Kat bar and lots and lots of caramel, having a "sweet tooth" as an adult will not be a problem for her.

When it came time to decide what kind of cake I needed for Roxie's Sweet 16, it was an easy decision. Caramel.

When it came time to decide how to decorate the cake, it was much, much harder.

But then it hit me!

Although Roxie's birthday is officially September 25 (Tuesday), we had her family party on September 23. The first official day of Fall.

So I made Roxie an Autumnal Sweet 16 Birthday Cake.

Yes, I did.

And the first thing she said when she saw it...

"This cake would be perfect for your birthday, Mom."

So it took a little explaining, but she grew to understand the significance of having an Autumnal Sweet 16 Birthday Cake on the official first day of Fall.

And it was caramel, so she was happy.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Roxie's family birthday party was a lot of fun. I'm going to let the pics tell the story.

All that was missing from Roxie's cap collection was a blue cap. Melia took care of that!

And one of Grandmother's gifts was a new scarf for Roxie in beautiful autumnal colors. I would take it in a heartbeat, but unfortunately, The Chick likes the scarf.

Aunt Bev added a little Gigi's to her gift. We still haven't eaten this Auburn cupcake because we are almost positive it will leave us with blue teeth. Almost positive.

Remember the days of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" and Scavenger Hunts? When you turn 16, the entertainment includes letting the birthday girl (or guy) take guests on a little drive around the neighborhood... with a parent in the backseat.

Personally, I miss "Pin the Tail on the Donkey."

I love autumn light. Austin, Roxie and Melia.

The babies of the family. Roxie and Zac.

Aunt Bev, Roxie and Uncle Tommy.

Grandma, Roxie and Grandpa.

She's a Daddy's Girl... which is a very good thing.

Believe it or not, I have more pictures... but no more time. (I'll definitely have them in Friday's post.)

RANDOMNESS #4 - What I Have Learned About Ovarian Cancer - I left you Friday with some facts about Ovarian Cancer. Today, I will continue telling Mom's story.

In May of 2011, Mom went for her regular check-up. It was at that time her doctor discovered the cancer. As I stated before, my Mom was not sick. She was living an active life. She was not in pain. She had bloating and she was more tired than usual, but neither of those "symptoms" raised red flags.

And that is how ovarian cancer works. By the time you have "unusual" symptoms or pain, the cancer has usually spread.

She had exploratory surgery a couple of weeks later, and the cancer was officially diagnosed. She had Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer.

After she recovered from the surgery (five to six weeks), she began chemo treatments. The treatments were scheduled three weeks apart, and except for one of the six treatments, Mom stayed right on schedule.

Except for the cancer, her health was excellent.

She finished her last chemo treatment in November of 2011... and she checked out "cancer-free."

However, with ovarian cancer, it is important to have three-month check-ups for two years after treatment. This cancer reoccurs often, and early detection is vitally important.

Nine months from the end of her first round of chemo, Mom had her third three-month check-up. A pet scan revealed the cancer had returned, and within two weeks, she had a new port put in and began another round of six chemo treatments. This set of treatments is scheduled to finish the week after Christmas... and then she'll begin her three-month check-ups to make sure the cancer doesn't return over the next two years.

Many of the women who have treatments the same day as my Mom are having their second, third, etc. set of chemo treatments for ovarian cancer.

On Friday, I will be sharing the name of the tests used to scan for this cancer, readers' comments and suggestions and websites of two of the organizations in our area raising money and awareness for ovarian cancer.

And maybe, just maybe, because my Mom and others like her are not being quiet, ovarian cancer will not continue to be known as the "silent cancer."

Feel free to share any comments, stories or suggestions in the Comment Section below, via e-mail (mfaulkner1306@charter.net) or message me on Facebook (between now and Friday).

Easy Caramel Frosting

This is NOT from Pinterest. I repeat... This is NOT from Pinterest.

I found it on the Internet, and my family liked it. (Five Stars!)

You will need the following:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

1. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.

2. Add brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil.

3. Stir constantly to dissolve sugar.

4. Remove from heat. Cool.

5. Beat confectioners' sugar into milk mixture until smooth.

This is the icing I used on Roxie's cake. It is thick and sweet and easy to work with. I've made it twice so far, and it is wonderful!

A Different Taco Soup

I posted a Taco Soup recipe on the blog YEARS ago, but I tried a new recipe last week that only has one or two little variations from my old recipe. Again, this received Five Stars from The Faulkner Five.

You will need the following:

2 pounds ground chuck
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups water
1 can (16 ounces) mild chili beans (undrained)
1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn (drained)
1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes
1 can (10 ounces) diced tomato with green chilies
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix

1. In a Dutch oven, brown ground chuck. Drain.

2. Add taco seasoning and mix well.

3. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

4. Bring to a boil.

5. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

That's it. It is a very hearty, filling, delicious soup!

I realize today's post is a little "Roxie Heavy," but Friday's post will be much better... because I'll be getting ready for Josh's birthday!

Poor Austin!

Have the most wonderful Monday ever. I'll be back FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 with more, more, more.

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


The Enchanting and Fall-Personified Belinda

Friday, September 21, 2012

Weekend Happenings, Quotable Quotes, Plastic Pumpkin Chia Pets and Blog Linkage

Good Friday morning!

And a wonderful Friday morning it is!

That's right. I'm kinda happy today. (But what else is new, right?)

RANDOMNESS #1 - I'm going to give you a very good "Stocking Stuffers for Manly Men" list I copied from Pinterest. It had some items I had never thought of before.

1. Jerky
2. Car air fresheners
3. Fishing bait
4. Fishing hooks
5. Nuts
6. Fishing line
7. Bullets
8. Hunting gloves
9. Ear buds
10. Hunting magazine
11. Hunting movie
12. Key chain
13. Window/leather wipes for the car
14. Pocket knife
15. Knife sharpener
16. Mini flashlight
17. Gum/mints
18. Hand sanitizer (for the tackle box)
19. Wool socks
20. Extra cell phone charger
21. Love letter (No matter how manly he is, he still needs to know how much you love him!)

You could also use this list and give your guy a "gift a day" counting down the days until his actual birthday.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Hoards of you have been asking, "Is the mum still alive?" "How is the mum?" "Can we see a recent picture of the mum?"

And to all the dozens, nay hundreds, of questions, I say, "So far, so good!"

RANDOMNESS #3 - Also, many of you have asked for an Exercise Jar Report. Just to review... I put two quarters in the jar every time I attend a Body Pump class and one quarter goes into the jar every time I walk two miles.

Today, it looks like this.

Believe it or not, this is around $49 worth of quarters... and it will probably be late 2013 or early 2014 before I have filled it to the top.

And that means my massage is not gonna happen anytime soon. Heavy, heavy sigh.

RANDOMNESS #4 - Be sure to watch The Pioneer Woman's cooking show tomorrow morning on the Food Network. It airs at 9:00 a.m. CST.

It is good TV!

RANDOMNESS #5 - These are some of my new favorite things this week...

I think I've mentioned this before, but I LOVE these smoothies. The chocolate/banana is really my favorite, but someone else must like them, too... because they are never in the case when I am at the grocery store.

If you happen to know the person who orders food for the grocery store, please tell them, "ALWAYS, ALWAYS order more chocolate items than fruit items." I would think that was a given, but obviously not.

These are Roxie's Shoes of Many Colors. Aren't they cute? The Chick has style (which she didn't get from her Mom).

They'll be relieved to know they made the cut this Friday.

RANDOMNESS #6 - What I've Learned About Ovarian Cancer - This is going to be our topic for the remainder of the September posts.

My Mom has ovarian cancer.

She asked me to talk about it on the blog to help raise awareness, and, of course, I agreed.

Mom's story began one year, four months ago. She went for her regular check-up, and the doctor discovered a tumor. She had not been sick prior to going to the doctor. Except for a few "things" most women experience from time to time (fatigue and bloating), she had no clue she would walk into the doctor's office for a check-up and walk out of the same office diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Today, I'm going to give you some of the facts regarding ovarian cancer.

Each year, about 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While it is the ninth most common cancer (other than skin cancer) in women, ovarian cancer is the fifth highest cause of cancer death in women. Most women who develop ovarian cancer are older than 60. It is found more often in white than African-American women.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague or like other conditions. This may make it hard to diagnose. It often has spread to other parts of the body when it is found.

Because of this, it's nickname is "The Silent Cancer."

I want to give you a complete list of the symptoms, although you may have one or more of them at a time.

General abdominal discomfort or pain (gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating, cramps)
Bloating and/or a feeling of fullness, even after a light meal
Nausea, diarrhea, constipation or frequent urination
Unexplained weight loss or gain
Loss of appetite
Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Unusual fatigue
Back pain
Pain during sex
Menstrual changes

These symptoms do not always mean you have ovarian cancer. But it is a good idea to discuss them with your health care provider if they are new symptoms, last more than a few weeks and/or occur more than 12 times a month.

As I stated before, my Mom had no idea anything was wrong.

Needless to say, she is an advocate of regular check-ups, early detection and awareness... and as her family, we have become advocates, too.

This picture was taken during the Annual MotherWalk 5K Ovarian Cancer Event last May (in Crestline). We were 13 strong at this walk. Next May, we hope to have many more walking for Team Tootsie!

I'll be back Monday with Mom's story and more details about ovarian cancer.

And I hope you'll visit A Simple Life again to learn more about this cancer. Awareness is SO important in finding a cure.

And we really want to find a cure!

Quotable Quotes - I saw this on Facebook, and I liked it.

"Excuse our mess. The children are making memories."

It doesn't apply to me now (I cannot blame small children for messes), but boy, did it apply to me way back when!

Blog Linkage - Such good linkage today. You can thank me later.

1. Go to www.kellehampton.com and read her September 17 post entitled "Our Weekend: It was shiny." You can read the entire post, but focus on the Pet Store Scavenger Hunt Kelle prepared for her daughter, Lainey. (It was an afternoon date for them.) So smart. So fun. If you have a four year-old child, do this today, please.

2. Go to "eighteen25" under My Blog List and read today's post entitled "Please Welcome: Jamilyn from I {heart} Nap Time." She has a very cute and doable candy corn dessert recipe for the month of October.

Plastic Pumpkin Chia Pets

Surprise! Another Pinterest idea. This Mom had a great way of using inexpensive plastic pumpkin buckets.

Grow some fall herbs.

They start their fall herb windowsill “garden” each September. Using the plastic pumpkin heads as planters, you can watch them "grow" hair as the herbs get bigger and bigger.

Later, depending on the herbs you choose to plant, you can plan a recipe with your child and use the FRESH herbs you have grown.

This tradition includes gardening, decorating for Fall AND cooking.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Weekend Happenings

My friend, Cam, mentioned Taco Soup yesterday, so it is on my brain. And yes, we will be eating Taco Soup tonight... on the deck... with lit candles!

Can you say VOLLEYBALL? Yep. The Chick has a tournament Saturday, so she will be doing athletic stuff all day long.

Mikie and I will be sitting on bleachers, cheering her on. It's what we do best, I think.

Josh has plans to watch a lot of football Saturday, and I think we're all going to get together around 6:00 p.m. tomorrow night and do the Auburn thing! War Eagle!

Austin is working at JSU (internship) all day Saturday. Good news... He loves it. Bad news... We only get to see him on Sundays during football season. (Not unlike his Marching Southerner time at JSU.)

But as long as he's happy, Momma's happy.

We're celebrating Roxie's 16th Birthday with family Sunday afternoon. She has requested a Caramel Cake, so expect pictures and a recipe Monday morning.

I also have a little surprise for her up my sleeve Sunday evening. Roxie doesn't like surprises, and because I know this about her, I have made certain it is a completely painless surprise.

She will love it, or my name isn't The Enchanting Belinda!

Please, please have a fantastic Fall weekend... full of family, fun and frivolity. (I rarely get to use "frivolity" in a sentence. It IS a good day.)

I'll be back Monday with Mindless Monday, pics from volleyball AND family AND birthday celebrations... and so much more.

And because no September OR October post is complete without a few volleyball action pics, I have added them to the bottom of today's post for your enjoyment!

This is why I love driving The Big Gold Van. Roxie sits beside me in the front, and the back is full of beautiful Volleyball Chicks. (Kelci, Kaitlyn, Shelby, Alex and Taylor.)

It's a good thing.


The Jumping Serve is a thing of beauty, and Kaitlyn has perfected it!

Personally, I would never dive for a volleyball. If the other team is too lazy to hit it high enough for me to return it over the net, I would NOT play with them.

However, The Chick is fearless, and diving is one of her specialties.

I so admire her!

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


The Enchanting and Forever Autumnal Belinda
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