Monday, February 25, 2013

Mindless Monday, Restaurant Review (Dinner at Klingler's European Bakery), Quotable Quotes, A Mountain Story (Words... No Pics) - Part One, The Story of Austin - Part Two, Easy/ Breezy St. Patrick's Day Ideas

Good Monday morning!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Roxie and Mike went on their Father/Daughter February Date Friday night. It has become a "steak and baked potato night" which is Roxie's favorite meal.

They ate at Firebirds behind The Galleria, and a good time was had by all.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Klingler's European Bakery is now opened for dinner. It has been opened for dinner for a month, but very few people seem to have gotten the memo... which was good for me and Mikie when we went on a date Saturday night. Dim lights, quiet atmosphere and really good (German) food made for a totally different dining experience than Klingler's at breakfast and/or lunch.

NOTE - You know I love Klingler's for breakfast and lunch. It's just much busier and noisier during those times!

Mike went totally German on me and ordered Jager Schnitzel (pan fried breaded pork cutlet with mushroom sauce).

It's so much more fun to order a "schnitzel" than a pork cutlet.

I decided to have the Pan Seared Salmon (which was wonderful) with German sides.

Potato Dumplings with Gravy turned out to be mashed potato balls floating in a bowl of delicious brown gravy. The only thing better than mashed potatoes with gravy are mashed potato balls floating in gravy.

I went out on a limb and ordered the Purple Cabbage even though our server wasn't able to exactly pinpoint the "taste description."

"I'll just say it is different... and some people seem to really like it."

I would have to agree. Purple Cabbage is really different... and I'm sure someone somewhere likes this dish.

We also had Lentil Soup. I have heard about lentil soup, but I had never tasted it before. They served the soup in little square bowls. (If you've known me five minutes, you know I'm crazy about square dishes, so when they set a little square bowl in front of me, I was all kinds of excited.)

Lentil soup required a little "adapting" on my part. It's sweet. I'm totally a "sweet" person when it comes to candy, cakes and desserts, but I usually do not care for sweetness in my main entree.

I will say the lentil soup grows on you, and I would order it again.

We finished off the evening sharing a piece of Black Forest Torte... which was light and SWEET and good.

Except for the Purple Cabbage, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Klingler's dinner if you're in the mood for a little German fare.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Austin spent his 22nd birthday with The Lovely Melia. Josh had to work Saturday, and since I wanted the entire family at the birthday party, we rescheduled for next Sunday and Melia made The Boy's actual "birth" day really special.

They drove to Huntsville and spent the day together. They went to a movie at the Monaco, walked around Bridge Street Town Centre and had a nice dinner before returning home Saturday night.

She gave him Harlem Globetrotter tickets. That was a great gift, and now I'm wishing we all had Harlem Globetrotter tickets. Hmmm.

RANDOMNESS #4 - The Story of Austin - Part Two

Really, the choosing of Austin's name wasn't very difficult. We made lists of all the names we liked. We read several Baby Name books. If I didn't like one of Mike's choices, we crossed it off the list. If he didn't like one of my choices, we put a little star beside it.

But one night we said Austin, and we both agreed we liked it. We said Austin Faulkner. We liked that, too. We had already agreed we wanted him to have a "family" name, and Michael was the obvious choice for that one. Austin Michael Faulkner. Not difficult. No big discussions or fights. No tears. It was very easy to name him. And we immediately began referring to him by name. "Do you think Austin's going to like the teddy bear border we picked out?" "Do you think Austin is going to spit up a lot?" "Do you think the way I'm gaining weight, Austin is going to weigh 14' 2" by the time he gets here?"

Yes, I was still gaining weight at warp speed. Thankfully, I had not started gaining weight until I found out I was pregnant, so when I hit 47 pounds on the scale, I knew by the next visit I was going to be the big 5-0! And we all know what that meant... another talk with the doctor about my "caloric" problem. (I had already received four such "talks/lectures," and I wasn't looking forward to number five.)

One week later, and nine days from my due date of March 2, I did indeed tip the scales at 50. The nurse weighing me said, "The doctor is not going to be happy with you today."

To which I replied, "I am an intelligent 29 year-old woman who at any minute is going to give birth. I am thinking I do not want any more lectures from a man who has NEVER been pregnant!"

She must have delivered the message, because my visit with my doctor was incredibly short wherein he informed me "nothing was happening," and he said he'd see me in a week.

I was a little disappointed about the "nothing was happening" part, but I could hold out a few more days. It was definitely time though. My maternity clothes were tight (caloric), my ankles were starting to swell (caloric) and sleeping had become next to impossible (caloric).

I went to Food World and was buying MORE FOOD. I was halfway through my shopping trip when I sneezed.

Uh, oh. If you are a woman who is 38 1/2 weeks pregnant and has put on 50 pounds, you know sneezing is a no-no. "Well, this is just great," I thought to myself. "I'm 29 years old, and I just wet my pants... in public no less! I put myself between my buggy and the food shelves, and waited for someone I knew to walk by so they could walk behind me to my car (for embarrassment sake). No one. Great.

I decided to wait five more minutes and then I would just walk out by myself. I figured that would be when I saw everyone I knew in Cullman.

About that time, a pregnant lady with a small toddler in her shopping cart came around the turn. I didn't know her, but I knew she'd understand. As she started to pass me, I asked her my special little favor. She was so sweet. Her face just melted into compassion, and she gladly offered to help. She left her buggy at the register... I left mine in the aisle, and we both got empty buggies and with one in front and one right behind, she walked me to my car. "I can never thank you enough," I said, relieved.

"If this is the most embarrassing thing that happens to you while you're pregnant, you'll be very fortunate. Are you having twins?" she asked.

"No. I have a caloric problem," I whispered.

"Don't we all, honey. Don't we all." And with that, my helper and her toddler waddled back into the grocery store.

To make a long story much shorter, at 2:00 the next morning, my water broke. Mike and I got ready to make the hour long drive to Birmingham to finally meet Austin face-to-face. We called our parents and the hospital, and I was getting ready to take a quick shower and do my hair and make-up before we left.

First mistake... I told the nurse I was going to take a quick shower and do my make-up before we left.

"Oh, no. You get down here right away. You do not take a shower when you're an hour away from the hospital."

"Well, I take very quick showers, and I'm not having contractions or anything like that. I'll be just fine."

"No, ma'am. You get in that car right now and get to the hospital." She was so bossy, and I was hoping she was going to be off-duty before Austin was born. I didn't want one of the first people he came in contact with to be so unpleasant.

I told Mike what she had said as I was going to the bathroom to get my shower and do my make-up. "No. We're doing exactly what they said to do," he said. I knew he was nervous about delivering on the side of the road... but my hair was not clean, and at 2:00 a.m. I was the kind of girl who needed a little make-up. (I didn't want Austin to be traumatized when he saw his mother for the first time.) But Mike was already dressed and taking the suitcase down the stairs to the car. He immediately came back up the stairs and hurried me along and into the car. I was not a happy camper.

"Well, I guess I could take a shower this afternoon after Austin gets here," I finally agreed as I went digging for lipstick in my purse.

We arrived at the hospital in record time (no traffic at 2:45 in the morning), and we waited for Austin's arrival. Nothing. Three hours later. Nothing. Five hours later. Nothing. But they did decide to start the "drip," which would hurry my contractions along. Nothing. Finally, the doctor decided an ultrasound was in order to see what the hold-up was. Austin was "oblique lie," which in layman's terms means he was side-to-side instead of head down ready to be born. Hmmm. Well, what were we going to do?

"We're going to have to perform a C-Section," the doctor told me. So within 45 minutes of the C-Section decision, I was holding my Austin. He was beautiful. He took my breath away. His name fit him perfectly, and although I had thought he would weigh at least 14 pounds 2 ounces, he came in at 9 pounds 6 ounces.

I could hear my doctor thinking, "And the other 40 pounds you gained were... caloric!" I didn't care.

I would worry about that tomorrow... along with my dirty hair and a few other surprises. None of that mattered at that moment... 1:15 p.m., February 23, 1991. Not one bit.

My Birth Day stories are almost as long as my Mikie and Belinda story. Sorry. We'll finish it up Friday. Promise!

RANDOMNESS #5 - A Mountain Story (Words... No Pics) - Part One - The family keeps changing and growing (up), but basically after 16 years of going to the mountains, we’ve got this trip "down."

Everyone arrives at different times during the day and evening the Friday of our trip. We have nothing planned for Friday or Friday night. It is a travel day. Our one and only goal is to “get there.”

And once we are in the cabin, we explore, claim our beds and chill.

When the kids were babes, we arrived at the cabin on Friday, and we didn’t leave the cabin until check-out time Monday. Getting six kids under six up and ready and out the door does not a vacation make.

They were happy at the cabin, and when the babes were happy, the grown-ups were happy.

The hot tub was a swimming pool.

The big weeping willow at the foot of the hill was a fort.

Sticks were swords and guns.

A walk down the paved road in front of the cabin was an adventure where anything could happen.

And if a snowflake happened to fall...

Well, we might as well have been on the highest peak in Colorado slushing down the slopes and drinking hot chocolate by the gigantic stone fireplace in the Lodge.

Our cabin years when the kids were mere babes were magical (and chaotic and messy and loud).

As the kids became older, our plans changed a little. Bev and the big boys took a turn cooking Saturday night dinner and Katie, Roxie, Zac and I took a turn cooking Sunday night dinner.

That has worked out well these past few years, and Bev and I are planning on dropping out of the "cooking dinner" part of the trip in the next couple of years. It's time these kids started earning their keep!

The kids were more restless as they became teenagers, and we tweaked our mountain trip a little more.

We spent one day in town together enjoying an activity. (The Aquarium, ice skating at Ober Gatlinburg, Dixie Stampede, etc.)

The next day was our mountain day, and while the kids were in, out, up and down, we all enjoyed the cabin.

This year, our planned activity was snow tubing at Ober Gatlinburg. All six of the kids/young adults were excited, and when all the old adults got together Friday night, we started planning.

The snow tubing tickets were sold on a first come/first serve basis. You couldn’t just walk up to the counter at 1:00 p.m. and buy six tickets for the 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. snow tubing group.

AND you couldn’t buy them the day before...

OR over the Internet...

OR from a scalper...

Because there isn’t such a thing as a "snow tubing scalper," you see.

I’ll be honest. Getting 11 people out of the cabin by 8:00 a.m. (ages 15 to 70) to stand in line in the freezing cold is nearly impossible.

Who am I kidding?

I didn’t even know they still had a song service at our church on Sunday mornings because The Faulkner Five are ALWAYS fashionably late.

We look good, but we’re late.

So I’ll change that statement to read, “Getting 11 people out of the cabin by 8:00 a.m. (ages 15 to 70) IS impossible.”

There. That’s better.

Mike was willing to get up and slip out of the cabin at 8:00 a.m. to go purchase the tickets. He stood in line for over an hour in the cold and snow, and bought six tickets for the 1:00 to 2:30 snow tubing event.

Mike was our hero.

By the time he called to say he had the tickets, Bev and I were trying to get everyone ready to leave to eat at The Pancake Pantry by 11:00. That meant we needed to leave the cabin at 10:00. (It wouldn’t take an hour, but we wanted to play it safe in case traffic was bad.)

“I don’t need to come back to the cabin if y’all are almost ready to leave for Gatlinburg. Do you want me to head to The Pancake Pantry and stand in line for tables?” Mike asked.

“YES! YES, I DO!” I yelled inside my head.

Outside my head, I said, “Oh, Honey. I don’t want you to have to do that.”

“No problem. I’ll grab a cup of coffee and head to the restaurant.”

By the time the rest of our group parked in Gatlinburg and walked to The Pancake Pantry, Mike was at the front of the line and we all sat down.

Mikie should get extra stars in his Heavenly crown one day, I think.

But just in case that doesn't come about, I made a mental note to dismiss him from kitchen duty Saturday night.

Standing in line, pancakes and snow tubing. How much more fascinating can this story get?

You’ll have to wait and see Friday morning!

Quotable Quotes - I'm still in a "mountain" mood, so I've chosen two very different, but very good quotes, on the subject of MOUNTAINS.

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

"One way to get high blood pressure is to go mountain climbing over molehills." Earl Wilson (It took me a minute, but this one is TOO true.)

Simple St. Patrick's Day Ideas

Shamrock Shakes - Don't forget to treat you and yours to a Shamrock Shake from McDonald's during the month of March. It's a fun and easy way to put some "green" in your day!

St. Patrick's Day Breakfast - This would be a cute and easy tradition to start. Serve green milk and Lucky Charms on St. Patrick's Day morning.

I'm telling you, little guys and gals LOVE eating "green." And I don't mean salad and turnip greens!

Have a lovely, rainy, blustery Monday. I'll be back Friday morning with Weekend Happenings, The Story of Austin (Part Three), A Mountain Story (Words... No Pics) - Part Two, plus more, more, more.

Take care, and I'll talk to you the end of the week.


The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, February 22, 2013

Weekend Happenings, The Story of Austin (Part One), Easy and Delicious Lasagna (Pioneer Woman Style), Blog Linkage

Good Friday morning!

This time last week, I was getting ready to go to the mountains. Today, it is just a faint, distant memory.

Heavy, heavy sigh.

RANDOMNESS #1 - The Story of Austin - Part One - There are three parts to The Story of Austin, and since his birthday celebration is going to last well over a week, I'll be posting Parts Two and Three next Monday and Friday.

I knew something wasn't quite right. Mike and I were living in Cullman. I had quit my job as a legal secretary in Birmingham, and I was taking a few months off before finding another job. However, I had a feeling I might be expecting. So, I did the normal thing and bought a pregnancy test, only to be disappointed when it came back negative. Still feeling weird, I went another week and tried another pregnancy test. Negative. Another week passed and I actually went to my doctor and had a blood test. Negative. Another week... another pregnancy test... negative. One more week... another blood test... nega... OOPS! I mean POSITIVE! Yes! We were thrilled. When I asked the doctor why everything had been so negative, he told me I had a latent pregnancy hormone. It just didn't show up. "Okay, okay. How far along am I?" I asked.

"Well, by my calculations, you are ten weeks," he told me.

You would have to know me five seconds to realize I didn't take that news well. I am really into experiencing "firsts." First date, first kiss (even if it's on someone's nose), first car, first apartment, first month's anniversary, FIRST TRIMESTER! "You mean I only have two more weeks in my first trimester? That's it?" I asked incredulous.

"Well, actually from what I'm looking at... more like eight or nine more days."

"But, I didn't get to whine about being tired, or about my pants getting tight. And I've missed ten weeks of eating for two. I can't make that up!" My doctor didn't understand my reasoning, so I just let it go.

Mike and I had a great time driving to our parents' homes and telling them, and then stopping to tell some friends along the way. It was a joyous occasion.

Then we made the decision to try to live on one salary (his), with the remainder of my pregnancy being our practice time for this big step. Not the wisest decision we've ever made because I had nothing to keep me occupied except food.

Living in a new town away from family and friends, not working outside of the home, and trying to catch up for the first trimester of not eating for two soon came back to haunt me.

Every day at 3:00 sharp, I would head to Sneaky Pete's. Sam would have a hot dog smothered in sauerkraut and Sneaky Pete's sauce and a Coke ready and waiting. Of course, before I went for my 3:00 o'clock snack, I had eaten breakfast, lunch and a plastic bag of powdered doughnuts... every day. Boy, did Austin love and want those powdered doughnuts. (NOTE: Prior to pregnancy, I was very thin. I have pictures. A little too thin actually, so I was not very concerned with weight gain. It is not smart to NOT be concerned with weight gain!)

As I began going to the doctor during my second trimester, I was amazed how fast the baby was growing. Four pounds one visit, five or six the next. One time I even gained seven pounds. Wow. This was going to be a huge baby. Toward the end of my second trimester, my doctor sat down and had a talk with me. "You are going to have to slow down on your eating."

"I'm really not eating any differently than before I became pregnant. What do you think the problem could be if my eating habits are exactly the same?"

"It's caloric," came the slightly sarcastic reply.

"Oh. See? I knew it had to be something medical. Is that like a gland thing or something? Will it go away after I have the baby?" I was ready, willing and able to take a pill or whatever to solve this "caloric" thing.

"It means too many calories," the nurse whispered to me.

"Oh. Well, in that case. I'll just have to cut back a little," I replied, very offended. I waddled out the door and drove to Sneaky Pete's. Sam was expecting me since I always scheduled my doctor's appointments at 2:00 so I wouldn't be late for our 3:00 hot dog.

"I'm not going to be able to come in tomorrow, Sam. I'm having to cut back to four days a week because of some 'caloric' problems." Sam nodded knowingly. Was I the only person who had never heard that word before?

Mike and I had decided not to find out the sex of the baby. It absolutely didn't matter to us one way or another. So imagine Mikie's surprise on the day we went to the doctor for our first ultrasound (which could tell us the sex of the baby), and I had a complete come-apart in the car. "I have to know. I have to know today."

"What are you talking about? It was your idea to wait until the baby was born. The nursery is yellow with teddy bears. It doesn't matter if it's a boy or girl."

I then began to sob. "If I don't find out today, I will just DIE!! I have to know."

Mike was completely caught off guard, and quickly agreed to let us find out. We walked into the doctor's office, I had my ultrasound and when the doctor asked if we wanted to find out the sex, I didn't even hesitate. "YES. I have to know... right now!"

"Well, it's a boy," he told us.

A boy. Yes. I had always loved little boys. I was thrilled. Mike was still in shock over the "Exorcist" scene that had played out on the drive over where my head had spun completely around, but he was excited about having a son, too.

Now, all we had to do was name him, and wait one more little trimester until he arrived. Piece of cake. Speaking of cake, we had some that night to celebrate our little man.

Part Two... bright and early Monday morning!

RANDOMNESS #2 - A Mountain Picture Story - Part Two - As I told you Tuesday, this is just the "picture portion" of our trip. The unbelievably "wordy portion" of the trip will begin Monday morning.

You won't want to miss that part!

Please enjoy Part Two - Zac's 15th Birthday Celebration and Other Miscellaneous Mountain Stuff

Since the kids are determined to grow up, Bev and I have decided to make birthday celebrations more fun... for us. We use any kind of superhero or Disney character paper products we can find for "theme" birthday parties.

Since Zac is going to be getting his permit soon, Cars seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Airsoft and Zac go together like peanut butter and jelly, so you might have guessed this was his favorite gift. In fact, he brought all of his airsoft paraphernalia to the mountains and the four male cousins had a good time shooting each other for a couple of hours after the party.

Everyone knows my camera is in my hand the entirety of any and all family trips. They also know it is better to smile and get it over with than argue. Thank you, Brad!

You have to be quick in our family to get the "long" couch. If you're too slow, you may end up like Josh.

Grandmother always wants to try for the ever-elusive Christmas Card Pic. We didn't do anything special this year for prep. We just told all of the grandkids to get on the porch... and it seems to have worked!

This is the ONLY picture of me from the trip. But it does prove I actually went, so we'll keep it for history's sake.

I love the sound of a cold creek in the mountains.

And I love this cute guy! His gray hair is so becoming!

Remember... the Mountain Stories will flow fast and furious Monday morning!

Blog Linkage

1. One of my favorite bloggers, Kelle Hampton, had a little boy (Dash) on Valentine's Day. Her birth stories are so well-written and sweet. If you're a baby stalker (like me), I think you're going to really enjoy today's post at www.kellehampton.com. Today's post is entitled "Welcoming Dash. A Birth Story."

2. If you are a St. Patrick's Day nut and you would like some cute printables to go along with your upcoming celebration, you will need to go to The Dating Divas under My Blog List and read today's post entitled "It's Your Lucky Day. 50 Free Printables Coming Your Way."


3. If you feel the need to bake (and let's face is... who doesn't), go to Six Sisters' Stuff under My Blog List and find some excellent recipes under today's post entitled "50 Easy Cake Mix Recipes."

Easy and Delicious Lasagna

Okay. I watched The Pioneer Woman's cooking show from this past Saturday, and she made a lasagna which looked totally doable and fairly easy.

I tried it. We ALL liked it. I'm going to share it with you today!

You will need the following:

1 and 1/2 pound ground beef
1 pound hot breakfast sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (14.5 Ounce) whole tomatoes
2 cans (6 Ounce) tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups lowfat cottage cheese
2 whole beaten eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound sliced mozzarella cheese
1 package (10 Ounce) lasagna noodles
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil to pasta water

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain half the fat; less if you’re feeling naughty. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil and salt. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes while you are working on the other steps.

3. In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together well. Set aside. Cook lasagna until “al dente” (not overly cooked).

4. Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Spoon a little less than half the meat/sauce mixture over the top.

5. Repeat, ending with meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan.

6. Either freeze, refrigerate for up to two days or bake immediately... 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until top is hot and bubbly.

I've tried several different lasagna recipes over the last 50 years, and this is my favorite so far. When I make it again, I'll be doubling the recipe and putting one in the freezer.

Try it. I think you'll like it.

Layer One - Noodles...

Layer Two - Cottage Cheese Mixture...

Layer Three - Mozzarella Cheese Slices...

Layer Four - Meat!

Don't forget to repeat!

Weekend Happenings

The Boy is turning 22 tomorrow. How did that happen? Twenty-two years? Graduating from college in April? Making huge life plans which do not include me... his Maternal Unit?

I could get a little depressed if I didn't have so much birthday goodness planned!

Some things have changed from the original birthday plans, but since you didn't know the original birthday plans, this will all be news to you.

1. Saturday morning, I'm thinking a family breakfast at Original Pancake House to start the day off right. (Nothing starts a day like strawberry crepes and homemade whipped cream. That's just my opinion, but I'm pretty sure I'm 100 percent correct.) I think we'll let him open one gift at breakfast.

2. Saturday afternoon, The Boy and The Lovely Melia will be going to Huntsville for a belated Valentine's Day/Birthday celebration. A movie at the Monaco and dinner nearby will make this a great official birthday for Austin.

3. On Sunday, I will have his requested birthday meal PLUS his Refreshing Birthday Cake.

4. Since Josh's work schedule did not allow him to be off for Austin's originally-scheduled birthday party, we're going to re-schedule the Family Party for next Sunday, March 3. That will be when the cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles and major gift giving will occur.

I would love to tell you what we're giving him, but on occasion, The Boy does read the blog, and I want him to be surprised.

There are a few other happenings this busy birthday weekend.

Friday night, Mike and Roxie are heading out for their annual Father/Daughter February Steak Dinner. They spent about 30 minutes on the couch last night checking out new places and menus. I don't know what the final decision was, but they both seem pretty pumped.

Sunday, MamMa will be celebrating her 92nd birthday with a "drop-in" party. My Mom thought of this last year, and it really works well. Between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren drop in for a little visit, a little cake and a little gift giving.

It isn't overwhelming. It isn't an all-day affair. And she gets to visit a little more one-on-one with the groups and couples as they come and go.

Other than the fact Josh is working a lot Friday and Saturday, that is our weekend in a nutshell.

I predict it will be described as very "celebratory" in the days and weeks to come!

Have a delightful and festive weekend. I'll be back Monday morning with birthday "stuff," more mountain "stuff," recipe "stuff" and a story or two, I am sure.

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


The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mindless Monday (on Tuesday), A Mountain Picture Story, Semi-Adult Birthday Party Game, Blog Linkage

Good Tuesday morning!

RANDOMNESS #1 - I didn't watch Downton Abbey in the Mountains. Nope. There were too many other things going on, and I wanted to savor the season finale.

Big mistake! After the show Sunday night, Facebook was alive and well with comments... None of them very good.

Roxie and I watched half last night, and we're watching the rest tonight.

I am prepared to be very, very sad.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Since I am low on "verbage" today, I'm re-posting another blind date story. It would appear my main goal in life is to make you feel better about yourself by sharing some of my most pathetic, pitiful life moments.

I'll just go ahead and say, "You're welcome!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Nope," was the only explanation I received.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wanted to throw myself overboard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(3) Always take your own car.

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

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

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

RANDOMNESS #3 - A Mountain Picture Story - Part One - Our 16th Annual Mountain Trip is now just a faint memory... complete with 16 loads of laundry.

But a memory with tons of pictures!

The following is Part One - Snow Tubing and the Valentine's Day Banquet.

Arriving at the cabin in the woods is our first goal. After we unload, major relaxing starts to take place and people start picking out their "spots" for the weekend. Zac called the couch.

We also try to get as many "good" pictures as possible. Whenever I see someone walking around with good hair and a cute shirt, they are called to the deck.

And if they know what is good for them, they come a-runnin'.

We enjoy going to the Pancake Pantry for our "out of the cabin" meal.

Roxie orders the Sugar and Spice Pancakes...

And I try something new each and every year. This year I had Banana Crepes with Pineapple Syrup. I told myself it was basically a fruit dish. I lied.

I felt healthy and naughty at the same time.

We always hope for snow, and sometimes we're lucky. Trip No. 16... We were very lucky!

Snow tubing is wet, cold, fun, and one day we'll do it again.(More details on our experience next Monday!)

Our Valentine's Day Banquet consisted of candy, cards, movies from the $2.99 bin at Winn-Dixie for each kiddo, pink pasta and Valentine's Day s'mores (heart marshmallows) for dessert.

It was good, filling and pretty... and even though we celebrated two days after the actual Valentine's Day, it was worth it!

I'll share the Mountain Picture Story - Part Two - Zac's Birthday and Miscellaneous first thing Friday morning.

And you'll be happy to know the "wordy" part of our little trip will be posted next Monday. The good, the bad and the ugly!

Blog Linkage - I have babies, St. Patrick's Day goodness and miscellaneous linkage for you today. It's a very well-rounded kind of day.

1. Go to www.kellehampton.com and meet her new baby boy, Dash. Precious, precious little man.

2. Go to Big Mama under My Blog List and read today's post entitled "The real star of the rodeo is the food." She gives a play-by-play of the San Antonio Rodeo Carnival... and it is fun to see how things are done in Texas.

Fried peanut butter and jelly? Yes, please.

3. Go to eighteen25 under My Blog List and read today's post entitled "(past projects) st. patty's day." They have some cute ideas. I especially like the "Top O' the Mornin' Breakfast" idea.

In fact, I like it so much, I'm thinking about actually preparing the food WITH the printables on St. Patrick's Day. I've always done the "green food thing," but I may take it one step further.

20 Questions Birthday Party Game

The Boy's 22nd birthday is this Saturday. We're having a family party, and I'm serving pulled pork sandwiches, chips, dip, baked beans and Refreshing Birthday Cake.

After Austin opens his gifts, I thought of a game I want to play.

I'm going to ask 20 "Austin" questions beginning from his first year to present.

Everyone is going to have a piece of paper and pencil. They will write down an answer. At the end of the questioning, the person with the most correct answers wins a "DATE WITH THE BOY!"

Doesn't that sound fun? He may be going out with a cousin, a sibling, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle or The Lovely Melia.

The date will be paid for by me and Mikie. (If you see Mikie today, I haven't really talked this part over with him, so "mum's the word." Okay?)

I hope it will be fun, and if it is successful, Josh and Roxie have something to look forward to on their 22nd birthdays.

Have a tremendous Tuesday. I'll spend the rest of the week trying to remember what day it is. I'll be back Friday morning with Weekend Happenings, A Mountain Picture Story - Part Two, St. Patrick's Day "stuff" and more.

Take care, and I'll talk to you at the end of the week.


The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, February 15, 2013

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! - Mindless Monday will be posted TUESDAY MORNING of next week. Don't forget! TUESDAY MORNING! (February 19, 2013!)

My mind is such a muddled mess of mindlessness, I am afraid my RANDOMNESS might be more random than ever before.

So, in no particular order of importance, Friday's ramblings will be in the form of a list.

Try to stay with me...

1. I hope you had a nice Valentine's Day. Since The Faulkner Five couldn't find a time last weekend or this week to have our annual Valentine's Day Banquet, we are having the Banquet in the mountains with the rest of my side of the family.

This is unprecedented, but I think it will be fun... and flexible.

This is from last year's Banquet.

I served breakfast with pink eggs and pink milk.

Don't tell anyone, but this year we're having a pink pasta dish.

2. I cannot find my battery charger for my camera. I keep it in the exact same wall outlet 24/7 because sometimes I lose things.

This morning, my battery charger for my camera is MIA.

I'm trying not to panic, but it's very difficult.

3. Roxie sent me a text Monday or Tuesday to come to the gym at 3:00 to take pictures. I didn't even ask, "What kind of pictures?" I just grabbed my camera battery out of the charger in the normal wall outlet and ran out the door.

That being said, the last time I saw my charger was Monday or Tuesday afternoon. Hmmm. Where is that thing?

When I got to the school, Coach was talking to the girls about the importance of being Area Tournament Champions. I loved she wasn't looking ahead to Thursday night's Sub-Regional game. I loved she was focusing on an important event in the girls' basketball season. I loved she was teaching them a lesson in "being still and enjoying the moment." I don't think enough adults stress that concept enough.

So I took pictures of each girl cutting a string from the basketball net as a keepsake.

It was a very special time...

And then it got a little silly.

Which was a good thing.

4. Even though we're having our Banquet in the mountains, I didn't want you to think the kids didn't get a Valentine's surprise on the actual "day."

The Chick loves a good lollipop!

5. As I may have mentioned earlier, we're going to the mountains for an annual trip.

Mikie will pour a bucket of cold water through the deck cracks on top of Katie and Roxie in the hot tub below... again.

Roxie and Katie will scream, act surprised and not speak to Dad/Uncle Mike for the rest of the evening... again.

We will celebrate Zac's birthday in the cabin... again.

It will snow (hopefully)... again.

I'll take another picture of Grandmother and all of her grandkids walking together in the mountains... again.

We'll make a lot of new memories together... again!

6. I have got to find that charger!

7. I know you are waiting for me to tell you about the Sub-Regionals last night against Mountain Brook. I mean, other than the broken Carnival Cruise Ship which finally docked in Mobile (I am so happy for those poor people) and the meteorite landing in Russia (TOO scary), it really is the only other big news story that matters.

The girls played so hard, but Mountain Brook beat us.

Man. It hurt just to type those words.

They started and ended games with group prayers on the court, and the Seniors led weekly team devotions after practice. I was so happy to see this banner hanging in the stands last night...

They chose "Playing for HIM" as their team motto for the season... and they did not disappoint.

Were they perfect? Did they NEVER get angry? Did they ALWAYS agree with the referees' calls?

Uh, no.

But did they strive to "Play for Him."

I couldn't be more proud of a team of high school girls and their Coaches.

They are classy, funny, sweet, beautiful girls, and I've enjoyed watching them play this season.

And that, my friends, is the end of the 2012-2013 Lady Rockets Varsity Basketball Season!

8. I have to bake a Valentine's Day cake to take to the mountains...

9. And wrap Zac's birthday gift...

10. And find my camera charger.

In other words, I need to scoot.

Since it is the "LOVE" month, I'm going to leave you with this OLD post about a blind date. (I had 16 blind dates in my dating career. Do you remember me telling you about those over the past four years?)

All of my blind dates had names, but I remember this one fondly as "Coach."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gosh, he was handsome!

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

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

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

"Maybe sometime," he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care, and I'll talk to you TUESDAY MORNING. NOT MONDAY, BUT TUESDAY!


The Enchanting and Unusually Verbose Belinda
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