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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New Orleans (Day Three), Faulkner Cookout AND The Pioneer Woman's Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

Good Monday evening!

RANDOMNESS #1 - New Orleans - Day Three - Mike had meetings all day Thursday, so my original plan was to spend the day at the Audubon Zoo. Usually by Day Three of any little trip, I can find my way to one or two attractions. I am not officially directionally-challenged, but I need to practice before heading out in a new city alone...

Even with a GPS.

It didn't take long to discover New Orleans is a little different. We were staying on the edge of the French Quarter and the Zoo was located in the Garden District. In my mind, that meant if I walked three or four blocks in one direction I would be exactly where I wanted to be...

Because in my mind, every town, city, province, etc., is the size of Gardendale.

That isn't always the case.

Also, I am accustomed to Birmingham and a couple of cities in Tennessee which are on a "grid" system.

Gatlinburg is one lovely, long street.

Disney and Universal are designed in giant circles.

New Orleans is not on a "grid" system...

Or a giant circle system.

Or a nice long street.

Nay.

It is built on a crescent.

As far as I can tell, that means the closer you get to the Mississippi River, the more the streets follow the curve of the Mississippi River and NOT a nice, square grid.

The crescent.

The crescent changed my plans greatly.

Instead of heading to the Audubon Zoo, I decided to walk several blocks to the water's edge and visit the Audubon Aquarium.

I could see it from the hotel.

It was definitely doable.

Definitely.

So after a lovely breakfast, I headed out on my own little adventure.


Here is the obligatory picture of the outside of the building with the name prominently displayed.

While there were no sharks or whales or whale sharks present, let me just say this is an excellent aquarium. There are plenty of exhibits, hands-on and otherwise, and an indoor playground and a very nice food court.

The Gift Shop is one of the best I have ever seen...

And when I say "best I have ever seen," I do not mean there are bargains in this Gift Shop.

Just A LOT of really good merchandise.


There was a great Rain Forest Exhibit, and while I am a fan of the Rain Forest Exhibit, the humidity gets me every single time.

This Exhibit was no exception.


I had four favorite exhibits.

The Penguin Exhibit was fairly small, but the penguins were numerous and very active. They each had a name displayed on an arm band. They swam, ate, dove, ran, waddled, etc. the entire time.

Loved them.


The Seahorse Exhibit was tranquil. There were four large oval aquariums (almost floor to ceiling), and the seahorses were mesmerizing.

Lots of laughter at the Penguin Exhibit. (Laughter from the kids. I didn't want you to think there were laughing penguins. Although, that would be pretty cool, too.)

Lots of "oohs" and "aahs" at the Seahorse Exhibit. (Again, from the kids.)


Just for the record, the Eel Exhibit was not a favorite.

Not by a longshot.

However, this picture came out pretty good, so I included it with the others.


The Parakeet Exhibit was by far my MOST favorite.


There were hundreds of these beautiful birds flying all over the place. I stayed in the exhibit over 20 minutes, and I had to make myself leave.

Not pictured were the two Otter Exhibits. They ate, played, swam and ate some more. They were actually SO active, I couldn't get a good picture of them although I tried for quite a while.

As you may or may not be able to tell, I highly recommend visiting the Aquarium if you are ever in New Orleans...

With or without kids.

RANDOMNESS #2 - We had a cookout at Mr. and Mrs. Faulkner's this past weekend. The weather was excellent, as was the food and all of the kiddos.

A good time was had by all, I think.


I LOVE baby sandals.


I love how Melia and Courtney play with all the babies.

They do not hold back...


Not even a little bit.


Uncle Austin and Judith post-hamburger/post-hotdog.


Austin and Melia.


Papa Guy and Micah. Micah will be one next month, so birthday pictures will be forthcoming on the blog.


Mrs. Faulkner and Judith discussing the pros and cons of summer hats.

The Pioneer Woman's Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

I've posted this once before, but it's worth posting again.

You will need the following for the meatloaf:

1 cup whole milk
6 slices white sandwich bread
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 to 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
4 eggs, beaten
8 to 12 thin bacon slices

You will need the following for the tomato sauce:

3/4 cup ketchup
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Several dashes hot sauce (more if you like)
Dash or two of Worcestershire sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Pour milk over the bread and allow it to soak in for several minutes. Place the ground beef, milk-soaked bread, Parmesan, salt, some pepper, seasoned salt and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the eggs.

3. With clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined.

4. Form the mixture into a loaf shape on a foil-lined broiler pan, which will allow the fat from the meat to drain.

5. Lay the bacon slices over the top, tucking them underneath the meatloaf to give the meatloaf some support.

6. Next, make the tomato sauce. Pour the ketchup into a bowl. Add the brown sugar and dry mustard, and splash in the hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

7. Stir the mixture until well combined. Pour one-third of the sauce over the top of the meatloaf.

8. Bake for 45 minutes, and then pour another one-third of the remaining tomato sauce over the meatloaf. Bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes; the meatloaf should no longer be pink in the middle. Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving.

9. Serve with the remaining tomato sauce on the side as a dipping sauce.

The last two times I have prepared this recipe, I have made double tomato sauce. It is just that good.

Also, if you don't own ALL of The Pioneer Woman's cookbooks, you need to remedy that.

Not only are they beautiful, but they are extremely usable.

And Mother's Day is quickly approaching.

Just sayin'.

Have a great Tuesday. I'll be back in a day or so with other things to discuss.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

P.S. Here is one more from Roxie's Greek Sing.


I liked all of the EYES.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Nana B Stories, Quotable Quotes AND a Little More New Orleans

Good Tuesday evening!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Nana B Stories - I ran yesterday.

And when I say I ran yesterday...

I wasn't running from a rabid dog or a mean person.

I was running because a cute five year-old boy with a lopsided grin and fly-away hair challenged me to a race from his driveway, across an empty lot to the brick wall of their neighbor's house.

What can I say?

He threw down the gauntlet.

A five year-old boy gauntlet...

But a gauntlet nonetheless.

The good news is I didn't get out of breath at all.

The bad news is I think I may run like a 54 year-old woman now...

As opposed to the last time I ran...

When I was only 52, and I ran like a 52 year-old woman.

Needless to say, he won and he must have thought I had a chance of winning because he truly looked relieved each and every time he glanced over his shoulder to check my progress.

"You didn't let me win, did you?" he asked when I finally crossed the Finish Line.

"Nope. I don't believe in letting kids win just because they are kids," I replied.

And just from looking at his ear-to-ear grin, I feel pretty safe saying he didn't believe in letting 54 year-old women win just because they were 54 years-old.

If you see me loping around The Dale the next few days, just know I'm in training. I don't really have time to stop and talk to you and yours.

Unless, of course, you want to give me a ride back to wherever I parked The Big Gold Van.

And that would be lovely.

RANDOMNESS #2 - New Orleans - Day Two - Mike didn't have any meetings until Wednesday night, so our second day in New Orleans was spent walking, walking, walking.

And these are just a few of the things we saw...


I wasn't expecting all the palm trees. They were beautiful AND everywhere.


The horse-drawn carriages were all over the place, too.


I especially liked the fancy hooves...


And the beautiful flowers the horses wore behind their ears.


But my favorite thing was definitely the different street performers.


I call him "Silver Guy."


He could dance AND sing.


And I was super excited when Gold Guy came over to talk to Silver Guy for a few minutes.

It was obvious they were very good friends.


This performer was standing this way with no help from strings or invisible wires.

I call him "Stands at a Slanty Angle Guy."


One day, Guys.

This is on my Bucket List.


And this is Mighty Mike and the Mississippi.


We ate at Mother's for lunch because...

Well, World's Best Baked Ham.

And I am happy to report, the sign did not lie.


Mike and I found a Boutique Hotel on Bienville Avenue we liked very much.

It was beautifully decorated and had the most relaxing courtyard.



And just so you know, that isn't a fountain for the tossing of coins.

That is a "full-size" swimming pool.

Let's just say, we wouldn't be staying at the hotel for the swimmin'.


And this last pic from Day Two in New Orleans is our view out of our floor to ceiling windows.

And, yes.

That is an iron and ironing board.

My name is Belinda, and I am an ironer.

Even on vacation.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Just because I can, I'm going to share a few new Judith pics.


Judith and Aunt Melia.


Judith and Eunice...

Nana B's fake basset hound.


Judith in her Disney Princess Ball Pit.


Judith reading upside down.


I don't know what this face means...

But it scares me just a little!

Quotable Quotes - I found this little paragraph in my reading today. Ann Voskamp definitely has a way with words.

"Spend the whole of your one wild and beautiful life investing in many lives, and God simply will not be outdone. God extravagantly pays back everything we give away and exactly in the currency that is not of this world but the one we yearn for: Joy in Him."

I hope y'all have a blessed week, and I will talk to you soon.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Roxie - The College Chapter (Greek Sing 2016) AND Quotable Quotes

Good Thursday morning!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Since the Nest emptied last August, I've been carefully sticking my toes into a little of this and a little of that. I want to make sure my time is spent wisely and is God-pleasing.

That being said, here are a few things (big and little) I've been trying/enjoying/working on these past few months...

1. Needlepoint - I am loving this crafty part of my life again. I still scrapbook a bit each and every day, but I have always enjoyed working with my hands. I'm making some new family Christmas stockings, so that is fun for me.

2. Estate Sales - I love going to estate sales, and I check websites every night to see what is "coming up" in the Metro Birmingham area. I have VERY specific things I am looking for, and so far, I have not deviated from the list.

Well, that may NOT be completely true.


Meet Eunice.

She is life-size.

There is no practical purpose for my fake Basset Hound, but I love her.

Inexplicably.

I really do.

And she goes from room to room to room as the mood hits me.

She belonged to a sweet lady's Grandmother who passed away. She and her cousins found her in the basement, and she has fun memories of this "dog" at her Grandmother's house when she was growing up.

I want Judith to have those same fun memories...

Or nightmares.

Just pick a word!

3. Nana-for-Hire - I am still enjoying this new chapter in my life. I am having a lot of fun with some very sweet kiddos.

4. Nana-for-REAL - Very cool. Very cool, indeed.



RANDOMNESS #2 - Roxie - The College Chapter (Greek Sing 2016) - Roxie tried out for her sorority Greek Sing team a few months back.

It is a competition, and the girls pick a theme...

And a bunch of songs to go with the theme...

And they choreograph a dance and perform it in the Arena at Auburn.

There were 17 teams competing, and although we didn't win, we were awesome!

The Chi O theme was "Wonderland."


Here are a few pictures from the actual routine. See if you can spot The Chick.




Miranda, Ellie, Roxie and A. C.


Roxie, Ellie and Ally.


A. C., Ellie, Bonnie Catherine, Miranda, Roxie, Ally and Emma.


Susan, Julianna, Roxie and Kathryn.

All the money raised for this event goes to Habitat for Humanity.

We went out to eat after Greek Sing and ate Mexican with Roxie and some of the girls...

So it was definitely a Dinner AND a Show AND a Charity kind of evening.

And when Mike and I crawled into bed around 1:15 this morning, it didn't bother us even a little bit!

Well, that may or may not be a little white lie...

But 1:15 in the morning or not, it was an excellent evening!

RANDOMNESS #3 - New Orleans - Day One - Mike had a business trip to New Orleans part of last week, and I was able to tag along.

It was thrilling, I tell you!

Thrilling!

Mike and I went to a LSU/Auburn game in Baton Rouge the first year we were married (28 years ago), and we stopped in New Orleans for about four or five hours.

And until last week, that was ALL of my New Orleans' experience.


Mike and I stopped for lunch in Meridian, Mississippi at the oldest restaurant in town.

It was casual dining with white linen tablecloths and great Southern cookin'.

Now that's a combination an Alabama girl can truly appreciate!


Instead of serving butter and bread, Weidmann's serves peanut butter and crackers.

Surprisingly, the lack of butter did not offend me at all.


Businesses all over Meridian have these decorated carousel horses in front of their storefront. The businesses purchase the horses and paint/decorate them any way they like before displaying them. The money goes to a local children's home/orphanage.



Mike and I drove all around and spotted six or seven of the horses, but with traffic and time being a factor, I was only able to photograph these two beauties.


When we arrived in New Orleans, we had a choice of a French Quarter view or a Mississippi River view.

I chose the French Quarter view because I like the lights at night.


However, we found out we could enjoy the Mississippi view from a different area of the hotel, so we had the best of both worlds.





Quotable Quotes "You define what is important to you by what you dedicate your time to." Anonymous

Have a great Thursday. I'll be back soon with Days Two, Three and Four of our little trip!

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda
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