Monday, December 31, 2007

Welcome, 2008!

We are here on Earth to fart around.
Don't let anybody tell you any different.
Kurt Vonnegut

My Childhood Fantasy Christmas Dessert

Let's step into the WayBack Machine for a second... do you remember the Swiss Colony catalogs that used to come in the mail around the same time as the Sear's Christmas Wish Book? (For those readers under the age of 30, humor this geezer and play along.)

Well, I spent numerous hours of my childhood pouring over those catalogs and dreaming of toys, games and goodies that I'd like to find under the Christmas tree. Swiss Colony had pictures of a fanciful creation called Buche de Noel that looked like it might be the most delicious and exciting dessert on the planet.

This year I decided to realize one of my childhood fantasies. Here's my version: a Godiva chocolate yule log with white Godiva chocolate creme and meringue mushrooms.Mmmm, mmmm, mmmmm. Sometimes childhood Christmas dreams come true! It might be better than I could have imagined as a kid, because I didn't know about Godiva Chocolate Liquors back then!

I made extra meringue mushrooms because this dessert traveled to Connecticut and I knew some mushrooms would get broken during the trip. I'd never made meringue before -- it's tasty, but complicated and ridiculously delicate & fragile. I assembled the caps and stems with bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate.

Lovely and Practical

This year, one Christmas gift from Julie was this lovely cable knit blanket. She picked out the yarn (perfect choice!) and her mom did an incredible job with the knitting. It's beautiful, warm, and everybody likes it - including Cynthia...and Leo & Me.A couple Christmases ago, Erica crocheted the blanket on the back of the sofa that Michael and Jason are sitting on. Now we have a nice, cozy wrap for each of us when we're chillin' in the living room. His and hers cat magnets!

Catching Up

It's New Year's Eve and we're enjoying a quiet night at home. I was downloading pictures from my camera and wanted to catch up on a couple posts, so here goes:

Now that Christmas packages have been opened, I can show the "personalized" cookies that Cynthia and Jason created for Erica and John. If you don't know how strange our family is, this will illustrate nicely!

Erica's special cookies included a bone with stress fractures and a Student Doctor Zulueta cookie with injured patient cookies.

John's cookies had a special guest appearance by Blue Sprucesteen and Chia Bear. There was an imposter cookie, decorated (badly) by a certain someone and initialed to look like it was created by a certain someone else. Devious monkeys!

Monday, December 17, 2007


This weekend Julie, Cynthia, Jason and I decorated Christmas cookies. Yes, they taste as good as they look... maybe even better :o)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

One of My Favorite Christmas Carols

I love this version of Little Drummer Boy with Bing Crosby and David Bowie. This video is a little over four minutes long, and worth it. They performed this for a 1977 Bing Crosby Christmas special... he really had a magical voice - just perfect for Christmas carols... combined with David Bowie, it gives me goose bumps.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

No Tree Yet

... this weekend I put the "candle" lights in our windows and a lit wreath on the front door. These Christmas ornament pictures are from a couple years ago. We'll probably go get this year's tree next weekend. There's a family owned tree farm that we've visited the last few Christmases that has good trees at good prices and the coolest tree-wrapping-twine-twirling-machine-a-ma-bob that I've ever seen! Put the tree in top first and ta-da! Trussed up and ready to go in 10 seconds! I briefly thought about bringing a camera and taking a picture of it this year, but I think the tree farmers would think I had a few screws loose. Besides, still pictures wouldn't do it justice -- it needs to be seen in action!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Here's How He Does It...

By occasionally being the snuggliest, smoochiest, most boneless varmint on the planet, Leo manages to get away with a lot of "Hostile Takeover!" type of behavior.The story behind these pictures is this:

Although Sunday was pretty cold, Leo wanted to go out on the porch. We forgot he was out there for about an hour. D'OH! Michael let him in and Leo was incredibly smoochy - but Michael couldn't pay much attention to th' little varmint because his pager had gone off. As Michael headed out, he dropped the cat into my office and told me about Leo's brush with abandonment issues. He's not allowed to roam freely in the studio, so I tucked him into my sweatshirt while I worked. He purred his brains out (A small task: purr, purr, plop!) and stayed put for more than two hours until I finally evicted him to go in search of coffee.

Leo can be hilarious or infuriating when he's bad... but boy is he cute when he's feelin' snuggly.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hostile Takeover!

Jason emailed photos of a recent New Hampshire real estate grab. Our intrepid photographer captured the magic moments, frame by frame, on his cell phone camera.

First, Peanut enjoying her loft-style, 2-bed perch with a view,
nestled on a 1-acre lot in scenic Epping, NH.Varmint! The undesirable element has moved into the neighborhood.The next thing you know, violence breaks out!
Real estate values plummet!Peanut sells out cheap, and now the Orange
Stripey Thug owns the joint.Don't be fooled. He's gunning for you next...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving I carved a Turk-O-Lantern to bring with us to Carole's house. It looks cool in a dark room, but I took these pictures this morning so you'll have to use your imagination!

There was an incredible variety of delicious food, everyone brought their favorite dishes to share. In years past I've brought lumpia, home made bread, pies, cookies, roasted veggies -- you name it. This year my contributions were solely to the dessert table. You're looking at a date custard pie that tasted just like Grammy's. (I'm a braggart for saying this - same taste, better texture - because I baked it in a water bath. Forgive me Grammy!) Silky, rich heart attack special - packing 6 eggs and 3 cups of half & half. Soooooo delicious.
When is the last time you had peanut butter fudge?
This was creamy, peanut buttery chunks of decadence. Triple gingerbread cake that I made in a fancy pan
instead of my usual 9x9 square.
We served it warm with fresh whipped cream... mmm... mmm... good.

The entire dinner menu was incredible. To give you an idea, here's just the desserts: chocolate trifle, decorated sugar cookies, apple pie w/ice cream, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, candied nuts, medjool dates, fruits, and what we brought. Crazy. Delicious.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Monkey Memo: Send Pictures

Jason emailed a couple pictures of Cynthia's Naval Aviator Winging Ceremony, and I'm hoping this post will be a reminder for him to put the rest of the photos on disc and send it to his Favorite Motorcycle-Riding Aunt. (I'm using my mind control waves Monkey! Obey!)

A Class ActOur Favorite PilotDrew stands out from the crowd too!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Just Passing Through

This afternoon I was double checking spices and baking ingredients that I'll need for Thanksgiving cooking. I practically fell off the step stool when I looked out the kitchen window and saw a moose standing in our driveway, next to Michael's truck. I kicked off my slippers, ran down the stairs, grabbed my camera and dashed out the basement door -- scaring the moose down the driveway.

Here he is gallumping across the cul-de-sac:
I stopped about half-way down the front lawn and crouched near a tree. He stopped across the street and turned around to see what I was doing. Sorry the picture is so blurry -- it all happened pretty quickly.I was setting up to get a better picture when a UPS truck roared down the street and scared him off completely.
The UPS driver and I walked over to the edge of the woods to see if we could get a last look at him, but he was gone, gone, gone.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rafael, Is That You?

After my previous post, I found this:Jason at 12 with a drawn on mustache looks remarkably like Rafael at 27(?)! Hee, hee, hee!

Happy Birthday Jason!

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Dear Jason, Happy Birthday to you! I mailed a birthday package that should arrive today, however, I couldn't resist the opportunity to post a couple pictures of my favorite Marine. Here's one with a creative wardrobe choice:It's good that your fashion sense has improved considerably. Ladies don't really dig the box look, but you were sporting cholo style pants/socks/kicks before hip-hop made it cool!

I love this one with the missing tooth... And a picture of my favorite nephew and niece celebrating my favorite holiday. You're still a little batty, so you fit right in with the rest of us hanging in your family tree!Happy Birthday Jason, we love you!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The World Looks Mighty Good to Me...

... 'cause kitty poops are all I see! (Do you remember that old Tootsie Roll commercial? That's the tune I'm humming.)

Well, that's what the cat poops are made from -- Tootsie Rolls. Julie asked me to make a Cat Box Cake for the Halloween party and ta-da! It was a vanilla & chocolate trifle covered with crushed vanilla sandwich cookies served up with a pooper scooper. I had to get a picture of her kitten checking it out...Don't worry, we didn't let her make any contributions to the dessert!It was delicious, and I'm NOT just saying that because I'm the Devil -- it was really good. Hey, Angel - back me up here...

We had an excellent time at the party, friends in fun costumes, good food, great weather, a nearly full moon... only the pictures were bad from weird lighting. A fire pit and an outdoor TV rigged up to watch the Red Sox makes for shots like these:I'll try to get better pictures of our costumes at the Portsmouth Halloween Parade on Wednesday. (can't see my black wings in these pictures)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Forgive Me, I Couldn't Resist.

Cynthia, this Halloween Dog is for you:
Rat, this one is for you. (Of COURSE he's not as cute as Jib -- he's from the dark side)
Karen, this one is for you. He needs you to make him a catnip cake with a file baked inside. (He even has a shackle around his back leg!)
Gram, I figured out why you don't have any frozen goodies left in your ice box. The Penguin Cat Burglar!Sir Monkey, a trusty steed for you.
Don't worry Michael, there's one for you too.
Didn't you tell me you thought Princess Leia was hot?
Okay, I promise -- after this post, no more varmints in costumes.
Yes, really. I promise.
(Did I mention my Halloween costume this year is a devil?
Devils lie sometimes y'know. We'll see... we'll see...)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I figured I'd take a break from Halloween related posts and brag on Cynthia for a minute. She's getting her pilot's wings next week and I am continually impressed and amazed by her accomplishments. How could I NOT post this picture?

Cynthia, you're the coolest! I wish I could be there for your wing ceremony -- but you've got to know that I'll be thinking of you, hoping it's an amazing day, and loving you like crazy. I miss you kiddo... fly that thing up here to NH!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

6th Annual Monster Mash

I thought you might like to see this year's invitation.

We Love the Parade!

This year is the 13th Annual Portsmouth Halloween Parade! It's a great event, with some of the most creative and original costumes I've ever seen.

The picture to the left shows us dressed as Dr. Frankenstein's Monster and his Bride. Michael's square Franken-Head was made with the bottom of a milk jug! He had the best gig... all night, no matter who spoke to him, he'd pretend to come after them with a monstrous "rrRRRRRrrrrrggg!"

So quick to stomp and choke... monsters have lousy dispositions.

I think Dr. Frankenstein put an "Abby Someone" brain into The Bride, because she was photographed dancing with Dick Cheney! The Bride needs (another) lobotomy!This shot is from the 2005 Parade:

The police costumes I made that year really looked authentic -- we had people asking us for directions, and a little girl asked me to find her family after she was separated during the parade.