Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

I don't believe the holidays are here already, where did the time go?
Luckily, Burt showed up to give us a hand with all the preparations.

He always has a lot of holiday spirit and comes prepared to enjoy himself!

 Putting up the tree is always an exciting event.

Looks like Santa's in for a surprise.

This year only half of the decorations were on the tree before it fell over.
Looks like the second time was the charm, so far! What would we do without bungee cords?

After the tree mishap Nick and Burt decided they might have better luck making Sandbakkel cookies.

There's lots of ways to flavor them but Burt loves cardamom, you can see it in his eyes.

Of course Burt takes in every aspect of baking very soberly .

Filling the Polish Tea Cakes or Ciastka Zkoniserwil or Ciastka Do Herbatki before they cool.
They taste great but does anyone know what they're really called?

Nick showing off his technique for rolling out the sugar cookies dough.

Burt did the decorating and timed the baking. Is that a pink reindeer?

The cooking baking results were, let's say varied. Does anyone know how that happened?

Burt has a favorite recipe of his own and enjoys getting into character while making them.
(Isn't that eye patch a little bit redundant though?)
Guess it's Yo Ho Ho, along with Ho, Ho, Ho.

Sorry for being absent for so long. Looks like Burt got us back on track just in time for Santa's visit.
At least I think the milk and cookies are for Santa or could Burt be helping him out this year, too?

Best Wishes of the Season and Happy Holidays Everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's all about the lights!

It's that time of year again, when it's all about the lights.

Natural light is scarce and L'Heure Bleue is not just a perfume.

Hours are spent in freezing temperatures putting them up.

Risking life and limb illuminating the rain gutters. 

To keep up with the neighbors.

Eventually all that skill and perseverance produced a nice display. They can't be seen from space and they don't flash in time to music but there's enough so it looks festive and fits in with the rest of the block. They're energy efficient lights and on a timer to keep the power consumption to a minimum. I do not want to be around when they discover that half of that string across the top front isn't working!

What is it about fairy lights that makes them so endlessly fascinating?

Is it the different colors, shapes and sizes? Burt thinks bigger is always better.
We always end up going with whatever is available and on sale. How about you?

It's easy to get too wrapped up in the whole experience. Please don't try this at home, he's what you call an exBurt. Did you hear Chinese media regulators have banned the use of puns, wonder why?

At the end of the day isn't it just all about seeing things in a new light?

How do you decorate with lights? Do you go all out or keep it simple?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Cooking and Other Questionable Holiday Practices

Autumn is definitely over for us and it's about time!
Looking at my poor garden all brown and dead was starting to get me down.
Now that Mother Nature has tidied things up, it's time to party. 

In anticipation of the upcoming holidays Burt has been cooking up a storm.

Yes, even fruitcake. He doesn't add any of those weird, hard rubber-like squares of citron or plasticized cherries. It's all dried fruits and nuts, kind of an appropriate recipe for him. 

Of course his favorite part comes at the end, dousing it in cognac. He's a little behind this year, it needs to sit in the fridge for a least a month for all the alcohol to evaporate. Guess it will just have to wait until Christmas. It's a cake Nick looks forward to enjoying during the holiday season and luckily for him it lasts a long, long, long time. It's really not too bad after a couple glasses of port though.

Hmmm, which does weigh more? The bowling ball seems surprised.

Meanwhile, onto the cranberry sauce, another one of those questionable holiday dishes. At least it looks pretty and I have to admit that it wouldn't seem like Thanksgiving without the aroma of it cooking in the kitchen and seeing that ruby glow. If it's not on the table at dinner everyone asks where it is but considering how much is always left over, I'm not sure if anyone actually eats it!

Can you guess the special ingredient?

Finally, something almost everyone will eat. Nick made the pumpkin pie while Burt supervised.

Mad Hatter to Mad Scientist? Subtle difference.

The next challenge, adding a leaf the dining room table and rounding up enough chairs.
There's always something that turns up unexpectedly, thankfully this time it was only a catnip mouse.

Catnip always gets the attention of the resident bad kitty.
Come on Burt, no teasing even if he does deserve it for jumping on the table!

All finished and ready for overindulgence. Good job Burt, Mr. Carson would approve.
Now we just have to keep the kitties off the table.

Of course it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without some football games! The important ones for Burt and friends aren't until this weekend. The rivalry between the Universities of Wisconsin and Minnesota has been going on since 1890. For the first fifty years the trophy was a called "a slab of bacon", now it's an actual axe. Burt got out the music for the fight song and is boning up for the big game.

So what are your favorite holiday indulgences?
Do you have any great vegetarian recipes, seriously I could really use some!

. . . and so it begins!
 Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating today from Burt and his crew!
Thanks for visiting. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Where in the hill is Burt?

All the beautiful leaves are gone and the forest is down to it's bare bones.

The prairie at Mosquito Hill, in shades of wheat, rust, taupe . . . 

and bone. 
(Sorry, that was awful but I just couldn't help myself!)

Things are looking a little bit spooky, even in the daylight.

The perfect time for a walk. First stop is the frog pond. No mosquitos today!

It is looking pretty shallow, though.

Next it's onto the hill and the intrepid explorers set off up the north trail.

When Nick stops to take a photo we realize Burt is nowhere to be seen. Where could he be?

Shhh? What is he up to?

 Nick picked just the perfect spot to change the film in his camera.

The perfect spot for Burt, that is.

Ha! How could he not see that coming?

Eventually we reach the top. The view has changed quite a bit since October.
Wow Burt, that looks comfortable.

Then we heard something behind us, a half dozen or so deer!
  Of course when we turned back around Burt had disappeared again.

We decided to go back down the trail expecting we would eventually run into him.
Hope he's not hiding in the birch trees.

When we were almost to the bottom of the hill he sent us a selfie from the top!

Did I mention it was also starting to get dark? 

Actually he was just a few feet away, at the big maple tree, laughing at us!

Ah, November. grey skies, cold winds and freezing temperatures.
Needless to say we didn't let him out of our sight for the rest of the walk.

How is your November shaping up?