Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Beck managed to stay awake this Halloween, so it's officially his first!

Before heading out for some candy grubbing the kids asked me to carve a few more pumpkins. Somehow over the past few years I've been mysteriously absent from the carving festivities, either by luck or by chance. Well today Joe was at work and there was no getting out of it. So with a table covered with newspaper and knife in hand, I started my first pumpkin carving... and to my great surprise, I think I may have found my niche!!! Oh my hell, it's only taken me thirty-something years to find this deeply hidden talent!

I present to you my two cutie trick or treaters! Morgan insisted Beck was going to be the Beast to her Belle. But in a last minute coup, Beck decided to go all pirate. Arrrrr!

Not to take away from my two star sugar stalkers, but behold the marvelous creation just to the left of ol' Princess whats-her-face......

I must admit I'm trying to figure out a way to preserve my first pumpkin carving creations! Is Pumpkin taxidermy possible? Serious, sick and twisted as it is, I'm pretty damn proud!


The girls made a special halloween cake. It's spooktacular!

Hopefully Beck will stay awake this year so he doesn't miss trick or treating!

Candy for the kids, wine for us. Here's my pick of the day.

Paseo Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, unfiltered, Maule Valley, Chile
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Color, Body, Nose, Flavors
COLOR: ruby red; BODY: Medium; NOSE: red berries, oak; FLAVOR: caramel, vanilla and smoky notes.
Region Description
In 1980, Chilean wines accounted for only 0.3% of U.S. wine imports. Today, Chile is the fifth largest wine exporter in the world, outstripping Germany, Spain, Argentina and Portugal in exports to the U.S. The Maule Valley, in particular, is known for its superb reds.
With its relatively low labor costs and abundant, inexpensive land, Chile was able to establish itself on the world market as a source of cheap bulk wines of varying quality. The industry boomed during the 1990s. By 2001, wine export earnings increased nearly 60-fold, and vineyard acreage grew by nearly 85%.
As wine consumers became more sophisticated, however, Chile’s jug-wine image began to work to its disadvantage, and the country does not have as clear a plan for maintaining its export momentum as Australia’s Strategy 2025, for example. An effort at organization is being made, however. Two years ago, the Association of Vineyards of Chile was formed, representing both large estates and smaller boutique wineries. The group’s mission is to create a unified image of Chilean wine on the world market.
As its perception changes, the world market is now recognizing Chile as a source of terrific values, challenging Bordeaux, Australia and California for producing quality Cabernet Sauvignons that deliver great quality for the price.
Vintner / Wine Maker
Founded in 1825, the Carta Vieja estate is now in its seventh generation of ownership by the del Pedregal family and remains 100% family-owned and –managed.
Food Pairing
It is essential to match a Cabernet Sauvignon with foods that can stand up to its strong tannins. Red meats such as lamb, beef and game are excellent partners, as is hearty poultry such as goose or duck. It also pairs well with strong cheese, and the chocolate notes of this variety make it a surprising match for chocolate desserts, as well.
This wine is unfiltered to enhance the flavor and character of the wine.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sipping For Satos

Benji is doing great. Recovering more and more every day. The wonderful folks at SCAR have checked in on his progress almost daily. He really won their hearts. Unfortunately, his medical bills did a number to their funds. So in hopes of helping them recoup financially so they can save more wonderful dogs like Benji, I'm donating all my profits from my online wine sales to SCAR. So here's your chance to stock up on some incredible boutique wines AND help save homeless and abused dogs. Drinking for a cause.... does it get any better?

These wines are really incredible! Hand chosen from small, often family owned and operated, vineyards around the world. Need a little help picking the right wine for yourself or as a gift? Please let me assist you as your own personal wine consultant. Visit my wine cellar online here.

The holiday season is quickly approaching. These wines make great gifts! Going to holiday party? Don't forget a bottle for the host. Wanna kiss up to your boss?? Well, you get the point. Also check out the wine of the month club called the "Passport Club", it makes a great gift for those impossible to buy for people.

Today's Pick of The Day

Ignis, Mendoza Malbec, Argentina

100% Malbec; aged in French and American oak barrels for 12 months.
Color, Body, Nose, Flavors
Deep garnet color, medium bodied, displays loads of ripe red and blackcurrant fruit along with hints of spice. Good structure, with soft tannins.
Region Description
This Reserva Malbec comes from the Andes slopes in Tupungato which is to the southwest of Mendoza, Argentina and noted as one of the best areas for grapes in Argentina. Nearly 70% of all wine is made in Mendoza. Argentina has never seen the destruction of phylloxera, the plant aphid that devastated many of the world's vineyards in the mid to late nineteenth century and again in the 1980's and 90's.
Under the influence of the cool dry winds blowing from the mountains, the vines are grown on overhead trellises to protect them from the intense heat reflected from the ground during the hot summers. This technique requires that the grapes be hand harvested.

Food Pairings
The cattle industry is a mainstay of Argentina’s culture and economy. Therefore, it is fitting to drink the signature wine from this country with nothing less than spicy barbecued beef, smoky sausages or chops topped with a chimichurri sauce. An ideal accompaniment to red meats and pasta with red sauce. Serve at room temperature. It is best if you decant an hour prior to drinking to full develop its aromas and flavors.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fun with Hilary and Mia

It was great having Hilary and Mia visit us this past weekend. Thank you ladies!

With these two lovely beauties on his arm, Beck felt no need to dress up

Storm gave Mia a ride around the neighborhood. Sorry Hilary and Tim, you're going to need to build a MUCH bigger chicken coop!

Sorry Hilary, I just had to put this one up... aren't they just darling!

Busy Weekend

I'm so behind in my blogging duties, but for very good reasons. Hilary and her daughter Mia came to visit and welcome home one of Beck's old Tokmok roommates Aidai. Hilary and I had first met Aidai on Trip #1 in June 2007 when the orphanage director gave us permission to take pictures of a few kids that were looking for forever homes. The following August I got to see Aidai again when my Mom and I went to pick up Beck. She grabbed ahold of my Mom and didn't want her to leave. It's been something that has pulled at my heart ever since. She yearned for a family of her own, it was very clear. By luck, or by fate, that family ended up living near me! And on Friday Elizabeth flew home with Aidai by her side. Hilary and I, with kids in tow, being the unofficial KG-Welcoming committee, were there at Logan. The rest is better told in pictures... Beck, Morgan and Mia ready and waiting Bill Finally sees Elizabeth and Aidai! Aidai was all smiles in the arms of her Daddy! Meeting her brother Josh for the first time
Beck couldn't wait to say Hi to his ol' friend! They clearly remembered each other! At about 5 seconds, listen closely as Aidai calls Beck by his original name 'Aibek'.

WELCOME HOME AIDAI!!!!!! Congratulations Bill, Elizabeth, Josh and Aidai. Give us a call as soon as you're ready for a playdate!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

few more Benji prints

Benji is still doing well, recovering slowly. He's still bleeding a bit but the vet says that's normal. He slept throughout the night. I may regret saying this, but this is one easy-going dog. Excpet for the fact he gravitates towards the road....

Anyway, Morgan took this pictures and wanted to share.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Benji's HOME!!!!!!!!

Benji's vet gave him the green light to be discharged from the hospital and the folks at SCAR said I could bring him home to recover (to which I of course said YES!), otherwise the vet tech was more than willing to bring him back home to her home.
I'm happy to report he's an absolute doll! SOOOOOOO cute and loving. I think we're very lucky to have him as our newest member of our family!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Saved Twice

We got word that Benji was able to hop a flight on Thursday night! It was a long night of delays and slow downs in the cargo unloading but I was notified by the good people at SCAR (Second Chance Animal Rescue) that he was safe and in good spirits, in fact the volunteer was just gushing about how sweet he is and far cuter and softer than his picture would lead you to believe. She took him home where he'd spend some time in quarantine, then visit the vet on Saturday for his state certificate and we could pick him up on Sunday. We were all very excited to meet our new family member! His bed is ready (although Morgan has decided he'll sleep with her in her bed) and his dog bowl, toys and treats also await him.

Then Saturday we got a call from Benji's temporary Foster Mom. He had been having trouble urinating and they rushed him to the animal hospital where x-rays were taken and 5 kidney stones were discovered lodged in his urethra. They quickly decided to catheterize him but because they didn't know what kind of damage his kidneys may have already sustained, they were forced to do the painful procedure without sedatives. At this point the vet advised the rescue that it may be just easier to euthanize Benji, but that proved to not be an option as Benji proceeded to lick the vet's face despite the obvious pain he was experiencing. It was then that both the rescue and the animal hospital knew that he was something very special and they had to help him fight for his life, and save him for a second time.

They sent Benji home with the president of the rescue but Benji managed to remove his catheter. Luckily one of the vet techs had given him her home phone number, so he called her immediately and she met Benji and the Doctor at the hospital where they reinserted the catheter. Then the vet tech and the vet took turns hosting Benji in their own homes! Needless to say, I can't say enough good things about the vet and staff at Wilton Animal Hospital! To say they have gone above and beyond is an understatement!

This morning Benji went into surgery. I called to check on him before his procedure and every staff member I spoke to ohhh'd and awww'd about how wonderful of a dog he is. They all said that despite the trauma he's experienced and the incredible pain he is in, he is completely loving, happy dog. He has won all of their hearts.

I'm happy to report he came out of surgery fine and will once again go home with the vet tech who will give him round the clock TLC.

The wonderful people at SCAR has told me that I'm in no way obligated to go through with our adoption of Benji. They understood if I didn't want to take a dog that had already found himself in the animal hospital before I even got a chance to meet him. I told them that he's a member of our family, through good and bad. Besides, it's not the first time I've fallen in love with a broken, busted down animal. In fact, the best animals have often come into my life at their lowest point and have bloomed into the best companions anyone could ask for. SCAR has thanked me over and over for sticking with Benji, but it is them who need to be thanked. They have been amazing and have undoubtedly saved Benji's life not once, but twice. It is truly amazing how far they have gone for a single dog. One life. A life worth saving.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

No adoption is complete without a hitch...

Yes, things seemed to be moving along far too easily with our adoption on Benji. This morning I woke up hoping his overnight flight went well and that he was safe and sound. But then I got an e-mail from the rescue. Apparently the economic downturn has taken another toll. Due to the lack of cargo being shipped, Benji and the other dogs' flight to forever homes was cancelled. He's still in Puerto Rico. All efforts are being made to come up with an alternative plan. Cross your fingers (and paws).

Monday, October 6, 2008

Patting a Real Live Movie Star!

This weekend the kids and I got to meet Joe Camp, writer, director and producer of the Benji movies and books. And of course, he had Benji by his side. How's that for timing?!
In less than one week 'our Benji' will be coming home and the kids had never seen any of the Benji movies so before meeting Joe, we went online and checked out the old movies. Needless to say the kids were star struck when they actually got to pat Benji (OK, I didn't tell the kids it was probably Benji #23).

Morgan was very impressed with Benji's training and kept telling Joe how great Benji is.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Beck vs Jack

For no reason other than it's just so darn cute.

oh Grammy.......

After going for a ride the other day, we decided to harness Mr. Dee for the first time. In true Dee fashion, you would have thought he has done this driving thing each and every day by the way he took to it. I was amazed at how well he did considering this was the first time in the harness. If Grammy was there, I think we could have hitched him to the cart and gone for a drive. Mr. Dee did so well that I even let Courtney take the reins (this was her first time as well - You'd never know by watching them!)

Dee doing a fine impression of 'ye ole plow horse'.

He puts up with so much.

So Grammy, when are you coming over?