The Buddy Gang!


Shoulder to shoulder

Malcolm has a group of friends he has known since grade school – over 50 years of friendship and camaraderie.  Known among themselves as the Buddy Gang, their bonds of friendship has survived and grown throughout high school, college, marriages, kids, jobs and Saturday night poker games.  One or two members of the gang has moved out of the country, one or two has moved out-of-state.  Most have stayed in Atlanta, separated only by asphalt with yellow-dotted strips and  divided only by the Tech-Bulldog game. Game day is a bevy of phone calls, dog jokes and yelling at the television.   By 4th quarter, the Lipton Onion soup dip with Ruffle Potato Chips and the Pale Ale beer has been reduced to a messy bowl, an empty chip bag and several drained bottles. If Tech wins, it’s a good day in Santa Fe – when the Dawgs conquer, I get to hear about it for days, those bastards!

Gray hair and lack of hair is the beta test for growing older, wrinkles and beer bellies are now the norm.    Not only are their jokes locational and generational…. ERGER!  The repeated stories of their glory days and youth have grown longer and a bit more fictional.  On occasion, an old girl friend’s name rises to the surface of conversation, classmates are remembered, past teachers are read about in the obits.  Hot chicks and cold beer have been replaced with chicken wings and a slighty chilled Chardonnay, a night out at the pub has become less expensive, arriving home earlier in the night,  wire-rimmed 1.50+ readers adorn their foreheads instead of headbands and Malcolm’s rockin’ Volkswagen bus is now a Toyota Prius.  Life has brought a multiple of changes to each one and yet, their friendship remains intact, solid and strong.  Unbreakable.  Undeniable.

Birthdays bring a round of emails and drinks full of best wishes and good cheer.  The youngest member of the gang reminding his elders of which they will always older.  A death in the family brings a shoulder, a hug, and a reality check to all of what matters most.

Emails and Skype connect the distance in their lives – phone calls and visits bring them together.  On the rare occasions when they are all together at one time, the conversation is reminiscent and loud… really loud!  An outsider would never know they hadn’t seen each other in months, or in some cases, years.  They pick up right where they left off, months and years later, pounds heavier.  Even with miles and time between them, there isn’t a doubt in any of their minds that the others are there for them and each other. A lifetime of friendship.  A friendship that lasts a lifetime.

Nelson, Murrey, Josh, Michael, Ken, David & Malcolm –  Shoulder to shoulder, the buddy gang will be friends for life.





Snooze button

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The nose knows!

!UGH!  A cold wet nose is thrust upon my early morning dreams.  I look at the clock and try to focus on the blue digital numbers.  4:05 a.m.  There is still forty-five minutes before the alarm sounds off.  I try to ignore the persistent nose nudging under my elbow, desperately wanting and needing my 45 minutes of sleep.  Eyes closed, I feel  another nudge, this time on my hand that is dangling over the edge of the bed.  UGH! Dog slobber.   All over my hand.  I open my eyes just enough to check the time.  Dolce and Amore, with their twin noses within inches of my face, are eyeing me intently.  Two sets of eyes, shining brightly, eagerly waiting for me to get up and start the day.  My eyes raise to the alarm clock.  4:10 a.m. – 40 minutes left. It’s only been five minutes.  I close my eyes and pretend I’m asleep.

Whack!  A sand-crusted paw hits the bed, just missing my nose.  I am assaulted with dog-paw odor.  “Off”! I whisper, not wanting to wake up Malcolm.  Amore doesn’t listen and doesn’t care.  Another paw joins the first,  more sand.  I look up, Amore is peering down on me, happy dog drool dripping onto my cheek and neck.  UGH!  I go to wipe off the wet drops and smear wet sand all over me.  UGH! 4:20 a.m.  A half-hour nap is  my only hope.  Amore licks my face, a more persistent dog you’ll never see.  She.  Wants.  Me.  Up.  NOW!  I roll over, implementing the “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me” rule, feeling the rough sand  throughout the sheets.  UGH!  Amore’s  determination runs deep, she paws the bed covers, pulling my warm blankets inch by coveted inch off the bed into a soft mass on the floor.  4:37 a.m.  I am now freezing, dog-slobbered, sand-covered and wide-awake.  Malcolm is softly snoring, oblivious to my wake-up call.

Just then, Dolce leaps up on the bed, clears a sleeping Malcolm, and lands on me.  Phoof!  The oxygen is squished out of my lungs.  I gasp for breath, simultaneously pushing Dolce off me.  I manage to turn her around, only to have her victorious wagging tail in my face.  UGH!  Visions of sleeping extra minutes vanished along with all the air from my lungs.  4:43 a.m.  Not to be out done, Amore jumps onto the mattress, her paws digging into Malcolm’s legs for balance.  “W.T.F.!”  Malcolm is rudely awaken.

4:45 a.m. Five minutes til “Wake-Up with Wally” blasts out the top ten hits on FM 107.9.  I shut off the alarm with Wally and crawl out of bed, crawl being the optimal word.  The dogs are ecstatic they have early morning company.  Malcolm is grumpy from being woken up.  I am a snooze button away from being sane.

Just remember, there is no snooze button for a dog who wants breakfast!



Malcolm and I don’t have children – we have dogs.  Use to be three, now two huge, wonderful, sweet, spoiled brats.  Like most parents with real kids, Tiamo, the first one, was easy to raise and didn’t give us any trouble.  We spent hours training her, socializing her, correcting her, loving her.   Santa Fe is a dog friendly town, permitting canines on leash most everywhere and we took her everywhere that allowed dogs.  Tiamo would sit at our feet while we sat outside eating lunch at cafe’s and bistros. She loved to watch the other patrons, always hoping there might be other dogs around.  She was so well-behaved, little nippers would climb all over her and she loved the attention.  She loved people and other animals, especially cats. Most of all, she LOVED Sam.

Sam was our nephew and was loved like a son.  In many ways, he was the kid we never had.  One freezing cold January day Sam arrived in Santa Fe, shirtless and in flip-flops, for a short weekend visit.  He ended up staying.  He was 23 years, not even a quarter of a century old, and traveling through life, while we were both fast approaching the half-dollar mark and getting ready to slide down the other side.  One week later, Sam moved into our household.  I had someone new to spoil, while  Malcolm had someone new to impart wisdom and advise to.   Not having kids, we loved the fact he came diaper free and with manners.  He was trained.  The three of us became a family.

When Malcolm was turning 50, I surprised him with a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy.  Born on Thanksgiving Day, Tiamo joined our new family when she was 10 weeks old.  We all instantly fell in love with her, especially Sam, although I think he originally saw her as a chick magnet with four legs.  I mean, seriously, what female under 80 and not blind would not fall in love with a Bernese puppy!  Sam took part in Tiamo’s training.  He assisted in walking her, grooming her and teaching her to sit, along with other commands.  When Sam later moved into town, I think he missed Tiamo more than he missed us.  I know Tiamo missed him something fierce.  She would go absolutely nuts when Sam came to visit and wouldn’t leave his side.  Tiamo would have this goofy grin on her face when Sam showed up.  Her eyes would light up and she would prance around, showing off for Sam.  Sam always brought her a treat.  Something special just for her.  It got so, every time Sam came, she would go for the pocket, nosing her muzzle, sniffing for her treat.   Tiamo was the happiest when the four of us were together.  She would grab her toy of the week, gnawing on it while laying at our feet, listening to our voices as we caught up on our lives.  Her family together.

Sam loved the outdoors.  Even on the coldest of days, he and Malcolm would sit outside, watching the sun set, sharing a bottle of wine, discussing life.  They would pull up two wooden rocking chairs to the edge of the portal, facing west, and observe the day’s colors fade from blue to orange to black.  Tiamo at their feet.  They would still be talking as the stars turned on their lights.  Tiamo was content to be with her “boys”.  Some nights, they would light a small fire in the chiminea for warmth.  Other times, they would gently rock their chairs to the cadence of their conversation, low murmurs that eased Tiamo into a soft sleep.   During the summer months, Sam and Malcolm would take Tiamo for midnight walks when it had cooled down from the day’s heat.  Tiamo LOVED Sam.

Five years ago, Sam passed away at the young age of 27.  The first year, after Sam’s death, was the hardest.  Malcolm and I had to re-adjust our family back down to two with a dog.   Along with Tiamo, we had to re-adjust to never seeing Sam again.  We all mourned.  We all missed Sam.  Like barbed wire wrapped around our hearts, we felt every razor-sharp prong squeezing into our sorrow.  Our hearts were sad, bruised and beat up.  The following spring after Sam’s death, I started a memorial garden.  West of our portal, in full view of the day’s end, I planted shrubs and flowers in every color of the sun’s wink good night.  It is a continual work in progress.  I have since laid flagstone, moved the chiminea to the middle of the stonework and added birdhouses and yard art to commemorate the joy of life.  Bright colors surround the garden, flowers edge the stone’s perimeter, pine trees and junipers provide shade and add a wind break.  It has become a happy place.

Five months ago, we had to put Tiamo down.  Cancer.  Heart-wrenching.  Sad.  We had two weeks to prepare for the finality of losing her.  Malcolm chose an area in the memorial garden where Tiamo loved to lay while Sam and Malcolm solved the world’s problems.   He started to dig her burial plot.  As Malcolm dug, Tiamo laid by the deepening hole and watched, silently giving us her acceptance of what was to come.   She was ready.  We buried Tiamo in her favorite spot, shaded by junipers and surrounded by color.  She is deeply missed.

I would like to believe Sam and Tiamo are in their happy place together.  Tiamo has her “Sam” to play with, sniffing out an endless supply of treats from his pockets, prancing around in a field of soft green clover.  Sam has Tiamo, keeping him company while he enjoys the outdoors.

Sam at sunset

Sam at sunset


Happy Birthday! shasta, cherry, butterfly, tough guy, big apple, little apple, pinkie & polka dot

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Today our little liter puppies turn 28 years old, or for those that aren’t good at division – four years old!  I remember when we bred Tiamo….

A very pregnant mama!

We had located a male Berner that was intact and waited until Tiamo was two years old, we had done all the tests and sent them off to OFA for evaluation. The wait was on for Tiamo to enter into her heat cycle.  Right before 4th of July she was ready!  Talk about fireworks, we brought her to her new boyfriend and it was love at first sight.  Five weeks later, I brought Tiamo to the vet for an ultrasound to confirm her pregnancy.  I was told she would have four pups and she should have her little ones around Labor Day. After the vet visit, I stopped at the pet store and bought 4 little collars wrapping them in tissue.  When we got home, Tiamo carried the tissue wrapped collars right up to Malcolm and dropped the package onto his lap.  She then nudged Malcolm in the leg until he unwrapped his gift.  It only took a nano-second for Malcolm to figure out it was official.  Tiamo was pregnant!  Both Malcolm and Tiamo had huge grins on their faces!

Tiamo had an easy pregnancy.  Every night while she was preggers, she would crawl up next to me, snuggle in, roll over and get her belly rubbed.  As August inched closer to September, Malcolm and I built Tiamo a whelping pen,  got towels and blankets ready for the big event,  and waited.  I counted the days off on the calendar so we could narrow down the date she should go into labor and prayed I would be home when she started.   Tiamo was getting bigger and bigger and bigger.  She was so uncomfortable that for the first time she couldn’t get up on the couch.  I resorted to laying down on the hard brick floor with her to rub her belly.  I wanted her to have a normal birthing experience.  I had read horror stories of dogs going into labor at 2 in the morning.  I read about emergency c-sections and puppies not making it.  I think Malcolm and I were more nervous than Tiamo was.

The first Friday of September, out of the clear blue, Tiamo crawled into her whelping pen.  She sniffed all the corners, rearranged the blankets and slept in the pen all night.  She knew the pen was for her!  The next morning, she started doing the nesting routine and at 9:00 a.m. her water broke.  Bless her heart, our sweet mama had waited until mid-morning on the weekend to have her little pups.  Within an hour, the first pup had been born, hale and healthy.  Tiamo instinctively did her job.  Every hour hence, Tiamo’s contractions would push a new little pup into the world.  At 1:00 p.m. she was done.  Four girls!  Licked clean and learning how to nurse.  Tiamo welcomed her little girls into their new world and settled into motherhood.  About three hours later, Tiamo started getting restless,  turning around in circles and being agitated.   Lord have mercy! she was having another puppy, and another and another and another!  Again, like clock work, every hour, another puppy would arrive.  Eight!  She had eight puppies!  Seven girls and one boy!  All this time we thought she was going to keep it at four!  Mother and puppies were all healthy and doing great.  They all were nursing, they all were warm, they were all clean.  The puppies were weighed and documented and were sound asleep.  We were exhausted.

Tiamo was the proudest mother.  She loved showing off her brood.  The neighborhood was so excited we had to set up visiting hours.  Tiamo stayed with her liter all day and night except for when she needed to go outside.   The puppies were rapidly growing and getting more active.  By week two their eyes were starting to open and by week three, Shasta (aka Amore) was trying to climb out of the whelping pen.  Life as we knew it was over!

tail count – 8

We had homes for the first four puppies, however, we were now scrambling to find placement for the others.  By the second week of November, the puppies were leaving for their next adventure.  All but two pups had families eagerly waiting for them. We had always planned on keeping one of Tiamo puppies and now we had two.  Shasta and Pinkie. Amore and Dolce.  We would find a family that wanted a puppy and for some reason or another, at the last-minute they wouldn’t be able to take her.  A week turned into a month, around Christmas time, Malcolm and I looked at each and knew we couldn’t give away our extra little girl.  We decided to keep two puppies! It was a Christmas gift to ourselves.  A type of  “to-me-from-me” present.   Three dogs:  Mama and her two adventurous puppies!  All spoiled!  Wow!  Little did we know the upheaval three dogs would bring!

Would we do it all over again?  may be not.  Would we change one second of the last four years?  Never!  Tiamo and her two little girls have brought so much joy into our lives, so much adventure, so many smiles to our hearts.  Malcolm swears if we ever win the lotto, he is going to get 10 Bernese Mountain Dogs and breed every one of them.  To Tiamo’s last day, she received a daily belly rub.  To this day – Happy Birthday Girls!

Goat Cheese Cups

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Goat Cheese Cups

“yummmmm, yummmmm, these are gooood!” – Dolce & Amore
  • Phyllo Dough sheets (found in the freezer section at the Grocery Store)
  • 8 oz. mild Goat Cheese, such as Feta Cheese
  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 4 oz. frozen chopped spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 stick (4 oz.) butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup toasted Pinon nuts
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried Tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Grease mini muffin pan, set aside.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Defrost the spinach.  Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a heavy pan, add the spinach and heat, until all of the liquid has evaporated, stirring constantly.  Stir in the goat cheese and cream cheese.  Add remaining ingredients, mix well and set aside.

Place three sheets of Phyllo dough on a cutting board and cut into 12 squares.  Place each square into a mini muffin hole, fitting the square into the bottom and letting the top edges flute.  Fill cups  3/4 full and bake for 12-15 minutes until top edges have turn golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Serve warm.

WARNING:  do not leave on counter, waiting for your guests to arrive.  four-legged thieves have been known to grab-and-run, leaving a wide crumb trail on your clean floor.

Peanut Butter Kongs!

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The best-ever puppy sitter!

It’s Labor Day weekend.  One last family gathering, one last BBQ, one last picnic.

It’s Labor Day weekend.  The last of the garden has been harvested, all the fruit has been picked, red, white and blue decorations has been replaced with pumpkins and foliage.

It’s Labor Day weekend.  The last weekend before the pool closes.  The last weekend of tourist season.  The last weekend of summer.  Summer homes and cabins are closed up for the coming of winter, shorts and swimsuits are put away until next spring, cool refreshing salads are replaced with hearty soups and stews.

It’s Labor Day weekend.  It’s potato salad, slaw and beans.  It’s watermelon and homemade ice cream.  It’s hotdogs and ribs on the grill, smoke curling up through the trees, the aroma of grilled meat lightly flavoring the air.  It’s dogs underfoot and under the table, hoping to score a dropped hotdog or a rib bone or two.  It’s three Bernese Mountain Dogs praying someone will toss them a bone.  It’s three dogs, each hoping to grab the bone before the other two dogs discover who has the prize.   It’s discovering dog bones might be good puppy sitters, but the vet bill is much, much more expensive….

Now, when we go over to friends for BBQ, and we want the girls to be on their best behavior while we are gone, we bribe them with Kongs.  Filled with peanut butter and placed in the freezer, Frozen Peanut Butter Kongs can keep the girls entertained for hours while we enjoy our night out.  Tiamo would grab hers and run for her special spot in the middle of the living room.  Amore takes her Kong into the bedroom to her dog pillow and Dolce jumps over the couch on to her blanket, the Kong clenched tightly in her jaws.  Not a peep is heard out of the dogs except the slurping and licking while mauling the Kongs to get to the cold treat inside.  About an hour later, Tiamo moseys’ over to Amore and Dolce, slyly investigating to see if they are still working on their Kongs, and unsuccessfully trying to steal their treat.  Amore covers her Kong with her paw, not letting Tiamo close enough to be in grabbing distance.  Dolce has taken to the habit of carrying her Kong with her where ever she goes, not willing to risk one of the other dogs taking her Kong.

PBK’s are our new puppy sitter.  It is the only time, the girls don’t care if they are left behind at home.  In fact, they are so excited at the prospect of a PBK, they can’t wait for us to leave.  And, let me tell ya, they know when there is a possibility of getting a Kong.  They know the sound of the freezer door opening and sound of rummaging around for the Kongs.  The minute we hand them their Kong, we don’t even exist.  Each dog is in their own Peanut Butter nirvana.

It’s Labor Day weekend:  BBQ, Ice cream and Peanut Butter Kongs!


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2  cups chunky peanut butter
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • rock salt
  • ice

In a double boiler, bring the water to boil.  Combine sugar, chocolate chips, and whole milk in top of double boiler.  Reduce heat to low, and cook until sugar is dissolved and chocolate chips are melted, stirring occasionally.  Stir in peanut butter and eggs, remove from heat.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Mix until completely blended.

Pour mixture into freezer container (3 quart size).  Place freezer in the ice cream bucket and add about 4 inches of ice in the space between the freezer and bucket.  Layer ice with 1/2 cup of so of salt.  continue laying ice and salt to the top of the bucket.  Freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.  When freezer stops, remove the freezer paddle from the container and place container in freezer for at least an hour before serving.


WARNING:  Do not let dogs near peanut butter jar.  Has been known to disappear.




! Hot Tamale !


Dolce sliding down the hill

I’ve noticed the weather is juuusst baarrrrely starting to turn a little bit nippier.  The nights are cooler, mornings crisp, the days not as warm.  The girls are noticing the weather change as well.  Usually, in the hot days of summer, they tend to be a bit sluggish.  This past week has seen cooler days and they are rearing to go, eager for their hikes at the Galisteo Basin Preserve.  Bernese Mountain Dogs are cold weather canines, they have a double coat that keeps them insulated and warm, allowing snow play to be a daily activity.  As summer fades into fall, the girls instinctively know snow is soon to come.  Whoa Nellie!  they are way tooo excited!

Our dogs love the colder weather.  There is nothing like a 20 degree, blistering cold, clear blue sky day with some snow on the ground to get the dogs going.  On those days, they are full of  #*&%(^&*$  and vinegar!  They absolutely LOVE snow!  Especially Dolce and Amore.  They find a small hill, scramble to the top and slide down on their bellies, like a free ride at the fair!  And then they race back up to the top to slide down again.  They will sniff out a clean patch of white stuff and make snow angels, rolling over on their backs and wiggling in the snow.  A favorite is to nip at the powder as they tear down the trail.  When there is fresh snow , they try to be the first to break trail, jumping through the snow like deer springing over tall grass.  Snow wrestling is a daily game played by the girls.  An outdoor sport only to be brought indoors so they can shake the snow off their fur coats and onto the furnishings. There is never a clean floor when there is snow!   By the end of the day, they are tuckered out –  and as I’ve always said, “a tired dog is a happy owner”!

Cold weather brings yearnings for roasted green chili and hot soup .  A favorite of mine is Hot Tamale and Tortilla Soup.  Tamales are great any time of the year but especially good in the early fall during chili harvest.


  • 1 lb. cooked, boneless chicken meat (I buy a roasted chicken and pull the meat off)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup roasted green chili, diced  (best time to buy green chili is in August/September when vendors heat up their roaster, set up shop in a parking lot and sell roasted peppers hot off the fire)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 – 1/2 cups crushed unsalted tortilla chips
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 – 14 1/2 oz. cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 – 14 oz. can tomatoes, chopped with juices
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 12 purchased tamales (chicken)
  • 1 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels


  • 1 cup tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • crushed tortilla chips

Heat a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.  Melt butter and add the onions, bell pepper,  celery, roasted green chili, and garlic, cooking until softened and translucent.  Add cooked chicken, tortilla chips, spices, broth and tomatoes.  Cover and let simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat tamales according to the package instructions.

Add beans and corn kernels into soup mixture, stirring to blend.  Continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes.  Add cream, Monterey Jack cheese and cheddar cheese and stir until cheese has melted and is well blended.  Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.

Place a tamale (or two) into the bottom of each soup bowl.  Ladle soup over the tamale into the bowl.  Garnish with diced tomato, green onions, shredded cheese and crushed tortilla chips.

Can be prepared 1 day ahead.  Cover tightly and refrigerate.





Apple Snatching Thief!


Dolce – the apple snatching thief!

Every year, my husband, ever the rural gardener (NOT!), decides to plant fruit trees.  Cherries, peaches, apricots, apples, you name it.  And every year, he has high hopes of a bumper crop.  Unfortunately, we live in an area where the wind blows right about the time the blossoms are popping on the tree, blowing away any glimmer of  fruit off the branches.  And, we live at an elevation of 7,000 feet where it can easily snow into the month of May, freezing the fruit.  If the wind and the freeze doesn’t get the apples,  in late August, the coyotes come and feed off of the trees.  Needless to say, at best, we might be able to pick a dozen or so of token apples, just enough to bake a pie  – a small pie that we can claim the apples grew in our garden.

One year, we were able to gather two huge baskets of apples.  I left them on the high kitchen counter to use at a later date.  Each day when I came home from work, I noticed the pile of apples was getting significantly  smaller.  Naturally, I assumed my husband was pigging out on apples.  To our surprise, we learned differently….

Our two movie star felines – John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe, had co-op’ed with our three Berners:  Tiamo, Amore and Dolce.  Together, our sweet little kitties would jump up on the counter to the basket of apples and knock down the fruit with their paws to the floor, where three canines were eagerly waiting.  In one chomp, the apple would disappear down the throats of the dogs.  They were all in cahoots together!  In less than a week, the apples were gone.  Watching the antics of three dogs madly scrambling to catch the apple before the other two could was hilarious!  Watching the cats toy with the dogs, knowing they were in control, was more so.  You could see the cats thinking; “silly dogs going crazy over  shiny red balls”.  Watching the five of them playing together was worth losing two baskets of apples.

This year our apple tree is loaded with fruit.  Having survived the wind and any possible freeze, the branches are lowering to the ground with the weight of its produce.  Only now it’s not the coyotes we need to worry about – its Dolce!  The little stinker has learned a new trick.  The apples are low enough for her to burrow into the branches, sniff for the perfect fruit, grab the apple and run to a safe spot to eat it.  She loves the snap of the fruit as she is pulling it off the branch.  She knows at that exact moment, the apple is hers!  When the branch springs back from her tug, when the water droplets on the leaves from the recent rains splash onto her face, when the resistance of ownership transfers from the tree to her mouth, she knows she is the victor.  And, let me tell ‘ya, she is one happy camper!  Shiny bright eyes, a mouth full of apple and believe it or not, a grin of pure happiness.

Here’s to all the apple-snatching dogs in this world!


  • Pastry for a 2 crust 9″ pie
  • 7 cups of apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 -1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice or vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • a little bit of milk

Divide half of the brandy and pour into a brandy sniffer.  Sip a few times to be sure the brandy is good enough to be used for the pie.  Sip again throughout the baking process to ensure the pie was worth the effort of making it.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out 1/2 of the pastry and line the pie pan.  Add the apples to the pie pan, layering the slices evenly.  Add lemon zest over the apple slices.

Combine all of the remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly.  Pour evenly over the apple slices.  Roll out remaining half of pastry dough and arrange over the apples and filling.  Flute the edges and cut vents in the top crust.  Combine the egg and milk and brush over the top crust.  Place prepared pie on a baking pan and place in oven for one hour or until done.  If the pie crust is browning too fast, tent foil over the fluted crust edges to slow the browning.

Great with the remaining brandy!

Counter-surfing: A Dog Burglar Sport!

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Licking the pumpkin can

Tiamo was taught early on not to beg.  We were especially carefully not to feed her table craps or human food.  She knew the rules and she obeyed them, or so we thought….

As soon as we left the room or our backs were turned, mischief happened. Leave something tasty on the counter and she’d be waiting in the wings.  Tiamo had an alarmingly keen sense of timing, so specialized and perfected, she could lift a whole loaf of pumpkin bread off the counter without dropping a crumb and be out the dog door before you returned.  She could transport a filled glass creamer 20 yards to the doggy door and out to the pen without spilling a drop of evidence.  Her specialty was cookies.  Since she only took one, most times I didn’t realize there was one less of a dozen.  And, if I suspected a thief, all I had to do was look to my husband – a likely culprit.

Tiamo was wise.  She knew not to look suspicious. No guilty look, no “if-I-can’t-see-you-you-can’t-see-me” covering of the eyes, no hiding in the corner.  She hid her crimes in the open.  Or, if she knew she might get busted, she would lay down on the goods, hiding them under her belly and poise innocently.  Her Oscar performances usually led me to scold Amore and Dolce.  Oh, she was good!  So good, she knew to paw the canisters back into position after shoving them out of the way to grab the hidden treasure.  We learned not to thaw out steaks on the counter, leave bread out or wait to wash the dishes until later.  Later meant the dinner menu needed to be changed.

A while back, I had asked my husband to pull out some hamburger from the freezer to thaw for dinner.  He placed the meat in the back of the counter well out of reach from sniffing noses and searching paws.  Unfortunately, he forgot to move the step-stool used to reach for items on the top shelf in the cabinets.  No surprise here.  Tiamo had climbed on the stool and was licking the frozen hamburger.  When she realized she was busted, she grabbed the frozen block of meat  in her jaws and ran through the dog door.  By the time, we had gone around the pen, she had gulped down the hamburger and was licking off the left-overs.

Her favorite was Pumpkin Bread.  Time and time again, she found ways to snarf the loaf off the counter.  The below recipe is in honor of Tiamo.


“yummm, pummmpkinnn, our favorite!” – Tiamo, Amore and Dolce

  • 2 cups Bisquick mix
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 – 12oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup solid packed canned pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the above ingredients and mix well.  Lightly grease a non-stick griddle and heat to a medium heat, about 375 degrees.  Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pancake mix onto griddle.

Cook until top surface is bubbly and edges are lightly browned.  Flip over and cook other side the same.  Remove from griddle and serve with honey butter and/or warm maple syrup.

Sluggin’ it Down Sluggers


Serve on a snowy, lazy day with a roaring fire.

  • 1 cup freshly brewed strong coffee
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 oz (1 tbsp.- or more) Kahlua
  • 2 oz. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
  • 6 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. sugar

Heat coffee, bourbon, Kahlua, chocolate and 2 tbsp. of cream in a 2 quart heavy saucepan over low heat, whisking constantly, until chocolate is melted (about 2 minutes).  Do not let boil.

Whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream with sugar until it holds soft peaks.

Divide mixture into coffee mugs and top with whipped cream.

“i like licking the coffee rings left on the end table, even though I’m not suppose to!” – amore


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AMORE’ – our little “first”!  First to be born, first to climb out of the whelping pen, first to bark and first to start mischief!  Amore’ is our hyper-active child.  She loves to run just for the joy of it.  Loves to chase lizards and bunnies.  Loves to jump in water and shake to see where the water drops fall.  Loves to pull apples off the tree and loves life to the fullest.  We kept our little “first”.  A handful, yes, but worth the adventure.Image

It’s a’ comming!

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It's a' comming!

Soon – a human cookbook highly recommended by Tiamo, Amore, and Dolce