Thursday, December 31, 2009

Brothers' Bowl Banter

On the final day of 2009, Billy Ground Hog and his brother Woody reunited at the bank. Woody has been living at Miss Amy's house for about a month now. He is extremely happy there with his new adopted brothers Charlie and Squeakers, but occasionally Woody longs to hang out with his Ohio brother, Billy Ground Hog.

Since Billy Ground Hog has lived at my house for about 2 years now, he has converted to become a Penn State fan. Woody, of course, is a diehard Ohio State fan. The brothers are both very football oriented, so they are extremely excited about their respective school's New Year's Day bowl game. Penn State will be playing LSU in the Capital One Bowl, and Ohio State will face Oregon in the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl.

Woody showed his spirit by making this sign to root for his team.

When Woody stepped away for a moment, Billy Ground Hog put a little post it note over the Ohio on Woody's sign.

Woody pondered for a moment, and then slightly lowered Billy Ground Hog's post it note.
"See, we can root for both teams with one sign!" he told his Nittany Lion fan brother. Woody is considering a future as a foreign diplomat when he grows up one day.

Here's to victories for OSU, PSU and all the other Big Ten teams!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

More Monkey Gifts

Laura received this very good monkey watch. I especially like the monkeys on the band. Even if the watch dies, it will make a nice bracelet.

This is Nano Monkey. He came from ebay, along with many other items in our home. He is called Nano because he is so tiny. To give you an idea of his size, I've placed Nano Monkey on my paw. He's barely 1/2 inch tall.

We received this nifty night light (another Cracker Barrel find) from Mark's dad.

Laura's aunt Betty gave us a different night light. Our house will be lit up by multiple sock monkeys when it gets dark.

Laura received this awesome pair of Paul Frank pajamas from Mark's brother Scott. Julius the monkey is our friend, and so is Paul Frank.

Christmas Monkeypalooza - a Plethora of All Things Monkey

This Christmas could certainly be considered Monkeypalooza. We were so fortunate to receive many simian related gifts that included monkeys (sock and otherwise), artwork, clothing, decor, etc. I wish I could post pictures of every item. Our cup truly runneth over this year. Here are two cuties which appear to be the offspring of our giant red sock monkey, Scarlet. Rusty (orange) and Casey (blue) are making friends with their new buddy Karl.

This little dude is crocheted. He's only a few inches tall, so it took some seriously intricate work to create this buddy.

He was made by a nice lady named Meema who lives in Canada and sells her monkeys on ebay. It turns out that a shriner sock monkey Laura purchased two years ago was made by the same person. These two are brothers!

Speaking of brothers, here is one of the Monkey Brothers donning a brand new holiday sweater from Cynthia. He is pushing a shopping cart that Mark bought for us from Think Geek. Think Geek is a good place to find cool toys for your favorite nerd, and they are a monkey friendly company.

We received some delicious buckeyes from our neighbor Joni and from Mark (courtesy of Cracker Barrel). Our native Ohioan, Billy Ground Hog, is ready to devour some of his favorite holiday goody! Buckeyes are basically peanut butter balls covered in chocolate. Yummo!

Sock Monkey Graphic Works of Art

Mark bought some really cool sock monkey pictures on ebay for Christmas. The seller's name is pounddesigns. You can also purchase from her web site, Pound Designs. She even creates other pieces besides sock monkeys. Here's the Bride and Groom - perfect for the humans this year.

The hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil monkeys enjoy some brews at a sock pub.

This one is for Mark - the scuba monk. Mark used to snorkel a lot, and it almost seemed like he was scuba diving because he would hold his breath for a long time and swim very deep chasing after sea creatures. This monkey just needs an underwater camera, and he would be Mark.

Good versus evil - which will this sock monkey choose? Laura has a Paul Frank t-shirt with a similar design featuring Julius the monkey.

Here's Mark again playing the bongo drums. He really does have a set and likes to make a lot of noise to bother Laura. Personally, I enjoy his drumming.

Giant Sock Monkeys Times Three!

There's quite a story behind this post, so I'm going to backtrack a little. Laura had seen a new four foot sock monkey on ebay, and she mentioned this to her co-worker Michelle. Michelle is also addicted to sock monkeys, and Laura is her dealer of sorts. Last week, Laura ordered the sock monkey for Michelle after she enthusiastically gave the OK to go forward with the adoption.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve at the bank. Laura's head teller, Deb, brought in a gigantic wrapped present for her, and guess what was inside? It's the same sock monkey that Laura had found for Michelle on ebay! Apparently he was at our local Walmart as well. How Laura missed this at Walmart we'll never know. She normally has a very good radar for sock monkeys. Laura was giddy over having a third four foot sock monkey to add to her couch collection. She brought him home and proudly showed Mark, who didn't have much of a reaction. Hmm...

The reason why he didn't share in her excitement was because he also got her the same monkey at Walmart. He rode his "hog" (recumbent tricycle) all the way to the store to buy it for her. What a sight that must have been with the giant sock monkey in his storage basket! Laura said she is keeping them both because they are twins and can't be separated. The first twin "born" on Christmas Eve is Jarvis, and the second twin "born" on Christmas Day is Simon. His full name is Simon Key... SiMON KEY... get it? Mark said the other twin should have a mon name too, but the only thing Laura could think of was Damon which isn't a good monkey name in her opinion.

The day after Christmas, Michelle's ebay monkey arrived. Here he is before I liberated him from the plastic bag.

The twins have now become triplets! All of them are exactly one day apart. Here's the happy threesome posing on the couch.

Here are the silly boys mimicking the See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil monkeys.

The brothers meet Gunther.

How many giant sock monkeys does it take to fill up a couch? The answer is five. From left to right: Scarlet, Jarvis, Simon, Michelle's monk (name to be determined) and Gunther.

Christmas Day Continued

You may wonder how Santa Monk can deliver presents to all the good little monkey boys and girls around the globe and still have energy to enjoy the festivities on Christmas Day. The secret is Starbucks! Santa downed several Java Chip Frappuccinos to keep the party going.

Santa loves coffee... hee hee!

Mark, the wanna be chimp, received a Monkey Butt toiletries gift pack. It includes shampoo, body wash, lotion and powder for his monkey butt! Do you think someone was trying to give him a hint?

Mark is modeling one of the gag gifts for Karen. It's a snuggie like wrap, and the box says the design is a "leaf swirl pattern." They should have put a warning on the box that wearing this for an extended period of time may give you the munchies. Apparently Mark has been wearing it too long because he's attacking the Christmas cookies.

Karl's feline cousins, Gilbert and LT, enjoyed watching some fishing programs on television during the day. Check out the jaws on that monster!

Christmas Morning - An Ominous Beginning?

Apparently while Santa Monk was delivering presents around the world on Christmas Eve, an assailant was busy preying on the sock monkey filled tree. Laura found the two assaulted victims on the floor Christmas morning.

She immediately summoned Officer Po Po and Po Junior to investigate the scene. There is no holiday when it comes to crime.

The fine fellows in blue were able to gather forensic evidence before the crime scene was contaminated by a frenzy of unwrapped presents.

Once Po Po could obtain a warrant, he returned to arrest the perpetrator, Karl. Here he is about to attack some of the Christmas gifts. He's eying up the beef stick... sigh. I guess it's back to cat jail... again.

Another tragedy occurred on our front porch later in the morning. A small dead bird was discovered, but it appears that no foul (or fowl) play was involved. He was relocated to Monkey Hollow in our backyard as his final resting place. RIP, my feathered friend.

Christmas Eve - Package from Noah

The day before Christmas I received a package from my sock monkey pal, Noah. He is a blogger just like me. If you want to check out his blog sometime, look under my "Blogs I Follow" section and select Existential Sock Monkey. Noah's mom, Kathy, is very talented. She knits, sews, and makes all kinds of wonderful crafts. I was very excited when Noah told me they were sending a package to Laura and me!

Oh boy! What's inside the bag?

First I received a nice Christmas card with my name on the envelope.

Then I found these really cool magnets! Noah made them himself, with a little help from his mom. Noah has a very professional looking business card that he can hand out to others interested in finding his blog. He included one in the package for me.

Then I found this awesome sock monkey tote bag. Noah said his mom made it for Laura, but she can use it to transport me back and forth to the bank or on other adventures. We both LOVE the bag! I jumped into it immediately. We can't thank Noah and his mom enough for sending us these special gifts!

Pre-Christmas Activities

A few weeks ago I told you about the Teddy Bear Roundup, which collects and distributes bears to children in need during the holidays. One of my best pals on Facebook, Harry, who happens to be an alpine polar bear himself, sent a buddy all the way from Hoboken, NJ for donation to the cause. Many thanks and hugs to you, Harry! We really appreciate it. Here is Santa Monk posing with the delightful, huggable pal from Harry.

I think the little fellow is taking a shine to Santa Monk.

After posing for pictures with Santa Monk, it was time for our new friend to be sent via interoffice courier - the next step towards his final destination of a new home with a child that loves him. Santa carefully packed him up in a transport bag and humanely cut some air holes so that he wouldn't suffocate. Good luck on the rest of your journey, bear buddy!

The entire week prior to Christmas, sock monkeys infiltrated the bank. It was Sock Monkey Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Here's a photo of Gunther and a few of his little Christmas buddies.

Meanwhile on the home front, our small tree was dominated by sock monkeys of course. Some of these ornaments were given to us as gifts this year. We thank everyone who contributed to the collection!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chef Big Monkey's Beef Stew

Last night I prepared a delicious beef stew for my family. I found the recipe on the Food Network's web site, and this is the second time I have made it - Red Wine Beef Stew with Potatoes and Green Beans. If you click on my link, you can see the ingredient list complete with instructions. I will be giving my two cents worth of advice to guide you through the process. The recipe says it takes 2 hours and 20 minutes total time, but I would allow 4 hours. The potatoes I used (Yukon gold) take much longer to cook than they say. I supersized many of the ingredients using lots more carrots and potatoes than the recipe called for.

Here I am browning the beef. Normally I don't use real butter, but I did follow the recipe in this instance. Browning the beef in butter adds a great flavor to the stew.

I'm cooking up the carrots and onions in the leftover beef juices. The aroma is just incredible!

I used a Cabernet Sauvignon for the red wine. The key to the wine is use something you would like to drink. When I sent my assistant to get ingredients Sunday morning, she was quite perturbed because she had forgotten that Florida doesn't allow alcohol sales before 11:00 am on Sundays. Duh! She had to return for a second trip later in the day. If you are a wine buffoon like Laura, just pick a medium priced bottle that has a cork instead of a screw top. Removing the cork was an ordeal in itself, but I won't go into that. Very important - drink the leftover wine during the cooking process.

Four hours later... hiccup! Here's my finished stew pot. Doesn't it look divine?

Finally it's time to eat! Since it took so long to prepare this stew, I made sure we had plenty of leftovers for future meals. I think it will be even more savory after sitting in the fridge for a couple of days.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Donation to a Good Cause - The John Winter Memorial Teddy Bear Roundup

My friends from News Channel 8 are sponsoring the annual Teddy Bear Roundup. Through the Rough Riders, donated bears are given to children in the hospital during the holidays. The bank where I work, Regions, is one of several collection sites in the Tampa Bay area. I did my part by donating this cute, fuzzy friend to the cause. Hopefully he will make some child beary happy!

My pal and I posed by the bank's Christmas tree prior to him hopping inside of the box. I reassured him that his time in the box would not be too long. Soon he will have a good home just like I do.