Author: Mr. Monte

Mobile Test Kitchen on the Shenandoah

The Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen staff never takes a vacation. Nope, we just take to our Mobile Test Kitchen and do our cooking on the Shenandoah. Even in August, when the Blue Ridge can be most uncomfortable, we work to master, adapt, and enjoy recipes by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin. – Come along with me and let this awesome 24-pound Main Coon cat show you what goes on behind the scenes.

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

You, my faithful 23,417 feline followers are probably not much into human gourmet cooking. But you do know that a day of hard work must begin with the very best breakfast. And that’s just the way it is here in the Mobile Test Kitchen. Chef Blondie always ensures that I’m properly fed and ready to do my assigned duties.

Because the amazing Pierre LeChat could not join us on this trip, it fell on me to observe the Test Kitchen staff in action, record video, and take copious notes. – A hardy breakfast made by Chef Blondie guaranteed that I would be up to the task.

And that’s the way a day of deployment in the Mobile Test Kitchen always begins. Then comes housecleaning chores, menu and recipe review, food inventory, and preparation of mise en place. Every member of the Test Kitchen staff has assigned duties, and they perform them with deft precision. – – Of course, there is always one member of the staff who’s a bit out of synch with the real world and Test Kitchen work.

Ol’ Fuzz Face is celebrating one year of full retirement. And to prove that he hasn’t lost his touch, he decided to take a selfie while standing precariously on top of the Mobile Test Kitchen roof. Fortunately, he survived this foolish stunt.

Once we coaxed Fuzzy down from the roof, we forced him back into the kitchen to do his job. Eventually, he put on his apron, and joined us preparing for the big test of Jacques Pépin’s recipe for Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus.

In the Shenandoah Valley, weather makes a difference.

In August, temperatures climb into the 90’s in the Shenandoah Valley. Although the Mobile Test Kitchen is air conditioned, the high humidity can be stifling. But, as you see here, the humidity was unusually low on recipe testing day. – That made for a kitchen staff in very high spirits.

Mobile Test Kitchen – Testing Underway

Yes, under the expert guidance from Executive Chef Blondie, things were coming together. I busied myself by determining proper camera angles and lighting requirements. That required me to jump from tabletop to the over cab loft and various other select positions. Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I performed video and photo tasks flawlessly.

As the test was nearing completion, Chef Blondie invited me over to taste test Jacques’s recipe. I think the pictures below adequately show my anticipation and my reaction.

Yes, the staff members of the Serendipity Farmhouse Mobile Test Kitchen had outdone themselves. – I could now hand over my notes, videos, and still pictures to Pierre LeChat for his evaluation.

Like you, I will be waiting for his post which will be published early next week. – Until then: Happy Cooking!

Curry Monster & The Kaiju Cat

Yes, there is a Curry Monster, and yes, there are kaiju cats. These are two unquestionable truths here at Serendipity Farmhouse. This post will clear up the matter once and for all. – Failure to read this post could jeopardize your peace of mind and physical health for years to come.

A Kaiju Cat Enraged

Kaiju Cat

Hi! Mr. Monte the SFH Kaiju (怪獣) Cat here!

I was thoroughly incensed by a recent comment made by an internet troll. He claimed that my sweet protector, Miss Blondie, lied in her report about The Attack of the Curry Monster in our post How to Enjoy S&B Golden Curry. This despicable being insinuated that there was no such thing as a ‘Curry Monster’.

That awakened the rage that lies deep within the being of this kaiju cat! – And now there is one less internet troll.

(Stay with me, and I’ll show you how I put that internet troll out of his misery. Also, I have a link to a special treat for all kaiju fans.)

The History of the Curry Monster

The Attack of the Curry Monster segment in Blondie’s post How to Enjoy S&B Golden Curry documents when and how one curry monster came into being. There are reliable witnesses who will testify that the story is factual. Furthermore, my esteemed colleague, the world-renowned Toku Professor, has provided us a concise curry monster history. Following are excerpts from his flawless research.


The first known appearance of the Curry Monster (カレーモンスター) took place around the year 2600 B.C. Coincidently, that was around the same time that the inhabitants of Muhenjo-Daro began pounding spices like fennel, cumin, mustard and tamarind pods to flavor their food. The Curry Monster had a different form at that time.

Much later, in 1510, the Portuguese established a trading center in Goa, India. As a result of this, several important ingredients for some curries, such as chili peppers, tomatoes and potatoes ended up making their way into India. The Curry Monster had to change forms quickly in order to digest these newly introduced foods.

In the 17th Century, the British began introducing curry into English cuisine. It was then that the Curry Monster slowly began to gain influence over many new areas of the world, before finally transforming into his Ultimate Form in the mid-20th Century.

Curry Monster Name Origin

Curry is an anglicized form of the Tamil கறி (kari) meaning ‘sauce’ or ‘relish for rice’ that uses the leaves of the curry tree (Murraya koenigii). Monster comes from Middle English “monstre”. This comes from Anglo-French and from the Latin “monstrum” meaning omen or monster.

Note: Regarding the Curry Monster’s strength and powers, the Toku Professor warns us:


Recent Confirmed Curry Monster Sightings

I have done some personal research. It reveals that there have been a large number of Curry Monster sightings throughout the world, especially in Japan. One sighting, with pictures, was reported on October 30, 2014 in the post デカ盛りすぎる珍百景カツカレーモンスター!!

curry monster
Monster Curry, Curry Monster

I think this picture on the left explains why there have been so many sightings in Japan. It seems that the Curry Monster may have opened his own chain of restaurants. Apparently, Japanese kaiju finally have a place to grab a quick meal while ravaging local cities.

So, what happened to the Internet Troll?

Here’s how I disposed of that despicable internet troll. First, I used my unique skills as Hacker Cat (黑客猫) to determine his place of residence. (See my post Access Granted to 黑客猫.) Once I determined his location, I stealthily approached his evil lair in my non-kaiju form as a typically awesome 24-pound Maine Coon Cat.

Then, with a tremendous roar, I grew to my full-size kaiju form. Yes, I was now 393 feet tall when standing on my hind legs. Crouching down, I peered into the internet troll’s computer room window and glared at that mean-hearted being.

He saw the white flash of my sharp, massive teeth, and he began to tremble and cough. And then he coughed even more. This was better than I could have ever expected. This lousy troll was allergic to cats. – That is when I realized that I had the ultimate weapon to put this jerk out of business.

The Ultimate Kaiju Cat Weapon

As a mere 24-pound Main Coon cat, I can produce a massive amount of hair in a short time. As a 393-foot kaiju cat, one can only imagine how much hair I can amass to smother an evil internet troll. – Here, look for yourself. This is just two-days’ worth of hair. – No, I didn’t want the troll to die, but I made sure that he would be coughing and itching for the rest of his miserable life. – Beautiful Blondie’s detractor was vanquished!

curry monster, kaiju cat
Two-day’s Worth of Maine Coon Cat Hair

Proof that there are other Kaiju Cats

I have now shown that there is a Curry Monster. In fact, there are many. Miss Blondie had told the truth. I have fought to preserve her honor.

You have also listened to my revelation that I am a kaiju cat. As I promised, I have a special treat for you. There are other kaiju cats. Watch this trailer to see about one of my 23,417 feline followers – a real-life kaiju cat – OWLKITTY. – Godzilla vs. Cat click here.

Monte’s Feline Fantasy RV Trip

I used to hate RV trips and I deplored RV living. But that’s all changed. As a highly intelligent and manipulative Maine Coon cat, I’ve learned how to turn RV trips into great adventures. Of course, Ol’ Fuzz Face and Blondie might have to sacrifice some of their vacation pleasures. Yet, as everyone at Serendipity Farmhouse knows, if Mr. Monte ain’t happy, there ain’t nobody happy.

Getting there is half the fun.

So, with that thought in mind, I sent Fuzzy a Father’s Day email. It stated my plan for El Camino Del Monte’s next adventure.

Then, I conducted a thorough examination of Commonwealth of Virginia law. I found nothing specifying that a Maine Coon cat was required to have a license to pilot an RV. – Therefore, I advised Fuzzy that, “I’m doing the driving!”

Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway. My RV driving was flawless. Even though my Class-C has six wheels, I found that we really only needed two for sharp curves. – Fuzzy and Blondie remained speechless for several hours.

Menu making – An RV living ‘must-do.’

RV living

I also advised Fuzzy that I would take care of menu planning. – I figured a pound of my favorite blue cheese would suffice! Of course, large quantities of Gruyère and Jarlsberg would be nice too.

Once they regained their composure, Fuzzy and Blondie made a gourmet dinner for me. They also threw together some odds and ends for themselves. Fuzzy grilled lamb chops. Blondie sauteed asparagus and prepared wild rice as sides. – This was my view of their meal from my overcab perch.

Settling in – Ship’s routine

After the exhilaration of the drive to Shenandoah River State Park, and a fine meal, I decided to let my two big cats get some rest the first night. I only woke them up three times.

When they prepared breakfast the next morning, they made sure I was provided sufficient quantities of melted butter and peanut butter fingers. – They had suitably met my minimum expectations regarding care and feeding, so I granted them time for liberty ashore.

RV Living

You might expect that this would be the perfect time for a feline to take a nap. But you see, I am no common feline. As the Serendipity Farmhouse Chief of Security, it was time for me to make my rounds. – You can be sure every square inch of my RV was inspected to ensure there were no security threats.

When the two aging romantics returned from their liberty time, they appeared somewhat refreshed. Fuzzy, as usual, bored me with excessive detail about the beauty and enchantment of the Shenandoah Valley.

RV living

Time for Jacques and Feline Pranks

That evening, we settled in to view our favorite cooking shows. As you can see, I positioned myself in the first row of the balcony. After all, what feline gourmand can resist watching Jacques turn common ingredients into a joyous feast. The feature attraction for the evening was Jacques Pepin: The Essential Pepin.

Ol’ Fuzz Face has a habit of falling asleep while watching videos. I’ve found that’s when he is most vulnerable to feline practical jokes. Recently, I’ve been working on developing a new Maine Coon superpower. It’s my Xray-brain-scan vision. Fuzzy happened to wake up just as I was scanning the 2 or 3 grey cells remaining in his cranium. – It’s quite likely that he’ll never fully recover from the fear and panic that arose in him when he saw my eyes.

RV Living

Is it really time to go?

I’m not quite sure why Fuzzy and Blondie insisted that I take a rest and let Fuzzy drive home. Driving to the park had been such fun.

Blondie had me jump into my carrier, But I jumped right back out. I’d had such a good time and so much good food on this trip.

Not ready to go

Eventually, they coaxed me back into my carrier. I settled in and crossed my paws. The return trip would be slow. For some reason, Fuzzy goes no faster than what the numbers on those white road signs say. – As for me, I was already thinking about when we would come back this way.

RV Living

Happy Camping! & Happy Cooking!

Old Farmhouse Maintenance – Ketchup

This old farmhouse always needs maintenance and repairs, and Ol’ Fuzz Face never seems to get around to doing it. Last month, Blondie and I finally persuaded him to get with the program. So now I, the world’s most amazing Maine Coon cat, will help you to catch up (ketchup) with all that we’ve been doing here at Serendipity Farmhouse over the last week.

Maine Coon Ketchup

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, without me, absolutely nothing would get done here at SFH. No, I don’t do the physical labor. Rather, I ensure that Blondie and Fuzzy do their jobs and I oversee their work.

Here’s an example of my most recent accomplishments.

Old Farmhouse Repairs – Work Breakdown Structure

Ol’ Fuzz Face is not a total misfit. He’s actually quite capable of recognizing what needs maintenance and repair around here. Unfortunately, his understanding only extends to the theoretical side of a task. He has no grasp, whatsoever, of how to maintain or repair anything using tools. – Let’s just say he knows the name of some tools, but he would hurt himself if he tried to use one.

Yep, Fuzzy has taken hours to develop a detailed Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) of all the maintenance and repair jobs at SFH. Yet, none of his plans have ever come to fruition. That is where Blondie and I stepped in.

Recently, Daughter #1 contracted Hambleton Handyman to complete several projects at her home. Son-in-law #1 spoke very highly of Matt, the craftsman who had done the work. With this strong endorsement, Blondie immediately set about the task of drilling into Fuzzy’s head and making it clear that this is how he could finally actualize his work plans. Once Blondie had softened him up, I delivered the closing threat argument. – “Fuzzy, if you don’t do this now, I will bite you!”

Not wishing to bear relentless nagging reminders from Blondie and shaking at the thought of physical harm from me, Fuzzy finally turned on his laptop and sent an email to Hambleton Handyman. – The rest is now part of SFH history.

1.3 Roofing: Roof Drainage Systems – Gutters

Blondie and Fuzzy agree that the roof and gutters have been a constant concern since the home inspection was done in October 2013. They eventually replaced both the roof and gutters. But one problem didn’t go away. Leaves and tree trash constantly clogged up the new gutters and caused them to overflow.

old farmhouse maintenance and repairs

Based on Fuzzy’s research, Matt installed gutter guards all around. Hopefully, this will eliminate, or at least reduce the need for gutter cleaning in the years to come.

2.0 Exterior: Wall Cladding, Flashing, and Trim – Rear Porch

Poor gutter drainage and overflows contributed to wood rot over the rear porch. Additionally, carpenter bees, those nasty creatures (I hate their buzzing around my porch), had bored into the rotting wood. – Matt determined that the best approach to this problem was to replace the wood with PVC trim board, which would not rot and was impervious to carpenter bees. – Here’s the before and after. – The gutter guards and PVC board should clean up all the problems here.

2.1 Exterior: Doors – Crawl Space Access Door

The main access to our crawlspace has weathered over time. During a furnace inspection last year, the access door broke away from its mounts. – Matt reinforced the mounts and added new hinges. Then he painted the door. Here are the before and after pictures.

14.0 Outbuildings Structural Components – Foundation – Critter Damage

For years, the mains shed (barn) and the woodshed have been plagued with groundhogs. They have undermined both areas and are an existential threat to the foundation of both sheds. – Let’s just say, I and the entire SFH Security Staff have spent many hours devising means to rid our sheds of these pests.

Fuzzy had devised a plan over 18 months ago to do the job. But he is so slow and inept that his plans were never carried out. – On the other hand, Matt needed only a few short hours to turn the plans into reality. Here are some pictures of the shed area and the new barrier fencing to deter these pesky varmints.

Old Farmhouse Repairs and Maintenance Complete

Now, Blondie and I claim responsibility for this obvious success. We forced Fuzzy into contacting Hambleton Handyman. But there was another reason for success on this project.

Matt was the one who turned plans into realities. He’s a self-starter and capable of seeing a job through to completion. But there was one other important factor at work here.

Soon after Matt arrived on the first day, he noticed me sitting on the porch. He could see I was watching his every move. – He was heard to exclaim, “What’s that!?”

At first, he thought I was a dog, due to my size. When he learned I was a fully armed Maine Coon cat. His attention to detail noticeably increased. As a wise and seasoned military veteran, he knew my eyes were on him.

Thank you, Matt, for a great job!

Never Challenge a Maine Coon

He threw down the gauntlet and challenged me. So, I taught him why one should never challenge a Maine Coon cat.

Hi, Mr. Monte here!

To my 23, 417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, it’s really getting hard to do my job here at Serendipity Farmhouse. My human, Ol’ Fuzz Face, is a constant distraction.

Maine Coon Multitasking

If you are new to the Serendipity Farmhouse Blog, you might not know how much work has been going on here to improve your reading experience. In a recent post, I explained how I am thoroughly reorganizing the SFH Website structure.

Although I’ve made a great deal of progress on this task, I still have to perform all my other duties. For example, as Chief of Security, I must make frequent security patrols, write reports, and supervise the security staff. Likewise, I have a myriad of duties relating to the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen. And it goes on and on. – – Thus, I’m a stressed out, overworked, underappreciated, multi-tasked Maine Coon cat.

Then, on top of everything else, along comes Ol’ Fuzz Face with another one of his hare-brained ideas. Let me tell you what he’s done this time.

Caring for a Maine Coon Cat

As far as humans go, Fuzzy is relatively well attuned to my feline needs and whims. He understands the nature of our relationship. I command; he serves. For example, this morning I entered the office, meowed once, and he immediately lifted me up onto the table and brushed me for fifteen minutes. – He performs this duty almost every day.

When he can muster the courage, every other week or so, he will trim my nails. He has learned that there are times when I’m not really in the mood, and he stays clear. He knows the consequences of misjudging my mood. – He keeps a ready supply of Band-Aids nearby.

Maine Coon Play – Sparring

My 23,417 feline followers and I share a common origin – the African Wildcat. We still feel the call of the wild. As predators, we are drawn to the type of play that mimics the hunt and the kill. The feature picture shows my favorite toy, a Kong Kickeroo.

Every morning, as Fuzzy eats his breakfast, I bump his leg with my head. He knows that if he doesn’t respond within 13 seconds it will be his unlucky day. So, he dutifully, leaves the table and joins me in mock combat. He’s my sparring partner.

No matter how he moves or dodges with the Kickeroo, my superior hunting skills allow me to anticipate Fuzzy’s moves and capture my prey. Should a portion of Fuzzy’s arm or hands block my attack on the Kickeroo, too bad for Fuzzy.

The Foolhardy Challenge

Recently, Fuzzy thought that he, the pupil, was smarter than his teacher. He had found a gardening glove with claws. He proposed that this glove would level the playing field if used in one of our sparring matches. So, puffed up with foolhardy pride, he threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to a dual.

Never challenge a Maine Coon
Mr. Monte, I throw down the gauntlet and challenge you to a dual!

Challenge Accepted – No Holds Barred

Being the fearless, invincible Maine Coon cat that I am, there was no way that I would refuse this foolish challenge. So, I accepted and added that no holds would be barred. Fuzzy foolishly accepted my terms.

We met that day on the field of combat. Fuzzy taunted me with derisive terms. He made ugly faces, snarled, and even hissed so as to mock me. I ignored him and bided my time.

Fuzzy was just a sparring partner. He had never known the full extent of my skills. Nor had he ever guessed the fierce nature of the African Wildcat inside me. But on that day, he made his big mistake. He would learn the lesson of how foolish he was to take on his 24-pound Maine Coon in no holds barred combat.

Yes, it was on that day he learned his lesson – NEVER CHALLENG A MAINE COON.

Back to Normal

These days, things have returned to normal. Ol’s Fuzz Face brushes me daily and trims my nails. He comes when I beckon, and he leaves when I tell him. Fuzzy now feeds me snacks and treats me as royalty should be treated. He lives his life as a humbled sparring partner. You can be sure he will never challenge me again.

Miss Blondie has asked that I not reveal any photos of my dual with her Hubby. Many of our readers are children and the pictures would be embarrassing to Fuzzy.

Lastly, acting on the advice of his wise and most beautiful spouse, Fuzzy is taking remedial lessons on caring for his adorable Maine Coon – Moi. As his first reading assignment he is reading the article Maine Coon by Janelle Leeson on the petMD site.

Attack of the Electric Coal Skink

Sunday night, while camping in our RV, I saved Ol’ Fuzz Face from the attack of the electric coal skink. I knew his life was surely in mortal danger, especially when I accidentally discovered this skink’s secret power. And though this incident didn’t turn out quite as I expected, it was one of the most courageous acts I ever performed.

That’s my story, and I’m Sticking to it!

Mr. Monte

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, today I will tell you a tale of great courage. You must understand that I relate this story with the deepest humility. I’m certain that it will edify you and aid you in your never-ending quest to protect your humans from great harm.

Coal Skinks Are Not Our Friends

Many think coal skinks (Plestiodon anthracinus) are merely harmless creatures. Although they may bite, they are not venomous. That said, we felines know that small creatures that trespass in our humans’ habitat are not to be tolerated. Indeed, we take no prisoners – they must be exterminated!

History of the Coal Skink Menace

My first recollection of the menace coal skinks posed to my humans goes back to our post Oh, Shenandoah, we came to see you. When you read the section labeled Mr. Monte’s Log, you will note how seriously I take my job as Serendipity Farmhouse Chief of Security. In that particular log entry, I stated the following:

Coal Skink

“Observe the picture of the lizard that menaced our RV. I suspect it was a Northern Coal Skink. As soon as he approached our camp site, I alerted and went into stealth predator mode. Fortunately for him, he sensed my presence and was urged by his instinct of self preservation to avoid conflict with a superior force.”

There have been many other encounters with coal skinks menacing my two human’s loved ones. For example, in the post SFH Critter Control, Grandsons #2 and #4 were unfortunate enough to encounter one hidden in the stack of wood they were moving.

I had briefed them earlier to be cautious. So when Grandson #4 found the creature, he immediately nullified the threat by scaring off the skink and forcing it to climb a tree. – Grandson #4 is a lad with great courage.

Coal Skink

How I Ended the Coal Skink Threat

Coal skink

Fuzzy was snoring loudly. Nothing new here. He was sleeping like a log on the dinette bed. The only usable light came from the weather station view screen just above Fuzzy’s feet. I watched over him from the over-cab bed. – My instinct told me something was wrong.

At about 0145 hours (military time, of course), I saw a thin, black shape move near Fuzzy’s feet. Like a flash, I CATapulted from my observation post and pounced on the shape which could only be a coal skink’s long, black tail.

Even my keen, feline night vision could not reveal much useful information concerning the presumed coal skink intruder. I shoved my massive, polydactyl paw between the cushions and searched out the body of the beast. I was only able to nab a portion of its slithering tail. Immediately, I pulled it into my waiting jaws and bit down with all my might.

Two things happened simultaneously. I felt the snap of the bones in the tail, and most unexpectedly felt a sudden numbing electric shock. Like an electric eel, that lizard-like beast had used a heretofore unknown electric shocking power to stymie my attack.

Despite the unpleasant sensation, which rapidly approached a level of intense pain, I held onto that tail until it snapped and the electric charge had died.

I was a bit surprised that the entire area was now in complete darkness. I noticed that the weather station panel was no longer illuminated. But, that was of no concern to me. After all, Fuzzy was safe and I had defeated the beast!

The Menace has Ended

Ol’ Fuzz Face woke up just as the battle ended. He looked to find out what had happened. But, because of the weather station malfunction, Fuzzy had no light by which he could see. So, he had no understanding of my struggle with the electric coal skink and my battle to protect his life.

While still groggy, after being wrenched from his deep sleep, Fuzzy seemed to be somewhat annoyed with me. I don’t know why. – Then, he pulled me close to his side, gave me a pat on the head, and said that tomorrow morning we needed to have a long chat. I was sure that he wanted to thank me for my act of great courage and perhaps give me one of my favorite treats.

And though our chat didn’t turn out quite as I expected, I maintain that my effort to thwart the attack of the electric coal skink was one of the most courageous acts I ever performed.

That’s my story, and I’m Sticking to it!

Note: After reading my story you might be interested in the amazing powers we felines possess and how we have used them during 9,500 years in service to our humans. If so, read the article The cat’s meow: Genome reveals clues to domestication.

Serendipity Farmhouse Blog Upgrade – What You Need to Know

It’s post-Vernal Equinox and, as it is every year at this time, my two big cats are running around like their hair is on fire. (In Ol’ Fuzz Face’s case, he doesn’t have much left to burn.) While they panic, I am methodically conducting the much-needed SFH Blog Upgrade. – That’s my job, to keep Serendipity Farmhouse running.

In case you’re wondering what’s got into my big cats, here are a few crises that have taken over their age-addled brains.

  • It’s coming on to planting season, and they don’t have a plan;
  • It’s coming on to RV season, and they don’t have a plan;
  • The hot weather is just around the corner, and they’ll have to install air conditioners;
  • They’re trying to make sourdough starter, and they failed their first attempt; and
  • There are about 16 more things that they just realized needed to be done.

Serendipity Farmhouse Blog Upgrade Progress

Now that you understand my current work environment, it’s time to discuss the essential albeit boring technical stuff. I have thoroughly reorganized the SFH Website structure. Hopefully, you will find the new format to be an improvement.

Here are some of the changes. (Feel free to click on items in red.)

I have designated three primary categories for posts and farmhouse information. Each category has several sub-categories. Here are the three primaries:

The Home page is entirely new. All current posts can be found in two ways:

1 – Go to the menu item Blog, or

2 – Select from posts listed in the righthand column section labeled RECENT POSTS

SFH Blog Upgrade

Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway. In making these changes, I have created some temporary untidiness. For example, several of the new pages contain links that aren’t active. Additionally, I intend to add many interesting graphics, but they will have to wait until I have developed the site infrastructure. Consequently, when you land on one of the untidy pages, you will encounter the following notice:

This page is under construction. Some links are not activated. We appreciate your patience. Mr. Monte

Please bear with me. Rome wasn’t built in a day and keeping my humans from getting in the way is, shall we say, like herding cats. Nevertheless, despite my humans in their springtime planning frenzies, I will complete the mission. I will complete the Serendipity Farmhouse Blog Upgrade!

How to Start a Family Tradition

How to Start a Family Tradition

I haven’t spoken to you, my 23,417 feline followers, in a long time. As you know, we cats don’t have any family traditions. We have something far superior – instincts. However, humans both need and enjoy traditions. That is why many years ago, I persuaded Ol’ Fuzz Face and Miss Blondie to have a yearly First Robin of Spring Contest. Since then, I’ve learned that all of us cat should know how to start a family tradition.

But, before you try something like this with your humans, you should take these three tips to heart.

3 Tips on How to Start a Family Tradition

The three tips I have listed below have been compiled and developed here at Serendipity Farmhouse over the course of eight years. They are practical and based on feline common sense. If you follow these tips, you and your humans will bask in the warmth and wonder of family tradition.

Tip 1: Make the Family Tradition Guidelines Clear

First, you should institute a family tradition that has a set of clear and well-defined guidelines. If you fail to do this, the result will be needless squabbles. Here are a three sample guidelines from our contest:

  • There must be a picture of the alleged robin;
  • The bird in the photo must be a real robin; and
  • The picture must be dated on or after March 1st.
How to make a family tradition

This year, Daughter-in-law #1 submitted the winning entry. As you can see, this is an American Robin. The metadata on the photo confirmed the picture was taken on March 2nd.

Congratulations, Daughter-in-law #1

Tip 2: Ensure that Everyone Gets the Message

If your adoptive human family is large, extended, and includes close friends, you should expect some communications problems. Your guidelines should provide an explanation of how to inform all concerned about critical events, like the confirmed sighting of a robin. If some extended family member doesn’t get the message, you can be sure there will be a moment or two of anxiety.

This year, dear friend Miss Nancy got the word late and registered a minor complaint. The communications oversight caused some rather unfortunate use of terminology to be brandished. Apparently, all is well now and there are no more ruffled robin feathers.

How to start a family tradition
Poor Communications and the Robin Grinch

Tip 3: Be Prepared to Start a New Family Tradition

The panel of judges might encounter seemingly insurmountable problems at times. No, I don’t mean problems like the submitted photo is blurred or difficult to view. I mean problems of the type that might disrupt tranquility throughout the entier galaxy. One of those problems occurred on February 25 this year.

It was on that date, that the panel of judges (Ol’ Fuzz Face, Persnickety Pierre, and myself) received a contest submission photo from Miss Blondie. Obviously, the photo should be automatically disqualified because it was submitted days before the start of meteorological Spring. As you will see below, there was another problem with the photo.

How to Start a Family Tradition
Miss Blondie’s Submission

According to the article Vultures in Virginia (All You Need To Know) the photograph that Miss Blondie submitted was not an American Robin. In reality, it was a Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus). – This forced the judges to go into an extended huddle.

Miss Blondie is Never Wrong!

Under normal circumstances, the panel of judges would have just laughed at the submission. These were not normal circumstances. By definition, here at Serendipity Farmhouse, Miss Blondie is NEVER WRONG. – This was when the huddle began. We were two desperate men and a Maine Coon cat. Heads would roll if we couldn’t find a solution.

Huddle Results – A New Family Tradition

It took several hours. Fuzzy lost more hair than usual. Pierre said things in French that probably shouldn’t be translated. And I felt my skin crawl as if I had been attacked by a thousand fleas.

Then the answer came. We were trying to solve the wrong problem. The problem wasn’t that Miss Blondie was wrong – because Miss Blondie is NEVER WRONG. Rather, the problem was that the family tradition was wrong.

In a flash, the panel of judges instituted a brand new family tradition – The Last Vulture of Winter Contest. We immediately wrote clear set of guidelines; set up communications protocols; and complimented ourselves on our ability to be prepared to start a new family tradition.

From 2023 forward, Serendipity Farmhouse has two wonderful family traditions;

  • The First Robin of Spring Contest, and
  • The Last Vulture of Winter Contest.

So you see, my dear feline followers, if you follow these three tips, your adoptive human families can also bask in the warmth and wonder of a new family tradition.

Serendipity Revival – It Has Begun!

Maine Coon

Reviving the Serendipity Farmhouse blog is a job for a cyber master. The portrait you see honors me as a cyber kitten prodigy. Now, I have grown to be the only Maine Coon cat capable of saving this farmhouse blog.

It has begun! I have been on this job for a bit more than two weeks and already we have increased subscribers and views. We have a long way to go, but with your help, this blog will become the best farmhouse blog ever.

Serendipity Farmhouse Blog Staff Reorganization

Immediately upon taking on my new roles as SFH blog Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technical Officer, I reorganized the blog staff as follows.

Lead Editor – Creative Content

Ol’ Fuzz Face can write. He can tell a story. He can even embellish it and turn it into an entertaining tall tale. Unfortunately, he has no grasp of the concept of running a business or how to manage the technical details of the SFH blog. His writing and creative talents are considerable. He is now assigned the duty of Lead Editor and developer of creative content. – Because this work requires the use of no sharp tools or blunt objects, Fuzzy and the remainder of the staff should remain relatively safe.

Test Kitchen & Cultural Coordinator

Miss Blondie is as technically inept as Fuzzy. Nevertheless, she has more than proven her prowess in the Test Kitchen. Additionally, she is among the most knowledgeable humans I know when it comes to Southern life and the full range of accomplishments epitomized by a Girl Raised In The South (GRITS). – She promises that you will be delighted with all the recipes she’s going to publish for you. – For an example of what to expect, see Pimento Cheese IHO Mom.

Lead Food Editor & Chief Financial Officer

My dear friend, Monsieur Pierre LeChat, is the quintessential French gourmand. He is unequaled in his knowledge of all things food. So, it was only natural that he would be assigned as our Lead Food Editor. What most of us did not know is that he a business management genius. So, to him I have delegated the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO). – One of Pierre’s recent posts revealed the high level expertise achieved by our soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen. That expertise was demonstrated by the masterful execution of a Jacques Pépin recipe – Jacques’ Lamb Stew.

What’s Coming for this Farmhouse Blog?

Folks, there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. If you’re viewing this site on your PC or laptop, you may notice that we’ve gone to two-column format instead of three. We’ve changed some of the fonts. And a massive restructuring of menus and pages is underway. Cruise around the site and see the difference. Remember this is: The Serendipity Revival – It Has Begun!

Although I have 23,417 faithful, feline followers, for some reason, our blog host suppresses tabulation of my followers’ views, clicks, and comments. – I know it sounds like censorship, but perhaps our blog host has a valid reason. – I suspect our host thinks my followers only had this type thing to say (click if you dare): Meow, Meow, etc.

Please help us out here at Serendipity Farmhouse. If you like a post, take the time to click on the ‘Like’ button. Share your thoughts with us and make a comment. Suppose you don’t like something, make a comment. If you think that a post or recipe might interest a friend, send them the link to the post. –

Bottom Line:

You too can take part in the Serendipity Revival! – Thank you.

Imagine the Possibilities

Hi! Mr. Monte Here.

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, Winter is not over yet. We know that because we have instincts and highly advanced feline intellects. Nevertheless, a warm, sunny day like today informs us that Spring will come. Days like this make the mind leap ahead and think of what Spring will bring and cause the heart to imagine the possibilities.

Continue reading “Imagine the Possibilities”