December 31, 2007

New Year, new look

Frequent visitors will notice the new look to my blog. I'm playing around with the templates and such. Still studying the CSS, HTML and blog widgets. I've also created a signature below. I'm still trying to figure out a better archiving system. If anyone has ideas, let me know !

December 28, 2007

You are my Sunshine

It must be the end of the year. It's the only way to explain why I'm so nostalgic and mushy this past couple of days.

So here's a song that I heard all the time as a little girl. My Grama Boo would sing this to me. And even today, Grama Boo tells me "You are my sunshine". I'll tell ya, there is nothing like the love of a grandmother. Enjoy!

Memorable Dogs in one's life

"If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life."

I have almost always had a dog in my life. And the few times I went without a canine companion, I always felt I was missing a piece of me. So here's an rambling bit of an ode to my faithful companions through time.

Puffy (1971 - 1989)
My first dog and best friend for 18 years was a bitchy little garbage-eating tomboy of a 20-odd lb miniature poodle named Puffy. (No wise cracks on the name, I was 5 when I got her) I've never owned a dog more protective than this one - I know that she would have literally given her life to protect mine. My dad used to love to tease Puff by pretending to hit me. That poodle would come flying at him to bite and put herself between me and the imminent danger. Oh could she put on a show too with all the snapping and growling at anyone she thought was a danger to me (i.e. mailmen, friends, uncles, family) Trust me this came in handy during the very infrequent spankings my parents would try to inflict on me. Being an only child, Puff was my constant companion - her favorite sleeping spot was under the covers by my feet.
I never realized that chocolate was toxic to dogs, because it was Puff's preferred treat and the only candy she'd go after if left to her own devices. Being a white poodle she always had an orange mustache - because she and I loved spaghettios which we'd share for lunch. Puffy and I had so much in common including our aversion to small children. So imagine my surprise in 1987 when I had Ryann and ol' Puff dog decided that baby was okay. She'd even lay down on the floor next to the little baby carrier whenever I'd bring the Ryann over. Puff was very protective of Ryann too, it's like she knew that that baby needed to be protected and was part of the pack. Of course, Puff never warmed up to Todd.

Willy-Boy (1983-1995)
Willy was my parents' next door neighbors' dog and the silliest and most adorable yellow Labrador in the world. When Willy's mom threatened to divorce the dad because of Willy's massive amounts of shedding, the Dad called me to see if I would take Willy so his wife wouldn't leave him (I'm guessing there was more to the marriage problems than just some hair) So in 1990 Willy moved in with Todd, Ryann and me. Willy was the perfect companion for Ryann - as he was so gentle.
It wasn't until our second spawn, Raine, came along in 1992 that problems arose in paradise. Willy never adjusted to Raine being a member of the pack. And we had to be vigilant in keeping the two separate. And Raine, being the inquisitive 6 mo. old crawling little beast that she was, meant Willy was pretty good at leaving the room as soon as the precocious dog-chaser crawl in. Willy didn't take kindly to having his hair or tail pulled or his space invaded. But what he absolutely could not tolerate was sharing his dog food with Raine who acquired a pretty strong taste for the kibble. This meant Willy was never fed when Raine was home.

Unfortunately, the inevitable happened one morning when I was packing the car to go north. Not thinking, I threw some food down for Willy - ran stuff to the car - came to the backdoor just as the screaming started. - The backdoor had locked, I couldn't get in and all I could see through the window was Willy going after Raine. I could see blood and the dog and baby freaking out. I broke a window open, crawled into the house, ran for the baby to get her away from the cujo-dog. Fortunately, the damage was limited to a bite over Raine's left eye. Which made her look even more fierce and scrappy than before.
After that eventful day, I decided that Raine ranked higher than Willy in the pack and Willy had to go. I called his old Dad to see if there was anyway he could take Willy back. And as fate is wont to do, he was just finalizing the divorce from his evil ex-wife and was absolutely thrilled to death to be able to get Willy back. He told me the worst mistake he ever made was "getting rid of Willy and not the wife in the first place".

Tasha (1994-2004)
This was our first German Shepherd, Tasha Yar. She was our Chief Security Officer (Trekkie fans) and once we had her, the break-ins to our house by the neighborhood punks ceased. Tasha was a great companion and a really fun dog to train as she was so smart. She had a great prey-drive so finding things was her favorite game. We'd make her wait, go hide a toy and let her find it. Which she always did!
The first year we moved to Holland in 1998, we left our faithful friend with my parents back in Madison. The idea being that we'd get settled and then have her flown over to us - however, my mother had different plans, and will admit that she never planned to give Tasha back to us. I had taken her grandchildren across the ocean, she was keeping my dog.

Tasha was spoiled rotten by my parents and treated like a family member. Tash had a great life with my folks. When we moved back to Madison in 2001 - Tasha decided to stay with my parents. She had become very attached to my Mom and they were inseparable. Fortunately, we could visit often. Sadly in 2004, Tasha was put to sleep when the cancer had progressed to the point of no relief. It was the one of the saddest days in my life.

Cita - (1999) and Teiko (2005)

Cita is just a reincarnated snottier version of Puffy. Swear to God. Cita hates strangers, loves chocolate, is bitchy and fiercely protective of her small circle of loved ones. Cita carries a Dutch Dog Passport as that is where she was born. When she was a pup - we took her everywhere across Europe, including restaurants, events, even the ocean. I think we overwhelmed her - because now she hates to swim, hates loud noises and can't stand a crowd of people. Cita is happiest when the house is quiet and she is curled up next to Raine or me . She basically hates all other dogs and tolerates only a few humans and necessary canines.
Now, Teiko is the Mama's boy. This dog means the world to me. I remember the first few weeks with him as a puppy, it was just like having a kid. I was so absolutely in love! This dog has such a sweet disposition and will do anything for the Mama. A totally an awesome dog.

Life is just that much richer with good friends.

December 27, 2007

December 2007 Round-up

Thought I better put up one more blog entry before 2007 ends. Here's a bit of catch-up on the family! Ryann is home for a couple of weeks before she goes back the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities to finish up her junior year. Exciting news is that Ryann will be traveling to West Africa in May for a couple months to work on a research project with one of her African Studies Professors. She plans to do research in either Senegal or Guinea. This depending on whether civil war breaks out in Guinea or not. (You can imagine how excited this makes me....) Update: 1/4/08: Ryann reports a straight 4.0 GPA for the semester....Yeah!

Raine got her dream present this year - a PlayStation 3 with the game Rock Band. - All I can say is that it is loud. Really loud. Tried playing the drums last night while Raine sang. Pretty hilarious.

On Saturday night (Dec. 22)- we braved the heavy rain and drove to Paul's Winter Solstice party. This is a great Wisconsin friendly event- complete with hand-made cheese, beer and wine made by guests along with a complete smorgasbord of food. Every year Paul brings out his homemade beers for friends. We even were able to keep a solstice fire burning during the deluge. It finally changed over to ice just as we pulled into home driveway at about 1:30 am.

Had a great Christmas at Uncle Bear's house on X-mas Eve with my family. On X-mas day MK and the kids were over for Christmas Spaghetti dinner.

Todd and I are going to go test drive a Toyota Camry Hybrid. Todd wants to trade in his car while there is still good value on it. Anyone interested in a very fast Infinity G35?

New Years will be celebrated with friends here in Madison - our friends, Ankur and Ashwini will be hosting a BYOB and DJ Music party . They have rented a really cool little east side coffee shop for the event.

So that's where we are this final week of 2007. I wish everyone a happy new year and to my dutch friends - Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar!!!!!

December 18, 2007

Rylee's sure cure to the common cold

So my man is sick, really miserable. And anyone who lives with a man - knows that level of sickness! The world will end shortly. What do you do? You make chicken soup!

And, this is what I personally want when I'm feeling under the weather - so everyone under my care gets the same treatment.

The steam of the soup with thyme, rosemary, oregano and sage will cure your sick loved one no matter what in about 1 week. And guess what? This cost is about $10 to make a whole pan of loving cure with extra healthy leftovers. That and about 5 days of basic misery.

Or go to a doctor and pay $205 for the office visit for the doc to say take it easy and stick to liquids.....Want a U.S. medical cure?

I left work at 5:45, went to the 2 stores - to get groceries and jaegermeister, picked up Raine, got home, prepared everything, and had a cosmo, (because you know, you have to take care of yourself!) and managed to make a homemade dinner by 7:30 pm. Here's my recipe! - (Okay, this looks complicated, the timing's not quite right, but its not, really difficult, trust me!)

Rylee's sure cure for the Common Cold - Chicken Soup


  • 1 Whole Chicken (buy on sale or use parts which is ever cheaper!)
  • 1 whole onion (chopped)
  • 2 Carrots (chopped)
  • 1/4 Head celery (the more greens the better!!!!!)
  • 2-3 cloves of Garlic
  • Fresh or dried herbs of your choice - garlic, (white pepper, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, bay leaf, savory, pepper and salt) - This is the HEALTH magic!- come make it with ME to learn the measurements!)
  • 2-4 cups of chicken stock or bouillon (or whatever poultry stock you have on hand - I used duck stock because that was what was in the freezer.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste - depending on the amount you need. (personally, I let my eaters decide their own sodium. so I don't put much in the cooking!)
  • Various seasonings (your personal cure: savory, chile, garlic - whatever is your magical ingredient! - that's the LOVE and ENERGY that cures your loved one!)
  • 1 bag (10 oz) dried extra wide egg noodles.


  1. In a 5 qt Dutch Oven, pan sear your whole chicken in about 1 tbs of olive oil. Turned regularly. About 10 minutes
  2. Remove whole chicken from pan
  3. In same pan, sautee all fresh ingredients (onion, carrots, celery, garlic) for about 5 minutes
  4. Add 1/4 cup of water or white wine to deglaze the pan which brings up the fond (the good stuff on the bottom of the pan). Scrape bottom of pan.
  5. Add whole chicken back in pan -
  6. Add 4 cups of chicken boullion - cook for 20 minutes - on high simmer.
  7. Remove whole chicken, cool. - 10 minutes or until cool to the hands. Chop and set aside.
  8. Add fresh herbs and extra LOVE or ENERGY spices to soup stock. Cook on a high simmer for 30 minutes.
  9. Start water boiling for noodles. (10 minutes) - same timing as herbs in soup. Bring to boil. Cook to noodle directions.
  10. Turn off Stock when you add noodles to boiling water.
  11. Add chopped chicken to soup stock -
  12. Let noodles finish, drain, let stock stew for a few more minutes.
  13. Put noodles in bowl, add soup mix to bowl to individual request. Let each season to desire.
  14. Heal!

December 12, 2007

I think we've had enough snow now

I think I've had enough snow now. We had another six inches yesterday - This is the most snow - this early that we've had in wisconsin for years. We're still trying to figure out the global warming angle to all this snow.... The snow-encrusted patio furniture picture was taken off the back deck right as the sun was dawning this morning.

But all this snow means that ski season has arrived as well. Last night, Raine and Todd headed up to Cascade mt. for the first ski run of the winter. It was Raine's hella lucky day, as she got her christmas present early - new ski boots and a helmet.

Soon they will be heading to Mt. Bohemia in the UP for some serious extreme skiing. I'll take a nice green/blue path any day with a chalet where I can get hot chocolate after each piste run.....

December 7, 2007

Be careful what you wish for....

Okay, so you know the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for"? Well, back in November, Todd and the boys went up to the property in the keweenah pennisula for the deer hunt and my dad went to the old family farm outside of Reedsburg.

I was really hoping for venison since we had one package of steak left in the freezer. So I told everyone "good luck" and to bring me back some deer. Well after the hunting weekend, nothing. Todd missed a buck, my father wasn't having any luck - so it looked like 2008 was going to be a long year without venison.

But...towards the end of the 10-day hunting season, Todd gets a call from Al to get his butt up to Stevens Point to process some deer. And my dad calls with news that he got a buck and doe. HooHoo! The next think I know, i've got about 125lbs of venison packed in my freezer! Yeah. Basically we don't have to buy meat for the next several months.

Here's a link to a blog entry about venison steak that I wrote in July 2007

Chicago is my kind of town

Went to Chicago on Tuesday for the annual German Christkindlmarkt - Christmas Market - with Raine's German class. We spent the morning on Daley Plaza visiting our favorite booths and buying our annual Christmas ornaments. Of course we had to have wurst and potato pancakes for lunch!. After browsing the fun stalls of hand made German and world gifts we crossed the street for another annual trek - our trip to Marshall Fields on State Street. We purists refuse to call it Macys, it will never be Macys.....
After doing the downtown - we headed over to the Brookfield Zoo for a couple of hours. Last year we never got to the wolves, so this year that was where we headed first. A bit anti-climatic if you ask me....the wolves were looking a little too well fed and lethargic. Criminy, Teiko looks like a better wolf than these guys.....
To warm up we went into the South American Aquarium Building - Raine got a cool shot of some type of shining grouper'ish fish through the glass as it zoomed by. I took the shot of the star fish on the glass.

December 1, 2007

December Projects

Pancakes: This morning, (Dec 1) I'll be flipping pancakes for the Northside Business Association Breakfast with Santa. Last year we served almost 300 meals at the Esquire Club in just a couple of hours. All the proceeds last year ($1,200) went to two food pantries on the north side of town.

Christmas Lights: Thankfully, Raine and I got all the Xmas lights up on the house last weekend before the snowstorm. Today will be the official lighting of the house... As Raine says, the holiday season doesn't start until December 1. So no xmas lights until that date. This year we've converted to all LED lights. Not sure yet if I like the blue-tinge of the white lights, but we'll see....

New Flooring: We are getting rid of the horrid white carpeting in the downstairs this weekend. In its place we are putting down a "wood" floor. The flooring is called adura and it looks like wood and comes in planks. However it's made of vinyl and is waterproof - a good thing to have in a house that sits along a marsh.

Update 12/07: It's done! Here's a photo of Todd laying the flooring on Saturday night. It took about 32 hours of labor to rip out the old carpet, prep the concrete and lay the new floor - Todd is a rock star! And the floor looks absolutely awesome!
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