March 29, 2009

An awesome catering event

I helped Raine yesterday with her catering gig for the grand opening of the Madison Squash Works. She planned, prepared and served great food for the 75 or so guests. I was at the event yesterday as Raine's helper/gopher. She did a great job and had lots of positive comments on her food.

Last week I did a little marketing blitz of my own by designing her logo and building a website so she can get her business started on the right foot. Take a gander -

I am just amazed at how focused and passionate Raine is about cooking! Wow, what an awesome kid!

March 28, 2009

Sunrise in Wisconsin

The sunrise this morning was absolutely beau-Ti-ful! It's rather a calm before the proverbial storm as southern Wisconsin is expected to get up to 7 inches of snow later today.

March 21, 2009

Free to be me...

What a beautiful day! Teiko and I went for a nice walk along the river this morning. Today Teiko has the storyboard....
Hey Mama, is that really water? Has the lake finally opened up? Can I swim today, Please, please, oh, please??????I promise to do everything you say, if you'll just throw the frisbee in the water, my favorite place to be!
Really, I promise! I'll do everything you say!
Hey, wait a minute! You didn't give me any warning!!!!
Oh, I love the water, it feels so good!!!!!
Shake, shake, shake, shake your booty....Oh, this is heaven! I'll do anything for the Mama!
And, I think I'll run a bit to dry off, it feels so dang good!
Ummm...Mama? do we really have to go home? I'm just getting started....
After months of babysitting all those foster dogs and no lakes to swim in during winter, Teiko had a great morning, just him and the Mama! No fosters trying to take his frisbee, no fosters fighting for attention. It was just us, the way it's suppose to be! It was so awesome to photgraph such joy in another!

March 20, 2009

Web phishers and forgers eat scum!

Some evil little bastard or group of'em went out on a phishing expedition today to try to capture Paypal log-in information from unsuspecting folks. I thought I'd show how this little scam works.

Being in the internet business, I see these types quite regularly caught in our spam/virus filtering servers, this one somehow made it into my mail box. As you can imagine, I know not to provide any type of login or personal info from unsolicited emails. And I also know NOT to use MS Explorer as my primary web browser. You'll see why later....The email address was masked to look like it came from - this is such a simple trick to set up that it insults one's intelligence. Above is a screen shot of the email with the hyperlink to the supposed paypal site where I am to "log-in" to update and or correct my account.

I know this is suspect immediately because the domain name isn't If you look carefully, it is They evil bastards just created a subdomain account using - as most people will just see paypal in the web address and click away.

So knowing this is a phishing expedition, I copied the link and opened up my Mozilla Browser which I consider a far superior browser for surfing the internet. Here's the screen message that came up - Mozilla is telling me that I shouldn't even thinking about connecting to that website - it's already been reported as a web forgery! I back out and am relieved that I did not unknowingly give my paypal log in details.
However, being the inquisitive little shit that I am, I can't leave it at that. So I open an MS Explorer window and paste the same URL address. Lo and behold, I'm taken to what sure looks like Paypal's website - even all the hyperlinks in the page go to internal links. All except the golden log-in box which is patiently waiting for my paypal email and password log-in info.
So while probably not all that smart but I couldn't help myself, I entered in my Paypal email address - and my favorite paypal password: yousuck!

A new window appears that tells me there was an error with my log-in. So I did what everyone does, I re-type my info again - exactly the way I did it the first time - and have now confirmed to the evil bastards that yes, in fact, these are my PayPal credentials. By the time I "figure out" that the error message is going to reappear every time I enter in the same credentials, the evil bastards have cleaned out my Paypal account and are halfway to China!

Funny, I should say that, I also did a whois look up on the domain name: and see that is registered and owned by one Pan Wei wei in Beijing, China.

So a lesson to the wise - download Mozilla's browser for free and make it your primary browser

And never ever provide critical account information just because someone sends you an urgent email telling you to do so.

March 16, 2009

The robin has landed

I've been hearing from lots of Facebook friends that the robins have returned, a sure sign of Spring in Wisconsin.

However, I haven't seen one until today. Perched high in a tree over our backyard, this male was just a chatting away.

Yep, maybe Spring is on it's way!

March 15, 2009

Cami has a new family

We sent Cami Bear off with her new family today. What a sweet couple and their whole family can't wait to meet Cami when they get back tonight. They absolutely adore her and this happened within minutes of walking in our house.....

Cami Bear did her part by being all sweet, lovey and giving good kisses. Immediately the guy said "She's the most beautiful GSD I've ever seen. This couple have been working with GSRAW for the past five months waiting for the right dog. They called within minutes of my posting Cami on the website on Tuesday. And special icing on the cake, Cami is what he asked for his golden birthday present.

Wow, it felt so wonderful to see how much this couple wanted Cami and were telling her all the things that they would do with her. What a lucky dog!

Cami, you have a sweet life ahead of you!

March 11, 2009

Ski Bunnies in New Mexico

Sounds like the family had a great time skiing in Taos, NM. I've heard some details about the wonderfully warm weather (i can't remember, because my brain is too Wisconsin frozen), great ski conditions (skiied 3 1/2 straight days) and fun sight-seeing. Todd and Raine aren't always the best about details....

March 8, 2009

Spätzle - the German Pasta of choice

My family's connection to Germany is four generations ago, but family heritage is strong. My dad's family identifies totally with being Germans, and our family gatherings always featured German foods like Grama's Potato Dumplings. While not a single family member can speak fluent German today that doesn't stop the these Wisconsin-Germans from appreciating their heritage.
Now blend that with Todd's Wisconsin family which are pretty much German, except for some Hungarian escapades, and we now have kids that are 3/4 German, give or take some Swede, French and English, etc... And as my Mom, is fond of saying when talking about her Irish ancestors, "Quality over Quantity..."

Ah, the great American melting pot....

Anyway, I'm fascinated with how food is so tied to our culture, our family, our communities and in some cases our own identities.
Tonight, we decided to have some Hungarian smoked sausages that we just happened to have from Shwai's Meat Market over by Milwaukee (Check out the website, it's soo cute!) and Spätzle, the german pasta.

As Todd decided to make it fresh, who was I to stop him? Pictured at the top of this story is our Spätzle maker that we also just happen to have in our pantry. I told you we are Germans....

The Spätzle dough is very simple. Two eggs, one cup of flour, a pinch of salt and mix. It should have a wet consistency so it "falls" through the Spatzle maker easily. Pictured above is Todd's version, a bit soupier than I prefer but let's see what happens.

It falls through the metal slots quite quickly but as the boiling water (with chicken broth) takes the little pasta clumps, they keep their form. Because this is fresh pasta, it only takes minutes to cook.
After draining the Spätzle, we like to fry it a bit to "stiffen" it up. From this you can add all kinds of sauces but we went straight out of the pan for dinner tonight.The sausage was delectable and as Tom Schwai says on his website, the meat is very low fat, ummm, okay, I'll buy that. The Spätzle was delish and the green beans tasty.

Serh Gut!

March 4, 2009

I love Camembert de Normandie cheese

I've been to the French province of Normandie a couple of times with friends and some of them even were from the region. Being the ever so faithful Wisconsin girl, I'm always up for trying new cheeses. So, I was introduced to the non-pasturized version of Camembert de Normandie cheese which I fell in love with.

If you like French Brie cheese, you'll absolutely adore a good Camembert. Unfortunately, (or maybe not...) I think that the Cambembert that does make it over to the U.S., must be pasteurized, thus losing some of it real essence. However, Don't be afraid to try it! It's awesome on really crusty french bread (read: crusty - a must, not that crap they try to pawn off at the local grocery store....)

So in honor of the death of radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey, who died this week at age 90, Let me fill you in on "The Rest of the Story"....

This is Camembert or as I call her "Cami Bear", my newest foster dog. I was telling my colleagues at work the other day about how sad I was seeing Paris go. My youngest employee, age 23, said from now on, I should name all my fosters a frenchy name in honor of Paris and my time with her. What a brilliant guy!

So, last night I picked Cami up from a boarding facility. She didn't pay a lick of attention to me for about 20 minutes into the drive home. Then, all of a sudden, she put her face by mine, I told her "Everything is just fine, my sweet girl", she gave me a kiss on the cheek and we've been friends since then.
What I know of her story is this, she was surrendered to a "high-kill" shelter on Feb 20 in Tennessee. The dogs get 7 days and that's it.

On February 26, a desperate call came to our volunteer rescue group, German Shepherd Rescue Alliance of Wisconsin. It was decided that if we could find volunteers to transport Cami and another dog, we'd take them in.

Well, we did it, we got volunteers who traveled miles and transported these dogs for no gain of their own other than to know they saved an animal's live.

Wow, all I have to do is give this great girl a safe environment, a little love (which isn't hard...), some basic obedience and interview potential families who are deserving enough of this wonderful creature.

The more that I work with rescue dogs, the more I'm convinced that we as a society must step up our efforts to stop indiscriminate breeding as well as champion the belief that animals are not disposable.

I think I'm going to buy a round of Camembert de Normandie this weekend and share it with a lovely dog (or two, or three).

March 2, 2009

The next dog....

I talked with Paris' new dad tonight. He's absolutely in love and so is she. They have already bonded well with each other. This makes me so happy. He even told me I could keep calling as he didn't want to shut me out of her life like I was stalker or something...

So, my conscience cleared, I called the German Shepherd Foster Queen, Jo, and she has a poor girl sitting in lock-up waiting for me.
Meet Brie Cami - (I've decided to change her name from Treg, yech.), she is a 2'ish year old female, who loves dogs and teenagers. Can't wait to meet her. I pick her up tomorrow night after work.

Should be interesting. I'll post more tomorrow.
Having some fun with my new camera and this works well to distract me from Paris' departure.
Pictured above is a mask that Todd brought in Mexico last fall. The Sun/Moon theme is found thoughtout central Mexico with its Aztec history. This motif is found on walls, art, jewelry, buildings, and sculptures in most towns around Mexico City.
In the photo above I literally had the camera lense almost touching the nose of the moon's face. The wide angle lense is able to capture great detail and color at a very close range.
And I had to throw this photo in the mix. I love how the sunlight is reflected in the glass beads. Again, I had the lense almost touching the beads.
I'm loving my new camera!

March 1, 2009

She's finally looking at me.....

Oh boy, I'm liking my new camera! Look at the gorgeous colors and crispness of the photo.

And just when the silly Paris finally looks at me, I'm giving her away. Dang!

Update: I just sent Paris home with her new family. She is going to be spoiled rotten. What a sweetheart and she deserves it.

Mama got a new camera!

Now I just have to figure out how to use it.

I researched cameras and went with the Panasonic Fz28 - it's a great hybrid between the ease of a point and shoot (like my other camera - a Pentax Optio) and a digital SLR which is a digital version of a 35m camera - to allow much more manual control of a shot.
It's light-weight but definitely not a camera that goes in the pocket. It has 18x zoom and the close-up shots are pretty awesome - at least what I've seen on the camera websites. I'm still in learn mode at this point.....Another cool thing, I can add telephoto and macro lenses to this camera - definitely a plus as I gain experience using this.

I like that it has intelligent auto focus. So while I'm learning how to use the higher functions of the camera - I can still just "point and shoot" - I love the blue that came through on this picture.It also allows for the ability to open up the shutter to capture better images in low-light as shown in the photo above that I took last night with only a 40watt lamp in the room.
But I really love up-close flower shots and its macro feature is suppose to be superb - I'm just playing around with shots at this point, but it seems pretty detailed as I see a little fuzz on the orchid stem.

I'm still working on resolution. Right now the camera's default is 180DPI resolution. I need to figure out how to bump that up to get more pixels, thus more color information into my images.

So now I have a new homework assignment in relearning the mechanics of photography instead of letting the camera do all the work.....
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