October 28, 2016

Bacon Craze: Even Garfield Is In On It!

The Bacon Craze has hit the comic strips.

Got a nice chuckle at last Sunday's Garfield comic strip and its foray into the seemingly continuous Bacon Craze:

Credit:  garfield.com
Credit:  wikipedia.com

I took the comic strip to one more level, wondering if maple bacon donuts were truly a "thing".

Boy, are they ever.  So popular in some locations, Maple Bacon Donuts even has its own Wikipedia page!

And hey, when you're done with your Maple Bacon Donut, how about making some Bacon Caramel Apples for Halloween?

Credit:  lecreuset.com

Neither concoction is something I am interested in trying, but I do have to admire the creativity of today's foodies and recipe creators.

Mary Rae Fouts

October 27, 2016

Meet Sally, the 97-Year-Old Dog Walker

Photo Credit:  bbb.co.uk
Need some inspiration today?  Meet Sally.

Have you heard about Sally, the 97-year-old dog walker?

Yes, 97-years-old.  She'll be 98 in December.  And walks 10 dogs a day for the local animal shelter and neighbors.

What's not to LOVE about that?

Learn more about phenomenal Sally and her story at this BBC video post.

And many more happy walks, Sally!

Mary Rae Fouts

October 26, 2016

Sid the Dog: His goofiness is a cure to election year negativity!

My Husky-mix Sid.

One 67-pound canine goofball of very large paws and lots of fur.

And don't forget those crazy light blue eyes!

It's hard to imagine Sid was found by an animal control officer as a stray, wearing a red collar but no identification or chip.  Never claimed by his owner.  We are so lucky to have found Sid at the county animal shelter in Pinole.  We fell in love at first sight.  Sid came right up to my husband Jim and me as were sitting in the "get acquainted" room at the shelter.  Sid put his head on my leg and looked at me with  "please adopt me" eyes.  Precious.  Sid is a wonderful Canine Companion to Jim and me, and very bonded with his fur sister Chow-mix Lexi.  As Jim says, Sid and Lexi are two unlikely peas in a pod.


Sid is a spectacular dog that puts a smile on our faces each day.  Take a look for yourself ...

Sid is sound asleep in the guest bedroom, chillin' under the ceiling fan.
Comfortable Sid?

Relaxing in the evening and airin' it out with a nap on the Great Room floor.

No, Sid is not in jail.
We keep a hand truck parked on the patio, against the house under our 2nd story veranda.
Sid likes to wedge himself along side it, and rest his chin on the hand cart's bars.
He so looks like he is in jail!
He usually lays his head on the patio after resting on the bar, and goes to sleep.

And here is Sid just a tad bit excited (notice the paws on the kitchen counter, top right corner) about his Grass Fed Ground Beef Slider Dinner for his 5th Birthday.
Also in his bowl:  brown basmati rice, pumpkin, plain yogurt.  Yum!

And a Happy 5th Birthday Cake, too.

When Sid sleeps, and can really sleep soundly.  As in dead to the world.
Who could resist this face?

Yep, Sid likes to garden.
Here he is thanking his Daddy for doing such a great job rototilling the garden spot.
"Feels just right, Daddy!  Thanks for the new lounging spot!"

Thanks for adopting us Sid and being a Wonderful and Faithful Canine Companion.  We love you.

Mary Rae Fouts

October 25, 2016

Animal Poison Control: ASPCA's Lifesaving 24/7 Service

Do you know what foods,  household products and medications, and plants are potentially toxic to dogs and cats?

The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ("ASPCA") maintains a very informative Animal Poison Control  website that lists plants, foods, and household products that can be toxic to animals, as well as a 24/7 animal poison control telephone hotline - (888) 426-4435 - for animal poisoning emergency assistance.

I've referred to the website many times to check on plants I'm considering adding to my garden.  Keep the emergency number programmed into your phone, I also have it on my refrigerator for ease of reference.  We had to call the hotline once for our late dog Titus, thankfully what he ingested was not poisonous.  The ASPCA people who helped us were calming, knowledgeable, and, well, simply awesome in a stressful situation.

Titus the Dog  (2000 - 2014)
Never Forgotten and Always in our Hearts
Stay safe, everyone!

Mary Rae Fouts

October 24, 2016

Lexi the Dog: Happy 4th Birthday!

We celebrated our Chow-mix Lexi's 4th birthday yesterday.  What a wonderful and loving Faithful Canine Companion she is to me, husband Jim, and her fur brother Husky-mix Sid.  Oh, and an excellent alert watch dog, too.

It is hard to believe Lexi is the same dog we adopted from the Antioch Animal Services Shelter 2 years ago in late October 2014.  Lexi was 1 of 7 dogs seized by Antioch police that August for severe abuse and neglect in a backyard puppy mill, and sadly the only dog to survive.  She had a litter of puppies at the shelter; all died.  We adopted Lexi as soon as she became available.

Although she had several months of recuperation in the shelter during legal proceedings related to her abuse and neglect, Lexi was still very skinny and thin-furred when we adopted her.  Lexi's 2 lower canine teeth were fractured from trying to chew out of the puppy mill cage; we had them surgically removed.

When we adopted Lexi she was, as my husband Jim put it, scared of everything including her shadow.  Lexi clearly had never experienced a loving home and life, every experience was new to her.  Terrified of men, garden hoses, streams of water, towels, anything with a stick-like appearance.  Would only climb 2 steps, didn't know how to get into a car.

Lexi:  A loving, confident, and wonderful Canine Companion

With patience, love, understanding, yummy nutritious food, vet care, and exercise, Lexi has blossomed into the most wonderful, confident dog.  The skinny, thin furred, shaking, tail-between-her-legs dog is no more.  Also, our Husky-mix Sid was essential in teaching Lexi how to be a real dog, providing her with companionship in only the way another dog could do.  Sid and Lexi bonded as if litter mates within 5 days of Lexi's arrival.

Here is Lexi when we adopted her in late October 2014.

Fast forward ... here is Lexi today, 2 years after her adoption, enjoying a lovely autumn day outside while waiting for rain showers to start.

Would you ever think the dogs in the pictures above are the same dogs?!  Lexi's transformation has truly been amazing.

Here is Lexi yesterday on her 4th birthday,  enjoying a lounge in the freshly rototilled soil in a backyard garden spot.

And here is Lexi enjoying her backyard earlier this month.  Yes, she really enjoys spending time in her backyard!

And the very bonded canine pair Sid and Lexi, hanging out in the backyard 2 days ago, listening for squirrels.

Thank you Sid and Lexi for adding so my joy, love, and companionship to my life.

And Happy 4th Birthday, my Princess Lexi.
Mary Rae Fouts

October 21, 2016

Caramel Apple Pie Recipe ... Who could resist this fabulous autumn fruit desert?

Did you know that October is National Apple Month?  Yesterday I found this beyond delicious looking Caramel Apple Pie Recipe.

And my mouth watered.

Caramel Apple Crumb Pie
Photo Credit:  lecreuset.com

When making desserts, normally I do not spend as much time as this recipe requires.  But I think I'll make an exception for this mouth watering pie.

Get the Apple Caramel Pie recipe from Le Creuset here.  And yes, I'm a huge fan of Le Creuset.  In fact, I have an order from Le Creuset arriving today.  (They have a fantastic website, by the way.)  I use my faithful Le Creuset products as daily workhorse go-tos.  They are as pretty as they are functional and durable.

Happy Baking!

Mary Rae Fouts

October 20, 2016

IRS: TIGTA audit shows IRS' email system is so obsolete, it lacks archive capability. And that's not all ...

Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during her Secretary of State days has inundated the airwaves this election season.  But Mrs. Clinton is not the only government official/agency besieged by email woes.

Who else, you might ask?

You guessed it ... The Internal Revenue Service    

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration ("TIGTA") recently released the results of an audit examining the Internal Revenue Service.
What disturbing matters did the audit find?


TIGTA's audit found out that the IRS spent $12 million for an e-mail system it could not use.  That's right:  $12 million of taxpayer money down the drain.  Not only that, the IRS violated federal purchasing rules by not going out to competitive bid for what turned out to be a non-functioning email system.

But wait, there's more.

The IRS' current email system is so old that it will soon be unsupported by the manufacturer.  Not only that, but this email system is so outdated it lacks archive capability.  Yep, the IRS cannot backup its email system.

How's that for safety and security of our federal tax system?

Pour a glass of wine, a stiff drink, or a hot cup of coffee.  Then read TIGTA's audit report here.

Questions about Tax Matters?

I am an Enrolled Agent licensed by the Department of the Treasury which allows me to provide tax services to taxpayers in all 50 states and US territories.

For information about my nationwide Consulting, Expert Witness, and Tax Services visit Fouts Financial Group.

Mary Rae Fouts

October 13, 2016

Weather: Gutters cleaned? Rain is on its way to the San Francisco Bay area.

The first rain storm of the season is on its way to the San Francisco Bay area, with 1 or more inches anticipated along with heavy winds at times.  The heaviest downpour is expected tomorrow morning (Friday, Oct 14) during commute, so if you must travel by car then, please drive very carefully and allow plenty of extra time, as there surely will be many accidents on the slick roads.

Don't forget to clean your gutters, and have flashlights and a battery powered radio available in the event of a power outage.  And fixins for homemade soup or stew, along with a loaf of sourdough bread and cheese.

A recent slow simmered homemade "stoup".
Healthy and oh-so-tasty Comfort Food at its finest.

Happy Rain, Everyone!

Mary Rae Fouts

October 12, 2016

San Francisco Giants: Full speed toward next season!

Ug, the Giants!  Yesterday's epic bullpen meltdown - 5 Giants pitchers giving up 4 runs in the 9th inning after 8 innings of solid pitching from Matt Moore - was yet another blown save.  The 5-6 loss to the Cubs, in the fashion it happened, was more than head shaking.

But perhaps fitting for a team that had the best record in Major League Baseball in the first half of the season, followed by the worst record in MLB in the second half of the season

Hopefully the team can regroup during the off season and be ready to start a-fresh next spring.

Until then ...

Go Giants!  

Mary Rae Fouts

October 11, 2016

San Francisco Giants: Teamwork and a don't-give-up attitude gets a 13th inning win to play another game.

The San Francisco Giants way.

Yes, the Giants treated the baseball world to yet another nail biting game yesterday, and successfully lived to play another game today.

13 Innings.  5 hours and 3 minutes of baseball.  Final:  Giants 6, Cubs 5.

What a game!  I admit I did feel a bit sorry for the Cubs in the extra innings.  To have only 1 position player left on the bench?!  Ouch!

Photo Credit:  sfgiants.com

Great game yesterday, Giants!  Keep up the teamwork and go get the Cubs today.

Go Giants!

Mary Rae Fouts

October 10, 2016

Salesforce: What are the company's decision makers thinking?

Salesforce:  What are the company's decision makers thinking with their misguided potential purchase of Twitter?

Earlier this year Salesforce attempted to purchase LinkedIn.  That failed.  Now Salesforce is contemplating purchasing Twitter, a company that has been given a not-interested-in-buying-it thumbs down by blue chip companies including Disney, Apple, and Google.

What value could Salesforce possibly see in Twitter that these 3 other companies have not?  Not even the eye opening soap opera caused by Donald Trump's tweets on Twitter is helping Twitter stock.

Hopefully Salesforce will wise up and quit pursuing Twitter.  Otherwise I'll continue to shake my head over this potential acquisition.

October 6, 2016

Financial Planning: Are your investment expectations realistic?

Would you place money in an investment if you were told you have:
(1) a 75% chance of not getting all of your money back, and 
(2) a 37.5% chance of getting NONE of your money back?

Photo Credit:  eastbaytimes.com

As recently reported in my local newspaper the East Bay Times, that is the average track record for venture capital investments into startup companies.  Which demonstrates the importance of prudent thinking and unemotional, realistic expectations before you invest.

October 5, 2016

New York Times' Most Requested Recipe Ever? You Won't Believe What It Is!

When I read this article in the New York Times last month, I was floored.  I love to cook and bake.  Never in my life would I have guessed that the most requested recipe ever printed in the New York Times is ...

Plum Torte
Published in 1983

Yes, not a current "foodie" recipe, but rather a something-your-beloved-Grandmother would have made recipe.

My type of recipe.

Photo Credit:  nytimes.com

Read the very interesting article, and the much beloved and down-to-earth Plum Torte recipe here.  And I say:  Don't mess with the amount of sugar in the original recipe.  It's a dessert torte, after all!

Now do some baking today!

Mary Rae Fouts

October 4, 2016

Blessing of the Animals Service at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Concord, CA

Last Sunday, October 2 we once again attended the Blessing of the Animals Service in honor of St. Francis Assisi at the Good Faith Lutheran Church in Concord, California.  A wonderful ceremony, so inspirational.  This year only dogs were in physical attendance, but people also brought animal photos, leashes, collars, and toys to be blessed, and a few animals were blessed in cars in the parking lot.  One animal photo was of a 70-year old pet tortoise!  Pastor Jeremy and his assistants once again put on a fine service.

As you can see from the photos, our Husky-mix Sid and Chow-mix Lexi intently followed the service!  We also took our late dog Titus' collar to be blessed.  I did miss the parrot who was at last year's service and sang along with the hymns.  And Sid likely missed the chicken who attended last years service.  :)

Rev. Jeremy Serrano at the Blessing of the Animals Service

Lexi intently listens to the service, waiting for her blessing.  Good Girl, Lexi!

Sid intently listens to the service, waiting for his blessing.  Good Boy, Sid!

Thank you Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and Pastor Jeremy Serrano
for holding this wonderful community event.

Mary Rae Fouts

October 2, 2016

San Francisco Giants: Congrats on Another Post Season Playoff Birth

The San Francisco Giants.

Never gave up, even when the wheels came off in the 2nd half of the season.

Giants' fans, while understandably upset at times, never quit supporting the team.  That's how Giants fans are.  We aren't Fair Weather Fans, that's for sure.

And it's October.  Which seems to among the best months for the Giants.

Not only is there next season, but now there is Wednesday.  Against the Mets.

Now go celebrate, and go beat the Mets on Wednesday!

Go Giants!

Mary Rae Fouts