About Me

My photo

Bookkeeper, tax preparer, cat lady, blogger, organizer, mystery writer.

Welcome!

I've finally decided that I am a writer - all the other things I do just pay the bills. Someone eloquent once said that if you do what you love, the money will follow. Well, let's just see about that.

RIP Aggie

RIP Aggie
Aggie was my fifteen-year-old cairn terrier - or maybe I should say I was her 55-year-old person! She was my faithful companion, spoiled rotten and I am still trying to figure out what to do without her.

Peter the Cat...

Peter the Cat...
This is Peter the gingersnap tabby! He's seven years old and has just been promoted to Peter the Very, Very Good. He is working his way up to Peter the Great...

Bee - the Cat Who Came From Somewhere Else...

Bee - the Cat Who Came From Somewhere Else...
Bee is Peter's buddy. He's eight years old and has made himself right at home. I guess cats really do come in pairs or sets of three!

And Jasper makes three!

And Jasper makes three!
Jasper is our new guy - the Cat From Another Place. He's four years old and we think he likes it here - so far, so good!

Buzz about...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When I was in high school...

I discovered Julia Child and The French Chef on PBS reruns. It wasn't so much that I wanted to learn to cook; I just enjoyed the way Julia enjoyed cooking. Cooking at our house was never an adventure. It was an exercise in following a tried and true recipe to the letter and cleaning up as you went along - there was never any mess in our kitchen. I'll never forget the look on my mother's face when she saw Julia Child pitch eggshells over her shoulder. I longed to cook like Julia - just once - using wine and exotic spices and leaving the mess until dinner was in the oven or God forbid - after dinner had been consumed and thoroughly enjoyed. Well, that never happened and even when I had my own kitchen and license to cook, well, licentiously - my cooking habits were so ingrained that I stuck to recipes (for the most part) and cleaned up as I went along. I loved Julie & Julia by Julie Powell - if you haven't read it and you like to cook or just like Julia Child - go out and buy it. Yes, seeing the movie trailers with Meryl Streep as Julia and Stanley Tucci as her husband, Paul, is what made me check out the book. But I'm glad I did. It made me want to make Potage Parmentier as soon as I finished the first chapter! I haven't yet - but I did print out the recipe and I am going to buy potatoes and leeks the next time I go to the grocery. Of course, now I want to read Julia's autobiography and maybe make a clafouti with summer cherries...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mary Engelbreit is right...

arts and crafts do keep you sane. I only wish I hadn't put my sewing machine in storage! It's my grandmother's ancient black head Singer and it may be old - but it works great. Tim got me a serger one year for Christmas and I like it, but there's nothing like Grandma's trusty, well-used and very loved Singer. During the mad rush and confusion of moving, I decided that there was no room in the apartment or the office for my sewing stuff, so I packed it all up and it's miles away inside a seriously (and perilously) packed ten by ten storage unit. I hung on to a small amount of cross-stitch stuff - but that's it. And anyone who sews will understand this: I'm in the mood to sew. There's just something about creating something from a pile of fabric and thread that is both relaxing and satisfying. Sure, I like to make cards and cross-stitch, but sewing is the first real craft I ever learned and nothing else quite measures up. I was never much into making clothes - I could never master a set-in sleeve or lining anything, but I have made probably hundreds of Christmas ornaments, bermuda bag covers and quilted pillows over the years. I made all the window treatments in our house. I even went through a doll-making phase: Holly Hobbie (I'm showing my age!), Raggedy Ann and Andy... One of the first things my grandmother turned me loose on (after I mastered sewing straight lines on notebook paper) was Barbie doll clothes. At first I followed the patterns, but after while I was like a ten-year-old Barbie designer with a spring and fall line of evening and casual wear made from scraps left over from Grandma's projects, complete with beaded trim and braided frog closures on the jackets. Maybe that's why I could never make people clothes - I was used to working on a much smaller scale! Anyhow, I was thinking this morning about how it felt like a great day to sew something - but I don't even have a spool of thread!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Willie's fifth birthday...

is coming up on July 30th! When we moved, I could only have two dogs at the apartment, and since Willie was the youngest, I had to find a new home for him. Well, he was adopted by a wonderful retired couple and he's currently in Vermont for the summer - relaxing, boating and sunning himself next to the lake on their vacation property. We miss our William Wallace and it just about broke my heart to give him up, but he is happy and loved and well, who could ask for more? Aggie and Monty reminded me to make him a birthday card - so I thought I'd share how cute it turned out. One of my Stampin' Up stamp sets and I finally learned how to use the Crop-a-Dile for eyelets...

Apartment living...

is indeed an experience. With the exception of living in a college dorm, I've always lived in a house. Quietly. With virtually silent neighbors. Here, I'm on the ground floor next to a staircase and it would seem that everyone who lives above me cannot walk without stomping their feet. Loudly. At all hours of the day and night. No wonder Aggie and Monty bark their fool heads off! My screened lanai backs up to a sidewalk which at certain hours of the day is heavily traveled by people who cannot speak in a normal tone of voice. I am thankful every day that the uppity Latina diva with the silver BMW moved out - she was the loudest stomper/talker of all - but she has since been replaced by a two gentlemen with several children each who apparently visit only on weekends. Yikes! There is no end to the walking, running, yelling and scooters up and down the sidewalk. Back and forth, in and out - a half hour of silence - and then the cycle repeats itself. I'm an old grump - that's all there is to it!

The apartment is roughly one third the size of our old house - so we downsized quite a bit, but it was really liberating to get rid of stuff we never used. The kitchen is small but cute with few cupboards - so I have a lot of dishes and other kitchen stuff in storage. My old kitchen had 28 cupboards, a double oven and two sinks! Oh well - it's not like I really have to cook much with Tim in Pennsylvania and just me and the mutts...

The kitchen is open to the living room, which has just enough room for a sofa (a pretty sage green from Grandma's apartment...), an ottoman, one of my stained glass floor lamps and the television cabinet. I also have a book cabinet next to the front door, across from the kitchen breakfast bar. When Tim was here in January, he brought one of my Target-special tables from the office to use as a desk. I've put it right under the breakfast bar and it admirably serves the purpose. A cluttered little place to sit and write is always a good thing!
I'm using my antique iron bed and the barely-used mattress and box spring from Grandma's apartment. Unfortunately, it's one of those extra thick mattresses and not meant for short, fat people to climb into easily. Chunky Aggie can't jump up on the bed at all! I need to get her one of the pet step things - now that she's almost eleven and not as agile as she used to be.
The bedroom is actually fairly large, and aside from the weirdness of having the sink in the bedroom next to the bathroom door (the stackable washer and dryer is in the bathroom - very convenient!), it is a very pleasant room. It has a pretty big walk-in closet and room for the bed, two large nightstands (for my reading stash) and a large bureau.

Aside from the daily noise, it's not so bad and although it seems like it's taken me forever to get settled, the apartment is actually pretty comfortable. Living alone does seem strange sometimes, but I keep telling myself it's not forever - only until next summer. Maybe Tim will come home and visit one of these days. Soon.



Friday, July 24, 2009

I thought my head was going to explode...

yesterday and every time one of the dogs barked, my migraine seemed to get worse. After a long nap, it finally subsided, but by then it was too late to go to the office. So here I am this morning - trying to get myself in work mode. I've read the news on the internet and emptied the trash, fed the cat and returned my phone messages - and I'm still not in the mood to work. Must be because it's Friday. I have a potential client coming in at four who wants to incorporate his "own private record label." We'll see if he even shows up. One of the things on our windows reads "assistance starting a new business" and it is amazing how many people have come in to inquire if we give money to people to start new businesses. I feel like saying, "I would if I were independently wealthy," but I just patiently explain what services we do provide. Being in business for oneself has been an interesting and eye-opening experience. I could write a book!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Worth checking out...


I read the best book last night! A friend of mine lent me the library book he had just finished: The Orion Protocol by Gary Tigerman. We were talking about the anniversary of the first moon landing and got around to the subject of those conspiracy theorists who think that the moon "landing" took place on some California soundstage. A hoax too elaborate for even our hallowed government, but I digress. Anyhow - he ran out to his car and got the me the book he had just finished and was on his way to return. I couldn't put it down; it was well written and had just the right amount of comic relief. I hate to give away the plot, but it does have to do with the Apollo moon missions and really makes the reader wonder why we walked on the moon and then never went back. My dad the sci-fi, Project Blue Book buff would have loved this! When I was in high school he read Chariots of the Gods over and over again and loved to debate whether or not we are alone in the universe.

My book drawer at home is perilously empty - I even brought my bag of hard-boiled detective pulp fiction home with me! I had put the pile of Mickey Spillane-esque paperbacks in the back room at the office for lunch hours and never really got to them. This past weekend I finished my Ken Follett frenzy by reading Jackdaws, Whiteout and finally, World Without End. He is one of the best writers - particularly when he writes about the World War II era. I had read Pillars of the Earth years ago right after it was published and World Without End is a sequel of sorts, taking place about two hundred years later. A lot of the characters are descendants of the characters in the first book and the entire story is set in and around the fictional Kingsbridge Cathedral in fourteenth century England. It is over a thousand pages long and took me two days to read - but well worth the time.

I'm experimenting with not watching television. For the past couple of weeks, particularly on evenings when I am planning to lose myself in a good book, I don't even turn the television on - and I haven't missed it. We had satellite TV at our house and I was spoiled with TiVo and being able to search the guide and all that good stuff. After we moved, I got digital cable and a DVR and with no HBO or anything like that, it was over $75 a month! I called and requested basic cable with no DVR and it's still $35 - so I'm seriously considering just disconnecting it completely. Wasn't it great when we were kids and TV was just free? Anyhow, I have a cupboard full of DVDs and a DVD player in case I feel the need to zone out in front of the television - so I almost have myself convinced. It may actually be liberating to be TV free...

Ah, lunch... One of Cari's italian hoagie subs on fresh sourdough bread from Taste of Philly, just three doors down. Her sandwiches are every bit as good as her pizza! Yum!

Monday, July 20, 2009

I miss Eddie...

and I can't wait until we are all together again. I know moving to Pennsylvania is almost a year away, but I want to start counting the days! Eddie is just about the best cat in the whole world. He is fourteen years old and still acts like a kitten sometimes. He's the Head Boy in our household and is Uncle Ed to all the other cats. He has always loved baby cats - and when a new family member was adopted or if one of the cats (too late to be spayed!) had kittens, Eddie was right there to watch over everyone. I call him Eddie the Lionhearted because he once beat the crap out of Aggie when she was a puppy for picking on our handicat, one-eyed Peter the Great. You know, Aggie never bothered Petey again! Eddie is a very talkative cat and he will kiss on demand. He doesn't kiss boys, though - much to Tim's chagrin. Eddie likes to sleep on my pillow and when he was kitten, he would chew my hair. Fortunately, he gave that up. He also likes to have his picture taken - this is one of his more thoughtful poses. He is named after Edward R. Murrow. I know - weird namesake - but we kept naming cats after newsmen since my first two cats were Woodward & Bernstein. They were followed by Petey - who was supposed to be named for Peter Jennings, but we secretly knew it was Peter Falk because of his one eye. Next we adopted Sophie and Martha Stewart - what were we thinking? But then we adopted Charles Kuralt and Walter Cronkat - and their sister, Lucie Bee. That was the end of the news names and then Tim switched to famous physicists - but that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Goofing off instead of working...

My phone has rung once this morning - and it was Tim calling me! I finally got all of my craft supplies put away in my new work area and since it was so quiet here, I did a little project for myself this morning. I have been saving clippings of card ideas from Close to My Heart and Stampin' Up catalogs forever and they have just been moldering away in a drawer. So, I trimmed the edges up and put them all into a little notebook this morning - so all my ideas are in one place. My next project is to decorate the front of the notebook. It's one of those brown chipboard "Sara Binders" you see in the papercraft magazines. Eventually, I'm going to go through my small stack of craft magazines and cut out the card examples I like. Believe it or not, I'm still on my "travel lighter" quest - consolidating stuff for when we finally move. This weekend, I'm planning to tidy up the back room at the office and have my friend help me take more junk to our storage unit: ceiling lights for new house, frames from the ruined prints that got wet during the move, Grandma's old Homer Laughlin dishes (they are cool - earthtones - not the bright colors, although I would love to have a set of those one day!) and assorted other stuff that has nothing to do with running the office. I'm tired of looking at the mess. We even have a miter saw and a scroll saw back there! I don't know if Tim wants to move those or not, but I am going to take them to storage anyway. I'm sure there's even some stuff I could sell on eBay back there...

Friday, July 10, 2009

I've tried and tried to kick the soda habit...


and I have no soda in the refrigerator at home or in the office - but my daily indulgence is a Route 44 soda from the Sonic that's on the way to work. I always ask for extra ice and it lasts all day long. At this point I'm not even sure it's the soda I'm so hooked on - it's the ice! It's, well, rabbit poop ice. It's just perfect for munching - even though I know I shouldn't. We actually have a small ice machine at the office - which Tim adores - but it's a little tough to crunch. So I drive in and pick up a drink every morning - and at two in the afternoon, I'm still sipping and enjoying my ice. I've given up soda at home to both save money and reduce the amount of aluminum cans and plastic bottles in landfills - but I've actually been enjoying sugar-free drinks like Crystal Light and the cranberry-pomegranate drink from Ocean Spray. And iced tea, of course - this is the sunny South!




I know you really can't see the temperature on the thermostat above, but today I am thankful that both numbers say 73. When I came into the office on Monday - actually prepared to have a really good week - the air conditioner was dead. I called our friend Bill to come and check it out - hoping that it could be repaired - and he even looked for an old compressor for us - but alas - no. RIP! So we had to buy a new air conditioning unit. It was 85 degrees in here and no circulation at all - so I went home. On Tuesday, Bill came and installed the lovely new machine. He called my husband about 12:30 and said he was ready to run the unit, so I dashed over to the office to let him inside - Lord, it was hot in here! Within an hour, it was a cool 73 degrees in the office! I don't know why I didn't write about it before now - because I was thankful for Bill, air conditioning and speedy service back on Tuesday!
You know that saying: If you want to see God laugh, make plans? Well, it is so true. I know that I spend a lot of time worrying - especially in this economic climate - and I am always trying to make things work out the way I think they should. It's particularly challenging these days with Tim's recent layoff from work and trying to support two households and an office space. And there are days when I think we are never going to make ends meet for the month - but then, just when I need to pay the electric bill or buy a toner cartridge for the printer or whatever, one of my clients will call or stop by and just like that, God has provided for our immediate needs. Today He sent me Robert Redford. I'm not kidding - that's really his name and he's one of my regular clients - probably the same age as the famous Mr. Redford - just not as good-looking. He's been bringing me his back taxes to do for a while now and I think we're finally caught up. Yesterday, two of my small business clients called and they are bringing their 2008 stuff in this afternoon and Monday - so I have work to keep me busy and money coming in just when we need it. I am thankful every day for God's blessings in my life - but some days even more than others.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

I finally got tired of the mess...

and looking at the seldom-used desk across the room, so I thought - hey, I can do a little re-arranging and put that desk to good use in another space in the office as my craft area. So, I moved the "conference" table to the middle of the room where the vacant desk was and moved the desk back to our little meeting area and voila! No more mess - instant craft workshop!

The move also alleviated the craft clutter in the printer area behind my desk - so the office is back to looking like a place of business rather than an overflowing storage unit.

I moved the computer that was on the vacant desk to Tim's empty office. My friend, Richard, came by to hook it back up for me - and crawl around on the floor under the desk with all of the dang cords - and make it look pretty in that office, too! That's Petey the cat's hangout - he comes out to say hello briefly and eats, but he spends most of his time napping inside the computer area of the desk. One of these days I am going to be lucky enough to take his picture while he is eating - but he's just too fast for me!

Monday, July 06, 2009

The holiday weekend...

was long - that's about all I can say for it. It started early - I spent what seemed liked an eternity at the doctor's office on Wednesday and then all day Thursday at the hospital getting a blood transfusion on the outpatient surgery floor. They were very nice - but it takes forever to get two units of blood. I think I spent most of my time pushing the IV pump back and forth to the bathroom. They give you a shot of Lasix between units so you don't retain the fluid. Of course, I expected to feel seriously perky on Friday after having been a couple of quarts low on non-anemic blood - but no! I was still exhausted and so I spent Friday at home with Aggie & Monty and the last three Anne Rice books in my reading stash. By Sunday afternoon, after a brief trip to feed Petey at the office, I had finished reading Blood and Gold, Blackwood Farm and Blood Canticle. I enjoy Anne Rice, not for the vampire stories per se, but for the way she writes and by the time I got to the last book, I was reminded why I never especially likes the volumes narrated by the Vampire Lestat - he tries to be too hip and way too flip. No wonder they cast Tom Cruise in the horrific movie version. Anyhow, I read myself silly and then baked some banana bread.

Banana bread is why Tim and I are the perfect match. I love green bananas - well, not green, but just barely ripe and past the bitter stage. When I buy bananas, I buy them green and eat two or three the first day before they start to turn yellow. When the yellow hits - they are all Tim's. He will eat bananas until the brown spots appear - yuck! After he's done with them, they're mine to make banana bread with. And so, since Tim's at our new home in Pennsylvania, I had three leftover bananas to make banana bread with. And it was good!