About Me

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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...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

And another thing...

I took a walk on the wild side tonight (well, for me anyway) and ordered Mei Fun takeout for dinner.  I know, I know, it looks really tame - but you have to understand that just about the only Chinese takeout I ever get is pork egg foo yung - which is truly weird because I cannot cook myself an egg of any kind and eat it.  The last time I made scrambled eggs I got so grossed out I just put them down the garbage disposal.  But I digress...  When I was a kid, the only oriental food we ever ate was LaChoy chow mein from a can over canned crispy noodles.  And we only ever ate that when my dad was out of town!  At any rate, I first had Chinese food in a restaurant when I was in junior high.  Our class went on a social studies field trip to Sarasota (which seemed like a big adventure at the time) and ate at just about the only oriental restaurant in the area.  We all had wonton soup and sort of a sampler of fried rice, lo mein and egg foo yung.  I was hooked and what I suppose amounts to a Chinese omelet became my go to takeout order for the past thirty-five years or so.  My husband loved to go to the Chinese buffet for crab legs - too much work for not much crabmeat, if you ask me - and I always had the dim sum, stuffed mushrooms, potstickers and fried bananas.  Some combination, huh?  It's just that at those buffets all the dishes start to taste the same since they sit in such close proximity.  Plus, all those people breathing on the food - not a good thing.  You might say I had a tendency to choose the lesser of the evils - there was this one place that had this great peanut butter chicken, but I don't even think that's really Chinese...  Anyhow, the Mei Fun was excellent!  We had the house version with chicken, pork, beef and shrimp with vegetables and these wonderful, thin rice noodles.  Aggie even liked it - she called dibs on the beef.  Pete tried a noodle and walked away.  Next time we're going to try Kung Pao something or maybe Mu Shu.  Those sound exotic.  Or Moo Goo Gai Pan.  I just like saying that one.  Any suggestions?

At long last...

I have finally finished organizing my closet!  I have sorted, debated, pared down and donated until I have crammed every last pair of shoes and handbag into this 216 cubic foot little room.  As you can see, I am not a clothes horse (anymore!) and most everything I own is made of denim.  Or cotton at the very least.  No non-natural fibers here, thank you.  I am now ashamed to admit that I once owned ninety, yes 90, pairs of shoes.  I'm down to under twenty five - and none of them have heels.  In fact, I don't even have to tie most of them.  I know there are lots of handbags in there, but the vast majority of them are years old.  Like old friends, I just can't part with them.
Mostly Vera Bradley, a couple of Brightons, two vintage D&B, three well-worn Coach classics and a few others, which I write about occasionally on my purse blog.  Yes, I'm still looking for the ultimate handbag!  I really feel like I have accomplished something here - and if you had seen the mess I started with, you'd agree.  And it's only taken me a little over a month...
And I helped!

Friday, July 30, 2010

My repair skills...

are nowhere near on par with those of my friends, Allen and Tom, but I did manage to clean up and replace the twill tape on this antique chalkboard today.  I have had this since I was a little girl - I was seven or eight.  We lived in Hyannisport, Massachusetts and one day my dad came home with a bunch of toys from a store his boss had bought out.  I suspect his employers were more interested in the building than the inventory so that's why all of their employees with kids got Christmas in July!  Anyhow, while I was thrilled with this chalkboard, I was even more enamored of the black baby doll I received.  She had a pink dress and pink booties and pink ruffled undies.  Imagine - a potty-trained baby!  I named her Ethel and took that doll everywhere, much to my mother's chagrin.  Now, years later, I cannot remember what became of Ethel, but I still have my chalkboard.  The top section once had a rolling paper primer with alphabets and animals on it, but my sister demolished it sometime in the seventies.  I replaced it with a primitive sampler I cross-stitched on some old linen years later - I think it looks like it belongs.  The frame is solid oak, so you should have seen me trying to drive upholstery tacks into the twill tape under the chalk ledge in the front.  It's slightly messy and there are two tacks in each piece of tape, but fortunately you can't see it.  I gave up on the tacks and tied the twill tape in the back.  At least it won't fall over anymore!  Now I just have to get some chalk so I can write a message on the board.  I haven't quite decided where to put this treasure yet - but it will probably end up in the living room.  It's like having an old friend come to stay.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Three good things...

Laundry Detergent - a necessary evil...
Furniture polish - for those who love wood...
For scented candle fanatics...
I promise that this is my last post about shopping or terrific new stuff for the week.  I just like sharing my thoughts about worthwhile products and saving money.  Which brings me to these three good things...  Over a year ago, my friend Richard introduced me to Melaleuca.  Yikes! I silently thought - an MLM.  I listened politely, perused the catalog and said to myself, "Oh, what the heck - if I don't like the stuff, I can cancel my membership."  I did like the idea of eco-friendly, all natural cleaning and laundry products.  And having used liquid organic cleaners from a similar company, I knew that buying concentrated cleaning products saved money.  And I'm all for that, so I ordered laundry detergent, liquid antibacterial soap and some shampoo.  And I also won't recommend anything that I haven't tried, used for a decent period of time and really liked to anyone else.  To make a long story short, I love the stuff.  The laundry detergent (and fabric brightener) are great and it really does work as efficiently as advertised.  The furniture polish not only smells good, but it does a great job on any kind of wood.  The soap and shampoo are very concentrated and they last just about forever.  I've tried all of the various kitchen and bathroom cleaners and I mix up my own spray bottles of kitchen, glass and bathroom cleaners - again, there really is truth in advertising.  An added bonus is the fact that all of Melaleuca's products are non-toxic to humans and animals - a big selling point for me.  And - no more lugging heavy laundry detergent from the car into the house - Melaleuca delivers right to your door via UPS.  Finally - I admit that I am powerless over candles.  I have loved Yankee Candles for years - but I don't think they last any longer or smell any better than similar candles I've bought at WalMart and Target.  I usually have a candle burning on my desk - as well as a similar scented jar candle in the candle warmer I keep near the front door.  I have gotten lots of great comments on these scented soy candles; everyone wants to know where they can buy them.  My favorite scent is cranberry orange, but last month I got one of the citrus grove candles and I can't wait to see how good it smells!  Melaleuca offers many, many products including vitamins, skin care & make-up - I'm just not a big make-up person.  I wash my face with soap - that's it - so I'm not a good one to ask about girly stuff like that.  But I wholeheartedly recommend the cleaning and laundry products.  Oh, and the soy candles.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I love you, Paul Newman...

may you rest in peace, but I cannot in good conscience pay $5.49 for a package of organic Fig Newmans, even if I do have a $1 coupon.  I just ran up to Publix - well, I drove, but you get the picture - because today is the last day of the Special K and Honey Maid graham crackers buy-one-get-one-free sale.  They also had those great Arnold's Sandwich Thins on sale - such a deal!  I've become a penny-pincher in my old age here at the Villa of Reduced Circumstances and I sort of like it.  Grocery shopping is an adventure - and I try to only buy things that are two-for-one or really on sale.  Not buying meat is a huge savings!  Someday I'll give up the occasional turkey sandwich, but I'm not there just yet.  Hot dogs, either.  Anyway, they're probably not even really meat.  And it seems that I like the idea of organic food more than I like the price.  So I passed on the Fig Newmans - sorry, Paul - but I did get grape tomatoes that were on sale. 
No preservatives in those!

I see Petey was waxing philosophical earlier - he's a cat of few words.

Feline words of wisdom...

"Just chill, Mom.  Everything will be all right."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When will I learn...

to stop worrying about everything?  Philippians 4:6 reminds us: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And I try not to worry, I really do, but over the past year with everything that's happened, I get in these end-of-the-month oh-no-what-am-I-going-to-do panics.  It affects my whole outlook on life - and I wonder if that's why I was feeling so negative last week.  Subconsciously I was working up to my full-blown tizzy - I don't know.  So last night I prayed for peace (and for my clients to pay up - honestly, I think some of them think that this is my hobby!) and gave thanks for the blessings God has given me.  I balanced my checkbook this morning and pondered whether to pay the electric bill or my car payment.  Or the phone & internet bill.  I called one of my delinquent clients to give them some information they requested and asked if they had sent the form they needed to sign back to me yet.  No - so I knew a check wasn't on the way from that front.  I'm not going to worry, I told myself; I have a few days yet until my financial situation reaches critical mass.  Peter hopped up on the desk for a pet and then - the phone rang.  It was one of my clients calling to tell me that he wanted to drop off a check.  He lives over by my old office, so I told him to just drop it off with Cari at the restaurant since I need to go out anyway.  I shouldn't have worried at all - the check is more than enough to pay the electric bill and my car payment.  God provides for our needs, sometimes daily, in His own time.
Please, Lord, help me to remember that!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Is it just me...

that loves that weird diet soda aftertaste of Tab?  It's usually more expensive, but this week it was on sale right along with the other Coke products.
And so I indulge in a not-so-guilty pleasure...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Caveat emptor...

Okay - yesterday I sang the praises of the Tidy Cat Breeze - and I haven't changed my mind.  However... Not every store carries the pellets or the pads.  I knew Publix didn't have them - but I have requested that they order them for my local store.  They're great about that, by the way.  In the meantime,  Petey let me know that it was time for a change this morning and since I like to keep my associates happy, off I went to WalMart at about one o'clock this afternoon.  Just a quick trip, I told myself.  In and out.  Wrong!  Even though I bought the box system at WalMart (in Palmetto) the Bradenton WalMart near where I live doesn't have it.  All right, I thought, I'll go to Target - haven't been there in a while.  Nope.  Next I went to the WalMart out on State Road 70 - no again.  I finally went back to the WalMart where I had originally purchased the box and there they were - pellets and pads.  So I bought three packages of each.  You know what they say, you can never be too rich, too thin, have too much chocolate or too many cat box supplies. Oh, and I got home at five o'clock, after braving 96 degrees of heat, humidity and a small monsoon.   On the other hand, Petey is a happy little guy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Product endorsement!

Okay - I don't normally do this.  Or do I?  I guess I do occasionally - but only when there is actually truth in advertising.  And, dear readers, Tidy Cats Breeze, from Purina lives up to the hype. This is probably the most wonderful invention since sliced bread, or sandwiches at the very least.  I am not kidding.  Seriously.  I am a cat litter box hater.  I don't like cleaning it and I like changing it even less.  But since I have never believed that you can actually train a cat to use a toilet, a litter box is a necessary evil.  And - I am going to rat Aggie out here - I was very apprehensive about the whole litter box thing when Peter came home because, well, and I'll just say it - Aggie likes to eat cat poop.  Apparently all dogs do - and our vet says if we could find a way to make them stop, we'd be gazillionaires.  So in addition to the dog having cat poop breath, I wasn't sure where I was going to put the dang box because I also hate having cat litter tracked everywhere.  Then I discovered the Tidy Cats Breeze.  This box, as you can see, has a little drawer underneath which holds an antimicrobial pad to catch the liquids that fall through the pellets in the top section of the box which is designed like a sieve.  That was a clumsy sentence, but I'm sure you get my drift.  The pellets are harmless little chunks of zeolite (or some kind of other inert substance) which last for a month!  Yes - thirty whole days and they weigh about two pounds!  No more carrying those heavy tubs of  awful clumping cat litter - you change the pad once a week for one cat - obviously more often for multiple cats - but this thing is amazing.  You just have to scoop out the solids - before the dog goes on a tootsie roll hunt - and flush them away.  The transition from litter was simple - I showed Pete the box and he used it.  Smart cat.  And yes, Aggie has ingested some of the pellets and when I called the 800 number, I was assured that they are indeed harmless.  So it would appear - I won't elaborate, other than to say they don't even lose their shape.  
So anyway, do yourself and your cat(s) a favor and get the Tidy Cats Breeze - it's, in a word, tidy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Channeling Grandma...

I must have been having one of those days yesterday - or I was channeling the spirit of my dear, departed mother-in-law!  Richard came by to visit and return the empty brownie container and like a true friend would, he called me on it.  Not like me at all!  I think I have just fallen into the slough of despond this week, worrying about finding more work, finances, impending doom - you name it.  And it's not like me - I normally have a very cheery outlook, even when life is crap.  I allowed myself to wallow last night, ate a peanut butter sandwich for dinner, watched a stupid movie, and tried to go to bed early to sleep the negative vibes off.  I am feeling more positive today, but I have the sinus headache from hell.  Must be the effects of Tropical Storm Bonnie.  Maybe that's where my tropical depression came from!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Technically, I've given up TV...

but it hasn't stopped me from watching free television shows on TNT and TVLand.  I kept telling myself I wasn't going to start watching another series - and subsequently getting hooked on it, like Leverage and Memphis Beat, but... Oh well.  So I gave in and watched the pilot episode of Rizzoli & Isles last night.  I've read some of Tess Gerritsen's books and I like her characters and I will have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  The series writers did a good job of translating Gerritsen's work for the small screen - and it takes talent to make a serial killer seem comical.  The casting is good: Angie Harmon is Jane Rizzoli - the homicide detective, Sasha Alexander is Maura Isles - the medical examiner and Bruce McGill is Jane's former and would-be-again partner who has a penchant for rescuing animals.  I liked him right away - and of course, he is delightful in any role.  I'll watch it again. 
For free on non-network or cable TV.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'd like to introduce...

the Associates of Smith & Associates, Inc.
The daydreaming, stare-out-the-window junior associate.
The lazy-butt, lay-down-and-sleep-on-the-job senior associate.
I make these introductions because the other day I got a call from a woman who said she didn't need to hire the boss, one of the associates would probably be cheaper.  I should imagine so.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Change is good...

Well, how do you like that - I had a tag on my blog that said I needed to refresh my Cutest Blog on the Block background or it would disappear on Friday.  So I've changed again - temporarily.  All the more reason I need to get with it and make my own busy bee blog layout.  Yes, I guess change is good.
And this is sort of cute for a quick re-do, if I don't say so myself.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thought for the day...

And you thought I was just another snarky blogger.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Since I am partial to dorky men...

like Ray Romano, Vince Vaughan, Ben Stiller - you get the picture - in the movies and in real life,
it only  makes sense that I would enjoy
because Kevin James is about as dorky as they come.  And he's very endearing.  I used to watch The King of Queens even though my husband hated it and I really though Carrie was a terrible witch.  I loved Doug and Arthur.  Oh, and Spence and Danny.  Deacon's wife was almost as bad as Carrie!  Anyhow - if you haven't seen Paul Blart: Mall Cop - and if you love a lighthearted comedy with absolutely no redeeming social value, then this movie is for you.  No profanity, no nudity, nothing suggestive - just funny.  
Aggie and I give it five kernels of popcorn.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

At home in my office...

Finally!  I've gotten my home office put together - and it only took me two weeks.  I'm using my desk and computer extension for work and the second desk as a craft credenza.  This was a serious consolidation project, let me tell you.  Fortunately, my enormous printer/scanner/fax fit inside the computer extension so I had more desk space to work with.  The only thing I'm not pleased about is the cable/VOIP modem disaster to the left of my monitor, which you cannot see in this photo - thank goodness!  One of my clients is a cable guy and he has promised to come and make it disappear for me.  Honestly, I should take a picture of it - it looks like a construction demolition site wired to blow up - there is wire everywhere - all hooked together with hideous black cable ties.  But I digress...
 There's my favorite lamp - and as you can see, we are heavy on the Mary Engelbreit in this space.
I got my wall shelves all put together - more ME and my scaled-down collection of Boyd's Bears.  I kept my tea-drinking girls and, of course, the bumblebee and sunflower gang.  My clients get a kick out of the ME print on the bottom which says: "We don't care how they do it in New York."  And we don't.
The baker's rack is finally arranged to my liking with most of my Longaberger May baskets - the rest are in use in the kitchen in one way or another.  More Mary!
Here you can see that I've replaced the dining room light fixture - it was okay, but not really me - with one of my pendant lights that match the kitchen lamp and the living room floor lamp.  The other pendant light is in the kitchen in place of one really hideous fluorescent light fixture.  The purple lights go well with my purple-framed May basket poster and beehive cross-stitch.  The other lamp on my desk is mainly red - but I like it, so there.
My craft credenza faces the living room window - all the better to converse with Aggie while she's trying to nap in the sunny spot.  I was glad there was room for my Cricut and
all of my stamping supplies.  The bottom right cupboard is chock full of these lovely yellow storage boxes and the left hand drawers are full of embossing powder, tools, glue and paper.  Like I said, serious downsizing!
 
 Almost forgot - here's the view from the kitchen - and my window on the world.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Had to share...

this hilarious photo!

Fooling around...

on the internet when I can't sleep isn't all bad - I found this cute Mary Engelbreit image that I don't remember ever seeing before.  Isn't it cute?  I think that must be what I look like when I'm pondering life at three in the morning.  The only thing missing in the picture is the snoring Aggie!  I also ran across a free signature maker and it even generates the HTML for you so you can include it in your blog.  Pretty cool - if you decide to try it, be sure to click the transparent box (or your signature ends up in a box) and after you generate the HTML, just save it to a document file so you can copy and paste it at will.  Pretty neat - and I even made one for Aggie, too.  I even found more free blog layout sites - but I haven't been able to find one with bees or beehives yet.  I may just have to break down and learn how to make a custom layout myself.  Ha!  This from the woman who cannot figure out how to put music on her blog...  One of these days.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's back...

I am plagued with insomnia once again.  I'd actually been sleeping for more than two hours at a time since we moved to the new apartment.  Being away from the sidewalk and 2:30 am pizza guy has helped alot!  And now, out of the blue, I am sleeping for an hour and then I'm awake for three or four.  Then when it's time to get up, I am so sleepy I can hardly keep my eyes open.  Petey has even started sleeping in the night and not running around from room to room chasing imaginary nothings.  I've tried going to bed early, tiring myself out and not trying to sleep until midnight, drinking chamomile tea, taking Tylenol PM - nothing is working.  To make matters worse, I've had the exploding Pope dream twice this week and I wake up screaming.  I mean, what must my neighbors think?  Aggie snores undisturbed all night long.  That must be what they mean when they say "it's a dog's life."
Any suggestions?