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...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cats in the...

cloche - Peter would just steal them right out of a cradle, don't you think?  I've finally found a way to display my miniature cats!  My husband gave me quite a few miniature artist cats and bears over the years and when I moved there was no room for my curio cabinet which had previously kept them safe from marauding felines.  They've been languishing in a basket in the closet until I had this brainstorm - and aren't they cute?  One of them even has a little Santa hat and a wreath with little bells.  Yes - that's a little spotted dog in the front.  He just would not be left behind.  I added the ribbon to the top and voila! - a Christmas decoration and a collectible display all in one.  I'm so happy to be able to visit with all the kitties again - it's been a while.


Monday, November 29, 2010

ME Monday...

and it's finally time to get out my Mary Engelbreit Christmas handbag!  This is one of my favorite bags - and it's an ME, too.  Imagine that!  I have had this for about forever; it's a coated cotton bag from Nordic House with leather handles.  I have the regular ME version of this bag as well - isn't that a big surprise?  I try to switch to this bag right after Thanksgiving every year - and this year was no exception.  I think holiday illustrations are some of Mary's best work.  For more ME stuff, check out the links over at Cherry Chick!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting into the spirit of holiday baking with...

Chocolate Nut Bread

Ingredients:

4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 ¾ cup milk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups chocolate chips
1 ½ cup chopped pecans

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.  Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine eggs, milk and oil in another bowl.  Add gradually to flour mixture and mix until moistened.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Spoon into prepared loaf pans and bake for 55 to 60 minutes.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.



Saturday, November 27, 2010

I usually have a plan...

but it seems that this time I do not.  Yet.  Isn't this a lovely table?  It's an antique Mission library table from the 1920s - and I paid all of $50 for it.  Al & Tom were gracious enough to go and pick it up for me from the people who advertised it on craigslist.  The husband told me that his wife just had too much furniture in their house and they wanted to get rid of it.  What's amazing is that it is exactly like a desk I bought for my mother many years ago.  There used to be a wonderful antique store downtown run by a lovely artistic lady who made annual buying trips abroad until she got too frail to travel.  I suspect that a lot of the items that she sold were family heirlooms; she was "old money" who had lived here most of her life.  My dad called it genteel - or what's left when all the old money is gone.  At any rate, she was lovely and so interesting to talk to - and she had wonderful things in her shop, including some of her own original artwork.  On a Saturday after Thanksgiving, much like today, we stopped in her store after the annual craft fair on the waterfront (a whole other story!) and had a look around.  I saw the desk and decided right then and there that I had to have it - and unfortunately, so did my mother.  Well, you can imagine who won - and I still paid for it!  I did score an antique English wicker market basket with folding handles that day, which I enjoyed for awhile, until my mother latched onto that too.  Story of my life - which is exactly why I never introduced her to my husband until after we eloped.  Wait - where was I?  Oh right - so I saw this bargain on craigslist and now it's sitting in the middle of my living room.  And I'm not quite sure where I am going to put it.  Yet.  But I'm working on it.  Really.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Are people crazy?

Who in their right mind goes shopping at 4:00 am?  Or worse yet, who camps out all night long to be first in line for some over-rated sale the next morning?  Sorry - not me.  Never again.  Not even if I had any money to spend!  Yes, I went shopping on Black Friday once, years ago, because I had never gone.  My mother and I decided to go to Burdines early in the morning - see how long ago it's been?  Burdines is now Macy's!  It was horrific and I vowed never to do it again.  I came home with a migraine the size of Texas.  The whole shopping trip is a Mama story - something like Mama Takes on the Mall - but I will leave that for another time.  This year, like every year since that fateful holiday shopping spree, I slept a little late and have spent the entire day at home.  I admit that I did do a little holiday shopping online - but only for a couple of inexpensive handmade gifts on Etsy - and two things that will be incorporated into some crafts I'm making from eBay.  I have putzed around with some Christmas card ideas, but I don't like anything I've done so far.  I gathered up the fall decorations and got out one of the boxes of Christmas baskets and my little white wooden deer.  The weekend is still young!  Right now we are patiently waiting for the Pizza Hut delivery guy to bring us our thin crust cheese pizza.  Well, I'm being patient - Aggie knows something is up and she's sitting beside her gate staring down the door.  She'll be in a complete frenzy when she hears a strange car and then a knock on the door.  Children! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dinner and a Monk-a-thon...

Thanksgiving dinner with Tom & Al was great - Tom is an excellent cook.  The mashed potatoes were to die for - but of course, I forgot my camera - so no photos of the lovely meal.  (I borrowed the photo of the dogs from Tom's Facebook page...)  We even had homemade wheat bread!  These are their sweet rescue dogs: Cassie the rat terrier and mad French kisser, Duncan the smiling spitz and Suki the sweetie pie spitz.  They also have three cats: Daisy, a little seal point Siamese and her fluffy fourteen-pound husband, Chubbs and the latest addition to the family, Betty Grable, a mischievous grey kitten.  Aggie was invited, but had to stay home due to her bad behavior this morning - she got away from me outside and I had to chase her down.  No mean feat, believe me.  I am stuffed full of turkey, sausage stuffing, potatoes, corn pudding, homemade cranberry relish (just like my Grandma's!) and two kinds of pie: pumpkin and cherry.  Aggie and Peter got their turkey treat when I came home and we have settled in for the evening.
We're back to our Monk-a-thon - we're pretty much at the beginning of Season Three, watching the episode called Mr. Monk and the Girl Who Cried Wolf.  I don't know why everyone thinks he's so weird.  But that's just me. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Appetizers or...

cookies?  That is indeed the question.  I've been invited to Al & Tom's for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow and when I asked what I could bring, well, Tom had dinner pretty much covered.  So I said, "I'll bring appetizers."  After wracking my brain about what to make, and worrying about ruining everyone's appetite for eating dinner after Tom slaved over it all day, I decided instead to bake cookies for them.  That way, they can eat them all weekend.  I admit it, I am using store-bought cookie dough - but it's pretty hard to make cookie dough without a mixer.  I've made white chocolate macadamia nut and oatmeal raisin for them and a pan of regular chocolate chip for home.  The kitchen smells heavenly - and I have to tell you, one of the best investments I ever made is the Chicago Metallic commercial baking pans and Silpat baking mats.  No more warped cookie sheets and no more burned cookies to scrape off the pan.  It's a wonderful combination!  Like cookie dough and chocolate chips...


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Coulda, woulda, shoulda...

shared this for ME Monday yesterday - it is my computer desktop right now.  I love the look on the cook's face!  Mary Engelbreit can always make me smile!

Monday, November 22, 2010

ME Monday...

Okay, so I haven't run out of ME stuff to share.  I was just brain dead last week - it happens.  Today I am making split pea soup with ham in my trusty Mary Engelbreit crock pot.  I am so glad I ordered the black one instead of the blue.  This one matches my kitchen much better.  And it works great - the pot is removable and it fits nicely in the dishwasher.  It also has a nice keep warm feature for when the cooking is done. 
Peter is peering over the counter at me - it would appear that he smells the ham and chicken broth.  Like he's really going to try the pea soup when it's done...
Check out more ME over at Cherry Chick!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Back in business...

and getting ready to ship some rubber stamp sets I sold in my Etsy shop.  I had to get a new 9-volt battery for my postal scale.  Yes, I put my tongue on the old one and got a bit of a shock, but it apparently did not have enough juice to power the scale.  I have been going through my rubber stamps and stamp sets and culling out the ones I am never going to use - or use again.  I've sold six sets so far and I have more to list.  When I moved into this condo, my friend put shelves in the entry closet for my seasonal decorations and office supplies.  We left room under the bottom shelf for my rolling stamp carts - but I ended up cramming four jam-packed carts in there and I practically have to unload the whole closet to get at what I want.  Not a good thing, I discovered when I was looking for the Thanksgiving theme stamps.  So...  I did the unthinkable and broke up some Stampin' Up sets to keep the ones I like and will use and I'm going to make up some oddball lots of stamps to sell.  I also listed about fifteen full sets on Etsy - most of which I had never used.  
Will this downsizing ever end?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hospitality...

is over-rated.  Or maybe I'm just getting anti-social in my old age.  At any rate, I have been pondering what to do for Thanksgiving.  It's just me and Aggie and Peter - and I have decided that I'm just going to think of it as just another Thursday.  See, I used to be a fairly gracious hostess and I enjoyed having people over for dinner and celebrating holidays.  I am a pretty good cook and when guests came for dinner, no one ever left the kitchen.  It was a big room with a dining table, lots of chairs and a love seat - so I had lots of company while I was preparing the meal.  I haven't felt much like celebrating anything the last couple of years but I had decided that I was more in the holiday spirit this year.  Most of my friends have families and other plans - but I learned years ago when I was away at college that some of the best holiday celebrations are made up of groups of "strays."  With that in mind, I pondered inviting guests for Thanksgiving dinner.  Yes! - I knew exactly who to invite!  And then I realized that if I invited them, I would also have to invite their whining, petulant, spoiled, obnoxious, boneheaded seven-year-old son and my urge to entertain was gone entirely.  It's not that I'm a child-hater.  I just hate that one.  Maybe he suffers from only child syndrome, I don't know.  All I can say is that he brings out the urge to slap in me and that is definitely not a good thing.  He whines like a little girl and I just want to shake him and shriek, "Man up, kid!"  I like a kid who isn't afraid of anything and comes right in and makes himself at home.  My friend Ariela's four-year-old marches in, hugs Aggie, takes off his shoes, checks out the contents of the refrigerator and looks for a DVD to watch.  No whining, no wheedling, no fuss.  My kind of guest - who is, unfortunately, busy for turkey day.  And so, since I refuse to give myself a holiday migraine from clenching my teeth, Aggie, Pete and I will be inhospitable once again this year, dining on Boar's Head smoked turkey sandwiches and watching Monk reruns.
On second thought, that doesn't sound too bad...

Friday, November 19, 2010

I only went to the mailbox...

and I came home to find this on my desk and most everything else, including a month's worth of invoices and receipts for my tortilleria client, on the floor.
I love my little helpers!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Say cheese...

or pronounce gruyere, specifically.  I didn't argue with the guy in the Publix deli about it, but I am pretty sure I was right.  I like Stewart and he loves his job - that's one reason why I like Publix so much.  Happy employees.  Well, except for the Crispers employee who murdered his manager, but I think there were some extenuating circumstances.  But I digress...  I've discovered gruyere cheese.  And I love it.  I don't, however, love the price.  A couple of weeks ago I tried the new holiday sub for lunch: turkey, bacon, cranberry sauce and gruyere cheese.  Interesting combination - but a little dry.
I've been working on my own rendition.
I love cheese.  Real cheese - not the processed stuff.  My husband was raised on Velveeta and Kraft singles - and the only mac & cheese he would eat was Kraft Dinner - the cheesiest.  I admit that I have nothing against Kraft dinner - it will do in a pinch, but I like the real stuff.  The only cheese Tim would eat on a sandwich was yellow stuff wrapped in plastic - or swiss cheese.  He decreed that all other cheese was too strong.  Would someone explain to me how swiss cheese isn't strong in flavor?  I mean, I don't like sharp cheddar so much, but to my palate, open to more cheese flavor than Tim's, swiss cheese is fairly strong.  Anyhow, he did get so he would eat provolone, but only if it wasn't too smoky.  Now that I am on my own, I've been more adventurous with my grilled cheese sandwiches: havarti, colby, edam, monterey jack, muenster, gouda, pepper jack, asiago - if you can slice it, I've tried some on a sandwich.
I haven't been disappointed yet.
And so I have pondered making macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving with a luscious pound of smoked gruyere.  Which would cost about as much as a turkey - and wouldn't look like a dead bird.  If Squanto had known more about pasta and less about hunting wild birds, the Pilgrims might have whipped up a big pan of mac & cheese and the whole Thanksgiving turkey thing would be a moot point.  I can almost taste the creamy, smoky, gooey flavor of melted cheese and al dente pasta right now...
Or how about a gruyere and tomato tart?  The possibilities are almost mind-boggling - until I try another cheese I like better.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving...

decorations are out - and I am enjoying the scent of the cinnamon candle warmer today.  Fortunately, Peter learned to leave candles alone at the office, so I can have a lighted candle on my desk most of the time.  I got these pretty fall leaf candle holders at a PartyLite party several years ago.  It was the first time I'd ever been to one of those hen parties, and I think they're awfully overpriced, but I fell in love with these fall decorations and Tim got them for me.  My little bear Pilgrims have been around forever - and they make their appearance every year.  I am especially fond of the cornhusk doll.
My friend Beth from high school gave me this doll many, many years ago.  I think we were in tenth grade - so let's see - about thirty-six years ago.  It's an antique - like me!  I made Beth a Holly Hobbie doll, which was all the rage back then.  Preserving this doll for that long was no mean feat - considering the fact that our cats loved to chew anything that made a crunching noise.
She's still my favorite fall decoration!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Better late than not at all...

for National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day - which was on Sunday.  Aggie is anxiously awaiting some turkey leftovers in the coming weeks!  Out with the old and expired - and do you think I've been watching too much Monk?  Seriously, the water is for my clients and I don't keep all that much fresh food around.
I had some really old Duke's salad dressing in here; it expired in September of 2009 - and that could be why it didn't taste exactly right.  It's been refrigerated all this time - and those dates are pretty arbitrary, but still...  I got rid of some really old mustard, too, just to be on the safe side.  I have been watching too much Monk - condiments in the top left bin, sauces on the bottom - peanut butter and jelly on the top right, pickles on the bottom.
Two liter bottles in the door...
And the freezer was easy - just ice and some sandwich and bagel thins.  Lots of room for the turkey.  Or some ice cream.  Yeah, maybe we'll just have turkey sandwiches... and ice cream.  Aggie's glaring at me!

Monday, November 15, 2010

ME Monday...

Believe it or not, I'm running low on things to share for ME Monday!  Or at least my brain is running low on what it takes to remember what ME stuff I have around here - that's probably it.  Anyhow, these three prints are some of my favorites.  I got them a long time ago on eBay for really cheap - and I loved the little story they tell.  The top one says, "Open it! Open it!" and it's a little boy giving a girl his heart.  The middle one says, "And I said yes!  Yes!"  The bottom one says, "Grow old with me - the best is yet to be."  What can I say?
I still love them, even if I am living happily ever after alone.
Mary Engelbreit - guaranteed to make you smile.
Check out more ME over at Cherry Chick

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy birthday...

to my dear friend, Kathy.
I hope you had a wonderful day!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fun with mei fun...

plus
 along with some
and a little
equals

An easy, quick dinner for one.  And a dog.

 

11/15/10 I should add that it is not a good idea to feed baby corn to a small dog who will eat all she can hold.  Aggie has been horking up undigested corn all morning, all over the house.  Live and learn.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I've just discovered...

Mr. Monk!  I can't believe I never watched this great show - I mean, an OCD detective is right up my alley.  I just watched the first two episodes - thank you, Netflix.  And all eight seasons await me...  I can so relate to his uncontrollable urge to straighten things, even in other people's homes.  It's sick, I know.  But nobody's perfect.  Except maybe Mr. Monk.