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...

Friday, December 31, 2010

OneNote 2010...

is one of the coolest things that Microsoft has come out with in a long time.  Of course, I'm just discovering it now and I realize that it's been out since around 2003 - but as usual, I am behind the times.  OneNote is part of the Office 2010 software that my husband gave me when I was having a serious Outlook computer meltdown a couple of months ago - and I love it!  Well, all of Office 2010 - but OneNote in particular.  It's a virtual notebook - sort of like my to-do list composition books on steroids.  I've been using it off and on since I installed the software and I like it more and more every day.  And so - I'm taking a big step here.  I'm going to stop using my old-fashioned write-everything-down composition books and do all of my list-making and note-taking in OneNote beginning tomorrow.  January 1 - a great day for new beginnings and starting new, improved habits.  If I were really making a serious resolution I'd be trying to give up the compulsive list-making and note-taking altogether, but I've resolved to put that off again this year.  Some things never change.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kindle love...

and a free novel from Jeffery Deaver - what could be better?  I am so crazy for my new Kindle 3G e-reader - I think everyone should get one.  Yes, I went for the pukey green cover (they call it apple green, if you really must know) and the best thing about it is
the built in light!  Doesn't even need a battery; it runs off the power from the Kindle battery - which will hold a charge for a full month with the wi-fi turned off.  And it's the perfect amount of light to read in the dark, which I suppose doesn't really matter since it's just me and Aggie and Pete - but it's nice just to turn it off and go to sleep.  This has to be the most amazing and useful gadget I have ever been lucky enough to own.  Really.

Now, about the free book - Watchlist is a collaborative effort from Jeffery Deaver and a host of other best-selling suspense writers: Lee Child, SJ Rozan and Lisa Scottoline, to name a few.  It was excellent - fast-paced, believable and well written.  The characters were very well developed, considering the fact that many different authors with diverse writing styles were both fleshing out the multitude of characters and moving the action along.   Even better - the ending was ripe for a sequel.  Let's hope these writers work together again soon.  And best of all, it was free!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another surprise...

in my mailbox - don't you just love it?  My dear friend (of more years than either one of us wish to count), Kathy, who lives in Utah, sent me a lovely box of Christmas goodies - with these amazing homemade caramels.  Yes, they're gone.  All gone - and they were so good.  I asked if she'd make me some to take with me when I die - wherever I end up going.  And there were crispy, sweet snickerdoodles, chocolate fudge, magic cookie bars (which we have called Gluckies for eons!) and still more chocolate.  Aggie got her own bag of snaps - which she refused to even try until she had some snickerdoodle - and Peter got a green Christmas catnip mouse.  The question has finally been answered - Peter is indeed a niphead.  In fact, I think he's still lying in front of the big window tripping.  Thank you, Kathy, for my after-Christmas, final sugar binge of 2010.  Do you know me or what?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Iz me, Aggie...

an I jes wantud ta shayre sum pikchers uv mi cairn frenz wif yous.  Herz sum Calafornya cairns wearun kiltz.
Arnt they sumpthin?
An herz my uther fren the singun cairn.  I think shez singun Jangle Bells.
Happee Nu Yere!

Monday, December 27, 2010

ME Monday...

and the last ME Monday of 2010 - you'd think I'd run out of Mary Engelbreit stuff by now!  Well, the holiday ME stuff is winding down at least.  Although, these mittens could actually just be winter decorations - not just for Christmas.  Hmmmm...  Hope you're staying warm wherever you are.  I have actually been enjoying the unseasonably nippy Florida weather - makes it seem more like the holidays!  For more ME mania, join the fun over at Cherry Chick.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It is often advisable...

to stray from the eternal path of chocolate enlightenment and make some Blonde Brownies for a change.  Seriously.

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ¾ cups packed brown sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 15x10 jelly roll pan.  Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Beat sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until creamy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla; gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until top is golden brown.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  Cut into bars and serve.  Did you know that brownies are thought to have been invented in 1893 at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago as a portable, lunchbox-friendly version of cake?  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas...

and may Santa visit us each and every one!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Shop early or stay home...

This year I took my own advice!  I was at Publix by 7:30 am (the bread in the bakery was still hot!) and back in my car by 8:15.  Didn't even overspend!  I had everything in the house and put away - and cranberry bread in the oven - before nine o'clock.  I don't think I've ever shopped that early or that efficiently the day before a holiday in my entire life.  I putzed around on the computer, returned a couple of client phone calls and took a nap - all before noon.  The vacuum cleaner is sitting in the living room practically shouting my name - but I refuse to respond.  I just finished making fudge, which I haven't made in years, and in a little while I am going to finish baking up the cookie dough I've been hoarding - chocolate chip and snickerdoodles.  Then I'm going to make the ultimate comfort food for dinner: homemade macaroni and cheese with enough butter and cheese to clog even Paula Deen's arteries.  After dinner, we are going to watch Home Alone and snuggle in for a good Christmas Eve's night sleep.  I hope you enjoy your holiday eve as much as I am enjoying mine!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I always thought that pets...

were the easiest people to buy Christmas gifts for.  Apparently the jury is still out on Peter's kitty cube.
Do you think he knows I only paid $3.47 for it at WalMart?
Aggie, on the other hand, seems to be quite enamored of her new toy.
I'm batting .500!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Almost done...

with the last little bit of gift wrapping for Christmas!  And it sure seems like I never leave this desk, doesn't it?  It's the one place in my home where I can actually get a lot accomplished - besides the kitchen.  This is the first year I've actually done any Christmas shopping for quite a long time.  I'd forgotten how much fun it was.  It's not that I spent a lot of money, because I didn't.  I think I had such a good time because everything I have wrapped is either vintage or handmade.  And I really hope my friends like their gifts!  Did you ever just find the perfect gift for someone and it was so perfect in fact that it was just killing you to wait for Christmas to give it to them?  It seems like every year there's at least one thing that I can't wait for the recipient to open.  Years ago, it was the Buck pocket knife from Crowder Brothers Hardware that my dad had had his eye on for some time.  He loved it, just as I knew he would.  Another time it was The Complete Works of William Shakespeare that I got for my boss - whom people could not believe was able to quote from Hamlet.   Another friend collected Nativity sets and I started her off on the Boyd's Bear Nativity much to her surprise and delight.  The last perfect gift I got anyone was about five years ago.  Tim's son-in-law is a serious Florida Gator fan and I got him a pair of Gator Crocs - and it just about killed me until he opened them.  Well, this year I found just the thing for Tom & Al - and I have really wanted to share, but I couldn't until I gave it to them.  Well, now I can go on and on about it!
Isn't this about the cutest vintage gravy boat you have ever seen?  I noticed that they did not have one when I was there for Thanksgiving dinner and that very night I started searching on Etsy for just that very thing.  And I was ecstatic when I found this one - and I only had to deliberate a minute between this adorable gravy boat and the 342 other choices.  It's been sitting on my desk since it arrived in the mail - I've been admiring it - and when they rang up on Monday and said they were coming by, I had to hurry and wrap it in tissue and put it into the waiting gift bag.  I'm so glad they liked it - and now I can gush about it publicly.  Yes, I'm a Christmas gift idiot and I make no apologies for loving to find and give the perfect gift!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fold, stuff, stamp...

and I am finally finished!  The client holiday greetings are in the mail - along with 30 handmade Christmas cards for one of my client's clients and most of my personal Christmas cards.  I still have to make a few more of those...  But I really feel like I've accomplished something the past couple of days.  You know I'm cheap - and this has been the Year of Living Frugally - but client birthday cards and Christmas greetings are the only real advertising I ever do.  Well, that and the free paper distributed in the area - it's only $65 for three months - and I get a lot of calls from that small business card size ad.  Most of my new clients come through referrals from my existing clients - and for that I am very thankful.  I usually make cards - 300 of them! - but this year I needed to tell my clients that I am now working from home, so I did a letter - which was much less labor intensive.  All I had to do was update my mailing labels and print!  Of course, I had to brave WalMart to buy clear labels on which to print the mailing list - so there was some pain associated with the gain.
Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?

Monday, December 20, 2010

ME Monday...

Well, this about sums it up...
For more ME mischief and mayhem, visit Cherry Chick!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Running late...

I mean, wouldn't you think I'd have my Christmas cards made, addressed, stamped and in the mail by now?
I just can't make up mind...
on design or color...
and this one is all wrong!
I'm think I'm getting warmer with this one.
Nope - too pastel for Christmas.
How about the homespun look?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ladies who lunch...

at Perkins?  That would be my friend, Heather, and me.  I met her for a Christmas lunch today at our local Perkins (I love those potato pancakes!) and a catch-up chat.  I haven't seen her for about a month; last time we got together we noshed on Boar's Head chicken breast sandwiches on fresh five-grain italian bread from Publix at my desk.  I'm happy to say that her life is drama-free right now (mine always is!) and we chatted about regular stuff and our plans for the holiday.  She lives with her cousin and it would seem that Jack is in bah-humbug mode - but maybe he'll catch some holiday cheer before next weekend.  Lunch was good.  No, I didn't order the potato pancakes because, well, I can make latkes at home and the Spinach Bacon & Tomato Biscuit Bake had me at hello.  This time the entree actually did live up to the glamorous food-stylist photo on the shiny menu cover - it was like a little quiche baked into a biscuit crust.  Heather had a Honey Mustard Chicken Salad (and it looked good) - but I can't go to that restaurant without ordering a breakfast-y thing.  We vowed to get together again soon and I headed back home to the four-footed fur kids and some Christmas gift-wrapping.  I haven't wrapped a thing yet and Aggie looks so cozy on her pillow on the sofa that I am contemplating taking a nap.  It's a dreary day outside - the kind that God created just for naps!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Not very holiday-ish...

but I just like Lemon Bars for some reason.  Tim hated lemon - except for lemonade - so I never really made anything lemon at all.  Especially not lemon bars - but I have since discovered that I love them.  And the Krusteaz Lemon Bar mix is wonderful - simple and they turn out great every time.  There's another recipe on the side of the box for Lemon Crisps using the mix and some additional ingredients.  I may just have to try those, too.  I know Lemon Bars are not a traditional Christmas cookie, but I thought they'd be a nice addition to the dessert plate for dinner next Saturday - along with the chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies I made today.  I have to make the snickerdoodles yet - and some banana bread for my client, Jonathan.  He loves it - for some reason.  I think his wife isn't a baker - although she is a whiz at whipping up empanadas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tis the season...

for easy one-pot dinners.  Start with a large bag of yellow rice mix (I use the Publix brand) and four cups of boiling water.
Reduce the heat to medium after you add the rice.
Add some peas - even if they do taste a little bit like dirt.
I don't know why, do you?
Slice up some sausage and add to the mix.
Add a can of diced tomatoes, liquid and all.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for about twenty minutes.
That's dinner - one pot, no mess and perfect for eating in front of the computer while you catch up on Jethro Gibbs and the gang at NCIS at cbs.com.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baking Christmas cookies...

for my little Mexican boy!  I know kids are more enamored of how a cookie looks than how it tastes, so I'm making these snowman, Christmas tree and reindeer sugar cookies for Baby.  I know they look a little overbaked, but he likes his cookies crisp.  This kid doesn't like bread; he prefers a cracker.  I asked Ariela if it's the tortilla chip gene, but she's not sure.
I think the tree cookies are the cutest.  Next project: lemon bars!
These are going in the freezer as soon as everything is cool - so Aggie and I won't be tempted.  Right.  Like that will stop me.
Now who could resist feeding cookies to this little guy?