About Me

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


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, December 31, 2011

The baking frenzy...

began early this morning (well, early for a Saturday) when I embarked on making four dozen - count them: forty-eight - cupcakes for a New Year's Eve Party.  Two dozen yellow and two dozen red velvet, with either chocolate, cream cheese or coconut frosting.  First, I discovered that I only have one standard-size cupcake pan; I thought I had two.  Turns out I have two jumbo muffin tins - what's up with that?  So I ended up baking the cupcakes a dozen at a time.  Not a big deal, because I got to try out my latest gadget!
A handy-dandy batter dispenser from the wonderful people at Chicago Metallic - the same people who make the greatest baking pans in the world.  Or at least I think so.  This thing is amazing!  Hold it over the cupcake liner and squeeze the handle; when it's full enough to suit you, let go of the handle and move on to the next liner.  No drips, no mess - no baked-on gook to scrub off the cupcake pan.  I suppose you could also use it for pancake batter if you are of the pancake-making persuasion.
To keep the cupcakes from getting smashed and the frosting from being mussed, I dropped each cupcake into a small plastic cup and then into a cute holiday plastic bag and twist-tied it closed.  I decided to forgo the raffia bows and tags reading red velvet - blah, blah, blah - no one would have cared that I went to all that trouble anyway.  I've learned over the years that there is such a thing as overkill when it comes to taking stuff to a holiday party - people really only care how what you brought tastes.  I re-purposed a pizza box into two flat trays by covering the cardboard with Santa paper.  Cute - and I don't have to worry about getting my tray or basket back.
Another lesson learned the hard way...
Unfortunately, I ran out of the snappy little snowflake bags and had to resort to using some supplies I had on hand.  The flowers and pumpkins are festive - but just the wrong season.  We'll just have to see if anybody notices.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Blatant product endorsement warning...

Have you tried the new Paul Newman frozen pizza?  This is the Margherita thin & crispy with whole wheat crust - to die for!  Fifteen minutes in the oven and crispy perfection.  The box even says: In crust, we trust.  Gotta love the humor - and the fact that all profits go to charity.  I don't usually buy much of the Paul Newman brand stuff because it's pricey, but I do indulge when it's on sale, especially buy one, get one free pizza.  We have a spinach & feta pie in the freezer for another I-don't-feel-like-cooking night.  It's a good thing.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stay-cation book one...

is the next book in Alexander McCall Smith's Corduroy Mansions series: A Conspiracy of Friends.  It is the continuing story of Pimlico terrier Freddie de la Hay and his owner - along with the other quirky residents of Corduroy Mansions and the surrounding area.  I'm about a third of the way through it and once again, McCall Smith does not disappoint.
It makes me want to live in a place like that!
Aggie wasn't happy with the dinner offering tonight: oven roasted green beans with a little olive oil, kosher salt and Mrs. Dash.  Still a little crunchy and very tasty.  She ate some, but she wasn't happy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How could I forget...

to write about where the bakers rack went? Remember when I bought that lovely client chair for in front of my desk - and it was way too big for the space?  The bakers rack had to go - so my client Jonathan, who always liked it, snapped it right up and gave it a new home at his house. 
And sweet man that he is, Ariela's husband Marco volunteered to put up the new shelves that were replacing the in-the-way baker's rack.
When you know how to do something, it doesn't take long.  Marco, after his morning trip to the dentist, gave up part of his day off to help me out.  I really appreciate him - and his handyman skills!
Aggie supervised the work and when he was finished,
it got her cairn seal of approval.
And here is the finished project: a place for part of my May basket collection and a much clearer walkway from the front door into the apartment.  Added bonus: the big client chair can stay!  Thanks again, Marco, for all of your help with yet another lovely improvement to my cozy, little home!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My very first mystery...

was this sweet little book from the Weekly Reader Book Club called The Case of the Cat's Meow.  I got it on February 22, 1966 - I know because my mother wrote the date inside along with my name.  I guess I had a tendency to lose things back then at the ripe old age of seven.  Lord knows I didn't lend my books out even then - and I still don't.  The only time a book leaves my hands is when I intend to let it go forever.  Isn't that terrible?  I guess I imagine the borrower turning down a page or breaking the spine and well, that would not be good.  But back to my first mystery story - it's about a missing cat and the little boys who investigate her disappearance.  It's not very suspenseful and it has a happy ending, but for a seven-year-old, it was a terrifically spell-binding story and I've hung on to it for forty-six years.  And I've never lent it out so it's still in pretty good condition for an antique.  Like me.
What was your first memorable book as a child?

Monday, December 26, 2011

In keeping with holiday tradition...

I watched a movie on Christmas Eve.  Yes, I know - I was going to watch the misadventures of Ralphie in A Christmas Story - which I practically know by heart - but instead I opted to watch what is sure to become a new classic: Cowboys & Aliens.  Go ahead and laugh, but it was actually pretty good.  It was like Rio Grande meets War of the Worlds meets Independence Day - sort of.  Amazingly, Daniel Craig can do Old West gunslinger as well as he does Bond, James Bond.  Harrison Ford excels at hard-shelled crochety old man with a soft, squishy inside.  Mining the desert for gold, the aliens are ugly and vicious and pretty tough to kill; they fly around in these oddball contraptions that allow them to snatch unwitting townsfolk from the ground in one fall swoop.  Outlaw Jake Lonergan (Craig) manages to escape with no memory of his abduction other than a woman named Alice and a strange restraint on his left arm - which turns out to be the aliens' undoing.  Ella (Olivia Wilde) is looking for help fighting the aliens to she can "find her people."  After Colonel Dollarhyde's (Ford) ne'er-do-well son is snatched by the invading aliens, the outlaw, townspeople and the rancher join forces to rescue their loved ones.  Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption) does an admirable job playing the preacher who patches Jake up a bit when he first comes to town.  He has a few memorable lines, like "God doesn't care who you were, son - He cares who you are now."  Oddly enough, this screen adaptation of a story that started out as a comic book (I guess they call them graphic novels now) is a tale not just of love and loss, but also sacrifice and redemption.  I'd watch it again.
Maybe next Christmas.  Tradition, after all.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

And now it is Christmas again...

and I saved this lovely Christmas surprise box from my friend, Erin, to open today.  My mail lady brought it to me on the sixteenth and I've been very patient.  Hmmm - let's see what's inside...
My goodness - there's two great cookbooks, pens, postcards, a notepad, chocolate, a bee bookmark; I can't wait to start reading!  It's not that I cook that much - but I do enjoy reading cookbooks.  And mentally preparing a meal.  And look - treats for Aggie & Peter.  They are sitting here checking everything out.  Thank you, Erin, for such a lovely holiday care package - you're so thoughtful!  And Merry Christmas to everyone in blogland!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A surprise visit from Mrs. Santa...

this afternoon made my day!  One of my clients called and said that she and her husband wanted to stop by so Nick could drop something off at the door for me.  I said I'd be here and when there was a knock on the door, it was Chrissie!  I haven't seen her in ages - I've spoken with her on the phone and keep up with her on FaceBook, but it's been several years since I've actually seen her smiling face.  Nick is the designated family courier - and I love him to death - but it was so nice to see Chrissie for a few minutes today.  She's so sweet - she brought me one of those amazing soy candles she introduced me to last year.  The scent is Creme Brulee and I can't wait to burn it.  Tomorrow - while Aggie & I have pumpkin pie, I think.  Sounds like a plan!  Thank you so much, Chrissie and Nick - and a very Merry Christmas to you!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Still suffering...

from too much stuff, or at least my desk is.  I've been getting ready for tax season little by little, from making up client folders to purging the paper files and scanning the stuff I might need to reference somewhere along the line.  After having declared war on paper, the mess on and around my desk is the final frontier - and I realized that my poor stereo has just gotten shoved to the back and I don't use it as much as I could.  The iPod was a gift from my husband several years ago; I love it, it has 1,700 songs on it and I used it all the the time - with my headphones.  But that's not a great idea with clients knocking at the door.  Earlier this year I happened upon an inexpensive speaker system and was thrilled to find that my older model iPod worked with just fine with it.  Unfortunately, my iPod took up residence on the speaker dock and fell into disuse.  But then - my Christmas spirit was resurrected this year and with it the desire to listen to Christmas music.  This morning I realized that I had a better spot for my little music machine...
and it has moved into the living room next to my little television and DVD player.  Perfect fit!  And Annie Lennox is happily singing Winter Wonderland as I write.  And now I'm looking around to see if I can just find a place for the stack of old story books that was in that spot...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wishing for winter weather...

never makes it happen - but sometimes making soup and pretending is just as good.  I'll admit I took a shortcut and used this soup mix, but the result was probably better than if I'd tried to make cheddar broccoli soup from scratch.  Instead of eight cups of water, I used four cups of chicken broth and four cups of water.  Once the base liquid boils, you whisk in the soup mix and just ten short minutes later, you have soup.  And it is so good!
Why, I'd almost think it was cold outside...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

As good as new...

after having his left front paw re-attached, this is Marmalade.  He is the guardian of the client area - as well as the silent member of the welcome committee.  He was an anniversary gift many years ago and I am quite fond of him.  He lost his collar and name tag in the move somehow, but I think he's pretty sporty without it.  I was pondering a Christmas ribbon the other day when I noticed that his left front paw had been snapped off and was lying right next to his other foot.  He does stand in a high-traffic area - but it's still a mystery as to how he was injured.  Time to break out the super glue, I decided - and now he's back to his former self.  Now I'm trying to find a safer place for him; I'd hate for him to suffer a worse fate than a broken paw.
Any ideas?

You might have noticed that my photographs are back to normal - some idiot changed the camera setting from automatic to something I don't even understand!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Imagination in overdrive...

is not a good thing - especially when it comes to things that creep, crawl or bite.  I went up to the management office to renew my lease today for another two years.  The new office staff is very nice; the old property manager was a sort of sissy guy who jumped back like a little girl when approached by a small terrier.  Can you imagine?  Anyhow, everything is computerized now and while Andy was entering my information in the computer, my nosy self saw a page entitled Bed BugsBed bugs!  The seed for a major freak-out had been planted.  Now my rational self knows that we have no bed bugs, fleas or pests of any sort in our apartment, but still...  I signed all the papers and as I was leaving, Andy said, "Oh, this is yours," and handed me a legal-size sheet of paper with the heading: BED BUGS - A Guide for Rental Housing Residents.  Yikes!  Maybe it's an epidemic I don't know about - I laughed and told him it would make a good blog post.  If anyone can make the topic of bed bugs amusing, it's me.  Then I got home and read the thing.  Apparently, bed bugs don't discriminate and can largely be attributed to a surge in international travel.  Fancy hotels have them!  They don't transmit disease, but they're nasty little biters.  The guide went on to provide information on identifying and locating the filthy beasts as well as how to prevent an alien encounter when traveling.  Just like when a vampire knocks at your door, don't invite a bed bug in.  Don't pick up furniture left at the curb - who does that anyway?  It's also not advisable to wait for these flesh-eating zombies to leave on their own - call a professional.  I see a movie here: Bed Bug Busters, starring Dan Ackroyd and David Spade.  Rated PG-13 for extreme violence and over-the-top innuendo from the short, smarmy guy.  Of course, none of this stopped me from thoroughly vacuuming the armchair I got from a pristine, spotlessly clean upscale home in Parrish a couple of months ago, even though there was no evidence of wear, let alone an insect infestation of any kind.  I checked the sofa and chair, the bed and the dog and cat.  No bugs, no fleas - nothing.  I threw the biohazard notice away and set about my business.
And then, while getting ready to go to a Christmas dinner party, I noticed a welt on my arm.  I had apparently been bitten or stung by something - assailant unknown.  It itched like crazy, so I cleaned it with an aloe wipe ("Wipe! Wipe!"), put some cortisone cream on the area, slapped a band-aid on top and off to dinner I went.  Not a good thing - not a good thing at all.  Band-aids and my ghost-like sensitive skin do not mix - and by the time I got home, the raised irritation from the supposedly latex-free bandage was worse than the bite.  Fortunately, the itching had subsided, but the sting site was plenty ugly.  Time to break out the benadryl, more cortisone cream - and something to take my mind off imagining that a lone bed bug had somehow sneaked in here to bite me on the arm in broad daylight.
I'll let you know how that goes...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Since I'm not in the holiday mood today...

I've been making my tax season preparation list - and checking it twice.  Last year I happened upon these recycled folders that cost only marginally more than the folders I was buying at Target or WalMart during the after school sales.  I like that these are made from recycled materials and are more substantial than the generic school folders.  And yes, I found them on Amazon, and with free shipping they're only about twenty cents each.  I add a pretty sunflower business card sticker to the front and voila! - personalized client tax folders.  And the colors are cheerful - always a plus!  It doesn't take much to amuse me - or my clients, apparently.  Next project: client information forms and processing checklists.  And no, I don't have a list of lists.  But I've thought about making one.  Once or twice.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's a lazy Sunday and...

we are spending the afternoon on the sofa with Mr. Monk.  Lee Goldberg's latest Monk mystery, Mr. Monk on the Couch, just came out in paperback and those kind people at Amazon with their delightfully free shipping delivered it right to our door along with a Christmas present we ordered for someone.  It's been a while since my Monk-a-thon and it's time to catch up.  Mr. Monk continues to wage war on crime, dirt and germ - not necessarily in that order - his agoraphobic brother, Ambrose, has taken up with a tattooed biker chick and Natalie is determined to solve a mysterious natural death that Mr. Monk has no interest in.  This should be good.  We'll let you know...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Just one of those days...

"Deep Down" is a song on Pam Tillis' album All of this Love.
I know exactly what she means.

Friday, December 16, 2011

No mixer involved...

and the brownies came out perfectly.
So much for culinary technology!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My assembly line brain...

and methodical nature pays off occasionally.
Every year I make nearly three hundred of the same Christmas card.
I admit that I've given in to using address labels in my arthritic old age,
but I did decorate the envelopes.
And as an afterthought, I used a metallic silver pen to embellish the cheap,
but cute, envelopes a little.
I even made an attempt to resurrect my dormant calligraphy skills.  Not my best work, but given my lack of inspiration for a really great card this year - they are in the mail!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My morning adventure...

to the bank and WalMart wasn't so bad today - maybe people are finished with their holiday shopping.  I hated to go, but I needed some gold & silver metallic pens for my card project - mine had all dried up since the last time I dug them out of the drawer.  While I was there, I got two nice, fresh everything bagels for brunch.  They smell heavenly!  And don't you love how the lid for the cream cheese container makes a perfect little plate?
I know - I'm thrilled by the little things.
Aggie is making-the-cute-face to ensure that she gets a bite.  Or two.
Peter is even interested in seeing what I've got here.  Of course, he'll just make that open-mouth, I-think-it-stinks face that cats make when they don't like something.  I can't imagine him wanting a bite of bagel.
I don't think he's Jewish, but you never know.