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, June 30, 2011

A better idea...

instead of making and mailing birthday cards to my clients, I took VistaPrint up on their offer of 250 free ($6 for shipping) postcards and ordered birthday postcards.  They're bright, cheery and cheaper to mail - 28 cents as opposed to 44 cents each.  I still have about a hundred of the old cards already made - but since I'm trying to economize in every way I can - the postcards will have to do for the summer and fall birthdays this year.  The back side has my business information as well as room for a handwritten note and the client's address.  I ordered new business cards and address labels from VistaPrint earlier this year when I finally ran out of the old cards.  I also got business card size labels to stick on my client folders - they're blue with sunflowers and I got a lot of nice comments on them.  I try to buy my client folders during the after back-to-school sales and then I just put a label on the front with my information and a business card in the inside slot.  The new labels worked great this tax season (and eliminated having to put an additional card inside the folder) and I will probably do the same next year.  I did manage to find reasonably priced recycled folders on Amazon, so I may not be chasing down the folder sales this fall - at the price of gas!  VistaPrint also has printable client folders with the sunflower design - but I am still crunching the numbers on those, pretty as they may be.  Can you tell I'm planning ahead already?  I may have never been a Girl Scout, but I do like to be prepared!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finally, Chinese delivery...

in our area!  I think Aggie is just as excited as I am - steamed dumplings and fried rice.  Yum!  They're about two blocks away in the same shopping plaza as Publix - the New Garden.  Everything we have had from there is excellent - even the egg rolls, and I am not an egg roll person.  The egg foo yong is light and crispy and the lo mein is full of all kinds of great vegetables.  They even have mei fun - the thin rice noodles!  Aggie likes the bourbon chicken and Peter gives the crab rangoon a hearty Maiou!  Funny what people food animals really like...  One of these days I'm going to try the wonton soup - I keep meaning to order it, but the dumplings always seem to win out.  非常良好的食物

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Again with the bee thing...

I found this cute bee candle holder - and he had to come home with me.  He's a little more cartoon-like than the rest of the bees around here, but something about him caught my eye.  He reminds me every day of the Nine Bees that I read about somewhere a long time ago and made a note of in the front of my Bible.  Here they are:

Be grateful.
Be smart.
Be involved.
Be clean.
Be true.
Be positive.
Be humble.
Be still.
Be prayerful.

I aim to be all of those things.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I have a serious character flaw...

or at least I think it's me: I don't suffer fools gladly.  In fact, given a choice, I don't suffer them at all.  But every now and then, I am blessed - or cursed, depending on how you look at it, to cross paths with a bona fide fool who, for one reason or another, sticks to me like glue.  The partciular fool to whom I refer today is a client who has a small business.  Now, mind you, I have been advising this person on this small business for over two years and I have dutifully and painstakingly explained a) the difference between operating as a corporation and being self-employed; 2. the importance of paying oneself a salary from said corporation while paying the required payroll taxes and filing the necessary payroll tax returns on a quarterly basis; and D. the necessity of filing an annual report with the State of Florida by April 30 of each calendar year (cost: $150) to remain a corporate entity.  I have explained these three elementary concepts on at least six occasions using essentially the same language at each meeting.  The fool made copious notes on various scraps of paper, nodding her understanding all the while.  And so I was quite surprised the other day when I received an email stating the intention of the State of Florida to dissolve said fool's corporation for failure to file an annual report by the April 30 deadline.  Fine for this offense: $400 - plus the original $150 annual fee to reinstate the corporation.  Now - I diligently remind all of my clients to file their annual reports - and I actually file the reports online for my bookkeeping clients.  I called this fool on April 28 and left a detailed message, giving specific instructions about the annual report, its cost and the penalty for failing to file.  My clients are all adults and ought to take responsibility for themselves.  Most do.  A few don't.  So when I saw this fool, she gave me the information for her 2010 tax return and I tried to ascertain how she wanted to file - as self-employed individual or as a corporation - which, given the fact that she went for an entire year without depositing any funds into her business account, and did not pay herself a salary from the corporation - was a no-brainer.  She is technically self-employed, and not a corporation.  She cannot fathom the difference and the tax repercussions of failing to take advantage of her corporate status.  Assuming she had given up on the corporation, I asked why she had not filed her annual report.  "I didn't know," came the reply.  I reminded her that I left a message about the need to file on time.  Her response was to burst into tears and suggest that we write the state a letter asking them to waive the fine because she "didn't know."  At that point, I was ready to come unglued.  I do not know how stupid people survive in this life.  This is a terrible thing to say, but no amount of explanation, education or wishful thinking can make a stupid person smart.  I decided right then to just shut up and let the fool do her own foolish thing.  Right or wrong, I've vowed not to explain anything else, not to answer any more questions and to definitely not give any more advice.  I have a choice not to suffer this fool any more - and I am glad.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I don't get out much...

or so it seems to my friends.  I gave in and met one of them at Applebee's for lunch today.  We went right at eleven when they opened, so it wasn't busy, but the place was soon inundated with the after-church crowd.  I hate to be rushed and our server appeared immediately after we were seated and took our drink order and suggested an appetizer - even before we had a chance to peruse the menu.  "We'd like to look at the menu," I said, politely.  She disappeared and then teleported back with our drinks.  "Appetizer?" she asked, impatiently.  "We haven't decided yet," was the reply.  "We'll let you know."  Honestly!  Has it been that long since I've dined on something besides my own cooking and take-out?  We finally settled on the potato swirls with queso blanco as an appetizer - and they were really good: fresh made potato chips with spicy cheese and salsa.  They were so good we ate them all.  And when we were finished, then we ordered lunch.  I am sure our server wasn't too pleased with our lack of haste.  Not that I really cared.
My dining companion and I both ordered the quesadilla burger - which was pretty good for cooked flesh.  I haven't had a burger in ages and this one was just right.  We managed to eat at a leisurely pace - our server must have gotten the message that it would do her no good to try and rush our meal.  That was my foray into the real world for the month - I'm good for another month or so.
Aggie would be so mad if she knew I ate meat without her!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

This guy is a storyteller extraordinaire...

and the first two books in his new series are no exception.  I'm talking about Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series, among others.  Like Maeve Binchy, he takes a diverse, seemingly unrelated group of characters and weaves their lives together in the most charming way.  Several years ago, he apparently wrote a serialized novel in an Edinburgh newspaper about the tenants of an apartment building at 44 Scotland Street.  I haven't read those books yet, but Corduroy Mansions follows a similar plot with a group of Londoners living in a neighborhood called Pimlico.  The main character, a wine merchant named William French adopts a vegetarian dog with the unlikely name of Freddie de la Hay - it's fun to say, isn't it?  Freddie is a retired airport sniffer who is, accordingly to his previous owner, a Pimlico terrier.  The story follows both William's fellow tenants at Corduroy Mansions as well as a literary agent, Barbara Ragg, who is considering publishing the autobiography of a yeti; an obnoxious member of Parliament named Oedipus Snark who is heartily detested by his own psychoanalyst mum, Berthea; Berthea's brother Terence Moongrove, a single man given to pondering matters of the metaphysical who nearly electrocutes himself when he tries to charge the battery in his Morris by plugging it directly into the wall; and Marcia the caterer who fancies William and believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  In The Dog Who Came in from the Cold, William lends Freddie to MI6 for an important mission and Berthea rescues Terence from those nefarious individuals who would steal his house and his fortune.  These books are fun, fast-paced weekend reading - and I can't wait for the next installment.
Now don't you just want this cute man in his kilt to tell you a story?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Isn't this just...

the most creative thing you have seen in just about forever?  I saw it on Etsy and I forgot to get the name of the artist - but what a great idea.  Of course, I have altogether too much stuff already and no place to put it if I did get up the ambition to make one, but it's nice to admire a photo of a quirky idea, isn't it?  It looks like it might be a bit top-heavy - I'd probably go for a bigger base on the candelabra - but it's charming all the same.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lima beans...

with onions and bacon are the perfect dinner for a rainy day, don't you think?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hackers...

somehow got into my PayPal account using a mobile app - my cell phone is too basic to even have apps - and made four payments of $500 each to someone I do not know from my bank account - thank goodness my debit card knew I didn't have enough money!  Imagine my shock when I saw the email telling me I had made these payments to someone called Vicki Leuthold.  I immediately filed a fraud claim and then called PayPal for assistance - and they politely told me that even though I hadn't authorized these payments, it was still a dispute and they would have to contact the other party to determine if the payments were for a legitimate product or service.  Can you imagine?  Well, I managed not to scream at the poor guy over the phone who was just doing his job, I didn't get much sleep that night and the next morning I called my bank as soon as it opened.  Fortunately, the person I spoke with was both knowledgeable and helpful - she closed my account immediately and transferred my meager balance (good luck getting $2000 out of me, hackers!) to a new account and assured me that my two outstanding checks would be paid from the new account.  All I had to do was come in and sign the papers for the new account.  I am still pretty fizzed about this and I've been changing all of my passwords to something even I have trouble remembering.  And I'm still waiting to hear from PayPal - I wonder if the hackers have responded to their questions about this so-called dispute.  I think not.  Arrrgh!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I guess it's the current state of the economy...

but it's almost as hard to find a UPS drop box as it is to find a USPS mailbox these days!  I was trying to do the right thing - be green - recycle - whatever you want to call it when I set out on my quick lunchtime errands today.  Last week I replaced the color toner cartridges in my new printer for the first time and I diligently packed the empty ones back up in the boxes and affixed the pre-addressed return labels.  I set them aside hoping my nice UPS man would deliver a package and I could just hand them off to him.  He's nice that way.  Well, after a week of waiting and no UPS man, I put them in the car and decided to drop them off at the nearest drop box the next time I ventured out into the world.  I had to take the trash out today and check the mail so I decided to go by the UPS box and deposit my three parcels.  An hour later, having driven by all of the locations where I once believed UPS boxes to be, those three parcels are still in my car.  Can it be that UPS has scaled down on their drop boxes in the same extreme manner as the US Postal Service?  At this point, the only place I have been able to find an actual mailbox is in front of the post office!  And get this: the post office has a FedEx drop box right by its front door - but no box for UPS.  On the bright side, I got rid of my meager bag of trash, had lunch at Arby's and Ray got to go for a nice ride.  Not a total waste of a lunch hour.

Monday, June 20, 2011

While I'm in the mood...

for science fiction and conspiracy theory, I've started watching Season One of Fringe.  It came highly recommended by my friend, Richard, and I've watched three episodes so far.  The Dr. Walter Bishop character, freshly sprung from seventeen years in a mental hospital, is wildly amusing.  He is the quintessential mad scientist.  His son, Peter Bishop, is a charmingly sarcastic naysayer - like a Fox Mulder who isn't quite sure whether or not he believes the truth is out there just yet.  I haven't made my mind up about the rest of the characters yet  - or who can or cannot be trusted.  I guess that's the whole point of the show.  I'm going to keep watching just because I think Walter is a hoot.  I mean, the man can whip up LSD in his Harvard University lab!  I can't wait to see where his little pharmaceutical experiments go...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day...

Daddy & Woodie - 1984
to the man who passed the cat fanatic gene along to me.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of you and smile.  Or laugh out loud.
Thanks for being the best dad I could have ever hoped for.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Just finished watching...

yet another television series that I missed completely when it was on during prime time.  Firefly ran on SciFi several years ago - and although it was cancelled after only fourteen episodes, it was actually not bad.  I used to watch a lot of the shows on SciFi (I love a good conspiracy theory!) when we had DirecTV - thanks to TiVo.  Sometimes I do miss that, but on Netflix it's actually nice to be able to watch a forty minute episode with no commercials while I'm having lunch or dinner.  You can watch a whole season of a series in a couple of weeks that way.  Firefly was okay - not as good as Eureka - but a space western is sort of a new genre for me.  I wish the characters had been better developed - but fourteen episodes is not a lot of time to develop a back story on a relatively large ensemble cast.  Here's the basic plot: Freedom fighter turned space smuggler travels from planet to planet with his band of merry men fighting injustice and creepy bad guys.
Oh, and shiny means cool.  Just in case you want to tune in.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sometimes change is good...

especially when it involves decorating in one way or another.  Isn't this ampersand adorable?  I had a small natural wood ampersand sign years ago - it went with my etc sign - and they were both extremely cute - but on the small side.  This is a much bolder sign - and I really like it.  I pondered where to put it for a couple of days - no, I had no spot in mind when I bought the thing - and when Ariela was here today, she hung it up for me.  I think it's just perfect there.
Sort of like it's saying, "Come in and..."  Whatever.  Sit, talk, eat, drink - be merry.  I like it.  Of course, we had to move the ME Count Your Blessings print.  But I like where that ended up, too.
It's right in front of me now - a reminder.
We all need that sometimes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another good read...

by the Queen of Suspense - Mary Higgins Clark.  She seems like such a lovely and gracious lady; I would love to meet her.  I'd also love to be the amazing and prolific writer that she is!  The very best thing about her books is that you can recommend them to anyone: your neighbor, your maiden aunt, a teenager, a nun.  You get the picture - well written, not too gory (it's just a couple of murders, after all), no bad language and no smut.  My very favorite kind of book.  Okay, there's a little romance once in a while, but extremely PG.  The Shadow of Your Smile is no exception to Mary's rules of good suspense.  It's well-written and fairly fast-paced with a seemingly unrelated group of characters who all eventually tie the loose ends of the story up.  The main characters are likeable enough and the bad guys are bad - with a few red herrings thrown in for good measure.  If you're looking for some light summer reading, you can't go wrong if you pick this one up.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Now, I will admit...

that I used to be a better housekeeper (and more conscientious) - way back when I first had my own home.  Yikes - has it been that long?  Anyway, that place was an obsessive compulsive's dream - stuff, stuff everywhere and not a speck of dust.  There were lovely built-in bookshelves all along one living room wall and I took full advantage of the space - books, bears, plants - you name it.  And I dutifully tidied, dusted, vacuumed and mopped every week without fail.  Then my husband came along and it got harder to keep up.  And then there were the pets - well, you get the picture.  Living alone again was a novelty at first and I got back into the housekeeping mode of my distant youth.  Then I moved to the larger condo and it took me a while to get everything just the way I wanted it and while I was decorating and arranging, tax season came along and housework was at the bottom of my list.  Toward the tail end of tax season, Jonathan had two of his ladies come and clean - and I don't know if it was the language barrier or what, but it just wasn't as clean as I'd hoped.  I have since learned that the Spanish word for vacuum cleaner is aspiradora!  Where am I going with this? you ask.  Well, I was highly motivated to do housework yesterday after I did a load of laundry and finished organizing the pantry (for the tenth time!) and then I sat down for a minute to read my new Home Made Simple book, which I mentioned previously (no, this is not a paid advertisement).  When I finished, I was actually inspired to make a to-do list and this morning, after a few dried apricots for breakfast, I got busy.  I did more laundry, collected up the trash, did some essential paperwork and then I cleaned the bathroom - from top to bottom.  And you know what?  I had such a feeling of accomplishment when I was done; I'm still an OCD housework fanatic at heart.  Then I cleaned the louvered laundry closet doors and vacuumed the hallway and the living room.  Ariela stopped by with a big screwdriver to tighten the new toilet seat for me - isn't she a great friend?  Then she took my trash away and checked my mailbox.  I need to make that girl some banana bread - but I've run out of steam for one day.  Maybe I'll read a few chapters and I'll be ready to tackle the kitchen.
We'll see.

Monday, June 13, 2011

ME Monday...

and it's our sponsor's last ME Monday over at Cherry Chick!  Vickie has gone back to work in the corporate world and she's a busy lady.  Thanks, Vickie, for encouraging me to unearth my hidden Mary Engelbreit treasures.  I've gained a new appreciate for them - and Mary's wonderful artwork.  I never did take my lunch anywhere in this cute lunchbox, but I still love it.
And yes, it's good to be queen!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's a heat wave...

and I'm staying cool inside reading my Richard Castle books.  Actually, their style is very James Patterson, but who knows - they might be a collaboration between Patterson, Michael Connelly and Stephen Cannell (RIP) who are the fictional Castle's writing buddies.  That being said, they're quite good - almost as good as Castle itself.  It's transparent who the books' characters are - even though Castle (or whoever) has marginally changed their names.  Nice, light summer reading - murder, mayhem and New York cops on the case - with a bumbling journalist along for the ride, who just happens as it turns out, to moonlight as a writer of bodice-ripper romances.  I didn't see that coming.  Heat Wave is better than Naked Heat - and they should be read in order for continuity's sake.  Personally, I prefer the television series - but that's just me.  The next installment in the Nikki Heat series comes out in December - but my cheap self is waiting for the paperback.

Monday, June 06, 2011

ME Monday...

and another hidden Mary Engelbreit treasure that I'd forgotten all about.  This is a cookie press which will turn shortbread cookie dough into perfect ME fried-egg flowers.  Not that I ever got to work successfully, but that is the general idea.  They advertised it as being good.  At any rate, it makes a great paperweight.  Cute, huh?  Join the ME fun over at Cherry Chick for more cute and possibly marginally functional ME stuff.