The Accountant's Garden

Scheduled non-accounting weeks: April 10-14, 2017 June 12-16, 2017 July 24-28, 2017

Monday, January 31, 2011

Last week's chore schedule worked out pretty well. We did have to run a load of laundry on Thursday or Friday for John, but that's what happens when you have babies... they make themselves messy most of the time. Today, we are back to laundry. The girls have the day off from school for semester break, so we spend one hour working on the chores and one hour doing fun things: reading, playing, exercising, eating.

We need to visit the grocery store, too. I was hoping to have them help me with a meal plan. I was feeling rather lazy, due to being overwhelmed, so I scrimped on making soup and bread yesterday. I feel like we should do that today. Helen and I made smoothies this morning, and that was a different breakfast treat for us.

Smoothies are really easy, and a great way to get your kids their servings of fruit and maybe some vegetables. Basically, our ingredients were:

1 part fruit
1 part juice
1 part yogurt

Traditional smoothies use 2 parts yogurt, but that makes it harder for little ones to drink it, I think.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cookie Day: Chocolate Heart Cookies

I found this recipe in LHJ which I rarely, if ever, read. I was down on the couch, though, last weekend and this looked good. The girls cut out the shapes and decorated with icing pens. We only made half the recipe, which is as follows:

  • 2.25 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and sugar. Add dry ingredients. Flatten dough into a disk (I use two pieces of wax paper) and chill for 2 hours. Roll out 1/8 inch and cut out. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees on greased cookie sheet.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Year-end Payroll

Every year, an old client of mine calls up and asks me to in to come in and complete his 1099s and W-2s. Now, most companies, big and small, use a payroll service. This particular client, for whatever reason, refuses to do so. This was fine when there were only five of us (and I was a contractor); alas, he continues to use the same Excel worksheet that I created seven (!) years ago for completing payroll.

Today, off I go and I feel like I am in a time warp. They all stay the same there; it's just me that has changed with kids and clients and activities.

I did mean for this to be an accounting post. If you need to issue 1099s to contract labor and/or income received, you have until January 31st to do so. Your employees will be looking for their W-2s by this date also. One cushion you have is that you are supposed to issue the forms to employees and payees by the 31st, but you are allowed a couple weeks before submitting the paperwork to the SSA. Which comes is handy, when people call you claiming that there is a mistake on their issued document.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chores and Children.

Children and chores (and allowance). If you have little ones, especially more than one, it is best to give them the opportunity to help you. This has been made abundantly clear to me with my recent surgery and downtime. Kids actually like to help and it helps the feel good about themselves. It's also a great way to interact with them without letting the house fall apart.

Here's what my four- and five-year-old are able to accomplish:
  • Make their beds and help with the other beds.
  • Fold the laundry and put it away.
  • Feed the cats (super important when you are faced with screaming cats and screaming baby).
  • Pick up their toys.
  • Set the table & clear the table.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Time for a new rotation of chores, exercise, and meals. The four-day pattern was nice, but it was getting too tedious. Plus, I wasn't too happy about the chores on weekends. I'll have to start very slowly on all of this--in fact, I'll only be walking as part of this week's exercise--but I think it's a better combination.

  • Laundry
  • Grocery store
  • BBC (strength & cardio)
  • Pasta
  • Change and wash linens
  • The Dailey Method
  • Fish & rice
  • Yard work
  • Long run/walk
  • Meat & potatoes
  • Clean house
  • BBC (strength & cardio)
  • Pasta
  • Accounting & admin
  • Hike
  • Eat out
  • Bake cookies or treats with the girls
  • Brick workout (swim/bike/run)
  • Grocery store
  • Japanese-style meals
  • Soup or stew
  • Bake bread

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Recovery from hernia repair has been tougher than I imagined. It's my second day since and I'm still feeling pretty weak. The incision site is sore and my belly is still inflated (I guess) from the laproscopic element of the surgery. I'm sure the effects are more noticeable to me than anyone else, and even more apparent because I'm pretty thin.

I do want to note, though, some neat stats prior to surgery (and this is a testament to baby boot camp fitness levels). My resting BP was 104/66 and HR was 58. Pulse-ox was 100% saturation.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wow, this week has gone by quickly! It's already Thursday and time for this week's big event... hernia repair. It's a small surgery, but a big deal when you have three little ones running around. I'm counting on E to help a lot. For the next week or so no strenuous exercise, and no heavy lifting or housework, probably. I'm sure I'll feel up to cooking in a few days, but for now, I'll let Rudy take care of me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I was way too optimistic yesterday about what I could get done. I didn't do any of the things on my chore list, but I did have a nice bike ride, went miniature golfing with the family, and made (and ate) lots of great food.

For today, I am going to do a little of everything so that something gets done. I have two days before minor surgery, and then I'm off for at least four days. That being said, I would like the laundry done, the bills paid, the garden tended, and the house immaculate. (Insert crazy laughter here)

Go to the store. Spend 15-minute periods working on paper, laundry, cleaning, and yard work.

Run and strength train with Baby Boot Camp; I've got to boost those endorphins somehow.

Some sort of pasta... probably a couple of lasagnas, so that we'll have one to eat later on.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Today's Food: Dried Cuttlefish

That's right, I said cuttlefish. Rudy loves this as a snack, and since we were hungry when we hit the 99 Ranch Market, this is what he picked out.  Apparently, he isn't the only one with a taste for dried, salted cephalopod.

It's a holiday! This changes everything for me on a Monday. It means no school for the kids and no work for the husband, but chores still need to happen, especially since I'll be out of commission after Thursday afternoon.

Pay the bills and finish writing thank you cards. Do one load of laundry. Visit the grocery store.

My chart says "high-impact" but my shins are saying no way. Plus, I have someone to watch the baby while I ride the bicycle one last time. Yay!

Japanese: we'll probably go out for sushi for lunch, then try to make one of the dishes from the kids' cookbook. Pictures later... perhaps on the kids' blog.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Basic Muffins
Muffins are an easy breakfast item to make, the kids can help, and they make terrific snacks for later on. You can add on to basic muffins to make a variety of different flavors; these are made with mandarin oranges and spiced with cinnamon and ginger (Helen's choices). Other options are blueberry-lemon, apple-cinnamon, and cranberry-orange. Or, you can place a teaspoon of preserves in the middle of the batter as you place it in the cups.

The basic recipe is as follows:
Mix together 2 cups of flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Separately, whisk together 1 egg, 1/4 cup of oil, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 cup of milk (use 3/4 cup if your fruit of choice is high in water content). Fold in 1 cup of your fruit and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of spices. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until golden brown) at 400 degrees.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The four-day rotation is a bit tiring. I'm not sure if I'm trying to get too much done, or what, but I'm just exhausted by the end of the day. And I don't get everything on my to-do list done. Perhaps I need to be more realistic about how much time I really have to spend on chores and what I can get done in that time. Yesterday was supposed to be "project day" but I spent absolutely no time on my project of getting John's room in order, unless you count ordering wall stickers to decorate.

I wasn't sitting around doing nothing, though. I played games with the girls, reviewed tax forms with my grandfather, played with the baby, baked cookies with Helen, and cut out snowflakes with Elizabeth. All worthwhile use of my time, and that was just the afternoon.

  • Work in the yards. Mostly, weeds need to be pulled in front and bulbs should be dug up in the back. 
  • Ride the bicycle--last chance for a couple of weeks!
  • Meat & potatoes for dinner. We're going out for lunch to Le Cheval, which should be perfectly spectacular and impossible to follow up.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's laundry day, which isn't very interesting in itself. However, while waiting for the clothes to wash and dry, my goal is to accomplish several administrative tasks. The most interesting of these is figuring out how to report my grandfather's sharecrop income from the orchard that he leased out this year. It's an interesting problem, as the income goes to him, then to the lessee.

I went to Baby Boot Camp this morning and boy, did it feel good. It's just such a great combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and mama camaraderie. I can't sing it's praises enough... it's that good.

Don't laugh, but I borrowed a kid's cookbook from the library for simple Japanese dishes. It was a little less intimidating than my full grown-up size cookbook. We didn't decide on anything from it, though, so I am planning the usual make-your-own sushi dinner with shrimp, tamago, and assorted veggies.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's cleaning day. I've created a three-tiered cleaning plan to move me through the priority chores, then move on to the more time-consuming and less-important tasks. I've also decided to implement the 15-minute rule, so that I don't get so caught up in cleaning (does anyone else have this problem?) and end up feeling like I neglected other parts of my life.

I'm pretty sore after my class at The Dailey Method, but I have a strange desire to go to boot camp. Since I also ran yesterday, I'm going to resist that urge and just do a long walk this morning.

I'll be making Chili Con Carne with vegetarian ground round. This works out best, as I have a leftover can of beans from the cassoulet and some pre-spiced protein crumbled (bought by DH). Since the "meat" part already has spices, the actual making of the chili is pretty easy: brown the meat with some chopped garlic, add 1 can of diced tomatoes, bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Add the beans and simmer long enough for them to heat up. Serve with grated Cheddar cheese and cornbread.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Work: Part I
It's gardening day, if the weather cooperates. Actually, since showers are predicted later today, it's the perfect time for a necessary gardening chore: fertilizing. A light rain helps the nutrients dissolve into the soil, better reaching the plants. I'm also going to tackle weeds, both in back and in front. I have a new weeder and another pair of gloves, so therefore, no excuses.
Oops! It looks like some old bulbs are pushing through into the new lawn area. I'll add "get-the-shovel-and-dig-up-bulbs" to my list of things to do in the yard. But where to put them?

Work: Part II
The weather is NOT cooperating and the "chance of rain" has turned into a steady light rain. So, the weeds will just have to wait. I did get a few dug up and some fertilizer spread.

Exercise: Part I
I'll take advantage of that time between Kindergarten drop-off and preschool drop-off to take a walk. And, I'm trying out the Dailey Method later this morning. More on that after I'm done with my "Basics" class.

Exercise: Part II
I have mixed feelings about my first Dailey Method class. It was definitely not easy, but it was a totally different type of exercise for me. I was anticipating that it would be more Yoga-based and it was not. There were lots of isometric, static exercises and small movements within those holds. It was interesting. John didn't do well in the child care. We'll try again, maybe with his sisters along to take care of him.

Today's theme is "Meat & Potatoes" so I'll be roasting some potatoes and root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, and beets), then serving that along with a Quorn Gruyère Chik'n Cutlet.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm back to project day again. Since I only got about halfway through my to-do list in John's room, I'll just keep working on that. Spaghetti and salad for dinner and a walk this morning, and my day is planned out. Very simple.

I signed up for the Dailey Method and I'm really excited about it. I love Baby Boot Camp, but sometimes I find the repetitions to numerous or the exercises too hard on my joints. I do love exercising outdoors, though, so I know I'll be visiting them again soon.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

"Sunday drivers." Where does this term come from? We speculated in the car this morning, that it perhaps referred to people who only drove once a week, to and from church. On the way home, I asserted that perhaps people drive poorly on Sunday because they feel more like they will be pardoned for this bad behavior. Or is it because we should be slower and in less of a rush, as Sunday is meant to be a day of rest? says that the term originated between 1915 and 1920, referring to one who drove infrequently and over-cautiously. And that's about all I can find on the subject before my children interject some need or desire of theirs.

Back to Day 1 of the four-day-rotation. I'm going to try this for a month and see how the household is doing then.
  • Day 1: Japanese food; run & strength train; laundry & administrative tasks. This is also the best day to go to the grocery store.
  • Day 2: Pasta; walk/bike/swim & yoga; household project.
  • Day 3: Meat & potatoes; run & strength train; gardening.
  • Day 4: Soup or stew; walk/bike/swim & yoga; cleaning.
When any of these falls on a weekend, especially a Sunday, it's best to go easier rather than harder. For one, it gives you somewhat of a break. For me, additionally, I actually find it harder to get chores or workouts in when my husband is home from work. Just work with what you you've got.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Everyday Cassoulet
(adapted from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook)

Step 1: Open wine and set aside 1/2 cup for cooking.
Step 1a: Check wine for quality.
Step 2: Assemble these ingredients...
(onion, carrots, garlic, sausage, beans, red wine, brown sugar, and thyme)
Step 3: Heat oven to 375 F.
Step 4: Mix ingredients together in ungreased, 3-quart casserole.

Results: Everyone, even the kids ate it. I can't say the kids liked it, but they ate it. I thought it was quite good. I think Rudy thought it was a bit sweet.

Day 4: Cleaning. Bike and/or swim. Soup or Stew.

It's a weekend, so I suggest taking the chores down a notch. I'm going to stick with what I consider Level 1 cleaning:
  • Kitchen: wipe down counters and appliance fronts/tops.
  • Bathrooms: speed sanitize and empty the trash.
  • Common areas: pick up clutter and replace throws and couch cushions (you may not need to do this as much if you don't have small children).
  • Vacuum problem areas.
  • Take out the trash and recycling.
I'm planning on a longer bike ride this morning, however, I can't take the baby because he's too small, so I need to wait for DH to watch him. Eventually, I'd like to be able to ride down to the swim center, swim for 30+ minutes and then ride for 30+ minutes, but it's freezing right now! I'll just check out the ride to the pool and back, then pedal through town.

Dinner tonight will be my first try at making the Cassoulet. It would be nice to have some fresh-baked bread to go with it, but maybe that's asking too much. I'll try to take pictures this time.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Day 3: Gardening. Walking. Meat & Potatoes.

Yesterday's project went okay. We had a baby power nap in the first part of the day and a play date in the second part of the day. Not everything got done, but some of the more important aspects were finished. I patched nail holes, rearranged the furniture, and cleared the drawers/closet space that John will be able to get into soon. I still need to rehang the artwork and clean wall scuffs, but maybe we'll have more success with that today.

I'm meeting friends for a walk this morning, putting off running until my leg feels better. I should have plenty of time to spend outside today, working on the front walks, the patio and the back yard.

Part 2: Results

Exercise: I had a nice 45-minute walk with the baby and friends. I followed up with 45 minutes of Yoga practice at home in the evening. I think I will start walking the kids to school again, but we'll have to start in small increments, so that E can walk.

Gardening: While the baby napped, I cleaned up the leaves off the driveway and front walks, then trimmed the hydrangeas and cut down that awful Ficus tree. I cleaned up the leaves on the patio, too, plus added shredded redwood to the planter full of iris that the cat continues to dig in.

Food: Sour cream mashed potatoes, gardein™ chick'n scallopini, and broccoli. Very easy and everyone liked it. Boil the potatoes, drain, then mash up with butter and sour cream; add green onions if you like; pan fry the veggie chicken cutlets; and steam the broccoli.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Day 2 of the 4-day rotation: that means that it's project day! My project room today is John's room. Interestingly, he is taking a very long nap this morning, which has stunted the progress, but at least we're thinking in the right direction. My task list for John's room is to tackle the closet and drawers, patch the walls, clean up any scuff marks, and re-hang the artwork. I may move the furniture, but we'll just see how it goes.

For Day 2 of exercise, it is a low-impact day. I went walking for 30 minutes with Helen and John in the stroller and I'll do some Yoga later on. (Low-impact means no running. I love running, but, seriously, it's starting to hurt. I think there is a definite difference in "Running for 20-year-olds" and "Running for 35-year-olds" and I need to keep that in mind during workouts.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I'm rethinking some of my daily routines, as there seems so much to do and it just isn't getting done. This ends up being a feeling of failure, or at least incompleteness. I like the 4-day rotation that I'm using for meals. Today, we're back to Japanese; a good day to go grocery shopping, since you end up with the freshest ingredients. The avocados were green, though, and the fish was not high quality, so I ended up with tempura shrimp.

Anyhow, shopping was completed for (1) Japanese meal, (2) Stuffed shells, (3) Chicken scallopini with potatoes and broccoli, and (4) the "Everyday Cassoulet" from my Betty Crocker cookbook.

So, 4-day rotation for everything: how would that work out?
Day 1: laundry, grocery shopping
Day 2: gardening
Day 3: cleaning
Day 4: bill paying and other administrative chores

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Lentil Soup!

Tonight is soup or stew night, according to my new 4-night meal plan. The rotation is Japanese-Pasta/Italian-Meat & Potatoes-Soup or Stew. The ingredients are simple and easy: onion, celery, carrots (chopped up in the bag*), lentils, barley or brown rice, olive oil and bay leaves. Optional add-ins are garlic, boullion, and sausage (veggie sausage for me). Saute the veggies, add 6-8 cups of water and your seasonings, add the lentils and grain, and bring to a boil. Simmer for a long time (about an hour). Add sausage near serving time.

* You should be wondering why these vegetables are in this freezer bag. This is my pre-prepared soup starter. I buy a relatively large amount of onions, celery and carrots at once, then employ my food processor to chop them all up. It saves time.

Did I say I would post at the end of the day? Well, that was an unrealistic expectation! The end of the day is a whirlwind of activity around here, which often ends with my computer in the hands of my husband (even though he has his own).

Anyhow, results from yesterday: All got done except (1) gardening and (2) administrative hours. I blame this on the fact that the Costco trip took up three hours. However, exercise was done with an indoor workout (Jackie Warner is my current favorite), Christmas items were cleaned up and packed away as our project, laundry was done and rooms were cleaned.

Today, much the same as yesterday:
  1. Doctor appointment
  2. Cleaning
  3. Gardening/yard work
  4. Exercise
  5. Administration
  6. Project: organizing
  7. Laundry

Monday, January 03, 2011

It's the first Monday of the new year! Hooray! Sort of...

So it's time to put into practice this new idea of simplicity. Unfortunately, the true test comes tomorrow when the kids actually return to school (my school district decided on an extra Monday off for the holiday break), but we should be able to run this through today anyhow.

We're going to break today roughly into 1 hour segments. They won't start exactly on the hour or be even uninterrupted hours, because we just can't keep that sort of continuity in this household. Not with a baby and two little girls. Here's what I want to spend my hours on:
  1. Errands
  2. Cleaning
  3. Gardening/yard work
  4. Exercise
  5. Administrating (this means filing, paying bills, backing up, planning)
  6. Project: organizing
  7. Laundry
All this will be interspersed with cooking, reading, feeding, and taking care of the other members of the household. I expect that today's errand - a trip to Costco - will take more than one hour. Results will be posted at the end of the day.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

It's the second Sunday after Christmas, which is not the usual progression in the Christian calendar. We were reminded today in services to take this extra time to remember the gift of the Messiah to us - and also - that this gift is given freely, through God's grace, and not something that we earn.

This message reminded me that so much of what we have, what we count as our blessings, are gifts from God. As much as we want to think that we are in charge and that we earn our way, it's just not true. Some people work very hard and have nothing and others work much less and have way too much. And it's not about that anymore. It's about working with what you are given to learn the lessons that God wants you to learn.

He draws us closer, as one drawing water from a well.

I'm still thinking about the new year resolutions. How are the gifts given to me to be used? Do my resolutions fulfill those goals? I think that being present in the process meets that description, as does simplifying details and spending more time reading. Running races is a competitive process, so should be removed. Keeping up the house and yard... well, that falls somewhere in the middle.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

First Day of 2011

A new year starts today, bright and shiny, without any blemishes or missteps. Thinking about resolutions, I had milling around several ideas for a couple of weeks. They involved complex strategies and plans, lists and systems, and all those neurotic details that I love to consume myself with. Then I started feeling overwhelmed and returning to my avid dislike of the "New Year's Resolutions."

We were having lunch yesterday - a simple lunch of rice, tamago, sashimi and edamame - and it dawned on me that I did not need complex lists and strategies to fulfill one of my desires for the new year. I just needed to add simplicity.

That being said, here are my resolutions for 2011:
  • Incorporate a whole foods diet for the family. This means buying fewer processed and packaged goods and eating foods in their natural state.
  • Spend more time reading, by myself and with the children.
  • Find a regular babysitter, for all three children, and have regular, designated "Date Nights" with my husband.
  • Follow through projects for myself, without getting wrapped up in the details or getting worried about the results, like: the half marathon or triathlons, dinner parties, and social events.
  • Just be present in the process, instead of focusing on the end results.