Tax Day Is In The Books

Happily, tax time went smoothly this year. I keep up with recording income on an ongoing basis but I cannot say the same for expenses. Receipts are kept in an inbox and the rush is on once a year to be sure I have them all recorded. I have wanted to use a software program to help with this but have not found a solution yet. This year I wanted to use Everlance and I paid for a year's subscription but I found that unfortunately they do not support CapitalOne credit cards and I have two. It is a great program though for those who do not use CapitalOne. I was still subscribed to QuickBooks Self-Employed but there are always issues, many of the records do not load from credit card and bank accounts and then I am afraid to trust the results. The main reason I want to use software is so I do not have to hold onto ten years worth of paper - I can photograph receipts and attach them to each transaction. I did photograph all my receipts and transactions were created but it happened again this year, so much was missing that I feel I cannot trust it. I decided to go back to my trusty method of keeping everything in a spreadsheet but this time I downloaded transactions for the various sources. This was successful for all except the TJX MasterCard, which only keeps records online for six months. I went through my stack and entered the cash receipts, categorized and sorted everything and I was good to go. I actually completed everything Sunday, the day before it was due. What a great feeling!

As with everything, I am always trying to improve things going forward. Just thinking about it now, I could take photos of my receipts and save them in a tax folder on my computer each year, and make a backup copy on the cloud. That would eliminate the need to save the paper for so many years, although the amount of paper is nothing next to having to save estate sale package information.

Before the pandemic I enlisted the help of a professional organizer through The Container Store. Rather than buying supplies there and having to keep going back and forth to buy more or return things that did not work, when I learned about the service I thought it was perfect. I was assigned Debby who is a master at knowing the product offerings at The Container Store and if by chance something did not work, she would bring it back to the store for me. She helped me organize the estate sale supplies in the garage and paperwork in the basement for the business and my kitchen and bedroom attic space for personal. She also brought my vision of a basement closet / photo studio to life. She came up with an inventive way of hanging up our estate sale street signs and there is a place for all of the other supplies in the garage. When I have a pop-up sale, I just pull the curtain which I had made in fabric to match our table toppers and this area is concealed. I love my wall of hanging mesh containers in the attic space, it holds lots of toiletries and other miscellaneous items.

Debby and I got about 80% through organizing the basement paperwork when the pandemic hit but it is on my list of summer projects to finish the job. The older years' estate sale paperwork is in waterproof bins organized by date and the bins are on those nice metal rolling racks. They were designed to fit in my extra space in the furnace room. I have our entire store history from 2006 to 2014 and our entire estate sale history from 2008 to present so it is time to purge. I think I would be safe eliminating the store paperwork at this point since it has been eight years. Hiring Debby and having set appointments to organize forced me to work on it, I learned so much (lazy Susans are amazing in kitchen cabinets!) and I can definitely take the ball and run with it from here. When it is hot outside it will be nice and cool in the basement. Once I tried devoting a "power hour" to organizing and was surprised at how much I could accomplish in a short time. Maybe two power hours per week will get the job done by the end of summer. This is especially important because my basement does flood if we get a ton of rain in a short period of time. I want to be sure everything perishable is up off the floor. Luckily if it does flood it is clean clear water and not sewer water!

Speaking of summer, I have been wondering for quite some time when the weather is going to warm up! I literally feel like every morning when I go to walk Margot and check the temperature to see what kind of coat I should wear, the temperature has been 37 degrees. This does not seem normal to me to have winter weather for so long. I hate hot weather but if we could get up to the 50s or 60s it would be nice! Except for one day, I have had to wear my parka to walk Margot every day since I have been back from Arizona.

I took Kuochun to the cardiologist Friday and his blood pressure is still low, only 104 for the upper reading seated and 108 for the upper reading standing up. I read online that low blood pressure can cause dizziness so that definitely explains things. The cardiologist said he actually needs salt right now to support his blood pressure. He is really thin but luckily his appetite has been really good.  Kuochun's best friend Roy came up from Chinatown to bring him an entire case of strawberry-flavored Ensure. I thought Mother would hate the idea but she actually liked it, at this time Kuochun needs more calories. He has been eating everything I give him which lately has been Seattle Sutton meals for dinner and various sandwiches for lunch. He was mostly asking for Jimmy John's and then he remembered that he liked McAllister's Deli. Jimmy John's is very close by at Mount Prospect Plaza and McAllister's is in an outlot at the northwest corner of Randhurst. I brought him a half club sandwich / half chicken tortilla soup and he just loved it. However I did not feel the soup was warm so I had to warm it up in the microwave for him. I am trying to stick to my plan so I did not get anything for myself, but also because most of the offerings are high-calorie. However I did get a Little John from Jimmy John's on one trip and for only 250 calories the ham with no tomato and easy mayo was a lot of bang for the buck.

Kuochun wanted to go to Fresh Thyme to get some fixings to make his own club sandwich and I chose sourdough bread from the bakery as well as Cajun turkey, tavern ham, Vermont cheddar, green leaf lettuce and tomatoes off the vine. We already had Hellman's Mayonnaise at home. He actually made a couple of sandwiches himself for lunch one day and really enjoyed them. When I first met Kuochun he never ate sandwiches but a great sandwich is one of my very favorite things - I think they have grown on him. I wish it were closer but I just love the sandwiches at Great Harvest Bread Company in Evanston on Central St, they have a killer ham sandwich with country white bread, green leaf lettuce and shredded carrots. Simple but so good! I love everything they have there - when I worked in downtown Evanston I used to go there a lot. They are still there thirty years later which really says something! My go-tos are the scones, giant snickerdoodles and whatever bread strikes my fancy but everything is awesome. I highly recommend it to anyone who is in the area, or it is worth the trip if you are not! I have another broken jewelry case to have fixed and Evanston Glass is also on Central so maybe I will take a trip over there sometime soon.

Another meal idea was bagels and lox, Kuochun has had a hankering for it every since I told him I read an article about a dozen hidden gems at Costco and one of them was the smoked salmon variety pack. The author of the article said she loves it so much she literally eats it with a bagel and cream cheese every day. We picked it up on our Costco trip but agreed to go get "real" bagels and cream cheese. There used to be a great bagel place in Wheeling but it is long gone. The only other place I know of fairly close to us is Greenwood Deli - New York Bagels & Bialy on Dempster in Niles on the Park Ridge border. When Mother worked at Talbots Outlet in Park Ridge, she would bring goodies for her co-workers from there once in a while. To me a great sesame bagel with chive cream cheese is a real treat. We got sesame and plain bagels, chive and regular cream cheese and an assortment of desserts like a big black and white cookie, a blonde brownie, a 7-layer bar and a fruit crumble bar. I had not been there in years and remember the rugelach being very dry but it seems that they have new ownership and these cookies and bars were really good. Kuochun enjoyed everything as well. Kuochun and my former husband have a few random things in common. Both of their fathers were chemistry teachers and they both love blue crab claws and bagels and lox. What are the chances of that?

I posted the above turquoise lot this past week and it was very popular - the pendant necklace with leather cording and the two earrings inside of it, the matching ring, the turquoise necklace on the right, the Zuni dangle earrings, the kokopelli pin and the amazing Delbert Gordon cuff bracelet all sold. In addition, I reposted the vintage watch and the sterling beaded necklace and they both sold. I could have sold that turquoise pendant necklace a dozen times - people were so enamored with the fact that both side of the cording came off making it very versatile. There are still amazing items remaining and they will go to the online store soon.

Both Mother and Kuochun have doctor's appointments next week - Mother is preparing to have knee replacement surgery and has an update visit Monday to make sure she will be in good enough health to have the surgery. Kuochun is set to visit the urologist early Wednesday morning - he is hoping to have the catheter removed which was the original plan but I think they are going to have him wear it two weeks longer. I hope he will be able to have it removed, it will really help speed up his recovery. Poor guy, he definitely feels limited wearing the catheter.

I have lots of estate sale work to do, we are extending our two sales through Tuesday this time but I hope to be able to get back to jewelry selling later in the week. I was on a roll, items were selling well and I would like to keep up the momentum. I am also excited to create the online sales on with the Native American jewelry collection, starting with the vintage estate pieces.

Mother's Day is less than a month away and we will be offering visits by appointment to see our fabulous collections of vintage costume and sterling silver jewelry with a few newer pieces mixed in. If your loved one is not in town, we offer complimentary shipping. Gift wrap service is also available. Later this week the by appointment schedule will be added to the website and will be announced on Facebook and Instagram as soon as it is ready.