Marian Rose Lucas is a fine artist, a bookkeeper, and proprietor of Magnolia Management. She’s here to help you figure out how to follow your muse, and make money, too.

Show Notes

Recorded Monday, August 5th, 2013, and this is episode number 24. Follow Ray, Kandace, Dan, or Needmore on Twitter. Please rate our show on iTunes!

The Interview

Ray:
Hi, Marian.
Marian:
Hi.
How are you?
Just fine. How are you?
I’m good. I’m good. Let’s start at the beginning. Where are you from?
I was born in Portland, Oregon, raised in Georgia.
Then, you came back to Portland area, I guess not really Portland. How long were you in Georgia?
Until I was 19, so that’s where I went to high school.
Was that your formative years?
Oh, yes.
What part of Georgia?
North Georgia.
You don’t really live in Portland. Where do you actually live?
Sheridan which is outside McMinnville.
What brought you to Sheridan specifically?
We had some friends that bought a farm down there, and we fell in love with it, and then their next door neighbor began renting out their house, and so we moved.
That is awesome. How many animals share your home with you?
Let’s see, five are allowed in the house.
That’s just the limit of the ones in the house.
Then, we have chickens and ducks that only come into the house on accident.
They’re shooed right back out. You have a lot of animals, huh?
Um-hmm. 
How did that start? Did you inherit some when you moved in?
We inherited one cat. We had two dogs and two cats when we moved, and then a pregnant cat came with the house.
Whoa, hello.
Unbeknownst to us. That was fun because there were kittens.
What do you do out there? I follow you on Instagram, so I see all sorts of crazy things about projects you have going on. Why don’t you tell me about some of your projects?
Let’s see we have a big garden. That takes up a lot of our time. We have a greenhouse attached to that and a chicken coop and duck run, so tending to those guys takes up a good amount of our time. 
Duck run, is that just like a penned in area?
Yeah, and it’s part of the chicken coop, so the chickens and ducks all live together. That’s where we spend most of our time.
Besides simply living in a house and having pets and animals, I definitely have known you for a while for your artwork. Why don’t you describe your art for me? Where does that come from?
I make paper collages, portraits often, but also just of whatever, houses, landscapes. I guess I started doing that before moving to Portland, and then just ran with it ever since I’ve been here and it’s been fun. 
How do you get in the mood to do that? Is there some kind of music you play or is there a certain area you have set up for that? 
I’ve just started making art again after not wanting to make anything for quite a while. Just this year I started doing some more projects. A lot of times it’s just looking at the world around me and thinking that it would be fun to break it down into two-dimensional piece of paper.
Right, right. Do you have a favorite jam or there a type of music you listen to to get in that mood?
I mostly listen to country music. That’s all the time, so not necessarily, I don’t think I have a specific music I listen to when I’m working on art.
Somehow I don’t know if I followed you on Rdio for a while or something, but I saw that you had been listening to Chet Atkins, old Chet Atkins, and I got that album and I adore it. I listen to that album all the time. My kids know that album now. 
I actually do like to work doing both bookkeeping and any kind of work that I’m doing I like Chet Atkins a lot because it’s instrumental mostly.
Right, yeah, exactly. You don’t get distracted.
I have to sing along with everything. I do sing the guitar parts, but it’s less distracting.
Because it’s not words, I imagine part of your brain is at least focused on work.
Right.
What art inspires you? Are there other stuff that you are really into?
Yeah, I really like folk art. Probably one of my favorite artists is Howard Finster. He’s probably most well known for some album covers that he did for the Talking Heads and REM.
Right, right. 
You can visit his Paradise Gardens. It was pretty close to where I grew up, and so we would go on field trips there.
It’s just filled with all sorts of weird…
It’s so crazy.
Little…
He was just crazy. There’s a church that he built out of all found materials laying around that he’s painted with scripture and the ramblings of a mad man. He was a preacher and a banjo player. Before he died, when we would go on field trips or visit with our family he was always there playing banjo on the front porch.
Oh my God, that’s so cool.
Yeah, it was really cool. His art I really love. It’s very simple, that clean lines, two-dimensional work. I really like.
I feel like maybe REM shot a video or two there also, was maybe where I’ve seen…
I wouldn’t be surprised.
I think I’ve seen footage of it, or maybe it was just some random, just walking and they were like, there’s little windmills everywhere.
It’s really cool. If you’re ever in the south…
This is what I imagine your house to be like is what I imagine I would see there.
It’s getting there. 
Things are different in the country. You get a little more creative. In the city, you just get fined for that or something.

scroll06
scroll03

The aluminum cans start adding up and making art out of them only seems reasonable. 
There you go. You seem to come into Portland periodically. Are there some things that you really look forward to when you come into Portland, besides seeing our smiling faces?
Yeah, it’s most you. 
Are there restaurants or things you just really like to do when you come here?
Yeah, definitely. We don’t eat out much when we’re home because the closest thing to us is Dairy Queen. I thought when we moved out there that we would eat Dairy Queen an awful lot, but it turns out that the charm wears off fairly quickly.
I guess, yeah. Even the seasonal specials get old.
I know. We still do go to Dairy Queen, but most of our meals are at home. I eat most of my meals out when I’m here, so that is probably my favorite thing, try new restaurants.
Is there a restaurant you’ve tried lately that you’re really into?
I really like the Bollwood Cedar up on Alberta.
Love that place.
Really good, went there last time I was here.
The interior of that place sounds a lot like what you’re talking about. It’s so decorated.
Really eclectic. I like that place and I like Grain and Gristle a lot.
I don’t think I’ve ever been there yet.
It’s on Prescott and 15th.
That’s why. I never get up there. 
Yeah, that’s the neighborhood I stay in when I’m here, the Alberta and northeast is where I go mostly.
Got you.
Then, Ole Frijole, love that place.
OK, yeah, yeah. Favorite place to stop for coffee?
I like Bare Bones Cafe in southeast. The reason for that is that they…I’ve encountered a lot lately where coffee shops don’t have whipped cream anymore.
What?
It was like four or five coffee shops in Portland that I’ve gone to. I like a mocha in the afternoon with whipped cream all over it.
Sure, sure. 
You know? No whipped cream, they just don’t have it, so that’s one of the places that they put the whipped cream on top of it, and then chocolate shaking…the just go all out and let you indulge your sweet tooth. I think a lot of the coffee shops around here want you to taste the coffee and they don’t want you to have…
They’re hardcore. 
Yeah, they’re hardcore which is cool. I like coffee, but I also like whipped cream.
If you’re having a mocha that’s the place to go, Bare Bones Cafe. 
It’s on Belmont and 20ish. They have good breakfast sandwiches and stuff. Food, not pastries. 
Pastries.
Also, of course, always Stumptown. I like Restreto too. 
You are not only an artist and lover of the country, but also a bookkeeper. How did that come about? 
I’ve been doing bookkeeping pretty much since I started working. My first job was with an attorney and I was her office manager and I did her books, and then it just grew from there. Yeah, so for a long time,  and I’ve been working for myself for about five or six years. 
I always just refer to you by your name, but what’s the name of your business?
Magnolia Management.
OK, got you. What kind of clients do you usually work with?
All small businesses, mostly in Portland, a lot of creative companies, artists, and musicians, and retail stores. It’s all over the board. All small businesses. 
When you say mostly Portland, are there some in Sheridan or you just mean like…?
I have a couple in Beaverton and North Plains, in between here and Sheridan. I don’t have any Sheridan clients. Sheridan doesn’t have a lot of businesses.
Not a big start-up community.
No. 
How do find clients? Is it mostly word of mouth?
Yeah, it’s been all word of mouth, which is really nice because it means you end up working with people that you like which makes work fun.
You save on advertising too. 
Yeah, I’ve never had to do any advertising which has been nice. 
Skip get the Yellow Pages ad.
No Yellow Page ad for Magnolia Management. I don’t take many new clients at this point, kind of at capacity. It’s great because all my clients are friends of friends or related somehow.  
As they say, that’s a good problem to have. 
Yeah. 
Maybe be a little general here because I don’t want you to give away any industry secrets because you’re in confidence of a lot of people. In general, is there some good advice you would give to businesses? Imagine NeedMore, before we worked with you, it’s a small literally mom and pop shop or something. What is a good step towards getting a bookkeeper? Because a lot of times someone the other day just on Twitter was like, “Does anyone know how to use Quickbooks?” I was like, “No, but I know how to find a good bookkeeper who does that for me.” Besides finding a bookkeeper, what advice would you give small businesses in Portland. 
There are good programs in Portland. Portland is a great place to start a business. There’s lots of aid out there for you, so Mercy Corp Northwest offers business classes, the basics of opening and starting a business. They teach classes on how to calculate your break even point analysis and really good stuff for people who are trying to start a business. Lewis and Clark also has program, all of the colleges around here often for the business majors have little programs available to the public to help them start businesses. I would also just say figure out what you’re good at and what you’re not good at and hire somebody to do that stuff that you’re not good at because it’s worth it to not deal with that headache.

Portland is a great place to start a business. There’s lots of aid out there for you … figure out what you’re good at and what you’re not good at and hire somebody to do that stuff that you’re not good at because it’s worth it to not deal with that headache.

That is good advice. I read that early on. I think that helped us make the decisions to retain professional help in a lot of areas where at first it was like just roll up my sleeves and then Quickbooks is like…Even if I enjoyed it, which I do not, the amount time it would take me to do something I think a good advice for small businesses is just calculate your hourly rate, just figure out what you’re worth to your business and just be honest. Can someone do that for less or faster, whatever? Maybe you should be spending your time going out and pounding the pavement or finding new clients or something that’s going to bring more value.
Yeah, definitely. 
I think it’s hard to make that calculation. Maybe you have to step outside of yourself and your ego and think about…the point is to further the business and not just feel like you’re…I think Americans, especially, have trouble growing past the small business because they have this wild west, do it yourself, I’ll handle everything. 
Right. You might be able to handle everything, but it doesn’t mean that you should. I get a lot when I was taking a lot of new clients, a lot of times the work that would come to me would be cleaning up prior year messes within the accounting programs that they were using. You pay for it eventually if you…
Right, right. Yeah, totally. That’s kind of like how I didn’t pay my taxes for years and years and years, and then there was a day of reckoning, basically, when I started a business.
They like you to pay those.
I should probably resolve that, although I have to say the IRS, they were really nice on the phone.
They’re surprisingly friendly.
I felt like I was talking to my grandma. I thought she was going to send me cookies at the end of the…
I’ve had really positive…you sometimes have to wait on hold for an ungodly amount of time, but once you actually speak with somebody they tend to be pretty nice. They just want you to call. If you owe the government a lot of money, they just want you to call them and acknowledge it and try to do something about it. 
They were surprisingly flexible so much so that I was like, “Why the heck did I wait so long? This is silly.” 
Yeah, it’s true. 
On the plus side, I didn’t have credit card debt, just IRS debt. Let’s bring it back to the farm. How do you find the balance between living pretty far out from the city, and then having your clients and your stuff here? How do you manage that? Is that two hours of driving every day?
No. It actually works out really well, so I do most of my work from home, and then every other week I drive into Portland and meet with clients and pick up documents and receipts and bank statements, and then bring all of that home, compile the work, and then come back to meet or drop things off. I come in and I spend about three days here of every other week, and then other time I’m home. I sure love that.
Absolutely. I notice you’re using a Mac.
Yes.
Good for you.
Thank you.
You must obviously somehow use Quickbooks.
I have Parallels on my computer, so I all of my tax software is Windows. I’m not aware of any company yet making it for Mac, at least on a large enough scale. The Quickbooks for Mac is actually very good now. It used to be terrible, but now it’s pretty good, so I have both. Whatever one my client wants to use that’s the one that I use. 
I was always curious about that because we used to struggle with that a lot. Obviously, Quickbooks for Mac was unusable back then and we’re talking several years ago before we were working together. How long have you had a Mac now because you were on a PC for the longest time.
I was on my PC for a long time. 
Has it been maybe a year on the Mac?
I think maybe a year, maybe a little more, but about a year.
Do you still have issues or growing pains? Has that all kind of smoother out over time?
It smoothed out. The only complaint I have about running both systems is that in Windows the shortcuts don’t always work. It’s very frustrating, so you have move your finger and click which is so hard.
That’s is frustrating, though.
Yeah, it’s just so hard. 
I can totally relate to that. I’ll go to any lengths to not have to pick up my mouse even if it’s like literally half an inch in front of the keyboard, it just seems like…that would drive me crazy. 
That’s a little frustrating. Because of that I think…and most of my clients are creative, so they tend to have Macs. We’re moving over to mostly using Mac now that it has all of the features that it didn’t used to have. That’s nice. I keep all of my files on the Mac side of things. I just log into Windows when I have to. All the tax preparation that I do is Windows. It looks like a MS-DOS. They just don’t make nice programs for accountants. If anyone wants to make a nice program for an accountant, I would buy it. 
Get in touch. When I switched to a Mac, I was a PC person for a long time, for probably different reasons, but I switched to Mac it was a while back. There’s a little bit cognitive effort and getting used to the way things work differently. I think that’s probably gotten easier, but at the same time for a bookkeeper to switch also seems to come with additional challenges, especially because you’re doing a lot of off site work from we’ll call it the farm. I just enjoy calling and imagining that you live on a farm like the one in Wizard of Oz with a tornado shelter even though we never get tornadoes here. 
We hide underground sometimes.
Yeah, just for fun, certain parties. Are there certain tools or services that you use to collaborate with the people like Dropbox for instance?
Yup, I use Dropbox a lot, Google Drive has been actually really helpful. We’ve been able to host a Quickbooks file on Google Drive and both be able to access that which is very…you couldn’t that last year. There’re some bugs and it’s still, but it works pretty well as long as, you can’t both in the file at the same time.
It’s kind of like file sharing, king of like Dropbox.
Yeah, yeah, actually.
Interesting. 
That’s been good. We do a lot of Google docs just because everybody can access them and share them. Dropbox, but that’s pretty much it. The biggest problem I have is if I send someone a Quickbooks file and they forget to restore it and use an old version. That’s probably the biggest bug in my system in figuring out a better way. It would be nice to share files better. Quickbooks makes it hard for you. They don’t want you to share. They want you to pay extra, like a lot more money to do that.
Is this like a thing where you’re supposed to have an accounting copy license or something like that? 
A multi-user license. They get spendier. Even then, they don’t really work that well. It works for people who are all in one office together, but not for people working remotely. There’s Quickbooks online, but it’s the ugliest program and least user friendly. I think that it’ll improve as years go by because more people are going to want it and they’ll make it better, but right now it’s pretty crappy. 
I remember at one business, though, set up that multi-user Quickbooks. I have to say, they still had all kind of problems with that.
Quickbooks sucks. 
It does.
It’s the only option out there and it’s the industry standard, so your tax preparer can import that information straight into their tax software, that’s what they want to see.
Yeah, certainly. Tell me about making apple cider.
Oooh, that was fun. We did that last year. 
You posted a lot of photos of that one.
That was super fun. A friend of ours in Portland bought a very small apple press. It’s not that small. We made a lot of apple cider from it. We had a couple of cider parties where people would come and it’s kind of laborious. You wouldn’t want to be alone doing this because you’d be sore and tired and grumpy, but with a big group of people it was really fun. We have some apples on our property, our neighbors have apples, and so everybody just gathered up all the apples that we could find and stopped on the side of the road and picked more, just had oodles of apples. You grind them all up, and then you put them all into the press all ground up, and then you press it down, and the cider comes out. It was fun. Then, we had a lot of fresh cider, and then bottled it and made hard cider as well. 
Really? 
Yeah.
Nice. Do you have to take all the seeds out or peel them or all that kind of stuff?
No, you grind them up whole, and the tart apples were my favorite. Our landlord actually has two apple trees way up the hill that are cider apples and they’re very small, kind of like crab apples, a little bigger than crab apples, but real tart like they’re not real good to just take a bite out of them and eat them. Those made my favorite cider. You grind them up whole, and when you press them none of that stuff comes out. It’s just the juice comes out. It was fun to get all of the big bottles and adding the yeast and watching the science experiment  happen in your dining room.
How do you make it into hard cider?
You put it in the big, god they have a name. I don’t know what they are, but they’re you know these big jugs. You put them into those. We did a handful of different kinds. You can add yeast, so we added champagne yeast to one. You can get it at a brewing supply store, and then there’s ale yeast, or there’s natural yeast that exists in the apples. We did three different kinds. We did the champagne yeast, the ale yeast, and then just no added yeast. The no added yeast took a lot longer to get to the right…so you have this little, I don’t what any of the stuff is called. 
I can see your hands. Listeners will be wondering.
They’ll be confused. You had a little thing that sticks on the top of the bottle and the air bubbles escapes through it. You’d know when it’s ready for bottling when the air bubbles are at a certain distance apart. It bubbles really fast for a while, and then when it slows down to…
It’s like putting popcorn in the microwave.
Yeah, exactly. You wait. You bottle it up. You wait. 
Did you have a favorite yeast?
I think I liked the champagne yeast one the best. 
The flavors were pretty distinct in that? think
I think the difference, and I’m not sure if it was the yeast or if it was the apples because that was the one that had the little cider apples, so that batch was my favorite. All of it was pretty good, but I thought that batch was as good as anything that I would’ve bought in the store. 
Is there any way you can tell how strong it is without just drinking a lot and seeing how drunk you get kind of a thing?
I think that there is, but we just went the second route. 
Hands-on experiment. Have you don’t anything else like that? Have you tried making wine or anything…?
No, we haven’t. We’re going to try to do beer. Oh man, you start looking at people that make beer it’s a wild world out there. 
People get pretty serious about that.
Super serious, but we’re going to give it a shot. Wine would be, I don’t know, I don’t know anything about it. Cider is I felt really simple. It was a good place to start trying to do making your own alcohol because it was just really simple. You just put it in a bottle and wait.
You have all these apples. When year Kennis made, we have a pear tree in our year, and she made something in a jar. Pear jam, I don’t know. That was really nice. We don’t really keep up on the pear tree, so it hasn’t borne the fruit like it did that one year. I think we just got lucky that year. You have to really get on it. You have to get up there and take care of that tree. 
Pruning.
Prune it. It’s probably a bad sign that’s it’s half covered in moss. 
That’s probably not good. 
It’s all question of priorities. This is before we had kids.
Right.
Now we have kids, the tree’s going to have to wait or maybe we’ll hire someone to come in and take care of it because I can’t even…
There you go. 
This might’ve been the year when it turned out good, but a friend came over and he was really drunk and he climbed the whole tree and pruned it. He was up there for like two hours in the dark.
You should invite him over again.
I know I should.
Yeah, just call him up and see what he’s doing.
Yeah, I probably should. I haven’t talked to lately. He lives farther away from here than you. He lives in like Yachats. We don’t see each other a lot, unfortunately. He comes over and is like, “Hey, let’s go out back and drink and you can climb the tree and prune it. That’d be awesome.”
Just have a six-pack and the pruning shears. 
Why’s that ladder there? No reason, I just thought you might want to play on the ladder by the tree. 
With these pruning shears.
Right. Cool, thanks for talking to me. Where can people follow you online? You’d like to tell people about your Twitter, Instagram, or anything like that? 
Let’s see I do Instagram, and I’m Marian Rose Lucas, and then my business website is magnoliamgmt.com.
Cool. Thanks, Marian.
Thank you.