Archive | December, 2013

Montage Monday: A Christmas Week in a Peek

31 Dec

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”
Peg Bracken
I certainly hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! In between the stress and bliss, the heartache and the heartwarming aspects of life, we need to give thanks for the blessings we do have. I’d like to thank the many friends and family members, old and new, (some pretty darn old, you know who you are) for being that special spark in my life.

A week in a peek.


Sunday Sermon and Special Friendships

30 Dec

“Kid’s don’t care how many sermons you preach to them. The only sermon they’ll hear is how you live your life in front of them.”
― Bruce Van Horn
Today at Mass, we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family. Father shared his thoughts about the importance of family, even cracking a few jokes about, “It’s nice when relatives come to visit, and even nicer when they leave.” I’ll admit that I wasn’t really paying much attention to his words, but rather, I was looking around at the families gathered to worship on a Sunday morning. There was a baptism of a baby boy during mass. The entire congregation was able to be part of the celebration, welcoming a child into the fold. I think that faith, love, tradition, and teaching our children by example are the reasons families stay strong. It was a lovely service.

Another belief I have is that family doesn’t always mean just blood relatives. A family can be the people in your life who are special to you, who you care about, and those who care about you. (HA! While I was writing this blog, I received a phone call from both my sons back in Chicago, just minutes apart. Must be a maternal ESP thing.) Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve become very close to many friends who have graced my path. They truly have become part of my family, part of my life. I am very lucky and very blessed.

The Holy Family. Every family is special in its own way.

Sunday has always been a special day for me, and today started out with church, visiting with a special friend, and a leisurely brunch at our mutual “happy place,” Snug on the Square. Later, calls from my boys, calls to friends and family, and mindless television viewing with a cup of tea. That was my Sunday. Sounds pretty good!

My good friend Chris and I had a lovely brunch at Snug. See, it even says “bee happy, ” right behind us. Orders are orders.

Saturday: Sun and Fun on the Square

29 Dec

“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”
― Helen Keller
It was a beautiful sunny Saturday. No way was I going to sit in the house all day. Our writing group wasn’t meeting, but I decided to head over to the Square anyway. I had a leisurely breakfast at Sweet Spot Bakery then meandered over to Snug on the Square for a tall hot chocolate. My buddy Daniel always gives me a big ol’ smile and a hug when I come in. Snug and a hug go hand-in-hand.

I sat outside, positioned my chair directly into the sun and absorbed every ray of sunshine and vitamin D possible. It felt invigorating. I bumped into Jeremiah Hammer and chatted a couple minutes. Then, my neighbors, Sheila and Bob Johnson, strolled by. We ended up talking and sipping our drinks for over an hour. That’s what downtown McKinney is all about.

On my way back to my car, I popped into Art on the Veranda. It’s an adorable gift and art shop that features local artists and crafter’s work, and has the most creative gifts. They also offer a wide variety of classes. I just so happened to peek in during a Zentangle class. If you aren’t familiar with this fabulous doodling art form, make sure you check it out. Anyone can learn and create some nifty projects. (Did I just date myself and say, “nifty?”)

Zentangle instructor/artist, Angie Vangalis, leads a class at Art on the Veranda.

I was so pumped by the sun, fun and friends on the Square, that when I got home, I strapped on my tennis shoes and went for a long walk. More sunshine! Life is good!

The perfect end to a perfect day!

Friday: Fun Photo

28 Dec

Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.
Ansel Adams
I was warming up my hot chocolate in the microwave the other day, and as is my custom, I punched in a random time and walked away. Of course, the darn thing over heated and boiled all over the place. I do that every time. There is a fine line between warm enough and…oops! I do that with oatmeal too. Anyway, when I grabbed the messy drippy cup, the spill had formed an interesting design on the glass below. Naturally, I ran and got my iPhone to take a photo. Happy little accident, or a mysterious message? What do you think?


I’ll take it as a sign!


Theme Song Thursday: Revenge

27 Dec

The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.
Marcus Aurelius
Sometimes a quote or a song can express volumes of feelings. From ancient Roman words to heartbreaking country songs, a little goes a long way. Here’s an oldie but a goody!

But then again, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping!


Aileene was most helpful at the Macy’s after Christmas sale. Did I mention it was 6:30 am? I managed to get in some great shopping and still get to Zumba class by 8:30.

And much better in a few new outfits, some bling, and a lovely lunch with friends! Life is good!

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: There Is Only One Religion

26 Dec

There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.
My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.
Dalai Lama
It’s Christmas Day, a day for family, friends, laughter and joy. Not everyone is so lucky or blessed. I happen to be one of the lucky ones. My sons called me today, as did many of my dear friends. My friend Karen and her husband invited me to their home for dinner so I wouldn’t be alone for Christmas the first time in my life. I baked and dropped off some more cookies to take to Fire Stations 2 and 8 on my way. After a lovely dinner, I stopped to visit my sweet friend, Della. We shared a cup of tea, cookies and conversation. What could have been a sad and lonely day, turned out to be a delightful day, all due to the kindness, love and sharing of time with others. Yes, I am truly blessed. Feliz Navidad!

Why, what did you have for breakfast today, Toni? Well, chocolate chip cookie dough, of course!

Firefighter Craig Ferguson over at Station 8.

Firefighter Brent Jones at Station 2. Don’t we have the nicest, most handsome firefighters? And they like cookies, too!

Yes, there is only one religion! When you share kindness, you receive kindness in return.


Tuesday Tips and Chocolate Chips: When the Going gets Tough

24 Dec

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters to what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
When the going gets tough, the tough bake cookies.
Yes, I’ve been baking my Christmas cookies. Yesterday, I took the first batch over to McKinney Fire Station 5, as I have since we moved here in ’04. Firefighter Dave Paranteau answered the door and welcomed me. I asked if I could see their Christmas tree, and was delighted when I saw that all the ornaments I had painted over the years were prominently displayed.


Dave and I ended up chatting for about half an hour. Turns out he is a graphic designer and we exchanged art, painting, and creative stories. That is, until the alarm sounded and a call came in. Dave said he’d try and make it to a McKinney creative Community gathering sometime.

Well, that was yesterday. Today was a tough day. It’s Christmas Eve and my mind and spirit are not in a very happy place. I went to my 8:30 Zumba class in the morning and wiggled and jiggled out a lot of frustration. Then, there was an even tougher afternoon. When I finished feeling sorry for myself, I took out the huge bowls of cookie dough and started baking cookies. Thus, when the going gets tough…


The holidays can be wonderful or they can be difficult, but one thing is always true. If you hold Christmas in your heart, love in your soul, and you know there are people out there that care about you, everything will be OK. Share your love AND share your chocolate chip cookies. Merry Christmas!

Montage Monday: Happy Holidays

24 Dec

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.
Washington Irving
Christmas is just a heart beat away. The frantic shopping and wrapping and hustle and bustle probably has most people in a panic. Not me! I’m enjoying the leisurely baking of cookies, some now, some later. I have no hustle in my bustle. It was a good joyous week spent with good friends and good thoughts.



Sentimental Sunday: Christmas Traditions

23 Dec

There are so many Christmas traditions that connect us to our past. Many of my family traditions have been discarded or omitted this year, literally. While cleaning and purging the garage this summer, I gave away my nativity set and several bins of decorations, lights and ornaments. They just didn’t seem important anymore. Those traditions would never be the same. My family would never be the same.

But, one tradition I will never give up is my Christmas cookie baking marathon. I may not bake the hundreds and hundreds of cookies as in previous years, but I’ll be baking. Another sentimental tradition is taking a big batch of cookies to my local fire station. I’ve been doing this for over a dozen years and I don’t plan on stopping now.

So, after Mass, I stopped to take a picture of the nativity scene out on the lawn outside of church. If I didn’t have my own, I could look at the photo. That would have to do.


Then, I went to the grocery store to buy fresh eggs, butter, flour and all the other ingredients for my baking marathon. My pristine kitchen would soon become a big gloppy mess. I’m tired of trying to keep the house meticulously clean in case a realtor called for a showing. I had flour flying and goo gliding along every surface. It was invigorating.


I made a huge double batch of chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie dough. I put the two big bowls of batter in the fridge so I can bake them tomorrow afternoon. This way I can take nice warm cookies to the lucky recipients. “Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven.”

This is the reflection of MY values, desires, affections, traditions. Merry Christmas!

Saturday:Sharing, Caring and a Smile

21 Dec

A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.
Denis Waitley
I don’t know if it’s just the holiday season, or the hustle and bustle of the world swirling around me, but I’ve been busier than a horsefly at a rodeo. Everyone seems to be smiling and saying, “Merry Christmas.” I love it!

Today, when I opened up my email, I noticed a coupon from Walgreens for a free 8×10 photo for today only using the coupon code today8x10. So, I quick downloaded a photo of the TOTS from our party on Thursday and in an hour, I’ll be the proud owner of a free enlargement. Of course, aim not running over there in an hour. I’ll get it tomorrow after church. Thus, the sharing, quick…go order a free 8×10. You have until midnight.

We exchanged gifts at our writing group this morning. Mandy had given me a pair of beautiful 1 carat diamond earrings…and they’re REAL? Well, they look real, so they probably are.

Julia gave me a lovely set of two handmade soaps embellished with real fragrance rosebuds. I hung them on my Christmas tree. So beautiful.

Liz brought us each a cute ceramic mug with hot chocolate mix inside, which is perfect, because I detest coffee and adore hot chocolate. My friends know me so well. Thus, the caring.

While I was traipsing around the Square all afternoon, I had a big bag of those little wrapped candy canes on my arm. I passed them out to friends I bumped into and strangers having lunch or walking past me outside. Everyone said , “Thank you, Merry Christmas!” And you know what? Everyone gave me a big smile! PRICELESS!!!!!!!!