Archive | July, 2018

Friday:) Finally Filled up the Wine Rack

21 Jul

“Set realistic goals, keep re-evaluating, and be consistent.”

~Venus Williams


When I moved into my new house, August 23, 2014, I had just a few bottles of wine, maybe 6. I wasn’t a big wine drinker. I had plenty of hard liquor, mostly remains from a well stocked bar that a certain someone didn’t care to take with him when he moved out. When I tried to figure out where to store my wine, I realized that I didn’t have a place to store them, because it’s supposed to be stored lying on its side. The old house had a built-in wine rack and wet bar.

I looked all over for a small wine rack. I couldn’t find anything that I liked. One day, I was at a neighborhood garage sale, and found this awesome wooden wine rack for only $25.

This photo is from September 2014. My goal was to see if I could eventually fill every slot of this cool rack. When I put in the few random bottles of wine that I had moved with me, it looked very empty and sad. When I went to the store, I would buy one or two bottles of wine. I’d lovingly place them in the slots.

Here’s the bad part. You’ve heard the saying, “Two steps forward, three steps back.” Well, I’d buy a few bottles of wine, then I’d drink one or two. Sometimes I’d have friends over, or I’d go to a friend’s house and take a bottle of wine. The poor thing never got filled.

Well, today was the day. I was at Sprouts and bought 6 bottles of wine, on sale, of course. Granted, it was inexpensive wine, but I’m not a connoisseur of fine wine. I was so excited when the very last bottle filled the very last slot.

After nearly four years, my goal has been accomplished. Now that I’ve completed my mission, let the consumption begin.

If you’re in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by for a glass of wine. The next goal is to empty the wine rack. I think that this task will be a little easier than the former.

Thankful Thursday:) There is Always Something to be Thankful For.

19 Jul

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.”



This morning, I woke up being thankful that I didn’t need an alarm to wake me, I had a ceiling fan above, and air conditioning buzzing through the night. The temperatures have been sizzling, so I got up early to walk while it was only in the upper 80’s/low 90’s. I was thankful that I could walk the dog in the shady park across the street, then continue my solo walk for almost an hour before impending heat stroke.

After I came home and cooled off, I decided to make a fruit smoothie. I felt so thankful that I have a beautiful home, enough food to eat, and my health. (Well, fairly healthy for an old geezer.) Before I opened the refrigerator, I couldn’t help but smile at photos that greet me every day. How lucky am I, to have that fridge that’s plastered with pictures and reminders of what life is all about.

My greatest joy and happiness and the main reason I am so thankful is my family. These photos are a daily reminder of how much I am blessed. That’s when I decided that today would be my Thankful Thursday.

Inside my wonderful fridge were the ingredients for a refreshing fruit smoothie. When I buy fruit, there is always extra to freeze for a rainy day…in this case, a steamy day.

Mango, cantaloupe, banana, and some apple/peach juice. Ah, it was like eating sorbet. Enough left over for tonight after karaoke. Perhaps a little vodka might find its way into the concoction?

While I ate my smoothie with a spoon, I checked my Facebook page. Finally, the long anticipated McKinney PD Lipsync Challenge was posted. It is so cute. Plus, this is another reason to be thankful. I live in such a great town, with friendly folks, nice neighbors, and lots of things to do. Everyone did a great job on the video. Check it out…

Yes, there’s a lot to be thankful for. Have a terrific Thankful Thursday, Y’all.

Wednesday:) What’s Cookin’ Miss Toni?

18 Jul

“If the oven is on and the house doesn’t smell like brownies, it goes without saying, there must be some wonderful hand-painted wine glasses baking in there.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


I almost feel guilty turning on the oven on these excruciatingly hot days, but an artist’s gotta do what an artist’s gotta do. I know that’s not proper grammar, maybe the gas fumes and heat exhaustion have gone to my head.

These hazy lazy blazing hot days of summer have kept me mostly indoors. The lazier I got, the more guilty I felt sitting around. So, I decided that I needed to do a little painting. I have some gifts and donation items I needed to get working on. I have a dear friend that just moved, and I think she needs some hand-painted wine glasses as a house warming. (All the houses are pretty warm these days.) Also, my friend Mary, from church, asked if I’d donate some items for the Bella House Gala and Silent Auction.

My studio/crap room is upstairs, and I don’t keep the air conditioning cranked up on the second floor, as I rarely go up there. Literally, I was working in a sweat shop. I could have lowered the air, but I figured it would only be for a few hours, why bother. Well, I was sweatin’ up a storm. Good for the artistic soul.

I am so lucky to have this great workspace upstairs. I can leave the mess and go downstairs and not worry about it. I’m not even going to show you my media/crap room where shelves and shelves of supplies are not so neatly housed. It might scare you or someone might call for an artist intervention. (Other artists understand.)

Here’s what’s cookin’. A dozen tall wine goblets. The glass paint needs to cure, then placed in a cold oven, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then cool without opening the door for a few hours. This helps the paint set. But, they still should be hand washed. The crafters rule is…hand-made, hand-wash.

These beauties will find a few good homes to go to.

Tuesday:) Taking Ladders Into My Own Hands

18 Jul

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.”

~Oprah Winfrey


No, that wasn’t a typo… I want to talk about taking ladders into your own hands. Women often rely on men to take care of tough tasks or heavy lifting. I was married for 39 years to a man who traveled all the time, and when he wasn’t traveling, he was gone golfing, or fishing or… well, into some other things or people that I won’t get into. As a result, I became pretty self-reliant when it came to tedious tasks and emergencies around the house. It was good training for my new independent life.

A few days ago, I was on the phone with my sister when I heard that old familiar chirping sound of the smoke alarm warning low battery. She was concerned about me and suggested I find a neighbor or friend to climb the ladder for me. I wasn’t sure which of the many alarms was chirping, and if it was one of those really high obscure hard to get to devices, I assured her that I’d ask for help. She said, “I don’t want you climbing up on a ladder. You could fall.” I told her that if it was one of the high hard to get to batteries, I’d drive over to my local fire station and recruit a cute fireman for help.

I went upstairs and listened for the source of the intermittent chirp. It was on the ceiling above my work table where I paint. I got a new 9 volt battery, checked the charge on my tongue, (learned that trick) grabbed the ladder out of the walk-in attic, and put my cell phone in my pocket…just in case I fell. I was determined to change it myself. It wasn’t easy because I had to climb up to the third step to see the opening of the detector, and it was really hard to open. I went up and down the ladder several times, getting a flashlight, then a screwdriver to open the hard plastic, and then a couple of times to rest my arms. And let’s not forget trying to balance and take a selfie at the same time.

After much frustration, I was able to open, replace the battery, and close it up. Then, I kept my fingers crossed when I pushed the reset check button. It squealed and said, “Warning, warning…” I have a talking device. But, I got ‘er done. I was very proud of myself.

It wasn’t the first nor be the last time that “I will take ladders into my own hands.”

Montage Monday:) A Week In A Really Hot Peek

17 Jul

“Texas…was evidently the only place in the known universe, including Louisiana, that actually got hotter after the sun went down.”

Kathleen Kent


Wow! It’s been really hot here in Texas, and it’s only going to get hotter. It’s pretty sad when your evening prayers start out with, “Dear Lord, thank you for air conditioning and ice cubes.” Even though it’s pretty hot, life goes on and so do I. I am blessed.

A week in a peek… friends, lunches, cold beer, concerts, cooking, baking, awesome firefighters, and an adorable grand-baby.

Yep! It’s gonna be a long hot summer.

Sunday Sermon and Other Stuff

16 Jul

“My mission is to be a positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing influence in the lives of those I touch.”

Laurie Buchanan, PhD


A scorching hot Sunday here, but the air conditioning is always cranked up and welcoming inside St. Gabriel’s.

Today’s Gospel was the story of Jesus sending out the apostles with the power to cure the sick and drive out demons. They were sent out with no money, food, or extra clothing, and were to rely only the kindness of strangers for lodging and food.

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two

and gave them authority over unclean spirits.

He instructed them to take nothing for the journey

but a walking stick—

no food, no sack, no money in their belts.

They were, however, to wear sandals

but not a second tunic.

He said to them,

“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.

Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,

leave there and shake the dust off your feet

in testimony against them.”

So they went off and preached repentance.

The Twelve drove out many demons,

and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.


My take on it… We come into this world with nothing, and once we start accumulating things and stuff, sometimes those things become distracting. Like the apostles, we can focus on our goals, our missions, and our dreams if we aren’t constantly distracted by all the “stuff”.

Speaking of focus, I often get distracted by stuff. To be honest, I tend to procrastinate. So, I have my little tricks to help me complete my tasks and meet my goals. For example, while I was doing my housework on Monday, I did some laundry, cleaned the bathrooms, but didn’t get around to vacuuming. I decided to leave the vacuum in the middle of the hallway as a reminder. Unfortunately, I got distracted by lunches with friends, walks, baking, shopping and “stuff,” I walked around and bumped into that darn vacuum all week.

I decided that today was the day I either vacuum or put the obstacle back in the closet. Seeing as I’M NO QUITTER, I finally vacuumed all the rugs and carpets, then parked the machine back in the closet. DONE!

Truth be told, cleaning and housework are not a priority for me. My focus is my family, friendships, faith, my art and writing, sharing, but most of all, trying to enjoy this very short life that I have been blessed with. That’s what is most important.

And most of all…“My mission is to be a positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing influence in the lives of those I touch.”

Laurie Buchanan, PhD

Saturday:) Some Rockin’ Sounds at the Guitar Sanctuary

15 Jul

“Rock and Roll has no beginning and no end for it is the very pulse of life itself.”

~Larry Williams


Yesterday, my friends Linda and Loretta joined me at the Guitar Sanctuary for an awesome concert. The opening group was, none other than, the Maylee Thomas Band with George Fuller at lead guitar. Seeing as they own the establishment, I guess they can open for whoever they want. They both have a huge following. Maylee for being an amazing singer and philanthropist, and George being an amazing guitarist, developer and just so happens to be mayor of McKinney. Who would ever think we’d have a rock and roll mayor? Pretty cool!

Maylee, George, and the band performed for over an hour, and as usual, rocked the house.

The featured band was the South Austin Moonlighters.

The Band consist of Lonnie Trevino Jr – Bass & Vocals, Phil Hurley – Guitar & Vocals, Phil Bass – Drums & Vocals, and Chris Beall – Guitar & Vocals.

The Band mainly does Originals songs in their set and for the love of music, they throw in choice Covers that fans and newbie fans absolutely love.

The Bands origin manifested when Lonnie Trevino Jr had the idea of putting together a side group (where they could all “moonlight” on their steady gigs-thus the band’s name), just for the pure joy of playing music. Since then SAM have self-released three CD’s that have garnered “Highest Recommendations” from venue owners and national publications alike for SAM’s “Live At The Saxon Pub” released Nov. 2012, studio album debut “ Burn & Shine” released Feb. 2014, and the newest release, July 2016’s Ghost Of A Small Town.


A fun evening with good friends and fine rock and roll.

Friday:) Friends Feeding the Hungry

13 Jul

“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

Hélder Câmara


Monday, after our McKinney Creative potluck meeting, I scooted over to St. Peter’s for another meeting about the next Empty Bowls Fundraiser. Jamie St.Clair, Empty Bowls Event Coordinator, invited artisans who had been involved in creating, donating, and organizing workshops for making the beautiful bowls distributed at the event. It was a brainstorming session on how we felt this year’s event faired and how to improve next year’s.

The most exciting part was the final result of the fundraiser, $75,000 was raised, which provides over 80% of the food allotment for the Community Lifeline Center. That is fantastic. Every year the event gets bigger and more popular, and the main reason is word of mouth and the generous people who donate their time, talents, and money for feeding the hungry in their community.

If every community and every person who has a little extra could help someone who needs a helping hand, there would be no hunger. McKinney is trying to do its part, one little step at a time.

The Macias family, all talented potters and generous with their time and talent.

The next Empty Bowls Event isn’t until next year, but artists and volunteers are already preparing. It takes 364 days to plan and execute this wonderful one day fundraiser. What can you do to help feed the hungry?

Thursday:) This Is Just One Month of Brownie Baking

12 Jul

“If you enjoy doing something, make sure to share. The more you care, the more you share.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


I’ve got a batch of brownies in the oven as we speak. We are having our monthly pot luck dinner over at the VFW tonight during karaoke. It’s always fun, with a lot of friends, food and fine singing. Ha! I’m exaggerating on the fine singing… my singing…not so great. But, I do enjoy belting out an off-tune tune. I’m either getting better, or the crowd is getting hard of hearing. We’re pretty old. I think it’s the latter.

I was doing a lot of baking the last few weeks, so I decided to save the boxes to see how many batches I actually baked. Wow! That’s a lot of brownies.

That’s a lot of brownies!!!!

I also like to cook. Double whammy. I’m making a huge pot of pasta, mostaccioli. A few neighbors and friends will be the lucky recipients of my over-zealous-compulsive-overachieving crazy cooking frenzy.

I just finished packing up my pasta. A few stops on my way to karaoke. Life is good.

Wednesday:) When God Turns the Worst Day of Your Life Into a Celebration

12 Jul

Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”


Five years ago today was the absolute worst, painful, devastating day of my life. Most of you already know the dreadful details and heart-break that began on this day in 2013. I won’t get into detail. My spirit and heart were broken, but my faith never wavered. What you may not know is the miraculous events that followed. There were three, and only three, painful calendar dates that plagued my heart and soul. 7/11, 8/23, and 12/5. God changed all three of those dates into a celebration. This was no coincidence. Today, 7/11 is the first date, the first mini miracle.

That awful day is now a celebration. My son Joe got married on 7/11/2015, changing the previous painful memories into happy new ones. I gave a loving toast to the beautiful bride and handsome groom. I danced the mother/son dance, crying tears of joy and softly singing “Child of Mine,” in his ear. Now, the worst day of my life is a special happy day. Happy Anniversary!