Archive | April, 2019

Tuesday:) Take No Prisoners

30 Apr

“Once we are destined to live out our lives in the prison of our mind, our duty is to furnish it well.”

~Peter Ustinov


This picture reminds me that sometimes we can be prisoners of our own thoughts. Fortunately for me, my thoughts while taking this picture were, “How lucky am I to have such great friends and a great life.” We were walking around the square, and having lunch after Art Club. I thought this would make a funny photo. I live in a wonderful city, I have great friends and family, and I have a very good life. A few years ago, my thoughts were not as positive and happy. I am no longer a prisoner of my hurts, pain, and negative thoughts.

No one can make you a prisoner of your painful thoughts but you.”

~ Me

Montage Monday:) A Week In A Peek

30 Apr

“Time waits for no man. Thank goodness time will wait patiently for a woman.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Another week gone in a flash. Friends, fun and family.

A week in a peek…

Have a good week.

Sunday Sermon and Maestro Hector Olivera

29 Apr

“When in doubt, throw doubt out and have a little faith.”

E. A. Bucchianeri


Today’s Gospel was the story of Jesus appearing to the Apostles in a locked room after His resurrection. Thomas was not there, so he did not believe them. He said he would have to touch the wounds himself to believe. Eight days later, Jesus appeared to them again, and Thomas was there. Jesus told Thomas to touch His wounds. Then, Thomas believed. (Thus, inspiring the quote “Doubting Thomas.”

29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” 30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

My take on it… sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and just have faith, blind faith. That’s a good analogy. You can’t always see the things you believe in, but you still believe.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe,”


Last night, the parishioners of St. Gabriel the Archangel had the great honor of hearing an amazing concert by Maestro Hector Olivera for the dedication of the beautiful Allen Organ. Born in Buenos Aires, Mr. Olivera began playing the pipe organ when he was three. At age five he played for the legendary Eva Perón; at twelve he entered the University of Buenos Aires and by eighteen had performed for heads of state and celebrities throughout Latin America. When offered a scholarship at the renowned Juilliard School of Music in New York, he moved to the United States. Three years later, Mr. Olivera’s outstanding professional concert career was launched when he won the AGO’s National Improvisation Contest.

I guess the best way describe his talents is to let you hear for yourself. Amazing!

Maestro, please…

Saturday:) SO, You LOVE Over Paying For Your Property Taxes, Right?

27 Apr

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

― Winston S. Churchill


Yesterday, I stopped over at the Collin County Appraisal District to protest my taxes, YET AGAIN. I protest every year. Just like my right to vote, freedom of speech and religion, I also have the right to protest my property taxes. That’s everyone’s right, and guess what? Very few people do.

I received my proposed property tax statement for 2019 and the appraisal of my home went up again. The market value appraisal increased $53,000 from last year! Even my good friend and “World’s Greatest Realtor,” Linda Grossman said, “THAT’S CRAZY!” If I could sell my house for that much, I would make a $107,000 profit in just 5 years. The sad part is, I couldn’t sell it for that much, YET, I am being taxed on that amount, and many others are too. My very first year, 2014, in my new house, my appraisal after being in only a few months increased over $50,000. I hadn’t even unpacked. I protested and they asked how much I thought it should be. I said, “How about what I paid for it a couple of months ago?” And, they complied. So, I protest every year. I can’t imagine what my tax bill would be if I hadn’t protested every year.

The line was short at the Collin County Appraisal District yesterday. I was asked if I wanted to speak to someone for an informal protest and appraisal review. I’m glad I went yesterday instead of waiting till nearer the May 15th deadline. My total time there was less than half an hour.

A very nice lady reviewed my information on her screen and even agreed that my statement and increase looked pretty high. She informed me that my property tax is based on recent sales and the tax base of the nearby homes with the similar square footage and age. She agreed that the numbers looked high, but that’s because not that many people protest their valuation and really should. So, everyone’s tax base remains high accordingly.

PROTEST YOUR PROPERTY TAXES, PEOPLE!!!!!! Not only are you paying too much, you are making everyone else pay too much. And here’s the thing, you can file a formal protest on-line. Sometimes they contact you with a lower settlement or they may give you a date to appear before a review board. Guess what? You don’t have to show up. They just keep your tax bill the same. Everyone should protest unless you feel your tax is fair and equitable.

My nice reviewer showed me what comps they used for my home appraisal. She showed me 3 comps, one high, one middle, and one lower. She said they could toss out the high and low and offer me the middle comp for my tax base. So, now my appraised value is $19,000 more than last year instead of $53,000 more. My appraisal has increased outrageously every year, so I protest every year. Was it worth my while? FOR DANG SURE!

When I left, my nice lady reviewer said, “Have a good day. See you next year.” I said, “You bet!”

So, if you LOVE over paying on your property taxes, just disregard all this information. If not, get over there and protest. The earlier the better, don’t wait till May 15th. Even if they don’t offer you a lower appraisal, (which is rare) sign up for a formal protest date. Sometimes they send you an lower offer in the mail later. You can bring comps proving your valuation for a reduction, or just not show up to the hearing at all. If you don’t show up or cancel, you’ll just pay the same anyway.

Contact Us

Business Hours

Monday – Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm



On Eldorado Pkwy, 1.5 miles east of Hwy 75. We are at the northeast corner of Eldorado Pkwy and College Street, McKinney, Texas

Mailing & Telephone Information

Collin Central Appraisal District

250 Eldorado Pkwy

McKinney, Texas 75069

(469) 742-9200

(866) 467-1110 (toll-free)

Collin County residents who are not willing or able to file online can also obtain protest forms at their appraisal district headquarters, located at 250 Eldorado Parkway in McKinney.

Last year there were 64,717 residential and commercial appraisal protests in Collin County with 14,600 protests from Plano, nearly 12,000 from McKinney and approximately 8,000 from Frisco, according to the Collin Central Appraisal District.

Friday:) Fun, Friends, and a Few Firemen

27 Apr

“It only takes a few friends, a few smiles, and a lot of love to make the world go round.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Last night was our regular get together for karaoke at Delaney’s Irish Pub. Miss Loretta had suggested that we do a little song routine for a friend. Last month we paid a tribute to Jerry, singing, with “The Way You Wear Your Hat.” Last night, we thoroughly embarrassed Doug, by sitting him in a chair and singing our version of “My Guy” to him. Our rendition was “Our Guy.” Everyone had fun, no one more so than our friend Doug.

Miss Pat, our resident “Cookie Lady” always shows up with a few plates of her yummy homemade cookies. The left over cookies usually find their way over to my friendly firemen at Station 9. Thank you Miss Pat.

Thursday:) The Land of the Free…

26 Apr

“In order to continue being the land of the free, we all need to do our part, and not take our freedom for granted.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Today, I decided to take advantage of early voting for Municipal elections in Collin County. I get the feeling that there will be a small turnout for this local election that is filling positions for local city government, and also voting on bond proposals. Local elections usually have low voter turnout. We are so lucky to have the privilege of voting, so it is our responsibility to go out and vote.

Besides having the privilege of voting, we also have the freedom of religion. After voting, I drove over to St. Gabriel the Archangel to drop off a donation for the upcoming annual bingo night auction. The ladies club had requested donations of wine or wine related items. I thought that a couple of hand-painted wine glasses and a bottle of wine would make a nice donation. It’s also important to support your church.

After dropping of the donation at the parish office, I walked across the way to the new sanctuary. As I knelt all alone before the altar, admiring the gorgeous lilies and in awe of the beautiful artwork, statues and colorful stained glass, again, I thought how lucky we are to live in this country. Not all are afforded these freedoms.

Now, right here on this blog, I’m able to write about anything thing I want, which demonstrates my freedom of speech. Yes, this is a great country and I’m pleased and blessed to be living in the United States of America.

My personal advice, don’t take these freedoms for granted.

Wednesday:) Wild Horses Couldn’t ……..

24 Apr

If I paint a wild horse, you might not see the horse… but surely you will see the wildness!

Pablo Picasso


Wild horses often symbolize freedom, youth, energy, and the untamed spirit. I’ve always loved drawing or painting horses. I’m not saying that I do it well, but I enjoy trying. Often, in my unskilled attempt to capture the beauty of the magnificent creatures, the crudeness of skill adds to the wildness of the subject.

I had painted some horses on a section of old fencing a few years back, and when I moved into my new house nearly five years ago, the horses were stabled and buried in the mess of chaos known as my garage, piled behind card tables and lawn chairs. I took them out one day and just leaned the section against my fence in the back yard. The paint had faded and it looked pretty sad, so I went out with a paintbrush and some paint and gave those wild stallions a little touch up.

Now, they look wild and free.

If you were asked to fill in the blank, what would you say?

Wild horses couldn’t…………..!

Tuesday:) Talkin’ ‘Bout The Texas Bluesmen

24 Apr

“We’re gonna go in, and see the penguin. Elwood: Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don’t fail me now. Elwood: We’re on a mission from God. Elwood: There are 106 miles to Chicago, we have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.” Jun 20, 1980


Saturday night, a group of friends stopped over to Delaney’s Irish Pub in McKinney to catch an amazing performance by the Texas Bluesmen. “The Blues Brothers” movie has always been a favorite of mine, mostly because it took place in Chicago, but it was hilarious… a classic. If you never saw the movie, you need to check it out. Here’s a synopsis.

After his release from prison, Jake (John Belushi) reunites with his brother, Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) — collectively known as the “Blues Brothers.” Jake’s first task is to save the orphanage the brothers grew up in from closing, by raising $5,000 to pay back taxes. The two are convinced they can earn the money by getting their old band back together. However, after playing several gigs and making a few enemies, including the police, the brothers face daunting odds to deliver the money on time.

Release date: June 16, 1980 (USA)

Saturday, we were entertained by Justin Clark (Elwood) and Paul Andrews (Jake) and they were hilarious, talented, great singers and dancers, and all around cool guys. They had Jake and Elwood down to a tee, voices, songs, dancing, and harmonica. So cool!

They took a short break outside to cool off and recover from all that dancing and singing. Justin and Paul also happen to be the DJ’s who alternate hosting the Thursday night karaoke nights at Delaney’s Irish Pub. It’s always a blast. Come on down and join us around 7:30. You don’t have to sing, but if you like to sing, all the better. Great food and fun and friends. Bring your own friends or make some new ones.

6150 Eldorado Pkwy in McKinney on the other end of Market Street

You should check out their Facebook page. They might be coming to a town near you. If ya run into dem, make sure to tell dem, Toni, dat nice lady from Chicago, says “Hi!”

Montage Monday:) A Week In A Peep

23 Apr

“Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others.”

― Brian Tracy


Another week flew by in a whirlwind of fun and friends and busy activities. A lot of laughing and baking, sharing and caring.

My favorite baking project is my Easter cupcakes.

A week in a “Peep.”

Sunday Sermon and Some Other Stuff:) Happy Easter

22 Apr

“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.”

~Janine di Giovanni


A beautiful sunny Easter morning here in North Texas. Our regular 9 am Mass started at 8:30 in the new sanctuary and an 8:40 in the old sanctuary. I was greeting this morning, so I arrived at 7:30 and the parking lot was already getting full. By 8:15, we were told to steer people over to the old church for the next Mass at 8:40. It was wonderful to see all the bright happy faces and the children all smiling in their new outfits. There were many hugs with old friends and greetings with new faces.

Today’s Gospel and Sermon, of course, was about the resurrection. It was discovered that the tomb where Jesus was buried was empty…

“Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, 7and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.”

I hadn’t heard, or maybe had forgotten the symbolism of the napkin not lying with the scattered clothing. The napkin was rolled up or neatly folded by itself, symbolizing the tradition of the master folding his napkin neatly if he left during a meal to let his servants know that he would return and not to take away his dishes. If the napkin was just tossed or crumpled on the table, then he was finished and not returning. The place could be cleared. When the tomb was opened and Jesus was gone, the napkin that was on his head was rolled up neatly, signifying He would return. And…He did!


My take on it, well, there are other views and thoughts about the resurrection and heaven and life after death. Some people believe in a life after this one, and others don’t. Personally, I believe, and I believe in heaven. I believe in symbolism and signs.

When my sweet angel mother was in her final hours, I whispered in her ear, “WHEN you get up to heaven, send us a sign. If anyone can do it, you can.” She did. Some of you know the story of the two lucky pennies my sister and I found found on the bench beneath her mural at the library. She knew that lucky pennies were my sign. When we went up to see the mural she had painted and donated to the Elgin library many years ago, two pennies were sitting there. I know there is a heaven and she’s in heaven. Mom said so.

Easter is a time for renewal, rebirth, and second chances. Happy Easter my friends.