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Tribute Tuesday: Seniors Honor Local McKinney Firefighters with Appreciation Lunch

17 Apr

Today, I had the privilege of joining my senior friends at Towne Creek Apartments in honoring local firefighters with an appreciation lunch. This charming group of residents chipped in for food and supplies, cooked, baked, and decorated their activity room in preparation for the arrival of local McKinney firefighters and EMT personnel. They wanted to show their gratitude to the men and women in blue who always respond to their emergency calls so quickly and with such kindness.

The room was buzzing with anticipation as the ladies warmed the food and cut cakes and pies. Everything was prepared by noon, the invitation being for 12 to 2pm. When the first red vehicle pulled up at 12:20, hearts were racing. When the firemen shyly entered the room, they were greeted with applause and cheers.

A few minutes later, a fire truck and ambulance full of first responders from Station #1 entered to another warm welcome and round of applause. The residents at Towne Creek were delighted to be able to show their appreciation by hosting a luncheon and getting a chance to serve those who serve the community.

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All the ladies had outdone themselves with all their cooking and baking, which meant a ton of left over food. I had baked my usual brownies, and had a small container in my car that I was going to take over to Station #2 on my way home, so the ladies packed up all the remaining trays of brisket, chicken, salads, veggies and desserts for me to take to the station.

Miss Nelma wanted to come along to help with the delivery, so we drove over with my car packed to the brim with food. It took the guys at Station #2 a couple trips to take all the food in. The men were so delighted that they asked if we’d like to come in for some tea. How sweet is that? We declined the tea, but said we’d love to see the station. Miss Nelma enjoyed the personal tour, asking questions and sharing stories.

There is no greater feeling than showing your appreciation and saying thank you to those who do so much for us. Every day should be appreciation day! Is there someone you want to thank?

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The guys at Station #2

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Miss Nelma loved the personal tour and charming firefighters

Saturday Shout-out: To All My PEEPS

30 Mar

A “Hello, Happy almost Easter to all my PEEPS ( Yes, literally Peeps) out there.” I wanted to share my recent Easter exploits with you. Some of you may know already that I love to bake, be creative and share with others. Yesterday, when I was reading one of the many blogs that I follow, the hapsters were going to hand out plastic Easter eggs with candy inside and a happy message on the outside to strangers. I thought that was a great idea. I usually like to share my baking with people I know, but what about with strangers? So I decided to give it a try. Of course, I still had to share with friends and acquaintances. http://happsters.com/2013/03/29/spreading-happiness-over-easter-weekend/

Little Anna was thrilled to pick out a pink bunny cupcake and a yellow one for her brother John.

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Reese popped in Laura Moore Fine Art Studios while I was visiting. He was hungry.

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As I strolled around the Square in downtown McKinney, I found a young girl playing on the old court house steps. She asked her mom, and was my first random bunny cupcake recipient. Look at that big smile!

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Then, I stopped at the Garret Gallery and Miss Gail was sitting there. We chatted and she was pleased to have a treat for later.

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My next stop was my home-away-from-home, Snug on the Square. Tommy, the wandering troubadour was playing his guitar out front. I felt bad because as soon as I sat down beside him, one of his strings broke. He wound the string up and tucked it away and said, “That’s ok, now it’s a five string guitar.”

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I shared a couple more cupcakes inside. T.J. enjoyed his cupcake. I only had eight left, so I decided to save the rest for Fire Station #1 on my way home.

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Firefighter Boyd gladly accepted the last batch (litter, herd) of bunnies, thus completing my random
act of cupcake kindness.

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For more useless (TMI) information about bunnies, her are some fun facts from Animal Corner.

In the wild, the Doe (female rabbit) can produce a litter of around 3 – 7 young at one time. These litters of young rabbits (called ‘kittens’) are usually produced at 5 week intervals from January through to late summer. Kittens are born in underground burrows and are suckled by the female.

Useful information about Rabbits

Rabbits are not rodents. Rabbits are lagomorphs. Other lagomorphs include hares and pikas.

A well cared for house rabbit that has been spayed or neutered early in life has a life expectancy of 8 to 12 years of age.

The gestation period of a rabbit is about 30 – 33 days.

A group of rabbits is called a herd.

A group of rabbits lives in a warren.

The male rabbit is called a buck. The female is called a doe and has 6 teats.

The doe is larger. The young are called kittens and as with baby cats, their eyes open at about 10 days of age, their ears at about 12 days.

The smallest breed of rabbit is the Netherland Dwarf Rabbit which weighs just about 1 kilogram.

The largest breed of rabbit is the Flemish Giant Rabbit which weighs in at about 8 kilograms. – twice the size of the average cat.

The rabbit is by nature a night browsing herbivore, resting in its burrow by day.

Rabbits are naturally communal animals.

Male rabbits should not be kept together as they are likely to fight.

Does and Bucks should be housed separately for obvious reasons. (You could be over-run with baby rabbits).

Rabbits front teeth (incisors) grow continuously, like toenails.

Rabbits are vegetarians and have a great ability to digest fibre that the rest of us cannot.

Rabbits feet are supposed to be lucky!

Friday:Fancy Cupcakes, Firemen and Flying Cranes

9 Mar

Every day is an adventure, and today was no exception. Friday is my volunteer day, and I always try to bring some snacks, baked goods, or a hearty meal. Today was a gloomy bake something fun kinda day. One of my favorite things to make are cupcakes. A single cake mix renders 24 yummy cupcakes that can be doctored-up very easily, not to mention goes a long way. I also had some white chocolate macadamia nut cookie dough in the fridge. They were in little, ready to bake dollops.

Chocolate-Cherry Cupcakes (not really a recipe- just what you need)

1 chocolate cake mix, follow directions, then add about 1/2 cup chocolate chips to batter
Place paper cupcake liner in 2 cupcake pans of 12 (makes 24)
Add 1 heaping tablespoon batter into each cup (should be about 1/2 full)
1 can of cherry pie filling- add one teaspoon of filling in center that has 1 cherry (not too much)
There should be some batter left so put a small dollop of batter with a teaspoon on top of cherry
Bake according to direction or when firm to touch
Cool then frost with favorite frosting. I made homemade cream cheese cran-cherry frosting. You can use canned frosting, (not my thing)
Add a cherry on top (take photo to share with friends)

After the cupcake baking ceremony, I baked some of the cookies. My plan was to take some warm cookies and a dozen cupcakes over to my local Fire Station 5, then bake the rest of the cookies at Towne Creek for my senior art group. There’s nothing better then a warm cookie and a cupcake to get the artistic juices flowing. While the cookies were cooling, my friend Della called. She was concerned because my last two blogs were so short. She thought maybe I was sick or something. Boy, she’ll be sorry she said that when she reads this long one!

So here’s the agenda. I took a dozen cupcakes and 10 warm cookies to the fire station. Firefighter Stephens answered the door and was more than pleased to receive the goodies. Then, I drove over to Papa Murphy’s to pick up my take-and-bake pizza for dinner later, and took 3 cupcakes for Justin and Kerri who work there. (I did leave some cookies and 1 cupcake for my dear husband who was home with a bad cold.) I went home, dropped off the pizza, and packed up the car around 2pm with my art supplies, cupcakes, and cookie sheets and dough.

My friend Krys joined us today to teach the group how to make origami cranes. Wow, a lot of folds and patience required, but everyone made a very cool crane. After origami, I popped the cookies in the oven. We feasted on cupcakes, warm cookies, and cheese puffs that Krys brought. Then, I did a quick variegated sky demo with acrylic paint on canvas.(Forgot to take photo-oops.) The time flew by as fast as flying cranes. (I remembered crane photos)

I got home around 6:30, put the pizza in the oven, and we ate at 7. Then, the only thing left to do, write this tremendously exciting summary of my day.(Not really exciting) Fancy cupcakes, firemen and flying cranes sums it up.

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Sidecar Saturday

24 Feb

Being fairly new to the the world of blogging and fairly old, well, just in general, I’ve met some very interesting and talented people out there in cyberspace. I love to share my profound words of wisdom, tremendous tips and awesome artistic talent, (not to mention modesty), but sometimes I run across other creative souls that are inspiring. I’ve been following Sethsnap on WordPress. I have no idea what his last name is and I’m not positive where he lives, but one thing I do know is, he is an amazing photographer. He shares his daily photos with the world, and once a week, he asks his followers to share their thoughts, stories or poems inspired by his photos.

I am always inspired by his spectacular photographs and wanted to share his photo for this week’s challenge, and my inspired poem. Just Google him, or check him out on Facebook. Sethsnap.wordpress.com

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COME STOP AND PLAY
A sturdy oak with branches bare
Protects the schoolhouse standing there
With memories of days gone by
A child’s laugh, a lover’s sigh
With stones as strong as time itself
A wooden floor, an empty shelf
If walls could talk, they’d surely say
“Please bring the children, stop by and play.”

Theme Song Thursday: It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

22 Feb

The day started off cold and rainy. Miraculously, the dreary morning was replaced by a glorious afternoon. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun forced pedestrians to remove their jackets and don their sunglasses. It was “a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”

Speaking of neighborhoods and neighbors, today was the Empty Bowls fundraiser at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in McKinney. My senior art group completed 25 painted bowls for the big day, and now I’d get to see our bowls and all the others displayed. I heard there were over 225 donated bowls.

What an amazing turnout! The community was out in full force to support feeding the hungry. St. Peter’s is tucked away in the middle of a charming historic neighborhood. Many locals walked over for the event. I ran into dozens of friends. A lot of smiling, laughing, and hugging was exchanged. Each guest received a bowl of delicious soup provided by several local restaurants, a slice of bread, and a beverage.

I picked out a lovely hand-built coil bowl with a simple tree sketched on the front. The empty bowls are to remind us of the many people who still go hungry every day. But, it was also a great reminder that neighbors and friends who gather together to help their community, are blessed many-fold. Thus, I was reminded that it was “a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”

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Saturday Salutations: Tipping Your Conscience

17 Feb

The sunshine was inviting, but the outside temp was still a little chilly, well, at least for Texas. It was one of those stay under the covers kinda days, and since my morning writing group was cancelled, that’s just what I did. Of course, that doesn’t last too long when you have a nine month old puppy the size of a Shetland pony barking incessantly.

My Saturday usually entails taking care of the dogs, checking emails and Facebook, calling Mom, frantically trying to type something witty to take to writing group, and fighting with an uncooperative printer. Then I’d scurry off to the Square for our meeting, have lunch at Snug, and walk around visiting with friends. Yep, pretty much my routine every Saturday.

Today was pleasantly different. After taking care of the dogs, a leisurely cup of tea and the newspaper were my companions. I watched more mindless television and did all that email stuff. But, something strange happens when you are used to scrambling around. You start to get antsy by noon. So, I called my friend, Della, and we met at Olive Garden for lunch. I know what you’re thinking, “Yuck! Olive Garden?” But, it was a brisk soup and salad kinda day, so there!

Our young waiter’s name was Jake. He probably wasn’t old enough to shave yet, but he was very attentive and did a great job. Jake brought us more salad, refilled drinks, and pretty much worked his butt off for his little measly compensation. I have this philosophy about tipping at restaurants. It really isn’t the amount of your bill that you should use to calculate for your tip, but the amount of service and the circumstance.

I have been to fancy-dancy restaurants where the waiter comes by a couple times, pours some expensive wine and gets 20% of a $400 check for a couple minute’s work. Poor Jake hustled for about an hour and a half, probably stopped by ten times, and my bill was $7.50. I ask you, how is that fair? 20% would have only been $1.50, and a lot of people don’t even tip 20%. I left the kid $11, and even felt guilty about that. That’s over 40%, but the young man treated us like royalty and deserved every penny.

On our way out, I made sure to tell the hostess that Jake was an excellent server. I find that people tend to complain about poor service, but rarely compliment good service. So, think about that the next time you go out to eat. Tip your conscience, not the numbers. All the Jakes in the world will appreciate it.

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Theme Song Thursday: Break the Chain

15 Feb

Do you have a bucket list? Most people think a bucket list is that desperate checklist of outrageous or dangerous things that they always dreamed of doing before they die. Why do we need a bucket list before we kick the bucket? I like to look at life a little differently. I have a “thimble list.” It’s more like a little, teeny-tiny thimble of small things I’d like to do someday. It could be something as simple as taking a pottery class or something spontaneous like dancing in a flash mob.

Today, the city of McKinney had a flash mob on the Square to support the One Billion Rising. The event is a worldwide activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Facebook friends were talking about participating, so I decided, “why not!” It was spontaneous and fun. I didn’t care that I didn’t know any of the steps, nor did I care. Just like the NIKE slogan says…Just do it! Three little words small enough to fit in a thimble.

Townesquarebuzz was on hand to record the event.

http://townsquarebuzz.com/ams/50382/watch-flash-mob-mckinney-v-day-mckinney-joins-global-campaign-end-violence-/0/ams/50382

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Friday, Friends and Firemen

9 Feb

Friday is my volunteer day. I usually bake or cook something special for my senior art group, so today, I decided cupcakes were in order. But, one box of cake mix makes two dozen cupcakes. What a dilemma! I know, I know, I had several people say, “Bring them over here any time.” My modus operandi is usually to take one dozen with me to Towne Creek and take the other dozen over to my local fire station.

I made two dozen tasty cranberry cupcakes with homemade cranberry cream cheese frosting with a cute marshmallow heart for decoration. They turned out adorable. I made a huge mess in the kitchen, as usual, then packed up my car with my art supplies and cupcakes, then headed over to station #5.

I picked up the station phone in the front entry, as I have dozens of times, but this time there was no answer. A recorded message stated, “No one is available at this time. If this is an emergency, dial 911.”

Hmmm? Was this a cupcake emergency? Maybe not. Before I drove away, I decided to check out the back entrance. Sometimes the firemen are working on equipment and can’t answer the front entrance. I noticed that the door was propped open, and people were busy elsewhere. So, I just popped inside, set the cupcakes on a nearby table, and went on my way. I thought it would be a nice surprise when they discovered a dozen delicious cupcakes later.

My senior art group raved about the cupcakes so much, that I was forced to try one myself. I very rarely partake, always making sure there is plenty for everyone else. Everyone was surprised and Karen even said, ” I’ve got to see this. Toni’s eating a cupcake.” O.K., it was worth every bite.

So, today was a Friday of friends and firemen. Oh yes, and yummy cupcakes.

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Super “BOWL” Sunday: No Football Involved

3 Feb

Our local art group, the Young At Heart of McKinney, finished hand-painting our twentieth glass bowl on Friday, for the Empty Bowls charity event at St. Peter’s Church that will be held on Feb. 21st. None of us are members of this church, but we are all members of a caring and generous community. The empty bowls will be given or auctioned off to attendees, to remind them of the many empty bowls of those who go hungry every day. Our group had so much fun creating these masterpieces. I had the pleasure of baking the finished products in my oven today, and seeing them all beautifully displayed on my dining room table after they cooled. (Yes, you do have to bake the glass paint for a sturdier finish.)They are so colorful and creative. I wish I could keep them all.

I had to smile when I thought about the big game today. When most of the country will be watching the Super Bowl, I’ll be watching the twenty “super bowls” that are sitting on my table. They will make their way to St. Peter’s this week, but I’ll get to enjoy their company for a little while. Unlike the Super Bowl, here, there are no losers, only winners. A win-win event!

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Friday and New Friends

2 Feb

Friday has been a day of friendship and fun for many years now. A group of lovely seniors meet every Friday afternoon at Towne Creek Apartments in McKinney, Texas. Being a part of this group has been a highlight of my career. What career? I don’t have a career, I’m a writer, artist, and all-around goofy gal. But on Fridays, I’m the young gal who comes to spend some artistic time with the Young At Heart Artists, the YAH-YAHs. It feels good to be 60 years old and be the young gal. We paint, draw, create crafty projects, and have fun.

Today, was especially a fun day. It was Miss Kathy’s birthday, so I baked a chocolate cake and made Mexican food for the celebration. We had a new resident, Miss Elaine, join us for the first time and Mr.Angel came to paint with us. I met him over a year ago at the senior center and had invited him to join us. He showed up today. How cool!

Our painting project for the past few weeks has been painting glass bowls for the Empty Bowls charity event coming up February 21st at St. Peter’s. What everyone loves about the project is the fact that the bowls will be donated to raise money to feed the less fortunate, a way to “pay it forward.” So, having two new people join us, just added to our excitement.

I just love making new friends and spending time with old ones. Well, we aren’t really that old! I hope you get a chance to make some new friends on Friday, or any other day.

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Miss Elaine painted a lovely bowl. She hasn’t painted in many years and enjoyed her first attempt.

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Señor Angel had fun, too.