Archive | January, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

25 Jan

20130124-171758.jpg

Why write a long, boring craft tutorial when you can just share a photo that pretty much explains it all. Well, almost all.

Today, I thought I’d change things up and share some of my handy-dandy crafting tips. Being a self-professed frugal Baby-Boomer, I’ll take this opportunity to confess…I save everything. Yes, everything! Just yesterday, my husband was ready to toss out the 2 inch stub of the romaine lettuce, when I rescued it from the trash saying, ” Stop, I’m going to paint roses with that.” He doesn’t even question anymore. He just shakes his head and walks away. (I’ll post the roses another time.)

So, anyway, you know all those paper towel and toilet tissue rolls you have saved after the paper is all used? OK, so you don’t have any now, but you will. Well, take 4 or 5 of those rolls and soak in a bowl of water for a few hours, pour the mixture in a blender with a sheet of torn up newspaper,(I know you have that) and pulse the blender a few times until you have paper mush.(technical term) Then add some crumpled rose petals that you have dried and saved after your last birthday or anniversary.(Yes, I have tons of those too.) Pulse a couple more times. Place a splatter screen over an empty bowl or pitcher and pour some of the mixture inside a cookie cutter of your choice. Press inside shape with a damp sponge until most of the moisture gone. Play and experiment. Remove cookie cutter and flip screen over on a paper towel. You can put another paper towel over it and roll with a rolling pin, or just air dry. ( But, the more paper towels you use, the quicker you’ll have some of those empty rolls saved up…ha, ha.)

You can use these handmade paper shapes to embellish cards, make jewelry, or larger shapes can be made into books. So many options, so little time. If you need anything, let me know. I’ve got it saved somewhere.

20130124-180247.jpg

OUT WITH THE NEW, IN WITH THE OLD

24 Jan

Today was a sultry summer-like day with sunshine and temps in the 70s. The thing is, it’s the middle of January. What’s going on! I know it’s Texas, but this is unseasonably awesome! After sitting in the house most of the day, doing mundane chores, washing clothes, cleaning the kitchen, etc., I was feeling guilty that I hadn’t even poked my head outside, except to take out the garbage cans.

For the past couple years, my daily routine used to include walking the dog for about an hour. Rain or shine, we were out there. But, ever since we got the puppy, life has been too hectic. Poor old Prince looks at me with longing every afternoon. Whenever I put on my tennis shoes, he whimpers with anticipation, but little Buck is a nut case, and there’s no way I can take them both for a walk. Prince and I have both put on a few pounds since the little guy has come to live with us.

Did I say little guy? The nine month old pup is now bigger and taller than his older counterpart, and that’s pretty big. By 4 pm, the sunshine was beckoning me, and I couldn’t stand it any more. I decided to take the pup out for his first ever walk on a leash. The tricky part was sneaking out the backyard gate while Prince was napping in the house.

Buck enjoyed the leash. He enjoyed chewing on the leash, grabbing at it, and trying to pull it out of my hand. He had never been in the front yard before, so every bush and shrub was enticing. Everything was new and exciting. I decided that we would only practice walking past a few houses on the block. We were doing great until all the neighborhood dogs decided to greet us from their backyard fences. Buck jumped a mile, returning his most ferocious bark.

Poor old Prince heard his little protege barking from inside the house. Now, he was inside barking like crazy, and Buck was outside barking his brains out. That was the end of “out with the new dog and in with the old dog.”

20130123-204641.jpg

Taco Tuesday

23 Jan

20130122-172448.jpg

There are two words that can bring delight to my heart, and they are…Taco Tuesday! I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to texting, but when I hear that little “ping” and my friend, Karen, sends a text that only reads…Taco Tuesday, with a question mark, I’m quick on the draw with a two letter reply..O and K.

The food at Rosa’s Cafe in McKinney isn’t out of this world fantastic, but it is pretty good, and the three taco platter is so darn cheap, I couldn’t make it at home for the price.(Under $4 on Tuesday) Believe me, I should know. I’ve been making delicious homemade tacos since I was a little seƱorita.

But, it isn’t just the food, colorful decor, and authentic ambiance that entices me. I thoroughly enjoy an impromptu lunch invitation from a friend. It means we get to sit for a couple hours jabbering about our week, complaining about our husbands, and extolling the praises of our now grown children. Funny how, as the children get older and move out of the house, they tend to become so wonderful and accomplished, and when the husbands are around all the time, they tend to lose their glowing status and credibility. I guess we just need something to complain about.

The point I’m trying to make is, friendships are special, and Girlfriends are extra special. So if you have the opportunity to make someone’s day with a note, a call, or an impromptu lunch, JUST DO IT! And to quote Carly Rae Jepsen…”Here’s my number. Call me maybe!”

20130122-181152.jpg

Monday Manners

22 Jan

Who would have thought that good manners or proper etiquette would be the exception rather than the rule? It appears that being polite may often attract more attention than rudeness.

Case in point: My husband and I often have the opportunity to catch a movie during the week. The theater is usually quite empty in the afternoon, so we never have to wait in line to purchase tickets or popcorn. I wouldn’t say that we go often, but probably twice a month. So, I was very amazed when the young man at the counter asked, “You guys are in here a lot, aren’t you?”

I responded, “Well, I guess so. Why do you ask?”

He smiled and said, “I remember you. You’re always so polite.”

Then, I realized that whenever I ask for something or place an order, even at a fast-food restaurant, I always say, “May I have the…(whatever I am ordering)?” Inadvertently, I am always the recipient of a big smile and the response of, “Yes, you MAY.”

It’s funny, I never noticed this until the young man commented on my manners. He obviously wasn’t used to it. How sad! I decided to pay closer attention to other customers and their manners. Oh my, was I shocked and disappointed, to say the least.

Examples: 1. Gimme the number three. 2. I need a large decaf, extra cream. 3. I’ll take a pound of the smoked turkey, sliced thin. The list goes on and on. I don’t think I ever heard the words “May I.”

Doesn’t anyone say, “May I,” anymore? My mother insisted that her children always asked with “May I,” and NEVER, “Can I.” We were never allowed to ask for something to eat or drink when visiting family or friends. We had to wait to be offered refreshments. I still remember the old, “Children should be seen and not heard,” drummed into our heads. Etiquette and manners were mandatory.

Hopefully, this age of high-speed informality, and digitally driven rudeness will not prevail. May I make a suggestion? Let’s all remember our manners out there folks!

20130121-231529.jpg

Sanctimonious Sunday

21 Jan

SWS is a very serious affliction plaguing the country this time of year, especially on Sundays. It’s not Swine Flu or any other form of influenza. No, it’s Sports Widow Syndrome, and it has hit all time epidemic proportions. Severe and debilitating side-effects may include charge card trigger finger, excessive chocolate consumption, red wine whining, shortness of breath, and depression with occasional thoughts of manslaughter.

If you experience any of these symptoms, call a girlfriend or female family member immediately. Do not attempt to drive while under the influence of a three margarita lunch, a shopping frenzy at the mall, or if chocolate overdose is suspected. Notify your sister or a neighbor as soon as possible if you start sharpening all the kitchen knives and meat cleavers or start frantically scouring the drawers for the gun safe key.

Remember that Sunday is a sacred day. It’s a time for prayer, meditation, and reflection. If fourteen hours of consecutive pre-game, post-game, regulation and over-time madness is just too much to handle, hopefully there is another television somewhere in the house. Make some microwave popcorn and settle in with the Hallmark or Lifetime Channel. It certainly beats life in prison. But then again, they don’t have televised football, basketball, baseball or hockey in maximum security.

20130120-210939.jpg

A Special Saturday:Sharing A Special Tree For Christmas

20 Jan

I shared this special story with my Facebook friends at Christmas, and thought I’d share it with my new blogger friends. Perhaps you have a “Pay It Forward” story that you’d like to share. I’d love to hear it.

A SPECIAL TREE FOR CHRISTMAS

It is believed that the tradition of the Christmas tree spread across America during the 1800s with the arrival of German immigrants, a reminder that the dark grey of Winter would soon bring the green renewal of Spring.The Germans would bake fancy ornaments for their trees and then eat the decorations when the trees were taken down. Fruits, nuts, flowers and lighted candles also adorned the first American Christmas trees, but only the strongest could support the weight without drooping. So, German glassblowers began producing lightweight glass balls to replace heavier, natural decorations. These lights and decorations were representations of the joy and light of Christmas, with the star on top of the tree a symbol for the “Star in the East.”

This is such a wonderful American tradition, but what about those who don’t have a Christmas tree, ornaments, toys and freshly baked cookies? The thing I love about America, Texas and the marvelous city of McKinney is, when there is a need, there is a way to fill that need.

One of my own personal holiday traditions is giving my hand-painted ornaments to friends, neighbors, and family along with homemade cookies, cupcakes or brownies, because “nothin’ says lovin’ like homemade.” This week, when I stopped at my neighborhood McKinney Fire Station 5 with my ornament and a dozen chocolate cupcakes, as I have for the past eight years, I was greeted with the usual smiles and appreciation.

As I was escorted back to the kitchen, I asked, “Can I see your Christmas tree?” I remembered how beautiful the tree was last year, and how all my ornaments from the previous years were carefully displayed on the branches. The young firefighter just smiled and said, “Well, it’s not much of a tree, but come on in.” He turned on the light in the dimly lit space, and there to my amazement was a bare five foot metal pole with a red light on top.

I asked, “Where is your Christmas tree?”

“This is it,” was the only response.

I knew there had been a big change in personnel this past year when the new fire chief took over, and a lot of the guys relocated to other stations, but I didn’t think that would effect Christmas. I asked, “Where is your beautiful tree and all your ornaments? I’ve been bringing ornaments for years.”

The perplexed fireman responded, “I don’t know. Maybe they took them over to the other station.”

I shook hands with everyone on shift that afternoon and wished them a Merry Christmas, walking out with an unsettled sadness. Not quite the feeling I was expecting.

When I got home, I went to my handy iPad and posted a picture on Facebook of the ornament and cupcakes that I had taken to the fire station. My message retold the story of the sad looking “Festivus” looking metal pole that took the place of a traditional Christmas tree at the fire station.

To might delight, when I checked my page an hour later, there were so many comments from friends and neighbors appalled at the situation. There were several offers of Christmas trees from neighbors. My friend, Kim McCraw, said her son Shane was working at Christmas Traditions on US75 and they said that they would drop off a freshly cut evergreen tree the next day. Wow!

Saturday afternoon, I drove over to Station 5 with a box of newly purchased blue ornaments for our friends in blue and their new tree. When I arrived with my gift, a gorgeous nine or ten foot tree adorned the space where a sad metal pole stood the previous day. I explained that I was “the ornament lady” from yesterday, and that I had posted on Facebook that Station 5 didn’t have a Christmas tree this year. They were all smiling and honored when I told them that just one Facebook post had inspired a dozen offers of trees and goodies to brighten their holiday.

When I looked at the beautiful tree, there was a single ornament on a branch, and it was one of mine from 2008. They were waiting to decorate the tree until they purchased some new lights. Off to the side was a box with decorations and ornaments that they must have found in a storage room somewhere, many of which I recognized from my signature matching hand-painted boxes. I was delighted, humbled and grateful. The old “Festivus” metal pole was off in a dark corner. What could have been a dreary space for a group of gallant firefighters, was now a bright and cheery room better suited for a group of kind men and women who are always nearby to serve and protect.

I returned New Year’s Day and found a beautifully decorated tree. Fire fighter David Crump, wife Barbara, and young son Coleman were enjoying some family time at the station. I asked if I might take a picture, and they happily obliged.

The tradition of the Christmas tree is alive and well in McKinney. “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

20130119-202803.jpg

20130119-202841.jpg

Funny Friday

19 Jan

Yesterday, I posted a little blurb about my mother and her endless thirst for knowledge. It was a touching, loving story of an eighty-five year old woman who loves to learn. But, what I didn’t mention was how extremely hilarious she can be sometimes. In her quest to be “hip” and up-to-date with all the latest trends and terms, she often comes up with some amusing “original” words of her own.

Today, when I asked her if she had been checking her e-mails, she replied, “Yes, and I’ve been reading all your tweeters.” When I let out a muffled giggle, she asked, “What’s so funny?”

I went on to explain, the best I could, “Sometimes I put my stories on Twitter and the posts are called Tweets. Are you following me on Twitter? You don’t have a Twitter account. I thought you were reading my blog on Facebook?”

“Oh, you’re right. I’m reading your blobs on Facebook,” she replied.

“Giggle, giggle.”

“All right, now what did I say wrong?”

“I don’t mean to laugh, Mom. But, it’s called a blog, not a blob.”

“I knew that!”

“Mom, I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing with you. You are awesome!”

The only reason I feel comfortable laughing at Mom’s little mistakes and made-up new words is because I am even more notorious for such blunders. But, I’m always the first to laugh at myself. I always tell her, “The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

She interjects, “No, it’s suppose to be the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

“No, Mom.It’s definitely the NUT!”

This is just one of thousands of conversations like this we have had. Now you know why Fridays are always funny.

20130118-222849.jpg