Sunday, March 18, 2018

The sweet friends in my life....

When I host a big dinner for my friends in blue - especially like the one I did during CIAA - many times my 'regular folk' friends will call or text the next day or the following week to see how everything went. Not only are they interested in what I do for CMPD, but they genuinely care about me and enjoy seeing me so happy.

I have one neighbor who has always been so encouraging and interested in my service to CMPD since my very first dinner 8-1/2 years ago. The week following my big lasagna dinner for CIAA, I found an envelope in my mailbox from my sweet friend and neighbor.

It was so thoughtful and unexpected. I will tuck it away in a safe place for the next dinner.  


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Table for 25-ish please....

A few months ago, I ran into a detective downtown and he said my name had come in conversation (I love it when that happens), and he asked if I would consider cooking for them one night during CIAA. They asked me again when they came for dinner in January and I told them I would love to.

So March 3rd was the big day and another first in the wonderful world of AHOP.  I had the pleasure of cooking dinner for 25+ law enforcement officers -- the most ever at one time! I initially thought dinner would be for 12 ABC Unit detectives (Alcohol Beverage Control) with the CMPD, but then the list grew to 22, then to 25-ish, to include ALE special agents (Alcohol Law Enforcement), and two from the Charlotte Fire Department. All were assisting with the CIAA and, once again, I have no pictures to show for my monumental dinner!

My ONLY photo....a boring picture of two EMPTY pans. 
I thought lasagna would be the easiest to transport, so that's what I made. The officers funded the entire meal which consisted of two giant 20" pans of lasagna (that's a lot of lasagna), salad, rolls, banana pudding, my cream puffs, and two gallons of sweet tea. The event got too big to host the dinner at my home, so we moved it to the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) Lodge. I have always wanted to see where it was, so I was glad about that. 

As if making lasagna isn't a big enough production (and anyone who has made lasagna knows what I'm talking about), there were major kitchen snafus where, at one point during the day, I thought I would lose my mind...really! But I managed to pull everything off. My cook-top is going out and each pot of water I put on to boil for the noodles, took a minimum of 30 minutes to even resemble a slow boil. It was very stressful. The afternoon was ticking away and I had to be out the door at a certain time. I have the utmost respect for anyone in the catering profession. But these guys are very sweet to me. Even when they come to my home for a meal, they know not to ring the door bell early. I can get a lot done in two minutes and sometimes it's down to the last minute. I am not a professional cook by any means and I learn something new every time I host a dinner.  

Like this....

Did you know that if you put plastic wrap over your cooked lasagna before adding the tin foil (if you need to transport it or keep it warm), the cheese won't stick? Seems logical, doesn't it, like it would be something you would think of on your own, but I never thought of this! I learned this helpful tip from Chef's Catering. They have catered a few events for my work, and a few weeks ago one of the cooks actually delivered the meal himself, so don't you know I was asking a bunch of questions! That's when I learned about the plastic wrap. I have transported lasagna several times to three different CMPD divisions (Metro, South, and Steele Creek) and never thought about this before, not to mention how many times I have kept lasagna warm on my own stove, only to have all the cheese stick to the foil. You can also spray PAM cooking spray to the foil, but I like the plastic wrap tip the best. 

One of the highlights of the entire evening (for me) was that I got to stay for roll call. One detective invited me to do a ride-along with them one night which I thought was very sweet. Comments like that make me feel accepted into a big family that's not so easy to get into unless you work there. I will have to complete all the necessary paperwork to do the ride-along, but I am already looking forward to it. 

A big thank you to my neighbor, Sheilah, who cleared one shelf in her refrigerator to store my banana pudding. It was a huge help and she even delivered it back to me. You can find this delicious recipe here in a previous post.

And another thank you to Chef's Catering, who gave me an unbelievable deal on tablecloth rentals. We ended up not using them after all, but I appreciated their kindness and support of what I do.

Three things I know for sure before another officer sits at my table for a meal is 1) my 25-year-old cook-top is on its last leg and I'll have to replace it, and 2) a second refrigerator for the garage is a must-have, and 3) I will designate a picture-taker!

The day following this big meal was Sunday, and the old girl rested. It was a wonderful weekend!

FOP Lodge #9 (notice the Thin Blue Line across the door - I love that!)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Not all angels have wings....some wear a badge

An angel in 'blue’ left a care package on my front porch very early this cold morning knowing I have been sick the past four days. The officer sent me a quick text message so I would know to look for it when I woke up. “I know you have been missing your sweet tea”, the message said. And with the tea was a sausage biscuit. 

Once again I am reminded what Clarence the angel said in the movie 'It’s a Wonderful Life'...."No man is a failure who has friends."

Thank you, my friend.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Happy New Year!

2017 was filled with all kinds of challenges. Some things I didn't handle very well, like house repairs. Expensive and major house repairs. But some very good things happened too, and God's grace, once again, reminds me just how much He cares for me. His grace definitely helped to outweigh the bad.

  • January:  On January 24, 2017 after serving my friends for eight years, I delivered cream puffs one night to the Westover Division officers and they were happy to give me a picture. My first! It was definitely a bright spot in my year. I'm sure that sounds kind of silly to be so excited over a picture, but it was important to me and I had waited so long. When the officers are at my home, they enjoy a hot meal and conversation in peace and privacy. Except for taking pictures of the food, there are no pictures.
  • February:  I started a new job. I thoroughly enjoyed my nice little paid break after losing my job in July 2016, and then it was nothing short of divine intervention that I was able to return to the company I left 12 years earlier.
  • June:  I was honored to be recognized in CMPD's 2016 Annual Report. I think everyone has their 'moment in the sun' at least once in their lifetime, and I guess you could say this was mine. Thank you CMPD!
  • July:  My 56-year-old house started falling apart. Major moisture issues plagued my crawlspace and, unfortunately, the remedy was very expensive. But it had to be done. The moisture damaged a wall in the den and it had to be replaced (twice) after the first handyman botched up the job.   
  • September:  I found an awesome handyman to redo the wall the first handyman botched up. Super glad to have this behind me so I can get back to doing the things that I love. 

Like this....

Finally, after literally months of dealing with house repairs, I was able to invite my friends over for a holiday lunch.



I made these candy bar wrappers for the occasion and personalized them for the South Division.



Wishing everyone a Safe and Prosperous New Year
"May your troubles all be small ones, 
And your fortunes ten times ten,
May the good Lord bless and keep you, 
Til we meet again."

~ Meredith Willson

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Happy Halloween....

I love this time of year. Halloween is the holiday kick-off from now until we ring in new year. I loved it as a little girl, and I still love it now. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here and gone before we know it. It all goes by so fast.

I put together this fun Halloween video with a few safety tips I found on the CDC website to help keep your festivities fun and safe, and I included a delicious recipe from a previous blog post. All of my friends - with and without a badge - just love them. See below or click here for the original post.

Happy Halloween!

. 


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 (3.4 oz) package Jello brand instant butterscotch pudding mix
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (optional...I did not use in mine)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
Paper cupcake liners
2 muffin tins (holds 12 cupcakes) * Recipe makes 24 cupcakes. I do not recommend halving the recipe, but make all 24. They will be eaten!  

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins (12 ea) with 24 paper muffin/cupcake liners. 
  • Whisk together the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, and cloves in a bowl; set aside.
  • Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color.  Add the room temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next.  Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin puree with the last egg.  Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.  Place one paper liner in each muffin space. Pour the batter into paper cupcake liner. (see my notes below)
  • Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes.  Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.  NOTE: I used a double-oven and put one tin in each oven.  If you have a single-oven,  I would probably bake one tin at a time.  I’m not sure how evenly it would cook w/ two tins in one oven, so use your own judgment there.
  • After the cupcakes are completely cool, frost them with the cinnamon cream cheese icing.  
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing (Delicious!)
Ingredients:
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:
Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer in a bowl until smooth.  Beat in the confectioners' sugar a little at a time until incorporated.  Add the vanilla and ground cinnamon.  Beat until fluffy.  NOTE: You may need to add a little more confectioners' sugar to thicken the icing.  Try it with 3 cups first, and then add more if you want the icing to be thicker, but not too much, as you don't want it so sweet it won't compliment the taste of the cupcake.  I did add a little more, but not much. Make sure the cupcakes are completely cool before icing them.

Notes:  
  • The first time I made this, I panicked because after I stirred in the flour, the batter was VERY thick and was NOT ‘pourable’ as the instructions given to me called for.  I scooped the mixture out using a spoon. 
  • The second time I made this, I used a scoop like this and it went much, MUCH faster.  I use this scoop for my cream puffs also and it is such a time saver.  The scoop size is a 2” circle. 
  • If you use the scoop, put one scoop in each of the 24 cups, then go back with a spoon and evenly distribute the mixture until cups are ¾ filled.  Keep swirling the mixture around with a spoon to get the mixture to settle down. 
  • You won't use all of mixture, so don't worry. 
I used a 16" pastry bag for the frosting and the Wilton tip #1M.







October 27, 2017 - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Headquarters
I volunteered Friday night in the gift shop and set up my little treat table -- the first time in a long time. I thought it turned out cute. 


 ♥

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Chicken Fantastic....

Need something quick, easy, and delicious? This casserole is a simple variation of an entree I ordered off the "Pike's Soda Shop" menu here in Charlotte. And if you love the popular 'green bean casserole', you will love this.

It has been 'tested and approved' by the officers I cook for - twice.

The first time I made this casserole for 2nd shift, I was a little embarrassed to serve it. It's delicious, but like most casseroles, when you plate it, it doesn't really look all that appetizing. It just looks like a a big mistake on a plate. But on this particular night, surprisingly, I ran out!

The picture on the left is of the actual dish at Pike's Soda Shop. Mine is pictured below...see, what I mean? Mine tastes just as good - and maybe even better because I don't have to pick out the mushrooms - but the presentation is so much prettier in the crock. I have some of those crocks, maybe I should use them next time.

Anytime I cook for these guys, it's a guessing game on how much to make, but that night, I think 12 officers stopped by. I had to set the table in the kitchen as an overflow. I never really know how many officers will be able to stop by, but it was that night that I decided (as a novice cook) that no matter what, I must always make three pans of whatever it is. They loved it!

Here's what you'll need:


CHICKEN FANTASTIC

1 Rotisserie Chicken, shredded (about two cups - I use white meat)
2 boxes Chicken Stove Top stuffing OR 2 packages Uncle Ben's Long  Grain/Wild Rice
2 14.5 oz can French Style Green Beans (drained).
1 small can of diced water chestnuts (drained).
1 SMALL can French's Fried Onions (located next to the green beans at the store).  My picture is of a large can, but get the small.
1 can Campbells Cream of Chicken Soup
3/4 c. Whole Milk
1/2 stick Butter (if using the stuffing)
1-1/2 c. Kraft Finely Shredded Cheddar OR Colby/Monterey Jack (Colby/Jack seems to melt better)

I have made this both ways - with the wild rice (like on the original Pikes Soda Shop menu) and with chicken stuffing. Both are delicious!

If using the Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice:
  • Microwave two packs (separately) as directed on the back of the package. 
  • Spread both packs of cooked rice evenly in a greased 13 x 9" pan (I use Pam).
  • Add the 2 cups shredded chicken on top of the rice.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine the drained French Style Green Beans. 
  • Add the Cream of Chicken Soup. 
  • Add 3/4 cup of milk. 
  • Add the drained water chestnuts. 
  • Add 1 SMALL can French's Fried Onions (located next to the green beans at the store).  My picture is of a large can, but get the small. 
  • Stir until the soup and onions are well mixed. 
  • Pour the green bean mixture on top of the chicken. 
  • Sprinkle about 1-1/2 cups of the finely shredded cheese on top of the green bean mixture. 
  • Bake at 350" for about 35 minutes, or until hot.  
If using the stuffing:
Follow package directions, but use 1/2 stick of butter. Cover and let sit for a few minutes until stuffing is moist. Add a little more hot water if needed if it doesn't seem most enough. Sometimes for even more flavor, I will substitute the water with chicken broth for the stuffing. While the stuffing is softening, you can make the green bean mixture. Follow the steps above.

So you'll have four layers: 
        1- Dressing or Rice
        2- Chicken
        3- Green Bean Mixture 
        4- Cheese
    
Bake at 350 degrees until cheese has melted and casserole is bubbly (appx. 35 minutes). 

Enjoy!                                             



                                                                            ♥ 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Heart of HCSO....

Originally from Tampa/Brandon FL, I have made my home under the Carolina blue skies for the past
26-1/2 years. But I get homesick all the time.
I miss my family; friends; my best girlfriend, Linda; Frank and Diane; the drive across the Skyway Bridge....I could go on and on. The restaurants are amazing too. La Septima and Brocatos are two of my favorites. I'm not sure what or who I miss more - my family or the great Latin food. No offense, but I think it's a tie.  :)

I am proud to say that I am a Tampa native, and it was the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) who was the law enforcement presence in the area where I grew up. They still are. 

While I was working on a new community service video for CMPD, I found some wonderful photos on the HCSO's Facebook page that expresses their compassion for the children in Hillsborough County, so I made them a video. I have been wanting to do something for them for a long time - albeit now three states away - to show my appreciation for their continued service to my friends and family who still live there.   

I shared this video with my HCSO contact on Wednesday and I am proud to report that he loved it and I think the sheriff did too. It is currently making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter. 

This is the Heart of HCSO.    


I thought every picture was precious, but I especially loved the expression on this little one. Whatever he was saying looked super important and he had the deputy's attention. The expression on his face and his hand gestures.... priceless. Just as cute as can be.   
                                                          
 

Thinking about a visit to Tampa? Here's a great link to help get you started.  https://www.visittampabay.com/

Video photo credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Saturday, October 14, 2017

It's not about the cream puffs....

My life is perfectly imperfect. How many times have I said that! I work hard. I have two jobs. I volunteer downtown with CMPD. I live in a 56-year-old house that is literally falling apart at the seams, and the saga of the unfinished wall in the den continues. Who knew finding someone to fix it would be so hard, time-consuming, and expensive.

But my worries are over, my hero handyman has arrived!

Thanks to my friend, Rachel, I finally found an awesome handyman. His name is Jerry. He put my new paneled wall up in lickity split time and did a great job. He's coming back on Monday to finish sanding, priming, and painting it. The thought of not seeing my ottoman in the kitchen and the TV in the middle of the room makes me want to cry. I'm so happy!

The last two years have forced me to slack off from cooking for my friends -- foot surgery in 2015 and losing my job in 2016. I have tried to stay in touch the last two years by my volunteer work and  delivering my cream puffs, and I did host a lunch and dinner last November, but there are so many new officers, I feel like a stranger most of the time.

About a month ago, there was a knock on my door and two officers were out front in their cute little police UTV. I'm not exactly sure what UTV stands for, but I think it's 'utility vehicle'. Their UTV seemed a little bigger than the one pictured here (theirs had a backseat). Anyway, they were patrolling the Greenway that is not far from my home and were returning from a meal break. It meant so much to me that they stopped by to say hello.

Then Friday morning, in the midst of all the house drama and repair stress, I hear the whistle on my phone alerting me that I have a text message. It was a message from one of the officers from a division across town, and it made me smile big.

It's like they understand.

So it's not about the meals; I'm not just the 'food truck'; and it's not about how many cream puffs I make.

It's about friendship...thank you, officers!  
 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Me, oh my....PIES!

So who would've thought fixing a moisture-damaged wall would take so long. I started searching for someone to fix my wall well over a year and a half ago - maybe two. The first handyman who said "oh, I can do anything", never called me back. The second handyman was just interested in making a quick $70 for a service call so he can move on to the next job.

So when my neighbor, who manages commercial real estate for a living, highly recommended the handyman he uses, I had no reason to doubt his ability. Wrong! $1,630 later and I'm having to have the wall completely redone.

I was bamboozled!

All I want to do is get this wall done and my house put back together so I can invite my friends over for a hot meal again. I had a special request from a first shift officer for lasagna, so I guess I'll make that first.  

In the meantime, while I wait for the big ol' wall to be redone, I came across this wonderful video on pie crust hacks. With the holidays just around the corner, I thought I might have at least one reader who might be a pie baker.

Enjoy!  

                                                                                     

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Like father, like son.....

Congratulations to Charlotte's newest guardians of the night -- CMPD's Recruit Class #176! They have answered the call to bravely serve the citizen's of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 'Whom shall I send?
And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!."
~ Isaiah 6:8

      
                                                    Video Credit: CMPD/YouTube

This 176th graduate has followed in his father's footsteps - a retired NYPD police officer. The photo on the left of a son proud of his father, and the other of a father proud of his son. Priceless!  


Stay safe recruits #176. I hope to see you at my table one day for a hot meal or in the gift shop at the LEC if you're on third shift. In the meantime, my blue candle will continue to shine in my dining room window - all day, every day - to honor my friends behind the badge. It keeps me mindful of what a dangerous job you have. It keeps me mindful to pray for you. I hope it keeps you mindful of the lady on the corner who cares about you.

  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

#46 on Feedspot!

Ahem....so how did this happen?

My humble little blog was selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 50 Police Websites and Blogs on the Web!

I came in at #46! Feedspot said they reviewed thousands of police blogs using search and social metrics, so considering that little bit of information, I am amazed that I came in at all!

Like, how did they even find it?

I shared the good news with my best girlfriend while still a little confused how I made the list, and she thinks it might be because I offer a different perspective -- especially these days when the police need more citizen support.    

And I am in excellent company with other websites and blogs who made the list, like:
  • The Officer Down Memorial
  • PoliceOne
  • Law Officer
  • POLICE Magazine
  • MotorCop
  • Defrosting Cold Cases
...just to name a few.
 
Regardless of how they found me, I am honored.

The winning blogs were ranked based on following criteria:
  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on  Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistence of posts
  • Feedspot's editorial team and expert review

While most police blogs are written by police officers or others in that profession, I am just a working girl who is happiest when I am busy serving my friends behind the badge. Recognition like this is reassuring that I might be making a small difference in this world.  ♥     

Monday, July 3, 2017

Proud to be recognized....

So this recently happened. ♥

Two weeks ago, the 2016 CMPD Annual Report was distributed, and guess who was recognized for her volunteerism with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department? This girl!

I know it's cliché, but everything that happens in your life (good and bad) really DOES happen for a reason. It alters your path in life. It changes the outcome of what might have been if you had taken a different road. The choices I have made in my life, ultimately brought me to Charlotte, and for that I am grateful. I am grateful for this life I live. I am grateful that something bad has turned into something wonderful.

I think everyone has their 'moment in the sun' at least once in their lifetime, and I guess you could say this was mine. Thank you CMPD.



The few community videos I have made for the CMPD have been well-received and shared throughout the department and on social media (an honor in itself). Below is the video mentioned in the annual report:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Shiny Shoe Day....

Each year as National Police Week comes to a close, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department honors their fallen at a Peace Officer Memorial Service. Last Friday, 38 officers in service to Mecklenburg County were honored for their service and sacrifice. This service not only honored the fallen with CMPD, but also with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, Davidson Police Department, Huntersville Police Department, NC Division of Motor Vehicles (Enforcement), and the FBI.

It was a beautiful service and I was honored, for the second year in a row, to have my fallen officer video shown during the opening ceremony. Forever honored; never forgotten.

2017 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Peace Officers Memorial Tribute from Ann Radford on Vimeo


IT WAS A SHINY SHOE DAY

A memorial service is a day the officers look their best. It is a sign of respect for their brothers and sisters who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Long-sleeve shirt, black tie, a black band over their badge....and, yes, shiny shoes. They have a proper dress code for such events and wearing the black sneakers that they typically wear during a normal workday so they can move about quickly and for comfort, is not part of the appropriate attire for this service. 

Back in the day (late 1970s-early 80s) when my then husband was a deputy for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office, he always wore shiny shoes or nice boots with his uniform. Best I can remember, they didn’t wear black sneakers back then. In fact, sometimes when he was running late, I would polish his shiny shoes along with adding the pins and deputy badge to his newly starched white uniform shirt. You might say that I was too young and naive way back then to say “hey, polish your own shoes” (and yes, I was very young), but I don’t think that was it. I was genuinely happy to help my husband look his best before he left the house to serve his community. 

I  CAN'T BELIEVE I SAID THAT!

When I left the memorial service on Friday, I was walking up Davidson Street heading to the parking garage. I stopped at a crosswalk on the corner of 3rd Street and Davidson and pushed the button to cross. A CMPD officer came up behind me and I happened to look down and noticed his shiny shoes. As I looked up I saw his name tag. The officer was a Major! Without thinking, and maybe to make conversation, I said “It’s shiny shoe day, sir”, and he said “Yes ma’am it is”. 

By the time I got to the car I was mortified. I couldn't believe I said that. But if the Major knew me like the hundred or so officers who have sat at my table for a meal know me, he would understand that my heart is always in the right place when it comes to my friends in blue. It was just a silly little observation that took me back 38 years to another time in my life.

My prayer today is that those shiny shoes will stay in the closet until next year's memorial service. May my Heavenly Father continue to protect and keep my friends safe.

                            


                                                                    ♥                                                                 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Never forgotten....

This week is a very special week for law enforcement officers throughout the United States.

In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls, as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week is dedicated to honoring law enforcement officers and pays special recognition to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of others. It is a time police officers and thankful citizens throughout the country honor the fallen. 

In 2016, 143 officers in the United States were killed in the line of duty. This is video I did to remember and honor the fallen. Rest in peace officers....time will not diminish our respect for you. 

                                                                                    Never forgotten.... from Ann Radford on Vimeo

Bike to Washington DC

One very special event here in Charlotte during police week is when a few officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and officers from surrounding counties and states ride bicycles 500 miles over four days from Charlotte to Washington, DC. From the start in Charlotte and all along the way they are joined by fellow officers and citizens from towns and cities on the route who ride with them to show support for their cause - a ride in honor and memory of those who have died in the line of duty. Though the 500 mile journey is not easy, each mile is a tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  (Source: bike2dc.com)

Photo Credit: CMPD

At the completion of the ride, the officers attend a Candlelight Vigil at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Was
hington, DC. 

 Photo Credit: www.nleomf.org

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department honors 31 officers who have died in the line of duty since 1892.

Photo Credit: CMPD
                                                                   
                                                                      

                                                                     ♥

Friday, April 14, 2017

Amazing Grace has won the race....

Last July 2016, I lost my job. Some of you already know and I have been going back and forth as to whether or not my little bump in the road was worth sharing with everyone else, but my blog (for me) is also a place where I house my memories. I read it probably more than you do, so it will serve as a reminder to count my blessings, and I have had so many the past six months. I also hope it will encourage someone else who might be going through a similar situation.

And if you are, I can tell you this....every little thing will be OK.

When the news came, it wasn't a sad time. I was almost a little relieved. I was ready for something new. I had been taking stuff home for a month, so there were no tears. I have been working since I was 16-years-old, so I was ready for a much needed break. I'm not saying it was easy. There were times I was getting a little worried.

After a sixth month lovely vacation, it was nothing short of divine intervention when a former colleague at the company I left 12-1/2 years ago, invited me to a small Christmas lunch on Dec 13 with the old gang at Brios. Cindy emailed me on Facebook and invited me and said "Please say you can make it. We'd all love to see you!" I haven't seen my former colleagues in 12-1/2 years, so how could I say no to such a nice invitation. It was a lovely lunch. Only five of us. Me, Cindy, a retired VP who I supported when I worked there, and two colleagues who are still with the company. We all took turns at the table catching up with what was new in our life and, of course, when it was my turn, I mentioned that I was looking for work. I wasn't sad about it and told them that I was thoroughly enjoying my time off.

On January 25, Linda, one of the girls from lunch, called and said they had an executive assistant position opening up. She lined up an in-person interview the very next day and a telephone interview two days later at 10:30 am with the CEO I would be supporting. The CEO emailed HR shortly after our call ended and by 11:10 am, before I even left their office, I had the job.

So I have returned to the company I left 12-1/2 years ago. I have come full circle.


April 1st was my two month service anniversary.

I have had so many blessings throughout this 'life transition' and I stand amazed and humbled by God's grace. I also stand amazed at my friends. Remember the angel 'Clarence' in the movie 'It's a Wonderful Life'...."No man is a failure who has friends."

My six months of blessings:
  • I was shredding some junk mail about two months into my 'vacation' when I came across an unopened envelope from an insurance company who I cancelled a year earlier. Inside the envelope was an insurance premium refund dated 3 YEARS ago in the amount of $540.00. The insurance company reissued the check..
  • My IRS refund came nine months late, but it arrived the SAME DAY I needed a new hot water heater.
  • A colleague regifted to me the $100 I gave to her 10 YEARS AGO when her husband lost his job! Her note said "I remember the kindness you showed me when my husband lost his job and I had a hard time making ends meet. It's my turn to do the same for you!"
  • Another colleague and former police chief in the Air Force sent me a check with his thanks for what I do for the CMPD. He said this is for AHOP, and his gift helped fund my November 15 lunch/dinner for my friends in blue.
  • A CMPD sergeant gave me a monetary gift out of their own pocket with a thank you note. I thought the thank you note was for the cream puffs I had just delivered and didn't see my special gift until I got home.   
  • A CMPD officer across town personally called me shortly after I lost my job. "Are you going to be OK?" he asked (worried about my finances). "Do you need anything?" I thanked him and said "I am gonna be just fine!"
  • Another CMPD officer and good friend never let me forget that he was my safety net should I need help financially. I didn't need to call on him, but it meant so much to me that he asked. 
  • My long-time best girlfriend and her husband sent me a check with a note that read, "This is for AHOP....we believe in you! She said..."We don't care if you spend this on cream puff boxes or your mortgage....we just want you to keep it."  
....and I NEVER FILED FOR UNEMPLOYMENT!

You can't out-give God!



Saw this at Hallmark -- I think I will buy it.
I have the perfect spot for it!

On a more humorous note....my best girlfriend in Tampa called me the day after my first interview to learn more about this new job opportunity. It was 9:30 am and I was still in the bed watching Perry Mason (my morning routine). She laughed. I kind of miss my mornings with Perry.


Monday, January 30, 2017

The lady who cooks for us....

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

























This is CMPD'S beautiful police headquarters located in downtown Charlotte. I took this photo last Winter after a cream puff drop.

Those who work here might take its beauty for granted, but not me....I love everything about it. Its majestic exterior architecture, built specifically for CMPD in 1996, and how they have kept the right amount of old and mixed it with the new when they have updated and remodeled the interior over the years. But most of all, I love the people inside.

Last Saturday night I volunteered in the gift shop. I didn't set up a treat table so I parked in the visitor lot for the first time instead of the parking deck, and I was so glad I did.

Since I went in the front door, I had to take the elevator down to the lower level to get to the gift shop. When the elevator doors opened, there stood one of my South Division officers who was with his beautiful wife and his visiting in-laws. It was kind of surreal because it was about 10:15 pm, so I didn't expect to see him there. They had just come from the basketball game downtown and I guess he was showing his family around.

The officer seemed just as surprised to see me as I was so see him. We hugged and then he introduced me to his family...."This is the lady I was telling you about who cooks for us", he said. It made me smile big that my name had come up in a conversation with his family.

This officer has sat at my table many, many times over the past seven years, and has probably eaten everything I know how to cook. I haven't seen him in a while, so I asked if he was still with the South Division, and he said he was.

The next time I plan a meal, I will ask the sergeant for this officer's schedule to make sure I cook on a day or night that he is working. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll be able to come because they're so busy, but at least he'll know the AHOP light is on and I'll save a place for him at the table.

 

                                                                                   ♥