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Music to her ears

Musician finds notable retirement living at Maris Grove

Created date

January 12th, 2017
Accomplished pianist Phyllis Daniel brought her studio grand piano with her when she moved from San Antonio, Tex., to Maris Grove, the Erickson Living community in Delaware County, Pa.

Accomplished pianist Phyllis Daniel brought her studio grand piano with her when she moved from San Antonio, Tex., to Maris Grove, the Erickson Living community in Delaware County, Pa.

When Phyllis Daniel moved to Maris Grove from San Antonio, Tex., three years ago, she brought her love for all things music-related and her extensive musical background to Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa.

She shares those talents with her neighbors through the activities she participates in at Maris Grove. “My involvements are all musical,” she says. 

All about the music

When she wants to sing or play for her own enjoyment, her studio grand piano is immediately available. It sits comfortably at one end of the spacious great room in her large and well-appointed two-bedroom apartment home. 

Phyllis participates in campus life by singing in Maris Grove’s chorus. She’s also performed as a soloist in Millstone Lounge at the Brinton Clubhouse and has sung for Protestant services in the community’s interfaith chapel.

Her allegiance to music started early; at age three she was climbing up on her mother’s piano bench. She can play by ear, but she also studied classical piano for 11 years. 

After earning a bachelor of music in performance and a master of arts in music history, Phyllis taught voice for 30 years. Because it enabled her to discover and nurture her students’ talents, she loved teaching better than performing.

Cooking up happiness

Her nurturing side also applies to her other love—cooking. 

She often makes use of her beautiful “cook’s kitchen” at Maris Grove. She no longer conjures up complicated cuisine for just herself, favoring big salads instead. But she does insist on dousing them with her homemade dressings. 

“And when I’m at my daughter’s, I cook there too,” she says.

She specializes in baking cookies and yeast breads. 

When her son visited from Denver, Colo., this summer, she sent him home with the last of her frozen, made-from-scratch bon bon cookies. The time-consuming but rich and delicious treats suggest little jewels—each of them features pastel icing and conceals a tasty treasure of a cherry, nut, or piece of chocolate inside. 

A chocolate lover, her favorite confection is the humble chocolate chip cookie. In search of chocolate chip perfection, she’s been tweaking her recipe for years.

Phyllis never achieved her dream of owning a coffee shop, where people could come for afternoon tea and cookies. But she might come close; every year she bakes 15 different kinds of Christmas cookies and shares them with her Maris Grove neighbors.

She also shares her specialty pecan rolls. A variation on her favored yeast-based recipe, “surprise rolls” feature cottage cheese as a major ingredient.

On baking days, the aromas wafting into the hallway from Phyllis’ kitchen must tempt many a passerby.

All in all, moving to Maris Grove has been a good decision. Phyllis has many good friends there, she’s able to pursue the things that mean the most to her, and she enjoys making other people happy by sharing her musical and baking talents. 

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