Archive | May, 2013

Freak-Out Friday?: Buying a New Car

31 May

“Middle Age – When you want to see how long your car will last instead of how fast it will go.”
There’s nothing scarier than buying a new car. Well, maybe execution by guillotine, nuclear war… then buying a new car. But, it’s right up there. Today was the day! My sister has been “seriously looking” to buy a new car for about five years now. I told her I’d go car shopping with her while I’m in town visiting. We looked at a couple places yesterday, but the color was wrong, the interior was yucky, or it was too low to the ground.

I was delighted when she called this morning and asked me to go car shopping again. She even said, “I’m bringing my checkbook.” Now, that’s determination! She picked me up at Mom’s place, and we headed straight to the Nissan dealer. The Altima sounded like the perfect car and just what she was looking for. Nope! Not one car meeting the stringent female requirements of, must be a pretty color, light…not dark murky interior, and bigger than a bread box. We left and continued down the road to the Toyota dealership.

We scanned the lot for pretty colors. Not a huge variety, but we walked in anyway. A very nice gentleman approached us. He was not the typical pushy, over-bearing snake oil salesman. He had a very pronounced Indian (from India) accent, but was very soft spoken and polite, a pleasure to deal with.

After looking at a few Camrys that didn’t meet the criteria, her eyes wandered over to the Prius Hybrids. Eureka! Several blues and reds with light interiors.


The test drive of approximately 50 or 60 feet, from the back to the front of the lot clinched the deal. (We didn’t even leave the parking lot.) A decision was made. She said, “I’ll take this one if the price is right.” There wasn’t a lot of pushing or haggling once inside. They did the usual, “Well, I have to check with my manager.” But, after all was said and done, they accepted her counter offer. No one freaked-out or indignantly stormed away? At this point, it was sit and wait to clean the car, sign the papers, etc. But, as car shopping goes, this was probably the quickest, least aggravating car purchase I’ve ever witnessed.

I guess buying a new car doesn’t have to be scary after all! Now, we need to work on the guillotine and nuclear war.

The very nice car salesman handing my sister the keys.

Sporty interior of the Prius Hybrid

Theme Song Thursday: Senior Living

30 May

“I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything until noon. Then it’s time for my nap.”
– Bob Hope
The Greens of Elgin is the name of the independent living place where Mom lives. She went kicking and fighting when the day came to sign the the papers to purchase a beautiful brand new two bedroom condo. That lasted about two days, and now, ten years later, she still loves it here. Mom has dozens of good friends who adore her, and there are so many activities, she barely can keep up. It’s great to visit and see her so happy and independent.

The secret, as I often say is, “Bloom where you’re planted.” It’s not the kind of place where you’re living, it’s the kind of living you bring to each place. Mom certainly brings sunshine wherever she is planted.

Because she lives at the Greens of Elgin, and I am a “show tune” enthusiast, I changed the first part of the Green Acres theme song to suit my mood.

The Greens of Elgin is the place for me
Fun living is the life for me
Friends sitting round so far and wide
Keep Chicago – just give me that countryside

TV Show Theme Songs – Green Acres
Green acres is the place for me
Farm living is the life for me
Land spreading out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan – just give me that countryside

No, New York is where I’d rather stay
I get allergic smelling hay
I just adore a penthouse view
Darling, I love you but give me Park Avenue

The chores

The stores
Fresh air
Times Square

You are my wife
Good bye…city life
Green Acres….we are there!!

The Greens of Elgin is the place for me
Fun living is the life for me
Friends sitting round so far and wide
Keep Chicago – just give me that countryside


My sweet mom, Trini, who brings sunshine to a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May….Oops! That’s another song for another day.

Wednesday: Words of Wisdom and “Perfect” Strangers

30 May

We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.
Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dallas Fort Worth Airport. It was a busy Memorial Day weekend. Terminal A was already bustling with stranded passengers from the bad storms that had grounded and cancelled dozens of flights the night before. Servicemen were scattered everywhere. I was catching a flight to Chicago, but my flight was delayed too, leaving me with few hours to kill.

I tried to shake hands with all the soldiers and thank them for their service, but I’m sure I missed a few. As fate would have it, I struck up a conversation with a soldier sitting all alone, and I asked him if I could buy him breakfast.

To make a long story short, we sat, ate a nutritious McDonald’s breakfast,(humor) and chatted for well over an hour. It turned out that Chaplain James Lewis was an army Major heading home on a four day pass before being deployed. He had been stranded overnight at DFW, losing a day of precious family time. We shared more than stories and email info that morning. We shared a small moment in time where The Lord lets you meet a fascinating, kind, and special person; a stranger who now becomes a friend.

Here is my first letter to Chaplain Jim and his response. I am truly blessed to have made a wonderful new friend.
(May 28, 2013)
Dear Chaplain Jim,
It was such an honor to meet you Saturday. I always say The Lord puts certain people in my path for a reason. I’ve had so much fun visiting with my sons, Mom, and my sister, and of course, sharing my story of the wonderful Chaplain I met at the airport. I hope you made it back home to your family without more delays.
As I told you, I write everyday, and thought I’d share my blog from Memorial Day. I’d be honored to hear from you now and then, and hope you don’t mind if I keep you in my email ramblings. I definitely will keep you in my prayers.
Your new friend,
Toni Andrukaitis

(Chaplain Jim’s response on May 28, 2013)


Thanks for breakfast and the chance to share. I do intend to keep up with you and will include you in my Chaplain’s Chats weekly mailings, starting up again probably next week once we are in country.

It was fun to tell my wife that I got picked up by a gal at the airport eager to connect with a lonely Soldier! She’s a fun one– I think I’ll keep her. Next week will be our 26th anniversary.

She kept my trip home a secret from the kids– a good time was had by all, despite the rather cool weather as we were camping on the lake– counldn’t tell it was summer!

If I miss you next week, send again so I cann get you on my list when I’m building my new routines.
Keep being a blessing-


I look forward to hearing from you, Chaplain Jim. Stay safe!

Tuesday:Tips and Tricks of the Trade

28 May

I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.
Vincent Van Gogh

It’s been a great day so far. My friend Linda, from high school, came to visit me and Mom this afternoon. I’m only in town a couple weeks, so I hope to see some old friends. (Well, they’re not old.) We went to lunch and visited for several hours, catching up on the kids, friends, and family. We haven’t seen each other in quite a few years, but man…she looks just like she did over 40 years ago. Really! I’m not kidding! That’s always my first tip of the day…spend time with friends.

Mom and I haven’t started our paint-a-thon yet, but I thought I’d entice you with a little preview of painting on glass. I use Folkart Enamel paint, made for glass, tile, etc., and use the One-Stroke painting method.

This is 12×12 clear glass, the white underneath is a plastic cloth. Tip: if you don’t feel comfortable painting freehand, you can put a picture under the glass to follow. I started with a few brown branches and green leaves, double loading my flat brush with one side color, the other side white.

Next- double-side-load blue and white to form flowers. Upside-down hearts make a great petal shape. Then add a little green at the flower base and add stems with a fine liner brush.

I put a piece of bronze paper underneath just to see the clarity. Try different backgrounds or scrap booking papers. You can frame it (the glass came from a frame) or use as a decorative piece. The possibilities are endless.

Last tip for today: Share what you make, bake, write, or paint. The more you give, the more you get back. Feel free to ask for further instructions or help.

Monday: Memorial Day and Memories

27 May

“America without her Soldiers would be like God without His angels.”
― Claudia Pemberton

My father is no longer with us, but his memory is not forgotten. He served his country during World War II and fondly spoke of his fellow servicemen. Elijah Armenta was active in his local VFW Post to the very end, and was honored with many serving and veteran military personnel at his funeral. He served in the army, but the army also served him by instilling personal pride and pride in his country.

Elijah Armenta

My watercolor rendering of Dad while serving in the Philippines.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend and a special prayer goes out to our faithful military. (God’s Angels)

Simple Sunday: Shapes and Shadows

27 May

The photos will speak for themselves. Simple shapes and shadows tell their own story.



What do you see?

Super Busy Saturday

26 May

Guess where I am? Instead of where’s Waldo?

On a plane to…… ?
The day started with a 5 am wake-up. My dear husband took me to the airport.(Now, he gets to stay home and watch the dogs 24/7 and go crazy.) I’m spending this weekend with my sons, then later to Mom’s. After arriving, the boys and I had a nice relaxing brunch. Then we spent a few hours at one of my favorite places in the world. Guess where?


I’ll share some photos of the masterpieces inside.




After a lot of walking, we went to a movie. Take another guess? What movie?

Yes, I am a Trekki! I’m exhausted, but I boldly went where I haven’t been since last year around this time. So, I bid you goodnight and “Live long and prosper.”

Friday: More Faces, More Firemen

25 May

I see faces everywhere, in my eggs in the frying pan, in my brownie batter, and today in my cheesecake mixture. Yes, faces everywhere! The fun part is, the funny faces in the batter always bring about smiling faces in the recipients of the finished product.

When the eggs are dropped in, the face just happens. This is never done on purpose. A gift or a curse?

The finished product…mini-cheesecakes.

With Memorial Day around the corner, I wanted to thank our local fire fighters with some homemade treats. They certainly go out of their way for us, don’t they!


But sound aloud the praises, and give the victor-crown
To our noble-hearted Firemen, who fear not danger’s frown.
~Frederic G.W. Fenn, “Ode to our Firemen,” 1878

Theme Song Thursday: I love Jeopardy!

23 May

Question: What does Toni do all day instead of writing, artwork, cleaning, and cooking?

Answer: Watch Jeopardy, Alex.

My afternoon ritual consists of a cup of tea and watch recorded episodes of Jeopardy. I was so proud of myself because I was 3 for 3 in guessing the final Jeopardy question correctly. Granted, I usually miss 75% of the regular questions, but man… I’m good at the final. See how you do.

Category: Civil War… I just guessed on this one, but a good guess. Hum the theme song to yourself now.

Category: Art world. I’ll admit, I took an educated guess with my limited Spanish vocab. Hum……

Category: American women. Now, I bet all of you get this one, so wager all your money. I didn’t even guess. More humming…

Now that you have made your wagers, I will tell you the correct answers. Lets see if you were 3 for 3 also. I’m sure you were.
First: Tennessee- I just tried to think of a long wide state.
Second: Bull Fighting- I thought maybe a toro was in there somehow.
Third: Rosa Parks- She wasn’t going to move to the back of the bus. You go, girl!

Don’t I live an exciting life? That was rhetorical. You know I do.

Wednesday: Words of Wisdom on Writing

23 May

“Writers write, but authors publish.” ~ Janet Harris PhD

Anyone can write, but not everyone will get published. So how do you become an author? If I could give you the answer to that right here in my lowly little blog, I’d be a magician or a genius. (I like to think I’m a little of each, but you know better.) What I can tell you is, while you need to listen to your heart, you also need to listen to as many other authors as you can. The more you listen, the more you learn.

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of going to a lecture in the Texas Writers and Words Series at the Heard Craig Carriage House in McKinney. The speaker was the very knowledgeable and humorous Janet Harris from Brown Books Publishing Group. I scribbled down a few notes in between amusing anecdotes and useful tips.

Ms. Harris shared with us the importance of the opening sentence of a book grabbing the reader, enticing them to want to read more. Did my opening sentence intrigue you? Writers write… Here’s a brief video explaining the concept of the opening sentence. Also, one of her pet peeves was the word “it.” If we avoid using that word, our writing will improve. (I could have said, it will improve your writing.) Great tip…but now I’ll have to rewrite all my work. Dang!

The hour lecture flew by, but a few of us stopped to chat afterwards. I asked Janet if she was stopping for lunch, and she was. So, four of us walked over to Snug on the Square and had a great lunch and even a greater conversation. How often do you have the opportunity to hear an inspiring lecture and have lunch with the speaker?

I’m one lucky writer! But, now I have a lot of work to do. What could “IT” be?