Archive | December, 2015

Wednesday:) What Wonders We See Along The Way

31 Dec

Life is your wonderful playground. Be merry and enjoy it to the fullest until we are called back Home.


It was a wonderful Wednesday. A wonderful day for a walk, sunny, in the 50’s. The evening sky painted  another amazing  display. Sometimes I think, I wonder if everyone stops dead in their tracks to stare at the beauty that nature provides. I swear, it always takes my breath away. While I was walking, I saw the horses across the road sauntering around, nibbling on tall grass, with an amazing sunset in the distance. 
It’s hard to see the horse in the lower left, but look at that sky!

The nearby pond is always a place of visual wonder.

I love this one with the bare tree silhouetting the sky.

An empty field where they are preparing to build more houses. That’s ok, the sky will still be there.

All these beautiful sights on an average daily walk. I just have to open my eyes, and there it is. How blessed am I?

Tuesday:) Time To Say Goodbye and Time To Say Hello

30 Dec

“You never really say goodbye to your children when they leave, because you slip your heart in their pocket when you give them that last long hug.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


You’d be very proud of me. I didn’t cry when I said goodbye to Matt at the airport today. I got to spend an extra day with him when his flight yesterday was canceled, but he spent hours trying to get a flight out today. Crazy weather, cancellations, and delays. We had a very nice visit. Matt spoiled me and humored me throughout his visit with many lunches, movies, dinners, and with me dragging him around to meet my friends, not to mention taking care of some of my financial questions. He is very patient, but I think I heard his eyes roll behind his head a few times. 

The “Last Supper.” More Mexican food and margaritas.

The little tree he bought me that I will plant and watch grow and remember his kindness. 

So, he had a long trip to get back home today from DFW with a long layover somewhere in Arkansas before arriving in Chicago this evening. I still don’t know if he made it home yet. 

It was tough to say farewell to my youngest son, but I’m hoping that the New Year will bring many blessings and more “Hellos.” I didn’t really say goodbye. I slipped my heart in his pocket when I gave him that last long hug.


Montage Monday:) A Week In A Peek

29 Dec

Christmas is a blanket that warms our cold hearts.” ― Toni Sorenson


“Wouldn’t it be nice if every heart was filled with the Christmas spirit all year round?”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


A busy, lovey, exciting week. Matt arrived late Christmas Eve, and he is still here. He was supposed to fly out this afternoon, but his flight and many others were cancelled due to the storms and bad weather in Chicago. I can’t say that I’m sorry to have him here another day, but he had a very important business meeting that he is missing in the morning. It was such a blessing and pleasure to have him here for the holidays.

Then, there were so many fun stories from my “pay it forward” challenge, and random acts of kindness. Cookies shared, strangers met, art work given, special moments and memories made. It was a great week. Wouldn’t it be nice if Christmas lasted forever, if every day was Christmas, if every heart was filled with the Christmas spirit all year round?


Sunday Sermon:) Family

28 Dec

“Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands. Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.” 
― Lisa Wingate


Today, we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family. The Gospel from Luke was about Jesus remaining behind in the temple during the family pilgrimage to Jerusalem when he was twelves years old, and Mary and Joseph were distraught looking for him. 

Father noted that even Jesus was taught to pray and show respect by his parents, and that it is the responsibility of parents to teach their children by example. Father also mentioned that families are in jeopardy in today’s society by many outside influences.

My take on it…love your children, teach them the importance of faith, family, honesty, and love, but these can only be taught by example. A book, not even “The Good Book” can teach these values without a teacher, a role model. 

I am very proud of my children. My sons have grown to be caring, honest, loyal young men. Best of all… They love their mamma. They treat me with such tenderness and respect, and for that I am truly thankful and feel very blessed. Not to be boastful, but I do believe that they learned by example and they saw how much I loved them and how I loved and treated others. They saw my strong faith and loyalty and family values. (Thank God they learned from their mother.) 

Matt has been here with me for Christmas and we have been having a great time. After Mass, I stopped at Sprouts for a few things. Matt made us a light breakfast of avocado toast with cucumber, (vegetarian)  then we went to see the movie, “The Big Short.” Interesting movie about the big stock market crash of ’08. 

We also stopped at Home Depot where Matt bought me a little tree that I can plant in my tiny naked back yard.

He has a lot of work to do for the office while he is “supposedly” on vacation, so in between working on projects that need to get done before he goes back to Chicago, we’ve been doing fun things together. (At least fun for me.) Matt and I went to dinner at Harry’s on the Harbor in Stonebridge tonight. Having a designated driver is fun. I had a Bellini with my chicken fried steak. Oh my! It was delicious.

So, in honor of the Feast of the Holy Family, I feel very blessed to have a such a wonderful family. 

 “Your children are the greatest gift that God will give you.” Can I hear an “Amen?”

Saturday:) Sipping Margaritas and Strolling the Square

27 Dec

“It was as if each of them sensed vaguely that the Saturday afternoons of youth are few, and precious, and this feeling which neither of them could have defined or described made every moment of this time together too short, too quickly gone, yet clearer and more sharply edged than any other.” ― Grace Metalious


It’s funny how feeling happy, comfortable, and content effects how well you sleep at night. I very rarely manage to get more than five or six hours of uninterrupted sleep max. I’m still pretty much a night owl, and didn’t fall asleep until 2:30 a.m. this morning. To my delight, when I looked at my phone to check the time when I woke up, it was 10:50! Whoa! Eight hours! I can’t remember the last time I slept eight hours. I know it was because my son, Matt, is here visiting for a few days, and he was upstairs sleeping in his room. We had no plans, no agenda, just maybe stroll on the square and find a place for Mexican food for dinner. 

We headed over to the square around 1 p.m. with a quick stop at Fire Station #1 with some cookies for the guys. 

Station #1 is also a museum with an old time fire truck and other historical McKinney memorabilia.

Poor Matt, I dragged him all around town, popping in to say hello to shop owners and friends. I stopped in with some cookies for Dana and Judy over at Art on the Veranda. We said hi to Jen in her hat shop, and visited with Miss Sue at the visitors center. 

The next stop was the North Texas History Center just east of the square. 

Downstairs they had a Viet Nam historical exhibit. Very interesting photos and information.

The wind was blustery, but it was a balmy 77 degrees, with an occasional drizzle, then the indecisive sun bursting through. 

Matt and I hadn’t eaten all day, so the next stop was the Blue Goose Cantina. I announced to Matt that he would be driving home because I was going to have a margarita. We ordered queso and chips, I had my chicken fajitas, Matt his cheese enchiladas, (vegetarian) and we each had a margarita. It was delicious and I thought I was going to explode or implode, or both. 

When we returned home, I put on my gym shoes and attempted a walk. I only managed fifteen minutes in a light drizzle before the rain pelted down, so I scurried home. 

Now, the tornado warnings and flash flood warnings have been screeching on my phone and flashing on the television. But, we are safe, I have my son here, and life is good.


Friday:) Finally Christmas Day

26 Dec

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” ― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!


The cookies are all baked and dispensed, (except for a few dozen that mysteriously disappeared inside my tummy) the dust bowl of flour and sugars and chaos that was my kitchen is straightened up, and the very best part of all…I picked Matt up from the airport late last night. Now, my Christmas is perfect. 

I went for a quick walk this morning and the sun was warm and the skies were crystal blue. Matt and I went to see STAR WARS at noon. We expected a long line and a packed theatre, but neither happened. Good movie, no spoiler alerts, but there a few corny jokes and comments.
Selfie at the theatre. Matt thinks I’m a nut, but that’s ok, because I am. 

It was a beautiful afternoon, so Matt went for a run and I took another walk. We are just sitting around watching TV, chatting, and eating snacks. I opened my presents that Joe and Lindsay sent, and the box from Lin with fun personalized gifts. I always like to wait for Christmas Day to open presents.


Lin is always so thoughtful. Now I can see her cute face when I drink my tea every morning.

A new Notre Dame sweatshirt and other goodies from Joe and Lindsay.

And the best gift of all, my son Matt sitting next to me on Christmas Day.

My 12 Days of Christmas “Pay it Forward” challenge is over, but you know me, I’ll continue to pay it forward and do random acts of kindness all year round. I had some wonderful experiences and made a lot of people smile. It isn’t always about expensive gifts and things that come from the store. Just like the Grinch said…

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” 

― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Theme Song Thursday:) Sharing Joy and Cookies and THE 12th DAY OF CHRISTMAS “PAY IT FORWARD”

25 Dec

“There is no greater joy than making someone smile.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


“A purposeful act or extension of kindness to another is never wasted, for it always resides in the hearts of all involved in a chain of love.” ― Molly Friedenfeld


Yesterday, I started my cookie baking marathon. I started out at the store buying last minute supplies. The cashier, Miss Sherrie is a landmark at Albertson’s. I always say, “How are you today?” She replies, “Onery as ever.” She saw all my flour, sugar, butter, etc. and said,”Looks like you’re gonna do a lot of baking.” I told her I always bake tons of cookies for Christmas and she said she wouldn’t mind having a few. We laughed, but it gave me an idea.

This morning I finished up dipping the peanut butter cookies in dark chocolate and making the lemon cake balls and dipping them in white chocolate. I made all my containers to share with neighbors and the two for the fire stations. But, I made a little container to take over to Miss Sherrie. I remembered that she said she was working Christmas Eve.

I got in line at her register with just the container on the belt. It had a little note that just said Merry Christmas, Toni. She tried to scan the bottom several times then said, “Honey, there’s no bar code on this.” I laughed and said, “That’s because those are the cookies I made for you, Miss Sherrie.” She was really overwhelmed and delighted. She came around the counter and gave me a big hug. We exchanged Christmas well wishes, and when I left, she had the biggest smile. (I love random acts of kindness!)

This expression says it all.

My next stop was Fire Station #5. I’ve made an ornament for them every year since I moved to Texas in ’04 and always have a batch of cookies. I asked them if they put up a tree this year, and they said just a tiny little thing. But they said they’d hang this special one up on their tiny tree. They remembered me as the ornament lady and thanked me. I shook their hands and thanked them right back.

Next stop, Fire Station #2. I started dropping off goodies there a few years ago when a bunch of the guys from #5  got transferred to station #2. Double duty.

I didn’t even have to knock on the door. They saw me coming. Gotta love our guys in blue!

When I got home,mother sun was still shining and it was a gloriously warm and lovely day, so I took a walk and dropped off cookies at Bernadine’s house. She’s the lady that made banana nut bread for me the other day. Sweet lady. She invited me to have a cup of tea, but I wanted to walk and enjoy the sun before dark.

Isn’t she precious. 

More cookies went across the street to Miss Kathy, some to Mr. Mike, and some to the family next door. I still have a lot of cookies, but tomorrow is Christmas, and I’m sure they will find their way to a good home. Not to mention, my son Matt arrives tonight, and he loves my cookies. And…I’ve sampled quite a few…just to make sure they were good.

Wednesday:) What In The World? …Day 11 “Pay It Forward”

24 Dec

“Because it proves that you don’t need much to change the entire world for the better. You can start with the most ordinary ingredients. You can start with the world you’ve got.” 
― Catherine Ryan Hyde, Pay It Forward


Today begins my cookie baking extravaganza! I love to bake cookies at Christmas time. I don’t bake a couple of dozen cookies, I bake a couple of hundred! I’m trying out an experiment with a lemon cake mix, bake it, smoosh it up and add a can of lemon frosting, then roll into little cake balls and dip in white chocolate. Well, I made one cake mix,  and it was too mushy, so I baked another box of lemon cake. Let’s see if that works? I’ll keep you posted. 

Of course, I had to make a funny face with the mix. I’ve never used lemon before….


Day 11:) 12 Days of Christmas “Pay It Forward” or Random Acts of Kindness

My neighbor, Kathy, asked if I would paint some wine glasses for her Christmas dinner she was hosting with her family and friends. She purchased some fairly expensive glasses at Crate and Barrel, which made me a little nervous. So, I practiced on some inexpensive glasses I had at home and she loved the example. Plus, the colors, white and silver, matched her grandmother’s fine china. She also requested their names be written on the base, and that would be their place setting and gift. I worked all night and finished around 1:30 a.m. Then, I got up around 8 a.m. To bake them in the oven to heat set them.

The before…a little nervous…here we go!

The after…turned out great…I was pleased, as was Kathy. I saw her decorating outside  her house in the afternoon and told her they were ready. We each carefully took a box with six glasses each across the street to her house. She was so excited and was showing me her new table linens, decorations, etc.  Then came the big question, and out came the check book. 

I told her about my “Pay it forward” challenge and random acts of kindness, and asked her to simply pay it forward. Well, she was shocked and I got another big hug. I sure do get a lot of big hugs, don’t I? 

I know, I’m not a great photographer. She really had a big smile before the posing part. It felt good to know that I painted something lovely for a friend, and that her guests would receive a beautiful hand-painted wine glass. They are all strangers, except for Kathy. She’s going to take pictures of her table setting at Christmas so I can see how pretty everything looked. 

Luckily there’s only one more day left of pay it forward. I’m getting pretty tired staying up late and working on projects. The funny part is, I do these types of things all the time. I just never challenged anyone else to do the same.

Tomorrow is the final day, and my son Matt is flying in to spend Christmas with me. I’m so excited. I’m going to bake his favorite cookies, either tonight or tomorrow. Another late night!

Tuesday:) Taking Time and Day 10 of “Pay it Forward” Challenge

23 Dec

Take time to smell the roses

Take time to smell the air

Enjoy each lovely sunset

And don’t forget to share.

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


This morning, I discovered several still blooming roses and emerging buds on my solitary Knockout rose bush in my front yard.

Take time to smell the roses.

Look at this glorious sunset. I always take time to snap a quick photo.

Talk about sharing, today is Day 10 of my 12 Days of Christmas “Pay It Forward” Challenge.

Day 10:) A few weeks ago, I had posted some photos of my hand-painted wine glasses and vases on Facebook.  A gentleman had commented how nice my items were and asked if I had any champagne flutes left for sale.  He thought his wife would love them and they’d make a great Christmas gift. Mark is a talented photographer, and it’s always a huge compliment for one artist to admire another’s work. We arranged to meet at Sweet Spot Bakery on the Square this afternoon. When I showed him the flutes, he was impressed. When he took out his checkbook, I explained my “pay it forward” challenge and told him that it was my gift. I did request that he do something nice for someone when an opportunity presented itself. He assured me that he would. We chatted a while about photography, the square, starving artists, and random acts of kindness. Mark and I had never met in person before, just Facebook friends, but today we parted with a smile, a hug, and a promise of making the world a better place, one random act at a time.

Don’t tell Mark’s wife. It’s a surprise.

Montage Monday:) and  More “Pay It Foward” Challenge

22 Dec

“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!” 
― Dave Barry

( A little humor from Dave Barry)


Talk abput a lazy Monday. I turned off my alarm at 7:00, texted my friend that I wasn’t going to kickboxing at 8:15, and crawled back under the covers. I didn’t emerge until 12:45 in the afternoon. I wasn’t sleeping the entire time, but I didn’t feel like getting up either. I think my old weary body was trying to catch up with too many late nights followed by early mornings. It’s 7:37 p.m. and I still haven’t gotten around to eating since lunch yesterday. What do I do with my time? 

Here’s a week in a peek. I especially loved the karaoke bus trip with the Unbiological Sisters on Wednesday. Plus, every day with a new “pay it forward” challenge has been inspirational.

Day 9:)

Today, for my random act of kindness, I decided to take a gingerbread house kit to the children next door. We’ve been neighbor’s for over a year, but Jack and Allyson are very quiet and shy. I take brownies and cupcakes over every now and then, and they are polite and say thank you, but they aren’t very demonstrative. I guess I was so used to my adorable neighbor’s, the Reynolds. The triplets would pop over and visit, we baked, had tea parties, played games, and they were like family. They still are, I just don’t live next door anymore.

Jack answered the door, and when I said, “I brought you and Allyson a present,” his eyes lit up and he had a big smile when he saw it was a gingerbread house. I told him that they probably should build the house one day and let it set before trying to decorate it. I learned that the hard way. Who knows, maybe they’ll invite me over to help decorate it?

A dark picture, but you can see the smile.