Archive | June, 2016

Wednesday:) What In The World? Why A Frog?

29 Jun

“Frog in a little pond can be much happier than fish in a vast ocean!” 

― Mehmet Murat ildan


When I left Chicago, (Actually, Elgin) on Sunday, it was before 7am, I hadn’t slept much, and I was a little bleary eyed. My sister walked across the parking lot at Mom’s place to get the car, to take me to the airport. The strangest sight, sitting there as still,as could be was a big ol’ frog. It sat on the sidewalk by the front door, right next to the post with the handicap push button on it. 

Of course, being a student and believer of symbolism, I took his picture, of which he posed gracefully without moving. I was there three weeks and never saw a frog, much less at the front door of a busy apartment/condo complex. A symbol just for me. I knew it had to be good luck.

Look how he sat patiently waiting to say goodbye and good luck to me. Thank you Mr. Frog!

When I looked up the meaning of seeing a frog, I thought it was most appropriate. A transition, growth cycle, abundance, luck, healing…different meanings in different cultures. All very optimistic. I felt pretty darn lucky.

Just some other information on frogs if you’re interested…


Frog Meanings and Symbolism

When the frog jumps into your life it may indicate now is a time to find opportunities in transition. We see animal symbolism of transition with the frog in its unique growth cycle. The frog undergoes incredible transformations to reach the destination of full adulthood, and so do we as humans.
The frog understands what it is like to undergo some serious growing pains – and so it is a fantastic animal totem for teenagers as they sometimes struggle to find their place (in-betwix youth and adulthood) in society.
In many cultures the primary symbolic meaning of frogs deals with fertility. This is largely because these cultures observed Frogs laying enormous quantities of eggs, therefore making it a fertility symbol as well as a symbol of abundance.

A quick-list for animal symbolism of the frog includes:











In Egypt we see the Frog-headed Heket who is an Egyptian goddess of birth(ing).
As a Celtic symbol meaning, the Frog was deemed lord over all the earth, and the Celts believed it represented curative or healing powers because of its connection with water and cleansing rains. More Western and European views focus on the Frog’s three stages of development (egg, tadpole, fully formed amphibian) to symbolize resurrection and spiritual evolution. For these same reasons it is also a common Christian symbol for the holy trinity and resurrection. It is often seen in Christian art to express this symbolism.
In China the Frog is an emblem of Yin energy and thought of as good luck. Feng Shui practices recommend putting an image of a Frog in the east window of your home to encourage child birth and/or happy family life.

Frog energy is also considered to be a link between the living and the dead. An interesting ancient Asian custom was to place a jade frog in the mouth of the deceased to insure his/her spirit would pass safely into the spirit world. This custom was believed to allow the spirit of the deceased to speak more clearly to loved ones still living.
Frogs are also good luck symbols in Japan – especially for travelers. Images or charms were worn during long voyages to assure safety (particularly across water).
I have a friend, Albert who lives in Japan. He shared further Japanese wisdom animal symbolism of the frog. The Japanese word for frog is “kaeru.” It is the same word meaning “return.” So travelers carry a small frog amulet with the intent of returning safely home.
Further, small pebble-sized frog amulets are carried in their wallets so money will not be lost. You can meet my friend Albert via his studio here (Studio Sussler)Ancient Hindus viewed the animal symbolism of frogs on a more cosmic levels, as they believe Frogs projected the world into orbit in space, and the frog was also thought to signify darkness.
Call upon the energy of the frog when:
You need to easily swim through some tough life-transitions
You need a little assurance while traveling

You are working to enhance your intuition, and strengthen your connection with the spirit world

Tuesday Tunes:) Back In The Saddle Again

29 Jun

“Gotta love a messy kitchen. It means somethin’s cookin'”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


“Normal is an ideal. But it’s not reality. Reality is brutal, it’s beautiful, it’s every shade between black and white, and it’s magical. Yes, magical. Because every now and then, it turns nothing into something.” 

― Tara Kelly, Harmonic Feedback


Getting back to normal here. I went to Zumba this morning. I forgot half of the songs and routines, and there were a couple of new ones that I missed, but I got back into the swing. (Get it? Swing?) we do a lot of dancing, swinging and swaying. I just happened to be going the wrong way most of the time.

It’s been pretty hot here, so I’ve been laying low during the heat of the day. Thank goodness for air conditioning and the ceiling fans. I’m a big fan of the fan.

Now, that I’m back in the saddle, it was time to make brownies and funny brownie batter faces. My neighbors Diane and Richard kept an eye on my house while Imeas in Chicago, and tomorrow is Richard’s birthday, so I made some brownies. My immaculate kitchen is now back to its normal messy chaotic state. Gotta love a messy kitchen. It means somethin’s cookin’.

Funny face brownies.

Messy kitchen, complete with dirty laundry and mail that needs sorting. Back to normal, or whatever is my normal. 

Montage Monday:) Reminiscing

28 Jun

There are events in one’s life which, no matter how remote, never fade from memory― Jim Corbett


I’m back home in McKinney after three fun-filled, food-filled, family and friend-filled weeks in Chicago. It’s good to be home, it’s sad to leave home.

Sunday Sermon and Home Sweet Home

27 Jun

We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” ― Pascal Mercier


Today was my day to go home, leave Chicago and go back to McKinney. But, which one is really home. Like the quote says, “We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place.” It was sad to leave my mother, sister, sons, family, and friends. That’s home, or back home, but that’s not where I live.

An early morning start, with Mom waking me at 5:15 to ask if I needed to get up. I told her not till 6, but then couldn’t go back to sleep. Then she teased me with a big smile and outstretched arms and said, “Don’t go!” My sister came at 6:30 am to pick me up for a ride to the airport, but I wasn’t quite all packed. O’Hare is a zoo, so we left plenty early so I had more then enough time to allow for traffic and for security. Everything went smoothly and on time.

O’Hare is a nice airport, but it’s crazy huge, chaotic, and more like a small city surrounded by planes. I had over two hours before boarding, so I made some calls, wrote a little and read. When I got to my seat, 22E, the overhead was empty and I was even able to lift my heavy suitcase up there without male assistance. I was so proud. When the next two passengers arrived, it turned out to be a mother and daughter. One had the window, and the other had the aisle, with me in the middle. The mom offered me her aisle seat. Wow! Glad I didn’t pay the extra $55 for an aisle seat. Got it for free. My lucky day.

The plane was packed, but it was a smooth ride, no delays, and on time back to DFW. My friend Zelda came to pick me up and arrived just as I was walking out to the curb. Perfect timing. Then to make it even “perfecter,” (I like to make up words) we stopped for lunch, had a big salad, then stopped for ice cream. YES! The diet starts tomorrow! (Maybe )

By the time I got home, it was almost 4. The first thing I did was crank up the air, turn on the ceiling fan and lay my head on my very own pillow. But then…I felt guilty. I didn’t go to Mass. I was traveling all day. But, St. Gabriel’s has a 5:30 Sunday evening Mass. So, I got my sorry…self up, and changed my clothes and went to Mass. Of course, to feel back into the swing of things,  I went early and greeted at the door, saying “Good evening,” instead of my usual morning greeting. I missed my usual morning ministry, so it was great to see the smiles and hear the return greetings. It was a nice service with lots of singing, a wonderful singing group with guitars and a young woman with the voice of an angel. Sometimes change is good.


The Gospel was the one where Jesus tells some of His followers that difficult choices and sacrifices must be made to follow Him. My take on it…pretty much the same as Father Mike’s, the visiting priest from Oklahoma. Being good, doing good, and following the word of Jesus is not always easy, but the reward is everlasting.

Gospel. Luke 9:51-62

To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plowand looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”


So which place did I leave behind something of myself? Where is home? I guess it can be both.

We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” 

― Pascal Mercier

Saturday:) Scary Upsidedown Smiley Faces and Some Monkeys

25 Jun

“A smile is contagious and nothing to sneeze at. Share a smile, not a cold.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Everyone loves smiley faces and monkeys, don’t they? But, Mom had some mylar balloons in her guest room, left over from her birthday, and every morning when I woke up, I saw these saggy upsidedown yellow smiles that looked rather sad. The monkeys looked rather ominous, too. My eyes opened to this sight…

Yikes! I wasn’t really scared. Actually it was rather amusing. I sometimes feel deflated with an upsidedown smile, so I could relate. But for now, I just thought it was a funny picture. Had to share.

Friday:) From the Fire to the Frying Pan

25 Jun

“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.” ― Craig Claiborne


You’ll be happy to know that my trip to Chicago was not just all about going to my favorite restaurants or eating my favorite Chicago foods. Besides doing a lot of eating, I also did a lot of cooking. Food, family, and friends always go hand in hand. 

I love to cook and very rarely have a chance to go crazy in the kitchen. While I’m visiting at Mom’s, I decided to make a big batch of spaghetti with meat sauce. I’ve never learned to cook for one, so poor Mom has a freezer full of my cooking frenzy.

Homemade sauce with lots of garlic and lots of leftovers. That was last week. Mom had a lot of ground beef in the freezer, so of course, I had to think of something to make with it.

This week, I decided to make a big batch of  hamburger vegetable soup, and another big pot of vegetable soup for my sister. She is eating vegetarian, no meat, and just healthy food. (Not me. I’m still a culinary heathen.) JoAnn and I went to the store and bought 5 lbs, of potatoes, 3 lbs. of onions, 2 lbs. of carrots, a lb. of frozen peas, and a large bag of celery, a huge can of diced tomatoes, AND yes, I used it all. Lots of peeling, chopping and stirring, but it was delicious and worth all the effort. More containers for Mom’s freezer and JoAnn’s freezer too.

I told you that I tend to get carried away. It was very tasty, and yes, plenty of garlic. 

I love cooking, I love family, I love sharing my loves with others. 

Mom’s freezer is just as jammed as her fridge. Disregard the Kemps chocolate ice cream. It’s Fiday and it’s Black Russian Friday. As it was Thursday, and Wednesday, and Tuesday. (Did I say that out loud?) 

Theme Song Thursday:) Show Business 

24 Jun

“Part of show business is magic. You don’t know how it happens.”

~Sammy Davis Jr.


Last night, my cute cousin, Jeff Avila, had his premiere screening of “G-MAN” at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles, Illinois. G-MAN is an independent film, shot in Chicago and nearby cities. Jeff, or as I always call him, “Cuz,” has always wanted to be an actor and be in show business. This is his first exciting big role where he plays one of the FBI agents. I’d tell you the plot, but don’t want to spoil the excitement. You may want to see it. The theater was filled with friends and family of the cast members. A great evening.

Director John Villec introduced the cast and thanked everyone involved before the film rolled.

It was great to be part of the excitement and see the big smile on Jeff’s face. It was also the perfect time to visit with my other cousins and family that I haven’t seen in many, many years.

Wednesday:) Words of Wisdom

22 Jun

“If a little bit of a good thing is good, than a whole lot of a good thing is even better.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Another grueling day of torturous eating frenzy in Chicago. I’m storing it all up for the summer. We ain’t got notin’like it back in Texas.

My dear friend and Super Grandma, Lin, stopped by with her 3 year old adorable granddaughter today to take me out to lunch and ice cream again. I know, I know! It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

YES!!!!! Portillo’s!!!!!

Next, ice cream at Culver’s.

The three year old borrowed my phone and took a picture of me…caught in the act by a 3 year old!

A good day!

Tuesday:) Talkin’ Terrific Food

22 Jun

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

~J.R.R. Tolkien


As promised, more Chicago food traditions. I told you about the Chicago hot dog with tomato, dark green relish, diced onion, small peppers, a slice of kosher picke, sprinkled  with celery salt on a poppy seed bun. Then, a huge bunch of greasy freshly cut thin fries piled on the side. Ketchup for the fries, NEVER on the hot dog. Gosh…I miss these back in Texas.

I had some thin crust pizza, crisp and heavy with sauce, spicy Italian sausage,  and cheese. The cheese melted to the point of almost brown, the crust crisp as a cracker.

Then, there’s the deep dish pizza with carmelized crust. OMG!!! One slice is a meal, and two slices you explode. I had two slices that day.

“These are a few of my favorite things.” 

Montage Monday:)A Week in a Peek

21 Jun

Who said you can’t go home again? Thomas Wolfe wrote a book about it. I do it all the time. It’s wonderful.

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Two weeks back home in Chicago visiting family and friends, and one week left. It’s been a great visit so far, doing all the things I love and seeing all the people I love. 

Life is short my friends! If you get a chance to go home again, GO HOME!