Archive | January, 2017

Friday:) A Fine Day and Fine Friends, Furry and Otherwise

21 Jan

“When you start to do the things that you truly love, it wouldn’t matter whether it is Monday or Friday; you would be so excited to wake up each morning to work on your passions.” ― Edmond Mbiaka

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Wow! A fabulous Friday here in McKinney. The sun was shining, and I was out walking little Bella, no jacket needed. The temps were in the upper 60’s, maybe more. Is this really January?

My little furry friend was just as happy as I was to be strolling through the sunny park.


After our late afternoon walk, I dropped Bella off back home, and continued my walk around the neighborhood. I had a feeling that Ms. Sandy and Mr. Larry would be sitting in their usual spot in the garage, waiting for Miss Toni to pass by. 

Yep, there they were, and Mr. Joe from across the street was sitting in MY chair. Oh no! He jumped up really quick, beer in hand. I found a pink folding chair behind the tall red toolbox and assured Joe that I was fine. I nonchalantly walked over to the well stocked fridge and grabbed a beer, plopping myself down next to big ol’Wolf, (he’s a dog, not a wolf) making myself at home. A fine way to finalize a fun Friday.



CHEERS!!!


The time flew by and before I knew it, the sun went down, and it was time for me to stagger home. Just kidding. I only had one beer. But as I strolled home, I couldn’t help but smile and think how blessed I am. I had a good day, I have good friends, I live in a great neighborhood, and there are a lot of people out there that truly care about me.  

I hope you had a great Friday too. 

Theme Song Thursday:) There’s No Place Like Home…Depot

20 Jan

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” 

― James Baldwin

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I’ve been back home for a week now. Chicago is home, but McKinney is where I live. So, this is home. My first night back, I woke up around 5 a.m. Startled and disoriented, sleeping in my own bed was unfamiliar. It took about a week, but now I’m all back to normal. I take that back…I’ve never been normal, so that would be impossible to accomplish.

The last few days were rainy, but today the sun came out and I went to Zumba in the morning, went for a long walk, had lunch, another walk, went down to the Square to visit Kathy and Elizabeth at Sweet Spot Bakery, then ran some errands. I ended up at Home Depot. I love hardware stores.

I was looking at vacuum cleaners, but found myself wandering the tile aisle. It took all my self control not to buy some ceramic tiles to paint on. Artists always look at hardware stores as possible treasure troves for creative ideas.



While I wandered somewhere between the tile and caulk aisle, I stumbled upon a hands-on workshop in the tool aisle. Two female Home Depot clerks were demonstrating power tools  to a group of women. I think it was a workshop or class. After the demonstration, volunteers from the audience were asked to use the power saw. The first woman was a bit nervous. After she chopped a section of two by four, the other ladies all applauded, taking pictures, showing support and admiration. I was tempted to sit down and join the group, but I am terrified of power tools.


There’s no place like HOME…DEPOT.

Wednesday:) What’s Cookin’ Miss Toni~ Waste Not,Want Not

19 Jan

“The best remedy for a gloomy rainy day is a yummy batch of freshly baked cookies. Ask me how I know?”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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Holy Crazoli, it was a gloomy day today. But, I was in a great mood. With no agenda in the morning, I didn’t roll out of bed until 11. Wow! Haven’t done that in a while. I actually had some interesting dreams that I remembered for a couple of hours, forgotten now. They involved intrigue, and some foreign Russian spy type people, but it was better than no dreams or bad dreams.

I took a couple of misty walks during the day, just bundled up, put on a hat and gloves, and enjoyed the moisture. I like to think of it as a free facial.

This evening, I decided to bake some cookies for my divorce support group at church. I usually try to bake something for the group. I had several rolls of cookie dough in the freezer that I made at Thanksgiving. Plus, I really need to make room in my over stuffed freezer. I freeze pretty much everything. I also had a zip lock bag with left over Russel Stover and Godiva fancy chocolates that I had frozen for a rainy day. Hey! It was raining!


I sliced and shaped the dough into small rounds and cut the fancy candy to place on top. I know, hard to believe that I have left over chocolates,  but I do. I receive many gifts of chocolate candy, and couldn’t possibly consume it all.

Well, I don’t want to brag…well, yes I do. These were probably the best cookies I ever made. They were enjoyed by many. 



The best remedy for a gloomy day…lots of cookies.

Tuesday:) Two Cups of Tea, a Tree, and Spacey Me

18 Jan

“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.” ― Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

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I have this daily ritual of starting my day with a big pot of tea. The pretty pot usually sits on the counter for most the day. I pour a little in the cup, microwave it for a minute, and go about my business. Did you notice that I didn’t say that I actually drink the tea? Most of the time, that one minute it takes before the mircrowave sounds it’s annoying beep, I find myself distracted by some other project or activity, i.e., laundry, Facebook, emails, a walk, and so on. 

An hour or two later, I say to myself, “Self, did you forget to drink your tea?” Sometimes I respond and answer out loud, but most of the time I just tap the 1 minute again on the microwave. I’ve been known to do this four or five times before I actually remember to sit down and sip my tea. Does anyone else do that?

Well, it happened again today. I made my tea in the morning, but ran out the door for Zumba class at 8:15. My first time back to class in over a month. I’m a little sore right now. A little too much jiggle in my wiggle, and “Lanza in my panza.” (Mexican inside joke-my belly) When I got home, my tea was more than steeped, so I popped it in the micro 1 minute. I stepped in the other room to make the bed and hang up some clothes and put on a warmer jacket for my walk. Then, off I went for my walk. 

About an hour later, I walked in the door, a little chilly and decided to have a nice hot cup of tea. Where’s my cup? It’s not on the counter. Did I leave it in the bedroom? Nope! Bathroom? Nope! I know I was walking around with it this morning. Oh well. I grabbed another cup from the cabinet and poured. Off to the microwave to warm it up. (You can tell I’m not a tea connoisseur.) Aha! There it is!

Which one do I warm up? Heck! Just do both or I’ll forget again. This time I stood there the entire minute and waited for the beep. I get too easily distracted. Only one cup was consumed.

It was still chilly around 4p.m. I took little Bella for a walk through the park and we admired the knarly old tree that is sprawled across the grass, taking a few pictures.  I can relate to the old tired tree with thick weary limbs and bare winter branches. We’ve both seen better days, but…here we are, still hanging in there. A few limbs trimmed and worse for wear. But, a few specks of green. A sign of a little life still left.

I walked in the door, warmed up the second cup of tea still in the microwave, and decided, even if I’m old and spacey, there’s still a little life left in this old knarly tree.


Montage Monday:) A Week In A Peek

17 Jan

“Success is to wake up each morning and consciously decide that today will be the best day of your life.” ― Ken Poirot

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Happy Monday. A new day, a new week. Let’s make the best of it.


Sunday Sermon, A Selfie, and Other Stuff

15 Jan

“The nice part about being away for a month and missing your friends is all the hugs you get when you return.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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I really missed my McKinney friends when I was in Chicago for a month. That is a long time. But, now I miss my friends and family back home too. Torn! I was excited to get back to church his morning. I missed greeting at the door with Mary before Mass. it was chilly and foggy, so I donned my sock monkey hat. I got a lot of nice hugs from people that missed me and compliments on my hat. (I’m old, I can get away with being silly.)

It was a yucky day, so everyone could use a smile. I took a few new grandbaby pictures to show friends and strangers alike. I even pestered Father Don before he processed into the sanctuary. He said Belle was beautiful and congratulations.

 

See! I told you it was foggy this morning.

Today’s Gospel was about John the Baptist announcing that Jesus was coming. John was just a messenger.

My take on it…sometimes we need to give credit where credit is due. Praise and honor the good deeds and accomplishments of others. By lifting up others, you raise yourself up. Don’t be jealous, be grateful.

Gospel JN 1:29-34
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

He is the one of whom I said,

‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me

because he existed before me.’

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So, back at church, back to greeting at the door, I was so excited to see my friends. Mary gave me a big hug. Miss Virginia and Mr. Joe were saving my seat inside. More hugs. Mr. Jerry was happy to see me. More hugs and plans for coffee after Mass. Oh, I probably showed a good fifty people baby pictures and received almost as many hugs. It was a good morning, a good Mass, singing, renewal, and most of all, thankfulness.

After Mass, I met Mr. Jerry at McDonald’s, as our usual tradition. Dave was there already and we bumped into Jackie. A lot of chatting and laughing. I imposed on Mr. Jerry to take a selfie.


After church, a well needed visit to Sprouts for fruit and vegetables and such. Oh yes, dark chocolate covered almonds on sale…don’t get me started. They had a great sale and my fridge was pretty empty. Well, never empty, but low.


They really shouldn’t have such a good sale. It’s too tempting. Blackberries only $1, strawberries $1.25 for the large pound container, cucumbers 2/$1, mangos 2 for $1, green peppers 3/$1, I can go on. It was insane. All this on the counter was a little over $20. I bought some other things too, but these bargains were so exciting. I love Sprouts! (Fridge no longer empty.)
I came home all happy, and now I have some chicken boiling on the stove. I’m going to cut up a bunch of vegetables and make some chicken soup. Life is good!  Ah….HAPPY SUNDAY!

Saturday:) Candles and Crosses 

15 Jan

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” ― Anne Frank

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It took me several days to go through all my mail and packages after being gone for a month. The  first thing I did was make piles, priority 1-packages, 2-bills and statements, 3-medical statements and health insurance, 4-Christmas and birthday cards, 5-flyers, advertising, nonsense for the trash. It took three days to go through everything.  

Packages are always the best. I received a book from my friend Donna B. in Ohio. A cool book about Feng Shui for the sign of the dragon. That’s me.

Then, I received a book from??? don’t know who??? Who sent me this??? Thank you!


If you sent me this book, thank you very much. 

Then, my absolute favorite was a package from my sister-in-law Ann. It was a beautiful crucifix to add to my collection. I called her to thank her and chat a bit. As soon as I hung up the phone,  I got out the hammer and picture hanger, and added it to my wall of crosses.


The nicest part of receiving a gift is the personal attention and thought that goes into finding just the perfect gift. Thank you Ann.

Now, what goes hand-in-hand with crosses? Why, candles of course. While I was in Chicago, I was able to visit a couple of different churches. I always light a candle and say a special prayer. There is always something to be thankful for and petitions to request.



Always say THANK YOU!

Friday:) Finding Freedom and a Butterfly

14 Jan

“Alongside the practical thought something else struggled and, like an escaped butterfly, took wing: the assurance of something wonderful awaiting her. Just around the corner……” ― Norah Loft

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My relationship with butterflies is more than remarkable. There are many myths and explanations for certain animals or creatures being spiritual guides. I believe anything is possible, so when I found myself frequently visited by butterflies this summer and fall, I appreciated the symbolism. I have many photos and stories to tell about these winged friends, but I won’t delve into detail right now.

We are deep into the winter season here in Texas, we’ve had some unseasonably warm days, but today was cold, grey and gloomy. But, after a deep freeze month long visit in Chicago, I decided that I needed to get back into my walking routine. This morning, I bundled up with hat and hooded winter coat, and off I went. 

I walked to the pond, then stopped to pick up my furryfriend, Bella. We did our usual circuit, but instead of going back up her driveway, (Mr. Mike’s house) she pulled me towards the park across the street and towards my house. I guess she wanted to go home with me. There was a little dog yipping along the fence on one side of the park, so we walked he other way. There on the grass, right next to the path, was a beautiful butterfly. I couldn’t help but think, “I very rarely walk this way, and there it was, a butterfly. Was it a sign?

(Butterflies have been associated with the transition between one lifestyle, personality, or journey into another. If you have been going through a major life change, you might spot more butterflies than normal as they accompany you on your journey and encourage you that everything will turn out okay if you take the leap of faith with grace and bravery.~ from http://www.powerofpositivity.)

Here’s the thing. It’s January. It’s cold outside. There arent supposed to be any butterflies out there. But, there was one there in my path.


My friend the butterfly was not dead. I picked him up, still fluttering, and I held him in my hand. And yes, we had a little conversation. And no, the butterfly didn’t talk. I did all the talking. 

I believe in signs. This was a beautiful sign for me today, assuring me that everything will turn out okay. The butterfly said so.

Theme Song Thursday:) Friends

13 Jan

“Everyone has a gift for something, even if it is the gift of being a good friend.” ― Marian Anderson

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It was a busy Thursday for me. My first night back home, sleeping in my own bed for the first time in a month was interesting. I woke up startled at 5 a.m. It took me a few seconds to realize I was home. I got a good five hours sleep, then got up, dressed and ready for Art Club. 

I am not exaggerating. I tried on six different tops before I found one that fit over my gigantic ate too many Chicago hot dogs and deep dish  pizzas for an entire month belly. “I need to lose ten pounds…I  only have twenty more to go.” 

After Art Club, the Tiny Tots (Table of Talent Sisters) got together to celebrate my birthday at Olive Garden. These are the McKinney girlfriends that double as airport chauffeurs, confidants, artististic inspirations, chocolate chums, road trip buddies, and best friends. 



“Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness.”


Gifts from the TOTS. A beautiful furry scarf, (it was 75 yesterday, in the 40’s today), some tulip bulbs (that I was told that I couldn’t possibly kill like I do everything else. Ha! ), a lovely succulent plant that I couldn’t possibly let die…right?, and some soothing bath bombs in a cute ice cream dish…yes, I’ll take a bath this year. THANK YOU GIRLS!


The celebration continues. I usually celebrate the entire month of January. So many friends, so many lunches, so many chocolate desserts. (Did anyone get me that Weight Watchers gift subscription yet?)

Wednesday:) Welcome Home Miss Toni

12 Jan

“Home is where you go to find solace from the ever changing chaos, to find love within the confines of a heartless world, and to be reminded that no matter how far you wander, there will always be something waiting when you return.” 

― Kendal Rob

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I spent a spectacular month, four fabulous weeks, with my friends and family back home in Chicago. My sister got up early and gave me a ride to the airport. Today, I traveled back home to Texas, and my marvelous McKinney. But, not before a few airport adventures. I hate to travel, but I enjoy people watching and meeting people at the airport. 

OK, I’ll tell you about my airport adventures, while they are still fresh in my head. I was TSA approved for some unknown reason, so no long line and no taking off shoes for me. Cool! But, when my bag went through the scanner, I was called aside and they said they had to go through my bag. We went to the back counter and the uniformed TSA guy first asked all the usual, “Do you have anything sharp, weapons, etc?” Then he proceeded to take EVERYTHING out of my suitcase, one item at a time. I foolishly had dirty clothes just laying on top of a plastic bag instead of inside, so it could lay flat to fit better. So, as my dirty underwear and socks and stuff were being unpacked and strewn about, I asked if he could tell me what they saw that flagged a search. He said something hard like a book or magazine that was suspicious in size. Ah, I figured it was the Grandma picture frame Lin gave me for Christmas. He took a look at it, but kept looking. He said there was something else. While he carefully took out every darn item, one by one, I told him about my trip and the grandbaby, and being a new first time grandma, etc. Then he found what he was looking for. He said, “Ah, here it is.” The bulky thing was the big folder from Walgreens with my nearly 100 baby photos. 

I said, “Seeing as it’s not too busy, do you want to look at my cute grandbaby?” So he glanced at a few photos and said she was cute. I told him to show the TSA  guy next to him. So, he showed the guy and said, she’s a new grandma. Then, he asked how the baby was doing. I said a little fussy at night, but she’s doing well. He told me about some kind of water that he and his wife used for his son when he was colicky, I forgot the name. I just laughed to myself because I figured since he was using up my precious time, I’d use up some of his and show off the baby at the same time. He did say he was sorry for the inconvenience, and I told him that I was glad that they were being careful. He said he could repack my bag or I could do it myself. And yes, every single item was on the counter, underwear, socks, church bulletins, paint brushes and all. I chose to repack myself.

I was in a good mood, so it didn’t bother me. All was going smoothly, and traffic was great getting to the airport, so I was counting my blessings. K4 wasn’t too far away, so I went over to the food court and got some McDonald’s. My APP had a buy one get one sausage biscuit, so I got that and an orange juice. I was scouting out a place to sit, and as is my airport tradition, I looked for someone interesting to sit with.

 I saw a grey haired gentleman sitting alone in a curved booth, and asked if I could join him. I’ll just summarize…Terry was delayed 2 1/2 hours. He lives in Georgia but was flying to St. Louis to pick up a car. He is retired and works occasionally for Auto Nation who hires independent people to pick up cars and drive them to their destination when a buyer want ps a new car that’s on a lot somewhere else asap. I thought that was interesting. He does a lot of traveling and a lot of driving. We just talked about fifteen minutes or so before he had to leave. He congratulated me on being a grandma and said have a safe trip.

By now, I was done with my first biscuit when a smiling middle-aged lady asked if she could sit down. Cool. People usually don’t approach me, I’m the goofy one. It was a pleasant surprise. She sat down and we did our introductions. Now, to make a long story even longer, Diane is from Minnesota, coming home from a trip to Puerto Rico that her son and fiancé had invited her on. It was to meet the future in-laws. She said it’s beautiful there. I told her that I’d never thought of visiting PR, but maybe should reconsider. Well, the more we talked and exchanged pleasantries, we shared more family and personal information. A lot of personal information was shared. After about an hour of laughing and a little crying, we exchanged names, email addresses, and hugged before saying goodbye, both rushing off to our different gates. My plane was already boarding.


My flight back to DFW was perfect and on time. Lynne was there to pick me up like clock work. How often can a traveler say that the entire journey was smooth as silk? When I stepped outside in my big bulky winter coat, it was 75 degrees and sunny. I threw off my coat and stretched my arms out toward the sunny sky and said, “Welocme to Texas Miss Toni!.”  Lynne and I stopped for a bite to eat on the way home. Good to be home.
I have the greatest friends here in McKinney, but I’ll miss my family and friends back home in Chicago. TORN BETWEEN TWO HOMES!