Archive | September, 2017

Friday:) Fitness and Futility…Go Hand-In-Hand

30 Sep

Change is the only constant, and to turn one’s back and pretend that it is not coming is an exercise in futility. 

~Anthony Carmona


I got up bright and early this morning. Well, it wasn’t that bright. It was a dark drizzly morning. And, it wasn’t so early. I set my alarm for 8 am. That doesn’t sound that early, but when you go to bed at 3 am, that’s kinda early. My neighbor Diane picked me up and we went over to the YMCA. She took the yoga class and I rode the stationary bike and did some machines. I went around 7 miles at about a 5 minute to a mile pace. The machine said I burned about 314 calories. Heck, that’s about two Oreo cookies, right?

I worked on the machines for upper body and arms. I have no arm strength to speak of, and the lowest setting was about my max, and I still grunted and puffed air out like I was pressing 100 pounds instead of 20. 

When I got home, I did not pass go. I drank a tall glass of water, grabbed my umbrella for “just in case”, and walked my usual long neighborhood route.

Ah, I was feeling fine and fit. But, The entire purpose was because I was going out to lunch. 314 calories was a drop in the proverbial bucket. Jason’s Deli has that little ice cream dispenser that you can just help yourself. Oh no! 

Futility reigns again. So, back on with the gym shoes and another walk around the neighborhood. Wouldn’t you know it, Mr. Larry’s garage was open and I was forced against my will to sit with him and Miss Sandy and drink a beer. 

This is my fitness routine. Exercise, walk, lunch, ice cream, walk, beer, and then to make matters worse, today is Friday. BLACK RUSSIAN FRIDAY!!! A lesson in futility.

Theme Song Thursday:) Come Sit With Me

28 Sep

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

~Warren Buffett


One of my passions is writing, thus this daily blog. But, I also enjoy reading posts every day from the many other writers that I follow. This morning, when I read my daily inspiration from, I was genuinely moved. It reminded me of the many times when my boys were little, and they would ask me to come sit with them or play with them. I usually tried to comply, but sometimes the standard, “Just a minute” would pop out.

When I read this story, I started to tear up. I remembered so vividly a few occasions when my youngest son would come home from school or a baseball game or some event, and he would be very quiet. Even back then, he never really talked about what was bothering him. But, once in a while, he would just come and sit next to me, then lay his head on my chest and prop his feet up on the couch. I would just stroke his hair without a word. He didn’t need me to say anything or fix anything. He just needed to sit with me and know that he was loved.

Sometimes that’s all we need, someone to sit there without a word and love you. That’s why when I go to church on Sunday, or light a candle before support group on Wednesday, or when I open my eyes in the morning, or before I fall asleep and close my eyes at night, I silently say “Thank You” to God for my blessings and strength and family and friends. I don’t have to say it out loud. I just rest my head on His chest, silently.


Your Daily Inspiration for Thursday, September 28, 2017

The other day, I remembered an incident that happened when my son was four years old. As I walked into the kitchen, he was watching his favorite TV show. Patting the seat of his chair, he looked up at me with these big, puppy-dog eyes and said, “Can you come and sit with me?” My heart melted. Even though I had a million things to do, I could not resist the invitation and sat down with him. He snuggled up close to me and rested his head on my chest. We sat there very content for the next twenty minutes silently enjoying each other’s company. It was one of those “moments,” and I came away with a renewed sense of peace, feeling very grateful for the time spent and for my son.

A divorce or separation can crash into your world fragmenting your time, attention, and energy. Whether it’s raising kids as a single parent, working two jobs to make ends meet, coping with the emotional fallout of a dying marriage, or all the above, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

Just as my son invited me to “come sit,” our Lord, Jesus Christ, makes the same invitation to you, everyday, 24/7. He is present in the tabernacle of every Catholic church throughout the entire world. Think about that. Our Lord, the Great Healer, the Great Comforter, the Creator of the Universe, is available to you pretty much whenever you want–and most likely within 15-20 minutes of where you are standing. And He is longing for you to come and sit with Him. Take Him up on His invitation often. No matter how difficult or stressful your life may be, He promises that you are sure to come away with a renewed sense of peace and hope. Won’t you come sit with Him?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. – John 14:27
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Wednesday:) What’s Cookin’ Miss Toni~ Nothin’…Again

27 Sep

“Observing and commenting, it is a piece of cake.

Experiencing and sharing, that is a piece of work.” 

― Toba Beta


I remember when my sons were teenager, they’d run down the stairs around 6 p.m. and question, ” What’s for dinner?” Sometimes I’d make a joke and say, “Fend for yourself.” Well, not to be out-joked or outspoken, one or the other would respond, “We had that yesterday.” 

Cooking and baking are my passions, but I find that nowadays, I try to make meals simple, pretty, but also tasty. Last week I told you about my inside out taco wraps. Today, I want to share my yummy egg salad lettuce wraps. The reason for egg salad? Well, eggs were on sale 79 cents a dozen. That’s just crazy cheap. 

When I decided to make egg salad, I decided to google how to peel hard boiled eggs easier. I always have trouble. The tips I learned…

 Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, lower the eggs gently (I find a steamer basket works great) and boil vigorously for 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to a gently simmer over low heat, cover with a lid and cook for another 10 minutes.
Immediately pour off the hot water, leaving the eggs in the pot. If you’re using a steamer basket, carefully lift the basket and pour off the water. Return the eggs to the pot and gently shake it back and forth to lightly crack the shells. Immediately add cold water and a few ice cubes and let sit until cool enough to handle; it will take about five minutes to serve warm or 15 minutes to serve cold. The idea here is that cracking while warm and then cooling rapidly allows the cold water to shrink the whites just enough to separate them from the shells a bit.

My biggest secrets…using 1/2 package of cream cheese and about 1/2 cup of mayo, moosh (technical term) the cream cheese with a fork, add mayo, add salt, pepper, and lots of garlic powder.(I love garlic) Now, the best part, chop and sauté an onion in a little butter till brown and carmalized. Peel and chop eggs.

This was enough for a dozen eggs, and enough for a bunch of meals.

I used some large iceberg lettuce leaves, layered with some spinach, a scoop of egg salad, topped with some tomatoes. Pretty and yummy.

If you’re not a fan of eggs, you can use tuna, turkey, chicken, or even diced vegetables for the vegetarians. YUMMY!

Tuesday:) Toni’s Talking to Strangers Again 

26 Sep

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” ― Anonymous, Holy Bible: King James Version


Today, I was asked to go over to Towne Creek Senior Apartments where I volunteer to be interviewed. The director said that the RHF Housing folks from California wanted to interview some residents and volunteers and ask them about the complex and the people. Well, you know me. I like to talk, so I said sure.

When I arrived, I didn’t realize that it was going to be video taped by professionals. I wore a little microphone, just like a TV celebrity. Cool! When they asked how long I’d been volunteering teaching art, I shared my story about how I journal every day, so I was able to look up when I started going. It was August 31, 2007. So, it’s right around ten years now. 

The folks interviewing me were total strangers, but I felt comfortable, especially since the lady asking the questions said that she had heard so many wonderful things about me over the years. She asked me to share a little bit about the art shows and guests that I had brought in to visit, including the mayor, and author, and other artists.

The last and most poignant question was, what would you like to tell people about Towne Creek and what you do? I said that the beautiful men and women that I’ve gotten to know have become like family.  But, I’d like people to know how much joy you bring to an elderly person who might not have family or friends nearby, and a few hours of your time can enrich their lives so much. The best part is, then you are blessed tenfold and the joy YOU receive is immeasurable. Strangers become best friends.

After the interview, I noticed my friend Karen’s car waiting by the back door. I forgot, it’s Tuesday. She picks up 91’year old, Miss Eleanor, and takes her to lunch almost every Tuesday. Another visitor who became a friend story. Anyway, I scooted out the door and asked, “Where are you girls going?” They couldn’t decide, so I suggested Braum’s Ice Cream. Yeah! I met them over there.

Here’s the really cool part. While I was waiting in line for my double scoop turtle sundae, I started talking to the man in line next to me. He said, “Oh, that looks good. What is that?” I explained and he said that he should get that too. Then, he ordered a root beer float. I asked him, “I thought you were going for the turtle sundae.” He explained that it had way too many calories. I replied, “Life is short! Enjoy! Go for the sundae.” He pointed to his non-existent belly and said he couldn’t. We laughed. 

He was checking out and paying when the girl at the register said, “One root beer float, one turtle sundae.” I chimed in and said, “No, no! That’s my sundae. I don’t even know this man. Well, unless he’s treating, then we are best friends.” Well, this kind man told the girl to put my sundae on his bill. I huffed and I puffed and said, “No, no! I was just kidding.” Then he turned to me after he paid anyway and said, “Life is short. Enjoy!” He also said that it was his last day in town. He was leaving tomorrow for Puerto Rico to help with the relief effort. 

Sometimes God sends you angels and kind people to show you that the world can be a wonderful place. “When you are kind, you are blessed tenfold.”

This is my new friend Rudy. I went over and gave him a big hug and said what I always say, “Selfie Time.”

There are no strangers, just best friends that I haven’t met yet,

Montage Monday:) A Week in a Peek

25 Sep

“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.” 

― Oscar Wilde

Mr. Wilde was a very funny and smart man.


It was another fine week. Hot dry weather, art workshops, church and candles, karaoke and singing, lunches and dinners with friends, long walks and short tempers. I wake every day grateful for my life, my family, my friends, and my health. ( Well, at least the parts that aren’t in pain and falling apart.)

A week in a peek…

Sunday Sermon:) So Much “Take A Knee” Controversary

25 Sep

“The only proper reason to take a knee in America should be to kneel to thank God for our many blessings.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Another beautiful McKinney morning. 9 o’clock  Mass was packed. They must have been giving away something free. Oh, wait, they were. There were plenty free smiles, prayers, songs, and love shared for all who entered St. Gabriel’s today.

The Gospel today was Jesus telling the disciples the parable of the land owner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. He offered them a fair day’s wage, they agreed, and he sent them off to the vineyard. He went back to the marketplace at 9 and found more men in need of work and sent them to work in the vineyard. He did this again at 3 and then at 5. At the end of the day, he told his foreman to call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last and ending with the first. All were given one full day’s wages as agreed upon, but the last group who had worked since dawn was upset because they felt they deserved more. The landowner said that he was not cheating them, as they had agreed to the wage and it was his money and was free to be generous to anyone he chose. “Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

My take on it… and this is very symbolic to all the controversy that’s going on lately, when we have been given so much, and so many blessings, we should be respectful and honor our benefactor, and not be envious of those who have more wealth or power or earthly treasures. 


Now, I very rarely even turn on the tv these days, and I sure as heck don’t watch sports or football. Every now and then, I’ll see what Notre Dame is doing because my son Joe loves his Alma Mater, and it gives us something to talk about on Sunday.

But today, Facebook was flooded with all this “take a knee” controversy. I didn’t get it? I didn’t know anything about it. Why would anyone refuse to honor the national anthem or the American flag? I know we have freedom of speech, but the key word here is “freedom.” How did we get that freedom? A lot of men and women sacrificed to give us that freedom. Many countries still do not have this freedom today.

It’s kind of like the parable above. The early workers grumbled and disrespected the landowner, complaining instead of being grateful for his generosity.

I don’t think taking a knee during the national anthem is taking a stand against anything. It’s disrespectful. If you want to take a stand, go out there and help change the injustice. Volunteer your time and money to help your fellow Americans. Run for political office instead of onto a field,or a court. When you disrespect our flag, you disrespect our country and all the people who sacrificed so we could stand and honor it. You have freedom of speech…put your money where your mouth is. 

So, if you are a visitor from another country, a sports fan, a coach or a player, if you are at a sporting event and they play the national anthem, it’s a tradition. Stand up and honor the flag. IT’S CALLED RESPECT. 

And guess what? That’s my opinion and my right to freedom of speech. 

Saturday:) Six Words Book Signing

24 Sep

“Much wisdom often goes with the fewest words.”



This afternoon, my dear friend, Lynne Weinberger, had her book signing at Barnes and Nobles in Plano.

From the New York Times Best Selling Six-Word Menories Series, “Fresh Off the Boat” is the ninth in the series, from author/editor, Larry Smith. Inspired by Hemingway, he found that by asking people to describe their life in only six words, the most poignant stories could be told. This book is a compilation of insightful stories of immigration, identity, and coming to America. These stories are told by writers, famous and obscure, a tale expressed in only six words. 

Friends and family gathered to hear Lynne’s moving story of immigration by her father, a young man fleeing Eastern Europe, coming to America to start a new life. 

Although the book expresses her father’s life in only six words, her stories were fascinating descriptions of hardships, challenges, and triumphs. A man who cherished the priveledge of becoming an American citizen and serving his country, serving heroically in ways that few would ever know. 

We are all proud of our dear friend, Lynne Marsak Weinberger, and honored to know her. 

My six words for today… ” WE ALL LOVE YOU, DEAR FRIEND.”

Friday:) Cleaning Frenzy…This Too Shall Pass

22 Sep

“From time to time, one must release the grime built up inside them to to free their emotions like the ocean.” ― Suzy Kassem


As soon as I woke up this morning, I called my mother, got dressed, put on my gym shoes, and prepared for my morning walk. But, today was the day I decided I needed to do some housework. I keep putting it off. Before I walked out the door, I took the vacuum out of the closet and set it in the middle of the hall. This way I’d have to bump into it every time I walked into the kitchen or bedroom. Smart…right? I did that one time, and I walked around it an entire week before I shoved it back into the closet, unused. Today would be different.

It was a warm sunny morning, but a few puffy clouds spanned the sky, a slight breeze made the brisk walk tolerable. 

After my long steamy walk, I took a few minutes to sit under the ceiling fan, drank some ice water, and stirred up the energy to start cleaning. 

My problem is, once I get started cleaning, I get possessed. I guess that’s a good thing. But,  ow I’m exhausted. I started out vacuuming all the downstairs carpets and tile floors. Well, I noticed a few drips and spills on the kitchen tiles, so I got an old towel and mopped the floors with my shoes, making it an aerobic adventure at the same time. I can get under the cabinets better that way.

Then I cleaned two bathrooms and scrubbed the toilets, and ran upstairs and cleaned the guest room bath, too. Then I ran down and started cleaning the master bath. Oh my, those baseboards are dusty and dirty. I’ll have to brush them off and wash them. How do they get so dirty?

After the bathrooms were done, I tackled the kitchen, filled the dish washer, and cleaned off the counters.

I was going to go for an evening walk, but I’m just too pooped. I’m going to dinner with my neighbor Kathy, and don’t forget…It’s Black Russian Friday. Time to quit and enjoy the rest of the evening. My work here is done.

Hopefully this cleaning frenzy thing will not come back for a while. I wonder if they have a pill or shot for that?

Theme Song Thursday:) I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

22 Sep

“Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.” ― E.Y. Harburg


Thursday nights at the Lone Star VFW has become the highlight of my busy week. Thursday nights, there’s laughter and music and dancing and singing and drinking and snacking and friendship. (MY drinking is a Coke, sometimes I splurge and have two.) 

When life gets tough, you get by with a little help from your friends. When life is good, you share a little joy with your friends. Life is good.

Danny cues up the songs. He didn’t even ask what I wanted to sing first. He had it ready…”I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane.” My favorite. 

Wednesday:) What’s Cookin’ Miss Toni? Nothin’!

21 Sep

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien


I didn’t feel like cooking anything today. Oh well, that was yesterday too, wasn’t it? Oops, and the day before. When I was scouring the fridge and pantry for something to eat, I ran across some lettuce, nacho cheese, and a basket of cherry tomatoes. In the pantry, I found a half bag of Fritos. I love Fritos, and was fancying something salty. I came up with a brainstorm dinner. 

The inside out taco lettuce wrap. It tastes like a crunchy taco…just inside out. 

Tear off a large leaf of iceberg lettuce, sprinkle with Fritos, add tomatoes, and pour a table spoon or so of nacho cheese dip. You could substitute with real cheese, I just had some nacho cheese dip in the fridge. You can add salsa, jalepeños, or whatever you like. Just wrap it up and enjoy. Crunchy inside, yummy outside. 

These would be fun for a party. You could garnish with a cherry tomato and a toothpick to look pretty and hold it together. Fun!