Archive | December, 2020

Wednesday:) What’s Cookin’ Miss Toni.

31 Dec

“In the South, people traditionally have black eyed peas on New Year’s Eve to bring good luck. I made a huge pot of it this year. We can use all the luck we can get.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, so I made a huge pot of my black eyed pea/bean/salsa dip for the occasion. I’ll share with some friends and neighbors, but this stuff is really good. I’ll enjoy it for days.

If you want to know my secret no-chop, no work, easy recipe, here it is…. open up a lot of cans and jars and dump them all in a big pot.

Actually, I did pan roast the corn with oil a little before popping in all the other cans and jars, added apple cider vinegar and S-P-and garlic powder. Voila!
Here’s a little history…

Do you know why it’s good luck to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day? As with most superstitions, there are several answers to the question.

Most Southerners will tell you that this culinary custom dates back to the Civil War. Black-eyed peas were considered animal food. The peas were not deemed worthy of serving to General Sherman’s Union troops. When Union soldiers raided the Confederates’ food supplies, legend says they took everything except the peas and salted pork. The Confederates considered themselves lucky to be left with those meager supplies, and survived the winter. Peas then became symbolic of luck.

Happy Wednesday, my friends.

Toni’s Tuesday Time-Lapse Video:) A Rose

30 Dec

“As delicate as flower, as tender as rose petals, choosing to be tender and kind in a harsh environment is not weakness, it’s courage.”
― Luffina Lourduraj


I haven’t done a time-lapse painting video in a while. You can tell. I’m a little rusty. (Or cadmium red medium, as we say in the trade.)

Gold Sharpie, watercolor, and a little blue chalk.

Montage Monday:) A Week In A Crazy Covid Christmas Peek

29 Dec

“After all the gifts are opened, the wrapping paper thrown everywhere, the cookies are baked, the dinner is devoured, the sink is piled high with dishes, and the kids are in bed, you know what is left? Yep! A BIG MESS! Just a big mess!”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Well, that is right, sort of, isn’t it? All that work and trouble for a couple of hours of holiday hoopla, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. This was a crazy year, and I didn’t get to see my family or friends for Christmas. But, I thank the powers that be that I’m healthy and doing well, and hopefully next year will be awesome.

A week in a Crazy Covid Christmas Peek…

You know what is left? A big mess. I’ll get to it by New Years…maybe.

Happy Monday, my friends.

Sunday Sermon, Family, and Some Other Stuff

28 Dec

“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human, are created, strengthened and maintained.”

Winston Churchill


Another beautiful Sunday morning, walking the dog, enjoying the clear blue sky, and thanking God for my many blessings.

Christmas is over, but let’s pray that the Christmas spirit will continue and usher in the New Year with hope, kindness, and love.

Today’s Gospel, on the Feast of the Holy Family, was about Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to Jerusalem to be purified and making sacrifice according to the law. Simeon, who,was promised that he would not die until he saw the Lord. was at the temple.

Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Lawrequired,

28 he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

29 Now, Master, you are letting your servant go in peace as you promised;

30 for my eyes have seen the salvation

31 which you have made ready in the sight of the nations;

32 a light of revelation for the gentiles and glory for your people Israel.

My take on it… the Holy Family followed the mandates and laws of the time. They didn’t question tradition or rules even though they knew that their son Jesus was the Savior. The sanctity of the family is the most important thing in the world. We sure could use more of that spirit.

Our current times have seen a diminished sanctity of Family, marriage, and values in general. We have become a society of selfishness and immediate gratification. At the first sign of trouble or a bump in the road, people call it quits. Thank goodness it’s not ALL people, but the divorce rate speaks volumes. And surprisingly, it’s lower than in previous years. Unfortunately, I think it’s because fewer people are committing and not even getting married. Sad… (Especially when you are part of the statistics😔)

What is the Current Divorce Rate? Today, some 39 percent of marriages in the United States are ending in divorce. This data comes from the most recent census data, and there are a number of reasons that couples are deciding to call it quits.Feb 21, 2020 (SMU Daily Campus)

“If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family. The problem with our world is that we draw the circle of family too small. There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing.”

~ Mother Teresa


Good advice, Mother Teresa. Love your family, friends, neighbors and all people, and keep them close to your heart.

Happy Sunday, my friends.

Sentimental Saturday:) ‘Twas the Day After Christmas

27 Dec

‘Twas the day after Christmas, but I wasn’t sad.

With wonderful memories, and fun we once had.

Although not together beside the Christmas tree.

With two cute grand-daughters, as sweet as can be

When I count all my blessings, too many it’s clear.

I pray that we’ll be together, making memories next year.

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


“No one can ever take your memories from you – each day is a new beginning, make good memories every day.”

~Catherine Pulsifer

Last year, making cookies and memories.
Two years ago.
Three years ago.

Happy day after Christmas, my friends.

Merry Christmas to All and to all a Safe Night

26 Dec

“This has been, by far, the weirdest, most outrageous, really bizarre crazy Christmas in my lifetime.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


It certainly has been a strange scary year, and I’m sure 2020 will be in the record books for all kinds of things. Let’s just pray that 2021 will turn out to be better and safer.

I was pretty sad, it being able to travel to Chicago to be with family and friends this Christmas, but I’m hoping we will all stay healthy and safe, and next year will bring us together. So, when I woke up this morning, I sauntered over to my little tree and opened up all the presents that had been sent. I’m one of those traditionalists that likes to save presents for the occasion.

My first gift to open was from my son Joe, Lindsay and the girls. Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a new Notre Dame sweatshirt. My sister Donna sent me some hand sewn masks and a lovely garnet ring.
More gifts from friends.
And MORE gifts from friends.
And of course, I got to FaceTime with the cutest little girls on the planet. I am SO blessed.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, too.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a GOODNIGHT!

And guess what day it is???? Yes! Merry Black Russian Friday. Cheers!

Thankful Thursday:) The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

25 Dec

Edwin Osgood Grover

“Santa Claus is anyone who loves another and seeks to make them happy; who gives himself by thought or word or deed in every gift that he bestows.”


I’m sitting here with a glass of wine, listening to Christmas music, and reminiscing all the treasures and pleasures of Christmas past, hopeful for better and brighter days to come. Merry almost Christmas, my friends.

I haven’t been here in McKinney for the past five years, always in Chicago, so I was excited to share my Christmas spirit on Christmas Eve. I have so many friends and traditions. One of my traditions is painting an ornament for my local fire station #5, but since I’ve moved and I have a new fire station just a few blocks away, I make one for both stations, #5 and #9. This year, because Crazy Covid has put a damper on my baking and sharing, I put together some awesome “hot and spicy” gifts to take over along with an ornament and some baking treats. Of course, some Bernard’s Gourmet Foods Salsa for the star attraction.

My friends at Starion #9. I know their Christmas tree will enjoy the new addition.

Station #5. I saw Captain Floyd walking past when I dropped off the gift. I’ve been dropping off special treats and gifts at #5 since ‘04. They’re not my local station anymore, but tradition is tradition. Thank you all!

After I stopped at my fire stations, I went over to the Chateau Retirement Community. I had called a few of my friends that I used to greet at the door at St. Gabriel’s. They were so happy to hear my voice, so I decided to go over and drop off a surprise gift for them too.

Miss Marilyn was so surprised to see me at her door. I miss these sweet ladies so much.

The only thing, the layout over at the Chateau is SO confusing. There are four different building groupings with all kinds of wandering hallways. This young lady was working, but was kind enough to escort me to each door. She said she didn’t like having her picture taken, but this is sweet Sophia, who was my guiding light. I couldn’t have done it without her. I thanked her profusely.

By the time I left my final appointed rounds, I was feeling so invigorated and wonderful. I had just walked in the door, when I received a text from my new neighbors across the street. They wanted to stop over with some homemade cookies and a sharing plate. I am so blessed.

Earlier this afternoon, I received a package from my friend Vicky Hodi, back home. I knew it would be her homemade baklava and delicious cookies. So far today, I’m living on hot tea, cookies, baklava, and wine. Life is good, my friends.

Yes, I am truly blessed. My granddaughters called to FaceTime with Gamma. Even though I’m far from family and old friends and the world is crazy right now, I feel like the luckiest person on the planet,

Merry almost Christmas, my friends. Wishing you health, happiness and joy.

Wednesday:)What’s Cookin’ Miss Toni.

24 Dec

“It wouldn’t be Christmas without some baking, brownies and chocolate for sharing.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


I wasn’t going to bake this Crazy Covid Christmas, but it just wouldn’t feel like the holidays. Here ya go…

Here’s my un-recipe. I don’t measure, just eye ball it. Works every time.
Here’s what’s left. I already gave away three containers.

Merry Crazy Covid Chocolate Christmas.

Tuesday:) Toni’s Timeless Christmas Treasures

23 Dec

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.”

– Bob Hope


With this Crazy Covid Christmas, I’m staying home the first time in five years. I’m normally in Chicago, (back home) visiting with family and friends. Not this year. I pray that we all stay safe and healthy and when next we meet, we can celebrate life and hug each other until our arms get numb.

Even though I was sad not to be going back home, I was able to put up my little tree and decorate for the first time in years. My TOTS tree is my favorite Christmas decoration. The TOTS are my artist friends… Table Of Talented Sisters. Just about all of the ornaments on my tree were lovingly hand-made by my special talented friends over the past dozen or more years. I am so blessed. And this year, placing each ornament on the tree was a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, friendship, and love.

Being sentimental and a traditionalist, I have received several gifts that remain unopened until Christmas Day. This way I can have something to look forward to that morning. I hope Santa climbs down the chimney and leaves me some homemade tamales. Wouldn’t that just be the best!

My TOTS tree, my many gifts waiting to be opened and my beautiful angel mother basking in the glow, sharing her beauty to the season.

Wishing you and yours a beautiful and blessed holiday season and and Merry Christmas.

Montage Monday:) A Week In A Peek and a Christmas Star

22 Dec

“As Christmas Day approaches, I wish you a buenas noches.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


It’s Monday, folks. On Friday it will be Christmas already. How did that happen? 2020 is almost over. Thank God!

A week in a peek…

This evening, I went outside to see if I could find the Christmas Star in the southwestern sky. It hasn’t been seen in 800 years, I did! It wasn’t dazzling or impressive with the naked eye, but I got to see it. I won’t be around in 800 years.

Jupiter hanging out with Saturn.