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Tuesday:) Toni’s Two Minute Movie Review: COCO

13 Dec

“We must always follow our dreams because those who came before us made those dreams possible.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything,”



A shivering Chicago afternoon was a perfect time to get out and see a heart warming movie. My sister, her friend, Edith, and I went to a matinee showing of “Coco.” And guess what? Today was free popcorn Tuesday at the Elgin theatre with your rewards card. Yay!

This delightful Pixar Animation Studios production is a must see for all ages. Twelve year old Miguel has music in his soul, but his family has banned all music from their lives because of a painful misunderstanding several generations earlier. Caught up in the magical mystery of the Day of the Dead, Dia de Los Muertos, honoring the relatives who passed away, Miguel is transported into the enchanting and colorful Land of the Dead.

This all might sound scary or strange to some of you, but it really depicts the long honored tradition of remembering our ancestors and keeping them alive in our hearts. Not scary…beautiful.

We sat in the dark, nearly empty theatre, laughing, giggling, with a few tearful moments. I didn’t think I’d need Kleenex for this one, but if you haven’t seen it, make sure you have a tissue handy. They were beautiful sentimental tears. And some of the giggling came from memories only Mexican cultures would understand. But, the common thread was, families are so important and our ancestors should always be honored and remembered.

“We must always follow our dreams because those who came before us made those dreams possible.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

Montage Monday:) A Week In A Wintry Peek

12 Dec

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

John Steinbeck


The days slither by like cold molasses, but the weeks fly by like the flash of a lightning bug on a warm summer’s night. In other words…where has the time gone. Home for the holidays.

A week in a peek. Visiting with friends, time with family and loved ones, painting, crafting, church, and good food, and Friday Black Russians. Pizza, don’t forget Chicago pizza.

Sunday Sermon and Other Stuff

11 Dec

“It may seem that you are on the path alone, but the light that guides you is coming from somewhere. Trust your every step because none of us walk this journey alone.”

Toni Sorenson


This morning, Mom was feeling well enough to go downstairs for Mass. Last week, she had no energy and felt horrible. Volunteers come every Sunday to the Greens of Elgin from St. Thomas Moore to officiate Mass and give communion. The wheel chairs and walkers processed slowly into the activity room. As I sat there, waiting for the opening song, “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel,” I thought to myself…self…look at these lovely, elderly, barely able to move seniors. They can take a few minutes out of their day to attend a church service. So, next time I’m feeling lazy or I think the weather is too harsh to go out and go to church, I’ll think of these folks and the great effort it takes to attend a service. They come with a smile and they leave with a jubilant heart.

Today’s Gospel was the proclamation that someone was coming, someone powerful, who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit.

1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2 It is written in the prophet Isaiah: Look, I am going to send my messenger in front of you to prepare your way before you.

3 A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 John the Baptist was in the desert, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

5 All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins.

6 John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey.

7 In the course of his preaching he said, ‘After me is coming someone who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals.

8 I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

My take on it… many have been sent to prepare us for the final judgement. It says to prepare a way for the Lord, and make his paths straight. The most direct path is always the straight path. When we wander off the true path, taking wrong turns, looking for something better or different or more exciting, that’s when we lose our way. (I know, I get lost all the time. But, not on purpose. As soon as I can, Siri gets me back on the right path. Maybe that’s what we need. We need a Siri app that zaps us when we wander off the straight and narrow in life.)

Mom is in the middle, with her big smile, even though she feels terrible, weak and tired, and has pneumonia. Always a smile on her face. That’s my role model and my guiding light.

Saturday:) Special Holiday Greetings

10 Dec

“The best gifts are home-made, home-baked, and made with love.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


I love to cook, I love to bake, and I love to make special gifts for friends and family. Oh my, when I visited with my friend Vicky last week, her tree was up and just glistening and filled to the brim with hand-painted Toni ornaments. I know most of my friends can say the same. I love it when they send me photos of their tree. It makes me smile.

While I’m here at Mom’s, I was playing around with some ideas for Christmas cards. I wanted to come up with a design that I could have Mom and her friends here learn to paint. I always make a lot of proto-types before I come up with a good idea.

Poor Mom’s table is covered in glitter, and papers, and glue, and paints.

I painted some on watercolor paper, in a long row, so I could cut them up. The paper was too thick and buckled up. Still useable, just harder to work with.

Then, I painted directly on the notecards. Still buckled a little. But, I set them under some heavy books after they dried. The third time is a charm. I decided that if I used pastel chalk for the sky, the cards wouldn’t get as damp, and wouldn’t buckle as much. Of course, always matching envelopes.

Oh..,there must be glitter. What is a snowy scene without glitter?

This is what Mom’s kitchen table looks like right now, as we speak. Quite a mess, and very sparkly, but very creative looking. (At least until the glue dries.)

Finished products. A labor of love…and glitter.

Friday:) Friends, Fun Crafts, and PIZZA!!!

9 Dec

“Crafting isn’t for sissies. It’s for sisters.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


This morning, Mom’s good friend, Mary Ann, was giving a little craft class downstairs in the activity room. Mom still isn’t feeling 100%, but she didn’t want to miss making some fun foam memory books, book marks, and decorations.

I stayed up late painting notecards, but I took out a few minutes to make a batch of brownies to take down in the morning. Of course, I had to make my funny face in the brownie mix before baking, even at Mom’s. I’m goofy, even on the road.

The ladies had fun with foam cut outs, stamps, ribbons, and more. Mary Ann, who volunteers to host this craft group every month, is so funny. She’s a hoot!

Mom and I made a bunch of cute mini notebooks and book marks.

We had a good time. Later, my sister came over, and we both needed to get out of the house. With the frigid cold weather, we tend to go stir crazy after a couple of days coupled up in the house. She asked where I wanted to go for lunch, PIZZA!!!! I NEED PIZZA!!! I hadn’t had my double dose of Chicago pizza yet.

We were thinking a medium pepperoni, but last minute changed it to a large so I could have some leftovers. Yum! Chicago pizza is the best! I may have to have a couple slices tonight with my Black Russian Friday.

A Good Friday. Hope you are crafting this Christmas season, too.

Thursday:) Thinking Outside the Box

8 Dec

“Inventions are the necessity of motherhood.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


“Thinking outside of the box is unnecessary when there are no boxes in your imagination.”

Matshona Dhliwayo


Forget that saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I think mothers, and daughters, and wives, and sisters, and women in general are always inventing things to fulfill a particular need. Then, I think some man comes along and patents the idea and makes a lot of money. Just sayin’.

Last week, I was busy painting ornaments at Mom’s house. I only brought three brushes, three 2 oz bottles of paint, and some glitter. I couldn’t bring my huge makeshift tomato cages that I hang my ornaments on in my carry on backpack on the plane. So, I had to invent a drying rack. I scoured the closets, under beds, and cabinets in Mom’s tiny two bedroom condo. Hmm?

Light bulb moment. I took some hangers, a handful of clothes pins, a long handled broom, and scooted two dining chairs to form a drying rack. Don’t forget a large garbage bag beneath to collect any excess glitter. (Now, Mom’s house sparked with glitter…just like mine.)

I got all my ornaments and matching boxes painted and dispersed, and the glitter is put away. Oh wait! I’m still painting some Christmas cards too. I think I’ll add some glitter. A girl can never sparkle too much.

Here’s what the finished product looks like. I forgot to take a picture of my Chicago batch.

Wednesday:) Wild, Wacky Women and Best Friends

7 Dec

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

Anaïs Nin


Being blessed with a fine loving family is wonderful, and being blessed with so many, wacky wonderful friends is the frosting on a giant twenty foot chocolate cake.

When I get back to e Chicago area, or “back home,” as I like to call it, I love getting together with old friends. Yep! We’re all getting older. Not that old. Just a little older, a tiny bit. A few of us discussed our Medicare options and plans over dinner. Sad! How did that sneak up on us?

Monday night, our old bowling buddies got together for our Christmas gift exchange, and also to celebrate Lin’s birthday. I think she’s 29? Maybe 30? Not more than that.

We were pretty lucky. The restaurant was pretty empty and we dillied and dallied, and were loud and crazy and had wrapping paper strewn all over the place. And gifts…gifts every where.

Me, Vicky, Lin, Diane, and Vivian. This is our old bowling team. We used to bowl together every Wednesday while the kids were young and in school. Now, most the kids are parents of their own, and we are grandmas. Yikes! I met Vivian when our sons were in third grade together. That was about 28 years ago. When we get together, it seems like yesterday.

We had a wonderful Italian dinner, great conversation, lots of hugs and kisses, many presents, and celebrated our long and loving friendship. Girlfriends rule!

My wonderful friends carefully gifted by God. Love you girls!