Thankful Thursday:) Life is Better With Friends

15 Sep

“Life is better with friends, and even better when you make new friends.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

Proverbs 13:20 ESV / 28 helpful votes

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

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Helene and I went to St. Gabriel Tuesday evening for the Fall opening meeting of the Women’s Club. They are celebrating 20 years as a club. I had joined a few years back, B.C. Before Covid, but I hadn’t been in a while. It was time to get back into the swing. These women are so awesome. What I love about this group is that they are all about giving and sharing, and they do make a difference, as their motto says.

The first hour or so was taken up with registering, checking member info, and a pizza party. Did I mention wine and cannoli?

It was great meeting new people. The thing about Catholics is, basically, you only get to know the folks that go to the same Mass as you do. There are four different Masses, so you only get to see 1/4 of the parishioners. So, joining and becoming involved in other parish groups and ministries gives you a chance to make new friends. After dinner and refreshments, over to the rows of chairs on the other side of the hall for the meeting
Joy Booth, (top left) is president of the group this year, and I have to say, wow! She is so organized and detail oriented. We started out with a fun game where someone held the microphone and said 3 facts about themselves. Anyone who also had one or more of those things in common would stand up. Like, I said, “I was born and raised in Chicago, I’m an artist/writer, and I’m a gramma of two little girls. So, several ladies stood up, and I passed the microphone to one of those standing and the others sit down and start again. That was a fun way to get to know people and a little bit about their lives.
Some of the Officers sharing future plans and activities.
A few ladies sharing their 3 facts.

It was a great evening with the lovely ladies of St. Gabriel Women’s Club. I’m a strong believer of “You become who you associate with.” I am honored to be associated with these wonderful caring women.

I am very thankful for the amazing caring community of St. Gabriel the Archangel. Feeling blessed.

Wednesday:) Words With Friends Writing Group~ McKinney MillHouse

14 Sep

“Writing your words down on paper turns those lumps of dark black coal into precious sparking diamonds.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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Ah, another awesome day over at The MillHouse with Melissa Cantu and the McKinney Words With Friends writing group. It was such a beautiful day that we sat outside for our meeting.

Oh my goodness, these talented ladies offer such a variety of insight and inspiration to the group. Melissa always has some thought provoking exercises and challenges for us to work on. I especially loves her accountability challenge, where we share three goals that we want to meet in the next three months. Once you say it out loud, it makes it real, and you actually work at it. And you know that in three months, she’s going to ask us how our goals were going. 🤦‍♀️

One of the exercises we worked on today was to, first wander around outside or inside the beautiful MillHouse building, and take a photo of something interesting. Then, we were to write about our photo reference using as many senses as possible. The description or story should be able to let the reader or listener envision the object without actually seeing the photo. Of course, it was fun to see the photo afterwards to see how close our descriptions were.

The ladies scouted around outside and inside for about ten minutes. Some chose a beautiful painting, artwork, or a decorative display. Others chose street signs or nearby buildings. Being the goofy gal that I am, I walked across the parking lot and over by the train tracks for my inspiration. 🤦‍♀️ My story…

DANGER

A mammoth blue metal box rested at the end of the parking lot. Gross yellow stains trickled down from the filthy black rubber flaps that crowned the trash bin. The bold red DANGER sign was prominently plastered beneath the WASTE CONNECTIONS logo. Connections? I’m not sure what the “connection” was, but it looked pretty dangerous.

As I approached to take a picture of the nearby railroad tracks, an onerous odor stopped me cold in my tracks. Yuk! I held my breath and stepped forward for my photo op. Just as I was getting ready to snap my picture, a strange scary clown with a white painted face and spiked red hair popped out of the side bin. ”Boo!”

Yikes! His glowing red eyes and jeering grin startled me. I fell backwards and landed on my well cushioned bottom.

The clickety-clack of the slow moving freight train on the nearby tracks brought me back to my senses. As I stood up, I saw the white painted face smile, jump on top of the blue waste bin and grab onto the handle of an orange box car. He slid the boxcar door open and stood perched inside the opening with arms proudly resting on his hips, Superman style.

The scary clown didn’t seem quite so scary any more. He gave me a big wave and called out as his silhouette faded into the distance, “Have a nice day!”

How I came up with that idea in just a few minutes, I don’t know. Warped sense of humor, maybe?

See, writing can be a lot of fun, especially when surrounded by other inspirational writers. You should try it. Take a photo or one you already have and tell a story using all your senses and descriptive words.

Tuesday:) Toni’s Tip of the Day-Digital Deals

13 Sep

“A dream is always a bargain no matter what you pay for it.”

~Harvey Mackay

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Another awesome grocery shopping trip using my digital deals and coupons. When people are complaining about the outrageous price of groceries, I have realized that it’s just as easy to purchase and use items on sale instead of paying full price.

Look at all these groceries. Over lbs of chicken bread, 2 packages of bacon, 2 dozen eggs, 3 honey crisp apples, 2 pkgs of salad mix, 4 cans of corn, 4 boxes of rice-a-roni, and a box of 100 tea bags. Are you guessing?
18 items… $20.46. My savings with digital coupons, just for U savings, and an extra 10% off for wearing a Cowboy jersey on game day. I actually didn’t wear my jersey after church, but Miss Suzie gave me the deal. I saved $39.85 so I saved 66%. Wow! Great deal.

Here’s my tip. Don’t pay full price unless you absolutely have to. Sometimes the digital coupons are a pain in the ….. but well worth the effort.

Montage Monday:) A Week in a Peek

13 Sep

I love all of the days that end in “Y,” even Monday.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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Another great week filled with fun activities, fine friends, and solemn memories.

A week in a peek…..

September 11:( Sunday Sermon and “Never Forget.”

11 Sep

“When Americans lend a hand to one another, nothing is impossible. We’re not about what happened on 9/11. We’re about what happened on 9/12.”
Jeff Parness

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An absolutely gorgeous Sunday morning, cool and a slight breeze. A relief from the constant Texas heat. Greeting before Mass, I was able to visit with friends, smiling, hugging, high five to little ones, admiring babies in strollers, and chatting.

Francisco met our new seminarian, Allen-Michael, who will be with us until next May.

Today’s Gospel was the story of those complaining that Jesus associated with sinners and unsavory people… Gospel

Lk 15:1-32 Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance….

My take on it… we always appreciate finding what was once lost, whether it be a lost item of importance or a person. God welcomes all lost souls who return to Him.

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After Mass, a quick stop at McD and the grocery store.

Most everyone is remembering that tragic day of September 11, 2001 today. Those of us who lived during that event will never forget the hours and repeated hours that are etched into our memory.

Here are some of my fond memories of honoring that day and honoring our first responders.

“NEVER FORGET.”

Saturday:) Special Friends and Firefighters~ “Never Forget.”

11 Sep

The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here.” ~Abraham Lincoln

• “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”
Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in 2002

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Abraham Lincoln was talking about the Civil War, but his quote rings true about 9/11. It doesn’t matter what we say, it’s how we remember and never forget. Do you remember how the entire country rallied and supported one another? What happened to that country? I pray that we can get that feeling back someday.

If you know me, you know that I like to bake and share with my local fire stations, not just on 9/11, but throughout the year, especially holidays. It’s my way of saying thank you all year round, not just one particular day. So, I started doing my massive baking of the famous “bad ass brownies.”

Gettin’ started. These brownie bites are from my famous recipe of two boxes of brownie mix, follow directions, 4 or 5 cups of mini marshmallows, mix, put in parchment lined pan, and sprinkle with chocolate chips and bake.
Then, topped with a dollop of my also famous no bake peanut butter cheesecake then topped with a NutterButter cookie.
I just love sharing my old brownie mix faces. 🤦‍♀️ “ I see faces in the brownie mix.”
I have found from experience that a lot of the fire stations are out on calls or at ceremonies on 9/11, so I try and go over on 9/10. (I found this cute fire truck that makes a siren noise.)
Station 9. I picked up the house phone, but no one answered, so I drove around to the back and found Firefighter Hallerman working back by one of the trucks.
Over at Station 5, this sweet and beautiful firefighter answered the door. We really have awesome first responders here in McKinney.

It was a great day. I’m feeling blessed to live in such a wonderful community. “Never Forget.”

Also, while I was in my “Sharing is Caring” mood, I saw Miss Stephanie delivering the mail when I was going for my walk. She had already passed my house, so I went inside, grabbed a container with a few brownies and scooted through the park, crossed the street, and chased her down on the next block.

Thank you Miss Stephanie. (She ate one right away and said it was yummy.”

Friday Friends:) 60+ Friends, Furry Friends,A Fuzzy Full Moon, and a Flag

10 Sep

“Friends come in all shapes and sizes, and always full of surprises.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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St. Gabriel the Archangel Church has so many ministries, activities, and formation groups available for parishioners. I only belong to a few, but I do love the 60+ group the best. It’s just a potluck get together hosted at the home of one of the members. Everyone brings food or beverages to share. We get to visit with long time friends or meet new people. A fun social event.

Lots of food and friends.

When I got home, I went out the front door to try and get a photo of the beautiful full moon. I’m not sure if it’s a perfectly full moon, but it sure is bright.

The flag made an awesome foreground.
Look who followed me in the house. My furry neighbor friend Juno. Uh oh!

Happy Friday, my friends.

Thursday:) The Art Club Of McKinney and Some Artist Friends

9 Sep

“All forms of madness, bizarre habits, awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, are justified in the person who creates good art.”

-Roman Payne

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This morning was the September meeting of the Art Club of McKinney. I haven’t been back to the Art Club meetings since B.C., Before Covid. It was wonderful to back and see so many old artist friends and meet some new ones.

The officers gave us an update of the club’s minutes, agenda, treasurer’s report and upcoming events.

Our guest speaker was Cindy Gilstrap, giving an awesome presentation on art journaling. Cindy brought all kinds of beautiful examples of art journals and altered books, also demonstrating various techniques. So interesting.

Very inspirational.
Robin and Darby won the artist choice for the paintings they brought in. At each meeting, artists can bring a piece of artwork to display, and the members vote for first and second place.

It was great to be back at Art Club and start getting back into the swing of things. I was inspired. Maybe I’ll try some art journaling. We certainly have some amazing local artists.

Cindy is a member of The MillHouse and teaches classes there. You can get more info at JunqueArt.com or @junqueart on Instagram.

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After the Art Club meeting, I walked over to the library and then strolled around town. I went over to The Art House to visit with Wendolin Mercado in her newly renovated studio. She was finishing up a student class with another group on the way. Wendolin is a fun and funky artist, teaching all sorts of interesting classes. Everything from jewelry making, leather crafting , photography, knife throwing, and more. You name it, she does it.

Gosh, even her cat Cosmo enjoys participating.

It was a great artsy kinda day. Thankful Thursday. Feeling blessed and inspired by so many artist friends.

Wednesday:) What’s Cookin’ Miss Toni?

7 Sep

“Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven.”

~The Pillsbury Dough Boy

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Some more Better than Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies.

I cut my cold rolled dough into thin slices and placed on parchment paper. I was down to my last roll from the freezer. 🤦‍♀️
I placed exactly 5 round Carmel bits (You can add more. I do a lot of baking.) around and a slice of Three Musketeers candy in the center of each slice. (This made 21 cookies.)
They were pretty thin, so I had to be careful not to over bake or they’d burn. Every bite was delicious. I don’t look at time, I just check every few minutes. Let them cool before you remove with a spatula. They pretty delicate when warm. 🤦‍♀️
Tada!!!! The secret is to only save two or three for yourself and give the rest away. Trust me! 🤦‍♀️ 🍪

Here’s my recipe…. Better than Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c. butter
2 c. sugar
2 c. brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 c. flour
5 c. oatmeal (grind 3 c. Leave 2)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
24 oz. chocolate chips
18 oz. chopped Snickers or Hershey or favorite candy. (Optional)
(Optional- chopped nuts)

Makes a lot of cookies. I make rolls and freeze some. Makes about 10 rolls.

Mix softened butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla in really big bowl. Blend in dry ingredients. I like to make the day before and refrigerate rolls. Slice. Bake at 350° just before they get brown. They’ll keep cooking after removed. It’s all guesswork. Better to undercook than burn, I always say.

Happy baking.

Tuesday:) Toni’s Very Fun Vegetable and Food Tips From My Facebook Friends

7 Sep

“Food, it’s not just for eating anymore. Be creative.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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I saw a few fun food ideas on Facebook today. It reminded me that I had some green onions in a clay pot on the back porch. I used the onions on a frittata a few weeks ago. Then, I remembered that I had seen an article that said, just throw the small ends with the roots in some dirt. I am well known for killing flowers and plants, but I have a green thumb when it comes to green onions.

Now, I just have to remember to use them and keep watering the dirt.

I saw this post today about a bunch of other vegetables you can regrow. I’ve tried it with celery and romaine lettuce before, but got too impatient to see results.

20 Vegetables You Can Re-Grow From Scraps

I have also painted roses with celery ends. This site has some other ideas.

https://pin.it/3nctFR1

Here are some Halloween play with your food ideas.