Montage Monday:)A Week In A Peek

4 Dec

“As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sure it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.”

Kristin Hannah


It’s so nice to be here with my sweet mother. I love the quote above, it is so accurate. My mother is the spine and heart and soul of our family.

Here’s a week in a peek…

Sunday Sermon and Baby Belle’s First Birthday

4 Dec

“May you only know joy and laughter

And live happily ever after

When each day and night are through

May all of you dreams come true.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


This morning I had the pleasure of my first visit to St. Thomas Moore Church in Elgin, I woke up pretty early to get to 8 o’clock Mass. Normally I attend 10:30 Mass with Mom here at The Greens, but I needed to get on the road for Belle’s first birthday party and naming ceremony at 11.

The church was lovely, with a modern flair.

Today’s Gospel was the story about Jesus telling us to be watchful.


MK 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Be watchful! Be alert!

You do not know when the time will come.

It is like a man traveling abroad.

He leaves home and places his servants in charge,

each with his own work,

and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.

Watch, therefore;

you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,

whether in the evening, or at midnight,

or at cockcrow, or in the morning.

May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.

What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”

My take on it…just be ready all the time folks. We never know what day will be our last. Be good, kind, honest and love one another. And you know what? Leading a good life doesn’t cost you anything. Love and kindness and honesty and goodness are free to give and receive.

NOW! For Baby Belle’s first birthday. My beautiful granddaughter will be one year old on December 5th. A very special day for me. There was a fun pizza birthday party at Il Forna in Deerfield. Belle’s first pizza. She likes it. Her daddy never liked pizza.

There was a beautiful and emotional naming ceremony during the party.

I have been very blessed with two fine sons, a lovely daughter-in-law, and an adorable granddaughter. I have a wonderful family and amazing friends. I count my blessings every day. More so today.

Belle was tired by the end of the day. Or maybe she just didn’t want the party to end.

Saturday:) Some Special Hispanic Holiday Cooking

3 Dec

“When someone asks me if I like Mexican food, I always tell them that growing up, we just called it food.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Growing up on the south side of Chicago, we never thought of food as Mexican, Italian, Polish, or whatever nationality of choice, we just called it food. Mom cooked a big pot of pinto beans, carnitas, juevos rancheros, enchiladas, and tacos on a regular basis. Every Saturday afternoon, she lined up the Formica counter with small orbs of flour tortilla dough, then would roll out each one, and place each, one at a time on the hot comal. (A flat griddle) This was a painstaking labor of love. Three little girls would huddle around the stove for the first fresh off the comal delicacies. A dab of butter and a quick roll up, then devoured quicker than Mom could roll them out. Nice memories.

Back then, we didn’t think of it as Mexican food. It was just food. We didn’t even speak Spanish. I never learned Spanish until I went to high school.

So last week, I was really in my element. I had a chance to make “food” for some friends.

I prepared a build your own burrito lunch: a roasted corn and black bean salsa, sautéed green peppers and onions, shredded turkey, refried beans, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, salsa, and warm flour tortillas.

We started with chips and salsa, conversation, and “food” would not be complete without margaritas.

(If you’d like any of my recipes, you can call or write me. But, it won’t do you much good. I don’t use recipes.)

Oh, and there were roses. Over a dozen knockout roses from my front yard. Late November, and beautiful roses. A perfect setting, great food, and wonderful friends.


The best part was that because I was home, I could have a margarita. I have a very strict NO DRINKING AND DRIVING policy. I have honored that rule for nearly four decades. Being a festive occasion, I had two.

Then, for dessert, I prepared my traditional Toni funny face brownies. I make the funny face before I mix. It just makes baking a lot more fun. They were delicious. ( my secret…add some mini marshmallows into the batter and sprinkle chocolate chips on top before baking.

I love to cook and bake, and my friends love to eat. What a winning combination.

Friday:) Fun Building A Better Snowman

2 Dec

Snowmen fall from heaven unassembled.


It might be a while before I see some snow. That’s ok. I’ve had enough frigid winters in Chicago. It’s been pleasantly mild so far, but I hear the temps may be dropping soon here in Elgin. Maybe a white Christmas? Maybe not.

I did have fun today building several snowmen. Ah, but they weren’t cold or went or difficult to build. I was helping my sister create and put together cute snowmen wrappers for some large specialty candy bars. I researched several ideas on Pinterest, and came up with my own design.

The good part about being at Mom’s is she keeps as much craft and art supplies as I do. Well, not quite as many, but a pretty close second. She had all the materials needed.

Here’s the finished product so you can see how cute he is.

If you see the regular size Hershey bar above, you can see that these candy bars are twice as big and make for a really cute snowman. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the scarf is made from burgundy flocked ribbon. Mom had some star wire to tie the scarf, and she had construction and white paper, and chalk for the cheeks. They weren’t difficult to make, just time consuming. I really didn’t have a pattern, so I had to makeshift my own design. What do you think? Mom and I will make some smaller ones for Christmas.

I always thought this cartoon was funny.

Theme Song Thursday:) Fa La La La La

1 Dec

“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”

Franz Kafka


Another fun-filled day with Mom here at The Greens of Elgin. They celebrated the end of the month Birthday part for all the November birthdays. Cake and ice cream. You don’t have to ask me twice. Mom and I have a great cake relationship. She doesn’t like the frosting, so she scoops it off and gives it to me. I eat her frosting and mine and leave the cake.

After my breakfast of cake and ice cream, we went back upstairs and I was back to work on painting my ornaments. Many hours to go. I’ll keep you posted.

There was entertainment at 7:15, so I good time to take a break from painting. A charming group of students from Judson University, just down the road. It was a string quartet plus one. The director invited her son, an alumni, to join the group.

It’s so nice when young people share their talent and time with others, especially these lovely seniors who appreciate the music and love to sing along.

Wednesday:) What’s Cookin’ Miss Toni

30 Nov

“Family and friends are the feast for the soul.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Well, here I am in Elgin with my sweet Mom. I slept like a baby in my Mom’s house, because… I am the baby. A very old baby, but “Im the baby, gotta love me.” Some of you may remember that old TV show, if not, look it up. It’s really cute.

There’s nothing more comforting than being nestled in your mother’s arms. I really do have the sweetest mother in the world, and many of my friends and family out there would thoroughly agree.

My BEST FRIEND and me….

Very short and sweet posts. The internet is terrible here.

Tuesday:) Toni’s Taking It On The Road

29 Nov

“And then it happens all at once and unexpectedly. That is how things happen, I suppose. You pack your bags and find yourself walking yourself home.”

Shannon L. Alder


An early morning of packing, cleaning and hitting the road. You might ask, “Why didn’t you pack last night, Miss Toni?” The response would be because I was washing clothes at midnight and some things that were getting packed were still damp. Oh, then I have this habit of cleaning bathrooms, mopping floors, wiping counters, and general housecleaning in the morning before I get in the shower. Old habits.

It was a beautiful warm sunny morning when Karen pulled up to take me to the airport. There I stood with a long sweater and my yellow Notre Dame hooded winter jacket. I’m going to Chicago in the end of November. It will be freezing, right? Wrong! It was in the 60’s when I arrived. But, it won’t stay like that for long.

We got to the airport a good two hours before departure. That’s perfect. I like to get there plenty early to allow for crowds, problems, or meeting new people. Today, I walked around over by my gate, deciding what to do with my time. Hmm… right across from D22 was a chapel. That was something different, I’ve never been to the airport chapel. I sat and spent a little quiet prayer time there, all alone.

The flight was smooth and flew by quickly. (A little airline humor.)

I had an enormous American Airline breakfast of a cup of orange juice and 20 mini pretzels. Wow! I’m still full…not!

My sister picked me up at O’Hare, and traffic was smooth. We stopped at the store for some groceries, which included a lot of very healthy fruit and vegetables. We also got ice cream and apple turnovers. A balanced diet.

The best part of the long journey was getting to hug my sweet mother and spend time with her. It will be a great visit. I’ll get to see my adorable granddaughter in a few days, and hug my friends and family that I haven’t seen since summer.

Coming to you live from Chicago.

“And then it happens all at once and unexpectedly. That is how things happen, I suppose. You pack your bags and find yourself walking yourself home.”

Shannon L. Alder