Tag Archives: Chicago

Tuesday:) Toni Takin’ it to the Streets~ Great Food

28 Mar

Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.

~Jonathan Safran Foer


Sunday was a fabulous fun and food day. After a beautiful Palm Sunday Mass at St. Mary of the Angels, my son took me to the Mexican Heritage Museum, (more on that another day) and we walked around the Pilsen area of Chicago. The funny part is, our family lived in that area for many years when I was growing up. But, that was a long time ago. Nothing looked familiar.

After the museum, we walked over to his favorite taco place, El Milagro. He said he often rides his bike or walks over on a nice day. I ordered two chicken tacos. One couldn’t possibly be enough, because I was really hungry. Wrongo. They were huge, so I only managed one with a side order of rice and beans. I’m not usually impressed by “Mexican Food.” I always say, “At home, we just called it food.” But, this was sooooo good. I brought the other one home.

See what I mean? There must have been a pound of stuff on each taco.

Then, we walked next door to the tortilla storefront next door and bought a couple of dozen tortillas. 75cents a dozen! Wow! Still warm.

It was a sunny, fairly warm for Chicago day, so,we walked around the Pilsen neighborhood. Of course, we had to stop at the Mexican bakery down the street. (When in Rome)

They even had vegan pastries and cupcakes for my vegan son. I could never be a vegan. I could give up meat, but NEVER cheese or pizza or real brownies or cream cheese frosting on real cupcakes.

We went back to Matt’s, watched some Final Four games, then he worked on my taxes. My own personal tax and financial advisor. If you’re going to have children, try to raise a financial guy, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a nurse, or just some wonderful children who are happy to help you out when you’re old and grey. (Well, I’m old, but the grey is on hold) I’ve got a couple of very fine sons. Lucky me.

The evening rolled by, and guess what? It was time for dinner. More food! Matt wanted to take me to his favorite pizza place, Pequod’s. Yep! More food. You can never have too much Chicago pizza. Well, you can. I just did,

I waddled back to the car, more leftovers in hand, and I managed to clump and climb up the three flights of stairs, back up to his apartment. Oh yes, the view. Let’s not forget the view from his rooftop deck.

That was just one day of Toni takin’ it to the streets of Chicago. I didn’t even talk about the museum yet. It was a very full fun foodie day.

Sunday Sermon and St. Mary of the Angels

26 Mar

More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.

~Alfred Lord


This morning, I had the pleasure of attending 8 o’clock Mass at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Chicago. It’s a beautiful church in one of Chicago’s many ethnic neighborhoods. The church bulletin is written in English, Polish, and Spanish, with different Sunday Mass times in each language. I chose English, as my Spanish is poor and my Polish non-existent.

I always light a candle and say a special prayer when I visit another church. When I saw the Blessed Virgin Mary in such anguish, tragically losing her son, I thought of all the pain and suffering that people endure when they lose a loved one. But, like Mary, we continue, we go on, and we can flourish with faith, by the grace of God.

Being Palm Sunday, the Gospel was the reenactment of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, while the crowd cheered and laid palms on the ground. The reenactment continued with the betrayal by Judas, the denial of Peter, the trial, crucifixion, death, and burial in the tomb. A very reverent and solemn Gospel.

My take on it… just like in life, often the road is bumpy and painful. Even if there is injustice and sacrifice, there can be a happy ending. Next Sunday, we celebrate Easter and the Resurrection, the happy ending to this sad story.

It was a lovely Sunday, the sun was shining even though a bit chilly. I was able to spend the weekend with my youngest son. We did a lot of fun things this weekend, but I’ll save that for another day.

Here’s my personal joke for today…

Today is PALM SUNDAY…here is my PALM…

Just kidding… here is my Palm.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday:) Sittin’ and Singin’ “Up On the Roof”

18 Jun

“The sky’s the limit if you have a roof over your head.”

~Sol Hurok


I told you that last night Matt and I had pizza up on he roof. Before it got dark, Matt went back downstairs, but I stayed up on the roof, enjoying the cool night air, the sounds of the city, and the magnificent skyline.

Chicago is a fun city with a beautiful skyline. It’s the city where I was born. It’s home even though I don’t live here anymore. They say you can’t go back home again. Why not?

My view from the roof.

My view from the car.

Saturday:)Sitting at the Station and Some Other Stuff 

7 Jan

Better to get off the train at this station. Than to do it later, when it’s too late. Remember Time doesn’t wait!

~Deyth Banger


Another Chicago adventure today. A Metra train ride into the city was on my agenda. My sister dropped me off at the Elgin station, and my son Matt was meeting me at the Western Avenue stop. It sounds very adventurous, but I never know where the heck I’m going. I rely on family to point me in the right direction. 

It was just about an hour ride, and Matt was there waiting. It was pretty cold out, but the sun was shining. Felt like 3 degrees according to the weather map app.  Matt offered to call an Uber to take us to lunch, but I was bundled up and ready to walk. (Plus, I haven’t gotten much walking in these past weeks.)

Whenever I visit, we go to the local hot dog joint, called Fatso’s. (Appropriately named) The Chicago hot dog. 

Yes, I’m eating my way through Chicago. 

After the dog and fries, we took a frigid walk back to his place. It was a good three miles or more, then three flights up the stairs. I guess I got my steps in today. And…we’ve only just begun. More adventures tonight. 

See ya later!

Sunday Sermon and Home Sweet Home

27 Jun

We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” ― Pascal Mercier


Today was my day to go home, leave Chicago and go back to McKinney. But, which one is really home. Like the quote says, “We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place.” It was sad to leave my mother, sister, sons, family, and friends. That’s home, or back home, but that’s not where I live.

An early morning start, with Mom waking me at 5:15 to ask if I needed to get up. I told her not till 6, but then couldn’t go back to sleep. Then she teased me with a big smile and outstretched arms and said, “Don’t go!” My sister came at 6:30 am to pick me up for a ride to the airport, but I wasn’t quite all packed. O’Hare is a zoo, so we left plenty early so I had more then enough time to allow for traffic and for security. Everything went smoothly and on time.

O’Hare is a nice airport, but it’s crazy huge, chaotic, and more like a small city surrounded by planes. I had over two hours before boarding, so I made some calls, wrote a little and read. When I got to my seat, 22E, the overhead was empty and I was even able to lift my heavy suitcase up there without male assistance. I was so proud. When the next two passengers arrived, it turned out to be a mother and daughter. One had the window, and the other had the aisle, with me in the middle. The mom offered me her aisle seat. Wow! Glad I didn’t pay the extra $55 for an aisle seat. Got it for free. My lucky day.

The plane was packed, but it was a smooth ride, no delays, and on time back to DFW. My friend Zelda came to pick me up and arrived just as I was walking out to the curb. Perfect timing. Then to make it even “perfecter,” (I like to make up words) we stopped for lunch, had a big salad, then stopped for ice cream. YES! The diet starts tomorrow! (Maybe )

By the time I got home, it was almost 4. The first thing I did was crank up the air, turn on the ceiling fan and lay my head on my very own pillow. But then…I felt guilty. I didn’t go to Mass. I was traveling all day. But, St. Gabriel’s has a 5:30 Sunday evening Mass. So, I got my sorry…self up, and changed my clothes and went to Mass. Of course, to feel back into the swing of things,  I went early and greeted at the door, saying “Good evening,” instead of my usual morning greeting. I missed my usual morning ministry, so it was great to see the smiles and hear the return greetings. It was a nice service with lots of singing, a wonderful singing group with guitars and a young woman with the voice of an angel. Sometimes change is good.


The Gospel was the one where Jesus tells some of His followers that difficult choices and sacrifices must be made to follow Him. My take on it…pretty much the same as Father Mike’s, the visiting priest from Oklahoma. Being good, doing good, and following the word of Jesus is not always easy, but the reward is everlasting.

Gospel. Luke 9:51-62

To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plowand looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”


So which place did I leave behind something of myself? Where is home? I guess it can be both.

We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” 

― Pascal Mercier

Wednesday:) Words of Wisdom

22 Jun

“If a little bit of a good thing is good, than a whole lot of a good thing is even better.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Another grueling day of torturous eating frenzy in Chicago. I’m storing it all up for the summer. We ain’t got notin’like it back in Texas.

My dear friend and Super Grandma, Lin, stopped by with her 3 year old adorable granddaughter today to take me out to lunch and ice cream again. I know, I know! It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

YES!!!!! Portillo’s!!!!!

Next, ice cream at Culver’s.

The three year old borrowed my phone and took a picture of me…caught in the act by a 3 year old!

A good day!

Montage Monday:)A Week in a Peek

21 Jun

Who said you can’t go home again? Thomas Wolfe wrote a book about it. I do it all the time. It’s wonderful.

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Two weeks back home in Chicago visiting family and friends, and one week left. It’s been a great visit so far, doing all the things I love and seeing all the people I love. 

Life is short my friends! If you get a chance to go home again, GO HOME!

Sunday Sermon and Other Stuff

20 Jun

“The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend.” ― Chuck Palahniuk


How was your weekend??? I’m just asking so I can tell you about mine. It was great!

I had the pleasure of attending Mass at St. Helen in Chicago. Matt happens to live right across the street from several churches. I had my choice. ( Also, loud church bells clang, clang, clang from various steeples ALL DAY LONG!)

Magnificent church in a Polish/Ukrainian neighborhood.

The Gospel was interesting, but i liked the second reading from St. Paul to the Galatians.

Brothers and sisters: Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus…

My take on it…pretty much the same as St. Paul. We are ALL brothers and sisters, all children of God.


So now to the other stuff. Saturday was a wonderful busy day with Matt. We walked 5 or 6 miles in the morning. He wanted to show me a very cool walking trail that the city made from an old unused elevated train track.

We worked up an appetite so I could rationalize eating a Chicago hot dog and fries.

Oh yah! Poppy seed bun, pickle, peppers, the works with…yes, celery salt. All smothered with greasy fries. Don’t be jealous!

Later that evening, Matt took me for gelato, and we sat by the river, with a beautiful view of the skyline.

Then, at 8pm, Matt got us tickets to The Improvised Shakespeare Company, an Improv Comedy show at the Del Close Theatre. Very, very funny. I’ll admit, I laughed the entire time.

That was my wonderful weekend. There’s more about today and deep dish pizza. I’ll save that for another day. I’d hate to give you too much Chicago fine food envy all in one day.

I hope your weekend was wonderful, too.

Wednesday: Words of Wisdom

21 Feb

Words of wisdom for today, or any day, for that matter: “Home is not where you live, but where you are understood.” Christian Morganstern

I no longer live in the city where I was born and spent most of my life. Chicago is home and it’s “my kind of town,” as the song goes, but now, we live in Texas. From the time we moved to McKinney in ’04, the people and the city welcomed us with open arms. I like to think that I will always bloom where I’m planted, but sometimes the soil makes a difference. I made wonderful new friends, joined a tennis team, started writing, worked on my art, and changed my life. McKinney is where I live, where I have blossomed, and where I am understood. I’m home!






Monday Memories: Chicago in the 50’s

12 Feb

How far back can you remember your childhood? Can you remember things and people from when you were three or four years old? I can’t go back quite that far, but my memories are pretty clear after about five years old. There are some vague foggy snapshots in my head from earlier, but not that crisp. Mom didn’t have many photos from those early years. I guess she was too busy working and raising three young daughters to stop and take a photo every five minutes like parents nowadays.

The first house I remember was 2301 S. Ridgeway, in Chicago. I was around five years old, maybe a little younger. My phone number was LA 11344, and that was 1958. I’m not sure why I still remember that, but I imagine it was because it was the first important thing I had to memorize in kindergarten. The house was on a corner and the Burlington Northern trains ran just a stones throw outside our window. I can see it in my minds eye like it was yesterday.

Sometimes it’s interesting to research your past. Today’s technology is amazing and can be instrumental in uncovering buried memories. Google and Google Earth can become addicting when doing research. I found a photo of my old house, grammar school, and neighborhood. And yes, it’s still there. Well, not the school, but the neighborhood. I guess not everything can last forever, even memories. Too bad!

The photo of three little girls was taken in that backyard on Ridgeway. I’m in the middle.