Tag Archives: traditions

Saturday:) New Year’s Day Superstitions and Resolutions

2 Jan

“What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.”

~Vern McLellan


I’ve completed the first item on my very short list of New Year’s resolutions. There were only 2.

The first was to stay in my jammies all day, sipping green tea, when I had no pressing engagements. The second was to never make more than one New Year’s resolution.

Done and Done!

I do have a few New Year’s traditions that I like to follow, though. I have a GOOD JAR that I place little notes to myself of good things that happened throughout the year, along with notes that others have placed inside. I also put my lucky pennies and coins that I find. On January 1st, I read all the notes and smile.

Everyone should try this. It’s really a great idea.

Another tradition that I adopted when I moved to Texas was eating black eyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Day. . I make my homemade Texas Caviar. Some know the back story for the tradition, and some don’t.

My secret ingredient is Bernard’s Jalepeño Habanero Salsa. I just add about 3 tablespoons for a huge pot of roasted corn, onions, diced tomatoes, black eyed peas, black beans, and northern beans, and apple cider vinegar. It’s pretty potent stuff. 🌶

“The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. Originally they were used as food for livestock and later as a food staple for enslaved people in the South. Because of their lowly reputation, the Union Army troops of General Sherman ignored the fields of black-eyed peas while razing or stealing other crops. During the harsh winter, the Confederate soldiers survived on the remaining black-eyed peas, promoting this humble and nourishing legume into a symbol of fortune and prosperity in the American South.”

Now, to finish out my day and resolutions. I’m sitting in my jammies, sipping wine, eating black eyed pea/corn salsa (Texas Caviar) with chips, binge watching “Yellowstone.” A good way to start off the New Year.

Happy New Year, my friends. May all your dreams come true. Dream BIG!

Wednesday:) Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

6 May

“Cinco de Mayo is here! Let’s give ’em something to taco bout!”

Which Disney princess only comes out on Cinco de Mayo?
Taco Belle!



I remember on St. Patrick’s Day, I shared some Irish jokes that a few people thought were a bit much, mostly about drinking. Well, I think Cinco de Mayo has the same reputation with drinking and Mexican jokes, but that’s OK. I’m Mexican-American and I love margaritas and a good joke.

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo (Fifth of May, for the Spanish impaired) is not Mexican Independence Day. It’s actually the day the Mexican Army won a shocking victory against invading French forces in 1862. Not only does the holiday commemorate a great military victory, but also celebrates Mexican unity in the face of overwhelming odds.

At least, that was the original idea. Today, Cinco de Mayo is much more popular in the United States than in Mexico. And while it’s nominally about honoring Mexican-American culture, let’s be honest – it’s Taco and Margarita Day as far as most people are concerned. (allwording.com)

I can’t remember the last time I made a margarita. Wait, yes I can… last year on Cinco de Mayo. I’m wearing the hand-stitched huipil that belonged to my mother. Gracias, mamasita.

Also, in honor of my heritage which is woven with wonderful traditions of celebrations, food, family, and sharing, I stopped over at my local Fire Station 9 to share some snacks for the occasion. You may recall, I was told last month that I couldn’t bring any more homemade goodies for a while, but prepackaged items were OK.

I put together a bag of different tortilla chips, beans, cheese, jalepeños, and of course, my favorite BERNARD’S Gourmet Foods Salsa. Also, a case of bottled water to wash it down with.

My little drop by visits are always appreciated, and I appreciate all our fire fighters do for us. Gracias!

Now, it’s getting late and my margarita is melting. I need a refill and some chips and … BERNARD’S Salsa.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Friday:) Fabulous New Year Ahead

2 Jan

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

– Edith Lovejoy Pierce


When I woke up this morning, I knew that today, January 1, would be the start of a bright new beginning. The relentless rain of the past couple of days had stopped, it was cold and cloudy, but my heart was warm and optimistic. Sounds schmaltzy, I know, but “My perception is my reality.” It’s going to be an awesome year.

As per my tradition, New Year’s Day is the day I pour out all my little messages and good thoughts out of my GOOD JAR. Several years ago, I saw this neat concept of starting a good jar to write down good things that happened during the year. I painted it myself, of course. I also asked friends and loved ones to add a little note when they visited. It’s heartwarming to read all the comments, accolades and loving messages on January 1. I even store my lucky pennies and coins that I find along the way. When I’m done reminiscing over the year’s awesome events and friendships, I put the notes in a small ziplock bag and label with the year. Then, time to start anew, with a brand new clean slate. An empty jar that soon will be filled with more beautiful memories.

Here’s one of the many ideas for starting your own tradition.

I’m looking forward to opening the new book with blank pages. I get to write the chapters myself, and my many friends will be the characters, (I know quite a few characters) and my family will brighten the pages with the joy they bring. This is my story and it will be …. AMAZING!

Happy New Year, my friends!

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.

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.

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.

Friday:) Firsts, Seconds, and Those Traditions

22 Dec

“Firsts are best because they are beginnings.”

― Jenny Han


I’m not a first-time Grandma, this is my second time around. I’ll be honest with you, it’s just as exciting, rewarding,scary, and fantastic as r first time. You other grandmas out there know what I’m talking about. When you hold your child’s child, it’s like magic multiplied in your arms.

Today was Sophie’s first bath. Crying and red faced screaming was expected, but she did a great job, and not that much crying. She’s such a good baby. She’s one week old already. I’ll blink and I’ll be dancing at her wedding. (My mom always used to say things like that.)


Seconds… treasuring every second.

Besides being blessed, being able to hold Baby Sophie an hour here or there, I also get a chance to play with Belle. I just melt when she cups her little hand towards herself in a wave and says, “Gamma come?” She’s such a cutie. I always reply, “Gamma’s coming.”

Maybe she will teach Gamma how to play the piano in a few years.

All is quiet here. The children all nestled and snug in their beds…. and it’s Friday. Now, for my traditional Black Russian Friday. All is well with the world.

Monday:) Memories and Traditions of 9-11

11 Sep

“September 11 is one of our worst days but it brought out the best in us. It unified us as a country and showed our charitable instincts and reminded us of what we stood for and stand for.”

 — Lamar Alexander


Sixteen years later, all those who lived through that awful day, will remember the pain, the anguish, and the prayers. There are ceremonies and memorials, but the greatest tribute to all those who lost their lives and the brave responders whether civil servants or cilivilian, is the silent reverence that we hold in our hearts. 

My tradition has always been to thank my local Fire Station with some home baked goodies for 9-11. I stop by at all different and random times of the year because 9-11 is just one day on the calendar. These firefighters would sacrifice their lives any day of the year for us.

It’s always a pleasure to see the smiling faces of my local firefighters. It’s good to feel appreciated. 

Thank you McKinney FD.

Saturday:) Starting A Sweet New Year With Old Traditions

1 Jan

“HopeSmiles from the threshold of the year to come, 

Whispering ‘it will be happier’…” 

― Alfred Tennyson


New Year’s Eve, a time for old traditions and new resolutions. I’m visiting my mom and sister for the holidays. They have an unwritten long standing tradition of making tacos for holidays. Forget the turkey, ham, sweet potatoes and pies. We have homemade tacos. Yep! Nothing beats homemade tacos. A good way to ring out the old year. And…time to start the new year, start a new diet, and start eating right. Nah! Never mind. Too many tacos and brownies, too little will power.

Mom and I are going down to the community room for their New Year’s Eve party tonight. She asked me to make brownies for the pot luck. Of course, I had to make my traditional brownie face. I couldn’t find a single bowl to mix in. Mom doesn’t bake anymore, so I used a large sauce pan. Still works.

I cut up some large marshmallows, layered into the batter and topped with chocolate chips. They turned out magnificently. (Remember: Always play with your food. I always do.)

Yum! Looks good! Happy New Year!

Sunday Sermon and Remembering 9/11

11 Sep

“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”

~ President Barack Obama  2011 radio address.


A cool morning, finally, here in McKinney. While greeting before Mass, I noticed the normal scamper to get out of the heat and into the air conditioning, was replaced by leisurely strolls into church.

The Gospel today was the famous prodigal son sermon. One son demands his inheritance from his father and squanders it away, while the other son remains and works hard. The prodigal son returns impoverished and repentant. The father welcomes him, rejoices and prepares a feast. The faithful son is jealous.

My take on it…God’s love or a parent’s love is unconditional. The return back to the fold of a lost child, repentant and grateful, is worth celebrating. But, on the other hand, the faithful, hardworking son is not loved less and should not be jealous, he should rejoice too, because the Father has his family together. There is enough love to go around.

Gospel Luke 15

My son, you are here with me always;

everything I have is yours. 

But now we must celebrate and rejoice,

because your brother was dead and has come to life again;

he was lost and has been found.


9/11 is always a sad day. So many lives lost, so much heartache and senseless loss. Fifteen years later, the memory is still fresh in many hearts. There are always tributes and commemorative ceremonies. 

I remember going to the tenth anniversary ceremony in McKinney in 2011, with tears streaming down my face, I took pictures to share the day.

As is my personal tradition, I did my baking marathon and dropped off fresh out of the oven cookies and brownies to three neighboring fire stations.

This is an oldie but a goodie brownie funny face.

The house smelled of chocolate and oatmeal and yummy cookie goodness.

I delivered my treats last night while the cookies and brownies were still warm right out of the oven. I always love the smile on the young firefighter’s faces, especially when they say, “These are still warm!” I knew today, 9/11, many of the stations would be at ceremonies, so last night was a better day to deliver and say thank you. I shook each hand and knew that each of these brave firefighters would be willing to sacrifice their life for mine. There is no greater gift than that.

My old friends at Station 5. The counter was empty. I guess I was the first to drop off a thank you tray of goodies last night. I hope that today, all 8 fire stations have counters filled with offerings of gratitude from residents, neighbors and friends. If you didn’t get out there today, any day is a good day to say “Thank you.”

A couple of the guys at Station 2. Big smiles.

Station 1, right off the square, also houses a neat fire engine museum with memorabilia, photos and historical records.