Tag Archives: every day life

Tuesday:) Talking To The Artists~ McKinney Creative Community

14 Nov

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”

~Coretta Scott King

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Last night was our monthly McKinney Creative Community monthly pot-luck and gathering. Everyone is welcome, and the members and visitors are artists, writers, dancers, musicians, and pretty much anyone interested in sharing or learning creative endeavors. We gather at The Cove the second Monday of each month at 5:30, sharing food, drink, and all the wonderful

things happening in our world,

Our guest speaker was Amy Rosenthal, Main Street Program Director, who gave a wonderful presentation on the history of McKinney and how the community has changed over the past few decades. But, the exciting news Amy shared was that McKinney recently received the honor of being a Designated Texas Cultural District. She said that the local artists, musicians, etc. have been an integral part of making that honor happen.

The group did some brainstorming and making suggestions on how the arts community can participate and contribute to the growth of the city and how the city can help promote and support local artists. It was a very productive and inspirational meeting.

McKinney is a great place to live. I have been blessed with so many creative and talented friends.

Wednesday:) Words of Wisdom

8 Nov

“When the going gets tough, the tough bake brownies. That pretty much cures anything.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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My friend, Miss Pat, posted on Facebook last week that Kroger had brownie mixes on sale, with store card for… wait for it… 79cents a box. Be still my heart. She also posted that everyone better get to the store before Toni buys them all. Hmm? Why would she say such a thing?

Funny, as I’m writing this, I have two more batches in the oven. Hold on. I’ll go take a picture…. I’m back…

I’m going to take some for my church group tonight at 7. They’ll still be warm. It’s after 6 already. Then, I’ll have some for tomorrow’s karaoke potluck at the VFW.

I think I’ve gone through 8 boxes in the past week. Every time I bake for an event, I bake an extra batch for my firemen at Station 9. I asked them yesterday if they were getting tired of my brownies yet. They said, “NO MAM!We gobble them up and we don’t leave any for the next shift.” Aw, high praises. I also asked them if they’d save my container, and that I’d swap it out for a new one with more brownies or cookies. I go through a lot of containers too. They were happy to oblige.

Now, you see why I was so excited about the sale. I didn’t buy all of them on the shelf. But, I did take all the dark fudge chocolate boxes, leaving the milk chocolate ones for the less discerning bakers.

That should last me till Christmas…I hope.

Tuesday:) Toni Taking Tasty Treats To My Terrific Friends

8 Aug

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”

Jane Austen

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I’m sure you all know by now that I love to bake, and I love to share with friends and neighbors. I usually try to give away all but one or two of my sweet concoctions to avoid personal temptation.

My last baking marathon Saturday was my mini cupcake baking frenzy. I can best describe it with visuals.

Chocolate cherry.

Lemon with lemon pudding filling.

Cream cheese frosting with my 43 year old harvest gold General Electric mixer.

All done and ready to share.

First stop, Fire Station 9. No one answered the hall phone, so I walked to the back bay doors. Captain Turner said they were trying. He said, “Thank you. That’s so nice. I’m going to give my trainee who’s back there rolling up hoses and extra cupcake.”

I stopped over at a couple of neighbors’ houses with small plates. No photo op.

Next stop…My good friend Karri over at Papa Murphy’s Pizza.

Saving the best for last…my dear friend Sherri Murphy and family. Not only did I share, but I was invited to stay for dinner and we had pizza and pasta. Win-win!

I love to bake. I love to share. I love my friends.

Friday:) Firemen and a Few Other Friends

23 Jun

“The shortest distance between truth and a human being is a story.”

~Anthony de Mello
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Friday turned out to be a fiery hot day. I took Bella across the street to the park for only a few minutes at a time. I, personally, am a bit crazy, so I put my cool wrap around my neck, and went out for a walk. I walked half an hour, came in to sit under the ceiling fan, then back out again. Yep, I’m crazy.

My goal today was to go to get some walking in, go to the bank and take some brownies over to my firemen friends at Station 5 and 9. I decided that I finally needed to write a little story to share with the friendly firefighters. I’ve been taking them goodies for so many years, so I wondered if they might like to know why I do this. It’s a special story. So, I wrote it down, printed it and attached a special photo. I took the story and brownies over today.

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MY ANGEL MOTHER

In 2002, my sweet mother had a serious stroke. She was visiting with me in Hawthorn Woods after not feeling well for a few days. Her speech was slurred and she collapsed in my arms. I held her with one arm and dialed 911 with my free hand. The Lake Zurich fire station was just around the corner. The dispatcher kept me calm and gave me detailed instructions. “The ambulance is on the way. Make sure the front door is unlocked. Stay with me on the phone. It’s going to be OK.” The paramedics arrived in just a few minutes.

The care and compassion, not to mention, saving my mother’s life has always remained with me. After that experience, I have always visited my local fire stations with homemade cookies, brownies or cupcakes, especially at Christmas and September 11th. At Easter time, I make those cute Peep cupcakes, but many times, I just stop by because I feel like baking and sharing.

When I moved to McKinney in 2004, Station 5 was my local station. I brought my baked goodies, and even hand-painted ornaments at Christmas. In 2014, I moved a little further north, and Station 2 was closer. That just gave me double the incentive, so I just stopped by with goodies for both. Now, the new Station 9 is walking distance from my house. That just adds to my baking and sharing.

I wanted to share why this is so important to me. Not only do all of you risk your lives every time you go out on a call, but you do this for strangers or neighbors or friends. It doesn’t matter who you are helping. Some selfless compassionate people saved my mother’s life those sixteen years ago. That sweet angel mother recently passed away on February 15, 2018. I know she’s smiling down every time I stop by.

One of her proudest moments was when she visited me a few years ago from Elgin, Illinois. She went with me to take some brownies to Station 5. When I asked if I could take a photo, the guys on duty insisted on taking her back to the fire truck for the picture. One of them held her arm as she shuffled down the long hall with her cane. After the photo was taken, she was escorted and helped into my car. She was so proud that day. I made copies of that picture that she showed off to all of her lady friends when she returned home.

That’s why I bake and share with you all. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOU DO!

First, I stopped at Station 5. I told the guys that I wanted to let them know why I’m always stopping by. They both thanked me and asked if I wanted to come in. I said I’d just like to take a picture. The captain glanced at the story and asked, “Are you the one who made all those hand-painted Christmas ornaments?” I told him I was, but I missed last year because I was in Chicago for a month to visit Mom and my new grand-daughter. (I guess I owe them an ornament.) That was a nice recognition.

After my first visit, I stopped at the store around the corner. I was ALL out of chocolate ice cream. OH NO! Today is Black Russian Friday. I need my chocolate ice cream.

Who did I run into in the ice cream aisle? Why, my good friend Laura Bartlett. Great minds think alike. We both were getting ice cream.

I’m a smart Texas girl. I keep a cooler in the back of my car pretty much all year long. I put the ice cream in the cooler and headed towards home. But, Station 9 is on the way home. I stopped, called on the outdoor phone and a nice fireman came to the door. I gave him the brownies and handed him the story and photo of Mom. He noticed Captain Floyd in the old photo. He said, “Why don’t you come on back. Captain Floyd is here today.”

We walked back to the office, and when I asked to take their picture, the young man said, “Let me get a picture of you with the Captain.” That was nice. They offered to go back to the fire truck, but I didn’t want to bother them. We have some of the nicest fire fighters here in McKinney, not to mention the cutest. (Thanks for all you do, McKinney Fire Fighters!)

This has been a really good day and a fun Friday. Hey, and I have chocolate ice cream in the freezer. I am blessed.

Friday:) Fun Friends, Favorite Cousins, and FaceTime with Belle

16 Dec

“The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.”

~ Charles Kuralt

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Mom and I went downstairs this afternoon for a crafting class of making ornaments. She painted some lovely green trees and some snow on hers. I made mine all silver trees. After we went back upstairs, I added glitter. One must have glitter.

Later, I received a call from Joe asking if I wanted to FaceTime with Baby Belle. Silly question. She was so cute and was gurgling some secret baby message to me. She even waved hi a few times and ended with a wave goodbye to Grandma. My heart melted.

Yes, I was making silly baby noises.

About an hour later, a visit from my cousins who I haven’t seen since Mom’s birthday this summer. Cousin Jeff saw my post on Facebook about Black Russian Friday, and didn’t even realize I was in town. So, he and his sister Kathy said they would be here to help me celebrate my Friday tradition, and see their favorite Aunt Trini.

I sure am blessed. Happy Friday, “Y’all.” Oops, I’m in Chicago…Happy Friday “You’se Guys!”

Thursday:) The Art Club of McKinney

13 Oct

Without poets, without artists, men would soon weary of nature’s monotony.
~ (Guillaume Apollinaire)

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This morning, the Art Club of McKinney met at the Heard Craig Carriage House. We were greeted at the door by the lovely gardens and manicured landscape.



The club meets the third Thursday of each month, August through May. The Art Club of McKinney is the oldest art club in the great state of Texas.

After our initial meeting and minutes, we take a short break for a yummy brunch provided by volunteer members.


After the break, voting on artist of the month, and raffle drawing, a fabulous guest speaker and artists shares an informative demonstration. Today’s guest was the multi-talented award winning, Michael Holter. His demo was an impressionistic oil painting that he guided step by step techniques.


Another great monthly meeting. Friends, artists, learning and sharing.

Tuesday:) Toni’s Top Tips for Today

26 Jul

“I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.” ― Oscar Wilde

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I had lunch with my friend Mary today. I told her that I was going to the Women’s CHRP Retreat  at church this weekend. She said that she baked some brownies for the event, and was hoping they would stay fresh. I asked her if I ever told her my tip for keeping brownies, cupcakes, cookies, etc. moist and fresh tasting for days. She was impressed, so I shared some of my other tips. I’ll share with you too.

If you don’t have an infuser for flavoring water, you can use a whisk. When I cut up a mango, I save the pit and skin and either put it in a whisk or straight in a tall glass, add water and refrigerate. It’s a two-for-one. You get to eat the mango or fruit, and enjoy the water. Result, tasty flavored water. Keep refilling with water.


With the brownies and cookies, get a slice of soft bread, tear or cut up and place in the four corners of your baked goods, maybe one or two pieces in the middle, then cover with foil or its lid. Baked goods stay fresh and moist for a couple of days. Even add fresh bread pieces and throw out dried ones for a couple more days. Works every time. No more dried up frosting or dry brownies. Trust me…I have lots of experience.


My facvorite tip is the acupressure pinch for leg cramps. I learned this one when I took Lamaze classes way back in the 80’s. You take your index finger and place on that little grove above your lip, then place your thumb inside the lip and squeeze and press fingers together as hard as possible. Keep pinching until you feel the cramp disappear. It may take a few seconds, but it works. Believe me, I’ve used this one a zillion times. (Looks goofy, but who cares when you are in pain.)