Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve

Wow. The true end of the year. A wonderful new calendar awaits us. Mine is no longer blank. It is marked with birthdays and anniversaries. Workouts are already on there. Even a MaggieGrace item or two are there. There are notes about bills to pay. And even a note about moving College Girl from one dorm to another. Still - a year of promise lies ahead.

We don't do resolutions. Besides - I am already participating in the traditional classic one - eat right and exercise. So no need for that one.

What I do try and do each year is set a focus. 2009 was to make MaggieGrace more public. I have spent the last several weeks pondering what my focus would be.

Here we go ----

THE INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR OF OUR HOUSE WILL BE PRIMARY. Softball Princess has been wanting to redo her room for a while. She actually got Home Depot gift cards from Santa to apply in that direction. So her room will be the first priority. There will be paint and spit shining all through the house. I have a ton of goodies tucked into the barn to be reahbbed into our living arangement.

TAKE MAGGIEGRACECREATES TO THE NEXT LEVEL. Lay terms here. Try and make more money from MaggieGrace goodies than I spend. Profit. Sounds really good to the man at my address.

Two focus statements that are oh so broad, but hold so much promise. I am excited about both of them.

How about you? What are you choosing for the New Year?

What ever it is - I bid you a safe and happy season.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 the year winds down

Navajo prayer
Originally uploaded by maggiegracecreates

The picture is from my flickr page. It is one of the pages from my friend Becky's book of encouragment.

As the year ends, I always go back through my posts and grab a few that strike me as worthy of revisiting. I am not doing the links here on the dates. Why - you ask? Most of this is for me to have all this together. You are more than welcome to go back and read in detail. I am adding the post dates to make this fairly easy to find in the archives.


I made MaggieGraceCreates a priority. To make my "alter ego" more publicly visable.

Finished my first crocheted garment ( Jan 6th)


I had my oldest child throw me a curve ball in life. (Feb 16th)

A lovely little one joined her family. (Feb 5th)

The blonde Softball Princess became a redhead (Feb 9th)


I celebrated an old couple I did not know. (March 24th)

A snowstorm shut the area down. (March 3rd)


Prepared to attend my fir art workshop ever. (April 27th)


Attended that first art workshop (May 18th)


Started on the path to regaining my health (June 23rd)


Committed to participate in my first Art Market (July 24th)

Started the overhaul of the old homeplace (July 20th)

Softball Princess turned 16 (July 9th)

My sister lost her mind. (July 6th)

Celebrated my 44th birthday. (July 14th)


College girl celebrated turning 19 (August 17th)

Added a four legged critter to the family (August 13th)


Publicity for MaggieGrace (Sept 25th)

Made what seemed like 100's of altered composition books

Softball Princess increased my stress level quite a bit by hitting the road on her own (Sept 15th)


Exhibited my first piece in a gallery show (Oct 21st)

The man at my Address celebrated his 53rd birthday (Oct 16th)

Some very good friends lost their child (Oct 14th)


MaggieGraceCreates was featured in a local paper (Nov 30)

The Art Market was a huge success (Nov 16th)


I received my best Christmas gift ever (Dec 16th)

Posted a clipboard tutorial that has resulted in more publicity (Dec 10th)


And here we are reflecting on the past year and looking at fresh calendar pages. Again a year of laughter and tears, successes and frustrations, pain and elation. A year for Family and friends. I can see in looking back that our life is so very blessed, but that we have had many trials to contend with. I am choosing to focus on the blessings and learn from the tests.

My focus on making MaggieGraceCreates a more public identity has been successful. My health has improved dramatically. I have conquered many fears and taken many first steps.

2010 promises even more growth.

I'll be posting goals for the New Year in the next few days. No resolutions for me.

Have a wonderful day.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Atkinson Christmas

We are a wide open bunch. Laughter. Inside jokes. Picking on one another. It's all there. Wine -- food -- celebration. Gifts were virtually non existant. We did all get some of Grandmother's jellies. Yummy. It was really about being together. A wonderful CHRISTmas gathering.

Maddie -- Alli -- the back of Laura's head. (I LOVE Alli's short hair.) Yes there was an abundance of alcohol.

Sam -- Molly -- Abby

Brook (her hubby is one of our servicemen - Kevin Lucas is serving in Afghanistan)

My lovely Mother in Law Ann and the Man at my Address. Yes he looks like his mama.

There was a party going on in here... leading to this.......

Poor Granddaddy - I am quite sure he just wishes we would all calm down.
I'm composing my year end post. See you guys tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Icing the tree

Last night we finished the tree to my standards. Those shiny silvery strands are my favorite part of the tree and they have to hang correctly for me to be truly happy with how the tree looks.

We complete it with all the lights on. This involves one of the memories my children will have etched in their brains. Me standing on a chair - yardstick in hand. Yes--- a yardstick.

I drape a few strands across the tip and then hang them on the top of the tree. I go around and around and climb and add until the tree is covered top to bottom to my liking.

Then we turn off the room lights and stand back and admire the handiwork. This is absolutely my favorite moment every year. That first time seeing the tree in its finished state.

The picture above was taken using a vellum screen across the flash.

Poca has not bothered the ornaments. Not the lights. Really not even the tree. She drinks out of the tree stand though. Last night this was a major source of amusement for all of us. The inside air is dry and her fur has a lot of static electricity. When she goes under the tree, her fur "sucks" the icicles off the tree and onto her. It is hilarious to watch her try to shake them off - then scratch them off - then chew them off. We laugh for a while before I rescue her and pull them off to put back on the tree.

I also finished the last of the custom orders for people. These are for a local friend of mine. MaggieGrace sales are closed for the week now. Any creative works will be for my pleasure at this point - although one of the children has asked for an "urchin" to include as part of a gift.

The order was for altered composition books one in a cooking/recipe theme and the other was for dogs and cats.

Today is our last day at work for the week. I'll be taking cyber time off through the weekend. Merry Christmas to all of you and yours.

I have a beautiful life.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


That's Mama Norvan's tree. The Man at my Address and I decorated this for many many years before she passed away. It kept growing and growing and we kept adding and adding lights - eventually putting it on a separate electrical service. It was a tradition I hoped would never go away and yet it did when she died. He did it that last year and then no more. I have a red maple at my house and when it gets a little bigger, we will decorate it and REMEMBER.

I have been a little subdued for the last several weeks. I am pondering something that was said to me. Having a "come to Jesus meeting" with myself over my hurt feelings and not being very successful at letting this thing go. Not angry, not depressed, but hurt and my temper tantrum little girl reaction is not the right thing to do - at least I have not resorted to that.

On to brighter things. I share a ton of stories about myself, about my life and the things that happen. I share those stories here and in person. My friend Tanya remarked at BootCamp that the funniest things happen to me. Let me reassure you that I do not have "dibbs" on adventures and misadventures. Everything is about perspective. As I approach the end of an incredible year, I am reading my posts and REMEMBERING. I am remembering that it really was funny when the dog dropped a dead mole in the floor. I am remembering the pride I felt at know my daughter is part of a nationally ranked (academically) softball team. I am remembering what it felt like to cry through more than one workout as I am trying to undo years of inactivity. I am remembering the humiliation of puking on the side of the road after a particularly difficult workout. I am remembering the happy dances of success and the fears and prayers for loved ones.

I am a survivor. I looked hard things in the face and walked away with very little cynacism. I chose and choose every day to celebrate the tiniest bit of laughter. I realize the blessings of having a home I love - a family that loves one another - and the many friends that grace our path. I have a job that I love (well - most days). I have a church that feels like an extension of my home and family. I have the knowledge that I am a child of God and the grace and faith that come with that is central to my life. I have the knowing that even at my lowest and most challenging point I am not alone.

And yes - I have adventures and misadventures - and they are my stories. The stories are my life. Somedays that life is hilarious. Other days find us at the other end of the spectrum. But you know what. I am happy - I am content - I am comfortable with who I am - my life is a product of the decisions I have made and I cannot blame anyone else for that. So I choose to share the story.

hang on - this life is a wild ride - but I promise it is well worth it.

Look for it - you can find it if you really look - there are even blessings in what seem like the worst of times - and there are moments of serious laughter to be had on those good days. Share your story - write it down - then go back through it and see the blessings. You will be so glad you did.

Oh and by the way - a dead mole in the kitchen floor is FUNNY. The beer bottles on top of the TV cabinet - well they probably will still show up there as long as the Man at my Address is still there. And the cheap and homemade wooden nativity - that will be on the chest in front of the sofa - and if I have to explain it to you - you wouldn't understand.

REMEMBER - I am - and I am looking forward to a lot more living and sharing of my story.

How about you?

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Don't Blink

I am really glad I became a blogger. My pictures are not great, but I can tell you all that becoming a blogger has made me NOTICE. Notice things. Record those things. Remember those things. It really is cool to have this record.

Saturday evening was my family Christmas. It was the first time I had seen my sister since the July 4th weekend from you know where. I am very very worried about her. She is unhappy, she is drinking too much, she is making everyone around her unhappy, and she is feeling sorry for herself. Should I worry -- yes -- and (since I am no longer on her favorite people list) all I can do is pray.

My girls (and one boy) rode with us to the lake house. We are hardly ever all in a vehicle together. The chatter was so beautiful. We talked about counting Christmas lights. We talked about donuts at the lake (we do not have a meal for this gathering, just homemade donuts). They teased and shared and tortured that boy with us. They critiqued my choice in music. The critiqued Dad's choice in music. I could listen to that endless chatter noise forever. It touches my heart in ways I cannot describe.

I took sparklers for all the kids.

That is Cindy holding her first ever sparkler - I do hope you can see the look of wonder on that little face. She was adorable.

Left to right Sam (Molly's boyfriend), Softball Princess, Scott (against the wall), and Jonathan (he is an adult, but he still qualifies since he is at the same level in the family tree as my girls)

Poor Abby - had a terrible time lighting her sparklers.

After the gathering, we went to a local club to hear JW Hell play. Imagine our surprise when we get there to find that he has ditched the band. It was initially awkward, but after getting the scoop we settled in and enjoyed ourselves. I danced like I used to and never once thought about how "fat" I must look. 35 pounds of weight loss and some serious exercise toning have made a huge difference in my self image. 25 more pounds to go.

Huge and difficult question here.........

Do mixers have a shelf life?

Huh - you say. Well I opened this one yesterday. It was a wedding gift for me and the Man at my Address. 24 YEARS AGO. Yes - 24 years ago - actually 24 plus years ago. It still had the names of the people who gave it to us (I do not have a clue who they are.) I got two of these as gifts and kept this one.

I was baking apple cake and burned my other one up (super thick batter). I was freaking out until I remembered that I had one in the back of the bottom cabinet. Let's just say what an amazing memory I have (not) - I was looking for a heavy duty whisk to finish mixing the cake and one of the children mentioned seeing this at some point in the past. Well then the hunt was on. This years funny Christmas memory - Mom crawling hands and knees on the kitchen floor digging crap out of cabinets to find something someone thought they remembered seeing. There was cussing involved.

I also spent serious crochet time on this baby blanket. But even with all my effort - the new owner of this arrived before I got it finished. Welcome Baby Collinsworth. I promise I'll get this too you super soon.

So there you go - life is what happens while you are waiting for the big stuff. It is thousands of moments of laughter, tears, joy, worries. Don't wait to enjoy every blessing. Even the smell of a burning mixer was a blessing, because I was cooking for family and friends when it happened.

I have a beautiful life. I thank God for that beauty and for the ability to recognize it.

I am already calling this my best Christmas ever. So many blessings fill my life.

Have a wonderful day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This is a mole.

They burrow tunnels in our yard continually.

We have a new dog.

She is primarily an indoor dog.

This is a good thing because Poca is also a digger.

I let her out this morning.

Then left the door lightly closed while I got things ready. (she can let herself back in)

I asked her what she had in her mouth, then told her to give it to me.

I wish she had not obeyed.

One digging dog dropped one ugly burrowing mole, dead and slobbered on in my kitchen floor.

The Man at my Address was already gone to work.

This is gonna be one REALLY LOVELY DAY.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

College Girl is in the house

The tree is partially done. I say partially because it is a major thing at my house to tell the stories.

I'll add the icicles last -- that's Mom's job. That and the untangling of the lights.

I went to bootcamp first. Came home and went to the Huddle House for an omlet for supper. Then returned home to find College Girl and her boy - Sam - ready to unpack ornaments and get on that tree. BTW -- I like having her home. Softball Princess was off visiting with her boy. All these boys........

College Girl added elf attire.

Looks a little demonic here -- Big tree - she is 6 feet tall and was standing on a chair to reach the top of the tree.

She squealed and giggled and was generally her normally bubbly "hey, look at this" self. Unpacking the ornaments was a whole lot of fun. Star Trek and Star Wars light and sound ornaments were the fun ones for the night.

But her reaction to this was completely unexpected.

Pics follow the preamble ---

Imagine a toddler and a very nice ceramic Nativity that was a wedding gift from my Lovely MIL - Ann. Add in another porcelain Nativity that was also a wedding gift and little toddler hands wanting to hold baby Jesus. RECIPE FOR DISASTER - but soon disaster is averted.

Mom grabbed scrap 2x4 lumber - a pattern from a Spirit of Christmas book - and various assorted other crafty items and made this..........

A toddler friendly, wood block nativity.

Both those girls told the Christmas Story over and over with this thing.

I packed it up years ago and never gave it a thought. I just would leave it on the shelf each year. In my mind it was a "child's toy" and maybe I would break it out again in the future when Grandchildren entered the picture.

Well, The Man at my Address was taking the boxes down last night and he brought that blue box down.

College Girl ---- sharp intake of breath followed by "YOU FOUND IT" squealed in that high pitched voice only girls can do. The child (adult) giggled and danced and squealed and unpacked. Stopped everything she was doing to put this out on the chest in front of the sofa.

She told Sam about playing with it. We talked about why I made it. It was one of those Christmas Memories of hers that I had no idea about. Her reaction to this unlost box being "found" made me realize again how important things are to a child.

I made my night. It has made my day today. In all honesty-- right now I am thinking that reaction may be the best Christmas gift yet.

If you are a regular reader, you know I pondered this a lot after it happened. Obviously one very important memory for my child did not cost me anything but time. An amazing story of the Christ child's birth told over and over between me and my then small girls using a crudely and quickly crafted nativity set equals beautiful memories of Christmases past.


An amazing story - initially told by the angels to the shepherds. And for so many years now to all the world.

A quickly decided stay in a crude stable by two unlikely parents.

EQUALS --- the best Christmas Gift for the entire world ever.

I am so blessed that my family had the opportunity to hear and respond to that story.

Now I know this nativity will not be relegated to the attic until the Grands come along. This nativity will be on display each and every year -- because people -- sharing that story with even the smallest children is a memory worth making.

Have a blessed day --- I know I am.

And because this conversation is just too funny not to share. College Girl and the boy are hanging ornaments on our live cedar tree.
COLLEGE GIRL: Hey Sammy, smell my hand.
SAM: You didn't like scratch you butt or something, did you?

Only in my world will that be a Christmas Memory.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Magnet tutorial

This is what mist looks like as you get out of the car at bootcamp.

The view of the track --- from the parking lot. I went prepared. Layers of clothing. Which we came out of when we went into the weight room. Just for the record, I am really ready to have some pretty weather. The weather induced migraine has me cranky and very irritable.

Several weeks ago, my altered clipboard tutorial caught the attention of the manufacturer of the boards that I used. A link was posted to my blog from their facebook page. In following up with that scenario, I discovered a link to the UHU Glues blog. The send out a free sample kit for product review every month. I applied for the december sample kit and was granted one.

The sample included a full size bottle of TWIST AND GLUE, flat glass floral marbles, and magnets. I have used UHU GLUE STICKS before, but was unfamiliar with the TWIST AND GLUE.

Like always, I set up a tray and pondered my project.

Then I ran across these. Decorative ornament hooks. I found mine at a discount store. As quick as I saw these, I knew I wanted to do a variation of the traditional glass magnet.

Here is the process I used. I'll also include product review notes as we go.

First - gather your stuff. Scissors, papers, glass marbles, magnets, TWIST AND GLUE, ornament hooks.

Since all the marbles are slighly different, I placed a marble on my image and outlined it with a pen.

Then I trimmed (and trimmed, and trimmed) until it fit the back of the marble with no excess hanging out. Other people glue then trim with a blade once the glue dries, but this way works for me.

Apply the TWIST AND GLUE to the paper circle and apply to the back of the marble. I had a few bubbles in my glue, but I simply pushed those out with my fingers.

Product review note -- I have made several things using these glass marbles and this is a great product. None of my paper buckled on the glass and the glue dried completely clear. The only thing I had any issue with was a very porous handmade paper and the glue made a bleed through spot on the paper. I suspected that it would, so I tested it first.

Apply the TWIST AND GLUE to the magnet and set the paper covered marble on top of it. See the magnet drying in the background of this picture and the photo below. This will eliminate the magnet sliding around before the glue sets up.

I assembled mine on a small bamboo cutting board so I can set it aside to dry.

Now wait for these to dry --- I left mine over night.

Product review note. The glue dries completly clear. Love that. Again I also like that none of my paper buckled in anyway with this glue.

Now for the fun part - my twist on these

Turn the magnet over face down and slide the hook end around the magnet. Some of mine needed just a little persuasion with the pliers to be a snug fit. My hooks are metal and plenty snug enough to not need additional glue, but you could add a drop if you like.

Now flip them over and look ------ Note holders.

I made mine to coordinate with the clipboards that I made before. I use my clipboard for the grocery list and I plan to clip my coupons to the spiral.

See how the note holder works.

This last one stayed on the fridge for about 45 seconds before the College Girl grabbed it for her dorm room.

Product notes ---UHU TWIST AND GLUE has just become my go to glue for these paper to glass projects. I alos tried it on a few paper gift tags and loved it for that application as well. Thank you UHU for sending my free sample kit to review.

Now if anyone out there makes a modification style magnet, plase leave a comment and let me know.

Have a wonderful day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weekend Notes......

One day he will learn. He being the Man at my Address. We went to the tree farm early Saturday, pulled up the hill, parked, I pointed and said "there's one".

Well after an hour of trekking around and looking -- we cut that very first one I pointed at.

He cut. I dragged it out of the lot to the truck and loaded it. Yes - I can tell a huge difference in my strength this year over last year.

Laying here - it looks kinda scraggly, but it isn't. I am very happy with it.

But bringing that baby in means that I had to deal with ..........
Lights. Damn. Gotta be a better way. He puts the tree in the stand and brings it in. He even strings the lights.

Me --- I fight with the untangling and bulb checking and replacing. (sorry - blogger will not let me change this orientation) I think I got the worst of this one. But it has been the job breakdown for many many years.
Poor little tree - is sitting there with just it's white lights. College girl will be home this week to help decorate. Telling the ornament stories is too important to start without her. There will be lots of that fun starting tonight.

So we wait.......

How sweet is this picture? Poca and Daddy.

Then she makes it over to Mom's chair. I always wanted a lap dog, but a 50 pound lap dog is a little too much for the recliner.

Mom also spent time in the studio this weekend. A custom charm order.

Love the JOY one myself.

Someone will recognize the PLAY one -- The little metallic dots are for a not so little one who's name starts with "C" (the other side has the "C" on it)

And this vintage paper one -- one side says "beautiful" ---- the other side of this one says "brave".

Boot camp tonight. Then studio time covering a couple of composition books (another custom order). I also have a product review and tutorial to make and photograph. After that we will add the first of many boxes of ornaments to the tree.

Have a fabulous day.....