Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Recap - Wow what a year.

Photo from my front door on our White Christmas 2010.

It has been a year. And at times it has been a seriously challenging year. I have gotten into the habit of looking back and summarizing it so here we go.

JANUARY. I set my home as a priority. I had my first piece of MaggieGrace work published.

FEBRUARY. Teenage conversations abound - I am really glad I recorded this one. I met with some friends - (added note Rosalyn-Sue 's wonderful husband has been deployed to the middle east for a year. please pray for them all.) I even hosted my own playdate with some friends.

MARCH - I created Majesty. One of my favorite pieces ever. Then there was this little kidney stone speed bump.

APRIL - Well this was a challenging month. Seems that little kidney stone speed bump from last month became a full blown road block in what now is called the Kidney Cancer Vacation - the entire second half of April posts cover that little trek.

MAY - I celebrated with other survivors. College Girl took off for Spain.

JUNE - Close to normal life was back. But my very first serious bout of adrenal fatigue was worthy of commentary. And there was a quick trip to the beach.

JULY - we started the room redo for the softball princess. I cannot believe that my baby is an upcoming senior.

AUGUST - wow - as I scrolled through those posts - life was almost normal. Now that is worth celebrating. I was however released by the docs to resume bootcamp seriously.

SEPTEMBER - I sent 100 affirmations and finished a long put off project. Softball Princess started her Senior year of high school. And I finished my own Prayer Blanket.

OCTOBER - 25th Wedding Anniversary. Big Deal. WOW.

NOVEMBER - A huge month of serious thanksgiving. And while it was sad, the end of the hugh school softball season was very worthy of celebrating.

DECEMBER - I never found my missing Baby Jesus. But Christmas 2010 was the best one ever. Why, because I was given a major gift this year. I was given my health. I have been blessed beyond measure by friends, by family, by coworkers, by health care providers. I never found that small representative figurine of the Christ Child, but what I did find in my faith was bigger and better than that. And because MaryAnn picked the word GRACE for the month, I can also say that I found and focused on just how much Grace I have been given and how often I have been stingy in returning that grace. Maybe the real findings of this Christmas and this year were that giving and taking blessings and prayers and grace and forgivness are really what my faith walk is and should be about.

So now - I am picking and posting our word for January -- I'm choosing BEAUTY. (BEAUTIFUL)

I'm also choosing my focus word for the year 2011 - that word will be ABUNDANCE.

More on that in the next few days.

Happily Today -- Blessed Today - sending those good wishes to you today.

LOVE ---- t

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Touring the neighborhood....

Note - pictures are from my really pretty Christmas village that College Girl set up on the piano.

It is cold in Georgia. I know it gets colder in other places, but an 18 degree morning is downright cold to us wimps here.

I sleep deep in the covers and close to the Man at my Address. When he gets up, he tucks the covers in nicely around me and starts his day. I sleep in while he gets ready. One measly bathroom at our house.

Well this morning, he took the monster dog out and put her on the chain to the porch. As he left he said "the dog is on the porch." Muffled reply "ok, I'll let her in when I get up."

At 6:30 am it is still dark. I'm up and out in my jammie bottoms, long sleeve t-shirt, slide in clogs, and a sweatshirt. My only task at this time is to bring said dog back in the house.


Normally, I can grab her collar, start her toward the door and in she goes. Not this morning. She takes off in the opposite direction. Followed by yours truly.

I am not dressed for a cardio workout in this weather. Oh but I am getting one. After a lap through the woods, I dart in the kitchen for bribery treats and my coat and cell phone.

May I also say that the cold triggers some severe nerve pain in and through my surgery site.

I cruise through neighbors yards with a symphony of rugged language - some of which may have included "dammit dog".

Cute dog is having a blast playing in the snow - that she hated two days ago. She is sniffing and marking and chasing cars and darting away from me.

I make an on the run phone call to the Man - who turns around to come help with problem.

I now have wet feet to go along with the fashion statement sleepwear and serious bed head hair that I am modeling for the neighbors. In the back of my brain I am thinking about all of the weapons that I know my neighbors have.

And the cute little doggie is having a blast playing in the snow.

After some 30 minutes of this and an estimated two miles of cardio, I hear the Man turn the corner at the highway, cute puppy hears it too and she takes off toward home. She follows the Man into the driveway and hops in the truck as quick as he opens the door.

So after a quick shower - drugs for nerve pain - drugs for asthma attack triggered by warm air after cold air, I finally head for work.

I'll be retracing the steps from this morning to apologize to my neighbors for the CURSING 101 lesson I conducted in their yards before daylight this morning.

As for dog, she will only be allowed in and out on the leash or the run.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

Best Christmas ever.

Maybe my perspective is different. Maybe I finally pondered the real spirit of Chirstmas long enough. I don't know. But I had a wonderful wonderful Christmas.

There was not a lot of hurry scurry. I took an entire week to decorate the monster of a tree. Literally finishing the icicles about 45 minute before our family dinner on Friday night.

A super blurry picture of the tree just for perspective. This bad boy was huge. We have high ceilings and big big rooms.

I never found the Baby Jesus I was looking for. He will show up, I am sure as I undertake some cleaning/clearing of home this year.

Here are some picture of what did happen.

Cooking. Eating. Napping. Laughing. Sharing. Snuggling. Movie watching. Snow play. Crafting. Eating. Napping. All good.

I made a grocery run on Friday morning - and never left again until this morning.

College Girl scrambled eggs for Christmas breakfast.

There were pancakes - sausage - toasted pecans.

Whoops - an out of order picture of the egg scrambler.

I do toasted pecans as a snack while we do Santa and unpack stockings.

Bed head and jammie t-shirt.

The kitchen island groaned over the weight of dinner food.

There were baked apples.

College Girl and Nomi (my mom)

Grandmother and Granddaddy (the Man's parents)

Softball Princess effectively evaded the camera for this part.

The Man - he ate - and got up for a refill and lost his chair to College Girl --

They baked - a LOT of cookies. (Can I say that I love this picture)

Ben and College Girl.

My monsters.

Blake and Softball Princess
Again - it was a wonderful Christmas. Full of blissful, beautiful, blessing filled moments.
(I see my size in these pictures. Got a long way to go on the weight loss journey. There will be a serious focus on that next year. I have the tools in place, just need to keep focusing on those blue pants. )
Back tomorrow with a few more pictures.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I looked back on the first post of the year just a few minutes ago. I accomplished both goals stated - well kinda -

We are no where near what I want the interior of my house to be. But we have finished the Softball Princess room. A dramatic improvement. Other things have been accomplished as well. The very first attack for the 2011 year will be the bathroom redo.

I also made more money that I spent on MaggieGrace "stuff" - I was diligent about looking for things "I know I put somewhere" rather than buying it again. I focused on putting and keeping like items together. Progress has been made.

All that is very good. But......

The "surprise kidney cancer roadtrip" affected me. TO MY VERY CORE. Now the personality hasn't changed. I'm still a loud rowdy obnoxious redhead. But little aggravations do not bother me as much. Need to wait in line at the post office - no problem. Being left on "ignore" waiting for someone to answer the phone - no problem. Dealing with someone who works in our industry and can't speak our language - let me call a friend to interpret for you - no really it's not a problem. Temper tantrums come less frequently. Demands to live my life fully and happily today are the most important.

There is no "why me" -- there is a lot of "what can I do to make someone else's life better."

I'm taking generosity lessons from one of my most inspiring friends. If you don't know her, you have missed out. She is smart, funny, beautiful, kind, caring, uplifting, sometimes brutally honest. And even though I have never wrapped my arms around her, I feel as though we have know each other always. (Plus she mailed me a replacement kidney in April - I kinda owe her - ya know)

Drop over and read her archives about her 365 days of giving. It's good stuff.

We are playing a word game - and this month the word is GRACE. I have not made a single thing using that word, but I sure have focused on it - A LOT. Amazing what grace you find when you focus.

But back to generosity lessons. I took the challenge. 365 days of intentional giving. The important part is the intentional part. I have always been willing to share my time and resources "if I was asked to." I considered that to be generous - and it is. But this - this is different. Looking for ways to give. Finding tiny or huge opportunities to give without expecting to be recognized. It takes planning. It takes initiative. It takes intent.

I started earlier this month. So far so good. I will mention this from time to time here. Not for recognition, but for accountability. I am recording each day on an index card for myself - each daily card has three gratitudes and the intentional giving for the day.

This is just too cute not to share.

I made this cute little beanie hat with the intent that it be one of my "gifts" - special thanks to Jennifer Larkin for the easy peasy pattern. I prayed over it an then sent it to live with its new owner )and hopefully new wearer.

By the MAGIC of the cell phone camera - I learned that this cutie happens to love the new hat.

Now how adorable is she?
The fun thing is many things are totally anonymous in their nature. Some are just fun. Some are obviously a Universal Spirit completion of a challenge. All in all - I can already tell the one most affected by the MAGIC of the project is going to be me.
Any one else out there wanna join?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry merry

Christmas is coming ---

what I have not done -found baby Jesus, finished decorating the tree, returned the boxes to the attic, completed my shopping, finished the baking, addressed all the cards.


Am I feeling the "perfect Christmas" stress? Not at all. I am taking this one easy. If it get's done that's great, if not, that's great too.

Happy happy monday -

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Note - Image is a freebie from

As the year end approaches, I always look back and start planning an approach to the new year.

A little later, I'll be posting about my year overall, but last night I was working on coupons and decided to take a look at where that project has led. I started the coupon project shortly before the kidney cancer road trip. As I left the grocery store - department store - service station - etc, I wrote a little note on a tracking sheet in the back of my coupon organizer.

When I paid bills each week, I took the savings from that we and redirected that money towards old debt. (Thank you Dave Ramsey and others for that brilliant idea)

As I ws running the tape last night, I was having an internal conversation about how much work all of the clipping/website checking/planning that it took to do this. And make note as well, I only have done this on a small scale. Was it really worth it?????

Well, I paid off multiple old medical bills. You know, the kind you pay "dollar down and ten dollars a month" as my Nanny would say. I also have a personal loan that was scheduled to be paid off in spring of 2012 - it will now be paid off in late spring 2011.

As I paid off each of those small debts, I then added that payment to the next oldest one. (Again thank you to all of the get out of debt gurus out there) I also made a deliberate decision to add to my savings from each paycheck.

So was it worth it? -- literal terms - 1800.00 and change saved. 6 fewer bill payment checks to write each month. almost a full year ahead of paying off a fairly substantial loan. Money set aside to handle some vehicle emergencies. Time out of work while I recovered and no one went unpaid or delayed on the payment.

Yes my friends - IT WAS FULLY WORTH IT. Wish I had decided to play the game sooner.

The next logical step for me - using the sales and coupons and recipe books to plan meals based on what I have in the pantry and what this weeks best buys are. Let's see if this has an even more dramatic effect. I would like to cut my grocery and household items (cleaning/hygeine) as well as clothing bills per month for our family of four + two boys who are there a whole bunch + two really big dogs to 500.00 instead of the almost 700.00 I spend now. I would also like to cut the WASTE - that gets tossed at my house.

I shop at Bi-Lo in my hometown and Dollar General, CVS, and RiteAID as well as the standard big box stores.

In addition to the websites for the above, here are my other favorite websites that I faithfully check daily. (I subscribe to them either through facebook, email, or google reader)

I hope you found this to be encouraging.

Please share any tips/tricks you have for the saving money lifestyle.

I have an absolutely blessing filled life.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Although there is no need for cooling breezes.

When the Softball Princess started her room redo, one of the requested items was a new ceiling fan. The one in her room was WHITE and POLISHED BRASS. (I do not know what I was thinking, don't ask).

The fan was one of those pushed to the side projects. (DIY buddies - you know what I mean). The exisiting one was ugly, but it functioned just fine.

Then I got a phone call. A friend was taking down a fan - a black and satin nickle fan. It didn't have a light kit. But they were changing it out and if I wanted it, I could have it. Can we all say the magic word ------ FREEEEEEEE. Yes sir I want it. Will pick it up this afternoon.

The missing light kit was on a minor issue --

The existing fan had a gloriously ugly brass light kit. I - however - own spray paint and am not at all afraid to use it.

Remove light kit - tape off inportant bits.

Save screws - also hideous brass - and poke them into a convenient holder.
Spray paint the hell out of it all - light kit flat black - screws chrome (aka silver).

Have the Man at my Address hang it all back up - wire in the light.

Looks like it all was purchased together. Whoo hoo.
The fan was free - the light kit was there already so I'm counting it free - the spray paint and tape were in the stash so they count as free too.
Happy Softball Princess - PRICELESS.
Its all good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bringing home the tree...

My family has been going to Briar Hill Christmas tree farm since the early 80's. Friends own it and even though there have been changes in the family structure over the years, it is still owned and maintained by the same family. This year was the first year we have not seen Mr. Ray. He has the early symptoms of alzheimers and his daughter Maralee has taken over.

The trip to the tree farm is a big deal. I have criteria for what makes the "perfect" tree - so do each of the girls - daddy is in charge of the technical parts.

The first thing you see as you turn in is the chimney from the old homeplace. For some reason I am drawn to these old chimneys.
Thousands of trees over many acres. Some are "cookie cutter" trimmed. We do not even look at those. We are in search of "shaggy" ones. (my important factor) The "perfect" pretty green (College Girl's) and "no big holes" (Softball Princess).
We walked ALL OVER the tree farm. (at least this year we didn't come back and cut the very first one)

College Girl thinks this might be "Just right"

There was clowning around.

And a freezing Princess - she forgot her coat so she wound up with a dirty shirt she found in her daddy's truck as her jacket.

This would up being "the one" - check out those huge briars coming out of the top. Dad and I took pliers to hold those and pull them out of the tree. It was awful.

The only pictures of daddy were of this view or even better of his behind sticking out from under the tree.

Princess wanted snuggle time - This was the tree I wanted, but it didn't pass the "perfect green" test.

College Girl got us all to giggling with her comment on this one. She said it looks like abby is rubbing her stomach like she would a pregnant woman.

I was tickled to catch this of the two of them loving on each other.

The truck is a long bed full sized pickup - this tree is huge.

It now is in the house - tied off to the ceiling.
The decorating will take most of the week. We do it in little bits. No pressure. One reason it takes so long is that we have to tell all of the ornament stories. "we got this ______" - " So and so gave us this" "this was my favorite when I was __" "i made this _____"
I love that part of Christmas.
Have a wonderful day.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Looking for the Christ Child.......

I love my nativities. I have several. Handcrafted. Purchased. Big ones. Little ones. Formal ones. Folk art ones. I even have a wonderful ornament that has the stable of popscicle sticks and peanuts for the three main characters.

The one pictured below is a favorite. It was a gift. When you turn the stable over, there is a printed sheet inside it and all of these little pieces fit in it in puzzle form. I have two of this type, this one and a larger that my Uncle made for me.

So we put out our nativities. And once again we tell the Christmas story. This is the last year that we will have a full time young person in our house. Our baby takes off for college next fall. I am slowly enjoying the season. The decorating. Because next year it will just be me and The Man.

So the post title sounds like a super deep thought provoking one.

Well - it's not.

The Man and the Children packed up the Christmas stuff last time. Let's just say attention to detail was not one of the descriptions of this fact. This is an important note.

See - I have a stunning bronze three piece nativity. A glorious, ceramic one. A wedding gift from my precious Mother - in - Love, Ann. I have Joseph. I have Mary. I cannot find baby Jesus.

Tonight will find me back in the attic. Putting the now empty boxes that are already displayed back and looking for baby Jesus.

My buddy Leandra says " he wasn't born until Christmas" - Looking like it may be then before I find him.

I CANNOT FIND BABY JESUS - and cursing this fact really seems like a bad idea. - Ya know.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Do what???????

I opened my internet browser this morning. MSN is my homepage. There it was in big bold living color pictures and text. A brand new word for my vocabulary.

I copied the information because I just know all of you exercise junkies need this...

Sorry for those somewhat less interested - or maybe when you read this you may even decide exercise is quite worth the effort.

Here’s some extra motivation to exercise: A number of women report having an orgasm—or “coregasm”—while working out. But not just any fitness routine can trigger the big-O. As the name suggests, coregasms most commonly happen during an intense core workout, which may explain the wait for the Ab Roller at the gym.While any moderate physical activity can trigger the release of feel-good endorphins and increase your blood circulation, core workouts, in particular, target the same muscles that contract during orgasm. “When you’re doing Pilates or Kegel exercises, you’re working your PC and pelvic floor muscles,” says Sara Nasserzadeh, PhD, co-author of The Orgasm Answer Guide. “It’s probable that feel-good feeling you get from contracting your muscles during core exercises can mimic those generated during genital-stimulated orgasms.”

There you go.

Now having given you that public service announcement, let's move onto some fun stuff.

By now you have probably decided that my work environment is not exactly typical. I sell toilets. I work with contractors and plumbers. There is built in humour with even the names of plumbing items - male and female adaptors - nipples - you've got the picture.

Well - I decided that some Christmas cheer with a twist of fun was in order for our decor.

Check out the wreath.

Yes - I made it.

Yes - it was in jest.

Yes - it is made from a toilet seat.

A more direct picture.

The HO HO HO is made from faucet parts and tools.
Merry Christmas ------
I love my job.
A giving note - I am on day five. What I have already learned is that it's it about INTENTIONALLY looking for opportunities - they do not just present themselves. And being prepared - thinking ahead is important as well.
I am logging this project in a very private manner - I am keeping gratitiudes for each of those 365 days as well - 3 gratitudes for small (or large things) and then a thanksgiving that I was able to give.
to use my best friend's favorite phrase - WE WILL SEE - just how this impacts my life.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Huge Thank You!

This shelf is over my piano. Yes I collect those old diner creamers. The wire rack has single serving ones.

I spied a box out by the dumpster at work way back in the summer. Our dumpster is behind the building and gets abused by many as "free" dumping. Anyway, this box was on the ground and as I turned to park I muttered four letter words under my breath about losers and idiots. I walked over and picked it up - then I spy the words Old Christmas Things written in pencil on the box. I peeked inside. See all those blue ornaments piled on my creamers - thats about half of the ones in the box. I quickly scooted me and the box back to my vehicle and tucked them away. VINTAGE BLUE AND SILVER ORNAMENTS....... WHOO HOOO FREE TOO. I love the light bulb shaped ones.

Several weeks ago Miss Sandy, over at Quill Cottage, posted her new studio space. I am in love, or lust, or whatever. Well in the series, she mentioned needing (wanting) those woven leather buttons to finish part of it. Well - I just happened to have some of those - imagine that (roll eyes like husband does)

So I sent her a gift of goodies including those buttons.

Yesterday a small yellow box was in the mail. It was a surprise goodie back from Sandy. Bloggers are some of the most generous people I know.
LOOK - I got one of her paper snowflakes (stars) I'm in love - lust - whatever - still. Go see her, her pictures of these are better and she shows you how she made it.

There were lots of other goodies in the too. I love this little tie on cone. (Sandy, can I copy this?) scrumptios trims and embellishments filled the box.
Below you can see that I pinned the star to a wooden plaque.

Over the nativity that has the most special memories for my family. I blogged about this last year. HERE.

My mantel - most everyone's mantel - usually gets the "pretty" treatment for the season. Not this year for us. This very special crudely made nativity is much more important than any of the numerous gorgeous ones I have. The angel plaque was a gift from my uncle and now I have a "star" from a far flung friend to add to the display.
Thank you again Sandy. I love my surprise.
It is shaping up to be a wonderful Christmas for my family.
Have a wonderful day.