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Winter 2011 Sharing Our

stories Volume One




He ather solum

Heather Solum loves to stay on the top of the latest trends while exploring new uses for vintage treasures. She is an artist and designer who loves to make something out of nothing—from furniture to home decor.

Lorinda Gray

Lorinda Gray is an awardwinning graphic designer and photographer. She is also passionate about gardening and decorating. She freelances from her home at The Ragamuffin Acre.

When they saw the , they



tonda nations

Tonda Nations and her sidekick, Bowie, a Welsh terrier pup, make their home in Little Rock, AR where she spends her days as a Guest relations coordinator for the syndicated broadcast, “FamilyLife Today.”

M aureen thom


Maureen Thompson served in ministry positions in Oklahoma, Georgia, Colorado, and Arkansas before her recent retirement. She loves to write, cook, decorate, and entertain friends in her home.

with exceeding great


Matthew 2:9-11


Welcome to MattieGrace

women showed grace and determination as they lived life. Grandma Grace, although not living near her, inspired me with her wit, wisdom, creativity, and love. She

Our new E-zine publication is all about living a life of faith and sharing our stories with others. The name “MattieGrace” is a combination of the names of two amazing women in our lives. “Mattie” is the name of Lorinda’s paternal grandmother. Grace was the name of an aunt of Heather’s who had a great influence on her life.

Heather—Lorinda and I grew up in the 50s and 60s. She grew up in a small community in beautiful central Arkansas. I grew up in the Twin Cities in the land of 10,000 lakes— Minnesota. Even though we were opposite in our surroundings, we both had strong, beautiful women in our lives.

Mine included my mother, four aunts, my beloved grandma, and my great aunt—who we all called “Grandma.” Watching them deal with the stuff of life which became their normal

made such an impression on me that I named my oldest daughter after her— Naomi Grace. In carrying the tradition on, my first grandchild is named Magnolia Grace. The seasons we go through in life bring challenges, milestones, beginnings, and endings. As I grow each day in this journey, there are tears, laughter, giggles, ah ha moments, delightful surprises, concern, and, oh so much more. One thing that has stayed true are

Grace Nelson

has been the wisdom I’ve has been implanted in my seen in their lives. I’ve friends with which I’ve been learned so much from being as I continue to grow blessed. them and I cherish this in this journey of life. From unexpected gift. As women the joy of the birth of a new A delightful surprise to in our 50s we can look back baby to the passing of loved me as a mother of two daughters, both now adults, on the women in our lives ones, too young, these the unconditionally loyal

who helped shape who we have become. Whether that person is a relative, a friend, or someone we barely know, they are a contributor to the story of our lives.

Lorinda—Some of the

Some of these women have passed on and some are women who shaped my early life were my Grandma still fast friends but all have added to my life in precious Lucy and Thelma, my ways. mother. Aunts. Cousins. In researching my family These were the female family members who cared tree and attending family reunions, my dad’s brothers for me, corrected me, often talked of Grandma and passed on their own Gray and described her as characteristics. a pioneer in the spiritual As I grew in my village of life of our family. They Vilonia, there was Addie, talked respectfully of her Viva Lee, Bronnie, Judi. and loved her. Her name And, who can forget was Martha Ella but was Margaret Turner? called “Mattie.” She lived a College years brought simple farm life with very Maureen into my life who little money but raised her has remained a life-long eight children—seven of spiritual mentor and friend. them boys—to be godly and productive citizens. My single years have Even though I didn't know acquired many treasured

With each crisis, the bond

her because she died when I was one year old, she is a vital part of who I have become because of the character she shaped into my family.

grows and we gather

While thinking about using

girlfriends—single and married. We’ve supported each other through the death of parents, job losses, divorce, and health issues.

memories and cling to answered prayers.

the name “Mattie” I also thought “Grace” sounded

wonderful as the second name as that name is a reminder of a precious gift. How surprised I was when discussing this with Heather when she told me the name she wanted to use was “Grace,” the name of a cherished aunt. We honor and treasure all the women (and men!) in our lives who have contributed to our life stories.

top: Aunts, cousins, and Grandma Mattie. bottom: My mother (second from left) and her three sisters...and me at the age of six.

Jesus, write me into Your story

Whisper it to me

And let me know I’m Yours —Rich Mullins

Mattie Gray

Inside Heather’s winter wonderland

6 a Christmas memory


snowland in a jar

10 recipes


patchwork ornaments

mother’s ornaments



vintage treasures


Heather’s Winter Wonderland

Enjoy some of the special treasures that make Heather’s home special for the holidays. Photos by Lorinda Gray

❄❄❄❄❄ Being a girl who grew up in Minnesota, snow was a huge part of our year! Even to this day, the slightest prediction of snow flurries brings back fond childhood memories. From skating at Phalen Ice Rink every night after supper to sledding down Keller Hill to building a snowman in our side yard—this is childhood. I think because of these wonderful memories, I started collecting snowmen years ago. I love the idea of putting them out for Christmas and then keeping them through Valentines Day.

â?† From felt, to wood, to styrofoam balls covered with aged dictionary pages and glitter, this all brings an eclectic look to my decorating style during the holiday season.

â?… I try to mix my everyday vintage items and snowmen together to bring a warmth and glow to this special time of year.

Snowland in a Jar Lorinda—Here’s how you can make your own

snowglobe. Purchase a large clear glass cookie jar. Add some fake snow, a few little plastic evergreen trees and a little snowman or woodland creatures. Very inexpensive to make and can be changed year after year. Set on a shelf with white lights tucked around it.


Ball Ornaments Heather

So easy to make! Cut strips of cloth about ½" wide. Wrap them around a styrofoam ball and fasten by sticking straight pins into the ball. Layer until the ball is covered. Add items such as buttons for some extra bling. Loop a ribbon and attach as a hanger. Use country fabrics for a home-spun look or velvets or shiny fabrics for a more elegant look! Make them in different sizes. You can also place a collection of them in a bowl to set on a table as a centerpiece.

Mom’s Ornaments When meandering through an antique store recently I stumbled across a bin of dusty, long-forgotten

Christmas ornaments. “Why would someone want to get rid of these,” I wondered, gently picking one up and examining it in the palm of my hand. “Don’t they know that a Christmas tree is only as beautiful as the memories hanging on it?” As an eager participant of nearly 50 Christmases, I have watched my tree grow more radiant with each passing year. Grown-up and able to afford any decoration I fancy, I still can’t resist pulling out the simple ornaments of my childhood and taking another wistful stroll down Santa Claus lane. Could mother have known in 1951 when she bought these boxes of brightly colored glass ornaments for a whopping 77 cents apiece how much joy she was bringing into her household? I lift off the faded red and green lid to peruse my treasures, now tarnished with age, but still uniquely magnificent. Some of them are round, others tear dropped, their glittery bells, stars, and snowmen barely distinguishable, but each a rustic reminder of a time long ago when family happily gathered together to decorate what was then the “grand dame” of all decorations— the Christmas tree. We share a past together, these fragile holiday veterans and I, and if they can withstand my excited fumbling fingers once more as I thoughtfully search the boughs for just the right spot, we will share a future as well—dust, chips, and all. There now, isn't that beautiful! —Tonda Nations Left: The Nations children (Marla, Denise, Art, and Tonda) peer around the corner at the decorated tree. Right: Tonda’s sister, Marla, stands in front of a tree decorated with their mother’s ornaments.


a Christmas Memory with Me It would soon bear its fragrance and twinkling lights on the big picture window in our modest home.

It was a family event, Dad taking his brood of

Christmas events. We have four young children on the all made trek behind the home place our own and up Crawley Ridge into beautiful the deep woods. He bore a Christmas hatchet over his shoulder traditions and entered the woodland and we with the speculative eye of laugh, and sing, give and a Christmas tree specialist This always took place on receive and celebrate the selecting the perfect tree. or near December 10—but Christ of Christmas in our never before—no matter We all had our ideas as we families and our churches how provocatively we bounded here and there and communities. The four begged Dad to go early. with shrieks of “Daddy, of us gather our families Christmas Tree Day was as look at this one!” His quiet Dad and Dick stayed in together as often as possible surely a red-letter day as was the back yard carefully “I don’t think so” and the and share great love for December 25! squinting of his blue eyes to using their carpenter skills one another. Nevertheless, look beyond, was authority to construct the perfectly The morning of November there will always be a tender balanced tree stand. The we knew meant: “Not yet. 2, 1951 a very early snowfall memory that keeps there rest of us excitedly joined Let’s keep looking.” was turning Crawley Ridge from ever being another Mom inside by the oil into a winter wonderland. perfect Christmas tree! Then at (long) last we heater, untangling lights Gazing out my window with would see him walk up to and sorting decorations we tear-stained face and heavy I am aware that not one a tree, survey its branches, of these trees remained would place on the tree. sobs, I remembered these step back from every beyond its few weeks each Our lights were the brilliant precious trips up the ridge side and measure it with season in our home and multicolored style on wiring with our Daddy. I knew this that we didn't clip sprigs for his eyes for height and year, there would not be a plugged together to circle depth. He would note any keepsakes or even treasure “perfect Christmas tree” the tree several times. One sparseness of branches those long ago ornaments as for this was the day of my exciting year we added a “keepers.” What remains of at any angle. We would handsome young Daddy’s string of “bubble lights”— this significant unforgettable anxiously stand by to hear funeral. My Hero had left something new on the event in my heart? The his “what do you think?” us too soon and I knew perfect love that motivated Then joyfully agree that this market. nothing would ever be the and brought our family was THE tree. With the Our other store-bought same in my world. together for these times! able assistance of my older ornaments were sparse And therein lies the secret brother he began making Christmases have come and we often had spurts of blows with the hatchet to creativity that would inspire and gone. As years went by, of Christmas! our Mom, though forever the base of the tree trunk us to make a dazzling new intensely missing Dad, put ornament or two. Then that echoed through the together lots of delightful —Maureen Thompson there was the foil tinsel silent woods. Mud-covered boots, runny cold noses, and general exhaustion from the excursion were never a match for the exhilaration of bringing home the tree. It may be a stately fir or a lushly needled pine but always was the perfect tree. It would soon bear its fragrance and twinkling lights on the big picture window in our modest home.

artfully flung strand by stand from afar to drape gracefully on the branches, making an ethereal glow in the tree. Our special touch was to wrap tiny gifts and them in the branches, perhaps pocket combs or small boxes of crayons.

Recipes  Lorinda—Winter comfort food is and hearty. My sister’s corn casserole is full of butter and is so rich I often call it “candy corn.”

Polly’s Corn Casserole In a 9×9 casserole dish, melt in microwave for one minute: ½ cup (1 stick) butter

Add and mix: 1 (16-oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained 1 (16-oz.) can cream style corn 1 cup sour cream 1 egg, beaten Dump in and stir well: 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix Bake at 350° for about one hour or until lightly browned.

 Lorinda— A gal in my singles group brought a batch of this wonderful soup to one of our meetings. Very versatile because you not only serve it as a soup but over rice. Tastes great with cornbread, crackers, chips, and cheese!

Taco Soup

Brown and drain: 1 lb. of ground beef 1 chopped onion Add: 1 can whole kernel corn (not drained) 1 can Ranch Style beans 1 can kidney beans 1 15½-oz. can diced tomatoes 1 package dry taco mix 1 package dry Hidden Valley Ranch dressing 1 can tomato sauce 1 can beef broth Simmer for on low heat until ready to eat! Makes about 10 servings.

 Lorinda—My mom always had cheese dip setting out on Christmas Day to nibble on before the big meal. She served the dip with Ritz crackers. The photo to the right is the same fondue pot she used for her dip. I was always sneaking back to that crock pot of cheese dip. Yum!

Hearty Cheese Dip Brown and drain: 1 lb of ground beef or sausage

Add: 1 32-oz. brick of Mexican Velveeta 1 10½-oz. can cream of mushroom soup Melt and stir together. Keep warm in a crock pot for parties and gatherings.

 Lorinda—My mom’s turkey and dressing was the best. I looked forward to it every Thanksgiving. I modified the recipe so it could be made anytime of the year. It’s made with chicken instead of turkey. It’s best to bake the batches of biscuits and cornbread in advance. Also, cook the chicken ahead of time. I cook a few chicken tenders in the microwave and cut them into bite-size pieces. This recipe makes a nice 9x13 casserole.

Chicken and Dressing Melt in a skillet: 1 stick of butter Add: 1 small chopped onion 2 cups of chopped celery Cook until tender but not brown.

This little dinner bell belonged to Lorinda’s mother. She rang it to summon the family for holiday meals.

Combine with: 1 batch of biscuits from a mix 1 batch of Martha White Sweet Yellow cornbread ½ teaspoon salt ¾ teaspoon poultry seasoning ½ teaspoon sage ¼ teaspoon pepper 2 eggs 1 can chicken broth ¼ cup milk 2 cups of cooked chicken chunks Mix well and pour into a 9x13 ungreased casserole dish. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes to an hour.

 Heather—Special K Bars are gooey, chewy, and perfect with a glass of cold milk. Leave a couple for Santa!

Special K Bars

Combine in a pan and bring to a slight boil. Stir frequently during this time. 1 cup light karo syrup 1 cup white sugar 1½ cup peanut butter

Mix in 6 cups of Special K® Cereal Press into a 9x13 pan. Frosting 1 package of chocolate chips ½ package of butterscotch chips Combine in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Stir. Return to microwave for 30 seconds. Spread on bars.

Vintage Treasures We hang out quite a bit at our favorite vintage store, Cottage Haven in Siloam Springs, AR. Here’s a few photos of some of our favorite Christmas treasures at the store.


MattieGrace is a magazine for women of all ages. We share our stories, artwork, photography, and recipes.

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