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Now most of us know that Easter really is not about a bunny and eggs. But something deeper and certainly more meaningful.

But, that being said, I also look back at some of the fun times spent at Easter with the family, when everyone was much younger and seemingly not soooo busy. In our family we’ve had some interesting times to say the least.

Our characters: Chris, Maggie, daughter Michelle, son Marc and 5 grandchildren, my sister and our very special guest, Mammo (my mother).

Back in those days: We had poem contests where everyone was responsible for writing a unique poem celebrating the holiday and then reading it to the group. We all put the brakes on for 10 minutes, sat around the pool…put the pencil up to our chin and thought creatively! Wrote our thoughts of the particular holiday. Of course prizes were given out for the most creative, etc. This was always an interesting activity due to the various levels of commitment to the task! Silly to serious was the range. I treasure these handwritten keepsakes to this day.

We’ve had our share of Easter Egg Hunts at someone’s house or farm and one of the biggest surprises was one of our first “hunts” in our backyard when my mother of all people took off like a bolt of lighting to find her eggs! Needless to say we adjusted the age bracket for this event in subsequent years! We all stood there looking astonished at “Mamo” tearing after the eggs!

And I’ll never forget the egg decorating contests that allowed everyone’s creativity to shine thru! There was the year when son decorated his egg with macaroni to show his love for the event! Sitting there decorating the eggs with everyone was a fun time for all of us (we think!)

It’s gotten harder because we’ve gotten older, children have married and moved away, life seems to get more complicated and it’s just not as easy as it used to be to get everyone together. So all these memories become more and more special as the years go on. But we’re not done yet!

Happy Easter!

Maggie

After all these years of being in business, it still seems strange when Christmas goodies start showing up at our warehouse in the middle of the hot Houston Summer! But that’s what you have to do in retail – order early and ship early. The fun part is we received everything we wanted, and then some! For months we worked behind the scenes preparing, and on November 6th we had our annual Christmas Open House and it was a huge success! If you missed the party, you can still get a preview of the holiday merchandise we have for you. We have beautiful Christmas decorations for any type of tree (be prepared to do allot of oohing and ahhing), and we still have gifts galore rolling in on a daily basis. Thymes Frasier Fir sets the mood with its traditional fragrance, and a wide variety of Christopher Radko is still available (but going fast!)

So come visit us soon, we look forward to sharing the magic of Christmas at Maggies with you again this year!

Mother’s Day is certainly a time to reflect on just how much your Mom did for you growing up. And if you are of a certain age now, with children of your own, you can certainly better understand some of the more important lessons she may have taught you.

My mom or “Mamo” as we called her, was of the “old-fashioned” school of child rearing! Respect, punctuality, hard work and The Golden Rule were the basis of growing up in our house. While other kids got to eat candy and drink Cokes we were able to drink fresh fruit juice and eat real fruit and nuts! Of course we thought we were horribly deprived and whenever we went to the movies and had to bring our own popcorn (definitely no butter) and had to pass up all those goodies at the refreshment stand! While growing up “fast food” to us meant Mamo had dinner on the table and you better be there! Fast! Well, I can’t tell you how mistreated we were! And today she might have been reported for the unbelievable crime of making us work! Wash dishes, make the beds, help in cooking, vacuum the floor, empty the trash, etc. etc.etc.!

My mother was waaaay ahead of the curve when it came to eating healthy. Having been raised on a farm and having to raise almost everything you ate teaches you something about food. My mother always had a garden, not matter how successful my mom and dad became, she still had her garden and grew fabulous vegetables for our family. And God forbid those —–squirrels if they try and sneak in her garden! This sweet little O’Lady would let loose with a verbal barrage that would stop them in their tracks!

When our friends came over they were expected to come to the door so she and/or my dad could meet them. If anyone dared to just pull up and honk the horn they may as well kept on driving.

I’m sure we missed out on lots of things that others experienced but all of us kids were given gifts that stayed with us for the rest of our lives. Character matters, do the right thing and of course, The Golden Rule! My mother was a sweet soul and she and my dad raised us to be good people with good character and values. These are gifts you can’t buy even at Maggies! So as I get older the more I understand and value those times growing up when I may have been thinking one thing while something else was actually happening. Some gifts are just harder to appreciate at the time they are given.

So if you want to give your Mom something special for Mother’s Day this year, think back to the time when you were growing up. Remember the “gifts” that she gave you that you have carried with you your whole life. And then let her know how important these gifts were to you and from you to your family. These are gifts that really do just keep on giving!

Of course flowers, notes, dinner, spa treatments, etc. are nice too!

Maggies recently received our 5th Annual “Best of The Woodlands” for Gift stores from The Woodlands Community Website and guide “Woodlands Online”.

Debbie Staton (on the left) from Woodlands Online presented our plaque to Maggie with store associates Karen and Robin looking on. Everyone in the store/office/warehouse works so hard to make Maggies a great independent retail store so we are always so appreciative of an award such as this.

We’re off to the farm for Easter weekend and it got me thinking about some of the activities that we have put together for the youngsters (and oldsters as it turned out). One of our favorites for years was the Annual Easter Poem Contest! For this event we asked everyone to write a short poem around what Easter means to him or her. The collection over the years is a treasure trove of humorous, insightful and just plain crazy thoughts from all of the family. We had each person read their poem to the group and then at the end the group determined the winner. Prizes were of course part of the program!

Another fun event was the collective DECORATING OF THE EGGS CONTEST! Here too, the creativity (or lack of ) was very, very interesting. And that got me thinking about something a friend of ours was doing in her family, and that was dyeing eggs the natural way using common ingredients from inside and outside the house.

So here are some instructions for using non-toxic, kid friendly, healthy and fun way’s to make your own Easter egg dyes. It might seem a little labor intensive but most of it is in the preparation stage and it’s certainly worth it. You actually avoid the whole “holding and dipping thing” that kids generally find tiresome. The best parts for them are collecting the leaves and flowers and then unwrapping the finished eggs. The rest is up to you!

Easter Egg Color Ingredients

1. Prepare your dyes. You only need to use a few raw ingredients:

Raw beets for light red Yellow onion skins for rich rust brown color (redder if you use a combination of yellow and red onions) Red Cabbage for a blue gray color Spinach for green (the more spinach the darker the color) Turmeric Powder for a deep orange/yellow (about 4 tablespoons per pot)

To dye your eggs BLUE:
 2 cups chopped purple cabbage, 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon vinegar

To dye your eggs GREY-BLUE:
-2-3 cups blueberries
-2 cups water
, 1 tablespoon salt
, 1 tablespoon vinegar

To dye your eggs PINK:
 1 beet, chopped
, 2 cups water
, 1 tablespoon salt
, 1 tablespoon vinegar

To dye your eggs BROWN:
 2 cups of strongly brewed coffee
, 1 tablespoon salt
, 1 tablespoon vinegar

To dye your eggs ORANGE:
 1-2 tablespoons paprika
, 2 cups water
, 1 tablespoon salt
, 1 tablespoon vinegar

To dye your eggs YELLOW:
-1-2 tablespoons turmeric
, 2 cups water
, 1 tablespoon salt
, 1 tablespoon vinegar

To dye your eggs GREEN:
 3 cups chopped spinach
, 2 cups water
, 1 tablespoon salt
, 1 tablespoon vinegar

Don’t limit yourself to only the above, experiment with others like green apple peels, orange or lemon peels, frozen blueberries, etc.

With these you can combine the dyes in different amounts to make just about any color in the rainbow.

Easter Egg Colors

2. Boil the ingredients in a covered pot for about 30 minutes, set aside and cool. When cool, strain into a bowl, pressing the liquid out of the solids, and then return the liquid to the original rinsed pot. Discard the solid material.

3. Gather up the kids and take them outside (don’t leave them there!) and have them collect a variety of leaves and blossoms, ones that are small enough to fit on an egg. The more defined the leaf or bloom the better…dandelions don’t work as well as daisies for example.

4. Get some old pantyhose and cut them into 4” strips. Place your leaves and/or flowers on an egg (some might stick better if you dip them in water first) then pull the pantyhose tightly around the egg, making sure everything is in place and tie it off with a twist tie or string. Trim off the excess hose.

5. Bring your dyes to a gentle boil and add 3-4 tablespoons of vinegar to each one. Then gently lower your eggs into whichever color you want, making sure that the dye covers the egg completely. If not just add enough water to cover the egg. Boil the eggs for about 30 minutes then set aside to cool. The longer you leave them in the dyes, the deeper the colors will be. Or, you can hard boil the white eggs before dyeing and skip the 30 minutes. If you do decide to do this make sure you let them cool before using.

Easter Eggs in Basket

6. Undo the ties and let the kids slip the pantyhose, flowers, and leaves off the eggs. If you want the eggs to be shiny, take a paper towel with a bit of oil on it and gently rub each egg.

Here are some general guidelines:

Make the individual color dyes in different stainless steel or enamel saucepans. Strain the dye mixtures through cheesecloth or a fine strainer for a uniform color; or for mottled, tie-dye, or a spotty effect leave the ingredients in the pan with the cooked beets, onion skins, or blueberries, and put the eggs directly in the pan to soak with the cooked ingredients. The longer you soak the eggs the deeper the color will be. Combine the different dyes in coffee cups to get different colors. To get special effects: dip one half of the egg in one color, the other half in another color. Or use a white crayon on the boiled egg to make circles, or your initials, etc., and then dye the egg. For more vibrant colors, place sealed containers of natural dyes in the refrigerator and let the cooked eggs soak overnight. Adding vinegar to the boiling water will also help make the colors brighter. (One exception is with onion skins; do not add vinegar to the onion skins.)

Easter Egg Display

That’s it! You’ve shown the kids that you can do amazing projects just by going out and finding things in nature, and that not everything has to come from the store or be electronic, or digital, or handheld, or whatever!

Happy Easter!

I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true! Even though we have seen record lows, and record snows, record rain and record pain for all who have been hit by the disasters that we have all seen, and experienced recently. But “hope springs eternal” as the saying goes, and it will get better, always. In the meantime, join us in sending our prayers and good wishes to all who have been tested recently.

We’re receiving new merchandise every day that helps us make over the store and hopefully provide our customers with some much-needed new items.

When I read some of the information that comes in with this merchandise I’m always amazed and just a little cynical at the way some of our manufacturers describe their products. For example, what do you think this comes from: “ An origami of unabashed femininity”! It’s describing a new fragrance from one of our wonderful candle lines. It’s a good thing I’m not writing the description for these things ‘cause I don’t think my copy would inspire anyone. But that being said we are receiving some wonderful new fragrances from many of our vendors and hope that you will have the opportunity to stop in and take a look (and smell).

And of course Spring means new fashion and we have lots of new and exciting fashion arriving daily. We really do give serious thought when picking out clothing lines that we think will work for our customers. They appreciate modern and “trend-appropriate” clothing that balances being casual with just the right amount of fashion thrown in. In other words, lines that are young in spirit but realistic in fit and at a respectable price point. Believe me when I say it is not easy to find in this day and age!

This Thanksgiving try one of my favorites recipes that I found in the Junior League of Houston’s “Stop and Smell the Rosemary” cookbook years ago. If you don’t have it I highly recommend that you try and get your hands on one because it has some fabulous recipes for you to try.

It’s for Asparagus! I know your surprised that it’s not for a Turkey or Sweet Potatoes or Pumpkin Pie but trust me, you’ll love it and it makes for a nice addition to your holiday offerings. It’s quick and easy to make and looks great, especially if you have something like one of our Arte Italica Medici serving pieces to serve it in.

Marinated Asparagus 1 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons chopped pimento 1/3 cup red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons chopped green onion 1 tablespoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar 1 pound thin fresh asparagus, trimmed and blanched ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Combine oil, vinegar, salt, sugar, bell pepper, parsley, pimento, and green onion in a shallow nonmetallic bowl. Add asparagus, tossing to coat.

Cover and marinate several hours in the refrigerator. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

We even have family members (i.e. grandkids) who don’t normally like vegetables too much, let alone asparagus, tell us its pretty good!

Many years ago when I was a youngster, I couldn’t wait for Thanksgiving because of the visions I had dancing around in my head of all of the wonderful food that I was going to dig into! Turkey, dressing, my mother’s special mashed potatoes and of course her very special green beans with French fried onions and mushroom soup sauce (which I have since learned that every mom cooked these “very special” green beans thanks to Campbell’s, Betty Crocker and Readers Digest!) This was a special time as we always had my Aunts, Uncles & favorite Cousins visiting with us.

Of course my parents and teachers told me about how some of the people from England had grown weary of the King telling them were they could worship. They decided they had had enough and wanted to be free from the Church of England and the King’s rule, thereby making it “Pure”, these “Puritans hightailed it over to the New World on the Mayflower and landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts ready to begin their lives with the religious freedom they had been denied.

Unfortunately they landed in December and it was very, very cold! They were able to get thru the harsh winter in large part with the help of the Native Americans who supplied them with seeds and food and the skills needed to survive in this strange, new land. I love the image of the friendly Native Americans teaching the new arrivals how to survive in their new home. After a particularly hard year they were blessed with a great fall harvest and decided to celebrate their good fortune by having a feast of thanksgiving and invited the Native Americans who had helped them so much during their first year.

Now this was in 1621 and a lot of history has been written since that time, some good and some not so good. But now in 2013 I’m impressed by how far our country has come and, while not perfect by any means, still the greatest country in the world and trying very hard to live up to the vision that our founding fathers had.

Happy Thanksgiving from our Maggies family to yours.

Jewelry itself may be timeless, (and diamonds may be forever) but we all have to agree, there is something about the pure luster, glamour and sophistication of The Pearl…

Throughout history, the most stylish women and fashion icons have adorned this classic gem. It has been a portrayal for Chanel, Dior, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O. This classic little gem has a style all its own, and for us lucky girls, it seems our beloved pearl is back (and its re-emergence is a force to be reckoned with!)

This season is what I call “Vintage Forward”. We will be seeing our friend the pearl in several different forms – classic round, beautifully and uniquely shaped, natural, white, ivory and oh so many inviting colors! From fun and flirty long strands (like the ones worn by the Flapper girls), to choker styles, single strands, double strands and my favorite, the triple layers – everything is desirable! The different styles will be reflected in various lines we carry:  Symbolic jewelry like VSA. California cool in Chan Luu, and delicate layering with Rebecca Lankford. One of our newest introductions, and one I am really excited to show you, is French Kande, a vintage inspired French collection that is unlike anything else (take a peek at the photo above)!

So, Get Ready To Put On Your Pearls Girls, and embrace this timeless style.

We have given our Spa Section a “Make-Over”. In addition to our long time favorites, like Lady Primrose, we have added several new collections for you to choose from to pamper yourself. Whether you prefer to shower, soak, use a body bar, salts or bubbles… you will definitely find your ultimate luxury here.

Each of our collections is created to nurture your skin and has its own medley of fragrances, specialty health/ skin benefits and distinctive packaging. Meaning, there is something for everyone! We will soon be showcasing our new Lafco hand care: Liquid hand soap made with premium Italian Olive Oil and hand cream made with Cottonseed, Olive and Almond Oil – the result is a deliciously nourishing drink for the skin (affordable luxury!).

Please come visit and take a peek at the new collections we are carrying. Antica Farmacista, (one of my favorites) is designed for both home and personal luxury with an old world charm captured in its fragrances. The Good Home Company has expanded from laundry fragrance to body products – if you are familiar with their Pure Grass and Beach Days, you know what to expect… yummy. We are really excited about a new line we are bringing in especially for the men who shop (or come with you to shop) at Maggies. Soon, we will be offering Jack Black, an award winning advanced skin care line formulated for a man’s needs. Again, there IS something for everyone. So, come in and indulge- you deserve it!