Through it all, they found love

We were still reeling from Pandemic 2020 and the outlook for many aspects of life was rather bleak. We said goodbye to loved ones unexpectedly, watched aghast at political chaos, inner-city violence and destruction then waited in lines for the miracle vaccine. Toilet paper reappeared on store shelves, but anti-viral wipes didn’t. School was in , then out, then in, then out, the economy sagged, rebounded and the market is doing who-knows-what.

And in the midst of the uncertainty and unrest – love bloomed. They met at church and after talking for a bit found they had a lot in common. They started planning dates featuring their interests and with so much of the culture in lock down; they played a lot of games. Board games, card games, re-enactments, espionage, target shooting, knife throwing and during all of this realized that they were a match made in heaven. He would somehow know when she needed a sympathetic ear, she gave him good advice and a caring heart.

And so he designed an engagement ring and had it handmade for her. And she starting arranging bouquets of dried flowers. And despite the quarantine and chaos, loved bloomed. On a beautiful morning in April, they traveled to God’s House and were sealed as husband and wife for time and all eternity.

They have supportive friends and family

And so their happily ever after began. I’ll add more photos later but you can see that through it all love bloomed.

Why we have Easter

Heinrich Hoffman’s portrayal of Christ and the rich young ruler

The history of our Lord Jesus Christ was eloquently recorded by Luke, a physician. In his book in the Holy Bible’s New Testament, the 23rd chapter Luke shares (from LDS.org):

CHAPTER 23

Jesus is taken before Pilate, then to Herod, and then to Pilate again—Barabbas is released—Jesus is crucified between two thieves—He is buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathæa.

And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.

And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to aCæsar, saying that he himself is Christ a bKing.

And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.

Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no afault in this man.

And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.

When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilæan.

And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.

¶ And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some amiracle done by him.

Then he questioned with him in many words; but he aanswered him nothing.

10 And the chief priests and ascribes stood and vehemently accused him.

11 And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and amocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.

12 ¶ And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.

13 ¶ And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,

14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:

15 No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done aunto him.

16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him.

17 (For of necessity he must arelease one unto them at the feast.)

18 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:

19 (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for amurder, was cast into prison.)

20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.

21 But they cried, saying, aCrucify him, crucify him.

22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found ano cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.

23 And they were ainstant with loud voices, brequiring that he might be ccrucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.

24 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they arequired.

25 And he released unto them him that for sedition and amurder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.

26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

27 ¶ And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.

28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of aJerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.

29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the abarren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.

30 Then shall they begin to say to the amountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.

31 For if they do these things in a agreen tree, what shall be done in the bdry?

32 And there were also two other, amalefactors, led with him to be put to death.

33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

34 ¶ Then asaid Jesus, Father, bforgive them; for they know not what cthey do. And they parted his draiment, and cast lots.

35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them aderided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the bchosen of God.

36 And the soldiers also amocked him, coming to him, and offering him bvinegar,

37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.

38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE aKING OF THE bJEWS.

39 ¶ And one of the malefactors which were hanged arailed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due areward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in aparadise.

44 And it was about the asixth hour, and there was a bdarkness over all the cearth until the ninth hour.

45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the amidst.

46 ¶ And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I acommend my bspirit: and having said thus, he cgave up the dghost.

47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a arighteous man.

48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.

49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

50 ¶ And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a acounsellorand he was a good man, and a just:

51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathæa, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

52 This man went unto Pilate, and abegged the body of Jesus.

53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a asepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.

54 And that day was the apreparation, and the sabbath drew on.

55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the asepulchre, and how his body was laid.

56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and arested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

After the women returned to the tomb to annoint Christ’s body for burial, they found that he was not there.

The Empty Tomb and Plato's Cave — Tom Morris

CHAPTER 24

Angels announce the resurrection of Christ—He walks on the Emmaus road—He appears with a body of flesh and bones, eats food, testifies of His divinity, and promises the Holy Ghost—He ascends into heaven.

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the asepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

aAnd they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

He is not here, but is arisen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

And they remembered his words,

And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

13 ¶ And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem aabout threescore furlongs.

14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

15 And it came to pass, that, while they acommuned together and reasoned, bJesus himself drew near, and went with them.

16 But their eyes were aholden that they should not know him.

17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

18 And the one of them, whose name was aCleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:

20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;

23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

25 Then he said unto them, O afools, and slow of bheart to cbelieve all that the prophets have spoken:

26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

27 And beginning at aMoses and all the bprophets, he cexpounded unto them in all the dscriptures the things concerning himself.

28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.

29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

32 And they said one to another, Did not our aheart bburn within us, while he ctalked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,

34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath aappeared to bSimon.

35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

36 ¶ And as they thus spake, Jesus himself astood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, bPeace be unto you.

37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do athoughts arise in your hearts?

39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: ahandle me, and see; for a bspirit hath not cflesh and bones, as ye dsee me have.

40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and awondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be afulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

45 Then opened he their aunderstanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it abehoved Christ to suffer, and to brise from the dead the third day:

47 And that arepentance and bremission of sins should be cpreached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

48 And ye are awitnesses of these things.

49 ¶ And, behold, I send the apromise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be bendued with power from on high.

50 ¶ And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.

51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and acarried up into heaven.

52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:

53 And were continually in the atemple, praising and blessing God. Amen.

Nearly 2,000 years later, the followers of Jesus Christ celebrate His ascendancy over death and wait for His return to reign as King of Kings.

Happy Easter Sunday 2020: Wishes, Messages, Quotes, Images, Facebook &  WhatsApp status - Times of India
timesofindia.com

A Leprechaun Cottagecore

St. Patrick’s Day is one of our favorite holidays. We love the green and magic, the legends and lore associated with the stories of one of our favorite Christian missionaries, the iminitable St. Patrick.

Our youngest son is getting married next month. As I’ve been introduced to his fiance’s style, I learned a new term COTTAGECORE. Lighter and more feminine than Boho, this lifestyle embraces the simpler life, a handmade aesthetic focusing on health and happiness above wealth and prestige.

Tim kissing the Blarney Stone, I wonder if he wished for Hannah? <3

Cottagecore is not a new phenom, it dates back to ancient Greece when city dwellers became enamored with the simpler life of the country folk. When I was a newlywed, prairie style and handmade just-about-everything were in. We cooked and baked from scratch, made clothes, quilts, gifts and dried flower arrangements and reared our own kids. I remember laying a freshly washed quilt on tall grass to dry.

Don’t forget to read good books; a well-read mind is a marvelous companion to the simple pleasures and lifestyle of Cottagecore.

Tune in to BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 on March 17th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern for a discussion about St. Patrick and "How the Irish Saved Civilization."

Read how cloistered Irish priests saved the civilization of Western Europe in Cahill’s classic.

This shepherdess was based on French artist William Bouguereau’s painting. On St. Patrick’s Day, even art is Irish.

Take an painting class and enjoy the confidence and joy that come from creating art.

For St. Patrick’s Day treat your family and friends to this special roast corned beef – no soggy sodden meat on our table!

Our Delicious Celebratory Roast Glazed Corned Beef, Dijon Buttered Cabbage and Leprechaun Treasure Dessert

GLAZED CORNED BEEFThis is so tasty, you may never go back to old-school corned beef.    Preheat oven to 350. Place fat side up in a baking pan
1 corned beef brisket, rinsed, don’t use the spice packet
   Cover with foil, bake for 2 1/2 hours or until fork-tender. Drain, score with a knife,    stud with
whole cloves
   baste with
ginger ale
   brush on glaze, return to oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes uncovered. Let cool for 15 minutes,
       slice across the grain

BROWN SUGAR MUSTARD GLAZE

   Stir together  
1/2 C prepared mustard
1/2 C + 2 TBSP brown sugar

                                                        DIJON-BUTTERED CABBAGE

    Cut in half, remove core and cut into 1/2″ slices
1 medium head of cabbage
    Steam covered for 6 to 8 minutes until crisp-tender, drain, drizzle with Dijon butter and season
    with sea salt and pepper.

DIJON BUTTER
   Melt
1/2 C butter
   Stir in
2 1/2  TBSP Dijon mustard

St. Patrick's Day and the Emerald Isle

                                                       LEPRECHAUN TREASURE DESSERT

The leprechauns keep this hidden until the end of the meal for good reason. You might wish to dig out a Halloween cauldron to serve this dessert sprinkled with gold (chocolate) coins; this treasure has layers of rich chocolate goodness. You may wish to make your own or buy these ingredients:

1 pan of brownies (9″ x 13″ size)
1/2 gallon good-quality mint and chip ice cream
fudge sauce
whipped cream
shaved chocolate

BROWNIES

   Bake brownies according to package directions, then cool and break into large chunks

FUDGE SAUCE
   Warm in a sauce pan
1 1/2 C heavy cream
   Add and stir until melted
16 oz. milk chocolate chips or chocolate bars
1 tsp vanilla

WHIPPED CREAM

    In a chilled bowl, whip until soft peaks form
1 1/2 C heavy cream or whipping cream
1/4 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

ASSEMBLE LEPRECHAUN TREASURE DESSERT:

  In a cauldron or other container layer:
brownies
fudge sauce
ice cream
brownies
fudge sauce
ice cream
fudge sauce
whipped cream

Sprinkle with shaved chocolate and serve with gold coins

Happy Valentine’s Day

I’m writing from my daughter’s house in California because my flight home was cancelled due to massive snowstorms.

Valentine’s Day from the Heart

Queen of Hearts Tea Party for Valentine’s Day

The winter storms of 2021 not only kept my love and I apart on Valentine’s Day, but the chill/ separation also meant I had no access to my files, props and favorite images.

Now, back at home and enjoying my sweetheart and stuff, I felt like looking back at a fun Valentine’s celebration we enjoyed in 2017. From the archives, I give you

A Queen of Hearts Tea Party.

Recently I became a big fan of Tim Burton’s Alice Through the Looking Glass movie and in time for Valentine’s Day, Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts came to mind. I started doing research to find out whether the Queen of Heart’s obsessive painting of white roses had any connection with Britain’s Lancaster/York War of the Roses in the 15th Century. The Lancaster branch of the Plantagenet dynasty was represented by a red rose while the Yorks had a white rose. The not-so-civil war went on between the factions for 35 years until Henry Tudor of Lancaster claimed the throne and married Elizabeth of York, effectively turning the white roses red.

Photo by Mikey6p on Flickr

On a genealogical website, I learned that I was a 14th great-granddaughter of Henry Tudor and so my research became more personal.  According to tradition, Henry and Elizabeth had a great love. She also loved the recently introduced French trend of playing cards (a little too much according to historians) and when she died following childbirth at the age of 37, according to legend, Henry had the image of the Queens of Hearts on all of playing cards in England made to look like her. 

This portrait of Elizabeth of York (1466-1503) shows a English royal who was daughter to a king, wife of a king, mother to a king and grandmother to a ruling queen.


It was not Elizabeth but her mother-in-law Margaret who had a penchant for eliminating enemies by removing their heads. Enough said.

Valentine’s Day is an enigmatic holiday. With pagan origins of fertility rituals at Lupercalia on February 15th, anything resembling the root words of Lu, Lugh or Lucifer always makes me uneasy. The pagan rituals included the sacrifice of dogs and goats; the goatskins were stripped and dipped in goat blood then used to flog hopeful young women wishing for love and fertility in the coming year. The names of eligible young women were gathered and drawn by bachelors with whom they would cohabit during the next season, the women probably hoping it would become a permanent arrangement. 


During the early part of the 5thcentury, Pope Gelasius I combined Lupercalia and the day memorializing 3 Christian martyrs named Valentine who had been executed by Roman emperor Claudius II. Claudius had decided unmarried male soldiers made the best warriors and outlawed the performing of marriage for his troops. 

During the 2nd and 3rd centuries at least three Christian priests named Valentine secretly performed marriages and as a result were caught and executed. After being sainted by the Catholic Church, the name St. Valentine became synonymous with the celebration of love and the result, like Halloween, was a hybrid holiday with both charming and unfortunate sinister roots. 

 For centuries Valentine’s Day has been associated with love; it was thought that even birds paired off at Valentine’s Day. In medieval times, feasts included the lottery of love, like the pagans except guests were paired for the duration of the party. The romantic parts were promoted by Chaucer and Shakespeare, and the holiday’s dark past was mostly forgotten. Now moderns woo one another with chocolate, flowers, candles and poetry (and occasional bling). Wishing to view the holiday from the glass half-full perspective, it may be appropriate to present a holiday tea party to celebrate love with the unfortunately dark roots hidden away from modern gaze. Let’s return to the warm and wonderful realm of love. While I adore the idea of romance, apparently the romantic love needed to narrow our ardor and launch us into exclusive pairs expands and evolves into a less-dramatic, more stable variety of love a few years after marriage. Factor in a few delightful children and love becomes a more inclusive emotion with community-building ability. 


Apparently only a small percentage of the population is involved in the explosive youthful pairing love at any given time and more of us live in the world of brotherly, familial affection so I choose to focus on that stage of love; with that in mind, A Queen of Heart’s Valentine’s Day tea party complete with warm red hearts seems like just the thing for a cold winter afternoon.

The crown is peeking out on the left of the tea party tiers.


Here is a fun little crown you can make for your own Liddells or guests on Valentine’s Day. The author of the Alice in Wonderland stories, Charles Dodson or Lewis Carroll as we know him, was inspired by the Liddell girls, especially Alice. One day as he and a friend were taking the girls in a boat down the Thames, he made up the stories to entertain them. Encouraged to write them down, he eventually had them published and they became a huge hit. 

Of course a Queen of Hearts tea requires crowns for each guest; these are inexpensive and easy to create. For each crown you will need

One  4” glittery red paper heart (buy or make from cardstock)

7 silver pipe cleaners 

Several heart rhinestones 

Craft glue or hot glue gun and glue sticks

For a large crown, twist together 2 pipe cleaners, leaving 3” tails at the twist. Bend each tail into a heart half and twist together. Repeat with a third and fourth pipe cleaner adjusting to fit the head of the wearer. Use a 5th pipe cleaner to make an arch and attach to the front of the crown. Attach the heart to the front arch using a hot glue gun then add two smaller arches that are glued to the front of the heart and the crown side . Curl the ends of the pipe cleaners and add sparkly rhinestones.   

May be an image of 3 people and food
My Sweetie and I celebrating our 25th anniversary with a traditional English tea at the Swan Restaurant in the Globe Theater complex on the bank of the Thames in London.

The British are known for their iconic afternoon teas even though tea parties may have originating in France. A formal tea consists of 3 courses which may be creatively arranged on a 3-tier serving piece. On the lowest plate is the first course: finger sandwiches, and savory appetizers. The second tier contains warm scones, clotted cream (a decadent cross between butter and whipped cream) and preserves.  On the top tier are a variety of pastries, cakes, shortbread and fruit. For American tastes, try adding chocolate-dipped strawberries and clever little footed dishes filled with Valentine’s candy, truffles and nuts.

A heart garland from Etsy.

Of course a Valentine’s tea needs tea, but many of us don’t drink that beverage. A cup of tea minus the tea equals lemon and sugar or lemonade. Add pureed strawberries and strawberry hearts for a delicious pink drink to serve in porcelain tea cups with labels that read “drink me.”

Drop by French General in Los Angeles for vintage bling.


P.S. Happy anniversary Arizona! 105 years today. And Happy Galentine’s, Palentine’s and Single Awareness Day! Plus a little eye candy for you: https://www.pinterest.com/pammcmurtry/family-love-and-valentines-day/

I was surprised to find that my article for the Deseret News in Utah was published the week following Valentine’s Day (2017), but here it is; it was also picked up by newspaper websites in Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana and a newsfeed. 

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865672254/Recipes-to-host-a-Queen-of-Hearts-tea-party-for-holiday-with-hearts.html?clear_cache=1

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox Happy Valentine’s Day xoxoxoxoxoxox

May be an image of 2 people and indoor
Congratulations Tim and Hannah on your engagement!

Christmas Charm 2020

2020 has certainly been a year for the books, Orwell’s 1984 that is.

We recently sold our house in preparation to build a new home and moved into a rented house in Salt Lake City on Sunnyside Avenue near Newell’s work at the University of Utah. Sunnyside – that’s charming. The house was built in 1943 and other than having few electrical outlets in most rooms, no garbage disposal or dishwasher and being scented with an unmistakable old house musk, it is imbued with a certain vintage charm.

For years I have been collecting and creating Christmas decor with retro styling. I love me some 40’s, and 50’s mid-century illustrations and objects and guess what? They are right at home in our little house. For some reason living in a vintage house is comforting to me. It somehow helps me feel connected with my loved ones who have passed on.

This little snowman guards the gardening equipment until spring returns again.

A gingerbread cottage I created for a Long Island Pulse article.

Before the holidays, I gather my creative supplies so they are easy to find
Vintage Christmas items inspire my designs
I love gorgeous vintage-style textiles and paper.

Our tall bookcases were relegated to the main floor giving me lots of places to display favorite Christmas decorations.

My grandmother’s dresser holds gifts awaiting bows and tags.

Our living room had just enough space for a small tree that we displayed on an end table.

The Birthday Boy. Happy birthday Baby Jesus!

A built-in hutch was the perfect spot to place a few more favorite things.

I hung this little quilt I made for my grandmother way back in 1989. My aunt returned it to me after my beloved Mimie passed. Poignant to me this year as we are housing my elderly Mom whose time with us seems like it may be short.

While most of us love Santa, the Grinch has fans too.

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. Even though the world is topsy-turvy right now, our faith in our Savior Jesus Christ gives us strength and hope.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I wish we could all snuggle and be warm

USA quilt | The Electric Quilt Blog
Photo by doyoueq.com

If the United States were a pieced quilt, I wish we could all snuggle and be warm. Imagine if all Americans were concerned about the welfare of their neighbors and strangers. Imagine if we looked for ways to help each other succeed instead of always competing. Imagine if bullying and marginalizing were replaced with humanitarian concern and care. Imagine.

Down the Rabbit Hole; A Country Halloween Primer

This Halloween has a different feel to it. With all of the pandemic drama and sadness, I decided to focus on the positive: the traditions of the harvest. When BYU Radio contacted me with a request to share information about interior and exterior decorating I dug into my A Harvest and Halloween Handbook for ideas. Here are new projects and some old favorites.

Ancient and modern Israel enjoyed and still have a harvest celebration every year called Sukkot. Families construct Sukkahs on their property where they dine, enjoy family time and a remembrance of their spiritual and cultural history.

Our celebration will be less elaborate but still handmade. This year we will have a family celebration with a Full Moon Country Fair theme. This moon from Pinterest was the inspiration.

I’m adding some wooden stars from the Dollar Tree, painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. A scarecrow and country girl, lots of baskets, a bunch of silk cornstalks and our favorite games. I’ll add photos as I take them. In the meantime here are a few favorites to spark your imagination.

We needed a few games for our family Halloween party. I didn’t want to spend too much money so I recycled 4 boxes, and used half a can of leftover black spray paint and some black paper. The children will throw beanbags to knock over the monsters (recycled aluminum cans and the $ 1 pumpkin from Target. We still need to add a few details.
A group of noisy old cats gathered on a fence waiting to be scattered with beanbags.

One of my favorite themes for children’s carnivals and parties is the pumpkin patch. My grandchildren and I go to a pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins on the years we dont grow our own, it is so much fun hunting for the perfect pumpkin – big -or small, round or tall, we love them all! Here are photos of game set-ups you might be interested in trying.

I’m adding some wooden stars from the Dollar Tree, painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. A scarecrow and country girl, lots of baskets, a bunch of silk cornstalks and our favorite games. I’ll add photos as I take them. In the meantime here are a few favorites to spark your imagination.

Here are prizes from a fishing pond game.
Pumpkin golf – cut the mouth out of plastic trick-or-treat pumpkins for golf goals.
A Penny pitch game could also use cotton balls or peanuts
Donut munching contest – no hands!
Candy jar guessing game, in case you need more candy 🙂
Win the lollipop you ring with glow-in-the-dark bracelets

This exterior decor was created the year I contributed to an article in US News and World Report. I couldn’t have a naked yard. This is a Wonderland tea party with invisible guests.

A Wonderland Halloween tea party
Alice at the tea party
The Mad Hatter
Autumn picnic in Wonderland

Stepping out of Wonderland, here are some creative country looks.

Country decor doesn’t have to be blah – use lights and the texture of natural materials to spice it up.

I wanted a rustic look to dress up my room, so I bought a Buffalo check throw and sewed on a torn rag garland and sheer ruffle.

Fine art can be dressed up or down and is always a good choice.

Warts and All is one of my favorite oil paintings from art school
paper crafts add bright and inexpensive pops of color

Haunted gingerbread house
A Halloween themed fabric bordered with coordinating prints make a colorful wall hanging.
The family tree – copy photos and hang them with ribbons

Here are a few favorites from Pinterest:

This seems apropos for a pandemic
Brainstorming a roll up pirate ship.-2014-10-18-18.22.12.jpg Painted canvas over cardboard frame!
Halloween Window Decorations halloween halloween decorations halloween ideas halloween home decor
Новости

This is the script I had written for the BYU Lisa Show. With time constraints and friendly banter, we didn’t cover all of the information so I’m including it for you, My aesthetic as a designer is influenced by my experience as a mom and grandmother. I have degree in fine art and don’t like gory, super-scary Halloween décor, I focus instead on fun, bright and happy decorations. I love having smiling orange Jack-o-lanterns all over the house. I like black cats and bats, avoid snakes and spiders and look for ways to create comfort and welcoming environment. The idea from ancient Israel that the harvest is a time of Thanksgiving, rest and reconnection with family is important and I think can play a role in guiding our autumn activities and even decorating. If you do it right a lot of Halloween décor can transition to Thanksgiving.

So I was invited to share ideas for decorating inside and out. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

Have a welcoming entry; it sets the stage for other good things that are going on. One of the reasons Disneyland is the “Happiest Place on Earth” is their extensive use of themed décor. Experiencing novelty (something new) and humor causes our brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that gives us good feelings. Which is why shopping and travel also are mood boosters.

Let’s explore some alternatives to spider webs and scary front porch décor.

Make a door greeter with a welcome sign. I like the original illustrations from the Wizard of Oz. Jack Pumpkinhead is one of my favorites.

A few years ago, I contributed to an article in US News and World Reports about economical decorating. I built a scene in my front yard from Alice Through the Looking Glass. It was a tea party with Alice, the Mad Hatter, a character in a pumpkin costume and a Cheshire Cat grin up in a tree. The twist was that they were all invisible. So I grabbed my grandkids’ table, hit a couple of thrift stores and  set the table for tea, it was surrounded by small chairs and in each chair was a 3-D costume with no head, face, arms or legs. There were hats and gloves and shoes arranged as if they were being worn but the people were invisible.  Children came into the yard and were so enthralled they forgot to come to the door for treats!

I think one of the biggest “bang for your decorating bucks” is outdoor lighting. Just putting colored lights around the yard elevates it to something special. You can make an up light or spotlight with a #10 can, a light socket with an extension cord.

  • Don’t use flames or candles where children will be walking in costume, put away hoses and secure cords with tape
  • Make luminarias with jars – add sand, candy corn, popcorn, dried black beans and candles
  • Trees – hang mini pumpkins, strips of fabric, ribbon or mylar
  • Cut eyeholes in tp rolls, insert light sticks and hide in bushes
  • Re purpose a dollhouse for a scavenger hunt

In US News and World Report I described making a Wild West scene with “stuffed cowboys” around a fake campfire. Play sad cowboy songs, the sound of crickets, coyotes and night sounds.

Dig through your Christmas lights and find the flickering candle type, you can use green garlands with autumn leaves added, a cauldron from St Patrick’s Day. Make costumes for dolls, stuffed animals, use princess décor like magic wands, crowns, glass shoes, dragons, medieval and Wizard of Oz characters.

This year, Halloween night will have a full moon, a “blue moon” or Hunter’s moon. So I decided to theme my décor around the harvest and full moon. This Halloween will also be a little tricky because of the pandemic. The CDC has suggested that most public activities be cancelled or scaled back, so we are planning a family party in our yard.

MY BFF Mary discovered a world of crafters with you-tube channels that love dollar stores. So we went shopping and found wooden stars that we painted with glow-in-the dark paint and a cauldron of sparkly bats with ruby eyes! At a craft store I bought a giant wreath and covered it with fabric and painted a smiling moon face on.

A few more tips for Halloweenizing your home:

  • Make a FAMILY TREE – urn, pot or bucket with branches stuck in rocks or sand. Copy photos of your kids in their costumes from past Halloweens and make into paper ornaments. Hang on the branches with Halloween ribbons, string and other Halloween objects.
  • Fine art – grab some charcoal sticks and do a study of a skull, owl or other subject. I even have an old chair sketch that is one of my favorite drawings.
  • Make an oil painting of a pumpkin (you can hang it until Thanksgiving)
  • Autumn or vintage quilt. I made a quilt with large autumn print blocks and gathered some leaves outside. I traced the leaves onto brown paper and made templates that I dropped on the quilt and outlined where they landed with chalk and stitched them as part of the quilt.
  • Bundles of wheat, dried grasses, sticks
  • Lots of pumpkins, save one or two for Thanksgiving décor
  • Cover pillows with autumn fabric, pin on or sew slipcovers.
  • Make costumes
  • Alter books – carve out center of the page and make a Halloween scene in the hollow part
  • Pumpkin diorama, I’d use a fake pumpkin so I could keep it, glue Spanish moss around the opening, make a scene inside – use dollhouse pieces, fairy village or make items with bakeable clay
  • Make sunflowers out of crepe paper, paper plates and paint or pipe cleaners
  • Draw Jack-o-Lantern faces on tangerines and oranges with Sharpies.
  • Paint rocks and put them around outside
  • Make games for your Halloween party
  • Make a wall hanging or mini quilt with a panel of Halloween fabric
  • Fill a basket with scented pinecones and a string of lights to make a fragrant nightlight
  • Children’s art
  • Paper pennants and banners
  • Brown paper tree
  • Make spider web with black plastic trash bags
  • Make a basket of silly old cats

FOOD CRAFTS

  • Halloween gingerbread house
  • Popcorn balls
  • Decorate cookies and cupcakes

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

With the lingering drama of the pandemic and most travel out of the question I was not anticipating much fun this summer.

My daughter had other ideas. About to celebrate a milestone birthday, she decided a trip to a lake cabin would be a special treat – and right she was!

My youngest son and I were invited to meet the fam at Flathead Lake in Montana. Hubby had to work and Mom spent a few quality days with my sister in St. George. Tim and I made a pact not to discuss anything political and we had a great drive.

The journey from our northern Utah home took us through Idaho, Falls that is. First stop THE BEES KNEES, a quaint little pub started by 2 sisters who wanted to serve “fancy food.” Oh my goodness. If you are anywhere near Idaho Falls you must make a beeline there.

The Bees Knees

We started our culinary adventure with a bacon-crusted baked Brie topped with a raspberry coulis, blackberries, strawberries, crushed honey comb, a Balsamic reduction and other delicacies. This would have been perfect all by itself but we persisted and were amply rewarded. Try it! https://www.beeskneespub.com/

I had never visited Yellowstone National Park, so that was our next stop. I am now a permanent fan of the US National Parks, it was an outstanding place; an unforgettable mixture of science and nature.

No, we didn’t try to pet the fluffy cow. Tim works in a zoo and has taught us to have a healthy respect for wild animals.
My first geyser.
The wildfires in the west made an otherworldly glow.

Next stop Flathead Lake.

The sunset over the lake was amazing every day. There was always something new to admire.

Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. It’s crystal clear water was like a sparkling jewel.

We spent a lot of time in the pristine, clear water.

We saw a black bear!

We hiked at Glacier National Park in Montana, another national treasure.

More cookouts and a celebration of the birthday girl.

There’s nothing like a week at the lake to clear your head and heal your heart. Until next time!

Pioneer Day 2020 – a Different Kind of Celebration

When all summer activities were cancelled because of Covid spread, it became apparent that another type of celebratory commemoration would be in order. I’ve always been fascinated by the pioneer history; I love family history and world history. Several of my ancestors were among the devoted who were driven from their homes because of cultural conflicts due to religious and social differences in the the Midwest. Kicked off his farm by lawless mobs in Illinois, English immigrant Christopher Layton was camped on the prairies of Iowa when the U.S. Government sent recruiters out to the displaced Saints. There was a war going on with Mexico over western lands. Washington wanted the westward-bound Mormons to show their loyalty to the US by marching a battalion of 500 men out to San Diego to fight for America. Ironic because these same men and their families had lost their properties to mobs of violent Missourians and Illinoisians. Chauncey Webb and his brothers had closed up their blacksmith shop in Nauvoo Illinois to flee to the west for safety as well. The state and federal governments were unable or unwilling to stand for their Constitutional rights of these religious refugees but they were asking the men to die for their agenda.

The reason I’m leading off with this, is that we are once again under siege. While religious services are cancelled or curtailed because of Covid, rioters are allowed in the streets of Salt Lake City damaging property and demanding cultural changes that include Marxist anti-family, anti-Christ doctrine. The world seems to have turned upside-down. We knew hardships and persecution were coming but the form was unknown. Lawlessness and violence once again fill the headlines as so-called “protesters,” criminal, looters and rioters commit crimes and atrocities in revenge for what they see as injustices against their interests. (If you’re keeping score – 9 unarmed black men were killed by police in 2019. 19 unarmed white men were and 89 police officers were killed. It looks like it is much more dangerous to be an officer of the law than a criminal, and yet protesters rage about inequity.) Law-abiding citizens are taking up arms as they choose not to be victimized for the troubles and a history that they had nothing to do with. And the circle continues.

On a happier note, 173 years ago, weary pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley with the hope of peace and religious freedom. Despite the deaths and losses they suffered on the trek across the plains, they were willing to continue to put everything on the altar for their religion and faith. We honor the memory of the pioneers of 1847 and those that followed, especially the modern pioneers.

Willliam Shakespeare was related to many of the pioneers. His aunt Margaret Arden was an ancestor of the Webb family.

With the popularity of the princess culture among children, I thought it would be fun to combine the western theme with a touch of royalty. In fact, among the pioneers there were and are people who are related to many of the rulers of Europe and Scandinavia. And Shakespeare; the Webbs referenced above were first cousins to William Shakespeare (many times removed; their ancestor Margaret Arden was the beloved sister of Shakespeare’s mother Mary Arden.)

As a child growing up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Southern California with no close Utah relatives, I knew nothing about the events that took place around Pioneer Day in Salt Lake City. We had a Primary activity where we dressed up in long skirts and paraded around the ward building; that was pretty heady stuff! We sang songs about pioneer children and covered wagons and listened to stories and donated pennies destined for the Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. Later as a teacher and leader in the Primary, I participated in and then planned activities for our 100 + children that gave them interactive experiences replicating those of pioneer youth. Another year we planned an activity for the entire ward of about 350-400 including teens and adults. These activities can be incorporated into your own commemoration this year (and there are more that you can find with a quick internet search.) So for your enjoyment, here are Pioneer Day activities and games for your family celebration.

CREATE YOUR OWN PIONEER COSTUME

A trip to the fabric store or your own fabulous stash can yield the materials needed for your very own pioneer-style outfit. Look for costume patterns sales and coupons to save $. I used a pattern for a bonnet but improvised for the apron and skirt. To add some fun, I quickly knitted a little purse, something a pioneer might have used.

A bit of scrap yarn and a couple of hours yield this cute little knitted purse.
I am not afraid to admit that I shamelessly continue to use vintage Americana as decor for Pioneer Day. After all, the US was only about 60 years old when the Latter-day Saints moved west.

CREATE YOUR OWN PIONEER DECOR

A trip to Hobby Lobby, a favorite thrift store or other retailer yields vintage treasures that can be adapted for Pioneer Day decor. This aged sifter was fitted with florist foam to hold faux wildflowers, a scrapbook paper medallion, pinwheels, flags and a wooden heart. Other ideas include tattered banners, anything beehive themed, old flour sacks, burlap and other natural materials.

Handmade hammers created using an anvil and forge at a blacksmith class

My husband and our youngest son took blacksmith classes and built themselves each a Thor hammer. How cool is that? The blacksmith genes apparently never left our bloodline.

Pastoral, agrarian images take us back to simpler times. In a watercolor class at the University of Utah, we were assigned to make a painting after the style of a favorite artist. I LOVE French artist WIlliam Bouguereau and tried my hand at this shepherdess. If you can learn to create it, you can have anything you want.

I saved a beehive-themed valance from my youngest son’s Winnie-the-Pooh nursery a long time ago. It comes in handy for Pioneer Day decor.

Old quilts, anything western, Native American, canvas and country can be used for decor. Enamel camp dishes, cast iron, wooden crates all add to the vintage pioneer look. Even Early American works – think, wooden, handmade and natural.

Enamel and splatterware camp dishes are perfect for Pioneer Day. Add your galvanized tin for a rustic look.

A quilt book from a thrift store and some repurposed wedding announcements yielded these note cards. Replace the ribbon with twine for a more rustic look.

FUN AND GAMES, CRAFTS AND ACTIVITIES

Thrifty pioneers used everything and wasted nothing. Clothes worn out? Make rags – rugs, cleaning supplies, even dolls and toys. today if you have old books or cards, you can make note cards, recipe cards, invitations, etc. with the pictures.

This Pioneer Scavenger Hunt teaches children about the lives of pioneer children. You can collect and make all of the items and hide them, having the children find them, Or create stations where they actually perform the tasks. The downloadable file is available here.

Pictographs enabled Native Americans from different tribes to communicate when there were language barriers. This set of 72 symbols can be used to tell a story or just learn about the Natives that lived in the west. The file can be purchased here and downloaded. I printed them on cardstock and laminated them so they can be reused multiple times.

Delicious beehive bread makes a yummy breakfast or treat

BEEHIVE BREAD

Here’s a yummy treat for breakfast or any time.

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a William Sonoma beehive baking pan with pan release spray that contains flour, or use a 9” x 5” loaf pan, sprayed and lined with parchment.

Stir together

1 C bread flour
3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2  tsp nutmeg
            Set aside the flour mixture. Cream together

1/2 C butter, softened
1 C granulated sugar

                  Add

6 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened (low-fat cream cheese)
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
                       
            Beat in one at a time
4 eggs

Gently fold in flour mixture, blend well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 37 – 40 minutes in the beehive pan (or at 325 degrees for 85-95 minutes in the loaf pan).  Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with butter.

If the bread is too pale you can place it on a cookie sheet and pop it back in the oven for a few minutes.

This all I have time for today, I’ll come back before July 24th and add a few great recipes and fun for your celebration. In the meantime, here are fun images to inspire your imagination.

HAPPY PIONEER DAY!

Happy Independence Day

We’re feeling a little sad on this Independence Day. No fireworks, no parades, none of the usual activities that we enjoy to celebrate our nation’s birthday. Our families have been counseled not to gather and many of us have been home-bound since March. We’ve worried about the Chinese virus and watched as our nation shut down economically, socially, and physically. We’ve been told that this isolation is the new normal. And as President Trump and our leaders were battling heroically to get us back on track, another massive disaster hit. A part of the United States population decided they had been marginalized and unfairly treated for too long began to burn down the cities, destroy the memorials and sculptures that contain our history and heritage. Our law enforcement officers were targeted, abused, dismissed and even as they tried to protect and serve, they were attacked and injured and killed.

Earlier the Democrats, enraged that their corrupt and morally bankrupt leader presumptive wasn’t awarded the presidency, have plotted, lied and worked against our culture and our country and especially the duly-elected president, reaching a horrific crescendo with a failed coup which they dressed in sheep’s clothing and called an impeachment. Our weary hearts and minds may conclude that the Bard was correct when he stated:

How can we help our country? What can we do? For my part I have been involved in a political campaign as a volunteer coordinator. My mayor and friend decided last year to run for U.S. Congress. The election was this past week.

Even though she put up a great fight with her message of freedom over fear; sadly she did not prevail. But I was so proud of her courage and tenacity trying to restore our dwindling freedoms.

Parents, what can you do? As a “retired” parent, teacher and grandparent, I recommend that you teach your children the truth about America, teach them self-reliance, self-control and that their actions determine their futures. Teach them tolerance and respect and that they can be the positive change that our country needs. Teach them that “wickedness never was happiness.”

On a brighter note and in the spirit of celebration, lets hold in remembrance all of those who fought for our freedoms, who maintain our safe communities and enrich our homes. We at McMurtry Creative Media would like to thank you and recognize your service and sacrifice. God bless you as you bless America!

Here are some of my favorite photos of the best of this inspired experiment we call America.

distinguishedcompany.tumblr.com

The Liberty Stamp by magicmurals.com
Starspangledflags.com
Painting by Arnold Friberg
john wayne quotes | John Wayne: Sure I Wave the American Flag - Do you know a better flag ...
Happy 4th of July to all my dear US friends that are following...
God Bless America
trainingupmyboys.wordpress.com
20 Best July 4th Porch decor ideas to spread the Patriotic Splurge in your front porch - Hike n Dip
hikendip.com
Flickr. mealisab 
Happy 4th of July! (to any Americans)
Joseph F. Smith
fourth of july wreaths | Americana Wreath, Patriotic, Boston, Williamsburg, Fourth of July, Tea ...
framedart.com

Even though our celebration was different this year; we did enjoy delicious meal. Our son Tim who has become an accomplished chef in his own right, treated us to a Southern-style feast. Tim lived in Alabama for 2 years, teaching about Christ and serving the people there. He learned a lot about the Southern culinary culture and loves to highlight their cuisine.

Tim’s 4th of July Menu

Grilled racks of pork ribs

Macaroni with 4 cheeses

Baked bourbon and brown sugar beans

Grilled corn on the cob

Ice cold watermelon

Fresh lemonade

Banana pudding with whipped cream

Cherry-berry cheesecake pie (cheesecake on the 4th has become a new tradition that we enjoy!)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA – THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE!

https://www.pinterest.com/pammcmurtry/america/