Christmas comes to Missouri. McMurtry Creative Media has relocated to the beautiful state of Missouri; it is home and we are grateful. Almost settled in, we are preparing to celebrate our favorite holiday – Christmas. A Christmas Handicraft Handbook: Thinking of You is well under way and nearly complete. Filled with sweet and special ideas for gift-giving, decorating, entertaining family and friends and focusing on the Savior, it has been a joy to work on these many years. A few new additions to the manuscript and illustrations this year include this beautiful print purchased at Hobby Lobby.
Old World in style, I love the tender rendering and focus on the Babe of Bethlehem. Christmas is a holiday celebrated by over 2 billion people worldwide. As we celebrate the precious gift of God’s Son let us remember why He came and how we can follow Him.
Ancient Israel celebrated the Feast of the Tabernacles for a week every fall. Many scholars believe that America’s Thanksgiving evolved from this holiday. Today the Feast of the Tabernacles or Sukkot, is observed by many Jewish people with rituals that include the building of a Sukkah and living in it, or at least having dinner in it for a week during Sukkot.
The celebration of blessings of the harvest has been a tradition for many cultures. Learn more about the ancient and modern practices and ways Christians can enjoy the festivities of the harvest without the dark pagan traditions that have wormed their way in over the centuries.
Kiddos learn best when they are having fun and here’s a way to learn and beat the summer heat with these entertaining and educational Pioneer Day activities.
The settling of the West in America in the 19th Century was an exhausting, daunting task. My ancestors were among thousands of pioneers who braved the elements, hostile animals, and other difficulties to carve out communities in the West.
Last summer I created Pioneer kits with supplies and instructions for celebrating the hardy souls who settled the West. This year, I collected all of the instructions, patterns and recipes and put them in a digital kit to help you make the best Pioneer Day activity for your family, neighborhood, church group, reunion or anyone who wants to honor our intrepid forebearers.
There’s a pattern for stick horses to race to put out wildfires and bag buffaloes, games to show off skills and round up dogies, plus over a dozen activities that teach children about taming the wilderness with fun for all ages and recipes that are popular for Western celebrations.
Join the westward migration with your own DIY celebration!
Keep your children close and teach them about those that came before.
Some of the Best of the West:
The Transcontinental Railroad joins the East and West coasts at promontory Point.
Exactly 100 years before America put a man on the moon, the Transcontinental Railroad traverses North America, creating faster travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Western cowboys show off their mad skills at rodeos. After the Civil War, the western expansion put many veterans to work as cowboys.
150 years later, the tradition lives on in competitions across the West. This rodeo at Kamas, Utah was very entertaining!
A Pioneer Era window from a chapel in Salt Lake City. Though the road to freedom of worship was long and hard, the devotion of early Latter-day Saints was exhibited in their artistry that made places of worship, places of beauty too.
Happy Pioneer Day and thank you to our early forbearers that sacrificed to create Zion in the wilderness and make America great.
During our recent trip to Missouri, we made a visit to Adam-Ondi-Ahman where ancient and modern scriptures say Adam, the first man, three years prior to his death gathered his righteous posterity in this valley to pronounce a blessing upon them. He also prophesied about the Messiah Jesus Christ and about the future of mankind.
In that sacred and silent place, I thought about our first parents Adam and Eve and their time in mortality. The Tree of Life, the cherubim and flaming sword placed there to guard it and keep man from partaking of the fruit and living forever in their sins. The need for a Savior to redeem us.
The valley is configured in a natural amphitheater that allows sound to travel across the area, allowing a large group to hear a speaker.
I thought about Eve and wondered what she endured to bear children and teach them righteousness and then to lose Cain and Abel. How she must have labored with Adam to provide shelter, food, clothing and the necessities of life. How she must have marveled at the children she bore and nursed and nurtured. What a wonderful woman she must have been to be entrusted with the establishment of the human race. And that through her, we are all related. Happy Mother’s Day Eve and all of her beautiful daughters.
As many of my readers are aware, my own Mother passed away last year, the day before Easter. Without Mom to fuss over, Mother’s Day is difficult. I wrote this poem years ago, thinking of my Mom, Grandmas, aunts, friends and others who have enriched my life. I’m sharing it again to remind all of us of the love, work and time that go into rearing children, supporting our husbands and building church and community.
To Mother, Grandmother, Aunt, Sister, friend and precious women
Who give life,
nurture and give joy.
Who bled and fed and hid Easter eggs,
and wrapped gifts and dyed Halloween costumes.
Who took me to the zoo
and grew pumpkins,
and taught me to play chess
and feed my babies.
Who taught me to write thank you notes
And have good manners
and remember birthdays
and ancestors (and love them). And gave me crayons
Spring. The time of rebirth, regrowth, sunshine and flowers. Resurrection, perfect love and reunions.
The Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ is the most important act of love in the history of humankind. The Creator, the only true god in history; He died for His people, not the other way around. May His holy name be praised.
As the major holy day, now holiday, over the centuries, people have added accompaniments, traditions and activities to bring families closer and make memories.
Speaking of Easter decor, the crummy economy is always on parents’ minds. Here’s a suggestion; make a couple of trips to a favorite charity thrift store, Deseret Industries is my go-to. Treasure hunting there yielded this gorgeous hurricane lamp for $3, a Fitz and Floyd candy dish for $1 and a brand new hula skirt ($2), which I cut up to make straw. Look around and see what you can repurpose and use for decorations to save your precious $ this year.
On a sad note; this spring I am boycotting Hershey’s Candy company. They hired a faux woman to introduce their “Her” bar on International Women’s Day, I was very unhappy with decision. Women haven’t had this much trouble getting jobs as women since the theater in 16th Century Puritan England, where they too, hired boys for women’s roles. My first cousin, many times removed, William Shakespeare, would understand this throw-back dilemma. Men need to stay in their own lane.
So no Hershey’s for us this year.
I promised friends I would post some alternative choices for Easter baskets and parties; here are a few ideas to add to your celebration.
Lindt is a go-to at our house, from bunnies, to truffles and assorted treats, even bugs and bees, you can plan for a win with Lindt. They’re very big in Europe.
Speaking of Europe my German-speaking husband who lived there for 3 years came back to the U.S. with a taste for German and Swiss chocolates. Ritter Sports candy bars, available in the candy section of most grocery stores are his favorite.
My friend and co-Grandma Sarah Nash suggested See’s Candies. YES. All of the deliciousness of handmade chocolate in a myriad of flavors. A trip to See’s is de’rigueur. When my sister, brother and I were young, the Easter Bunny used to bring panoramic eggs from See’s.
Get a bit creative and you might find some new favorites!
You might like to find some of these in your Easter baskets: Jordan almonds, gumballs, Luna bars, Jelly Bellies, M&Ms, Bonne Mamman jams and lemon curd, trail mix, goldfish crackers, mixed nuts, fresh berries, homemade sugar cookies, Easter books, crayons, and mini-sketchbooks.
Unreal(R) coconut bars, Limoncello almonds, Bequet caramels with Celtic sea salt, SweetTart Mini Chewys mini bunny waffle irons, jewelry, old-style Easter figures, mini games, card games, travel games.
A spring scarf, tiny lotions, little framed pictures, greeting cards, handmade pompom bunnies and chicks, new napkins, candles, fresh flowers, things that make your heart happy.
The economy may be in bad shape but Washington’s agenda can’t stop you from making an affordable, fun and festive Easter for your family.
Here are a few ideas.
Plan a tea party, nibble sandwiches, dye eggs and hunt for candy-filled ones.
Just for you: a reduced fat , to-die-for carrot cake recipe:
Carrot Cake Lite
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9” x 13” pan with non-stick vegetable coating, set aside.
1 ½ C. sugar (less if you choose)
2 C. flour
1 C. liquid egg substitute or 4 eggs
1 ¼ C. unsweetened applesauce
¼ C. canola oil
2 TBSP. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 TBSP. vanilla extract
4 C. grated carrots (about 8 medium)
1 C. chopped nuts
2/3 can crushed pineapple, (drained well) – optional
In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients except carrots, nuts and pineapple. Mix well. Fold in carrots, nuts and pineapple (if desired). Pour batter into prepared pan and bake about 45 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Makes 15 servings.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. light cream cheese
4 oz. butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 box (1 lb.) powdered sugar
1 C. shredded coconut
½ C. chopped nuts
Spread over cooled cake. Refrigerate.
Make a pennant with scrapbook papers.
A simplified account of Christ’s atonement is told in these Easter Miracle Eggs. Each egg contains a scripture and tiny object that represents part of the Easter story. After the eggs are gathered, open them in order and read each little scripture.
All you need are a dozen plastic eggs and a few items to tuck inside. Number the end of the eggs 1 -12 with a permanent marker. The objects inside the eggs are:
1. a small cup (check craft stores for a small unfinished wood thimble)
2. 3 dimes
3. 2 – 3″ of twine
4. a chunk of soap
5. A tiny red robe shape cut out of felt
6. wooden or heavy paper cross
8. 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ square of white fabric, torn almost in half
9. a 1 1/2″ x 11/2″ square of white fabric
10. a small rock
11. a few whole cloves and a bay leaf
12. This egg will remain empty
Print the following text, cut into strips and place inside the corresponding numbered egg.You can copy and print the scriptures below by highlighting them, pressing control and “c” on a p.c., or the control icon and “c” on a mac. Then open a new word document and paste in the text with control and “v”.
Tell the story about the sacrament of the Last Supper and Christ’s night in Gethsemane, how he paid the price for all of mankind’s sins; that they might be able to return to heaven and live with the Father. The following scripture verses are taken from the New Testament in the Holy Bible.
1. “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.” (Luke 22:42 – 43)
2. Zechariah, a prophet of the Old Testament foretold that Christ would be ransomed or betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. ” (Matthew 26: 14 – 15)
3. “When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. (Matthew 27: 1 -2)
4. “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. (Matthew 27: 24)
5. “And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.” (Matthew 27: 28 – 30)
6. “And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” (Matthew 27: 31 – 32.)
7. “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.” (Matthew 27: 35)
8. “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27: 50, 51, 54)
9. “When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathæa, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth” (Matthew 27; 58 – 60)
10. “And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.” (Matthew 27: 60, 65, 66)
11. “And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for theangel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. Hiscountenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow…And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. (Mark 16: 1, Matthew 28: 2 – 5)
12. “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead” Matthew 28: 6 – 7)
I hope you feel the love of our Savior as you celebrate Him this Easter. And have fun with your little bunnies!
If you want more beautiful images, visit my Pinterest Easter board and sign up as a follower!
A whiteboard drawing from an online art lesson with my grandchildren – love!
We are officially retired! (not me – but my husband 😉 For the first time since 1969, he woke up this Monday morning and instead of shaving and hiking through the snow to work, he put on his trunks and headed to the beach. Ah the life.
We are in San Diego this weekend, we came to watch our son’s family perform in a Christmas concert in Del Mar. It was a beautiful evening inviting the spirit of Christmas in a warm and welcoming blaze of light and music. Joined by our best friends Mary and Brad, it was a wonderful evening of holiday cheer.
SALT LAKE CITY — After months at sea in a small ship, a group of weary travelers from England, upon reaching the shores of North America, fell to their knees to give thanks. The Pilgrims at Cape Cod or Plymouth Rock in 1620? No, Englishmen at the Berkeley Plantation, Va., on Dec. 4, 1619. Their orders included the giving of thanks upon arrival and on the anniversary every year after.
The power of gratitude can be life-changing. Studies on the health benefits of gratitude have shown an increase in energy in participants, improved sleep and other positive outcomes, according to Robert Emmons of the University of California Davis, Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami and Alexander Wood of the University of Manchester.
The late Robert W. Woodruff, a prominent business leader, toured the United States giving a lecture he called “A Capsule Course in Human Relations.” The message, as quoted by LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, is that the “two most important words in the English language are these: ‘Thank you.'”
Love and gratitude bind individuals, families and communities in cheering and healthy ways. Each of us has the potential to increase the positive energy in our community, world and the universe. Gratitude and generosity lift our lives and society to a higher and happier place. Emmons says serving the needs of others helps us find our own inner spirituality.
As we consider ways to increase our gratitude in the new year, here are a few suggestions that can help:
Blessings Centerpiece — Place branches in jars or vases surrounded by votive candles, seasonal greens and smooth river stones. Have family members and guests write things they are thankful for on paper tags and tie them to the branches.
Family Bingo — Create a family bingo game using copies of photos of family members. You may mount them on vintage scrapbook paper or cardstock and laminate them at a teachers’ supply store. This is a fun way for younger family members to visualize and remember their ancestors.
Service Opportunities — One way to show gratitude for blessings is to share. Opportunities abound for helping the less fortunate, including serving dinner at homeless shelters, hospitals or retirement centers; or gathering food for food banks and community kitchens. Find organizations that serve populations you care about, and then get involved through contributions of time, money or other resources. Look around your neighborhood to find people who would enjoy sharing a dinner with your family.
1000 Reasons to be Grateful — In his article “1,000 Things to Be Thankful For”, Richard Romney shared his daughter Charlotte’s project identifying 100 things in her life that she was grateful for. She was so enthusiastic, her list eventually stretched to over 1,000. Can you name 100 things you are thankful for? Althought this list would make a bright and wonderful journal entry, another idea is to write the things on paper strips and collect them throughout 2014, placing them in a jar to be read at the end of the year.
There is a quote that says, “What if all you had tomorrow were the things you are thankful for today? ” In the new year, let us consciously rejoice in the wondrous gifts we enjoy and express gratitude for them.
Here are fun traditions to brighten your holiday season:
I’m sharing some Thanksgiving eye candy from my Pinterest board:
Try this for your holiday dinner – you’re welcome.
PUMPKIN PIE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350°. From a
box of yellow cake mix
remove one cup and set aside. Combine remaining cake mix with
½ cup butter, melted and cooled
Pat into the bottom of a 9’ x 13” baking pan. Mix together:
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 29 oz. can pumpkin (100% pumpkin – not the mixed filling)
1 ½ cups sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
(or 1/12 tsp pumpkin pie spice and 1 tsp. cinnamon)
2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk
Pour over crust. Set aside.
Mix together and sprinkle over pumpkin filling:
Reserved 1 cup of cake mix
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ cup butter, softened
1 C. chopped pecans (optional)
Bake approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes or until pumpkin is set. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
We are ready for some good old-fashioned updated fun this autumn!
After touring many of our ancestral areas of Europe, I have a richer appreciation for the many contributions and traditions of our forefathers and mothers there so we added a Deutsch accent with Oktoberfest.
Then for the sophisticated retro set, there’s the Night Shift.
A Harvest and Hallloween Handbook Edition 2 contains our favorite content from the original with new recipes, decor and games added to help readers entertain and enjoy autumn get-togethers. Here’s what you can look forward to this fall
HOSTING YOUR PARTY
Handmade Invitations and Party Planner
THEMES AND THINGS
Ideas for Celebrations, 41 Cool Themes, Helpers, Add-ons for Personalizing Themes
A Harvest and Halloween History
Plans, Menus and Games for:
A Night of Remembrance
The Feast of the Tabernacles
Celebrate the Harvest
Family Night Fun
The Night Shift
An Enchanted Evening
A Black Cat Party
Mother Goose’s Nursery Party
A Wonderland Tea Party
An Autumn Picnic
A PUMPKIN PATCH CARNIVAL
Carnival Plans for 200 Children
Activities for ‘Tweens and Teens
CREATE A SCENE
Amazing Entries, Indoor and Outdoor Décor: all easy and inexpensive
AUTUMN FOODS AND DESSERTS
117 Unforgettable recipes ranging from easy to gourmet
ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE
Simple creative costumes using clothing you already have plus a few extras
TRICKS, TREATS AND SWEET SURPRISES
Do something nice, surprise a friend or family member, an original children’s story to share, Lunchbox Jokes, Trick-or-Treat Safety Tips
There are crafts like this cute button bouquet centerpiece, rag-edged throw and gingerbread house.
And these characters I found in a home decorating store
You owe it to yourself to download a copy of Happy Halloween! It’s a party digitized!
Don’t forget to grab a download ofNight Clinic – so you know where to send the vampires when they get a toothache.
This year we are back to celebrating Pioneer Day in the traditional ways. Here in Utah that includes parades, rodeos, barbecues and parties.
But we haven’t always lived in Utah.
Living in Southern California, we had to work a little harder to commemorate those hardy, faith-filled souls who walked or rode the bumpy, dusty 1300 miles in covered wagons, burying loved ones along the way. For the Mormon pioneers answering the call of faith and freedom, the Rocky Mountains provided a cradle to nurture and grow the fledgling faith of the recently restored gospel and community of Christ in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Following the assassinations of the founders, the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, the Patriarch Hyrum Smith, as well as persecutions of the Saints (including an extermination order by Missouri governor Lilliburn Boggs,) the church pulled up its stakes and walked away. Filling covered wagons with necessities, families left Nauvoo Illinois in the middle of winter and camped in Iowa, then Nebraska. When the U.S. government (who ironically provided no protection when the Saints were being harassed, murdered and driven from their homes) saw a large body of Americans moving west, they requested they prove their patriotism by enlisting to fight in the war with Mexico. With their families stranded on the plains, over 500 men (and a few women and children,) volunteered to take the longest military march in history. Ironically the men wore their own clothes and the money given to the soldiers for uniforms was instead donated to the church and assisted the families in their westward trek.
Several years ago, I hosted a Pioneer Day event for 100 children ages 3 – 12. I did a lot of research and designed activities that would provide a fun learning experience about the pioneer children. This summer I refined my collection and created Pioneer Day fun kits that are selling in my Etsy shop.
Because children learn best when they are having fun, our activities duplicate some of those that pioneer children actually did to help their families get established in their new homes. Each kit includes a clipboard with a faux leather pouch containing crafts and games for children and families. The clipboard side has an 8-page planning guide with dozens of things to do, recipes and games for groups from young children through adults.
Here are photos of the imaginative learning kit for children (and everyone that likes handmade fun!)
A pioneer scavenger hunt, Beango game and rustic notecard are in the kit.
Pounding nails, telling west by the sun, panning for gold like members of the Mormon Battalion who were returning to their families that had traveled to the Salt Lake Valley and many more activities are included. Also, recipes for beef jerky, Dad’s Chili, honey lemonade and several other catering favorites.
It’s never too late to teach children about the pioneer experience.