This is the fin-al chapter in A Mermade’s Tale. Even though it is snowy and cold right now as I tell you this story; this adventure takes place just as summer is beginning for Shell and Pearl.

Chapter Eight
            Pearl had discovered radio waves. While Shell and her siblings were listening to “You Were There” adventure records, Pearl was rocking and rolling to the Water Beatles and Sea Monkees. She was almost an entire year older than Shell and had more sophisticated taste. Shell had heard rock music on the radio in the mer-tor car once or twice, but she did not know the names of the bands and songs like Pearl did. Pearl loved to jam and she had a king conch-sized crush on one of the singers; she had a picture of him and talked about him. A lot. His Name was Davy Jones, like the locker, and he had a cute British accent. I do not know if Mr. Jones knew that Pearl was one of his biggest sea fans, but she certainly was. The Sea Monkees were from the City of Angelfish and because Pearl was also born in that city, she had city taste, even though her mom was a country girl with a garden.
            When Shell, Foam and Pearl got together to color, instead of La Mer, they were listening to the Sea Monkees sing “Baydream Believer” and “The Last Train to Sharksville.” Secretly, Shell preferred the songs of the Floating Stones and she didn’t like the Water Beatles much, but Pearl really liked them and listening to their music made her so happy that instead of whining, Shell hummed along with the radio too.  The Water Beatles had hit songs that summer too;  “I Saw Her Swimming There,” “Hard Wave’s Night,” and “My Shell.” Pearl had flipped for wavy rock and roll. Shell and Foam liked the Beach Guys, they had surfing songs and really knew a lot about the shore culture. They sang “Be True to Your School of Fish,” “California Gills” and “Bobbing Ann.” Any radio wave station you tuned to would likely be playing the music of these popular bands, they had a lot of sea fans.
            Pearl, Foam and Shell were spending more time at the beach. Suddenly it was important to be tan, which takes a little while if you are underwater, but if you work at it, you can achieve a tan tone. The “cool” mermades at school had tanned tails and blond streaks in their hair. Shell didn’t understand why it was important to look like the surfers they saw above the waves, but that was the style. The girls started parting their hair in the middle and wearing puka shell necklaces from Hawaii. The boys were saying things like “dude,” and “totally, ” but for the most parts, the mergirls still considered them urchins who just wanted to show off their mussels. It was a funny summer. And It was an important time in the little mermade’s world. They were starting to spend more time away from their homes with their friends. They were trying to be exactly alike. They wore the same style clothes, the same hairstyles and listened to the same music. Shell didn’t know how important having good friends would be (and friends that were good.)
            Just down the lane from Foam, another new merfamily moved into a new sand castle. Cairn and Volute Gillson and their two daughters Coral and Netty. Coral had exquisite manners and a good imagination, Shell liked her immediately. Coral was a serious student who wrote fun and creative stories. She was polite on the playground and the teachers liked her too. Coral had attended fin-ishing school and knew the proper way to enter a tide pool, eat with good manners and behave in public, she also knew a few words of Merman.  She was never too loud and didn’t make fun of others. Coral was a good influence. Netty and Sandy became friends and a lot of fun together too.
            Foam invited Shell, Pearl and Coral to ride seahorses one afternoon. The coral where Bubble stayed had seahorses to rent and trails to ride on. It was Shell’s first time riding a seahorse out of the coral. She was nervous, but she didn’t want to seem like a sea chicken in front of her friends. The girls and their seahorses started off swimming slowly, then Foam “giddiyupped” Bubbles and Bubbles took off swimming faster. Pearl was right behind her, then Coral. Shell gulped and held on tight as her seahorse followed the others. They swam through tall sea grasses and past the kelp forest. Shell was having so much fun, she forgot to be afraid. The girls and their mounts swam like the wind – they could have easily sea starred in a western movie! It was a day they would always remember and treasure.
            One time Coral and her family asked her friends over to make shrimp pizza. Shell was in heaven. She invited Coral to her sand castle to play with bobbing dolls. Coral asked if Nettie could come too.  So Sandy, Nettie, Coral and Shell all had a bobbing dolls tea party together.
Coral’s birthday was exactly the opposite of Shell’s; she was born in the summer and was six months older. At the end of the school year Coral invited the mermades in her class to her sandcastle for a birthday party. Shell loved to go to her friend’s house and was excited to attend her party. Vol was kind to all the mermade children and made them feel welcome (and she was a good cook.) A few days after school was out for summer, it was time for Corals’ party and a chance for the classmates to get together again.
            Shell tried to think of something Coral would like for her birthday. Shell’s birthday was right after Christmas so all of her gifts came at once and they were usually winter presents. Coral was having a summer party and would get fun summer things. Shell was almost jealous of her friend. But Coral was so warm and friendly, like her summer birthday, that Shell couldn’t have bad feelings about her good fortune. Shell made her a pretty necklace out of, you guessed it, shells. She wrapped it carefully, made a card and took them to Corals’ party. Pearl had picked a bouquet of beautiful ocean flowers from her garden for Coral, she wrapped them with a pretty ribbon. Foam had made her a model seahorse in her favorite color.
            Shell was excited to see Pearl, Foam, Coral, Reef, the other two Shells and friends from school. Coral’s sandcastle was decorated with glittering sea stars, kelp garlands and floating bubbles. It all looked magical, just perfect for a mermade party. The girls played games like “Truth or Mer” and “Never.” “Never” was a favorite with the mergirls. They sat in a circle on the sand and each received a bag with twelve pieces of candy. The first said “I never…(held hands with a merboy, swam in the Atlantic, touched an octopus…) If a mermade had done that thing she ate one piece of candy. The mermade that ate all her candy first won!
            Coral and her friends played another fun game. Since they were all turning into rock music fans, they made a deck of cards with words from songs like, “wave,” “love” and “hand.” They divided into two teams. One player would flip over a card, and each team took turns singing songs with that word in the lyrics. If one of the teams couldn’t think of a song after 30 seconds, they lost the turn and the other team got a point. Ten points won the game. Listening to a lot of music paid off.
            Vol served a pretty seacake with fancy sugar shells and icicles and the mermades sang happy birthday to Coral. They watched with excitement as she opened her gifts. She received two record albums, games, clothes and sea star clips for her hair. She loved the necklace that Shell had made for her, the bouquet from Pearl and Foam’s seahorse. One of the neighbors that had a tide pool invited the mermades to come over for a twilight swim. They raced down the street and dove into the tide pool. With the Beach Guys, Sea Monkees and Water Beatles’ music playing, the merfriends dove and swam with the glittering sea stars into the night.
Here are the directions for making a pearl and shell necklace like the one Shell made for Coral’s birthday.

You will need:
a string of pearl beads from a bead or craft store
a shell with a hole in it
a jewelry clasp
a small metal ring to attach the shell
super glue

Pearls are one of the birthstones for June and are fun to use for a birthday gift for that month. If the birthday is another month, you might choose beads like that month’s birthstone.

1. Ask your parent to help you attach the necklace clasp to the string of pearls using superglue.

2. When the glue is dry, use needle nose piers to open the small metal ring and attach the shell to the center of the string of pearls.

3. Wrap in a jewelry box with a pretty bow – happy birthday friend!

Welcome Home Elder McMurtry!

We sent a boy out to do the Lord’s work and are getting a consecrated man back; it is a very good investment. For 2 years he has studied the scriptures, served the people of northern Alabama and invited them to come unto Christ and be baptized. 

Thank you to President and Sister Hanks and all of the good people who serve in the Alabama Birmingham Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for looking after our son. 

We are grateful and excited to get our Tim back in time for Christmas! 

Handmade gifts = LOVE

Treat your loved ones to gifts from the heart and hearth this Christmas; like these elf mugs containing cocoa mix and favorite treats or a rice-filled neck warmer to fight the winter cold. 

The instructions for these and other creative and fun gifts are in the Deseret News http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865643761/5-ideas-for-creative-economical-homemade-Christmas-gifts.html?pg=all

Read about Heather and Paul’s beach reception after they were married in the LDS San Diego temple last December (it featured a cut-it-yourself FUDGE bar – yes!)

Heather, Paul, Elle, Noah and Ashlyn

Elle and I were so excited!



A Mermade’s Tale Chapter 7 – Sandy Swims in Deep Water and a Victory at the Shelling Bee


Chapter Seven


            Sandy, Shell and Pearl were mesmerized by the graceful aquadancing swim-mers gliding in time to the song “Would You like to Swim with a Star?” The flashing lights, colorful spraying fountain and beautiful costumes inspired the girls’ imaginations. They were watching a show at Ocean World in Sandy Aego with their moms Nekton and Oyster. The mermoms had taken their children there to celebrate the end of the school year and reward them for studying so hard for their class shelling bee.
            “We should totally do this the next time we’re at the Finnler’s tide pool,” whispered Shell. “Totally,” agreed Pearl. “Me too,” insisted Sandy. “Sandy, you can’t swim like that,” reminded Shell. Sandy was three years younger than Shell; she admired the many skills her older sister had acquired, but she hadn’t quite caught up yet. Shell had learned to swim at Camp Playaway, a summer day camp she’d attended in the City of Angelfish when her father was a camp director. Pearl had taken swimming lessons too, and both of the older girls could swim in deep water without fear. But little Sandy had to stay in the splash tide pool. “That’s not fair,” frowned Sandy. “Wait, you can teach me!”
            Shell and Pearl looked at each other with that secret look that friends have; which usually means, “I don’t think so.” They agreed to discuss it later.  And later came sooner than they thought.
            Swimming in the Finnler’s tide pool was the most exciting thing Pearl and Shell could do. The Finnler’s lived up the street from Pearl. They had a large and fancy sandcastle with tall columns and a built-in tide pool in their yard. Pearl was very social and had made friends with the Finnlers, who on occasion, would let her bring friends to swim in their beautiful tide pool. “But they have to be able to swim,” decreed Mrs. Finnler who was rightfully concerned with safety.
            As the aqua show ended the mermades went to see the killer whale perform. In the ocean, they avoided killer whales, but this one was trained and in his own tank. After watching the leaping, laughing dolphins, the sun began to set and the two families started for the exit. But they hadn’t visited the gift shop yet, the merchildren reminded their mothers. “All right, 10 minutes, then we need to go home and make dinner,” said Nekton. The gift shop was filled with all kinds of beautiful things. There were shiny little glass sea animals, large stuffed whales, seahorses and dolphins, books and trinkets, purses and glasses with fish painted on them. There were whistles and bubbles and games and fancy necklaces and rings that looked like real pirate treasure.  Pearl picked a new coloring book with the mermade alphabet on the back cover and dolphin crayons. Sandy asked for a soft fuzzy goldfish and Shell wanted a necklace with a clear blue stone shaped like a drop of water. Brine got a picture book with fishy jokes. And then it was time to go home. 
            Back at school, the teacher was preparing her students for the shelling bee. She had brought in a large case divide into sections. Each compartment held a seashell with a label showing its name to help the merstudents learn about their world. At the end of the year the class would hold a shelling bee. The students would show that they could identify each shell and spell its name correctly; whoever got the highest score would receive a special prize. The merstudents would be required to know 25 of the shells, but they didn’t know which would be on the test.
            Shell and Pearl got together often to study for the shelling bee. Pearl had a big book with pictures of all kinds of beautiful shells. “My grandmother collected seashells,” said Pearl. She had a rare junonia shell her husband had brought back from a trip.  Abalone’s grandfather, who had also been a teacher, had made a collection of cards with pictures of shells and their names. Shell loved to study the cards her great-grandfather had made. The letters were old and fancy, as were the drawings of the shells.  Sometimes the merchildren studied at Pearl’s, sometimes at Shell’s sandcastle. Today they were at Pearls’ going over the list and identifying the seashells, they also had some they had collected and received as gifts. The shelling bee list looked like this:

clear sundial
cockle shell
rosy harp
screw shell
sand dollar
swollen fig

 Shell showed Pearl the shells, who named and spelled them. Then Pearl quizzed Shell. They were making good progress in memorizing the shell names and spellings. They were becoming conchologists, merpeople who study shells. The shelling bee was the next day and it was the last day of school.
            Shell and Pearl were swinging on the playground when they heard the principal ring the ship’s bell, signaling the start of school. The mermades swam to their classrooms. Pearl and Shell noticed that the display cabinet filled with shells had been removed. Their teacher Mrs. Conch told the excited merstudents that after the shelling bee, they were going to the playground for games, then they would have a class party! She divided the class into two groups. Shell and Pearl were on different teams. The students lined up on both sides of their classroom. Mrs. Conch held up a shell, the first merstudent tried to name it and spell the name. Then the other team had a chance. If a student got the name wrong or misspelled it, he or she had to take their seat. If they were right, they went to the end of the line for another turn. After a while there were only two students left; can you guess who? It was Shell and Pearl who had studied hard and were both excellent shellers.
            Finally, Mrs. Conch had gone through all of the shells. There would need to be a tide-breaker. Mrs. Conch reached into a box and pulled out a beautiful shell. Shell looked at it and thought hard, she couldn’t remember seeing this one before. Why couldn’t it have been a scallop? Shell knew scallops, they were on her family wave crest. Pearl smiled as she recognized the shell. “That is a junonia, j-u-n-i-o-n-i-a!” she said triumphantly. Pearl won the shelling bee! The class cheered and Shell congratulated her friend. If she couldn’t win, Pearl would be her favorite choice. Shell was working on being a good sport.
            Mrs. Conch awarded Shell a ribbon with a shell medallion and certificate for her excellent shelling skills. Pearl received a golden trophy with a mermaid holding up a seashell, a shell medallion and a certificate stating that she was the champion sheller.
            The class swam out to play games. While the merstudents were playing outside, the room mermothers set up the party. When the merchildren returned to their desks, they found a lovely lunch of sea plums, sand-wiches, and coconut madeleines which are shell-shaped cookies. Many mermades love coconuts, which they collect when they are blown into the sea by fierce winds. After lunch, Mrs. Conch handed out grades and wished all of the children a very happy summer vacation – school was over!
            Shell swam home and told her mother all about the shelling bee. Her mother congratulated her for doing so well and her father did too when he returned home. Shell swam over to the sofa, plopped on it and took a deep breath. Summer was here! It was starting to get warm and even though they enjoyed coloring and listening to the Sea Monkees, the mergirls needed a break. “Let’s go play outside for a while,” said Pearl. Oyster suggested they ask the Finnlers if they could swim in their tide pool. Oh yes! “I need to go home and ask my mom,” said Shell. So off the little mermades swam.
            Sandy was excited to see her big sister and friend arrive. She had been playing with Brine, but he had gotten tired and was taking a nap. When she heard Shell ask their mom if she could go swimming at the Finnler’s tide pool, Sandy got even more excited. “I want to go swimming!” she exclaimed. “You don’t know how to swim in a tide pool,” said Shell. Sandy’s smile faded. Nekton was a good mom, she didn’t force Shell and Pearl to always include Sandy, but she hoped they would invite her. Pearl saw Sandy’s sad face and as she reached out to hug the little merchild, she said, “we could teach her.” Shell felt badly that she had hurt Sandy’s feelings. She had been shellfish. “Sure you can come,” she said gently. She took Sandy’s hand and off they went.
            The sun was shining through the waves when the merchildren arrived at the Finnler’s sandcastle. Mrs. Finnler led them through the octopus’s garden to the tide pool. “Have fun!” she said. Pearl dipped her tail in the water, it was just right. Shell jumped in, but Sandy stayed near the edge. “Jump in Sandy,” Pearl called to her, “I’ll catch you!” Shell watched her sister jump into the tide pool and into Pearl’s outstretched arms. She looked so happy. Shell swam a few feet away. “Swim to me Sandy,” she called. Sandy looked down. She couldn’t touch the bottom. “You can do it,” coaxed Shell. Pearl gave her a little push and Sandy started paddling. She reached Shell. “Did you see me swim?” she asked excitedly. Pearl swam a little bit farther away. “Now swim to me,” she said. Sandy pushed off and swam back to Pearl. “Look at you go!” exclaimed Shell. As much as Shell loved swimming and diving, she had to admit that helping her sister was fun too.  Sandy looked so proud of herself and so happy. They had her swim back and forth until she was confident that she could swim around in the deep end of the tide pool all by herself. She could do something that the big girls could do. Sandy could swim in deep water.  “Let’s play a game,” said Pearl. She threw a handful of coins from a sunken ship into the tide pool. She, Sandy and Shell dove to the bottom to pick up the coins. Then they played Marco Waterpolo and aquabatic mermaids.
            By the time they finished swimming they were happy and tired. And they’d found a treasure; Sandy had a new skill and confidence and they had a new friend to play with in the tide pool.
Can you make a family wave crest with your favorite shells? Here is Shell and Sandy’s.
This one is for you to design.

 Do you remember seeing the mermaid alphabet in Chapter 5? 
Try writing your family name in mermade!

Next week is the final chapter in A Mermade’s Tale – see you then! 

Merry Christmas BYU Radio Fans!

I am especially grateful this Christmas to have the opportunity to share some of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions with Kim Power Stilson’s audience. Christmas is a poignant, reflective season of celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. We try to emulate his charity by being extra generous with the poor and giving heartfelt gifts of time, cheer and even objects that represent our love to family and friends. Christ’s goodness and mercy truly make Him the Light of the World. 

The Light of the World dry point etching by Pam McMurtry

The excitement in our family is heightened by our anticipation of the arrival of our son Tim who has been away from home for 2 years serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alabama. He returns to us from Selma, where he and his companion Elder Muaka, originally from Kenya, have been sharing the message of Jesus Christ; a message of brotherhood, peace and hope.

Most of the McMurtry Clan

Merry Christmas to you my friends, my wish for you is that my chat with Kim will give you ideas that will enrich your holiday season as you gather loved ones and prepare for the most wonderful time of the year!

Merry Christmas to you from the BYU Holiday Diva, Pam McMurtry and family! 

Macy’s SLC City Creek holiday window by the McMurtrys

Gingerbread house, a McMurtry tradition

Shortbread cookies, a family favorite!

McMurtry Shortbread Cookies

These need no adornment but you may wish to frost them or sprinkle them with sugar before baking. Melted white chocolate can be drizzled over the cooled cookies.

1 C butter, room temperature
2/3 C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C finely milled whole wheat flour
1/4 C cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 C chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. In a seperate bowl blend the flours, cornstarch and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix just until a crumbly dough is formed, add pecans if desired. Place dough between 2 sheets of wax paper and roll to 1/4 ” thickness. Cut with cookie cutters, transfer to a parchment or waxed paper-lined baking pan and sprinkle with sugar or cookie decorations if desired. Bake smaller cookies at 325° for 15-18 min and larger ones for 20 – 23 minutes or until edges are just starting to turn golden.

The Gift of Art

Please visit my gallery on Etsy for original art for Christmas giving. There are many pieces of fine art available and I welcome commissioned work.

The Shepherdess
Watercolor after Bouguereau

Charcoal drawing

Oil on canvas

Green Bottle
Oil on canvas

Delicious recipes like wild rice cranberry salad, homemade popcorn balls, pumpkin pie cake that you and your loved ones will treasure for the holidays are available in 

A Harvest and Halloween Handbook 

Downloads immediately from: 

Christmas Eve Traditions

The Light of the World 
Dry Point Etching 
Pam McMurtry

This Friday, December 11, tune in for my favorite Christmas Eve celebration ideas on Kim Power Stilson’s Talkworthy broadcast on BYU Sirius XM Radio 143 @ 3 p.m. Mountain/1 p.m. Eastern. http://www.byuradio.org/listen

We will share ideas about creating a memorable Christmas observance that focuses on the birth of Jesus Christ who is the Light of the World. 

Here is an amazing recipe for a buttery cinnamon red-hot popcorn I named Krisp Kringle, shared by my friend Sue Allred that was featured in the Deseret News, thanks to Christine Rappleye http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865643286/Spice-up-your-holiday-gift-giving-with-Krisp-Kringle.html?pg=all. For a dozen of my yummy recipes published by the Deseret News and other media sources, go to http://www.deseretnews.com/search/google?q=pam%20mcmurtry.
For your holiday munching and sharing, enjoy Krisp Kringle

Krisp Kringle
16 cups popped buttery microwave popcorn (2-3 large bags)
16 cups air popped popcorn
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
8-9 ounce bag of cinnamon red hot candies
11 ounces white chocolate chips (optional)

Heat oven to 250 degrees. Lightly butter the inside of the large bowl and set aside, using the remaining butter in the syrup. Prepare both types of popcorn according to package directions. Using your fingers like a rake, remove the popped kernels and place them in the large bowl, discard the unpopped kernels.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining butter. When melted, add the sugar, corn syrup, salt and cinnamon candies. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cinnamon candies are melted. Pour over the popcorn and stir to evenly coat the kernels. Place in the oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave following the instructions on the package, being careful not to overcook. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled popcorn and toss to coat. Allow to cool thoroughly, break apart and store in airtight containers.

Dressing up your Kringle
Part of the fun of giving homemade treats is coming up with creative, original packaging worthy of your time and effort. Here are a few ideas for dressing up your Krisp Kringle.

Santa’s Shirt
Fill a quart- or gallon-size zip seal bag with cooled Krisp Kringle. Cut out a simple paper collar to fold over and attach with double-stick tape or adhesive dots to hide the bag zipper. Cut out 2 mittens and attach them to the front of the bag. A piece of black ribbon makes a belt — the buckle could say “Santa’s favorite popcorn.”

Berry Baskets
Individual servings can be created with cellophane gift bags and pressed paper berry baskets, which are sold in a multipack at craft stores. Place a cellophane bag in a basket, fill with popcorn and tie with baker’s twine. Add a sprig of greens and berries and a tag.

Movie Night Popcorn Bowl
Fill ceramic or paper popcorn serving bowls with Krisp Kringle. Wrap a DVD in a cellophane bag and set it atop the popcorn. Place the bowl on a large piece of cellophane, gather and tie with a ribbon.

Keep this Krisp Kringle recipe; you may wish to use it for snacking during the fireworks next summer; talk about Christmas all year!


The Mermaids Visit the Zoo Chapter 6

Chapter Six


            It was a sunny blue day in the ocean. Shell was excited that morning because her family was taking a trip to the beautiful Sandy Aygo Zoo. A day at the zoo with all of the wonderful exotic sea animals sounded like a great adventure. Shell gathered her pencils and sketchbook, Sandy got her camera and Brine retrieved his sea cow-boy hat. 
            While Mom and Dad were packing the merstation wagon, the children discussed which animals they would visit. “The leafy sea dragons, lionfish, the zebrafish, the hermit crabs in the petting coral…” mused Shell, “everything but sea snakes,” she shuddered. Sandy continued, “the sea monkeys, the turtles, sea leopards, maybe the porcupine fish.” “Can we see water buffaloes and seahorses?” asked Brine who was wearing his holster and sea cowboy hat. “We’ll look for them Brine,” said Shell. “Do you want to play with hermit crabs in the petting coral?” she asked. “Just stay away from the sea goats, they eat everything.” Shell remembered the time her school class had visited the zoo and the sea goats tried to eat everyone’s name tags. Brine nodded, hand on his squirt gun; he would protect his sea cow-boy hat.
            “Get your coats kids,” called Dad. Sometimes the wind blew and it got cold in Sandy Aygo. The family piled into the merstation wagon and went to Pearl’s sand castle to pick her up. Pearl’s dad Dock had just returned from the Bonneville Sea Salt Flats where he had broken a speed record on one of the custom mertorcycles he built. Oyster said Pearl could spend the day at the zoo with the Planktons. The adventure began.
            Dad drove to Seaway 101 and headed south. As they glided along the coast, they sang silly songs like “Don’t Sweep your Sand in my Sand Pan,” and “The Whales on the Bus Go Round and Round.” The children watched for the familiar landmarks that showed they were getting close to the zoo. When they spotted the sign around Enseanitats with funny sea creatures they knew they were not far away.
            The Sandy Aygo Zoo was in Bubble Park, in the midst of giant kelp from Australia. The kelp forest was a wild and exciting place where urchins and abalone hid during the day, then came out at night for an algae feast. Crabs, octopus and cuttlefish roamed with seahorses and fish and brightly colored sea stars decorated the fronds. As Dad parked the merstation wagon, the children prepared for a wild time at the zoo. Mom put a water whistle around each child’s neck in case they should get lost while Dad bought the tickets. The children swam into the zoo and the fun began!
            Right inside the gate there was a tide pool where brilliant bright pink glowfish and rosy barbs were enjoying the sunny day. The children could hear the sea monkeys chattering and the sea leopards and lionfish roaring in the distance. They swam to a brass sculpture of a large seahorse and the children took turns posing on it as Dad snappered a few pictures with his underwater camera. Off to the left was the Sea Reptile Sand Castle where sea snakes, viperfish and lizard fish lived. Shell peeked in but, she was not fond of the giant sea snakes and was glad when they moved onto the Petting Coral.
            In the Petting Coral lived a school of gentle sea animals. Gentle, but they could be pesky as Brine found out when a sea goat tried to nibble his sea cow-boy hat! There were sea turtles, and sheepshead minnows to pet, and frisky baby seahorses that swam around playing tag. Two baby sea cows ambled by and squirrelfish chattered along the fence looking for crumbs to gather as they kept an eye on the catfish that purred in the sun. The children enjoyed their encounter with the creatures in the Petting Coral and reluctantly left to see the exotic animals in the Lost Kelp Forest.
            They soon forgot their hesitation when they encountered silly sea monkeys that swan in their enclosure, now and then stopping to pose for the visitors. An orange clownfish named Otis brought his toys over to show the children as they took pictures and sketched the animals. There was a large sea bird sand castle nearby filled with squawking parrot fish and deepwater cardinal fishes. Regal peacock mantis shrimp paraded, showing off their beautiful colors. They gazed at  zebra turkeyfish and kelp perch. Searobins and ravens circled overhead and a bit farther down the trail was the Lost Kelp Forest.
            “Let’s pretend we’re on safari,” they agreed as down an underwater canyon they swam. The explorers stopped when they reached the lair of the tiger shark who was pacing back and forth watching the merchildren.  Brine had his hand on his squirt gun in case danger arose. “I’m glad they can’t get to us,” whispered Sandy. The tiger shark yawned and showed his sharp teeth. The merchildren swam on. Around the corner they found elephantfish and venomous lionfish having their lunch. “Mom,’ said Brine, “I’m getting hungry.” The Planktons and Pearl swam to the picnic sand. Dad brought out the seagrass picnic basket. For a special treat, he had gone to the Twin Fins and picked up a sea chicken dinner. The meal was creatively packed inside a loaf of salt-rising bread, one of Abalone’s favorites! Mom had also brought a bag of seas puffs, goldfish crackers and water melon, which her merchildren loved.  Sitting on the warm sand in the sun with a full tummy made Brine sleepy. He curled up and before long, was napping. Dad carefully put him in the waterstroller, Mom put away the picnic and the adventure continued. 
            “I need to find an animal that isn’t moving too much so I can draw it’s picture,” announced Shell. She was in luck, the combination of warm afternoon sun and full tummies made many of the animals sleepy like Brine. “Let’s wait until he wakes up to visit the water buffalo and sea cows,” suggested Mom, “maybe we can find some quiet animals to look at.” “Not sea monkeys!” said Sandy, they, like Shell and Pearl, were always chattering.
            They made their way to the “It’s A Jungle Out There: Rainforest of the Ocean,” the coral reef. Octopi, colorful tropical fish and co-inhabited with brightly colored coral. The merchildren oohed and aahed as they enjoyed the bright hues of the coral and fish. They watched the fluid motions of the ballet-like interactions between plant and animal. Shell studied the creatures and made sketches. Sandy snappered photos.  They watched an octopus blush and hide in a crevice, a school of beautiful angelfish swim along and an eel tie himself in a knot! There were triggerfish doing silly stunts and clownfish acting like, well, clowns. The coral reef was very pretty and very amusing.
            Brine stretched and woke up when he heard his sisters laughing. He wanted to go to the Wild West enclosure. In the undersea desert, among the tumble seaweed, anemones and sea urchins, a porcupine fish slowly ambled by, sea cows circled the pen and a water buffalo watched from above. A Venus flytrap sea anemone snapped at a water flea. Brine wanted to ride seahorses, but Dad said he could do that another time.
            There was one more stop to make before calling it day. The Australian Great Barrier Reef Exhibit was home to the leafy sea dragons and crocodile fish. Parrotfish whistled and colorful butterfly fish flitted past. It took Sandy a while to find her first leafy sea dragon. The seahorse-like animal with frilly fins was so well-hidden in the kelp that it was almost impossible to see. Shell loved the leafy sea dragon, she liked its name and its wavy fins. She filled a whole page in her sketchbook with leafy sea dragons.
            One the way out of the Great Barrier Reef, there was an Antarctica exhibit. Black and white penguins had their own special space where they could dive and slide across the ice floes. They waddled like old silent movie stars in tuxedos and they raced back and forth on the ice.
The sun was setting on the ocean when the zookeepers started feeding the animals their dinner. It was time for the mermades to go home for dinner too.
Here are directions for making a pocket sketchbook to take to the zoo.
You will need:
2 twelve inch scrapbook papers
2 plain white 8.5″ x 11″ papers for each booklet
miniature colored pencils from a craft store
gluestick or glue
grommets, punch and setter or sewing machine
twine or ribbon
To do:
1. Attach the scrapbook papers together back-to-back using the adhesive.
2. Cut into 4″ x 12″ strips. Decide which will be the outside, lay the paper with the outside down. Fold 2” of the bottom edge up toward the center and crease. Punch holes and use grommets in the corners or stitch to make a pocket.
3. Bring the top edge down to the bottom fold and crease the center, it should be 5″‘ x 4″. Set aside the cover.
4. Fold the white paper lengthwise into 4.25″ x 11″. Cut into three strips 4.25″ x 3.66″ Stack the six sheets and punch holes on the crease, about an inch in from each edge.
5. Lay the white papers on the cover, center them and punch matching holes in the cover. Tie together with twine or ribbon.
6. Tuck pencils into pocket and give to darling little merpeople.

Rotary International

I love my Rotary Club! I joined to meet people and have service opportunities and I have been very pleased with both. I was commissioned to create a Christmas card by my club President Adam Wills, who suggested I offer it to other clubs as well. If you are looking for a card for your local club – I can personalize a file for you to have printed.

The interior: 
It is available on Etsy, email me your club logo and I will send you the file for the interior. 

Welcome Long Island Pulse readers!

Welcome to the Long Island Pulse readers! This West Coast artist and author is thrilled to reach out to you. Please take a minute to look through my blog posts and see what interests you, then sign up as a follower. I’m current-ly (as in ocean) running a free weekly serial featuring chapters from my children’s book 

A Mermade’s Tale

featuring the undersea adventures of 2 young mermaids as they learn lessons about life and the sea while navigating the sometimes turbulent waters of youth. In the latest chapter, Shell’s little brother Brine has a Wild West adventure – come join the fun! 

Altered book featuring a 3-D illustration of mermaid friends 
Shell and Pearl.






Thank you to editor Beth Ann Clyde for creating a coherent set of instructions for gingerbread house construction from my sugar-coated ramblings. 
From the Long Island Pulse: http://lipulse.com/2015/12/01/how-to-make-a-gingerbread-house/

“Wreaths make for festive decor and cookies are tasty treats, but gingerbread houses give you the best of both. Add in the pinch of the nostalgia you get remembering the first time you got to make a gingerbread house with your grandma and it’s a recipe for a fun-filled Saturday afternoon. No one knows that better than Pam McMurty. When she’s not performing holiday diva duties on BYU Sirius XM Radio 14 (143) or writing books like A Harvest and Halloween Handbook, McMurty loves making gingerbread houses with her children and grandchildren. Whether you’re resurrecting a tradition from years ago or just want to make your edible decor look a little different this year, this guide of how to make a gingerbread house will help get you back in your groove.

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What You Need
McMurty uses a gingerbread house kit to save time (NESTLÉ has great ones you can find at your local grocery store). Then, go to town filling your shopping basket with candy.
“We buy extra colored candies like Starburst, Skittles, gumballs and sometimes ribbon candy and the old-fashioned cut rock candy,” McMurty said.
McMurty has seen the true DIY mavens add inverted ice cream cone trees covered with green frosting and candies and walls made of candy pebbles. If you’re a beginner, “don’t let that intimate you,” she said. Cake decorating supplies like sparkling white sugar flakes and pearl nonpareils, candy canes and small plastic festive decorations work just as well. Another must for McMurty: Christmas music to set the mood.
What to do
1. Before you begin to make your gingerbread house, put out materials and grab a couple of cans of food, florist foam or weights to hold the walls in place while the frosting dries. Build the house on a cardboard or another sturdy base so it is portable. “Some people cheat and use a hot glue gun on the inside where it doesn’t show. Don’t do this if you are planning to eat the house later,” McMurty said.
2. Put the candy in bowls, and gather wet and dry towels for your hands. Make up the royal icing included in the kit, and keep it moist by placing a damp cloth over the bowl. “It should have the consistency of a viscous toothpaste.”
Pro Tip Decorate the roof panels and walls first. “The pitch of the roof makes it hard to keep round candies or gumballs from slipping off. Just add the sparkles and nonpareils while the frosting is wet so they adhere, but make sure the roof is dry before placing it.”
3. Assemble the walls by squeezing an L-shaped toothpaste-style line of frosting on the base for the first two perpendicular walls. Place the cans to hold the walls while the frosting dries. “You may want to place the side wall behind the front or gabled wall so the seam doesn’t show from the front of the house.”
4. When the first walls are stable, repeat step 2 with the remaining walls, using cans to hold them in place. “We often end up with a can inside the gingerbread house holding the roof in place. I remove it when we demolish the house after the holidays.”
5. If you haven’t already decorated the walls, grab the candy and go all out. “If you are decorating with a committee, try to come to a stylistic consensus or turn everyone loose and celebrate an eclectic aesthetic.” Start with the focal points first such as doors and windows. Do the edges last.
6. When the frosting is dry enough for the walls to hold the weight of the roof, add the roof panels. To make icicles, place the tip of the frosting bag on the edge of the roof and squeeze as you draw the bag downward.
7. Dust the entire confection with sparkling sugar flakes or powdered sugar and allow the gingerbread house to dry. Place it on a pedestal cake stand or tray. “Give yourself a big pat on the back, after you wash your hands of course.”

My Christmas ornament selected for the City Creek Macy’s holiday window – made with 100 pounds of candy! 

Be sure to join host Kim power Stilson and me on Wednesday, December 9th for a Christmas show on BYU Sirius Radio 143 at 3 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Mountain. 

It’s not too late to enjoy delicious recipes such as pumpkin pie cake, shortbread cookies, homemade popcorn balls and wild rice salad from 
A Harvest and Halloween Handbook 

Merry Christmas!