Happy Handmade Pioneer Day!

Yes, intrepid art lovers, this watercolor shepherdess is after William Bouguereau, my favorite artist. She reminds me of the brave settlers who tamed the wilderness and made the desert blossom as a rose. Among my family members, there were many who crossed oceans and plains to help establish Zion in the Rocky Mountains. This week we celebrate Pioneer Day in Utah, and this celebration is very different from last year.

For your entertainment, I am posting a few of my favorite Pioneer Day activities. If you need a fun learning experience for children, my Etsy shop features a digital download of activities of the Pioneer children that helped their families get established in the West.

For authentic fun – create your own pioneerwear. Simplicity, McCall and other pattern companies have patterns and directions for bonnets, pioneer dresses and menswear in the costume sections of their catalogs.

While you are at the fabric shop; pick up some material to start a quilt top or banner.

For knitters, you can quickly whip up a cross-body bag using scrap yarn. make a rectangle, fold it in half, stitch up the sides, add a braided handle, a button accent if desired and you are done!

Pioneers often spruced up their lodgings, no matter how humble. One took a dining table and chairs in her covered wagon for dining alfresco. a grapevine wreath from a craft store tied with bundles of fresh herbs and flowers makes a charming rustic accent.

Hit up your local blacksmith for classes in the basics. My son and his Dad invested in beginner classes and created these stunning hammers. My son’s blacksmith ancestors, the Webbs, would be proud.

Whip up a batch of Cream Cheese Nutmeg Beehive Bread.

Bean bag toss was a popular Pioneer Era game.

Get to know the neighbors. Brigham Young encouraged the pioneers to befriend their indigenous neighbors. He said it was better to feed them than to fight them. Creating pictographs helps children develop their creativity and visual language skills.

Lucky pioneer girls had handkerchief dolls to cuddles. Made out of a square of fabric and wrapped in another scrap, these soft babies gave comfort to their mommies on their 16 week hike.

A wooden button and a piece of string kept little guys entertained on the trail.

When your un-refrigerated food supply needs to last for weeks and weeks, beef jerky is a real treat.

Yeah, these were dressed up for Halloween, but they are so yummy during the summer!

We’re not much of a taffy-pulling clan, but we do love a good popcorn ball. Here’s our favorite recipe courtesy of Jiffy Time Popcorn.


1 cup Jolly Time Popcorn

Using your hands with fingers spread like a rake to remove unpopped kernels. Transfer popped corn to very large greased baking pan or mixing bowl and set aside.

            Combine in large heavy saucepan:

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup light corn syrup

2/3 cup water

½ cup butter

1 tsp. salt

            Heat in  pan, stirring constantly. Cook to hard ball stage, remove from heat, add

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Food coloring, if desired

Stir in popped popcorn. Let cool for a few minutes. With buttered hands, form warm mixture into balls, place on waxed paper to cool. Wrap in cellophane or plastic wrap. Keeps up to 2 weeks. Makes 15 popcorn balls.

So bust out your enamel campware and head outside for a Pioneer Day celebration to remember.

Whether you find yourself back in the saddle (or not) this Pioneer Day, we wish you a joyous handmade family experience!