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.
Nixon Irene Roberts graduated life and entered the arms of her loving Savior on April 16, 2022. It was the day before Easter, the holiday of resurrection and triumph over death. Like all losses of those we love, it takes a while to process the new reality and grieve. I hope you will pardon me for missing the past few holidays as my family and I adjust to our new normal.
Nixon’s first heavenly birthday was on July 12. As I was helping a daughter move, bringing a granddaughter home and celebrating my husband’s birthday on July 14, I’m a couple of days late but I wanted to share about my colorful and creative Mom.
Nixon Irene Roberts Lawrence entered the world on July 12, 1935 in a maternity home in Coalinga, California. She was the first child of Thelma Mae Lisman Roberts and her husband George William Roberts. Thelma was the descendant of early Americans and many of the crown heads of Europe and Scandinavia but she didn’t know it. George was the son of a British-born mother and father descended from Welsh and British families. Hot and dusty Coalinga was a Standard Oil town in the rough and tumble oil fields of Central California: it was the middle of the Great Depression, and demand for petroleum products waned as the world economy suffered. The strained economic circumstances of her childhood impelled Nixon to always strive for better things. As she grew up, she overcame her early poverty and modest circumstances by working hard and rewarding herself with fashionable clothes and beautiful surroundings.
She was joined within a few years by brothers Kenneth Leroy Roberts and David Miles Roberts. They attended school in a 2-room schoolhouse. As World War 2 increased the demand for oil production, her school had the resources to hire music and band teachers. Each child had their own instrument; uniform and music lessons were available to all. Well-qualified teachers were brought into the settlement and the tiny school in the middle of the wilderness became the seat of an excellent education that served her well throughout life.
When a Standard Oil transfer relocated her family to Redondo Beach in Los Angeles County, she learned to appreciate coastal life and a whole new Southern California culture. Neighbors Ardith and Lila Landers became her lifelong friends and introduced her to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She attended seminary with her new friends and was baptized as a teenager. In high school she was involved in theater, enjoyed playing tennis and working as a camp counselor. There were trips to Lake Arrowhead for fun in the snow; it was the era of cashmere sweater sets, skirts and cruising the boulevard. After graduating from Mira Costa High School, she worked as an operator for a year to save money for college.
She attended BYU in Provo, Utah for a year then returned home and worked in the aerospace industry in Los Angeles, where she met Larry Karl Layton, a recently returned veteran, who, as a former Army rocket scientist, was now working in R & D in the aerospace industry.
They married in Los Angeles and soon welcomed daughter Pamela Sue into the family while Larry was studying at USC. After deciding to go into Education, he earned a Bachelor’s degree and started work on his Master’s degree. Cynthia Ann and Brian Christopher were born at rival campus UCLA Hospital (ironically) before he graduated.
The Laytons moved to Carlsbad in 1963 after Larry finished his studies. His first job out of college was with the Oceanside School District at North Oceanside Elementary. They bought their first house on Guevara Road (near the “stinky lagoon.”) Brian Layton was 1, Cindy was 3 and Pam was starting 1st grade at Buena Vista Elementary. The family attended the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a rented building in Oceanside then in a newly built chapel on California Street.
There were so many wonderful things about living in the small beach town of Carlsbad; Nixon loved bike riding, tennis and fireworks at the beach where she also taught her children to play chess. She baked the best cookies at Christmas and hosted picnics and fun at Holiday Park. They enjoyed holiday concerts and carnivals at Buena Vista, the Del Mar Fair, the Carlsbad library, the drive-in at Oceanside, pizza at Shakey’s, visiting Santa at the Elm Street fire station and the new El Camino Real mall. She sewed clothes for her children and made lots of friends: Lois Chaplin, Lillian Smith, Kay Tisdale, Ginny Smith, Fran Yarbrough, neighbors and others.
One year she decided Thanksgiving should be like the pilgrims’ feast, so she packed it all up and the family ate turkey on the windy bluffs overlooking Torrey Pines in La Jolla. There were trips to the Palomar Observatory, Big Bear to play in the snow, the zoo, Sea World and the happiest place on earth.
Her love of theater introduced the family to many classics, they attended a live performance Dicken’s A Christmas Carol production at Carlsbad Community Theater and Nutcracker Ballet in San Diego. . Watched the Wizard of Oz on the black and white television every year, the original Batman series, Bewitched and Gilligan’s Island. They watched the Parent Trap and other Disney movies at the San Luis Rey Drive-In with trips to Shakey’s Pizza before. On the family stereo vinyls played; Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Sergio Mendez and Brazil ’66, the Supremes, comedy and the Beach Boys. A highlight of the Christmas season was attending performances of Handel’s Messiah and the Nutcracker Ballet.
Family was important, Nixon and her children enjoyed visits with her parents in Santa Maria, her brothers in Hermosa Beach and Santa Barbara and extended family in other parts of California. As her children grew and started their own families and careers, she was an important part of her grandchildrens’ lives. She loved visiting Brian when he was stationed in Hawaii in the Air Force, going on cruises, especially the Panama Canal with her second husband Jim Lawrence, flowers, beauty, music, cool cars, and researching her family history back to 160 A.D.
Her July birthday and patriotic spirit made the 4th of July an important holiday in her world. Picnics on the beach, children bobbing in innertubes, lemon drops, a red, white and blue dessert and fireworks after dark became beloved traditions.
In her retirement she became involved in family history research. She found records of her Tracy ancestors back to 160 A.D. She joined the Daughters of the American Revolution and made scrapbooks for her local chapter. She collected hundreds of family members’ names and histories and created beautiful scrapbooks of photos and family histories.
Strokes and age-related dementia slowed her down in her later years, but she still enjoyed a good shopping trip. Her final words were her checking on each family member and wanting to go to the temple; she was going home. She passed into the eternities with the sound of her daughter Cindy reading love notes to her from her grandchildren.
Surviving family members include brother Ken Roberts and his daughters Adair and Amanda and their families, and the wife and daughter of her brother, the late David Roberts, Marlene and Tc. Her daughter Pamela Layton McMurtry and husband Newell, grandchildren William Chaddock, Laurel Phillips, Heather Touchet, Andrew Chaddock and Timothy McMurtry with their spouses and children. Daughter Cynthia Ann Layton Reischman and husband David and grandchildren, Eric Kapitanski, Emily Rivadeneyra, Alyssa and Amanda Kapitanski with their spouses and children. Nixon was preceded in death by her son Brian Christopher Layton and husband James Lawrence, her parents and brother David Roberts.
Nixon was a good and loving mother and grandmother. A celebration of her life and family gathering are planned for this summer; details will be posted later. She will be inurned at Eternal Hills Cemetery in Oceanside, CA with her husband Jim and son Brian.
The family would like to thank everyone who cared for her, especially Symbii Hospice, the Yalecrest First Ward and Larkin Mortuary for her final arrangements.
Families are forever; she would tell us all, “bye for now.”
We’ve been super busy the past few months and I’m planning to catch up this week – but I want to give you access to this amazing kit I’ve created to help you plan the best Pioneer Day celebration you’ve experienced! With sky high gas prices and supplies hard to come by, a DIY activity might be just what you need for summer fun! Find it on Etsy:
The smiling Jesus in the cathedral at Pisa is a surprising contrast to the images of the tortured and suffering Savior depicted in much of medieval art. This beautiful mosaic is in the apse of the cathedral which was started in 1063.
Christ, having overcome all, even death, reigns as the risen Lord and invites everyone to follow Him. At Easter we consider His perfect life, ministry and supreme sacrifice; He purchased mankind with His blood so we could return with Him as a gift to the Father (who gave us the gift of His Son and the promise of Eternal Life) to dwell with them in their kingdom; a perfect economy wherein nothing is lost and all are saved.
Spring, with its fluffy baby animals, green buds and beautiful blossoms remind us of the renewal of life. Here are some fun and sweet ways to teach children about the miracle of Jesus and Easter.
The Miraculous Atonement of Jesus Christ
The First Easter
All of Creation testifies of Jesus Christ. From the starry expanse of the midnight sky to the countless sands of tropical beaches; God’s fingerprint can be found in the spiral of pinecones, beautiful colored flowers, the chambered nautilus; the order and beauty of His creation sing of his majesty.
A long time ago, we lived with in a glorious heavenly home with our eternal Heavenly parents. We were eager to be like them. Heavenly Father created a plan for us to become as He is. We would come to an earth to gain a physical body and be tested to show we could live His way. We needed to be obedient to His commandments and when we became perfected we could go back and live with Heavenly Father. We would be like Him when we learned to obey all of His commandments. But we would fail and require assistance; someone to pay the price for our mistakes and when we died, help us to be resurrected. He would be our Savior and Redeemer.
Jehovah, our older brother in the home of our spirits, said He would do this for us. He would show us how to be righteous and prepare for eternal life. He would atone for our sins when we erred, repented and sought His help. He would have a physical body, live, die and be resurrected so we could have the power to be resurrected through Him. Heavenly Father had Jehovah create an earth for us. He created the sun, moon and stars; He put plants and animals on the earth. We came to live on the earth. Heavenly Father sent prophets to teach us about His plan for our happiness. The prophets taught us about Heavenly Father, His commandments and Jesus Christ. Jehovah would be Jesus Christ and our Savior.
If you compare yourself to a computer, you can begin to understand the Plan of Salvation a little better. In the beginning you were programmed by Heavenly Father. You were given all the information you needed to be like Him. At birth that program was closed and you were given a body with a new hard drive; ready to be filled with information and experiences. As you grew your parents formatted your program. You gained information and experience that became part of your programming; both good and bad. When you turned eight, and were able and accountable to make choices for yourself, you could be baptized and given the Holy Ghost. The prophets have given us the scriptures to be an owner’s manual, to help us make choices.
Wise choices, like keeping the commandments and being baptized fill us with valuable and important data. Bad choices or committing sins are like viruses in your computer. They cause problems, create corrupt or false information and can make your computer crash. Satan tries to put worms, viruses or bad programs in your system so he can take control of your life and destroy you. When we repent or seek help, Jesus’ atonement removes the virus or worm, cleans the program and resets you so you can function properly. When your computer is turned off, or you die, you cannot restart it again.
When Jesus was resurrected he activated a restart or reboot program for Himself and everyone else that ever lived. That is why we can all be resurrected or alive again through Jesus Christ. When we return to Heavenly Father, He and we will see the information and experience in our program. Some of it will be very valuable and make us happy. Repentance removes all the bad or worthless data. Heavenly Father and we won’t have to see it again because it is gone. Jesus paid the price for us to clean our program, reboot our computer and run forever in a happy and perfect world with our Heavenly family.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the angels sang for joy. He lived in a family and grew to manhood. He helped, taught and healed others and showed us how to live and be happy. The Bible tells us many stories of Jesus’ life. How he loved children and taught people to be kind and forgiving and keep God’s commandments. You can learn what He did by reading the scriptures.
Wicked leaders did not like Jesus, they were afraid people would follow Him and not listen to them and they would loose their power. They wanted to kill Him. During His last week, Jesus went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. The Jews celebrated the Passover to remind them how God had saved them and delivered them from Egypt during the time of Moses.
As Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, a great crowd of people went out to meet Him. They waved palm leaves and myrtle and laid robes on the ground for their king. They knew He was the Savior. Jesus rode a young donkey; a symbol of a peaceful king of the Jews, just as the prophet said He would. He told His apostles that He would soon die to pay the price for peoples’ sins.
Jesus went to the temple every day the last week of his life. He cleared the temple of corrupt money changing and merchandising. He healed many people. He taught the first great commandment; to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We need to serve Him and keep all of His commandments; also to love our neighbor and help them.
Jesus told Peter to find a man carrying a pitcher of water. Peter was to follow him to a house where the Passover supper would be ready in an upper room. Jesus invited the apostles to the supper. He washed their feet; teaching them to serve one another. Jesus and the Apostles (witnesses) ate the Passover dinner. After dinner, He gave them the first sacrament. He told them; with the bread to remember His body and with the grape drink; to remember His blood; which was shed for them. They should always remember Him and Heavenly Father would bless them. He taught them to love each other as perfectly as He loved them
One of the apostles would betray Jesus. Judas Iscariot let Satan have power over him. He left and told the wicked men where to find Jesus so they could arrest Him. They paid him 30 pieces of silver. Another apostle was told, before the cock (rooster) crowed three times, he would deny knowing Jesus. After counseling the apostles, Jesus gave them with the promise of peace.
Jesus and the apostles went into the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked the apostles to pray for Him. He went to a place to be pray alone. He asked Heavenly Father to strengthen Him and to forgive the sins of the people who repented and believed in Him. Jesus was sad for the sins of all the people in the world. He began to feel sorrow and pain. He hurt so much that blood came from His skin. The apostles fell asleep. An angel came from Heaven to strengthen Him. Jesus finished praying. He had suffered and paid for the sins of all people.
The wicked men entered the garden and arrested Jesus. Peter wanted to protect Him. He drew out a sword and cut off the ear of one of the men’s servants. Jesus immediately healed him. Jesus was led away and given several false trials. One leader said “I find in him no fault at all,” but he allowed the people to put Jesus to death and washed his hands to show he was not responsible. He turned Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified.
The Roman soldiers beat Him with a braided whip with sharp pieces of metal in it. They placed a crown of thorns on His head. They put a sign on a cross that said “King of the Jews. ”They nailed Him to the cross and crucified Him. As he hung on the cross, they gambled for His robe. Jesus asked Heavenly Father to forgive them. Jesus suffered for many hours; the sky grew dark. He prayed, “Father, into Thy hands, I commend my spirit, ” and died. There was a great earthquake. One of the soldiers said, “The God of nature suffers.” The veil in the temple that shielded the holiest area was torn. A soldier drove a spear into Jesus’ side to make sure he was dead. The disciples took Jesus body and carefully placed it in a tomb. A large rock was set to seal the tomb where Jesus’ body stayed for 3 days.
On Sunday morning, two angels came and rolled the stone away. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb. She saw that it was empty. She ran to tell the apostles. Peter and John ran to the tomb. They looked inside and saw the burial cloth and went home. Mary stayed nearby, crying. She looked inside and saw the angels. They asked why she was crying, saying, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? ”She did not understand. She turned around and saw a man standing nearby. He asked why she was crying. She thought he was a gardener; then He said, ”Mary.” She knew it was Jesus and that he was alive. He asked her to tell the apostles that He was resurrected.
Later, Jesus visited the apostles. He let them feel the nail prints in his hands and feet. He ate dinner with them. Other righteous people were resurrected and seen by people in the city. Jesus taught the apostles how to lead His church. He would go back to heaven, but the Holy Ghost would help them. They taught people the gospel and healed them.
The history of the first Easter was a beautiful story. People have celebrated the atonement and resurrection of Jesus for almost 2,000 years. The day of the Easter holiday changes every year. It falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal (Spring) Equinox on March 21st (as determined by the Nicene Council in 325 A.D.)
Easter is a very important holiday. Today we celebrate by going to church, singing songs about the Savior’s resurrection and triumph over sin and death. We remember to share and be kind to others.
Print several of these pages. Cut them apart and reassemble them in different orders to make pages with 4 images across and 4 down. Play 4-In-A-Row like bingo. Use candy, buttons or other small objects to mark the pictures as the story is read. The first person to get 4 in a row wins.
Mark 11 : 7 – 11
7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.
8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.
9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.
Matthew 21 :12 – 13
12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Luke 22 : 10
10 And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.
Luke 22 : 11 – 12
11 And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?
12 And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.
Matthew 26 : 26 – 29
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
John 13 : 3 – 5
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Matthew 26 : 14 – 16
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
15 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.
16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
John 18 : 1
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
Luke 22 : 50 – 51
50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
Luke 22 : 54 – 62
54 Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off.
55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.
56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.
57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.
58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.
59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilæan.
60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
Mark 15 : 15
15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.
Matthew 27 : 24
24 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.
17 And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,
John 19 : 23 – 24
3 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
Luke 23 : 38
38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Matt 28 : 2
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
EASTER STORY EGGS
This sweet little activity teaches small children about the miracle of Easter. A basket is filled with colored plastic Easter eggs containing scripture verses and objects that represent Christ’s experience.
You will need
12 medium to large plastic Easter eggs that open and the objects below.
With a fine point permanent marker write the numbers 1 – 12 on the ends of the plastic eggs. Copy and cut apart the scriptures of the Easter story and place in the numbered eggs with the following:
1. A small cup or wooden thimble (from craft store)
2. Three dimes
3. A 4″ piece of twine
4. A small piece of soap
5. A small robe cut from red felt
6. A small wooden cross or brown card stock cross
7. Two dice
8. A small square of white fabric torn almost in half
9. A square of white fabric
10. A small stone
11. A few cloves, a piece of cinnamon stick, bay leaf
12. Nothing – this represents the empty tomb
Have the children open the eggs in order to read the Easter story.
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 if they repented and 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…Andthe 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)
And so we celebrate the joy of eternal life with our loved ones every Easter. Here are a few more ideas to make the holiday fun for your children.
This easy-to-make treat for you published in multiple media sites. The instructions and recipe are on these great newspaper websites:
In plastic bag, place marinade and4 lamb loin chops. Squeeze out air, seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 – 4 hours. To barbecue, drain marinade and dry chops, cook on oiled grill over medium high heat 7 – 10 minutes per side until done to your liking.
EASTER CELEBRATIONS WITH CHILDREN
EASTER EGG HUNT
One of the highlights of spring for children! They enjoy decorating eggs for the Easter Bunny to hide. At some houses the bunny hides the basket too. We have our hunt on Saturday to focus on the Savior on the Sabbath. There are all sorts of yummy candies on the market for Easter. If you want to cut the sugar; dried fruit, nuts, small crackers and natural treats are a good alternative. And money – kids like money.
For perfect hard-boiled eggs:
Allow the eggs to come to room temperature
Place eggs in a single layer in a pot
Add cold water to two inches above eggs
Set stove on high heat, boil one minute, cover, turn off heat and let sit for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove one egg, run it under cool water and peel to test for doneness.
Pour off cooking water; cover eggs with cool water.
Drain and store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
TO COLOR BOILED EGGS
An easy, inexpensive dye can be made from food coloring, water and white vinegar.
For each pot of dye place in a container (the taller and narrower the better)
1 C warm water
1 TBSP white vinegar
a few drops of food coloring
Place colored eggs in cardboard egg cartons to dry. For variations: draw on dry eggs with markers, add stickers and stars.
FOR MARBLEIZED EGGS
Dye eggs using the above method.
Place 1/2″ to 3/4″ of a dye mixture in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Start with 1 teaspoon, and add 1 to 3 teaspoons of canola, olive or vegetable oil to the dye. The base color will show through more with a larger amount of oil Gently place an egg in the bowl. Use a fork or spoon to drizzle a few drops of dye over the egg to make a marbleized effect. Food coloring dyes the egg quickly. Using more oil in the dye bath will keep it from seeping into the egg too fast. Remove egg, place on a paper towel to dry. Wipe egg carefully. Avoid contact with furniture or other fabric.
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour 1 C whole wheat flour 2 tsp baking powder 3/4 tsp salt 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until a smooth dough is formed. Add 1 – 2 tsp water if necessary. Wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Roll out fough on floured surface to 1/2 ” thick. Cut with cookie cutters, place on lightly-greased cookie sheets. bake at 400 6- 8 minutes, until golden around the edges. Cool on pan 5 minutes, then remove to a cookie rack. Frost with Lemon Buttercream Frosting.
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
1 C butter, softened 1 tsp lemon flavoring
1 lb. powdered sugar 2 – 3 tBSP milk
Divide and add food coloring as desired (we used neon for the cookies in the photo). These are so delicious and can be baked ahead and frozen.
EASTER BASKET GOODIES
GIVE THE EASTER BUNNY THE HEADS UP ON THINGS YOUR CHILDREN ENJOY!
Glow-in-the-dark Silly Putty Eggs or scented putty in tins
Handmade bunnies, pompom chicks and ducks
German paper mache eggs containing small cars, dolls, and animals
Money egg: fold up a $5 or larger bill, put it in a special egg
Tickets to a movie, concert or play
Fruit Snacks, Goldfish crackers
Jars of jam
Nuts, Jordan almonds
Ribbon, Cute shoelaces
A key to ?
A gift certificate for an ebook; hobby or skill lessons
Balls, Slinky, Yo-yo
China teacups and saucers
Peter Rabbit or Bunnykin dishes
Dissolving capsules with creatures or animals
Folding paper fan, origami animals
Paper dolls, Jacks
Lip balm, makeup, fancy soap
Crayons, pencils, markers, paints and brushes
Fast food gift certificates
Finger puppets from foreign countries
Flower and vegetable seed packets for the garden
Sewing cards made with vintage images, cardstock and yarn
Chinese jump rope, small puzzles
Action figures – especially prophets and sisters (available at LDS bookstores)
Is the Easter Bunny at your house looking for easy inexpensive gifts to fill the baskets? Here’s a cute and easy project:
You will need: 2 twelve inch scrapbook papers 2 plain white 8.5″ x 11″ papers for each booklet miniature colored pencils (shown from Michael’s Crafts) gluestick or glue grommets, punch and setter or sewing machine twine or ribbon
Attach the scrapbook papers together with right sides out using the adhesive.
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.
Bring the top edge down to the bottom fold and crease the center, it should be 5″‘ x 4″ . Set aside the cover.
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.
Lay the white papers on the cover, center them and punch matching holes in the cover. Tie together with twine or ribbon.
Tuck pencils into pocket and give to darling little people.
Red licorice laces
Froot Loops cereal
Marshmallow peeps; bunnies and chicks
Use a bamboo skewer to poke a hole sideways through the peeps. Have the children thread the Froot Loops and lifesavers onto the licorice, add a peep and more lifesavers and cereal. Use a small piece of duct tape to close ends.
Historians say that Caesar didn’t want Ireland in his empire; he didn’t want to deal with the fierce Celtic warriors. Our trip to Ireland a little while back taught us that the Irish have grown into a warm, hospitable bunch and we LOVED them. The beginning of the transformation of these formerly warring pagans into a hospitable, compassionate culture was their conversion to Christianity by a great missionary, the inimitable – St. Patrick. Yes, he started off as an agnostic spoiled British teen, but a run-in with pirates and a few years in the solitude of sheep-herding slavery mellowed and molded him into a force for good in the world. Let’s do a recap of his history:
Did you know that St. Patrick wasn’t Irish?
Patrick was born Maewyn Succat, around 385 A.D in Britain. His father belonged to a Roman family of high rank and was a government official in Gaul or Britain. His mother was a near relative of the patron of Gaul, St. Martin of Tours.
Maewyn grew up without faith even though his parents tried to teach him the gospel of Christ. When he was 16 years old, he was working on his family’s seaside estate when he was kidnapped by a band of fierce Irish pirates who took him to Ireland and sold him to a wealthy Druid. For six years as he labored as a slave, tending sheep and living outdoors, he learned the language and ways of the Irish. Living in lonely solitude, he began to pray and repent of his youthful follies and his faith in God and love for Him grew.
One night he had a dream in which he was told to fast and prepare to escape, a ship was waiting for him; he fled and secretly journeyed 200 miles to the coast. A runaway slave, he would have been killed if he was discovered. He said later that God directed his journey, showing him the way to go. When he arrived at the coast and prepared to board the ship, the captain refused to take him. He went a short distance away and prayed that the captain would change his mind. The sailors called after him, telling him to hurry back.
During the voyage, the ship wrecked and the crew and passengers were stranded in a deserted place. After four weeks, they were starving and began to be ill. The captain asked him why he did not pray to his God to help them. Maewyn asked the Lord for help; a herd of pigs appeared, providing the men with much-needed food. The captain kept Maewyn as a slave for several more years. One night he heard a voice that told him he would be free in two months, and he was. He now knew what he wanted to do with his life. He went to France to study Christianity at Tours, at the monastery of his relative, St. Martin. He was ordained a bishop and given the Latin name “Patricus,” meaning “Noble” or “Father.” He finally arrived home and his family was overjoyed to see him, but Patrick had a strong prompting that he should travel to Ireland and teach the message of Christ to the pagan people there.
Upon returning to Ireland, he began to teach the people in their own tongue. As he served the people in meekness and love, they began to respond to him and listen to his message. He traveled among the pagans, converting the chieftains and their tribes. He built churches and Christian schools. One story tells how he met the Druids as they gathered at Tara for a demonic conference one Easter. He withstood their magic and curses and held off an attack by the Arch-Druid leader who was killed. He taught the convened Druids twice. At first, the Irish chiefs resisted him and opposed his work, but because of his love for God and kindness toward all men and persistence, they began to believe in him and his faith. He served for more than 30 years in Ireland. Almost all of the Druid chiefs and their followers became Christians.
When Patrick died on March 17th, in the fifth century, there was great mourning throughout the land. The Irish people made the day a memorial to the great Christian missionary, Patrick. And even today, over 15 centuries later, his life and work are celebrated throughout many nations around the world.
DID YOU KNOW?
That you can read St. Patrick’s own autobiography and testimony? “The Confessio of Saint Patrick” was written in Latin and was later translated into English.
That St. Patrick’s color was blue?
That the authentic Irish meal for St. Patrick’s Day was boiled bacon and potatoes?
Corned beef was a dish that Irish immigrants from the Potato Famine era in the 1840s started eating after they settled in New York. They were very poor and could only afford inexpensive cuts of beef. After saving money for several days they would, maybe once a week, purchase a piece of meat. Because there were no refrigerators yet, they learned to brine the beef in a salted liquid and spices to make it last for a few meals, which is where corned beef came from.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY IDEAS FOR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS
FAMILY TIPS: SHAMROCK SERVICE
Before St. Patrick’s Day, talk to your family about service. Explain that St. Patrick used the symbol of the shamrock to teach about the Godhead. It also is said to represent faith, hope and charity – if there is a fourth leaf it represents luck. To honor the tradition, pass out paper shamrocks or stickers and invite your family to do secret acts of service for each other. When a kind deed is done, leave a shamrock to mark the spot. The recipient can write a brief description of the service. Place the shamrocks on the table for decorations for your holiday dinner.
Nothing brings the Emerald Isles feeling like Irish music. Buy a few downloads and create your own playlist; CDs can be purchased at music, party or craft stores, or checked out from the library. Can you dance a jig?
MAGIC AT THE MOVIES
For Irish-style entertainment, these movies can’t be beat! Disney’s “Darby O’Gill and the Little People;” Sayle’s “The Secret of Roan Inish;” and “Riverdance.” Don’t forget the TV travel shows featuring tours of Ireland.
IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN
Tint everything green with food coloring: green milk, green eggs, cookies, even green bread for sandwiches. Yes, it’s gross, but the kids get a kick out of it! A not-so-bad treat… green sherbet in lemon-lime soda.
WEARIN’ O THE GREEN
Yes, St. Patrick’s color was blue, but today’s celebration calls for the green of Catholic Northern Ireland, or orange of Protestant Southern Ireland. Invite everyone to wear something green and/or orange to dinner. Decorate the house with pots of flowers, tied bunches of dried herbs, flowers or wheat with green ribbons to create a festive air.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
For a fun and enlightening time, read books with your children about leprechauns, St. Patrick and Ireland. Teaching them about other cultures helps them learn to appreciate and love people who are different from themselves. For an intellectual treat read Thomas Cahill’s “How the Irish Saved Civilization.”
Leave a plate of green treats on the doorstep of a neighbor or friend; with a note from an anonymous friendly leprechaun. Ding-dong-ditch if you are fast enough!
AN IRISH BLESSING FOR YOUR HOME
May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God keep you in the hollow of His hand.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Erin go Braugh (Ireland Forever!)
Here’s our annual Irish feast: taitneamh a bhaint as (Enjoy!)
GLAZED CORNED BEEF
This is so tasty, you may never go back to old-school boiled corned beef. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 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
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
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
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
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
The Cardinal was so right. The healthier the marriages, the healthier the homes, the children and the stronger the country. The world becomes a better place.
For this reason McMurtry Creative Media shares ideas for building family through interaction, traditions and love.
I love my husband, kids and grandkids, family and also my friends, neighbors and ancestors. Aaaand let’s talk for a second about the varieties of love besides the essential romantic type. Oh Valetine’s, Galentine’s, Palentinte’s…it’s all about love.
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love…” (Hal David and Burt Bacharach. )
Here are some of our favorite ideas for sharing love this Valentine’s Day and all through the year.
When You Give a Gift, Do You Speak the Love Language of Your Sweetheart (and loved ones)? Here Are Some Ideas to Share Your Love in Ways He or She or they Will Love.
By Pamela Layton McMurtry
I love the love. I revel in the red hearts and luscious flowers; the beauty of sweeping romantic gestures that define Valentine’s Day. Before you rush out to buy those long-stemmed, red roses or sew that monogrammed bathrobe – although I am certainly not discouraging the practice – you might take a moment to assess whether that act of kindness will speak of your love to your love.
In his book, The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman, PhD. describes languages that speak to the heart. He says that many genuine acts of love and kindness go unappreciated, because the message didn’t translate to fill the needs of the recipient. The five primary love languages, according to Dr. Chapman, are:
Acts of service
Words of affirmation
All are valuable and helpful, but have you heard of the Platinum Rule? It states, “Do unto others as they would like to have done unto them.” In other words, give them what they want. It seems most people have two primary love languages. Many women have appreciated being taken to a nice dinner, but what they were hungry for was quality time with their loved one, or kind words without biting sarcasm, dismissive comments or unnecessary judgments.
And a husband might appreciate an elaborately prepared handmade gift, but what really says love might be a massage or positive feedback on a project. See if you can identify the love languages of your spouse, partner, friends and children. Ask them what makes them feel loved.
Here are a few ideas for Valentine gifts that can show your love.
Acts of service
Paint that bathroom that’s been waiting too long.
Give him or her a night off to do something with friends or just some “me time.”
Share a good meal.
Take over one of his or her chores.
Get a massage book and give a good massage to help your loved one de-stress.
Hold hands as you walk together.
A hand on the shoulder, a pat on the back, a long hug (my teen says wrestling).
Wash their hair. Many women feel calm when their heads are touched.
Words of affirmation
“Seek in every way to be infused with light… Words matter because words lodge in our cells and in our souls and even in the walls of our homes.” Wendy Watson Nelson
Kind words or a sincere compliment lift the spirit.
Words of encouragement give strength and courage.
Read poetry, the art of poetry carries the words to the soul.
Help with family history or listen to a story from their past that has meaning to them.
Find something you both enjoy doing for a win-win. A walk through a park, a concert, gazing at the stars – enjoy a hobby together.
Visit someone who is lonely or ill.
Visit a temple, church or synagogue together.
Turn off the phones, get away for a night or a few. Check out for a time – the world will continue to spin, guaranteed.
A new dress or pair of shoes.
An original poem or song you wrote.
Flowers; the color and scent really do uplift the spirit and help promote healing and cheer.
Cheese. OK, chocolate, but cheese has more mood-elevating properties than chocolate.
A wonderful book, something to make life easier, more pleasant or a novelty to promote dopamine, the neurotransmitter that gives a feeling of well-being.
It’s apparent that showing love doesn’t have to cost a great deal of money, but an investment of time and thought.
Love heals and cheers and is the answer to the world’s ills. Make sure the love you share is the love they need. Share the love this season and make your world a bit of heaven on earth.
Abraham, the father of many nations, set an example of loving when he and his nephew Lot had hired shepherds who were disputing over their grazing lands. Abraham generously suggested they should divide the land and he let Lot choose which area he wanted. Think of the wars that could be averted if we all learned to listen and share and stop coveting what others have.
Need more ideas – check these and more on Pinterest
Christmas is my favorite time of year and this season was just as exciting and colorful as I’d hoped.
During the long summer of 2021 while care taking for my elderly Mom who lives with us and has dementia, I worked on an original project; the idea for which came to me years ago. I had gathered wool felt and all summer designed 24 vintage-style stockings for an advent calendar. Over the long hot months, I hand-stitched each little stocking adding retro ephemera, beads, rickrack, glass glitter and other items from my collection and local thrift stores (try finding Christmas items in your craft store in June.) I frequent Deseret Industries, a chain of thrift stores owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All the proceeds from sales and donations go to help those in need. And, like a good garage or estate sale, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I did find some rusty jingle bells and fake snow at JoAnn and ribbon and rick rack at Hobby Lobby. For the holidays I entwined honeysuckle and pine garland and hung it at the entry of the dining room then clipped each stocking in place – photos below. The patterns will be available in my Christmas book and my Etsy shop next year.
We traditionally kick off the holidays by acquiring a fresh tree. Our intrepid explorers Tim and Hannah had purchased a permit from the Bureau of Land Management to harvest a tree on federal land. Newell had the idea that they could pick one up for us while they were in the mountains in Wyoming so we bought a permit – the idea was popular; Hannah’s Mom and aunt joined in. So off they went in the old ranch truck and soon delivered each a beautiful tree (not sure what type.)
After a few false starts of it trying to escape the tree stand, we got it stabilized and started decorating it. Instead of the rich scent of fresh evergreen, it had a strange odor – like a moose had used the area for a rest stop. My sister’s gift solved the dilemma – more about that later.
Our first Christmas event was the Living Nativity by the Bonneville Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City Utah.
To share the Christmas Spirit, our church creates a beautiful live nativity; held in the glen where Tim and Hannah’s wedding reception was held last spring
St. Nicholas Eve
Our youngest son was born on St. Nicholas Eve, December 5th. The patron saint of children and sailors, St. Nick holds a special place in our hearts. Our tradition when Tim was growing up was to have special Santa’s supper on his birthday. Elf-sized burgers, Frosty’s fries, Reindeer food (corn) and a Rudolph milkshake were the fare. Now older, with more sophisticated taste, Tim opted for another menu. This was actually the dinner we served after his baptism at age 8 in the Newport Beach 1st Ward. His birthday fell on Sunday this year, so dining out was not an option we would choose. Instead we made family favorites Asian salad, won ton and tempura shrimp with teriyaki, orange and sweet and sour sauces. Tim doesn’t eat sugar except on 8 holidays a year. Hannah made him a chocolate mousse cheesecake without sugar that was a big hit. We added and a fruit and cheese platter and everything worked out beautifully! Because I had made banners and paper fans for their pre-wedding game night in the spring, I recycled the decor for the birthday and holiday season. We celebrate a lot of birthdays in December – granddaughter Ellyza, Tim, niece Allyssa, the prophet of the Restoration – Joseph Smith, The Lord Jesus Christ, myself , grandson Trevor, the late Granddaddy Roberts.
Vacation right before Christmas?
I had been requesting my husband take a week off who we could have a small vacation for months. The hospital he works for has been hit hard with Covid, like so many, so finally when they could spare him it was Dec 11-18. He wisely decided that we should take the opportunity to go to California to visit our 5 kids that live there and my best friend. The timing was a bit tricky but we scrambled to get all of our Christmas prep done before we departed.
Sometime last year when the economic reality of a recession, supply chain disruptions and shortages came true, I began to think about emergency preparedness. Not a new concept, I’ve been a proponent and have worked to be prepared but I got to thinking about my adult children and their families and wondered how they were doing. So this year we hit the preparedness aisle at Costco to buy buckets of freeze-dried emergency meals for each family plus a pair of Ove Gloves for cooking under various conditions. Not romantic at all and I hope not one of us ever has to open and use the food but sometimes practicality wins – even at Christmas. But Ove Gloves rule. The day following our first significant snowstorm in Utah we hit the salted road.
Emergency prep stuff is not much of a gift (at the time) for grandkiddos so in addition to this we got them games and regional treats from Utah that aren’t sold in California, and filled treat bags with some of our favorites and a little bit of cash; then we bundled everything up and drove all over California to see our California children and grandchildren, my sister, my BFF Mary aaaand my hometown and the beach, all of which I love dearly. We were going to spend an afternoon at the Getty Center in Los Angeles but someone forgot to print his Covid passport from the hospital he works at and doesn’t have access off-campus without a special code generator. So the Getty was out but a stop at Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach took away the sting of aesthetic disappointment.
Saturday and Sunday in Fresno.
Our first day of the great adventure we left frosty Salt Lake City heading for Fresno, CA. 13 hours later we arrived at the welcoming home of our son Bill and his family. We have found the best time to catch Bill at home is on the weekend. We woke up Sunday in time to get to church where Bill delivered a beautiful message about Jesus Christ, his birth, grace, example and ultimate sacrifice to save all who would accept Him. Bill, an attorney, built a convincing case for the Atonement using logic, scripture references, evidence and his thoughtful and true love of the Savior. This Mom was so thrilled to see her son in action.
His son Will prepared a dinner of marinated and grilled chicken tacos, we visited and played games into the evening.
Monday in Los Gatos
On rainy roads, we made the trek to see Heather and her family in the mountain community of Los Gatos between Santa Cruz and San Jose. We arrived safely and were thrilled to see our 3 adorable grandchildren, their cheery home and a Christmas tree that looked almost exactly like ours. Funny story: her husband who was patrolling roads for his law enforcement work, saw a tree on the center divider. He pulled it off, dropped it at a side road and told his family they had a treasure hunt to find something for Christmas. They found it and took it home. Apparently theirs tried to escape the tree holder as well, but finally settled into its role. And it was so dang cute. We had 24 hours in the rain with our Los Gatos family. Ate out, did a little shopping – it was fun!
My best friend’s house is my second home. I hope she feels the same at mine – welcome, safe and loved. Mary always has room and time for us. She even came down with a cough that required her to take a day off from work and hit the main holiday scenes with me: Hobby Lobby, we took some her Christmas things from storage and decorated with them. She sadly lost a sister-in-law this past year and had a few of her belongings that she wanted to share with family and friends. I was given 3 apothecary jars, some red plates and yellow bowls that have come in so handy. They introduced us to a new card game – Five Crowns and we played our requisite Trek to Zion (I never win.) Like all of our visits, this ended to soon. But there was time to do a little sight-seeing; my parents’ first house in Carlsbad, the home we rented when Heather was born, my hometown beach.
San Diego here we come!
A trip to Dylan’s family is always a busy, fun time. With 3 little kiddos that love stories and games and coloring, there is always something charming going on. Knowing this, I found a Pretty, Pretty Princess game for 6 year-old granddaughter Ella. You would have thought we gifted her the treasures of King Tut. Cute little princess.
Back to Vista
My sister Melissa and family live in the perfect weather of Vista (actually ranked one of the world’s top weather locations.) Her family has had a tough year, her corporate Senior VP position was eliminated when a company bought hers, her husband has had a bout of ill health but her two teens are ok. We met their 2 house bunnies and learned that another company created a position for her and her husband just learned he was cancer-free. Thankfully. After a quick trip to Frazier farms for oranges (5 lbs for a dollar – beat that Utah.) a dragon fruit, some dates and other goodies we headed north.
As mentioned earlier, our excursion to the Getty was cancelled due to lack of Covid passport. Bummer, but Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach filled the deep well of disappointment.
Through Los Angeles, my real hometown, I was born there while my Dad attended USC.
Up the road to Bakersfield where daughter Laurel had finished teaching high school history that day and hosted a 2 day family party. Her home looked like a layout from a Christmas catalog. Wow. Complete with cookie decorating and sprinkles. Lots of sprinkles. Lots of LOVE.
Is St. George on the way?
Yes, and that means a quick overnight stop to see sister Cindy, husband Dave and stepmom Linda. Cindy, in her first departure from a live Christmas tree, got a stunning white one to decorate with her signature red and white Christmas themed ornaments. She said if it was going to be a fake tree, why not make it obvious and do it right? Good point.
We share the same love of vintage styles and it was fun to see her old-style Rudolph dolls and other retro objects. She said she knew she was going to miss the fresh tree smell so she researched and found a pine-scented candle that was very close to the real thing. She bought us one too. None of us knew it would be the remedy for the too-natural scent eminating from our wild mountain tree!
She made us a yummy breakfast, we zoomed the church service and off we went to pick up Mom from her respite care center and head home – exactly 7 days before Christmas.
One project I hadn’t finished was the gifts for neighbors and friends. I repurposed a set of lanterns that were purchased for the wedding but not used; they became gifts for neighbors and friends for centerpieces or nightlights.
And then it was Christmas Eve. We have a traditional menu of appetizers and dinner that we like so well we rarely vary it. This year finding a beef roast was a little tricky (supply chain disruptions.) Preparing a dinner for 5, I didn’t need a huge roast; the choices were a small rump roast or a huge rib roast. I was concerned that the small (3 pound) lean roast would be tough but there was a recipe online that we tried and loved. Our Christmas Eve Menu:
Cooked shrimp in Homemade Chili Sauce (R) over cream cheese with crackers (We had Breton, poppyseed and water crackers but my favorite turned out to be big Wheat Thins by Nabisco.
Crudites with Hidden Valley Fiesta dip
A cheese and cracker platter with Stilton cheddar with apricot, assorted cheeses, crackers, pears and apples, dried fruit and nuts
Roast beef with sour cream and horseradish sauce
Au Gratin potatoes
Million Dollar Salad
Martinelli’s Bluch and apple cranberry sparkling ciders
Our dessert buffet included pecan sandies, M&M cookies, peanut butter cookies with Reese’s mini cups, mixed nut toffee, Peppermint truffle cocoa and Walker’s shortbread cookies, soft peppermint sticks served on a tiered Spode serving dish.
The table was set with a plaid tablecloth from Tim’s baptism, apothecary jars filled with fairy lights, sparkling faux snow and peppermint sticks, candy canes and sparkling snowflakes. Tall Mercury glass candle holders held red and white striped candles, smaller Mercury glass cups held votive candles, there were beaded snowflakes and glittered snowflakes sprinkled around.
The table was set with Spode Christmas tree china, Aunt Michalyn’s silverware, French linen napkins, beaded snowflake napkin rings, vintage Christmas candle glasses and Waechtersbach red salad plates. It was charming and cheerful and my husband didn’t have to deal with seasonal glitter.
Under the beautiful holiday lights from the garlands and Christmas tree, we read the story of the Nativity from Luke and Matthew in the Bible, sang our favorite carols and tried to recite A Visit From St. Nick from memory. We exchanged gifts with Grandma, Tim and Hannah and enjoyed seeing what Santa had left in his secret bag.
We had a wonderful Christmas season and today on Epiphany, January 6, I am beginning to consider starting to put it away. Maybe.
Every autumn we pause and review our blessings. I, for one, am grateful to be able access my website – an error sent it into oblivion for the past few weeks. Today it’s back!
A wise man once said, “…things could be better, but they could also be worse.”
This Thanksgiving as we are caretaking for my elderly Mom, we needed to stay home. We moved our dinner to Wednesday night to be able to celebrate with our son and his wife who were heading to Wyoming on Thursday to be with her family and help vaccinate their 300 head of cattle. We invited friends Alexis and John to join us. Alexis observes the laws of kosher eating so we needed to be careful with the menu.
I was finding challenges planning for our meal so I decided to raid my stash of props and dishes and see what I could do using what I already had. I spent less than $10, yes it helps that I had a catering business a while back…
We have our favorite Thanksgiving menu every year, but I’m always looking for new foods to freshen up the traditions. This year we added cranberry salsa. I’m not fan of the fresh cranberry and orange rind recipe, this added just the right touch of heat. This is the third time I’ve made it and we finally hit the jackpot!
Fresh Cranberry Salsa
1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries (remove a few for garnish)
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and leaves chopped coarsely
1 bunch green onions, cut into 3 inch lengths
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/4 cup Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice
1/2 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
Coarsely chop cranberries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a medium blade, set aside. Chop cilantro, green onions and jalapeno peppers. Stir together with cranberries, lime juice, sugar, and salt. Refrigerate if not using immediately. Serve at room temperature as a condiment or spoon over cream cheese and serve with Breton crackers.
This is our traditional menu, started by my Mom and maybe hers before her. I remember my grandmother talking about having to scald and take the feathers out of fresh poultry. She said by the time she was done she didn’t feel like eating it!
Roast turkey, herbed if you are lucky enough to have Tim prepare it 😉
Mashed potatoes – this year I cooked them ahead of time. After reheating them, we added cream, milk, butter, salt and pepper. Apparently if you cook them, then chill them, the cooling does something amazing to the texture. We were happy with the results.
Herbed gravy – turkey drippings and broth, thickened with cornstarch and seasoned with fresh sage and rosemary.
Sweet potatoes, if you rub the skins with vegetable oil before baking, they will slip right off. We served them plain for purists and Tim made a souffle with coconut milk and maple crunch topping.
Green bean casserole, yes, the French’s onion ring classic. No alterations, this is my husband’s favorite part of the dinner.
Cornbread stuffing, I do not like the soggy stuff that we dig out of the turkey. This year I tried Mrs. Cubbison’s cornbread stuffing mix lite recipe cooked in a crockpot. The celery and onions were sauteed before adding the stuffing mix, butter and broth. Try substituting broth for part of the butter, you will not miss the calories at all. I added dry sage and cooked it in a plaid crockpot for 1 1/2 hours on high. Perfection. We offered toasted pecans on the side (bake 7 minutes at 350 degrees.)
Cranberry salsa and whole berry sauce (canned organic)
Ambrosia or 5 Cup Salad – a recipe from an earlier era. The sweetness balances the saltiness of the other dishes.
OOOOooo the beauty of autumn! Whether you are planning a harvest celebration or Halloween party we have ideas to light up your nights. A Harvest and Halloween Handbook is like a best friend who knows how to cook – and here are some of our favorite ideas to help you plan your happiest Halloween.
Pick a DATE
Since Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, you might want to host an alternative party. Consider a get-together, neighborhood trick-or-treat or trunk or treat on a Friday or Saturday night for religious reasons or to avoid a Monday morning hangover for sugared-up school-kiddos.
2. Select a THEME
Why not try something new this year?
Gratitude for the blessings of the harvest is a cross-cultural multi-millennia-old foundation for fall festivities.
Perhaps a party calling to mind the historic settings of your family heritage would be entertaining. Consider early American, Western, European, Asian or Central American or African themes. The French have La Toussiant, the Latin Americans remember their ancestors on Dia De Los Muertos. Jewish friends celebrate blessings of the harvest with Sukkot or the Feast of the Tabernacles.
There are classic themes based on country fairs, earlier eras and literature such as “Winnie the Pooh,” and “The Wizard of Oz.” Take a new Halloween theme and give it a traditional Halloween look by using lots of orange, purple, yellow, citron and black, stars, lightening bolts, moons and other Halloween icons.
Create a Halloween western adventure, explore space, have a pirate romp, “It’s a jungle out there,” expedition, medieval festival or dress as characters from Cinderella or another favorite fairy tale, event or story. How about a fashion show with an invitation to come as your favorite ______or host a “Come as you really are” party.
3. Send out/deliver INVITATIONS
4. DECORATE – because, you know, “all the world’s a stage…”
5. Plan a MENU
Make it elaborate or easy on yourself! Let your guests help too.
6. FUN AND GAMES for kids of all ages! What’s a party without games and diversions?
7. COSTUMES AND DRESS-UP
Wherever and however you celebrate – we hope you have the happiest Halloween of all!