Get ready!

I am a prepper. Not hardcore, but somewhere I learned to plan for the best and prepare for the worst.

Here’s an article I wrote sometime back for FamilyShare: I will update it in a few but there are some basics to consider right now.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is little+piggy.jpeg
Beatrix Potter illustration

How prepared are you to face an emergency?

There are many options for obtaining and storing emergency food rations. My family uses some of our tax refund to purchase food to help us avoid pinching the budget. Others give food storage and survival items as gifts or use money from a vacation budget and enjoy a staycation. Another way to make your dollar stretch is to check the clearance aisle at the grocery store and buy day-old bread which freezes well.

Please don’t expect to be fed by government or charitable agencies, their resources will be stretched to the limit. Wouldn’t your family prefer foods they are accustomed to anyway? If you choose to utilize your resources and invest in preparedness, you do not need to worry or feel like you are taking away from others; actually your self-reliance reduces the burden on other groups. In a time of need, you will be in more of a position to help relieve the suffering of others, starting with those you value most. Remember, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”

Let’s consider the wisdom of a centuries-old nursery rhyme as we learn about being prepared.

“This little piggy went to market”

One expert likes freeze-dried foods for the quality and shelf life. Many of us eat predominantly fresh foods such as produce, which doesn’t store well long term. Freeze-dried foods provide a reasonably similar option, are light weight and portable if you need to relocate. Many manufacturers offer selections of hundreds of servings of produce, meats, dairy and basic foods.

Some families choose military-style MREs (meals ready to eat) because they keep for a long time, are convenient, lightweight, nutritious and portable. Others use bulk food purchases to keep costs low. You can discover hacks like easily sprouting seeds for fresh vegetables and using dried fruits on the website below and social media sites. And let’s not forget adequate water; at least two gallons per person per day to stay alive and somewhat clean.

“This little piggy stayed home”

Did you know that you can freeze-dry foods yourself? Also, vacuum pouching foods for long-term storage is a good alternative. Chocolate chips will supposedly last for 11 years, unfortunately none of ours have stayed around long enough to test that. We found that shipped vacuum-pouched chocolate chip cookies and homemade treats arrived fresh and delicious for deployed soldier and missionary sons. During difficult times, it is nice to have some of the comforts you are accustomed to.

And what if fuel supplies are cut off? My son experienced the aftermath of tornadoes in the south. Natural gas lines were severed and other power was unavailable. We had hurricane-force winds knock out our power one December. On the drive to work the next day, we passed 16 overturned semis on the freeway. I have never been so cold in my life. We were not as prepared as our neighbors who had emergency generators to run heating systems. We did have lanterns and candles to provide light at night and were able to enjoy hot meals using our camp stove until the power was restored several days later.

“This little piggy had roast beef”

One of our neighbors is a canning expert. When she finds special prices on meats, she buys them in bulk and cans them in a pressure canner. She says that meats are one of the easiest foods to process and when purchased on sale, not terribly expensive. We don’t eat a lot of meat, but it will be nice to have a little bit now and then as an ingredient in soups and casserole-type dishes. She also cans butter in a water bath process and maintains that after three years, hers is still fresh and tasty. Of course you would need butter for those chocolate chip cookies.

“This little piggy had none”

You CAN go from zero to hero with preparation. One friend shared a method of planning 10 dinners, breakfasts and lunches that her family likes. She multiplied the ingredients by 10, then purchased and stored each meal in a bag with cooking instructions. Voila – three months’ worth of complete meals! She knows she has the necessary ingredients, spices and everything to feed her family for 100 days with her food storage and fuel. This is also good if you experience unemployment, have a sick child or get stranded and can’t get to the market for some reason. You will need to use and rotate these meals every so often to maintain freshness, but they are things your family likes, so it shouldn’t be too hard.

Another hack I like, is making and freezing homemade soups and casseroles. You can double or triple a recipe (or more) and make a lot of food at once for about the same amount of time and only one mess. This is a good idea for singles, small families, empty-nesters and busy people who don’t want to cook every day but still want variety.

“And this little piggy cried “wee, wee, wee all the way home.”

Don’t cry. There are lots of things you can do to be prepared. Check your local government website for other important instructions, including 72-hour kits, survival supplies and collecting important papers and documents. My husband works in a hospital that is telling their employees to have 96-hour survival supplies and a first aid kit at home and in the car. Here is another source for intelligent planning and preparedness.

The more you can do for yourself, the less you will have to worry about facing long lines, food and supply shortages, hunger and distress. And you may just be able to be a hero to others who are not so fortunate. Remember, when Noah built the ark it wasn’t raining.

Preparedness and Living Happily Ever After

If you are ready to start with the basics, here’s a guide:

Here are links for more ideas for preparedness, camping and family reunion ideas, enjoy!

Everything Under the Sun by Wendy Dewitt gives tons of valuable advice for emergency prep – thanks for sharing Wendy!

An Easter Miracle

While we are staying at home, washing our hands and eating our leafy greens (Mom was right), we could use a miracle to heal this land and the world. Easter is the perfect time to remember the greatest miracle of all; the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and turn to Him who is the master of miracles.

When we lived in Newport Beach with all the wonderfully creative people, some awesome person shared this activity: Easter Miracle Eggs. Each of the dozen eggs has a small object that teaches about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. With a few objects found around your house or some you can create with card stock, you can share this lesson with your littles. This is the story of Jesus, his voluntary suffering and triumphant resurrection. Because of His love for all of us, we too will live forever with our loved ones.

Print the following pages.

There’s room at Easter for all kinds of family traditions. Here are a few additional activities to make our creative time more fun!

This is an article I wrote for online and print media in 2015.

Long ago, in the medieval days when kings lived in castles, people celebrated Easter by decorating the great halls with evergreens and spring flowers. Like us, their descendants, they enjoyed holiday feasts. The tables were decorated with centerpieces of large glass bowls filled with Pace eggs; the word “Pace” comes from the Hebrew word “Pasch,” for Passover, according to Madeleine Pellner Cosman’s “Medieval Holidays and Festivals.”

The eggs were given as gifts to actors who performed humorous plays and stories from the Bible, such as the one about Noah and the great flood and other favorites. Easter celebrations lasted for 120 days and included other holidays such as Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, God’s Friday or Good Friday, Mothering Sunday and others. The word “holiday” is derived from the term “Holy Day,” according to Cosman.

During Easter in past times, there were many activities that we still participate in today; one was egg rolling. Two teams rolled eggs across a long carpet, like the game of croquet. Perhaps rolling eggs reminded them of the angels rolling away the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb. Today at Easter, people roll eggs on the lawn at the White House.

For your Easter feast or spring party, here is a delightful egg-themed treat that also doubles for a place card; the names are written on the eggs with edible-ink markers.


11-ounce bag of butterscotch morsels

¾ cup peanut butter

12-ounce bag of chow mein noodles

large malted milk and candy eggs

marker with edible ink

Line two baking pans with waxed paper. Melt the butterscotch morsels in a large pan over low heat. Add peanut butter and stir until blended. Remove from heat and gently fold in the chow mein noodles. Form nests from about 1/3 cup of the noodle mixture on parchment or wax paper and chill until firm. Makes about 10 large nests or you may choose to make smaller ones. Place on edible Easter grass on dessert plates or cupcake papers.


Using food-safe markers with edible ink, write the names of family and guests on large malted milk eggs or add a few jelly beans to each nest.


This game is played like Bingo except to win you must get 4 in a row. Copy, cut out and paste the squares in different order onto card stock using a glue stick. Read the Easter story and mark the square that goes with the scripture.

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.

Mark 15:17

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.



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 keep the Sabbath a little bit calmer. There are all sorts of yummy candies on the market for Easter. If you want to cut the sweets; dried fruit, nuts, small crackers and natural treats are a good alternative. And money – kids like money.

Indigo Crossing


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.


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.


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.

Easter Bunny Lures
Bunny bait – entice the Easter bunny with cookies!



Glow-in-the-dark Silly Putty Eggs

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


Bird whistles

Socially distanced bunnies

Tickets to a movie, concert or play


Fruit Snacks, Goldfish crackers

Jars of jam

Nuts, Jordan almonds

Ribbon, Cute shoelaces

These cute little Easter Bunny sketchpads have easy to follow instructions. They're the perfect size to tuck in Easter baskets, mini purses or gifts.

A key to ?


Small games

A gift certificate for an ebook;  hobby or skill lessons

Stationary, pen

Balls, Slinky, Yo-yo

China teacups and saucers


Peter Rabbit or Bunnykin dishes

Dissolving capsules with creatures or animals

Easter snowglobe

Folding paper fan, origami animals

Paper dolls, Jacks

RARE Steiff Easter Bunny Bibie with Button Chest Tag Vintage German | eBay

Wind-up toys


Rubber duckies

Lip balm, makeup, fancy soap

Crayons, pencils, markers, paints and brushes

Refrigerator magnets

I just love this Peter Rabbit tea set.

Fast food gift certificates

Finger puppets from foreign countries

Flower and vegetable seed packets for the garden

Decorated cookies


Sewing cards made with vintage images, cardstock and yarn

Chinese jump rope, small puzzles

Action figures – especially prophets and sisters (available at LDS bookstores)

Chocolate Cake with Easter Kabobs


Red licorice laces

Froot Loops cereal

fruit lifesavers

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.

Gateau printemps

For more colorful and happy ideas visit my Pinterest board:

And since shopping is a challenge this year – be sure to order your Easter things early! Many of your favorite retailers will deliver to your home.

Also, visit Hilltop Farm, the home of Peter Rabbit

About the atonement, an Easter activity for children and a delicious dinner to celebrate Christ's victory over death and evil
Celebrate LIFE – celebrate Easter!

Home Sweet Home

While we are experiencing more time at home than usual, I wanted to share ideas for simple, inexpensive activities for children. I’m an art teacher and parent of seven, grandma of 14 and have worked and played with children for many years. See what you and your children would enjoy from these articles from my blog and FamilyShare – now FamilyToday. Many are suggestions are for summer days and trips but with a few adjustments you may find ways to enhance your homeschooling and quarantine time together.

Old-fashioned ideas for summer fun

Summer is a great time to enjoy creative play with your children and grandchildren. Here are creative activities to help you enjoy your busy and happy little ones this season.

Summer days are like a canvas; ready for painting in any imaginative way. Freed from the restraints of school performance and other scheduled obligations, children are ready to let their imaginations run wild. In the days gone by, parents encouraged their kids to play outside, usually without a lot of supervision or expensive props. Enjoy some of the best of the past by turning the little ones loose to explore and create their own interesting adventures and worlds. The lawn may take a hit, but remember, you are raising children, not grass. Provide lots of drinking water and a few healthy snacks and watch the exquisite workings of the imagination unfold!

Here are a few ideas for enjoyable old-fashioned summer play. Fill a large jar with slips of paper with ideas for activities and games. After chores are finished or if boredom begins to rear its ugly head, let the children select a slip of paper to jump-start imaginative play. For ideas to fill your activity jar, scroll down to the photo of a jar with a red bow and see what appeals to you.

No purchase necessary

Provide simple items and encourage the children to participate in imaginative play. A few things to have on hand might include: large cardboard boxes, building toys such as interlocking blocks and Tinkertoys, old dress-up clothes, a few pots and pans, play money, dolls and assorted things (clean out a junk drawer).

Kids love a hideaway

Help the children create one by setting up a tent or tying up a few ropes and blankets. This becomes a fort, store, castle, fashion show, stage or spy base. They are only limited by their imaginations. My sister, brother and I used to love playing together and with the other children in the neighborhood. We were secret agents, shopkeepers, fashion models, teachers and nurses, mermaids and stars. We created treasure hunts, obstacle courses, private clubs, zoos, safaris and worlds of wonder — even an imaginary candy land (before Willy Wonka).

Here are simple ideas for themed play


Create surveillance and communication equipment from assorted stuff: old lipstick tubes, interlocking blocks and other junk. This might be challenging for kids used to having cell phones, but put away the real electronics and see what their brilliant little minds can come up with. From their super secret spy base, they may just save the world!

Box it up

A whole world of transportation can be created from cardboard boxes. From trains and planes to cars, boats and rockets, your adventurers can zoom around the world and beyond. Other uses: forts, shops, castles and home sweet home.

Little Squirts

Acquire an arsenal of hydrotactical assault weapons (get some water guns.) This is a tip from a recent high school graduate. Refill buckets are essential, but keep babies and toddlers away.

Wildflower Tea Party

Invite the girls for a charming social. The hostess can make and hand out invitations, set the table (which could be a box), gather flowers for a centerpiece, pour juice and pass cookies and sweets.

Treasure Hunt

Turn the older creative ones loose to create a treasure hunt for the little ones. Find landmarks, hide clues and try to get to the prize before the pirates do.

Dress up

Gather a few interesting pieces of clothing and create a Bible story, fashion show or play. Our favorites were Peter Pan, we were either flying or playing mermaids in our wading pool, rock star and runway. On Sundays the Old Testament provides lots of great epic tales to recreate.Free playtime is a great incentive and reward for finishing chores. Children love creating all kinds of fun using invention and wit and developing social and imaginative skills. Save money and enjoy a little old-fashioned fun this summer with your children, you will be glad you did.

Enrich your summer time with your children or grandchildren by enjoying a few simple or complex activities in your home, yard or neighborhood. Here are a few ideas that you can try:

Summer scrapbook

Give each of your children a blank book or have them create a book with blank pages, this can be plain brown paper bags tied together. Encourage them to record their summer adventures, write about trips, books they read and people they visited. Be sure to add photos and mementos of activities.

Literary adventures

Have children pick a character and share details of a story or act out an excerpt from the book from the character’s point of view (good for creating empathy). Plan a meal with a theme from the story, such as an Alice in Wonderland’s tea party, a cowboy cookout or an outer space picnic. A library is a wonderful source for books, movies and story times.

Theme days: What is red?

Pick a theme for the day or related themes for a week, such as the beach, a horse, rocks, flowers, blue, superheroes etc. Look at books and websites for ideas and plan an activity that incorporates that theme. Ask “What is (color)?” For example, ask “what is your favorite red thing?” Wear red, eat something red, and so forth. Have a scavenger hunt to find red items or play “I Spy.”

Family stories and traditions

Share stories from family history. If you can, visit a place where ancestors lived, look for landmarks, maybe old homes or cemeteries.

Make a bingo game with five rows of five squares featuring copies of family photos or names and places. Tell stories of your ancestors as you pass out the photos to glue-stick into place on the bingo cards. Play family bingo and save the cards to play again after Thanksgiving dinner.

On a map, show where where each child was born, where family members lived, where soldiers served and what important events occurred.

Who are you?

You and your little one can research the meaning of your his or her name. Make a decorated plaque or poster showing your child’s interests.

See if you can find a family crest or coat of arms – check heraldry websites or books.

Heartfelt hug

Make a “hug” out of a long strip of felt or paper with traced hands glued to the ends. Write a message on the strip, add hearts and send it to a soldier, grandparent or someone who could use a little love.

Fun with scripture stories

Dress in simple costume pieces such as sashes, robes and sandals and act out favorite scripture stories.

Make a mobile (hanging collage) with items that represent the days of the creation of the earth.

Make simple puppets and have a puppet show of favorite scripture heroes.

Pick a scripture theme and host a two-hour tournament of skill and/or water games. This can be a fun activity using stories like Daniel in the Bible. Talk about being brave, a faithful helper and overcoming fear. Many American soldiers that have served in Afghanistan have learned some Dari, the language named for King Darius. Perhaps you can ask a soldier to teach the children a few phrases.

Games based on stories from Daniel might include

Refusing the king’s meat which had been sacrificed to idols and asking for pulse, a seed and grain mixture. Toss beanbags at fake burnt meat and bottles of wine on a cardboard “idol” statue. Hand out bags of trail mix and bottles of water.

Spending the night in a den of lions and emerging safely (set up a zip line with a small angel cutout to soar over cardboard lions on the ground or do a tightrope-style walk on a board with lions around, have white-costumed “angels” come and help).

Have a squirtgun fight with a fiery “furnace.”

Use red lens disposable decoder glasses to read a poster of green writing on a red grid which you can print in green, then draw red lines over. The red glasses will filter the red lines so only the green shows through (Daniel 5:18-28).

Build a statue representing the kingdoms of the world out of boxes: decorate one with a gold head, one with silver chest and arms, another with a belly and thighs of brass, a fourth with legs of iron and the last, feet of clay. Use a bowling ball or heavy ball to represent the kingdom of God to knock down the statue.

Also, it’s very likely that Daniel would approve of fruit and other healthy summertime treats.

Oh What Do You DO In The Summertime?

You LOVE your children and want to have fun and make good memories. But – those summer days can be a bit long. Here are a few ideas for activities for a happy summer. Print, cut up into slips, pick out the ones that work for your family and store in a cute container. When they finish their chores and are looking for things to do, here you go. Happy Summer!

If you need more things to do – please visit my Etsy store and download some pictograph stories, coloring pages and other fun things!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit

Earning a kiss: if you want to plant one on the famous Blarney Stone prepare to hike up winding narrow staircases.

The Irish culture strikes me as passionate and romantic. Cozy cottages, stone castles, mossy green woods and emerald fields. Rosy children – red hair! One trip to Ireland was all it took to steal my heart.

The Irish are pros at hospitality as illustrated by one of my favorite lines from “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” Disney’s vintage leprechaun movie (starring Sean O’Connery-sigh).

Image result for darby o'gill and the little people

After Darby O’Gill captures the king of the leprechauns and tricks him by keeping him occupied with stories and woo-skey all night. The king asks “would you violate the sacred rites of hospitality?” For Darby that was a yes, but for the rest of Ireland hospitality is their hallmark.

But the Emerald Isle was not always charming and welcoming. Way back around 400 A.D., an English boy from a Christian family found this out the hard way.

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for FamilyShare, now FamilyToday.

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 estate when he was kidnapped by 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 Celtic pagans. 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, 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.

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 love him and listen to his message. He traveled among the pagans, converting the chieftains and 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 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 commemoration of the great Christian missionary, Patrick. And even today, 15 centuries later, his life and work are celebrated throughout many nations around the world.


That you can read St. Patrick’s own autobiography and testimony? “The Confessio of Saint Patrick” was written in Latin and later translated into English.

That St. Patrick’s color was blue?

Image result for st patrick in 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.



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. CDs can be purchased at music, party or craft stores, or checked out from the library or downloaded. Can you dance a jig?


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.


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.


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 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.


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.

shamrock cookies Repinned By:#TheCookieCutterCompany
Photo by Erica Seifert


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!


The story of St. Patrick underscores the importance of religious freedom and open discussion. In our current society, there is a political dogma being promoted that any religion that causes “hurt feelings” should be repressed or eliminated. We must stand up for our rights of free speech, freedom of religion and the pursuit of happiness. Its interesting that the political “pagans” of our time feel they have the authority to dictate to Christians how we should live. We have been following the guidance of the 10 Commandments for centuries – if a person’s feelings are hurt because we promote a moral lifestyle and God-fearing society that follows His laws; that person is the one who needs reflection and introspection. Christians should be able to live and share their faith without reprisal; Jesus loves all of his children but He favors the righteous.

Tune in to BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 on March 17th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern for a discussion about St. Patrick and "How the Irish Saved Civilization."
Cahill’s amazing book about the role of early Irish Christians in saving the history and culture of Europe

It wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day at the McMurtry’s without our favorite glazed corned beef recipe with Dijon-butter cabbage. This year we will be copying our favorite brownie recipe from BYU.


This is so tasty, you may never go back to old-school corned beef.    Preheat oven to 350. Place fat side up in a lined 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


   Stir together  

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

                                                        DIJON-BUTTERED CABBAGE

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

1/2 C butter
   Stir in
2 1/2  TBSP Dijon mustard

And for dessert, Newell’s favorite brownies.

BYU Mint Brownie Recipe - Famous Favorites

Here’s a super-easy centerpiece for St. Patrick’s Day using upcycled materials. This seriously cost me nothing to make – but then I have a garage full of craft stuff.

Leprechaun Cottage

This country cottage is just the right size for a leprechaun to hide gold coins in (chocolate-covered from See’s candy). Make it with your family or crafting group for a fun project.

You will need:

a medium-size unfinished wooden birdhouse ($4.99 @ Michael’s craft store)

white gesso or acrylic or tempera paint

burnt umber acrylic paint

light green acrylic paint

large and small paintbrushes

a handful of large and small pebbles

dry green moss


A hot glue gun and glue sticks or thick craft glue

Shamrock or decoration if desired

  • Whitewash the birdhouse with 3 – 4 coats of gesso or paint, allow to dry between each coat. 
  • Paint the door and base green and the eaves and doorknobs brown.
  • Hot glue small pebbles around the door and larger ones around base of the house, filling in with the tiniest ones.
  • Glue the twigs along the front and back of the roof edges and over the window. Glue moss to the roof and tops of the pebbles.
  • Add an ornament if desired. Hide a few gold foil-covered coins inside the cottage.

A leprechaun garden doubles as a centerpiece and appetizer for your St. Patrick's Day dinner.

Wherever you are in the world, remember St. Patrick on March 17th and celebrate his legacy. And if you get to the Blarney Castle remember to wear good climbing shoes – its a long way up narrow stone staircases to plant a kiss on the famous stone.

While you’re there enjoy a stroll around the grounds – beware of the POISON GARDEN! And admire the sweaters on the trees!

On March 17th everyone’s a little Irish, well almost everyone.

PS Here in the US we are under a sort of quarantine to keep a nasty little bug from spreading. Check out my Pinterest board for entertaining ideas!

Those of us with kiddos might enjoy these ideas:

St. Patricks Day Bingo

A Bingo game with Lucky Charm markers!
Christian St. Patrick's Day Coloring Pages
andere Farben und mehr Kurven dann könnten da richtige Blumen draus werden
Memorize an Irish blessing!

Love is in the Air

Image result for valentine's day 2020

 It’s that time again.

Every February my honey and I celebrate our anniversary and Valentine’s Day with 1200 sci fi and fantasy/fiction writers at the LTUE Writer’s Conference in Provo, Utah. While that may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, it gives us a lot to think about and discuss as we develop the craft and pursue our dreams of making a difference.

My husband is a great, hard-working guy. He doesn’t like to spend money on things he considers frivolous. However, he just returned from a trip to Vietnam after visiting our son and his wife there. He brought back a few surprises for our 27th anniversary and Valentine’s Day. While we are sitting in writing classes learning how to kill off our characters, build plots and sell a few books, I will be wearing something new from the other side of the planet. So far its a cashmere houndstooth check scarf. OOoooh – nice in the freezing mountain air.

Now onto other Valentine’s Day topics.

For this Valentine’s Day. I’m going to circle back to an article I wrote for about giving the gift your Sweetheart wants by identifying his or her LOVE LANGUAGE(S).

Share the Love: Giving the Right Kind of Gift

When You Give a Gift, Do You Speak the Love Language of Your Sweetheart? Here Are Some Ideas to Share Your Love in Ways He or She 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:

  1. Acts of service
  2. Physical touch
  3. Words of affirmation
  4. Quality time
  5. Receiving gifts

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.

A Vintage Journey
A Vintage Journey

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.

A Path of Love - Adorable Wedding Decoration

Here are a few ideas for Valentine gifts that can show your love.

Random Acts of Kindness on World Kindness Day - Pottery Barn

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.

Physical touch

  • 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

  • Kind words or a sincere compliment lift the spirit.
  • Withhold criticism.
  • 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.

Quality time

  • 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.

Receiving gifts

  • 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.

Wedding Vows - Making the Wedding Vows Sound Spoken From The Heart -- You can find more details by visiting the image link. #FunnyWeddingVows

If Valentine’s Day finds you solo this year, please take special time to enjoy something fun in your own love language. You are amazing and loved!

Merry Christmas

As an art teacher, I’m constantly telling students to push their value contrasts – the areas of dark and light that make their drawings more interesting. This year has been one of contrasts; moments of light and shadows of darkness.

The HIGHLIGHTS include:

  • Tim graduating from the University of Utah with a BS degree in Economics.
  • Andrew, Annie and Ender returning from a 3 – year deployment in Italy, Andrew now working as an Army recruiter in Bakersfield.
  • A family reunion in St. George to visit see the grandparents and hike Zion Nat’l Park.
  • Pam teaching art at Layton High and doing radio spots for BYU Sirius XM Radio 143
  • Getting buttery smooth new carpet in our house – it’s like walking on a teddy bear.
  • A great vacation in Newport Beach; seeing a Bouguereau exhibit at the San Diego Museum of art and Manet at the Getty. We visited with 5 of our 7 children and most of our grandkiddos.
  • Looking for a site to build a house on.
  • Welcoming “Grandma Great” Nixon Lawrence  into our household as she needs more companionship and care and Cindy and Dave move to St. George, UT.
  • Newell planning to retire in less than 2 years and getting ready to do instructional videos about science and creativity.

The SHADOWS were saying goodbye to some of our favorite people as they wrapped up their time on earth – Pam’s Dad Larry Layton and Uncle Dave Roberts. These 2 good men served their country in the army and communities as Elementary School Principal in Oceanside and Fire Captain in Santa Barbara.

Now as we look through the lenses of 2020, we see more light with shadows to complete the experience.  We wish you a wonderful year filled with love and those that bring you JOY.

                       The Nutcracker

        Charcoal drawing by Pam McMurtry

Merry Christmas from the McMurtrys!

Open House to be rescheduled. Because of a family emergency, we need to cancel this event. Our apologies for any inconvenience this causes you and we encourage you to continue to support Katie’s campaign. Thank you for your understanding.

Our civic-minded friend and neighbor Katie Witt has agreed to serve the people of Northern Utah as a congresswoman and is now running for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Representative Rob Bishop. Congressman Bishop is retiring after many years of faithful service and with his departure there is a need for strong conciliatory leadership in Washington. Katie is a vetted, capable candidate who has been involved in public service for many years and is serving as the mayor of Kaysville, Utah.

We are hosting an open house and fund-raiser for Mrs. Witt on Monday December 16 from 7:00 to 9:00 in the evening. We invite you to come meet Katie, talk about your hopes and concerns for our country, donate if you wish and share some delicious homemade artisan desserts and treats. Flex your patriotic muscles and participate in the democratic process on a personal level!

Don’t forget to tune in to BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 Friday, December 13th at 6:40 a.m. for a lively conversation about one of Salt Lake’s favorite holiday traditions – the candy windows at Macy’s City Creek. As a 2-time participant, I’ve been invited by host Lisa Valentine to share the backstory and process involved in these confectionery community greetings!

Over 80 hours of planning and labor and 120 pounds of candy go into the creation of each giant ornament.

The process starts with a concept. I thought a vintage-looking Santa with a bag filled with toys on his back would be a fun way to honor holiday traditions and my ancestors who were early pioneers in Utah. My great…great grandfather Christopher Layton was the president of the department store where the windows were displayed when they moved to Main Street in 1876.

My design was approved by Chad in Salt Lake and sent with a couple of dozen others to Macy’s Corporate Headquarters in New York City. The head of display for Macy’s and Chad selected my concept because “Macy’s needs a Santa in the window at Christmas.”

The supplies started arriving. I set up my work area in the kitchen/dining area because I didn’t want to work in the cold garage.

I carved some dimensional details from the packing material surrounding the 42″ diameter foam sphere.

In came 6 cases of candy and 1 case of silicone caulking. We set up the candy like a palette of paints.

My team and I worked for several weeks gluing candy to the sphere. Macy’s picked up the ornament and placed it in the windows of the store for staging. Here are behind the scene shots before the unveiling.

Yeah, it was overdone, but when have I not overdone anything holiday-related?

Related image

And 3 years later, we did it again!

Related image
Image result for macys city creek holiday windows, mcmurtry
Image result for macys city creek holiday windows, mcmurtry
Image result for macys city creek holiday windows, mcmurtry

Here’s a link to the original article and a KSL interview on television.

This is Halloween!

It’s autumn, that beautifully hued season of fun and frolic. A Harvest and Halloween Handbook – the “Hot New Picks in Design” award winner from Amazon is ready to rock your world with recipes, party plans, decorations and everything you need to enjoy a happy Halloween!

How do you feel about teenage trick-or-treaters? I shared my views in this article in Celebrity Parents Magazine.

This year I am loving using medallions in centerpieces.

Be sure to check out my Pinterest boards for more holiday inspiration – this October over 113,000 people have visited!

Happy Halloween from 5 little pumpkins sitting on a gate!
An owl that hitch-hiked home with us from Florence, Italy, plaid Ray Bans and the tiniest pumpkin from our garden – ready for autumn!
With grandkiddos arriving soon , I shopped for a Halloween centerpiece. When I couldn’t find one I liked I hauled out a kit that had been in storage for a couple of years and had fun playing with candy, frosting and petrified Peeps.

The following cute images were taken at a few of my favorite haunts.

On a recent trip to California to see my aunt and cousin and pay respect at my uncle’s memorial service, my sister thought a trip to Disneyland would cheer everyone up. Now I have not supported Disney Corp. after their CEO threatened to stop filming in Georgia because of their pro-life laws. I thought it would be a very long time before I returned to a Disney park but I wanted to support my sister and I caved. We had a lot of fun.

First stop on arrival in Orange County is Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach; known far and wide for their holiday decor.

Cartloads of pumpkins
Embellished masks for costumes
Vintage and contemporary decor
And more pumpkins
And as the gardens become more enchanted…
A white rabbit appears to show you the way to Wonderland where you are greeted by
The Queen of Hearts who welcomes (?) visitors
With her Jabberwocky who guards Halloween treasures
Lumiere’s buddies
And treats
A look at an artisan piece as we depart to our next destination.

After a visit with niece Amanda, dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and a good night’s sleep we Ubered to Disneyland

Disney designers are the pros at Halloween decorating.

The Haunted Mansion is dressed up as the Nightmare Before Christmas every fall. More colorful and less macabre, this is a favorite holiday haunt for many visitors, including yours truly.

Fortunately, the only occupants of this “hearse” were more Jack-o-lanterns.
Nothing says Halloween like a wave/mountain of smiling Jacks.
Coco’s Dia de Los Muertos is a colorful Latin American nod to Halloween.
Cindy’s daughter and children made the day even more enjoyable.
Recently landed at Disneyland – this Star Wars ship and characters
Cindy’s son and family gave us a tour of the new Star Wars area
While waiting for the Main Street Electrical parade we found a few more Halloween decorations to oogle.
Sitting on a corner we had front row seats to the parade. We were even kissed by Pinocchio! A bright ending to a rainy, fun day at Disneyland. Disney photo.
Back home, the market greeted guests with a stack of happy jacks. Up next – Gardner Village and Black Island Farms with the grands…
Gardner Village in Salt Lake City celebrates Halloween

The shops at Gardner Village are all ready for Halloween

Look who I found on a witch hunt! My daughter and her family finding all of the witches on the list to get a snickerdoodle cookie from the bakery for 50 cents.
Image may contain: 5 people, including Heather Anne Tehcuot and Paul Tehcuot, people smiling, sky, grass, mountain, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: 3 people, including Pam McMurtry, people smiling
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
A red fox joined us on the hay ride to the pumpkin patch
Image may contain: 7 people, including Heather Anne Tehcuot and Pam McMurtry, people smiling

Back at home and almost ready for Halloween!

For more Halloween fun download your copy of A Harvest and Halloween Handbook today! On and

Happy Halloween from Roger’s Gardens

It’s not Halloween without a visit to Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach, California. Every year the talented designers work their magic with a new theme; this year it’s Malice in Wonderland. I did an Alice Halloween a couple of years ago so this one particularly interested me.

If you’re not in the spirit yet, a trip to Roger’s will lift yours. Happy Halloween!

Saying Goodbye

Uncle Dave was always one of the cool guys. He played football and baseball in high school, had the pre-requsite 1950’s flattop and when I was old enough to realize he was gone; off in the US Army in Japan, I explored his room and discovered his cache of Mad magazines and bongo drums at my grandparents’ house.

And now he is gone again. This time he won’t be returning. We visited him about 3 weeks ago at the home where he was being cared for while in the final stages of Lewy Body Dementia. He didn’t wake up while we were standing there, we didn’t expect him to. But when I whispered that we were there and we loved him, he blinked and I don’t think it was a muscle contraction. I’d been watching him sleep for a while and he didn’t wince or move. So we said our goodbyes knowing it would be the last time that we would and took his daughter Tc to their favorite Mexican cantina for dinner. Looking over the menu, my husband and I both ordered a chile relleno and cheese enchilada plate. Tc told us that was her Dad’s favorite combination too.

It’s funny just how family we are in so many ways. From Dave’s interest in the Civil War (Brian too) to the service we give and the people we love. When he returned from the army, he found a job working in the oil fields with his dad. He also found a beautiful young lady who agreed to marry him but not until he had a “real job.” So he joined the Fire Department in Santa Barbara. They bought a house had a baby girl and stayed there from 1969 until now. His wife of 51 years, Marlene was having a hard time imagining life without her partner. Alternating between tears and laughs, we reminisced and I thought hard about the eternal nature of families. We don’t believe Dave is gone forever, he just slipped quietly into another room where his parents and nephew Brian were waiting for him. His pet Chrissie, his grandparents, aunts and uncles and other people and friends he’s loved were there to greet him.

When my brother Brian died, Dave and his family came to his funeral. He was stoic and resolved the entire service and as we got up to leave the chapel. he burst into large heaving sobs. This experienced First Responder and veteran felt it with us and I had forgotten that under that armor that firemen must develop to cope with the ugliness of their job’s realities, beat the tender heart of an uncle burying his only nephew way too early.

As hard as the separation is, I have no doubt there will be a glorious reunion and we will listen to his silly jokes and feel that bigger-than-life heart when we hug. In the meantime he’ll be watching over his bride and their daughter like he always did, only we won’t be able to see him.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling

To an American hero, patriot, uncle and loved one – thank you Uncle Dave for your service and your goodness. Until we meet again.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

David Miles Roberts 1940 – 2019