Martha Stewart - American Made 2014 - Nominee Badge

Friday, July 17, 2015

Pioneer Scavenger Hunt now on Etsy!

Hi friends! My Pioneer Scavenger Hunt is now available on Etsy as a digital download. For the price of a greeting card you can download and print your own copy of this fun and educational game for your children, school or church group. Through fun engagement young people learn about the lives of pioneer children (what no ipads?) and has been enjoyed by groups from family-size to 100+ children. Just click on the link below, you don't even have to walk 1300 miles for the experience!

Happy Pioneer Day,


Monday, June 15, 2015

Summertime, Summertime, Sum, Sum Summertime...

I love the ocean. I believe that the beach is one of the places Mother Nature is at her finest.
I spent my growing up years at, near or in the ocean and would like to share a few tips
to help make your day even more pleasant. For all you lucky ones who will spend your day frolicking in the surf, enjoy!

Taking children to swim at the beach? Get a tide chart and check for low tide, the waves are smaller and usually more gentle. You can go to this website, select your beach and get a schedule for the days you'll be at the ocean.

Flotation devices make the day more fun; Boogey boards and inner tubes take you over the top!

Look for a beach with lifeguards, they are trained to spot unsafe water conditions such as rip tides and sharks. They keep an eye on everything happening on their beach, are trained in first aid and are worth their weight in gold.

Watch for warning flags near the water; some warn of unsafe conditions, others delineate surf and swim areas. Obey warning signs, these people know what they are talking about.

Say a little prayer for me; don't forget a little prayer of thanks and help for a safe and fun day.

Near the water, the tiny v-shaped marks in the sand mean sand crabs. If you dig a hole and let the waves swirl in, sometimes you can see sand crabs swimming around. Pick one up, they tickle!

Buckets, shovels, sieves and molds make building a blast!

One word: SUNSCREEN.

Bring bags for shell collecting. The earlier in the morning you go, the better the selection. You probably don't want to take home crabs and seaweed, they don't live very long and get stinky. Some places, such as tide pools, have restrictions on taking things from nature. Just watch for signs and follow the rules. If you can't find shells you like, there are often gift stores nearby that sell them as well as post cards to help you remember your summer fun.

Jellyfish - leave them alone. Most are not lethal, but if you do get stung, white vinegar applied to the site for 15 - 30 minutes quickly will neutralize the toxins and ease the pain. Remove tentacles and stingers, you can use a credit card to scrape them off. If the victim experiences difficulty breathing get medical help immediately.

A final word of advice, don't shave before going in salt water - ouch!

Have a wonderful day the beach - God's playground for children.

photo courtesy of

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My plaid addiction just got worse.

Newell took me to the Scottish festival and Highland games today in Lehi, Utah. 

All that gorgeous plaid in one place. Hi, my name is Pam and I am a plaidaholic. I love men in kilts, I mean I seriously adore them. I hope when I die, I am assigned to the Highlands in heaven and that the angels there play bagpipes and drums. 

Even on one of the most momentous days in my life, I couldn't stay away from the plaid.

I loved the Highland games and all of the clan displays. My clans include the Stuarts (Stewarts), Holladays, Fifes and others. Since I have collected tartans and decorated for Christmas with Royal Stewart as long as I can remember, it made sense when I found out they were my relatives. And this unfortunate plaid addiction may be encoded in my DNA. No cure; I might as well enjoy it. 

St. Andrew's Cross, the national flag of Scotland. No, I didn't name my son Andrew for the Patron Saint of Scotland, but I would have if I had know then. And my daughter Heather, a story from tells how Heather came to grow abundantly on the hills of Scotland

"...Disappointed with the oak, the honeysuckle and the rose, God turned away. At length, He came across a small, low lying, green shrub with a flower of tiny petals -some purple and some white. It was a heather.
God asked the heather the same question that He’d asked the others. "Will you go and grow upon the hillsides to make them more beautiful?"
The heather thought about the poor soil, the wind and the rain - and wasn’t very sure that she could do a good job. But turning to God she replied that if he wanted her to do it, she would certainly give it a try.
God was very pleased.
He was so pleased in fact that he decided to give the heather some gifts as a reward for her willingness to do as he had asked the oak tree - the bark of the heather is the strongest of any tree or shrub in the whole world.
Next he gave her the fragrance of the honeysuckle - a fragrance which is frequently used to gently perfume soaps and potpourris. 
Finally he gave her the sweetness of the rose - so much so that heather is one of the bees favourite flowers. And to this day, heather is renowned especially for these three God-given gifts."

The state flag of Alabama, where son Timothy is serving an LDS mission. My next project when he returns home is helping him find a nice young woman and convincing them they need to have the men in their wedding in kilts. Ahhh. 

Plaid even showed up on the front of my Halloween book. 

And inside.

 I even dream in tartan. 

When my Christmas book is published, guess what will be on the cover? 

Well, it's late; sweet dreams I'm signing off. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Healthy snacks for your summer road trip and staycations

When you are ready to hit the road, take along healthier snacks and diversions for more summer fun! This is an article I wrote for FamilyShare:

  • Come away, come away, come away with me!
    As summer breezes begin to blow, the temptation to embark on an adventure becomes almost irresistible (do you remember the Wind in the Willows?) Here is a menu to fuel the energy of your wanderlust and set you on a course for a wunderbar journey. (Approved by my Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetic Educator husband.)
    Healthy and happy foods make for good traveling companions. If you eat mostly healthy food, you'll feel better and will probably consume fewer calories than if you eat a lot of junk food. The cold things need to be in a cooler with ice and the rest can be packed in a cute container with compartments or in a basket that's easy to get to. A friend always puts her veggies in mason jars with ice water. Don't forget paper towels, wet wipes or wet washcloths in bags and a trash bag.
    Tip: My sister-in-law makes her husband stop once a day for a sit-down meal on long road trips. I like to pack a portable propane grill or chef's single burner, a pot, spoon, disposable paper plates and bowls. You can heat up soup, and add a packaged salad or cook a simple meal, even oatmeal or eggs for breakfast.
    When you are trying to make good time on the road, here are some of our favorite snacks to pack for the journey.
  • Drinks

    A cooler filled with ice and drinks will be your best friend on the road. Consider forgoing the usual sodas (sticky) and try some of these suggestions:
    Water and fruit-infused water in bottles (strawberry, orange, lemon, cucumber, etc.)
    Sometimes you need caffeinated soda for drowsiness. It can also be diluted half and half with water so it's not so sweet, or try the diet variety.
    Fruit juices and nectars
    V8 and vegetable juices
    (Vernor's) ginger ale for motion sickness
    Bring straws.

  • Snacks

    A cramped car is the last place you want to jam a bunch of sugar-filled children. Give the traditional candy and chocolate bars a break on this trip and pack some of these items instead.
    Mixed nuts
    String cheese
    Whole grain crackers
    Trail Mix: I don't like raisins and sticky foods in the car, but we do have a great dry trail mix made with mixed nuts, M&Ms, whole grain cereal and candy corn.
    Confession: I like adding oat and marshmallow cereal (Lucky Charms), but you could make it healthier with whole grain oat or wheat cereal. Pack it in bags or keep it in a large container and scoop out small paper cupfuls to pass around:
    2 C plain M & Ms (about a pound)
    5 C mixed nuts or peanuts
    1 1/2 C candy corn
    4 C cereal
    Fresh fruits: grapes, apples, bananas and cut up melon for older and neater eaters
    Fresh veggies: carrots, jicama, cucumber, grape tomatoes, celery, broccoli, peppers
    Sandwiches, wraps and pinwheels (tortilla rolls with cream cheese, meat, tomato slices and lettuce)
    Whole grain bagels and cream cheese
    When you know the trip will be long, don't waste time stopping numerous times for food. Instead, why not consider packing a loaf of whole wheat bread and jars of peanut butter, honey or jelly (and a spreader). It's a money-saver as well as a time saver on the road. You may also offer your hungry passengers these items:
    Yogurt in tubes
    Bar cookies are usually thicker and more stable than round ones
    Homemade granola bars
    More travel tips:
    Pack a Frisbee or football for quick and stretching workouts at rest stops. Be sure to find a safe place to play.
    Bring something soft and fuzzy like a stuffed toy or blankie for young travelers. Stroking something soft helps relieve stress. (The cat probably would rather be left at home.)
    Pack some sunscreen in the car for stops and sightseeing.
    Paint the back of a wooden tray with chalkboard paint and pack some chalk and a rag. If you don't want crayons and markers in the car, the kids can still draw and play games and the tray can be used for snacks and a play surface.
    Busy books, paper dolls, toy cars and dinosaurs and simple travel games can be wonderful. You can get ideas and free templates on social media sites.
    Incentives: have a container of money in the car labeled with a list of forbidden actions like name-calling, whining, hitting, etc. If the kids get out of line, take out some of the money. Give them what is left for souvenirs and special treats.
    Buy a donut-shaped travel pillow for each passenger. They are heavenly for a quick snooze without waking up with a stiff neck.
    Check out a few well-written audio books from the library. You may tire of the constant interaction, conversation and "togetherness." Put on a good story and relax; better yet, find a series. Listening makes the time pass faster, too. To keep the happiness meter up, we love good comedies by Dave Barry and Bill Cosby. Do your older children have books they need to read for school? You can knock out a reading assignment and have an interesting discussion to boot.
    You don't have to leave your happy, healthy lifestyle on the side of the road. With a little preparation ahead of time, your family trip can be just as pleasant along the way as the anticipated destination.
  • Beef jerky

Monday, May 25, 2015

Thank you to the men and women who have defended and protected us

Thank you brave soldiers for your sacrifice for us. You are not forgotten.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Memorial to Early Defenders of Western Europe and Christianity

As we remember and thank our modern warriors for the incredible sacrifices they make to preserve our lives and freedoms, I am also inspired by those of our ancestors in another time and place.

Image result for charles martel

The year was 732 AD in southern France near Tours...

One hundred years earlier Mohammed had died. His followers had taken the offensive in gathering to Islam lands, wealth and converts. In their wake were devastation and death. Their military leader, Abd al-Rahman, had his eyes on Rome and the destruction of Christianity. At the southeastern end of the Pyrenees Mountain range, one man stood between him and his goal; his name was Charles Martel.

The prophet Muhammed was born in the western Arabian town of Mecca in 571 AD. While Christianity was the predominant world religion, Zoroastrianism and Judaism existed in smaller areas and the Roman Empire had been splintered and overrun by barbarians. The Persian Empire was continually warring with the Byzantines and there was constant fighting over territories and trade routes. With the migrations and influx, various peoples and philosophies began streaming through the Arab world. Jews and Christians brought new tools, ideas and technologies flooded the area along with change and turmoil. On the sparsely settled Arabian Peninsula, nomads and a few farmers made a living. Their identity and survival depended on loyalty to their tribes. Mecca was a small town along a trade route, it had a constant stream of income from visitors journeying to see the Black Stone, a meteoric rock believed to have been found by Abraham and dating back to Adam and Eve. It was there that Mohammed received his prophetic call. The pagans of Mecca worried that he might disrupt their lifestyles and Mohammed fled to Medina where he became a leader and warrior. He returned to, and conquered Mecca, where he died; the last prophet. The new religion spread quickly as his followers expanded the empire by word and by the sword.

Islam has many honorable tenets: faith, family, honesty. Moslems believe there is only one God, Allah, and that Muhammed was His prophet. Daily pray, care for the needy, self-purification and a Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca or Makkah were among the practices of the Moslems. In less than one hundred years after its founding, the caliphate had spread from China to the Atlantic, from the Black Sea to eastern Asia and from northern Africa to the Iberian Peninsula and included most of the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula. The Byzantine Empire watched with horror has the seemingly unstoppable military forces of Islam spread and stood against the fragmented kingdoms of central and western Europe.

The Islamic culture was at its pinnacle in the arts and sciences and technological and cultural advancements that were inspired by the Greeks and Persians. But soon the West pushed forward with achievements in culture, government, science and technology. Religious reasoning brought thoughts of self and representational government guaranteeing religious and personal freedoms. Islam’s Sharia or Holy Law did not allow for personal freedom or expression. Every aspect of life was regulated: religious, commercial, civil and criminal. Mankind had no need for creating or changing laws as there was no separation of church and state. And only two states of being existed: one was either a slave or not.

At first, Islam denounced elitism, but within a few generations aristocracy and privilege in the hands of a few had returned and it became evident that Muslim men would have cultural advantages not extended to slaves, women and nonbelievers. In modern times slavery has been abolished, but women continue to be exploited sexually. Military might and powerful tribal connections were and are today the instrument of conversion as are the more desirable points of the gospel of Islam.

The value of education was not recognized and evolution of culture and government was non-existent. Research and inquiry ceased and the canon of acquired knowledge stagnated. Meanwhile advances in Europe in the sciences, arts, technology and industry were taking place rapidly. And because Europe and Christianity were intertwined, The Islamic empire watched with skepticism and suspicion. And the decision was made, Christianity and European culture must be made to bow to the supremacy of Islam.

Warfare and gain were attractive recruiting points for potential troops. Although the scriptural basis for confronting and destroying “People of the Book,” Jews and Christians, was unclear, it was understood that if they were spared, they were to be second-class citizens, subservient and tax paying to the dominant Muslim masters. Pagans and polytheists had less-attractive options: enslavement, conversion or death.

Individual glory and the promise of great heavenly rewards contributed greatly to the morale of the fighters. Armed with broadswords, bows and arrows, they traveled light and fought hand-to-hand. Having survived for centuries before on pillage and assault, Arabs converted to Islam had the dilemma of looking for new sources of wealth outside of their fellow Muslims. By combining the concept of the holy war or jihad, they were motivated to move to new territories to convert or dispatch unbelievers. In their eyes, the whole world was waiting to adopt the faith or submit to their governance.

As the cities of Syria and Jerusalem fell, The Byzantine and Persian Empires, weakened by outbreaks of bubonic plague and infighting, were ripe for the picking. Egypt was invaded in 639 and at some point the unfortunate victims lost instead of only their fighting forces, the entire populations of targeted cities. They turned north and east, taking areas of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, then on to Pakistan where they defeated a Chinese army fighting under a Korean commander. They turned west out of Egypt and into North Africa where they met their first defeat. Angered and emboldened, they fought harder and this time conquered adding untold numbers of slaves, especially young girls that were sent to Medina.  

After decades of war and thousands of miles, they entered the Strait of Gibraltar with Spain in their sights. In 711, the first of the invading army sailed across the Strait and entered a place of political turmoil where a fight for power had followed the death of a Visgoth king. The raiders moved quickly seizing the opportunities and lands. Local leaders made treaties believing this was a one-time invasion, but they were mistaken, these invaders remained in Portugal and Spain for the next eight hundred years. Having a foothold in Europe, it is surmised that the invading forces considered extinguishing the remnants of Christianity in Gaul (France) and Italy to preach the gospel of Allah from the pulpits of the Vatican. From there, converting Germany’s barbarians then onto Greece and Constantinople, controlling the civilized world.

After their victory in Spain and Portugal, the next step was across the Pyrenees Mountains to reach the capitals of Europe. For several decades, raiding parties entered Southern France along the east side of the Pyrenees. In May or June of 732, the assault began. Forces numbered in the hundreds of thousands by Europeans or 80,000 by Arab chroniclers (probably more accurate) of Arab and Berbers invaded. Accompanied by their wives, children and belongings, the Muslim armies intended to conquer and occupy Europe.

Unfortunately for France, three hundred years of assaults by Germanic tribes following the fall of Rome had left the country divided in language, customs and governance. Civil wars and invasions by pagan hordes had weakened and unsettled the population and left the people  disinclined to unite or defend one another. The dysfunctional condition of the people in Southern France practically ensured their defeat and destruction.

The Muslim armies employed the strategies that served them well in other invasions; raiding, burning and looting and feeling out the strength of the enemy and their defensive abilities. They were a united, strong and battle-hardened force with a well-organized infrastructure and a capable commander. They were also vengeful and converted to a cause that required the destruction or captivity of their conquests. In their eyes, resistance was futile and fatal.

As the armies entered towns and villages, burning looting and pillaging homes, abbeys, churches and fields, they were virtually unstoppable. Although hey they experienced occasional defeats, they soon controlled the important cities and much of the territory of eastern and southern Gaul.

The Count of Aquitaine, Prince Eudes confronted the invaders and was defeated. He withdrew  to Bordeaux which was attacked, burned and sacked, the people killed and enslaved and treasures stolen. As Europe teetered on the brink, the birth of democracy and personal freedoms were close to being yoked or extinguished by Koran-wielding killers.

After Bordeaux was all but annihilated, Eudes tried a second defense which ended more disastrously than the first. He fled to Paris and sought out a long-time enemy, but fellow Christian, Charles Martel who acting as the mayor; an equivalent to Prime Minister. His king was not functioning in his office and Martel was the most powerful man in the area. Charles was an experienced warrior, having spent decades in the military fighting for power in Gaul and against the fierce pagan tribes from Germany. Having fought in a dozen major campaigns he had become a strong, courageous and experienced leader and had been nicknamed “The Hammer” or “Martel ” for his ability to crush his enemies.

Except for the fact that he had no standing army, Martel was a force to be reckoned with.

He had a small number of loyal fellow soldiers, all courageous, well-trained and experienced. After being briefed on the invasions of Abd al-Rahman, Martel summoned the men of the kingdom and surrounding areas to war which brought his comrades from earlier engagements and defenders from other areas that understood the Muslim threat to life, limb and property. Martel and his men were very aware that they represented the last defense of Christianity and Western Europe. Surprisingly the Church didn’t support his request for lands and money to finance their own defense and threatened to excommunicate him.  Also convincing men to leave the comfort and security of home and farm to stop the invasion was not a simple task, but when they understood the danger facing their families and themselves, the men of the kingdom answered the call as reason prevailed and the army was raised, trained and financed.

Tours was the next attractive target for the Moors and Martel massed his army just south of the city. In October 732 Charles’ army stood on the ridges of the Pyrenees “like a wall” as the advancing armies of Abd al-Raman launched their attack. The outnumbered yet courageous Franks dressed in armour also hid in the trees and mountain crags. Martel’s men  withstood the attacks as thousand on both sides died in battle. Al-Rahman was killed and in a brilliant stroke of military strategy, Charles sent troops behind enemy lines where they attacked the base camp. Unnerved, the Muslim invaders turned and returned south, never to menace Europe again, until recently when they attacked civilian targets without declaring war.

Martel considered chasing down the defeated army but learned that a German pagan force was attacking along the Rhine River. Eudes and his remaining troops and locals defended the towns against the retreating marauders. One account states that Abd al-Raman lost 375,000 men with about 1,500 Christians killed. The numbers can’t be substantiated but it is fact that the Muslim army was dealt a major defeat. Over the years, occasional raids would be made into southern France, but a major offensive attack against the Christians in Gaul would never again be attempted.

Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day and served as homage to the warriors of the American Civil War. Since that time, Americans have been involved in conflict around the world. 

As American and Allied forces sacrificed thousands of their own lives on the beaches of Normandy to push back the tide of evil another great leader admonished: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” Winston Churchill

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Oh What Do You DO In The Summertime?

(This entry is from the archives/May 2012) 

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!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy Graduation and Happy Mother's Day!

This weekend I am both a happy graduate and a happy mom. 

This is the story of one mom's solution to filling the sadness of an empty nest and the journey of rediscovering a lost dream.

I had been a single mother, displaced when my ex moved me to a city far away from my hometown, family and friends and divorced me. With only one year of college and four children, I struggled to make ends meet. Eventually I remarried a wonderful man, but as  my children left home I was filled with an overwhelming sadness. I don't if being an artist means you feel more deeply so you can generate the passion you need to create, but the truth was that I was hurting, Newell suggested I go to the local college and take an art class. Genius idea. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was in my final semester at MiraCosta College in Oceanside taking the 6 science and health classes I had avoided for 30 years to complete my A.A. 

Then we felt prompted to move to Utah, we fought it and lost, relocating to Salt Lake City where he took a job with the University of Utah Hospital (one of the benefits was half-price tuition for his dependents; can you guess where this is going?) After four more years of art studies here we are today.

My husband Newell, daughter Heather, her husband Paul and children Noah, Lynnie and Elle celebrated my graduation from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in art teaching with a drawing and painting emphasis.  

After a cumulative of thousands of hours of studying, drawing and painting and designing projects, I earned an A.A. from MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA, then a BFA after four more years of coursework at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT. 

I wore a Stewart (Stuart) tartan stole, inspired by by my 3rd cousin 10x removed, Queen Anne, great granddaughter of King James who had the Bible translated into English and the last of the Stuarts to rule England; my great grandmother's family from Scotland, the Holladays and my husband's Scottish name: McMurtry.

The paper rose lei was created from the pages leftover from an antique dictionary I had used for an altered book project for my artist's book class.

Thank you Newelly for supporting and pushing me along when I felt like quitting. 

The tartan mortarboard was a requisite for the traditional toss up in the air at the end of the graduation ceremony; my grandchildren came all the way from California to see that, I couldn't disappoint them. 

Heather even took me for a manicure, red polish with a collegiate U!

My other children had obligations that required their attention, but Bill and Laurel sent beautiful flowers with their heartfelt congratulations

And Andrew who is in U.S. Army Recruiting School,  Elder Tim McMurtry who is serving a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alabama sent their love and greetings as well.

We went out afterwards for Brazilian barbecue and had fireworks to top off the night. It was an exciting and fulfilling event; both the graduation and the process.

Many thanks to my parents who helped with my early education, my teachers; especially Dr. Beth Krensky, the University of Utah for providing the structure and programs, my friends and fellow artists who made the journey so interesting and enjoyable.

I'll leave you with a few of my favorite projects - enjoy! 

175,200 Hours: an installation that is an homage to the work of mothers

Traveling Time: a journey to discover the history and attributes of family members where time is relative

Castle: a 12th Century Irish castle

Old Ugly: a charcoal drawing of an antique chair my husband inherited

A collaborative oil painting with Darcy

The Light of the World: a dry point etching

Warts and All: an oil painting on which I made the decision to show all of the details of a pumpkin, not the idealized version

Skull; a charcoal drawing from one of my head and hands classes, I love the form

Tulips and Daffodils from my garden

Still Life on Red

During the course of my education, I also finished and published on and

A Harvest and Halloween Handbook 

Worked on 

A Christmas Handbook
A Holiday Handbook I 
A Holiday Handbook II
A Mermade's Tale
Traveling Time

Did a project for Macy's City Creek holiday windows

Contributed to 
The Deseret News

Chicago Tribune
The Daily Meal
The Guardian (U.K.)
McClatchy News Service
 Natural Awakenings magazine (Ireland)
 2nd Hand Social
meal Train and others.

Did holiday segments on Kim Power Stilson's Talkworthy

BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 broadcasts

Sent a son on a mission and tried to keep up with 

 (plus my sisters, bestie and others...)

Served as a counselor in the Kaysville 10th Ward Relief Society,
kept the home fires burning

...and lived happily ever after.