Martha Stewart - American Made 2014 - Nominee Badge

Monday, March 30, 2015

Happy Easter

The earth has returned to life like it does every spring. As we Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the great miracle He performed for himself and us, please consider what it means to you and watch this 2 minute video:

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

On March 17th, we celebrate the life of a great missionary of the anniversary of his death; St. Patrick. He devoted his life to serving the people of Ireland and over 1500 years later is beloved as their patron saint. 

This delicious glazed corned beef is baked instead of boiled. (Pam McMurtry, Pam McMurtry Designs)
The following is an article I wrote for the Salt Lake City  Deseret News that was published on Wednesday, March 11, 2015.

"Did you know that St. Patrick was an English missionary who shared the message of Christianity with the people of Ireland and that his color was actually blue? ( and Or that corned beef was an American food that Irish immigrants ate when they moved to New York? (See
Facts aside, the cheery green-tinted holiday that graces March 17 provides a treasure trove of possibilities for service, celebration and fun.
Leading up to the big day, my family has a Shamrock Service Week. We each receive glittery shamrocks and the challenge to do secret acts of service for one another, leaving a shamrock to mark the spot. At the end of the week, the shamrocks are collected and sprinkled on the table as a visual reminder of the kindness we have extended and received. We also have a Leprechaun Treasure Hunt where each family member has a personal treasure hunt with a small gift left by the leprechauns, which have apparently been converted to Christianity and are now more generous than their forebearers, at least at our house.
As a caterer and artist, I tried — and ruled out — green-tinted pancakes and milk for our St. Patrick's Day breakfast. Green egg and bacon burritos made with spinach tortillas and green smoothies were more successful. We follow the trend of serving a glazed corned beef, potato and cabbage meal; it's a great way to enjoy a lot of healthy vegetables. We top off the day with shortbread shamrock cookies that are easy for children to make and fun to decorate with green sugar sprinkles.
1 corned beef brisket, about 4 pounds, rinsed with visible fat removed
1 can of ginger ale
1 tablespoon whole cloves
½ cup prepared mustard
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the corned beef fat side up in a baking pan. Cover with foil and bake for 2½ hours or until fork-tender. Drain off any liquid, then baste with the ginger ale. Score the meat and stud with the cloves.
For the glaze, stir together brown sugar and mustard, heat in a small saucepan until the sugar is melted and the glaze is almost boiling.
Brush on the glaze and return to the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes uncovered. Let the beef rest for 15 minutes, then remove the cloves, slice the corned beef across the grain and serve with additional glaze.
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup cornstarch
green sugar sprinkles
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With a mixer, cream the butter until soft. Add the powdered sugar and blend until the mixture is soft and fluffy, then stir in the vanilla. Sift together the flour, salt and cornstarch and add to the creamed ingredients, mixing just until the dough is crumbly and holds together.
Between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper, roll the dough to ½-inch thickness. Cut the cookies with a shamrock cookie cutter and place on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle with green sugar if desired. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until barely golden around the edges."

Tamar Tephi and the High King Of Ireland
Did you know that there are old stories about 2 Jewish princesses that were taken  by the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah out of Jerusalem before it fell to the Babylonians? They were Zedekiah's daughters and great-granddaughters of Jeremiah. The stories say he took them to Egypt for safety; all of Zedekiah's sons were killed in front of him except Mulek who escaped to America. As Egypt was about to fall, they sailed up to Spain where one eventually married into the royal family there. He then took the other to Ireland and she married the chief high king. Her name was Tamar Tephi and the sacred burial ground of Tara was built for her and her husband when they died. The interesting thing about this story is that when a DNA study of population of Europe was complete, the people with the most closely matched DNA were in Spain and Ireland. Perhaps this helps explain why the people of Ireland were interested in the message of Christianity, it came from a branch of the House of Abraham, their ancestors in the Holy Land. Remember it was the Stewart (Stuart) King James that had the Bible translated into English. I believe he was a descendant of ancestors from Israel. The lion and the unicorn in British heraldry represented the tribes of Judah and Joseph. I also read that the British Union Jack had two meanings; one was the kingdom united under King James, the other was the reuniting of the Biblical patriarch Jacob's family.

Enjoy a conversation about all things Irish today on BYU Sirius Radio XM 143 at 3 p.m. Eastern or listen here: - An article from 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Happy Pi Day; thank you Archimedes

He loved was his circles and was the first of the ancients to discover the formula for the area of a circle or π. 

Many before him tried, the Babylonians around 1990 B.C., the Egyptians in 1650 B.C. and others,  but it was the Greek mathematician Archimedes, born in 287 B.C. in Italy, who figured out the closest value for pi or the area of a circle 

Archimedes was an inventor and physicist so brilliant that he invented machines to move water uphill and discovered the principle of buoyancy or water displacement. He also designed the first "Death Ray" when he had Greek soldiers polish their shields until they shone like mirrors, then turned them toward invading Roman ships, supposedly igniting the sails and wooden hulls. That may or may not be true, but he did have the army build catapults and lob burning tar and sulfur at the ships, which probably did do some damage. 
Pi or π is the irrational number that starts at 3.1415927... and extends to at least 10 trillion digits, according to the calculations of Alexander Yee and Shigeru Kondo.   

To pay homage to the Greek genius, turn on a movie about Archimedes and serve a Greek pizza on March 14, 2015, at 9:27. This delicious pi can be shaped like the Greek symbol π or made into the traditional circle shape beloved by Archimedes.
2 cups hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
4 cups bread flour
1½-2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons yeast
1 ½ 15-ounce jars of roasted garlic Alfredo sauce
16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Other Greek-style toppings (see suggestions below)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the hot water, sugar and yeast. Leave the bowl in a warm location until foam covers the surface of the water, usually about 10 minutes, but keep an eye on it to not let it go too long. Lightly grease two 10-inch-by-15-inch rimless cookie sheets with olive oil, set aside.
When the surface of the yeast/water mixture is covered by foam, stir in the bread flour, salt and olive oil. Add the whole wheat flour and knead until a smooth dough is formed.
Divide the dough in half, reserve one half and divide the remaining half into thirds. On the baking sheet, form the dough into a pi symbol: Π. Repeat on the second cookie sheet with the remaining dough. Flatten the dough with your hands. Let rise until you can make a dent in the dough and it doesn’t puff up.
Spread on the two pies the roasted garlic Alfredo sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese.
Add your favorite Greek pizza toppings. Suggested ones are: roasted chicken, red onion rings, thinly sliced julienned spinach leaves, pepperoncini slices, Kalamata olives, sliced sautéed mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, basil pesto, and/or quartered tomatoes.
Top with crumbled feta cheese and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
Serve with a salad of sliced cucumbers, pepperoncini, mushrooms, spinach, sliced red onion, Kalamata olives and tomatoes dressed lightly with Greek salad dressing.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The San Francisco Art Tour Report

My murals class at the University of Utah earned and was awarded a scholarship to travel to San Francisco for a weekend to view art. 
During the tour, I found a new favorite west coast art museum. I have always enjoyed visiting the Getty in Los Angeles, but was pleasantly surprised to find another collection that moved quickly into first place: The Legion of Honor in San Francisco. To be honest, it was Bouguereau's The Broken Pitcher that sealed the deal for me. I am a huge fan of many of his pieces and enjoy the experience of discovery and the ahah moment that takes my breath away. 

Other parts of the tour were less satisfying; Chinese artist Ai WeiWei's exhibition Perspective Realia @ Large on Alcatraz in San Francisco. While I am absolutely sympathetic to the plight of prisoners of conscience, especially when they are being held by communist and totalitarian regimes. I had a very small but similar experience being "punished" for choosing to go to church Sunday and have family time rather than touring additional San Francisco art galleries and The People's Republic of Berkeley with the rest of the group; but that might be expected from the more liberal art professors at the University of Utah. Oh horror - I may have even missed another gay male sex exhibit like the one at San Francisco Art Institute. 

On Alcatraz I enjoyed seeing the gorgeous silk dragon at the beginning of the exhibition but was distressed upon finding out that Mr. Weiwei included American traitor Edward Snowden in his group of prisoner of conscience. Snowden published lists of American CIA agents and their addresses, endangering many American lives at home and abroad. 

Weiwei also exhibited images of men held at Gitmo that were involved in the 9/11 attack on the U.S.; displaying them as prisoners of conscience. This made me made me very angry; my reaction was magnified by the fact that my dearly beloved soldier son has been deployed three times to the Middle East and has seen friends and innocent civilians die at the hands of consciousless thugs such as these. And this is being exhibited at a National Park, with my tax money supporting it.

Did I mention I missed my flight Friday morning because I was detained and searched by TSA, a result of the "precautions" in place because of the effects of terrorists and the attacks on 9/11? Venting over, thanks for listening. Peace out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Birthday Ashley Girl!

Happy birthday to my beautiful oldest grandchild, Ashley. I love you from the bottom of my heart. 

February 19th marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year for 2015. It is the Year of the Ram; an animal known for it calmness, strength and vitality.

Throughout Asia, families have scrupulously cleaned their houses to get rid of the "dust" and troubles of the previous year and to start off the new with a fresh and positive beginning. On this day and for the next fifteen, families and friends will gather to wish one another good health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year. The children will receive red envelopes filled with money in even amounts; odd is for funerals. They will play games and if they are really lucky, a dragon will drop in for the festivities bringing, good luck and dignity to the celebration. 

One of the dishes enjoyed at Chinese New Year Feasts for over a thousand years is crunchy, yummy won ton. My recipe was published in the Salt Lake City Deseret News on February 18th, just in time for the party! 

1 pound lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
3 green onions, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
2 raw eggs, beaten
1 handful raw bean sprouts, chopped (rinsed canned bean sprouts can be substituted if you can't find fresh)
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (Kimlan brand)
1 package won ton skins (available in the grocery store produce or deli section)
For the filling, brown the ground meat in a skillet. Remove from heat and add the green onions, eggs, bean sprouts and soy sauce.
Set aside filling. Lay out on dry surface a dozen won ton wrappers. Moisten the edges of two sides of each wrap with water, and place about 1 teaspoon of filling in center.
Fold in half diagonally to make a triangle and pinch the edges closed. Heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a skillet. Fry the won ton until light golden, turn and cook the other side, then drain on paper towels. Salt lightly. May be chilled, stored airtight and reheated in a 375-degree oven until sizzling. Serve hot with sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.

1 cup chicken broth
1½ cups pineapple juice
¾ cup vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup cornstarch
Whisk ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly until thickened. Serve hot or refrigerate and reheat before serving.

1 cup light soy sauce (Kimlan brand)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 or 3 drops hot sauce
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Shake the ingredients together in a jar with a lid until combined. Refrigerate leftovers.

Thank you Deseret News for sharing these delicious recipes.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Please join Kim Power Stilson and me as we discuss creative ways to show your love on Valentine's Day (and discover what to do with the grid below...)

Friday, February 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern/3 p.m. Mountain
BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 or listen online:

Here are comfort food recipes with a somewhat healthy twist for you to love this Valentine's Day

Italian Meatloaf    
     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl stir together
1 lb. ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey or a combination)
1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs 
1 cup marinara sauce
2 eggs
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
2 TBSP dried minced onions
1/8 tsp pepper
      Form the mixture into a heart and place into a round cake pan of a loaf and place in a 8" x 4" bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, pour over 
1 cup marinara sauce 
      Return to oven and bake another 15 - 20 minutes until the meat is browned. Serve with spaghetti squash and salad.

Spaghetti Squash
     Cut a spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut side down in a baking dish. Add about an inch of water and cover the dish with foil. Bake for 35 - 45 minutes with the meatloaf. Carefully scoop out the squash, serve with the meatloaf and added marinara sauce.

Add a loaf of crusty sourdough bread and this yummy green salad

Green Salad
      Toss together
2 green apples, cored and diced
¾ cup dried cranberries
½  head of Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup glazed nuts
1 wedge Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Light Lime salad dressing

Rich and Easy Fruity Cake
     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour into a 9" x 13" baking dish
2 cans of fruit pie filling or crushed pineapple (cherry and/or berry)
     Sprinkle over the top
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
      Melt and pour over the cake mix
3/4 cup butter
     Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.


Will these 36 questions bring you closer together? Dr. Arthur Aron says 45 minutes and these exercises will do the trick!

Here are a list of romantic movies to enjoy this Valentine's Day:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Join us for a Valentine's broadcast!

Join host Kim Power Stilson and me for a chat about fun and healthy ideas for Valentine's Day on Friday, February 13th at 3 pm Eastern/1 pm Mountain on BYU SiriusXM Radio 143!

Check out my daughter Laurel and her family on the Tonight Show at 41 seconds!


13 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Valentine’s Day! See the List of Top Romance Movies


 Are you planning a romantic surprise for Valentine's Day? 
    For maximum happiness, give a gift in your sweetheart's love language. No sweetheart? Give yourself a gift in your love language! 

Here are a few ideas to spark your creative flame: 

Oh la la - breakfast in bed!
                   Strawberry crepes
               Fresh-squeezed style orange juice or fruit smoothie

Did you know that watching and discussing romantic movies together cuts divorce rates among newlyweds and has the same effect as spending time with another couple in love - why not try it out with your sweet heart? 
Wondering which romantic movies were peoples' favorites, I  conducted an unscientific, biased survey to which about 250 kind and generous people responded. Here are results of the favorite G - PG 13 romance movies from the respondents. I am not endorsing these and have not even seen many of them, but for your romantic viewing pleasure here is the blooming crop. I'd love to know if investing 2 hours watching them does increase your happiness and makes you more open to loving. That is another survey.

Top voted movies receiving over ten votes each: 

While You Were Sleeping (19)
Somewhere in Time (18)
The Notebook (15)
Pride and Prejudice (13)
The Princess Bride (12)
Ever After (11)
You've Got Mail (11)
The Scarlet Pimpernel 
(didn't have over 10 votes but the fans were wildly 
profuse in its praise)

All of the nominated movies; grab a tissue and box of chocolates girls and guys...
A Walk in the Clouds
A Walk to Remember
An Affair to Remember
An American in Paris
Anne of Avonlea
The Beautician and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast
Bed of Roses
Circus World 
The Cutting Edge
Dan in Real Life
Dances With Wolves
Dear John
Dr. Zhivago
Ella Enchanted
Ever After
Family Man
50 First Dates
French Kiss
Ghost Town
The Glass Bottom Boat
Gone With The Wind
The Goodbye Girl
Heaven Can Wait
Hello Dolly
Hiding Out
The Holiday
Hope Floats
Jane Austin
Just Like Heaven
Kate and Leopold
A Knight's Tale
Labor Day
Lady Hawk
Lake House
Leap Year
Legally Blond
Letters to Juliette
Lorna Doone
Love and Basketball
Love Story
Maid in Manhattan
Maid of Honor
Mamma Mia
Man From Snowy River
Meet Joe Black
Message in a Bottle
Miracle on 34th Street
Miss Potter
Moulin Rouge
My Best Friend's Wedding
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
My Fair Lady
Never Been Kissed
North and South (British)
The Notebook
Notting Hill
On Golden Pond
Only You
The Other Side of Heaven
Out of Africa
The Parent Trap (both versions)
The Phantom of the Opera
The Philadelphia Story
Pretty in Pink
Pride and Prejudice
The Prince of Persia
The Princess Bride
The Princess Diaries
The Proposal
P.S. I Love You
Pure Country
Return to Me
Romancing the Stone
That Thing You Do 
The Runaway Bride
Safe Haven
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Sense and Sensibility
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Sleepless in Seattle
Somewhere in Time
Sweet Home Alabama
Ten Things I Hate About You
The Tourist
The Vow
Two Weeks' Notice
The Wedding Singer
West Side Story
What's Up Doc?
While You Were Sleeping
White Christmas
Wives and Daughters
Your Foolish Heart
You've Got Mail

And a treat to munch while you are enjoying your romantic movie marathon

Cinnamon Crunch Popcorn
    Preheat oven to 250 degrees, lightly butter a large roasting pan.

Pop in a microwave oven
4 bags extra butter microwave popcorn (should yield 16 C)

    Remove unpopped kernels and place the popped corn in the buttered roasting pan. In a large saucepan combine

1/2 C butter 
1 C sugar
5 oz. cinnamon candies
1/4 C light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt

    Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently until candies melt, about 5 minutes. Pour over popcorn, stir to coat. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool, store in an airtight container. You're welcome.

Discover your family's love stories – find out the loving history of your grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles; see if you can identify fun patterns and traditions.

Here are dozens of creative ways to show your love without spending a fortune:

A little Valentine's Day eye candy on Pinterest:

                            Etsy Photo                          
And last, but not least, check out these health benefits of falling and staying in love by Washington Post writer Rachel Saslow:

Love may make the world go 'round, but is it powerful enough to lower one's blood pressure, reduce depression and speed the healing of an injury? With Valentine's Day just around the corner, we set out to find the answer and discovered that science says yes.

Health benefits of falling and staying in love

"Our relationships help us cope with stress, so if we have someone we can turn to for emotional support or advice, that can buffer the negative effects of stress," says Julianne Holt-Lunstad, an associate professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, who has been publishing studies for the past 10 years on social relationships and their influence on health and disease.

Most studies on the health benefits of love have focused on married couples. In 2007, after reviewing research on the health effects of matrimony, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a 68-page report that found that, in general, married people are happier, live longer, drink less and even have fewer doctor's appointments than unmarried folks.
Of course, "we all know that not all marriages are happy," Holt-Lunstad says. Very few of the thousands of marriage studies take the quality of the union into account; "I can think of maybe seven."
So, Holt-Lunstad set out to see what kind of links there might be between love and health, and in 2008, she identified one, in a study published that year about marriage and blood pressure. She found that happily married people have lower blood pressure than unmarried people. But unhappily married people have higher blood pressure than both groups. So, when it comes to blood pressure, at least, you're probably better off alone than in a troubled marriage.

Loving spouses tend to encourage preventive care, reinforce healthy behaviors such as exercise and flossing, and dissuade unhealthy ones, such as heavy drinking, according to many studies. Romantic relationships also can provide a sense of meaning and purpose in life that can translate to better self-care and less risk taking, Holt-Lunstad says. (There are also practical benefits to marriage that can improve one's health but have nothing to do with love. For instance, married people are more likely to have health insurance and be financially stable, according to the HHS study.)
Arthur Aron, a social psychologist at Stony Brook University in New York, has dedicated his professional life to understanding the science of love. Specifically, Aron does brain scans with fMRI machines of people at various stages of the romantic journey: newly in love, in long-term relationships and recently rejected.

Like winning the lottery
Though most of his studies are small, involving only 15 to 20 people, Aron has consistently found that feelings of love trigger the brain's dopamine-reward system. Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter that affects pleasure and motivation. It is activated in many people, for instance, by winning a lot of money or taking cocaine.
In a study released in the January 2011 issue of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Aron compared the brain scans of 17 people who had been married for an average of 21 years with data from his 2005 study of 17 people (10 women and 7 men, median age of 21) who were newly in love. Both groups had neural activation in the dopamine system but, interestingly, the brains of the newer lovebirds also lit up in areas associated with anxiety, obsession and tension.
"When you've just fallen in love and the person goes out of your sight for five minutes, you think, 'Are they dead? Did they find someone else?' " Aron says.
Hugging and hand-holding, meanwhile, have been found to release the hormone oxytocin, which lowers the levels of stress hormones in the body, reducing blood pressure, improving mood and increasing tolerance for pain, according to research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
If being in love makes you happy, it may also have another welcome health benefit: fewer colds. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh assessed 334 healthy volunteers, ages 18 to 54, for their emotional styles. Those who tended to experience positive emotions such as happy, pleased and relaxed were more resistant to the common cold than those who felt anxious, hostile or depressed. Since the study covered anyone with positive emotions, the results could apply to those in happy relationships - or anyone with a sunny outlook.

A healing effect
A happy marriage may also speed the rate that wounds heal, according to a 2005 study at Ohio State University. It found that a married couple's 30-minute positive, supportive discussion sped up their bodies' ability to recover from an injury by at least one day. Researchers Jan Kiecolt-Glaser and Ronald Glaser fit 42 married couples with small suction devices that created eight tiny blisters on their arms. On one visit after being subjecting to the blistering device, the researchers prompted the couple to talk about "an area of disagreement, something that inherently had an emotional element," Kiecolt-Glaser says. On another visit, the couple had a loving discussion after the blistering. Those blisters healed a day sooner.

Just friends
For those who aren't in love right now, all is not lost. Holt-Lunstad and colleagues found that strong connections to friends, family, neighbors or colleagues improve odds of survival by 50 percent. She examined data from 148 studies that followed 308,849 people an average of 71/2 years. Social connectedness proved as beneficial to survival as quitting smoking and exceeded the benefits of exercise.
Meanwhile, it's worth noting that love gone wrong can have health consequences as well.
"Lots of the data on suicide and depression show that one of the major causes, especially among younger people, is rejection in love or unrequited love," Aron says.
Divorce can damage one's physical health so dramatically that the person never recovers. A 2009 study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that divorced or widowed people have 20 percent more chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, than married people. They also have 23 percent more mobility limitations, such as trouble walking up stairs. Remarriage offset this trend a bit, but not completely.

 Choose your love and love your choice, Happy Valentine's Day!