Monday, March 6, 2017

Erin Go Bragh!


The earth is about to dust off its snowy mantle and begin the wearin' o' the green!  When I was a teen growing up on the beach in So Cal, my friends and I would be preparing to brave the chilly ocean breezes and start our summer tan rituals. Now in Utah, I'm trying out my new winter coat that I bought on sale Friday and hoping the tulips and daffodil bulbs weren't fooled by the temperate weather we had 2 weeks ago (and are regretting their emergence into another small blizzard.) Alas. 

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, I'm feeling my favorite Irish Prayer




And an old story about a beautiful Jewish princess who married the Irish High King


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. 

For entertainment we'll watch our fav Irish movies Darby O'Gill and the Little People and The Secret of Roan Inish to help us get our Irish pride on, or read again Thomas Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilization.

I'll be watching the market for the corned beef brisket that will be the star of our St. Patrick's Day celebration.






And find the leprechaun cottage and create a garden of tiny vegetables


So with the hospitality and warmth of the Irish, we head into the season of fun and fellowship as we remember the life of one of Christianity's greatest missionaries; St. Patrick. 



Lá Shona Fhéile Pádraig!
And here are 3 fun ways to have a pinch-free St. Patrick's Day;
welcome Deseret News, Deseret News Syndication, Bloomington Herald Times, Bedford Times-Mail and Daily American readers!

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865675573/3-fun-ways-to-have-a-no-pinch-St-Patricks-Day.html

Monday, January 30, 2017

Its all about the heart


Queen of Hearts Tea Party for Valentine's Day

Recently I became a big fan of Tim Burton’s Alice Through the Looking Glass movie. With the primary icon of Valentine’s Day being a heart, Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts came to mind and I started doing research to find out whether the Queen of Heart’s obsessive painting of white roses had any connection with Britain’s Lancaster/York War of the Roses in the 15th Century. The Lancaster branch of the Plantagenet dynasty was represented by a red rose while the Yorks had a white rose. The not-so-civil war went on between the factions for 35 years until Henry Tudor of Lancaster claimed the throne and married Elizabeth of York, effectively turning the white roses red.


Stained glass images of Henry VII & Elizabeth of York at Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales.:

On a genealogical website, I once saw that I was a 14th great-granddaughter of Henry Tudor and so my research became more personal.  According to tradition, Henry and Elizabeth had a great love. She also loved the recently introduced French trend of playing cards (a little too much according to historians) and when she died following childbirth at the age of 37, according to legend, Henry had the image of the Queens of Hearts on all of playing cards in England made to look like her. 


Portrait of Elizabeth of York (1466-1503), amongst English Royalty was a daughter to a king, niece to a king, wife to a king, mother to a king and grandmother to a queen.:

But historians say that it was her mother-in-law Margaret who had a penchant for eliminating her enemies by removing their heads. Enough said.





Valentine’s Day is an enigmatic holiday. With pagan origins of fertility rituals at Lupercalia on February 15th, anything resembling the root words of Lu, Lugh or Lucifer always makes me uneasy. The pagan rituals included the sacrifice of dogs and goats; the goatskins were stripped and dipped in goat blood then used to flog hopeful young women wishing for love and fertility in the coming year. The names of eligible young women were gathered and drawn by bachelors with whom they would cohabit during the next season, the women probably hoping it would become a permanent arrangement. 

During the early part of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I combined Lupercalia and the day memorializing 3 Christian martyrs named Valentine who had been executed by Roman emperor Claudius II. Claudius had decided unmarried male soldiers made the best warriors and outlawed the performing of marriage for his troops. 



Image result for st valentine

During the 2nd and 3rd centuries at least three Christian priests named Valentine secretly performed marriages and as a result were caught and executed. After being sainted by the Catholic Church, the name St. Valentine became synonymous with the celebration of love and the result, like Halloween, was a hybrid holiday with both charming and unfortunate sinister roots. 




For centuries Valentine’s Day has been associated with love; it was thought that even birds paired off at Valentine’s Day. In medieval times, feasts included the lottery of love, like the pagans except guests were paired for the duration of the party. Promoted by Chaucer and Shakespeare, the holiday's dark past was mostly forgotten and now moderns woo one another with chocolate, flowers, candles and poetry (and occasional bling). Wishing to view the holiday from the glass half-full perspective, it may be appropriate to present a holiday tea party to celebrate love with the unfortunately dark roots hidden away from modern gaze.

Let’s return to the warm and wonderful realm of love. While I adore the idea of romance, apparently the romantic love needed to narrow our ardor and launch us into exclusive pairs expands and evolves into a less-dramatic, more stable variety of love a few years after marriage. Factor in a few delightful children and love becomes a more inclusive emotion with community-building ability. 

Apparently only a small percentage of the population is involved in the explosive youthful pairing love at any given time and more of us live in the world of brotherly, familial affection so I choose to focus on that stage of love; with that in mind, A Queen of Heart's Valentine's Day tea party complete with warm red hearts seems like just the thing for a cold winter afternoon.




Here is a fun little crown you can make for your own Liddells or guests on Valentine's Day. The author of the Alice in Wonderland stories, Charles Dodson or Lewis Carroll as we know him, was inspired by the Liddell girls, especially Alice. One day as he and a friend were taking the girls in a boat down the Thames, he made up the stories to entertain them. Encouraged to write them down, he eventually had them published and they became a huge hit. 






Queen of Hearts Crowns

Of course a Queen of Hearts tea requires crowns for each guest; these are inexpensive and easy to create.

For each crown you will need 
One  4” glittery red paper heart (buy or make from cardstock)
7 silver pipe cleaners 
Several heart rhinestones

For a large crown, twist together 2 pipe cleaners, leaving 3” tails at the twist. Bend each tail into a heart half and twist together. Repeat with a third and fourth pipe cleaner adjusting to fit the head of the wearer. Use a 5th pipe cleaner to make an arch and attach to the front of the crown. Attach the heart to the front arch using a hot glue gun then add two smaller arches that are glued to the front of the heart and the crown side . Curl the ends of the pipe cleaners and add sparkly rhinestones.   



  
The British are known for their iconic afternoon teas even though tea parties may have originating in France. A formal tea consists of 3 courses which may be creatively arranged on a 3-tier serving piece. On the lowest plate is the first course: finger sandwiches, and savory appetizers. The second tier contains warm scones, clotted cream (a decadent cross between butter and whipped cream) and preserves.  On the top tier are a variety of pastries, cakes, shortbread and fruit. For American tastes, try adding chocolate-dipped strawberries and clever little footed dishes filled with Valentine’s candy, truffles and nuts.




Of course a Valentine’s tea needs tea, but many of us don’t drink that beverage. A cup of tea minus the tea equals lemon and sugar or lemonade. Add pureed strawberries and strawberry hearts for a delicious pink drink to serve in porcelain tea cups with labels that read “drink me.”

P.S. Happy anniversary Arizona! 105 years today. And Happy Galentine's, Palentine's and Single Awareness Day! Plus a little eye candy for you: https://www.pinterest.com/pammcmurtry/family-love-and-valentines-day/

I was surprised to find that my article for the Deseret News in Utah was published the week following Valentine's Day, but here it is; it was also picked up by newspaper websites in Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana and a newsfeed. 

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865672254/Recipes-to-host-a-Queen-of-Hearts-tea-party-for-holiday-with-hearts.html?clear_cache=1

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox Happy Valentine's Day xoxoxoxoxoxox








Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Garden Corn Chowder

This chowder is one delicious way to keep your resolution to eat more vegetables this year.

Image result for corn chowder


Corn Chowder             
(Serves 12)

            In a large saucepan, brown 

1 lb. bacon or turkey bacon
  
            Remove, drain, cool and crumble. In small amount of bacon grease saute 

1 small onion, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped 
  
            Remove vegetables, drain and set aside. place in the pot

10 russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into a 3/4" dice 
14 baby carrots, shredded

            Add water until barely covered, bring to boil, cook about 10                          minutes until the potatoes are tender but not mushy. During the last 3 minutes add 

1 C zucchini, shredded
1 1/2 C spinach or power greens, chopped

             Drain water,  add sauteed vegetables and 

1 can corn, drained
1 can cream-style corn
2 cans mushroom soup
3 cans milk
1 tsp. salt
1 / 2 tsp. pepper


            Simmer covered, 5 minutes or until hot, add crumbled bacon and additional salt and pepper, if desired.


                              

Monday, January 9, 2017

Human Rights Day



Human Rights Day
The Term “holiday” comes from “Holy Day;” how appropriate to begin the year with recognition of intrinsic gifts from our Creator and a celebration of human rights. One of the first and oldest documents referencing human rights came to mankind in the form of the 10 Commandments in the Bible; also known as the Aseret ha-D'varim in the Torah. Instead of the usual worldly governing model of a monarchy granting subjects limited rights, God gave instructions for building a culture where each individual could enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The struggle for human rights has been long and arduous and championed by many distinguished individuals throughout the history of the world. Some of names that come to mind are Moses, who petitioned Pharaoh for the release of Israel from bondage, Joan of Arc who led French forces against British occupiers, Martin Luther and the Reformers, the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln. United States soldiers and other nations who liberated captives in the World Wars. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and many others also led the fight. Jesus Christ taught and modeled ideal behavior for peaceful, respectful living and human rights; His teachings need to be studied by all people.
Another effectual document outlining and guaranteeing rights and blessing our world is the Heaven-inspired Constitution of the United States of America. Both it and the scriptures describe God-given obligations and protections for human behavior and organizing community living in idealistic and practical ways. The Bible instructs us to love God first, then to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are commanded to observe God’s laws, honor our parents, not to kill, commit adultery, steal, lie and covet. These are the baseline behaviors to minimize troubles and provide for more peace and happiness. Some of the brightest minds ever known to mankind, the Founding Fathers of the United States, labored to craft the document guaranteeing an entire nation “… life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Our country was sanctified by the very sacrifice of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by early patriots who fought and laid down their lives that we might enjoy these blessings. The United States of America has become the greatest nation in the history of the world with advancements and prosperity once only imagined by the most brilliant intellectuals of the past. We along with our fathers, sons, brothers, wives, mothers and sisters have fed, policed and liberated the world. What better way can we thank our Creator than helping our brothers and sisters in need.
While Human Rights Day was set by the United Nations on December 10, In the U.S. it is mostly celebrated on the 3rd Monday in January, near the birthday of Civil Rights Activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose birthday is also remembered in January. When we hear “Civil Rights” we may think about the so-named struggle for racial equality in America in the 1960s; but the fight for civil rights has been going on as long as history has been recorded. The United States of America itself is one of the world’s greatest experiments in civil rights. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin called for an end to slavery as well as the end of monarchy overreach. These men were some of America’s first human rights activists. My ancestors Elizabeth Duncan Porter, her husband Samuel Porter and Hezekiah Tracy among others were actively engaged in the fight for freedom that was the American Revolutionary War. Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe, also worked for civil rights in the 1860s. Even the prophet Joseph Smith had a solution for ending slavery which could have prevented much misery and heartache if our country would have listened to him. He said the U.S. should sell off lands in the west and use the money to purchase the freedom of the slaves. They could then choose whether to return to Africa or stay in America.
Fine-tuning and broadening of the concept of freedom has gone on since America was founded. In the 1800’s President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionists helped to end slavery. Suffragettes worked to get women the right to vote for their leaders. 100 years later Dr. Martin Luther King and others finished the fight for equal rights for the diverse people in the United States. Across the world other people were engaged in human rights conflicts like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and numerous religious leaders. During the 20th Century American soldiers fought to liberate captives in Europe.
Rights were granted to all Americans by The Civil Rights Act of 1964. This legislation outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. I find it odd that many activists and educators have not moved on from past civil rights issues, although the U.S. has and they continue to decry the abuses that were addressed and outlawed over 50 years ago. Also as the tragedy of slavery of peoples of African origin which ended over 100 years ago with the Emancipation Proclamation. Today the struggle for human rights can be found in areas such as the fight for religious freedom, the right to defend ones’ home and family, income equality, the rights of pre-born humans and the fight to end human trafficking.
It is sad to report that the rights granted by these laws and the sacrifice of lives and resources of civil rights activists have not all been accepted and enjoyed by those for whom they were intended. Fast-forward 50 years to Selma, Alabama. An unfortunately high incidence of addiction and welfare-dependence among the residents, rampant poverty, fatherlessness, high crime rates and other socio-economic woes remain among a population freed from legal and social exclusion. Government intervention was necessary but it did not solve all of the problems. As politically incorrect as it is, there is a moral dimension that needs to be addressed; Dr. King addressed societal problems and he was a Christian minister. I imagine that he would acknowledge that people in dire straits need charity, but even more they need mentors and opportunities to work to improve their situations for to a better way to life.
There are many ways we can assist others who are struggling or suffering. We can help in our community by contributing to food banks, organizations that promote literacy or help refugees. We can donate clothes, toys and household items to charity and help in the schools. For global suffering we can give time or donations to humanitarian causes, efforts to provide clean water, money to start businesses and send sanitary products to girls in poor countries. Our brothers and sisters in the military, our law enforcement officers and others continue to provide the freedoms we are promised by our Constitution and help the cause of freedom as they serve here and around the world. Brave men and women work to end human trafficking and save the lives of children here and abroad.
There are orphanages that need help, dental and medical care, clean water, clothing and food for the children; not all countries provide for orphans and the need is great especially in Africa where so many adults die from diseases. 
 I don’t think we should forget the men and women who take up the torch to teach and remind us to be good neighbors and generous and kind to humanity. Also those who promote cybersecurity and pass laws to protect human rights.
To help children understand that all people have basic “rights” and that as humans it is our responsibility to help provide for those in need; here are a few items to consider. Perhaps your family can come up with additional rights/needs that can be met to help people to be healthy and happy.

HUMAN RIGHTS
Clean water and air
Adequate nutritious food to eat
A safe and clean place to sleep, live and work
Clothing to keep one modest and warm
Basic quality education, literacy and the freedom, opportunity and ability to be self-sustaining and self-reliant
Basic medical care
Stewardship over one’s family and resources
Freedom from prejudice, injury and loss based on ones’ religious beliefs, gender, race, age, disabilities and other personal factors.
What would you add to this list?

On a small and personal note, I’d like to share a story about the hearts of little children. When my oldest son Bill was in kindergarten I volunteered one afternoon a week at his school. One day he came home and told me there was a new girl named Kim in his class. The next time I worked at his school I had a chance to meet Kim. She had made lots of friends and was engaged in her new school. She was also the only African-American student in our little country elementary school. None of the students seemed to notice that she looked a bit different, they saw and accepted her with eyes of love. If only the rest of us could remember to do the same.

To help our families become passionate about human rights we can learn about some of the great stories of courage and leadership by reading stories and watching movies about the people and struggles for independence here and internationally.

BOOKS AND MOVIES (Try biographies from the children’s section at the library)
Biographies about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman
A few movies and television shows I recommend are listed, most are appropriate for older children, you may want to preview them before showing your family
The Founding Brothers: 2002 documentary tv movie
Selma: motion picture released in 2014 (the violence portrayed may be too intense for small children)
Joan of Arc: BYUtv 2015
Founding Fathers: 2000: tv documentary
American Ride episodes: tv documentaries
Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech on Youtube

ACTIVITIES
·         With the new gifts of Christmas received just a few weeks ago, you and your children may have excess items. Have each child collect clothes, toys and belongings that can be donated to charity or sold with the proceeds going to help the needy.
·         Call a food bank, women’s or homeless shelter and find out what kind of donations they need. Collect or purchase the items and deliver them to the organization.
·         Children are no longer kept from education to work as cheap labor in the U.S. but as of the writing of this manuscript, human rights abuses in the U.S. include the trafficking and exploitation of humans, especially women and children in sex trades and the curtailment of rights and persecution of Christians. Pre-born children have no rights or protection under current laws, millions are killed and aborted each year. Let your elected officials know that action needs to be taken.
·         This is a big commitment but if you are able you may consider taking a foster child or helping a family that is caring for a relative’s child or foster child.
·         If you know of a family that has had a recent death, send them some money to help cover burial costs.
·         Because it is January and people in colder areas may be indoors and have a little extra time, knit or crochet caps and mittens for the less-fortunate.
·         Contribute to causes that promote humanitarian practices and have the majority of the assets actually going to the intended recipients not program administrators.
·         Education and business start-up funds and counseling
·         Organizations that help orphans and young women, especially in Africa where the governments often do not feed or provide for the large number of children who are in orphanages because their parents succumbed to AIDS and other diseases and addictions.
·         Organizations that donate and set up supplies of clean water equipment and wells.
·         People that build and modernize schools and shelters.
·         Days For Girls provides sanitary supplies to poor girls in Africa to enable them to stay in school during their monthly periods.
·         Join Rotary International or one of the groups that provide immunizations, medical and dental care for underserved populations.
·         Shop at stores that sell handmade goods from developing countries
·         Because Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday of January 15th was the impetus for Human Rights Day in January we might honor his contribution by celebrating with a dinner featuring some of his favorite foods: fried chicken, collard greens, corn bread and pecan pie.
·         Watch his sincere and moving “I have a dream” speech.

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY CELEBRATIONS AT HOME
In Utah Human Rights Day is celebrated on the 3rd Monday in January, near the birthday of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King was concerned about the abuses of the rights and safety of racial minorities and led peaceful awareness campaigns and protests seeking the granting of protection and equal rights to all individuals regardless of race. Like so many human rights activists he was martyred by an assassin. To honor his memory, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Human Rights Day and other celebrations are held throughout the U.S.
OTHER WAYS WE CAN HELP
·         Serve a simple meal and donate the cost of dining out or fancier fare to humanitarian causes.
·         Watch for Eagle Scout projects; especially donating backpacks, shoes and school supplies to less-fortunate students.
·         Make heart in hand cookies to inspire generosity

RECIPES
Dr. King grew up in the South and enjoyed these classic regional favorites: fried chicken, corn bread and pecan pie. These oven-baked comfort foods are so tasty and satisfying in the mid-winter chill. They were also similar to those served by Chick-fil-A to the blood donors of the Orlando mass-shooting.
Oven-baked Fried Chicken
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large plastic food storage bag mix together
½ C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp paprika
In a 9” x 13” baking dish, add
½ C butter
½ C oil
Place in the preheated oven until butter melts. Remove from oven. With a pair of tongs, dip in the butter/oil mixture, then place in bag to coat with flour
6-8 pieces of raw chicken (breast halves, drumsticks, thighs, etc.)
            Place in pan and return to oven. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, turn and put the cornbread in the oven to bake. Cook chicken another 40 minutes or until it tests done at least 165° and the juices are clear.

Collard Greens
            Fry until crisp in an uncovered in a pan with a lid
6 slices of bacon
Remove and drain on paper towels. Crumble when cool, reserve. Chop and add to bacon grease, cooking until tender
1 medium onion
Chop and add to onion, cooking until light golden then remove from heat
3 garlic cloves
Cut along the stems to remove leaves. Cut into 1” slices
1 bunch collard green leaves
            Add leaves to onions. Toss in
3 C chicken broth
Cover and cook until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove lid, add crumbled bacon. Sprinkle over red pepper flakes.

Corn bread
Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a 9” square pan and set aside. In a large mixing
bowl sift together
1 C all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/3 C sugar
            Add
1 C cornmeal
            Set aside. In a microwavable bowl melt in the microwave oven
¼ C butter
            Add
1 C milk
2 eggs
Stir into dry ingredients. Spoon into greased baking dish and bake at 400° for about 40 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve hot with butter and honey or jam.

Southern Pecan Pie
            Use a purchased frozen deep dish piecrust, thawed, or this simple crust.
Crust
Add to the bowl of a food processor 
1/2 C butter, chilled and cut into 8 chunks,
1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C cake flour
Pulse butter and flour, until consistency of coarse crumbs. Drip down feed tube
 1/4 C cold water
 Add more water for dough to form a large ball, if needed. Process as little as possible, overworking the dough causes it to become tough. Wrap and chill for 1/2 hour. Roll out between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, to 1/8" inch thickness. Carefully place in 9" pie pan, crimping edges.
Filling
Preheat oven to 350°. Melt then cool
2 Tbsp butter
In a mixing bowl, combine melted butter with
1 C sugar
1 C dark corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
Carefully pour filling into crust. Add
2 C pecans
arrange in an attractive pattern. Bake pie at 350° for 55 minutes to an hour, or until knife inserted off-center comes out clean.