Martha Stewart - American Made 2014 - Nominee Badge

Friday, November 28, 2014

Getting art ready for Christmas

I'm finishing the last projects for my B.F.A. degree at the University of Utah, These sketches ore studies for a nativity painting. Do you have a preference? Pleases post it here on Facebook:

Here's another sketch: 

(Still working on it, I want Mary to look a little bedraggled but still radiant - like a new mom.) 

I'll let you know how it turns out...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!


After months at sea in a small ship, a group of weary travelers, upon reaching the shores of North America, fell to their knees to give thanks. The Pilgrims at Cape Cod or Plymouth Rock in 1620?  No, Englishmen at the Berkeley Plantation, Virginia on December 4, 1619. Their orders included "the giving of thanks upon arrival and on the anniversary every year from henceforth."

One of my ancestor, William Tracy, a governor of the Berkeley Colony, was so convinced of the potential of the early ventures into the colonies, that he invested heavily in them. Unfortunately, he died before he witnessed the amazing rise of "America."  And though some of the celebrants of the first "Thanksgiving" in Virginia were killed by natives in the Indian Massacre of 1622, the Pilgrims in Massachusetts also carried on the tradition of giving thanks. 

Four of my ancestors arrived on the Mayflower: Edward Winslow, Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins and Humility Cooper. Times were hard and so many pilgrims died that first winter that they buried the dead at night so the Native Americans wouldn't know how few of them were left. Only 53 survived that first brutal year. The struggles of the Puritans, the conflicts with and help given by the Native Americans, and the culmination of efforts led to the brotherhood of that shared feast in the autumn of 1621.

Many historians agree that the first American Thanksgiving was inspired by ancient Israel's Feast of the Tabernacles, the celebration and gratitude for the harvest. Gratitude is a divine principle and is defined as: A feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits received; warm appreciative response to kindness.

The power of gratitude can be life-changing. Studies on the health benefits of gratitude have shown an increase in energy in participants, improved sleep and other positive outcomes according to Robert Emmons of the University of California Davis, Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami and Alexander Wood of the University of Manchester.

Hospitality binds individuals, families and communities in cheering and loving ways. Each of us has the potential to increase the positive energy in our community, world and the universe. As you gather your loved ones and give thanks for the good things in your lives, here are a few ideas to enhance your celebrations.

Blessings Centerpiece
Place branches with autumn leaves in mercury jars or vases surrounded by votive candles, acorn and pumpkins. Have guests write on paper tags things they are thankful for; tie onto branches. Or write on collected leaves with a thin permanent marker and scatter on the table. 

Autumn Quilt
Cut 56 thirteen inch squares of autumn-color fabrics and sew together in eight rows of seven for a generous queen-size quilt. Add a thin batting, muslin for the backing, and add a simple border. Collect several varieties of leaves; trace on brown paper to make templates; lay the leaves on the quilt and outline in chalk. Stitch with embroidery floss in a contrasting color using a simple running stitch. Quilt around each block. This quilt can be used for a tablecloth or displayed from September through November.

A Coordinated Kitchen
As you plan your holiday menu, make a list of the foods and serving dishes. Plan your cooking and baking days and which foods may be made ahead and frozen or chilled.

Family Bingo
Create a family bingo game with copies of photos of family members. This is a good way for the children to learn about their ancestors. You may use vintage scrapbook paper and cardstock. This game uses candy corn for markers. Have the family pitch in by bringing plenty of small gifts and toys for prizes.

Thanksgiving on Wednesday
Although President Abraham Lincoln officially made Thanksgiving Day the fourth Thursday in November, personal schedules might suggest celebrating on a different day. Having Thanksgiving dinner the evening before gives you the day to take children to the mountains, beach  or local historic sites the next day. Yummy leftovers make a great picnic.
Thanksgiving on the Beach 
One year my clever mother and her friends packed up the feast, kids and grandparents and treated us to an authentic out-of-doors Thanksgiving on the beach at La Jolla in southern California. Yes it was cold and gray; but not as cold as the pilgrims experienced. It was an unforgettable holiday. With a little research you can find recipes and methods for a movable feast.

Gingerbread Houses
Make or buy gingerbread houses and assemble a few days before Thanksgiving. Have at least one per family to take home. After the dishes are done, let the decorating begin! Be sure to have lots of frosting and candy (buy on sale after Halloween) to decorate with.

Service Opportunities
One way to show gratitude is to share. During this time of year opportunities abound for helping the less fortunate. From serving dinner at homeless shelters, hospitals or retirement centers to gathering food for food banks and community kitchens; taking a pie to the fire department or police station or sending a treat box to military personnel and missionaries and other overseas volunteers. Look around your neighborhood to find people who would enjoy sharing a dinner with your family.

May you and your loved ones rejoice in the wondrous gifts you enjoy and thank the One who so generously bestows the blessings. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Christmas Angels and Symbols

You are invited to join Kim Power Stilson and me for a chat about Christmas angels and symbols on 
BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 - 
Wednesday, December 3rd at 3 p.m. Eastern. 

I'm recruiting followers for this blog, please sign up below for recipes, interesting historical tidbits and holiday activities. I'll be posting downloadable coloring pages for the holidays soon. 

Just scroll all the way down to the bottom and look for a blue box that says join this site, then follow the easy instructions, thanks! 

Here are images from my latest work-in-progress
 A Christmas Handbook

There's no place like home 
(for the holidays ).

Baby It's Cold Outside

Here we are, I'm in the last four weeks of my 
Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program at the University of Utah. 
 I'm writing, testing, documenting 
and almost ready to graduate. 

Christmas is right around the corner and here's a classic holiday recipe to keep you warm, its also nice if you have carolers, sports or outdoor occasions. 

Mulled Cider

 2 qts apple cider                
1 sliced orange        
1 1/2 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks (broken in half)
1/2 tsp whole allspice

Stud the rind of the orange slices with whole cloves. Warm all ingredients in saucepan over medium heat. Strain to remove whole spices, serve hot.
Makes 8 – 10 servings

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

OOOOooooh Spicy Cheese Fondue, Brownie Cheesescake Trifle and Pumpkin Pie Cake for Halloween!

Thank you to Leslie Mann for allowing me to contribute to her  article in the Chicago Tribune and affiliates:
Strategies to attract or deter trick-or-treaters

Thanks for featuring 
Show your creativity with Halloween costumes made at home

In case you missed our chat about Halloween fun on the Kim Power Stilson show on October 29th on BYU SiriusXM Radio 143  here's the link:

For your Halloween dining pleasure, here are three delectable treats guaranteed to delight you and your guests. My recipes were featured in the food section of the Salt Lake City Deseret News.


The head chef at Pebble Beach Gold Resort in Monterey, California served this to me as an appetizer - it is delicious! The fondue is so rich you can serve it for dinner with the crudites and croutons. 

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut off top of 
1 24 oz. round loaf of unsliced sourdough bread  (CostCo bakery)
Reserve top. Hollow out the inside of the loaf with a small knife, leaving a 3/4" shell. 

Combine with a mixer
3 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated (12 oz.)
12 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 C sour cream
1 C green onions, chopped
2 (7 oz.) cans green chiles, diced
1/2 tsp. salt
Spoon the fondue into the bread, replace the lid. Wrap tightly with several layers of heavy-duty foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 1 hour, or until cheese is melted. During the last half hour of cooking; toast bread cubes. Remove bread from foil and place on a bed of purple kale on a serving tray. Encircle with vegetables and toasted croutons.

Prepare the crudites the day before, wash and cut into large bite-sized chunks and place in ziplock bags. 
Broccoli, red, yellow and green pepper strips, zucchini, celery, cauliflower, green  cauliflower

Place in 2 baking pans
16 - 20 oz. sourdough bread baguettes, cut into 1/2 " slices (I buy 2 - 10 oz. bags of La Brea sliced sourdough baguettes at Smith's grocery store and the bread removed from bread bowl cut into 1 1/2" cubes
stir together
1/2 C butter, melted
1/4 C vegetable oil
Place in oven during the last half hour the fondue bakes. Remove when crisp but not hard.


This is a rich variation of the classic English dessert. It is pretty (scary) layered in a glass bowl and served with a new trowel or placed in a cauldron. Layer ganache (or substitute instant chocolate pudding made with 1½ cups milk), crumbled brownies, cheesecake filling, gummy worms, chopped nuts (optional) and crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. Top with meringue mushrooms and garnish with mint leaves or for a more festive look, candy rocks, gummy worms and spiders.

16 ounces good chocolate, chopped
1½ cup whipping cream
Melt chocolate over low heat. Add cream and stir well. Chill for 45 minutes, whip and set aside.

Bake according to package directions a 9-by-13-inch pan of brownies. Set aside to cool, then crumble.

8 ounces whipping cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 8 ounce Neufchatel (light) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Whip together whipping cream, ¼ cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Fold in cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla.
Place in bowl and chill until time to use.

Crush about 30 chocolate sandwich cookies and set aside. Chop and set aside 1 cup peanuts, walnuts or pecans (optional).
In the serving container, layer one third of the ganache, half of the brownies, half of the cream cheese filling and nuts. Tuck in a few gummy worms.
Repeat layers, top with ganache, crushed cookies and a few more gummy worms. Decorate with meringue mushrooms, candy rocks, mint leaves or parsley, gummy worms and spiders, if you dare!

2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
sprinkle of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until foamy.
Add cream of tartar, salt and vanilla and continuing beating. While the mixer is running, stir in ½ cup sugar one tablespoon at a time.
Continue to beat until the mixture is smooth, stiff and glossy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Place meringue mixture in a plastic zip seal bag, squeeze out excess air and seal. Cut off one corner to make a ½-inch opening.
When making meringue shapes, allow an inch or two around each piece for expansion while baking. Place the tip of the bag on the parchment and squeeze out six 1-inch to 2-inch stems (should be standing up). Enlarge the opening to ¾-inch and squeeze out caps in varying sizes.
Moisten your finger with water and smooth the points on top of the mushrooms to get a rounded top on the cap and flat top on the stems. Lightly sprinkle the caps with cocoa powder.
Bake in the center of the oven at 200 degrees for 1 hour to 1½ hours or until dry and dark cream in color.
Melt the chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir and heat another 30 seconds. Repeat until melted.
Dip the tops of the stems into melted chocolate, place on upturned caps. When chocolate sets, store mushrooms in airtight container or place on trifle. Stored in an airtight container, the mushrooms will keep for several weeks.

Many like this rich dessert better than pumpkin pie!

1 box yellow cake mix, with one cup reserved
1 egg
½ cup butter, melted

4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 29-ounce can pumpkin
1½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 12-ounce cans evaporated milk

½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. From a box of yellow cake mix, remove one cup of dry mix and set aside for topping. Combine remaining cake mix with egg and melted butter.
Pat into the bottom of a 9-by-13 baking pan. Mix together eggs, pumpkin, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and evaporated milk.
Pour over crust. Set aside.
Mix together reserved cup of cake mix, ½ cup sugar, 1½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ cup softened butter and the pecans until the texture of corn meal and sprinkle over pumpkin filling.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes or until pumpkin is set. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Fit a silver punchbowl or cauldron with a clear plastic bowl liner (check discount or party stores). Place several activated glow sticks in the punchbowl and set the liner on top. Fill the liner with half  white grape juice and half ginger ale, adding a few drops of green food coloring if you wish. Wearing gloves, float chunks of dry ice for a bubbling, steaming effect.

These delicious dishes should land you a prime spot in the Halloween hostess hall-of-fame. Happy Halloween!

 Download your 
A Harvest and Halloween Handbook 
for more amazing autumn recipes, party plans and lots of fun! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's almost time

You are cordially invited to join Kim Power Stilson and me for a Halloween broadcast this Wednesday, October 29th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on BYU SiriusXM Radio 143. Or listen here:

It's not too late to download your own copy of 
A Harvest and Halloween Handbook 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween 2014 Trend Roundup

It's here again and even though Halloween is an old (I mean really old) holiday, the stylistas are giving fresh advice for 2014. 

Thank you to my BFF's S-I-Ls Rhonda and Sandy, owners of the L.A. costume shop that is popular with film studios,  
for this costume outlook:

For girls: Frozen princesses
For boys: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
For everyone:  Minions
For men: pirates
For women: scary, violent (zombies - ewwww)
My favorite: superheroes
Come on people, pirates and zombies have been making headlines for what, a dozen or so years? Let's think of something new for 2015. 

The trends for decor:
monochromatic: black, white, silver and gray
matte surfaces

If you must have color (I must), add:
citron green and purple to your orange melange 
or autumn hues of red, gold, brown, yellow

Cool themes:
Edgar Allen Poe (always)
Steampunk with gears, watches, spectacles
Dia de Los Muertos sugar skulls
bats, spiders, pumpkins and cats

Something different:
Medieval castle (Macbeth) with heraldry, stone, urns, 
plaid and tapestries instead of a torture chamber

You can still serve glow-in-the-dark punch

Glowing Quaff
Activate two or three green glow sticks and place in a tarnished silver punchbowl or cauldron. Line punchbowl with a clear plastic bowl. Pour in Glowing Green Punch, add dry ice for a bubbly, steaming effect.

Glowing Green Punch
            Pour into punchbowl equal amounts of
white grape juice
ginger ale
drops of green food coloring

Here is another delicious recipe that we enjoy in the fall. 
Bon appetit!

Baked Spicy Cheese Fondue with Crudités and Croutons

Bread bowl prep

             Preheat oven to 350°. Cut the top off of a

24 oz. round loaf of unsliced sourdough bread

            Reserve top. Hollow out the inside with a small knife,          leaving a 3/4" shell. Cut remaining bread into 1 1/2" cubes. Toast as directed below. 

            Combine with mixer
3 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated (12 oz.)
12 oz. Neufchatel cheese (light cream cheese), softened
1 C sour cream
1 C green onions, chopped
2 (7 oz.) cans green chiles, diced
1/2 tsp. salt
            Spoon into bread, replace lid. Wrap tightly with several layers of heavy-duty foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for one hour at at 350°, or until cheese is melted. During the last half  hour of cooking; toast bread cubes. Remove bread from foil and place on a  kale-lined serving tray.  Encircle with vegetables and toasted croutons.
            Cut into bite-sized portions
Broccoli, red, yellow and green pepper strips, zucchini, celery, cauliflower, green cauliflower, carrots

Toasted Croutons

         Place in separate baking pans
1 16 oz. baguette sourdough bread, cut into 1/2 " slices
bread removed from bread bowl
            stir together and toss with bread
1/2 C butter, melted
1/4 C vegetable oil

            Place in oven during the last half hour the fondue bakes. 
Remove when the bread is crisp but not  hard. 

Don't forget to pick up your copy of 
A Harvest and Halloween Handbook

And please join host Kim Power Stilson and me for a Halloween chat on BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 on 
Wednesday October 29th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

See you then! 


Hey Deseret  -
Thanks for posting the fondue and 
"what was under that rock ?" trifle on your website !