Martha Stewart - American Made 2014 - Nominee Badge

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 their 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 courageous men  withstood the attacks as thousand on both sides died in battle. Al-Rahman was killed and  commander 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.





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 Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

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
eHow.com
AZCentral.com

Chicago Tribune
The Daily Meal
FamilyShare.com
The Guardian (U.K.)
KSL.com
McClatchy News Service
Mint.com
mom.me
 Natural Awakenings magazine
nobullying.com (Ireland)
 2nd Hand Social
SheKnows.com
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.





Thursday, April 30, 2015

A New Gown


I have a new gown. And though I won't be wearing it to a ball, I will wear it as I humbly/proudly walk across a stage to accept my diploma. 

In my heart I will be thanking everyone who contributed to this accomplishment; 

my husband who INSISTED I complete the degree I've been working on for 39 years (and paid for it)
my parents who helped when I was a single mom

my professors, especially Dr. Krensky without whose encouragement I would not have finished

the University of Utah for providing an exceptional education and scholarships to help me along the way

my children and friends who patiently understood the time 
I spent neglecting them

my neighbor who gave me a messenger bag and pep talks

and all of my fellow artists and students of whom I have grown so fond.

With all my heart I thank you,

Pamela Layton McMurtry, BFA

Monday, April 6, 2015

Bride Alert

All you beautiful spring and summer brides: run to your nearest favorite store and buy pastel Easter candy at half price for your reception candy bar! (Hide and) freeze the unopened bags and the candy will stay fresh and delicious. GO! 

What You Need To Know Before Making A Wedding Candy Bar

Here's a great link from the The Knot Blog that explains how to create an amazing candy bar: 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter and Passover


Please take a few minutes to watch this inspirational video about Jesus Christ and see how He can change your life: 
http://www.mormon.org/easter?cid=HP_FR_3-27-2015_dMIS_fMRMN_xLIDyL1-A_

I wrote this metaphor about a computer to help explain the need for the Atonement http://www.pammcmurtry.com/search?q=the+Miraculous+Atonement+of+Jesus+Christ+

Tune in Friday, April 3 as Kim and I share interesting Easter and Passover facts on BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 at 3 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Mountain, also online at http://www.byuradio.org/


When Moses spoke with the Lord on Mount Sinai, Jehovah gave the prophet the Ten Commandments and instructed him to have Israel celebrate several annual feasts or holidays including the Feasts of Passover and Sukkot (see Leviticus 23.) 

For the second year in a row there will be "blood moons" during Passover and Sukkot, with a solar eclipse in between. Is there a significance to these heavenly events? Rabbi Ari Enkin suggests that these occurrences accompany significant events in Jewish history such as the Jewish expulsion from Spain and discovery of America in 1492, the Six Day War in 1967 when Israel liberated Jerusalem and one on the eve of Israel's declaration of independence in 1948 following a war and the Holocaust. 

http://unitedwithisrael.org/the-blood-moon-and-jewish-destiny/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/04/15/are-blood-moons-a-biblical-sign-from-god-that-something-earth-shattering-is-about-to-happen/

Christ told us that before He returned, these signs would occur. In modern revelation, the Doctrine and Covenants 45: 42 states "And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven." Now the scriptures are clear that no man will know the exact day of His coming, but in his compassion Jesus has let us know that as we keep His commandments we will not be caught offguard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNzTTdD33Vg&feature=em-subs_digest

If you are teaching children about Jesus Christ's sacrifice and atonement, here is a wonderful little activity that can be used for Family Home Evening and church classes.


From the brilliant ladies in Newport Beach; thanks for sharing.

A simplified account of Christ's atonement is told in these Easter Miracle Eggs. Each egg contains a scripture and tiny object that represents part of the Easter story. After the eggs are gathered, open them in order and read each scripture.

All you need are a dozen plastic eggs and a few items to tuck inside. Number the end of the eggs 1 -12 with a permanent marker. Print the following text, cut into strips and place inside the corresponding numbered eggs by highlighting them, pressing control and "p" on a p.c. (choose "selection") , or command and "p" on a mac. The objects inside the eggs are:

1. a small cup (check craft stores for a small unfinished wood thimble)

2. 3 dimes

3. 2 - 3" of twine

4. a chunk of soap

5. A tiny red robe shape cut out of felt

6. wooden or heavy paper cross

7. dice

8. 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" square of white fabric, torn almost in half

9. a 1 1/2" x 11/2" square of white fabric

10. a small rock

11. a few whole cloves and a bay leaf

12. This egg will remain empty

Tell the story about the sacrament of the Last Supper and Christ's night in Gethsemane, how he paid the price for all of mankind's sins if they repented andthat they might be able to return to heaven and live with the Father . The following scripture verses are taken from the New Testament in the Holy Bible. 

1. "Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him." (Luke 22:42 - 43)

2. Zechariah, a prophet of the Old Testament foretold that Christ would be ransomed or betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. "Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirtypieces of silver. " (Matthew 26: 14 - 15)

3. "When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. (Matthew 27: 1 -2)

4. "When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. (Matthew 27: 24)

5. "And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they hadplaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head." (Matthew 27: 28 - 30)

6. "And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross." (Matthew 27: 31 - 32.)

7. "And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots." (Matthew 27: 35)

8. "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God." (Matthew 27: 50, 51, 54)

9. "When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimath├Ža, namedJoseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth" (Matthew 27; 58 - 60)

10. "And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch." (Matthew 27: 60, 65, 66)

11. "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow...Andthe angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. (Mark 16: 1, Matthew 28: 2 - 5)

12. "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead" Matthew 28: 6 - 7) 





Here's an easy-to-make treat for you published on April 1st. The instructions and recipe are on these great websites: 


Deseret News in Utah:

 http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865625429/Butterscotch-nests-with-personalized-eggs-are-delightful-Easter-treats.html

Deseret News Service nationwide:

http://www.deseretnewsservice.com/butterscotch-nests-with-personalized-eggs-are-delightful-easter-treats-261401

News OK Syndicate in Oklahoma:

http://newsok.com/butterscotch-nests-with-personalized-eggs-are-delightful-easter-treats/article/5406421?prevArticle=1&linkPosition=anchored

Herald Times in Indiana:

http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/life/butterscotch-nests-with-personalized-eggs-are-delightful-easter-treats/article_fe458694-0d80-5307-9b61-27f3290bd6f5.html

Aberdeen News in South Dakota

http://www.aberdeennews.com/life/butterscotch-nests-with-personalized-eggs-are-delightful-easter-treats/article_a4fc93db-e8b4-54dd-b748-3dd719619231.html

Daily American in Pennsylvania:
http://www.dailyamerican.com/life/butterscotch-nests-with-personalized-eggs-are-delightful-easter-treats/article_fb612e2f-fb61-50e7-b5dd-bc63240dfbae.html

Thanks everyone for sharing this recipe! 




Easter 4-in-a-Row

Make multiple prints of this page, cut them up and rearrange them then glue onto cards. Tell the Easter story and have children mark the pictures as they listen. The first to get four in a row wins. 




GRILLED ROSEMARY DIJON LAMB
This barbecued lamb is tender and delicious, even those who don't like lamb may enjoy it.
            In a small bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves, crushed or 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
            In plastic bag, place marinade and
4 lamb loin chops
            Squeeze out air, seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 - 4 hours

            To barbecue, drain marinade and dry chops, cook on oiled grill over medium high heat 7 - 10 minutes per side until done to your liking. 

Image result for the country bunny and the little gold shoes 


This delightful children's book tells the story of a young bunny who followed her dream to be an Easter Bunny with the help of her family. 



Happy Easter!