Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas

Elle met Santa when she had just turned one year old; it was love at first sight! He visits her every year and brings her a gift, she makes him cookies. It was a match made in heaven.


Tim posed for two hours while I painting his portrait. What a good sport.

Portfolio - Red Cliffs

My sister and her sweetie ran in the St. George Marathon this fall. You are an inspiration - good for you Cindy and Davie


Heather's Birthday.
Every year on her birthday in August, Heather goes to the beach where she always finds a sand dollar; a gift from the sea.


Fall 2011 Portfolio

I recently finished my oil painting class at the University of Utah. Here are a few of the paintings from my portfolio.


I worked on this still life for several days. It features an illuminated lamp, a seltzer bottle, an old beam, a tea cup, a gnarled soccer ball, a military fuel can, fabrics and assorted flotsam.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Time For Thanks


A Time For Thanks

I love the story of the founding of America; the epic tales of people heroic and adventurous.

I love the east coast of the United States; the old cemeteries, houses, churches, the gorgeous expanse of nature - the sea, the forests and fields. The stories of George Washington, the Founding Fathers, the Americans and the British. After the discovery of ancestors through my Mother's research and my Dad's genealogies, of people who helped build this great nation, I've wanted to share their stories with my grandchildren and family. For you, here are some of your ancestors and their roles in our history.

My children know that I have always had a place in my heart for the Pilgrims. We have several ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower that bitter winter of 1620, more about them later. A few miles to the south, in the Berkley Colony, Virginia; William Tracy was acting as governor. He was from Britain and invested heavily in the American colonies. His family had ruled Europe centuries earlier: Charlemagne, William the Conqueror and others. The Tracys left the throne after Edward I around 1200. They served through the years as knights and sheriffs and in other offices of the law. William went to the Berkley colony to act as governor in 1619, with his wife Sara and two children the year before the Pilgrims arrived. He died there in 1621. His daughter and her husband were killed in the Indian Massacre of 1622. According to historical records, his son survived and was sent back to England to be learn a trade. This is Grandma Nixon's family.

On the good ship Mayflower, a tiny girl, about a year old was traveling to America with her aunt and uncle. Humility Cooper arrived in Massachusetts and survived that first dreadful winter. Unfortunately her aunt and uncle did not. They died and so did her uncle's brother and his wife, leaving Humility an orphan again. When she was about 3, she was sent back to England where she grew up, was baptized in the Trinity Church in London and eventually married Christopher Webb, who may be a relative of Shakespeare (I need to do the research.) They ended up back in Massachusetts where she died in 1687.

Stephen Hopkins also sailed to America on the Mayflower. He had been to Jamestown and knew something about that area. He brought his wife and children with him on the voyage. She gave birth to a baby boy, Oceanus Hopkins while at sea, the only baby born on the journey. Another man, Edward Winslow, also shows up in our family history, but the years don't match, so I'm not sure if he is THE Edward Winslow from the Mayflower. These ancestors are on Grandaddy Layton's side of the family. All of these courageous and honorable people came to America in the early years, establishing our family in the New World and paving the way for future generations. I am so thankful for their bravery and vision and encourage you to hold them in honorable remembrance at this special time of year. Be strong and do your part in making our country the best place on earth to live, generous and stalwart in keeping God's commandments.

This is a yummy treat for watching the game or as a fun meal. It's pretty ugly, be sure to serve it in a bread bowl - at least the presentation is attractive.


Preheat oven to 350°. Cut off top of 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.

1 round loaf of unsliced sourdough bread; 24 oz., 8- 10 inches in diameter

Combine with mixer

3 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated (12 oz.)

12 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened

1 C sour cream

1 C green onions, chopped

7 oz. green chiles, diced

1 TBSP jalapenos, diced (optional- this adds quite a bit of fire!)

Spoon into bread, replace lid. Wrap tightly with several layers of heavy-duty foil, place on 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 serving tray. Encircle with vegetables and toasted croutons.


Broccoli, red, yellow and green pepper strips, radishes, zucchini, mushrooms, jicama, celery, cauliflower


Place in baking pan

2 sourdough bread baguettes, cut into 1/2 " slices

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 dried out.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Little Pumpkin

I finally painted a piece in my oil painting class that I'll sign :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Art School Cupboard

If you've ever taken a college art class, you know one of the drills is that the instructor cleans out the art closet and makes an arrangement of all kinds of junk that has collected over the years. Usually this includes an assortment of empty wine bottles, some plaster body parts, fake produce, ugly lamps, rusty objects and who-knows-what else. We worked on this for days.

American Kitchen still life

I visited the Getty Center this summer with my family and experienced amazing art. After receiving an assignment to create a painting in the style of a "famous" artist, I chose Cezanne's "Still Life With Apples" and made this twenty-first century American kitchen adaptation.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coloring pages

For your little ones - enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We Are Seven

by William Wordsworth

"Written at Alfoxden in the spring of 1798, under circumstances somewhat remarkable. The little girl who is the heroine I met within the area of Goodrich Castle in the year 1793. ...To return to "We are seven," the piece that called forth this note, I composed it while walking in the grove at Alfoxden.

One evening he came to me with a grave face, and said, "Wordsworth, I have seen the volume that Coleridge and you are about to publish. There is one poem in it which I earnestly entreat you will cancel, for, if published, it will make you everlastingly ridiculous." I answered that I felt much obliged by the interest he took in my good name as a writer, and begged to know what was the unfortunate piece he alluded to. He said, "It is called 'We are seven.'" Nay! said I, that shall take its chance, however, and he left me in despair. I have only to add that in the spring of 1841 I revisited Goodrich Castle, not having seen that part of the Wye since I met the little Girl there in 1793. It would have given me greater pleasure to have found in the neighbouring hamlet traces of one who had interested me so much; but that was impossible, as unfortunately I did not even know her name. The ruin, from its position and features, is a most impressive object. I could not but deeply regret that its solemnity was impaired by a fantastic new Castle set up on a projection of the same ridge, as if to show how far modern art can go in surpassing all that could be done by antiquity and nature with their united graces, remembrances, and associations.

--------A SIMPLE Child,

That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage Girl:

She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,

And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
--Her beauty made me glad.

"Sisters and brothers, little Maid,

How many may you be?"
"How many? Seven in all," she said
And wondering looked at me.

"And where are they? I pray you tell."

She answered, "Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.

"Two of us in the church-yard lie,

My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother."

"You say that two at Conway dwell,

And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven!--I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be."

Then did the little Maid reply,

"Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree."

"You run about, my little Maid,

Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five."

"Their graves are green, they may be seen,"

The little Maid replied,
"Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
And they are side by side.

"My stockings there I often knit,

My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.

"And often after sunset, Sir,

When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.

"The first that died was sister Jane;

In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.

"So in the church-yard she was laid;

And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.

"And when the ground was white with snow,

And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side."

"How many are you, then," said I,

"If they two are in heaven?"
Quick was the little Maid's reply,
"O Master! we are seven."

"But they are dead; those two are dead!

Their spirits are in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, "Nay, we are seven!"


Friday, September 9, 2011

Early Halloween

Yes, it is a bit early, but not too if you want to do something nice for someone far away. My son Andrew and a few comrades in Afghanistan can look forward to treats (no tricks) for the holiday - maybe someone you know would like a little something something...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Apple crisp

The Best Durn'd Apple Crisp

Delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (we love this for breakfast too).

Preheat oven to 350*. In a 2 1/2 - 3 qt. baking dish, place

5 – 6 medium to large apples, thinly sliced and peeled


1 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Sprinkle over apples, stir to coat. In mixing bowl, stir together until crumbly

1 C quick-cooking oats
1/2 C brown sugar
3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C butter, softened

Pat over apples, bake at 350* for 30 - 35 minutes, until apples are tender.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Fam

Telling stories remembering when, sharing a meal. Thank God for family.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Did you know that people who keep a gratitude journal experience 25% more energy? Gratitude, like faith, opens our lives for miracles.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Modern Treasures

We spent the afternoon at the Getty Center viewing artistic masterpieces by Van Gogh, Cezanne and Monet. The greatest treasures went home with us that evening and continued to arrive throughout the week as we welcomed family members and enjoyed a family reunion.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Welcome Bookwise Friends

It's a party - thanks for stopping by! I know you'll enjoy
A Guide to Creative Autumn Occasions

If you are looking for new and exciting ideas for fall celebrations you've come to the right place! The Handbook is in the editing stage right now, please leave me a message and I'll make sure you get one of the first copies when it comes out.

In the meantime, feel free to visit my October 2010 blogs and watch for new ideas in the next few months. I'll be posting Halloween and harvest project instructions; like the cute tags on the tree above as well as mouth-watering recipes.

If you like what you see, please sign up as a follower and I'll make sure to get you the ideas you love to make your holidays extra special. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click on follower - it just takes a minute.

A CATERING HANDBOOK and A HOLIDAY HANDBOOK will be ready soon as well. These books are filled with delightful decor, recipes and instructions to help you prepare wonder-filled parties, receptions and events. Your family and friends will love the unique treats you've created just for them; especially the artistic presentation.

Thanks again for stopping by - I look forward to hearing from you!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea...

You and me, you and me, oh how happy we'll be!

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

Taking children to swim at the beach? Get a tide chart and plan your trip for low tide, the waves are smaller and usually more gentle. For tide schedule predictions try

www. saltwatertides.com.

You can go on their website, select your beach and get a schedule for the days you'll be at the ocean.

Flotation devices make the day safer and much more fun!

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

Watch for warning flags near the water; some warn of unsafe conditions, others delineate surf and swim areas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

photo courtesy of

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mexican Chef Salad

My Mom introduced us to this fab recipe - it's a warm weather treat we've enjoyed ever since!

Mom’s Mexican Chef Salad

Serves twelve

In a very large bowl, toss together:

2 heads lettuce, torn

4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped

2 avocados, peeled and cubed

½ of a 13 oz. bag nacho cheese tortilla chips, broken

1 lb. ground beef or turkey, browned and drained

1 medium onion, chopped

2 15 oz. can kidney or black beans, drained

1 6 oz. can black olives, drained and sliced

2 C. Cheddar cheese, grated

2 C. Thousand Island salad dressing (recipe on page 12)

Serve immediately.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Father's Day

HAPPY FATHER"S DAY to our favorite hero! Guys love to talk; here's a questionnaire to share with Dad to find out a little bit more about him, his dreams and history. You might want to pass it along to grandpa and uncles too!


Some of your favorite things

What you loved to do with your Mom

...Your Dad

Your favorite relatives (and why)

Values your family instilled in you

Favorite childhood activities

Family trips

Books you loved

Who were your heroes?

Your dreams?

Your sisters and brothers

Your childhood home

Your grandparents

Memories of church

Your favorite teacher in elementary school (and why)

Your favorite holiday (and why)

Your favorite subjects in high school

Some popular songs

Did you play sports, act, write or....

What you did with friends

Your first job

Your first car

How you met my mother

Why they picked my name

About college

Your accomplishments

Service to God

Service in the community

Favorite vacations

People you've known

Your favorite president

Present dreams

Your favorite game

Your favorite scripture story

Things you wish you'd done differently

Your passions

Your hobbies

What you'd like to do

Life's lessons you'd like to pass along to your family

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day One: To Infinity and Beyond; Andrew, Annie, Apollo, Guiness and Ruger

We locked up the house and changed the transmission fluid. You know, the things you do when you're going to be gone a few days. The Thaxtons took Ink, our black kitty, and off we went on a 3255 mile odyssey that took us across the Midwest, dodging tornadoes, to the homes of family and friends, historic and sacred places and ultimately the wedding of Brianne and Dylan.

First stop: Andrew, Annie, Apollo, Guiness and Ruger

Andrew was on leave, preparing for his deployment to Afghanistan. As a Mom you hate to think of people who didn't go to his little league games shooting at him. If they only knew what a great guy he is. His darling wife Annie will keep the home fires burning. They bought the cutest condo and have three little guys, a dachsy, scotty and a wolf of some kind.

We wrestled with the dogs, Andrew wrestled with Tim. Andrew wrestles with everyone, even Danger Dean - he's a club wrestler.

Day Two: More Andrew and Annie; Simone and the Killer Bunnies

Anyone who knows Newell knows how much he LOVES Thorlo socks. He's pretty low key about most things, but is demanding about his socks. Andrew took us shopping for Thorlos, contributing to a very happy Newelly :)

We ate lunch out, then headed back to the house. Annie had invited her friend Simone to dinner. I asked Andrew what he wanted me to make for dessert. He replied won tons. yum. Spontaneously the menu changed and wontons became the entree. Simone, who is deploying to Afghanistan, was an enchanting lady, she changed my preconceived notion about female soldiers!

After dinner, we played several rounds of Killer Bunnies. Tim was familiar with the card game. I'd never heard of it, it was crazy and a lot of fun.

Day Three: The McMurtry's Holly, Santa Fe Trail and Auntie Em (and Tim) in Kansas

Newell's first home was in Holly CO. The population of around 1,000 goes up and down a bit, but hasn't changed much in many decades. He's sporting a Colorado cap given him by a nice lady at the hospitality center and his Virginia Tech polo shirt (...later)

This is the location of his Grandma's house which was destroyed by a tornado after Newell and Tim's last visit to Holly a few years ago. The McMurtrys had a cattle ranch a few miles out of town. Grandma Mac and family lived in town; she taught business at the high school.

We stopped to pay our respects at the local cemetery. Newell's grandfather and others were buried together in the family plot. Since Newell had always wanted to be buried near his family in Holly, we were fortunate on the day we were there, to meet the cemetery superintendent. Of the five graveyards he manages, he happened to be on the property that day, Newell spoke with him and reserved the plot adjacent to his grandfather.

The Santa Fe trail abuts the Holly Cemetery. Ruts from wagon wheels are still visible.

The McMurtry Building in downtown Holly. Built from locally hewn sandstone, it still stands in the center of town. Originally it was a bank, then land office. It is currently used as the town recreation center.

After dodging tornadoes, we arrived safely at the home of (Auntie) Em and Tim. They were very gracious hosts and it was wonderful to spend time with the newlyweds. They were married on our anniversary in February :) Tim is in the U.S. Army and Ems is working on her teaching credential - she wants to teach Kindergarten - lucky kids!

Day Four: Misery and Illinois

Sorry, that's Missouri; Andrew renamed it after going through army basic training there. I LOVED Missouri. I really LOVED IT!

We visited Jackson County Mo, where modern revelation has pinpointed the location of the Garden of Eden. This site in Independence, MO is where the temple of New Jerusalem will be built. The scriptures say the glory of the Lord will be there and it will be a place of gathering; a place of peace, refuge and safety.

Liberty Jail, where Joseph Smith and friends endured much misery; but in the end grew stronger and more capable. The amazing revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants 121 - 123 were received in this lowly, holy place.

Adam Ondi Ahman, the place where God and man connected. After leaving Eden, Adam and Eve traveled here to live and start their family, making it the literal cradle of civilization. Before Christ's second coming, He will meet with Adam, the prophets and priesthood holders here for a report of their stewardshiips. It is a beautiful, peaceful valley.

The mighty Mississippi viewed from Nauvoo. The Latter-day Saints bought property here, drained the swamp and built Nauvoo "Beautiful Place" into the second largest city in Illinois in its day.

We visited the Red Brick Store where the first Relief Society was organized. It had been demolished and reconstructed, but the original feeling of good still lingered...

Here's Tim who is actually too cool to spend this many days with his parents, but he was a good sport!