Monday, December 22, 2014


Merry Christmas to all of you Kim Power Stilson fans! Here are the three recipes for delicious holiday treats that we talked about on the show today; which was preempted by BYU's football game and will air on Christmas Eve at 3 p.m. Eastern/ 1 p.m. Mountain and noon Pacific. Enjoy!

McMurtry Shortbread 

These delicious shortbread cookies are hoping to be invited to your party. Cut into holiday shapes and dress up any way you like
Preheat oven to 325°.  Cream until soft
1C softened butter
            Add and blend until mixture is soft and fluffy
2/3 C powdered sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
            Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture
2 C . all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
¼ C cornstarch

Mix until dough is crumbly and just holds together.
Between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper, roll dough to 1/4 “ thickness. Cut cookies and place on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.
Bake at 325° for 20 minutes, or until barely golden around the edges. Cool and frost if you wish, but these are wonderful plain.

Donna McDougall's Mixed Nut Toffee

Place in a 11 x 17" jelly roll pan
3 ¼ C coarsely chopped nuts; pecans, almonds, cashews
            Rub the inside of a large heavy saucepan with butter, then melt over low heat
1 1/2 C salted butter
1 1/2 C + 2 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP water
Cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved, avoid getting sugar on the sides of the pan while cooking. Wipe sides down with a wet pastry brush if necessary. When sugar is dissolved, turn heat to medium and continue cooking to 290° or hard crack stage, the syrup will be dark golden in color. Remove from heat, add
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
            Pour over mixed nuts in baking pan. Immediately spread with
12 oz. milk chocolate, white or dark chocolate chips
Place an inverted 11" x 17" pan over the toffee mixture. Allow chocolate chips to melt for       about 5 minutes, then using a knife or spatula, spread the chocolate chips evenly over the surface of the toffee. Place in the freezer for a few minutes to quickly cool toffee. Break apart into chunks with  a knife. Store airtight

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

            These are best baked in small paper baking cup liners and mini muffin pans. While cookies are baking, unwrap about 48 miniature peanut butter cups. Preheat oven to 375°. Cream together
1/2 C butter
1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
            In another bowl, combine
1 1/4 C flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Blend into creamed mixture. Using a 1 1/4" cookie scoop, make balls and place in paper- lined mini muffin pans. Bake for 7 1/2 minutes, remove from heat. Press one mini peanut  butter cup in center of each cookie. Allow to cool. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Light of the World

Merry Christmas! 

This is a dry point etching called The Light of the World. 

And here's the rest of the story. In a printmaking class at MiraCosta College, we had the assignment of making an etching on a zinc plate that showed a light source. I thought, hey this sounds like a Christmas card. The professor must have read my thoughts and said - no Christmas cards. Whatever; when do artists follow rules? So I started coming up with a concept for the piece. 

I love Christmas; I mean I LOVE Christmas. I love celebrating the birth of our Savior so I took some of my favorite elements of our celebrations; the manger scene is based on an ornament my family had when I was a little girl, the candle has a tartan ribbon (I have an unfortunate plaid addiction) and the holly is symbolic of good luck or fortune and was a favorite Christmas symbol from my childhood. My parents gave a theater party for my birthday and took my friends and me to see a live performance of A Christmas Carol at the local theater in Carlsbad. The holly was on the invitations my mom made. So here's is an Anglophile's rendition of favorite holiday traditions. The plate made several prints and then was retired. Zinc is soft and easy for beginners to work with, but doesn't last very long. 

P.S. The teacher gave me an A on the project anyway and kept one for his collection which included etchings by Duchamps ;) Sweet. 

May the true Light of the World illuminate your Christmas celebration and bring you joy at this time of celebration of Jesus' birth and throughout the new year.

Don't forget to tune in to BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 on Monday December 22 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern/1:00 p.m. Mountain and 12:00 Pacific for a great Christmas collage - I'll be sharing the McMurtry shortbread cookie recipe!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Famous McMurtry Shortbread Recipe

Tune in to BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 
on Monday December 22 at 
3 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Mountain 
for a Christmas collage broadcast featuring 
the famous McMurtry shortbread cookie recipe. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Christmas Miracle; the Power of Prayer

You might want to grab a kleenex for this one and enjoy the "happily ever after" ending. 

Her story began on August 26th, a few years back. Heather joined her brother, sister and parents in an adventure already in progress. So excited to join the fun, she raced through her baby years trying to catch up so she could play.  

Eager to join the conversation, her first sentence at 10 months was "pick up Edna;" giving herself an affectionate nickname that stuck. So life with Edna began. She was enthusiastic from the beginning; almost running before she could walk. Easter egg hunts, playing with her sister and brother, Christmas, trips to Disneyland brought her so much joy.  She didn't talk a lot, but was processing, analyzing and synthesizing her world. She was at her best watering the garden with her dad and loved nothing more than a good long cuddle. 

She was a fun and affectionate child, a bit intense and difficult at times, but very tuned in to others' thoughts and feelings.
Life became challenging when her parents divorced after recently having moved to a new town; the family didn't know many people. She tried to fit in and made friends, but divorce makes  circumstances difficult, especially for children. Mom remarried, and found that blending a family can be a complex and messy business; little Edna didn't thrive in the chaos. 

Still cute and positive she pushed on, swam, danced and finished high school then went to live with her beloved dad. She had great adventures, traveled, won an award for being a top bank teller, worked for ESPN, dated and ended up with Mr. Wrong time and time again. 

Eventually she became weary of the process and times were tough. She worked hard as a single mom to provide for her little Elyzza and finally decided that she was destined to be alone; a reality that was almost too hard to bear. She was emotionally and physically frazzled. And that is where the power of prayer took over and God's great love for Heather was manifest. 
Heather had gone to the temple to make covenants with the Lord that had eternal significance. She had received a blessing telling her that her children were excited that she would be their mother - but with no qualified candidate for a husband; there didn't seem to be any way for that blessing to be fulfilled. She spent a lot of time praying, serving others and hoping that through some miracle, God would lead her to a wonderful man.  

She waited and dated and when she had about given up, one of her friends told her about man who had recently lost his wife to cancer; he had two young children. Heather, with her good heart, asked them to let him know that if he wanted someone to do things with she would be happy to surf or climb rocks or snowboard with no expectations. 

Eventually he did want the company of another adult and the two single parents found they enjoyed each other's company and that they shared so many interests. Their friendship blossomed into love and they decided they wanted to share their lives. Now blending families is a messy and complex business, but with with the power of love and prayer, they have bright hopes for the future and a life of happily ever after. 

On 12.13.14 Paul and Heather were married in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints San Diego Temple. 

This year, a wonderful man and a beautiful woman and three little children got a family for Christmas. And like other satisfying stories they all will live happily ever after like her brother and sister and their families. 

Here are some of our favorite blessings: 

Merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Angels and Traditions

In case you missed the chat about 
Christmas angels and traditions 
on BYU SiriusXM Radio 143 here's a link: 

And as always thank you Kim, it was a pleasure! 

Here are coloring pages you can print  
for your little angels: 

Have your child fill in their address on the envelope and write a note or draw a picture for Santa

Invite your child to design a book cover featuring their favorite Christmas story. 

Read more about

The science behind generosity:

Why singing makes us happy:

The green factor of real vs. fake Christmas trees:

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; and perhaps more satisfied as she has just completed a difficult assignment. 

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 ).