Sunday, December 20, 2015


This is the fin-al chapter in A Mermade's Tale. Even though it is snowy and cold right now as I tell you this story; this adventure takes place just as summer is beginning for Shell and Pearl.

Chapter Eight

            Pearl had discovered radio waves. While Shell and her siblings were listening to “You Were There” adventure records, Pearl was rocking and rolling to the Water Beatles and Sea Monkees. She was almost an entire year older than Shell and had more sophisticated taste. Shell had heard rock music on the radio in the mer-tor car once or twice, but she did not know the names of the bands and songs like Pearl did. Pearl loved to jam and she had a king conch-sized crush on one of the singers; she had a picture of him and talked about him. A lot. His Name was Davy Jones, like the locker, and he had a cute British accent. I do not know if Mr. Jones knew that Pearl was one of his biggest sea fans, but she certainly was. The Sea Monkees were from the City of Angelfish and because Pearl was also born in that city, she had city taste, even though her mom was a country girl with a garden.
            When Shell, Foam and Pearl got together to color, instead of La Mer, they were listening to the Sea Monkees sing “Baydream Believer” and “The Last Train to Sharksville.” Secretly, Shell preferred the songs of the Floating Stones and she didn’t like the Water Beatles much, but Pearl really liked them and listening to their music made her so happy that instead of whining, Shell hummed along with the radio too.  The Water Beatles had hit songs that summer too;  “I Saw Her Swimming There,” “Hard Wave’s Night,” and “My Shell.” Pearl had flipped for wavy rock and roll. Shell and Foam liked the Beach Guys, they had surfing songs and really knew a lot about the shore culture. They sang “Be True to Your School of Fish,” “California Gills” and “Bobbing Ann.” Any radio wave station you tuned to would likely be playing the music of these popular bands, they had a lot of sea fans.
            Pearl, Foam and Shell were spending more time at the beach. Suddenly it was important to be tan, which takes a little while if you are underwater, but if you work at it, you can achieve a tan tone. The “cool” mermades at school had tanned tails and blond streaks in their hair. Shell didn’t understand why it was important to look like the surfers they saw above the waves, but that was the style. The girls started parting their hair in the middle and wearing puka shell necklaces from Hawaii. The boys were saying things like “dude,” and “totally, ” but for the most parts, the mergirls still considered them urchins who just wanted to show off their mussels. It was a funny summer. And It was an important time in the little mermade’s world. They were starting to spend more time away from their homes with their friends. They were trying to be exactly alike. They wore the same style clothes, the same hairstyles and listened to the same music. Shell didn’t know how important having good friends would be (and friends that were good.)
            Just down the lane from Foam, another new merfamily moved into a new sand castle. Cairn and Volute Gillson and their two daughters Coral and Netty. Coral had exquisite manners and a good imagination, Shell liked her immediately. Coral was a serious student who wrote fun and creative stories. She was polite on the playground and the teachers liked her too. Coral had attended fin-ishing school and knew the proper way to enter a tide pool, eat with good manners and behave in public, she also knew a few words of Merman.  She was never too loud and didn’t make fun of others. Coral was a good influence. Netty and Sandy became friends and a lot of fun together too.
            Foam invited Shell, Pearl and Coral to ride seahorses one afternoon. The coral where Bubble stayed had seahorses to rent and trails to ride on. It was Shell’s first time riding a seahorse out of the coral. She was nervous, but she didn’t want to seem like a sea chicken in front of her friends. The girls and their seahorses started off swimming slowly, then Foam “giddiyupped” Bubbles and Bubbles took off swimming faster. Pearl was right behind her, then Coral. Shell gulped and held on tight as her seahorse followed the others. They swam through tall sea grasses and past the kelp forest. Shell was having so much fun, she forgot to be afraid. The girls and their mounts swam like the wind - they could have easily sea starred in a western movie! It was a day they would always remember and treasure.
            One time Coral and her family asked her friends over to make shrimp pizza. Shell was in heaven. She invited Coral to her sand castle to play with bobbing dolls. Coral asked if Nettie could come too.  So Sandy, Nettie, Coral and Shell all had a bobbing dolls tea party together.
Coral’s birthday was exactly the opposite of Shell’s; she was born in the summer and was six months older. At the end of the school year Coral invited the mermades in her class to her sandcastle for a birthday party. Shell loved to go to her friend’s house and was excited to attend her party. Vol was kind to all the mermade children and made them feel welcome (and she was a good cook.) A few days after school was out for summer, it was time for Corals’ party and a chance for the classmates to get together again.
            Shell tried to think of something Coral would like for her birthday. Shell’s birthday was right after Christmas so all of her gifts came at once and they were usually winter presents. Coral was having a summer party and would get fun summer things. Shell was almost jealous of her friend. But Coral was so warm and friendly, like her summer birthday, that Shell couldn’t have bad feelings about her good fortune. Shell made her a pretty necklace out of, you guessed it, shells. She wrapped it carefully, made a card and took them to Corals’ party. Pearl had picked a bouquet of beautiful ocean flowers from her garden for Coral, she wrapped them with a pretty ribbon. Foam had made her a model seahorse in her favorite color.
            Shell was excited to see Pearl, Foam, Coral, Reef, the other two Shells and friends from school. Coral’s sandcastle was decorated with glittering sea stars, kelp garlands and floating bubbles. It all looked magical, just perfect for a mermade party. The girls played games like “Truth or Mer” and “Never.” “Never” was a favorite with the mergirls. They sat in a circle on the sand and each received a bag with twelve pieces of candy. The first said “I never…(held hands with a merboy, swam in the Atlantic, touched an octopus…) If a mermade had done that thing she ate one piece of candy. The mermade that ate all her candy first won!
            Coral and her friends played another fun game. Since they were all turning into rock music fans, they made a deck of cards with words from songs like, "wave," "love" and "hand." They divided into two teams. One player would flip over a card, and each team took turns singing songs with that word in the lyrics. If one of the teams couldn’t think of a song after 30 seconds, they lost the turn and the other team got a point. Ten points won the game. Listening to a lot of music paid off.
            Vol served a pretty seacake with fancy sugar shells and icicles and the mermades sang happy birthday to Coral. They watched with excitement as she opened her gifts. She received two record albums, games, clothes and sea star clips for her hair. She loved the necklace that Shell had made for her, the bouquet from Pearl and Foam’s seahorse. One of the neighbors that had a tide pool invited the mermades to come over for a twilight swim. They raced down the street and dove into the tide pool. With the Beach Guys, Sea Monkees and Water Beatles’ music playing, the merfriends dove and swam with the glittering sea stars into the night.

Here are the directions for making a pearl and shell necklace like the one Shell made for Coral’s birthday.

You will need:
a string of pearl beads from a bead or craft store
a shell with a hole in it

a jewelry clasp
a small metal ring to attach the shell
super glue

Pearls are one of the birthstones for June and are fun to use for a birthday gift for that month. If the birthday is another month, you might choose beads like that month’s birthstone.
1. Ask your parent to help you attach the necklace clasp to the string of pearls using superglue.
2. When the glue is dry, use needle nose piers to open the small metal ring and attach the shell to the center of the string of pearls.
3. Wrap in a jewelry box with a pretty bow – happy birthday friend!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Welcome Home Elder McMurtry!

We sent a boy out to do the Lord's work and are getting a consecrated man back; it is a very good investment. For 2 years he has studied the scriptures, served the people of northern Alabama and invited them to come unto Christ and be baptized. 

Thank you to President and Sister Hanks and all of the good people who serve in the Alabama Birmingham Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for looking after our son. 

We are grateful and excited to get our Tim back in time for Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Handmade gifts = LOVE

Treat your loved ones to gifts from the heart and hearth this Christmas; like these elf mugs containing cocoa mix and favorite treats or a rice-filled neck warmer to fight the winter cold. 

The instructions for these and other creative and fun gifts are in the Deseret News

Read about Heather and Paul's beach reception after they were married in the LDS San Diego temple last December (it featured a cut-it-yourself FUDGE bar - yes!)

Heather, Paul, Elle, Noah and Ashlyn

Elle and I were so excited!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Mermade's Tale Chapter 7 - Sandy Swims in Deep Water and a Victory at the Shelling Bee


Chapter Seven


            Sandy, Shell and Pearl were mesmerized by the graceful aquadancing swim-mers gliding in time to the song “Would You like to Swim with a Star?” The flashing lights, colorful spraying fountain and beautiful costumes inspired the girls’ imaginations. They were watching a show at Ocean World in Sandy Aego with their moms Nekton and Oyster. The mermoms had taken their children there to celebrate the end of the school year and reward them for studying so hard for their class shelling bee.
            “We should totally do this the next time we’re at the Finnler’s tide pool,” whispered Shell. “Totally,” agreed Pearl. “Me too,” insisted Sandy. “Sandy, you can’t swim like that,” reminded Shell. Sandy was three years younger than Shell; she admired the many skills her older sister had acquired, but she hadn’t quite caught up yet. Shell had learned to swim at Camp Playaway, a summer day camp she’d attended in the City of Angelfish when her father was a camp director. Pearl had taken swimming lessons too, and both of the older girls could swim in deep water without fear. But little Sandy had to stay in the splash tide pool. “That’s not fair,” frowned Sandy. “Wait, you can teach me!”
            Shell and Pearl looked at each other with that secret look that friends have; which usually means, “I don’t think so.” They agreed to discuss it later.  And later came sooner than they thought.
            Swimming in the Finnler’s tide pool was the most exciting thing Pearl and Shell could do. The Finnler’s lived up the street from Pearl. They had a large and fancy sandcastle with tall columns and a built-in tide pool in their yard. Pearl was very social and had made friends with the Finnlers, who on occasion, would let her bring friends to swim in their beautiful tide pool. “But they have to be able to swim,” decreed Mrs. Finnler who was rightfully concerned with safety.
            As the aqua show ended the mermades went to see the killer whale perform. In the ocean, they avoided killer whales, but this one was trained and in his own tank. After watching the leaping, laughing dolphins, the sun began to set and the two families started for the exit. But they hadn’t visited the gift shop yet, the merchildren reminded their mothers. “All right, 10 minutes, then we need to go home and make dinner,” said Nekton. The gift shop was filled with all kinds of beautiful things. There were shiny little glass sea animals, large stuffed whales, seahorses and dolphins, books and trinkets, purses and glasses with fish painted on them. There were whistles and bubbles and games and fancy necklaces and rings that looked like real pirate treasure.  Pearl picked a new coloring book with the mermade alphabet on the back cover and dolphin crayons. Sandy asked for a soft fuzzy goldfish and Shell wanted a necklace with a clear blue stone shaped like a drop of water. Brine got a picture book with fishy jokes. And then it was time to go home. 
            Back at school, the teacher was preparing her students for the shelling bee. She had brought in a large case divide into sections. Each compartment held a seashell with a label showing its name to help the merstudents learn about their world. At the end of the year the class would hold a shelling bee. The students would show that they could identify each shell and spell its name correctly; whoever got the highest score would receive a special prize. The merstudents would be required to know 25 of the shells, but they didn’t know which would be on the test.
            Shell and Pearl got together often to study for the shelling bee. Pearl had a big book with pictures of all kinds of beautiful shells. “My grandmother collected seashells,” said Pearl. She had a rare junonia shell her husband had brought back from a trip.  Abalone’s grandfather, who had also been a teacher, had made a collection of cards with pictures of shells and their names. Shell loved to study the cards her great-grandfather had made. The letters were old and fancy, as were the drawings of the shells.  Sometimes the merchildren studied at Pearl’s, sometimes at Shell’s sandcastle. Today they were at Pearls’ going over the list and identifying the seashells, they also had some they had collected and received as gifts. The shelling bee list looked like this:

clear sundial
cockle shell
rosy harp
screw shell
sand dollar
swollen fig

 Shell showed Pearl the shells, who named and spelled them. Then Pearl quizzed Shell. They were making good progress in memorizing the shell names and spellings. They were becoming conchologists, merpeople who study shells. The shelling bee was the next day and it was the last day of school.
            Shell and Pearl were swinging on the playground when they heard the principal ring the ship’s bell, signaling the start of school. The mermades swam to their classrooms. Pearl and Shell noticed that the display cabinet filled with shells had been removed. Their teacher Mrs. Conch told the excited merstudents that after the shelling bee, they were going to the playground for games, then they would have a class party! She divided the class into two groups. Shell and Pearl were on different teams. The students lined up on both sides of their classroom. Mrs. Conch held up a shell, the first merstudent tried to name it and spell the name. Then the other team had a chance. If a student got the name wrong or misspelled it, he or she had to take their seat. If they were right, they went to the end of the line for another turn. After a while there were only two students left; can you guess who? It was Shell and Pearl who had studied hard and were both excellent shellers.
            Finally, Mrs. Conch had gone through all of the shells. There would need to be a tide-breaker. Mrs. Conch reached into a box and pulled out a beautiful shell. Shell looked at it and thought hard, she couldn’t remember seeing this one before. Why couldn’t it have been a scallop? Shell knew scallops, they were on her family wave crest. Pearl smiled as she recognized the shell. “That is a junonia, j-u-n-i-o-n-i-a!” she said triumphantly. Pearl won the shelling bee! The class cheered and Shell congratulated her friend. If she couldn’t win, Pearl would be her favorite choice. Shell was working on being a good sport.
            Mrs. Conch awarded Shell a ribbon with a shell medallion and certificate for her excellent shelling skills. Pearl received a golden trophy with a mermaid holding up a seashell, a shell medallion and a certificate stating that she was the champion sheller.
            The class swam out to play games. While the merstudents were playing outside, the room mermothers set up the party. When the merchildren returned to their desks, they found a lovely lunch of sea plums, sand-wiches, and coconut madeleines which are shell-shaped cookies. Many mermades love coconuts, which they collect when they are blown into the sea by fierce winds. After lunch, Mrs. Conch handed out grades and wished all of the children a very happy summer vacation – school was over!
            Shell swam home and told her mother all about the shelling bee. Her mother congratulated her for doing so well and her father did too when he returned home. Shell swam over to the sofa, plopped on it and took a deep breath. Summer was here! It was starting to get warm and even though they enjoyed coloring and listening to the Sea Monkees, the mergirls needed a break. “Let’s go play outside for a while,” said Pearl. Oyster suggested they ask the Finnlers if they could swim in their tide pool. Oh yes! “I need to go home and ask my mom,” said Shell. So off the little mermades swam.
            Sandy was excited to see her big sister and friend arrive. She had been playing with Brine, but he had gotten tired and was taking a nap. When she heard Shell ask their mom if she could go swimming at the Finnler’s tide pool, Sandy got even more excited. “I want to go swimming!” she exclaimed. “You don’t know how to swim in a tide pool,” said Shell. Sandy’s smile faded. Nekton was a good mom, she didn’t force Shell and Pearl to always include Sandy, but she hoped they would invite her. Pearl saw Sandy’s sad face and as she reached out to hug the little merchild, she said, “we could teach her.” Shell felt badly that she had hurt Sandy’s feelings. She had been shellfish. “Sure you can come,” she said gently. She took Sandy’s hand and off they went.
            The sun was shining through the waves when the merchildren arrived at the Finnler’s sandcastle. Mrs. Finnler led them through the octopus’s garden to the tide pool. “Have fun!” she said. Pearl dipped her tail in the water, it was just right. Shell jumped in, but Sandy stayed near the edge. “Jump in Sandy,” Pearl called to her, “I’ll catch you!” Shell watched her sister jump into the tide pool and into Pearl’s outstretched arms. She looked so happy. Shell swam a few feet away. “Swim to me Sandy,” she called. Sandy looked down. She couldn’t touch the bottom. “You can do it,” coaxed Shell. Pearl gave her a little push and Sandy started paddling. She reached Shell. “Did you see me swim?” she asked excitedly. Pearl swam a little bit farther away. “Now swim to me,” she said. Sandy pushed off and swam back to Pearl. “Look at you go!” exclaimed Shell. As much as Shell loved swimming and diving, she had to admit that helping her sister was fun too.  Sandy looked so proud of herself and so happy. They had her swim back and forth until she was confident that she could swim around in the deep end of the tide pool all by herself. She could do something that the big girls could do. Sandy could swim in deep water.  “Let’s play a game,” said Pearl. She threw a handful of coins from a sunken ship into the tide pool. She, Sandy and Shell dove to the bottom to pick up the coins. Then they played Marco Waterpolo and aquabatic mermaids.
            By the time they finished swimming they were happy and tired. And they’d found a treasure; Sandy had a new skill and confidence and they had a new friend to play with in the tide pool.

Can you make a family wave crest with your favorite shells? Here is Shell and Sandy’s.

This one is for you to design.

 Do you remember seeing the mermaid alphabet in Chapter 5? 
Try writing your family name in mermade!

Next week is the final chapter in A Mermade's Tale - see you then! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Merry Christmas BYU Radio Fans!

I am especially grateful this Christmas to have the opportunity to share some of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions with Kim Power Stilson's audience. Christmas is a poignant, reflective season of celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. We try to emulate his charity by being extra generous with the poor and giving heartfelt gifts of time, cheer and even objects that represent our love to family and friends. Christ's goodness and mercy truly make Him the Light of the World. 

The Light of the World dry point etching by Pam McMurtry

The excitement in our family is heightened by our anticipation of the arrival of our son Tim who has been away from home for 2 years serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alabama. He returns to us from Selma, where he and his companion Elder Muaka, originally from Kenya, have been sharing the message of Jesus Christ; a message of brotherhood, peace and hope.

Most of the McMurtry Clan

Merry Christmas to you my friends, my wish for you is that my chat with Kim will give you ideas that will enrich your holiday season as you gather loved ones and prepare for the most wonderful time of the year!

Merry Christmas to you from the BYU Holiday Diva, Pam McMurtry and family! 

Macy's SLC City Creek holiday window by the McMurtrys

Gingerbread house, a McMurtry tradition

Shortbread cookies, a family favorite!

McMurtry Shortbread Cookies

These need no adornment but you may wish to frost them or sprinkle them with sugar before baking. Melted white chocolate can be drizzled over the cooled cookies.

1 C butter, room temperature
2/3 C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C finely milled whole wheat flour
1/4 C cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 C chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. In a seperate bowl blend the flours, cornstarch and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix just until a crumbly dough is formed, add pecans if desired. Place dough between 2 sheets of wax paper and roll to 1/4 " thickness. Cut with cookie cutters, transfer to a parchment or waxed paper-lined baking pan and sprinkle with sugar or cookie decorations if desired. Bake smaller cookies at 325° for 15-18 min and larger ones for 20 - 23 minutes or until edges are just starting to turn golden.

The Gift of Art

Please visit my gallery on Etsy for original art for Christmas giving. There are many pieces of fine art available and I welcome commissioned work.

The Shepherdess
Watercolor after Bouguereau

Charcoal drawing

Oil on canvas

Green Bottle
Oil on canvas

Delicious recipes like wild rice cranberry salad, homemade popcorn balls, pumpkin pie cake that you and your loved ones will treasure for the holidays are available in 

A Harvest and Halloween Handbook 

Downloads immediately from: 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Eve Traditions

The Light of the World 
Dry Point Etching 
Pam McMurtry

This Friday, December 11, tune in for my favorite Christmas Eve celebration ideas on Kim Power Stilson's Talkworthy broadcast on BYU Sirius XM Radio 143 @ 3 p.m. Mountain/1 p.m. Eastern.

We will share ideas about creating a memorable Christmas observance that focuses on the birth of Jesus Christ who is the Light of the World. 

Here is an amazing recipe for a buttery cinnamon red-hot popcorn I named Krisp Kringle, shared by my friend Sue Allred that was featured in the Deseret News, thanks to Christine Rappleye For a dozen of my yummy recipes published by the Deseret News and other media sources, go to
For your holiday munching and sharing, enjoy Krisp Kringle

Krisp Kringle
16 cups popped buttery microwave popcorn (2-3 large bags)
16 cups air popped popcorn
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
8-9 ounce bag of cinnamon red hot candies
11 ounces white chocolate chips (optional)

Heat oven to 250 degrees. Lightly butter the inside of the large bowl and set aside, using the remaining butter in the syrup. Prepare both types of popcorn according to package directions. Using your fingers like a rake, remove the popped kernels and place them in the large bowl, discard the unpopped kernels.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining butter. When melted, add the sugar, corn syrup, salt and cinnamon candies. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cinnamon candies are melted. Pour over the popcorn and stir to evenly coat the kernels. Place in the oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave following the instructions on the package, being careful not to overcook. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled popcorn and toss to coat. Allow to cool thoroughly, break apart and store in airtight containers.

Dressing up your Kringle
Part of the fun of giving homemade treats is coming up with creative, original packaging worthy of your time and effort. Here are a few ideas for dressing up your Krisp Kringle.

Santa's Shirt
Fill a quart- or gallon-size zip seal bag with cooled Krisp Kringle. Cut out a simple paper collar to fold over and attach with double-stick tape or adhesive dots to hide the bag zipper. Cut out 2 mittens and attach them to the front of the bag. A piece of black ribbon makes a belt — the buckle could say "Santa's favorite popcorn."

Berry Baskets
Individual servings can be created with cellophane gift bags and pressed paper berry baskets, which are sold in a multipack at craft stores. Place a cellophane bag in a basket, fill with popcorn and tie with baker's twine. Add a sprig of greens and berries and a tag.

Movie Night Popcorn Bowl
Fill ceramic or paper popcorn serving bowls with Krisp Kringle. Wrap a DVD in a cellophane bag and set it atop the popcorn. Place the bowl on a large piece of cellophane, gather and tie with a ribbon.

Keep this Krisp Kringle recipe; you may wish to use it for snacking during the fireworks next summer; talk about Christmas all year!