Art for children in the Salt Lake City area

Summer is the perfect time to engage children in the visual arts. The pace of life changes and there is often time for creativity and reflection. I wrote this article that features 13 creative opportunities for children in the Salt Lake City area, it was published on

Here is a Pioneer Day scavenger hunt for your littles on Etsy. Learn the authentic activities
and duties of pioneer children while having fun!

Pioneer Scavenger Hunt

The Truths of Life Gleaned from Art Lessons

For the past 7 months I have been working as an art teacher for the 600+ students at Kay’s Creek Elementary. While I was teaching these 5 – 12 year-olds the elements of art and practices of artists, I was in reality teaching

Respect for oneself and one’s work

Respect for others and their work

Observation and recording skills

Problem-solving using discernment and creativity

Following directions while 
simultaneously incorporating creative thought 

Completing projects


Giving and receiving constructive criticism 

Believing in oneself

Cleaning up one’s mess

Helping a neighbor clean their mess

Using one’s resources and asking for additional resources when needed

The validity of one’s thought process and creative practice

Finding something beautiful and worthwhile in every piece

Learning from mistakes

Being humble in success while enjoying it simultaneously

Respecting one’s environment including people and materials

Most importantly:

Art (and people) doesn’t have to be perfect to have validity and that giving up perfectionism is freeing. 

When you allow yourself to fail you can succeed even more gloriously.

As Picasso said ” Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.”

Memorial Day Thoughts

Image may contain: flower, cloud, plant, sky, nature and outdoor

With extreme gratitude, I’d like to direct your attention to the memory of great patriots who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and safety. Although the poppies are a reminder of the soldiers we lost at Flanders Field, I am re-blogging this story from the annals of history about 1 courageous man and his vision for the preservation of Western Civilization and Christianity.

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 his 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 men  withstood the attacks as thousand on both sides died in battle. Al-Rahman was killed 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.

Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day and served as homage to the warriors of the American Civil War. Since that time, Americans have been involved in conflict around the world. 

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

What’s for dinner? Chicken tortilla soup to boost your veggie intake

Chicken Tortilla Soup is a delicious way to serve your family lots of vegetables. Save and freeze the juices from baked chicken to make broth or use convenient cubes, such as Knorr brand. A vegetarian version may be made by omitting the chicken and substituting vegetable broth. This recipe makes about 4 quarts.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

8 cups chicken broth or 8 cups water and 4 Knorr chicken broth cubes
1 bunch green onions with tops, sliced
10 baby carrots, sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 potato, cubed (leave the skin on)
1 cup bell pepper, chopped
6 ounces tomato paste
2 garlic cloves or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 can black beans, drained
12 ounces frozen corn
1 zucchini, coarsely diced
1 yellow crookneck squash, coarsely diced
2 chicken breast halves, grilled and cubed, or half of a rotisserie chicken, meat removed and cubed
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup salsa (I like Pace Picante Medium)

3 ounces sliced black olives, drained
1 bunch cilantro, washed, stems removed and coarsely chopped, reserve the leaves from about 6 stems for garnish.

In a large pot, bring to boil the broth or water and broth cubes, then add onions, carrots, celery, potato, bell pepper, tomato paste, squashes and garlic. Simmer for 25 minutes and add the chicken, tomatoes, salsa, olives and cilantro. Heat through.
Garnish with tortilla chips, avocado slices and shredded cheese. Top with reserved cilantro leaves. Serve with tortilla chips or corn bread.

1 bag tortilla chips
1-2 avocados, peeled and sliced
1½ cup shredded cheese (cheddar, reduced-fat cheddar, Jack or Mexican blend)

A Poem for Mother

I am forever grateful for my mother and all that she means to me. 

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom and the wonderful women who enrich my life and make the world a better place. I wrote this tribute for you

A Tribute to Mother
“Mother I love you so,” said the child.
“I love you more than I know.”
She laid her head on her mother’s arm
And the love between them kept them warm.”
Margaret Florence Smith

Happy Mother’s Day to
Sister and
precious women

Who give life,
and give joy.
Who bled
and fed
and hid Easter eggs,
and wrapped gifts
and dyed Halloween costumes.
Who took me to the zoo
and Disneyland,
and grew pumpkins,
and taught me to play chess
and feed my babies.
Who taught me to write thank you notes
And have good manners
and remember birthdays
and ancestors
(and love them).
And gave me crayons
and dolls
and retainers
and fishnet nylons
and a radio to take to the beach.
Who took me to visit my grandparents
and on road trips
and swimming
and had a barbecue.
Who taught me to pray
and love
and find joy
and set a beautiful table.
And to watch out for little ones,
and spell correctly,
and feed stray kittens,
and read books.
And to try,
and fail,
and try again.
Who found our great grandfathers were kings
and great grandmothers were queens.
Who took pictures,
and listened as I learned to read,
and filled a piñata.
And eat Thanksgiving at the beach like Pilgrims,
and go on bike rides,
and read Luke on Christmas Eve,
and sing carols,
and find treats in my stocking.
To share with those in need,
and love art and beauty,
and wear bows in my hair
and shoes that fit,
and remember God and go to church.
Who sewed clothes,
and prayed for soldiers,
and firemen,
and missionaries,
and me.
Who baked cakes
and arranged flowers,
and made 20,000 meals,
and made me brush my teeth.
And bought sugar sticks,
and made drawings,
and bread,
and Beef Stroganoff.
And soothed wounded hearts,
and took us to movies,
and to the woods,
and the sea.
And played
and prayed
and gave time and love and life
Thank you.

Need more vegetables in your diet? Try this hearty corn chowder

For my friends in the Mountain West, Midwest and East; is it still cold where you are? We had ice on the grass this morning.

Staying home with a steaming mug of corn chowder may be just the thing you need on cold nights. This hearty chowder is chock-full of veggies, comes together quickly and can be made with low-fat ingredients, although true connoisseurs love the bacon version. This recipe serves 12.

1 pound bacon or turkey bacon
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped coarsely
1 red bell pepper, chopped coarsely
10 russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ¾-inch pieces, diced
14 baby carrots, shredded
1 cup zucchini, shredded
1 ½ cups spinach or power greens, chopped
1 can corn, drained
1 can cream-style corn
2 cans mushroom soup
3 cans milk
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
In a large pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove, drain on paper towels and crumble when cool. Reserve 1 cup for garnish. Pour out the bacon grease, reserving about ¼ cup in the pot.
In the grease, saute the bell peppers, onion and celery until just tender. Remove vegetables, drain and set aside. Place the potatoes in the pot, add water until barely covered, bring to boil and cook about 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender but not mushy.
During the last 3 minutes add the carrots and zucchini. Drain the water, add the sauteed vegetables, greens, corn, mushroom soup, milk, salt and pepper. Simmer covered 5 minutes or until hot. Add crumbled bacon and additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Thank you to the following media sources for sharing this recipe:

The Deseret News – Utah
Deseret News Service (syndicated)
Bloomington Herald – Indiana
Bedford Times-Mail – Indiana
Daily American – Pennsylvania
Central Kentucky News – Kentucky
Aberdeen News – South Dakota
DNS (English channel 2)

Easter Memories

Happy Easter to you, may your celebration of the atonement and resurrection of our Lord bring you peace. My Mom recently gave me Bill O’Reilly’s book Killing Jesus to read. If you really want to appreciate the horror of Christ’s experience the last few days of his mortal life and be truly thankful for his gift to us, please read this book. O’Reilly and his co-author are Catholics who did extensive historical research to write a compelling account, which at times, is difficult to read.

The thoughts of Christ are a treasured part of my canon of knowledge. I especially enjoy holidays that were based on the traditions of Christianity; Easter and Christmas. These Miracle Eggs teach children the story of Jesus’ triumph over death.

The instructions for Easter Miracles Eggs are here:

 Here’s an Easter Menu for your celebration

Spinach and strawberry salad with Gorgonzola and berry vinaigrette
Glazed baked ham
Au gratin potatoes
Onion-baked potatoes
Green peas
Croissants with butter and berry jam
 Cream cheese-filled bunny carrot cakelets

This corn chowder recipe will help you enjoy your 3 – 5 servings of vegetables this weekend – thanks Deseret News!

Seussical, you are musical!

For their musical production, my school, Kay’s Creek Elementary in Kaysville, put on a production of Seussical Junior. I volunteered to help and was given the opportunity to create decorations for the proscenium, costumes and a chalkboard advertisement. 

This 4′ x 7′ (?) chalkboard greeted theater patrons as they entered the lobby of the school.

As you enter the office you are welcomed by a SCHOOL of fish made by about 400 students

My 5th and 6th graders made 50 fish costumes

And here’s the proscenium  ( a new word to me that means the front of the stage.) Our intrepid Miss Hunt and her father used a lift to hang the paper 20 feet plus high to attach the Seuss-themed paper cut-outs Newell and I made to compliment the great onstage decor made by one of our stage moms. 

So here’s to Miss Hunt and the talented students and parents of Kay’s Creek – thank for inviting me to help with Seussical Jr.! 

Erin Go Bragh!

The earth is about to dust off its snowy mantle and begin the wearin’ o’ the green!  When I was a teen growing up on the beach in So Cal, my friends and I would be preparing to brave the chilly ocean breezes to start our summer tan rituals. Now in Utah, I’m trying out my new winter coat that I bought on sale Friday and hoping the tulips and daffodil bulbs weren’t fooled by the temperate weather we had 2 weeks ago (and are regretting their emergence into another small blizzard.) Alas. 

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I’m feeling my favorite Irish Prayer

And an old story about a beautiful Jewish princess who married the Irish High King

Tamar Tephi and the High King Of Ireland

Did you know that there are old stories about 2 Jewish princesses that were taken  by the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah out of Jerusalem before it fell to the Babylonians? They were Zedekiah’s daughters and great-granddaughters of Jeremiah. The stories say he took them to Egypt for safety; all of Zedekiah’s sons were killed in front of him except Mulek who escaped to America. As Egypt was about to fall, they sailed up to Spain where one eventually married into the royal family there. He then took the other to Ireland and she married the chief high king. Her name was Tamar Tephi and the sacred burial ground of Tara was built for her and her husband when they died. The interesting thing about this story is that when a DNA study of population of Europe was complete, the people with the most closely matched DNA were in Spain and Ireland. Perhaps this helps explain why the people of Ireland were interested in the message of Christianity, it came from a branch of the House of Abraham, their ancestors in the Holy Land. Remember it was the Stewart (Stuart) King James that had the Bible translated into English. I believe he was a descendant of ancestors from Israel. The lion and the unicorn in British heraldry represented the tribes of Judah and Joseph. I also read that the British Union Jack had two meanings; one was the kingdom united under King James, the other was the reuniting of the Biblical patriarch Jacob’s family. 

For entertainment we’ll watch our fav Irish movies Darby O’Gill and the Little People and The Secret of Roan Inish to help us get our Irish pride on, or read again Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization.

I’ll be watching the market for the corned beef brisket that will be the star of our St. Patrick‘s Day celebration.

Here’s our menu:

Spinach salad with fresh strawberries, feta, caramelized pecans with Gerard’s Light Champagne dressing

Corned beef with a brown sugar mustard glaze

Steamed cabbage in a butter Dijon sauce

Roast asparagus and carrots

Baked onion potatoes

Lemon cherry scones

Cream cheese frosted shamrock shortbread with pistachio ice cream

And the leprechaun cottage and garden of tiny vegetables

So with the hospitality and warmth of the Irish, we head into the season of fun and fellowship as we remember the life of one of Christianity’s greatest missionaries; St. Patrick. 

Lá Shona Fhéile Pádraig!
And here are 3 fun ways to have a pinch-free St. Patrick’s Day;
welcome Deseret News, Deseret News Syndication, Bloomington Herald Times, Bedford Times-Mail and Daily American readers!


Its all about the heart

Queen of Hearts Tea Party for Valentine’s Day

Recently I became a big fan of Tim Burton’s Alice Through the Looking Glass movie. With the primary icon of Valentine’s Day being a heart, Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts came to mind and I started doing research to find out whether the Queen of Heart’s obsessive painting of white roses had any connection with Britain’s Lancaster/York War of the Roses in the 15th Century. The Lancaster branch of the Plantagenet dynasty was represented by a red rose while the Yorks had a white rose. The not-so-civil war went on between the factions for 35 years until Henry Tudor of Lancaster claimed the throne and married Elizabeth of York, effectively turning the white roses red.

Stained glass images of Henry VII & Elizabeth of York at Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales.:

On a genealogical website, I once saw that I was a 14th great-granddaughter of Henry Tudor and so my research became more personal.  According to tradition, Henry and Elizabeth had a great love. She also loved the recently introduced French trend of playing cards (a little too much according to historians) and when she died following childbirth at the age of 37, according to legend, Henry had the image of the Queens of Hearts on all of playing cards in England made to look like her. 

Portrait of Elizabeth of York (1466-1503), amongst English Royalty was a daughter to a king, niece to a king, wife to a king, mother to a king and grandmother to a queen.:

But historians say that it was her mother-in-law Margaret who had a penchant for eliminating her enemies by removing their heads. Enough said.

Valentine’s Day is an enigmatic holiday. With pagan origins of fertility rituals at Lupercalia on February 15th, anything resembling the root words of Lu, Lugh or Lucifer always makes me uneasy. The pagan rituals included the sacrifice of dogs and goats; the goatskins were stripped and dipped in goat blood then used to flog hopeful young women wishing for love and fertility in the coming year. The names of eligible young women were gathered and drawn by bachelors with whom they would cohabit during the next season, the women probably hoping it would become a permanent arrangement. 

During the early part of the 5thcentury, Pope Gelasius I combined Lupercalia and the day memorializing 3 Christian martyrs named Valentine who had been executed by Roman emperor Claudius II. Claudius had decided unmarried male soldiers made the best warriors and outlawed the performing of marriage for his troops. 

Image result for st valentine

During the 2nd and 3rd centuries at least three Christian priests named Valentine secretly performed marriages and as a result were caught and executed. After being sainted by the Catholic Church, the name St. Valentine became synonymous with the celebration of love and the result, like Halloween, was a hybrid holiday with both charming and unfortunate sinister roots. 

For centuries Valentine’s Day has been associated with love; it was thought that even birds paired off at Valentine’s Day. In medieval times, feasts included the lottery of love, like the pagans except guests were paired for the duration of the party. Promoted by Chaucer and Shakespeare, the holiday’s dark past was mostly forgotten and now moderns woo one another with chocolate, flowers, candles and poetry (and occasional bling). Wishing to view the holiday from the glass half-full perspective, it may be appropriate to present a holiday tea party to celebrate love with the unfortunately dark roots hidden away from modern gaze.

Let’s return to the warm and wonderful realm of love. While I adore the idea of romance, apparently the romantic love needed to narrow our ardor and launch us into exclusive pairs expands and evolves into a less-dramatic, more stable variety of love a few years after marriage. Factor in a few delightful children and love becomes a more inclusive emotion with community-building ability. 

Apparently only a small percentage of the population is involved in the explosive youthful pairing love at any given time and more of us live in the world of brotherly, familial affection so I choose to focus on that stage of love; with that in mind, A Queen of Heart’s Valentine’s Day tea party complete with warm red hearts seems like just the thing for a cold winter afternoon.

Here is a fun little crown you can make for your own Liddells or guests on Valentine’s Day. The author of the Alice in Wonderland stories, Charles Dodson or Lewis Carroll as we know him, was inspired by the Liddell girls, especially Alice. One day as he and a friend were taking the girls in a boat down the Thames, he made up the stories to entertain them. Encouraged to write them down, he eventually had them published and they became a huge hit. 

Queen of Hearts Crowns

Of course a Queen of Hearts tea requires crowns for each guest; these are inexpensive and easy to create.

For each crown you will need 
One  4” glittery red paper heart (buy or make from cardstock)
7 silver pipe cleaners 
Several heart rhinestones

For a large crown, twist together 2 pipe cleaners, leaving 3” tails at the twist. Bend each tail into a heart half and twist together. Repeat with a third and fourth pipe cleaner adjusting to fit the head of the wearer. Use a 5th pipe cleaner to make an arch and attach to the front of the crown. Attach the heart to the front arch using a hot glue gun then add two smaller arches that are glued to the front of the heart and the crown side . Curl the ends of the pipe cleaners and add sparkly rhinestones.   


The British are known for their iconic afternoon teas even though tea parties may have originating in France. A formal tea consists of 3 courses which may be creatively arranged on a 3-tier serving piece. On the lowest plate is the first course: finger sandwiches, and savory appetizers. The second tier contains warm scones, clotted cream (a decadent cross between butter and whipped cream) and preserves.  On the top tier are a variety of pastries, cakes, shortbread and fruit. For American tastes, try adding chocolate-dipped strawberries and clever little footed dishes filled with Valentine’s candy, truffles and nuts.

Of course a Valentine’s tea needs tea, but many of us don’t drink that beverage. A cup of tea minus the tea equals lemon and sugar or lemonade. Add pureed strawberries and strawberry hearts for a delicious pink drink to serve in porcelain tea cups with labels that read “drink me.”

P.S. Happy anniversary Arizona! 105 years today. And Happy Galentine’s, Palentine’s and Single Awareness Day! Plus a little eye candy for you:

I was surprised to find that my article for the Deseret News in Utah was published the week following Valentine’s Day, but here it is; it was also picked up by newspaper websites in Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana and a newsfeed.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox Happy Valentine’s Day xoxoxoxoxoxox