Monday, July 31, 2017

Favorite Authors: Agatha Christie

I don't recall how old I was when I first read a mystery by Agatha Christie. But I do remember going through a phase of checking each book out of the Mesa Public Library. It was summer and I would ride my bike twice a week the three miles to the library to get a new batch of books. I remember loving Christie's books because it was almost impossible to guess who was the murderer.

Agatha Christie is a British author born in Devon in 1890. Unusual for the time, Agatha was homeschooled by her father. She loved to read and had a vivid imagination. She started writing in her later teen years, first experimenting with short stories. In 1910 her family moved to Cairo to benefit her mother's health. Cairo became the setting of several of her books later in life.

In 1912 Agatha met Archie Christie, a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps. Their courtship progressed quickly, but was interrupted by WWI. They were not able to marry until Christmas Eve of 1914. Just three days later Archie had to return to the war. It was not until after the war ended their married life truly began.

Agatha began writing more in earnest at this time. Her sister, Madge, bet her she could not write a good detective story. Additionally, Agatha found her day job at a local hospital to be extremely boring. When the hospital opened a dispensary, she took the exam to become an apothecary and changed jobs. This knowledge of medicine and poisons became invaluable to her writing. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which uses her knowledge as an apothecary, took a while to get published, but resulted in a publisher asking for five more manuscripts. Agatha had won her bet with Madge.

Agatha is actually known for a real-life personal mystery. In December 1925, possibly concussed, she disappeared. Her car was found abandoned the next morning. She was eventually discovered in a hotel in London suffering from amnesia. She did not recognize her husband when he came to get her. Her marriage began to fail after this and she never spoke of this time to others. By 1928 she and Archie were divorced. About five years later she met and married Max Mallowan, an archaeologist and language specialist.

Christie's career as an author was most prolific during her later years. She is known for several famous detective characters, including Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Poirot is a Belgian retired detective who is known for his methodical, precise work, as well as his mustache. Miss Jane Marple is an elderly, charming British woman who blends into the background, but has intuitive listening and observation skills.

I don't own all that many Agatha Christie books, since I read most of them from the library. I did notice, however, that Project Gutenberg has two of Agatha Christie's books available as free ebook downloads. You can find them here. I downloaded The Mysterious Affair at Styles to re-read (I could not remember the plot having read it so long ago) and enjoyed once again Christie's writing ability. If you have not read any of Agatha Christie's works, this is a great place to start!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ask the Editor: Doozy

I had no idea doozy and daisy had a linked background. Love learning new things! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Six Fun Activities to Celebrate Pioneer Day

Not living in Utah makes celebrating Pioneer Day a lot more difficult. No parades really to attend (unless the ward opts to do one). No decorations about town. No fireworks shows. About the only thing that happens is mention of it at church. :-(

So what's a mom to do to celebrate Pioneer Day under these circumstances? Well, here are six easy activities to try:

1. Cook Dinner Over a Fire
This does not have to be super difficult--no Dutch ovens required! You have permission to go the hot-dog-on-a-stick route if you want. Or you could take it up a notch to Hobo dinners (tinfoil dinners). Here is a link to 21 tinfoil recipes you could try. To make it extra pioneer-like, have your children gather sticks and pine cones to use to help with the fire.

If you are brave, you might try to make some of these more authentic pioneer recipes. The buttermilk donuts sound yummy!

2. Play a pioneer game
Pulling sticks is probably the most famous Mormon pioneer game and can easily be played with a broom handle. Sit face to face and foot to foot with your opponent. One person's hands are on the outside of the other's. Both players pull as hard as they can. The stronger player will remain seated, while the weaker (losing) player gets pulled upward.

Additionally, this article in the 1989 July Friend Magazine describes some fun games pioneers played. One easy game (NO equipment required!) is Shadow Tag. It is played like regular tag, except instead of touching the other person to tag, the It Person only has to step on the shadow of one of the other players.

3. Go for a Hike
Crossing the plains was a lot like hiking. Add some cowboy hats, bandanas, or boots and it becomes even a little more authentic. While hiking, sing some songs about pioneers, or talk about how hard it would have been to be outdoors all day and to not have enough water or supplies. Of course, if you live anywhere near a pioneer trail, be sure to use it!

4. Read About Pioneer Ancestors
There is something about hearing true stories of real pioneers that helps to bring the whole purpose of Pioneer Day into perspective. The sacrifice and endurance the pioneers experienced can help us to have a higher level of appreciation. If you are not sure if any of your ancestors were pioneers, log onto this website on and it can help you search. In lieu of that, there are plenty of pioneer stories in the Church magazines and other books (I Walked to Zion is a favorite of mine).

5. Learn About Farm Animals
Pioneers relied heavily on animals to live and thrive. Oxen and horses helped to pull wagons across the plains, but other animals were essential to living on the frontier and to farm. If you live near a petting zoo, have a neighbor with farm animals, or can attend a local rodeo, take time to learn and appreciate this aspect of pioneer life.

Alternatively, you might choose to learn about animals pioneers would have seen while crossing the plains (i.e., bison, rattlesnakes, bear, prairie dogs, etc.).

6. Make a Pioneer Day Craft
This website has some darling craft ideas for Pioneer Day. There are ideas for a wide variety of age ranges and skill levels to consider. I think I will let my daughters each choose one to do this upcoming week!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Three of My Favorite Pioneer Stories

Next week is Pioneer Day! I love hearing pioneer stories and sharing them with my family. This year Pioneer Day is on Monday, so that's the perfect time to get together and share the experiences of these amazing Saints. Here are three of my favorite:

1. From my husband's line: One day while crossing the plains Hans Olsen Magleby noticed a large leather valise half buried in the dust along the trail. He picked it up and laid it in his handcart. After he had made camp that night, Hans opened the bag and found it was full of gold! Hans gave the bag to the head of the handcart company, Captain Rowley, and said nothing about it. A group of men from the gold fields of California came into camp a few days later. They told how they had lost a bag and wondered if anyone had seen it. Hans immediately spoke up and said he had found it. Captain Rowley gave the bag to the men. Because Hans had been honest, the men gave him $5 and a bag of salt. The gold miners said that the valise contained about $8000 in gold. But for Hans, being honest was more important than money. (Adapted from The Life History of Hans Olsen Magleby [1958], 13)

2. From my own ancestral line:Alice Cherrington’s father was very sick with mountain fever, which added to the hardships of crossing the plains. When they reached Green River (Wyoming), there being so many of the family sick, Captain Smith decided to leave the family behind to give them a chance to heal. The station master had a good sized room which he let the family have to stay in while there.There were acres and acres of wild native currents grew there. Alice’s father gathered them, her mother stewed them, and the family ate so many of them the mountain fever was cured.

Still the family had few provisions--a small portion of flour and a ham bone. The station master was very good to the Cherringtons. One day he was going to a place called Wood River. Alice’s father had a watch he brought from England, which he asked the station master to take and trade or sell for provisions. The station master took the watch and brought the provisions her father sent for, but also the watch back. Within a few months the Cherringtons were able to continue their journey, making it safely to Salt Lake. (Adapted from Our Darton Ancestors).

3.  And this last one because I love the miracle that happens here: Ann Jewell Rowley and her family were converts of Church from England. A widow left with seven children, Sister Rowley decided to head to Zion. One of the more challenging parts of their journey was finding enough food to feed all of them. Sometimes Ann would see her children pull rawhide strips off the wagon to chew on because they were so hungry. Worried about their lack of supplies, she went to the Lord in prayer, seeking His guidance. Soon she remembered saving two, small, hard sea biscuits from their passage over the Atlantic. Sister Rowley wrote in her journal: “Surely, that was not enough to feed 8 people, but 5 loaves and 2 fishes were not enough to feed 5000 people either, but through a miracle, Jesus had done it. So, with God’s help, nothing is impossible.  I found the biscuits and put them in a Dutch oven and covered them with water and asked for God's blessing. Then I put the lid on the pan and set it on the coals. When I took off the lid a little later, I found the pan filled with food. I kneeled with my family and thanked God for his goodness. That night my family had sufficient.” (Adapted from Furnace of Affliction)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Review: When We Don't See Eye to Eye

I picked this book up off of the clearance table at Seagull Book a six weeks ago, interested to see what it had to say about conflict. The topic fits right in with what I teach in my communication classes, and I was eager to read a more detailed LDS perspective on the subject. Plus, I have not felt the textbooks I teach from offer students enough tools to use in this area.

When We Don't See Eye to Eye turned out to be enlightening and helpful.

Pulsipher's writing style is easy to follow and engaging considering the nonfiction topic. He has several good personal stories he tells, as well as a great one I had never heard about from one of the apostles. I never found myself bored while reading--but I did need to take time to really digest. In fact, there are some parts of this book I want to re-read to make sure I've really grasped the concepts.

I particularly liked Pulsipher's cyclical model for conflict and his relation of it to gospel principles. Basically, he says there are three ways to respond to conflict: the first way is to give in (telestial response), the second is to try and strike back (terrestrial), and the third is to assertively, lovingly point out the problem (celestial). Pulsipher cites several stories from the New Testament showing Christ's utilization of assertive love, and provides great insight I was unaware of previously.

If you are a communication nerd like me, I highly recommend this book. There is a lot to learn. I would love to find a way to teach some of these concepts to my teens... maybe I will have to come up with a FHE lesson I can post here in the future.

Book Blurb:
"We may find ourselves at the center of the turbulence or watching from the sidelines. But regardless of the consistency, intensity, or proximity of anger and aggression in our lives, most of us share a common handicap—our greatest resource, the weapon of love, remains either sheathed or only timidly employed . . . Conflict and contention are among the more undesirable—and unavoidable—characteristics of human nature. While it is within our power to control our own actions and attitudes, how can we encourage those around us to break the cycle of anger and negativity? Learn to limit others’ negative power by wielding a weapon stronger than hate or greed or fear or malice—the weapon of love. Author J. David Pulsipher encourages readers to take a Christ-centered approach to negativity with a comprehensive look at how conflict arises, how human nature distorts conflict, and how to use love as a force against anger."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Favorite Authors: Emilie Loring

As a junior high student I read everything I got my hands on, especially historical romance books. After working my way through the recommendations of my English teacher, I asked the school librarian for ideas. I'll never forget him leading me to a shelf of books by author Emilie Loring, each of the hardback spines showing the wear of numerous readers. And after I read my first chosen Loring book (With this Ring--I read the whole book that day after school) I was so excited to return and get a new one the next day.

If you're not familiar with Emilie Loring's books, here is a good description: "Loring's books are highly formulaic and focus on the 'wholesome love' and independent spirit of women who still value homemaking and motherhood. There are no sexual situations in her novels, and most are tinged with action-adventure plots that stimulate the main characters' emotions and provide drama. . . Beyond romance, her books also explore a selection of topics including, but not limited to marriage, love, American patriotism, freedom, and optimism" (source: Wikipedia). Most of her books take place in the 1930s and 1940s, many during WWII.

About ten years ago I stumbled across an Emilie Loring book for sale at a garage sale. After re-reading it and re-discovering my enjoyment of Loring's works, I started collecting her books. Mostly I bought them on E-bay three at a time. I think now I own all but three or four. And I still re-read them on occasion. One of my favorites is The Trail of Conflict, which is actually available for Kindle for FREE on Amazon here.

As I have been collecting Loring books I have learned a little about this favorite author. She didn't start writing until she was in her 50s. During the height of her career she was selling more books than Agatha Christie and her publisher (Little, Brown Company) was running full page ads for her new releases in the New York Times. She died in her 90s, after publishing about 20 books. Her sons found parts of numerous manuscripts among her things after her death and worked with a ghostwriter to finish these additional novels.

If you are interested in reading an historical romance, try an Emilie Loring book. Or, if you are interested in learning more about this favorite author, check out Patti Bender's website and blog The Emilie Loring Collection.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July

It's hard to be in high heat on a traditionally outdoors holiday. Still, we are able to have fun together as a family. Here's what we are doing today:

Hanging out our flag.
(Love this 2008 pic of my Kitty!)

Swimming at the pool.
Smoking ribs.
Making a flag cake with Sweetie Peach.

Lighting a few fireworks with neighbors.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July!!