Thursday, December 31, 2009

one, simple word....

I can't believe another year has come and gone. Can it really be time to "name the year" again??? To be honest, I have been too distracted by the busy-ness of Christmas to have given this much thought.

Last year I told you about this - and it seems that others have taken this same road - you can read about them here and here.

So what will it be? What do you want this New Year to *be* for you? In what way do you want to impact others next year - to really make a difference? In a word.....who do you want to be in 2010?

I would like to start the year off with a contest - everyone who leaves their *word* in the comments here will be entered into a drawing for a necklace with their word on this.

I will draw a name on January 7, 2010 - that gives you ONE WEEK to ponder this....

What do you think? Are you game? At that time I will also unveil my word - I need time to think about it too!

I am excited to hear from you - to be inspired by you.

Thank you for taking the time to visit me this past year - for hanging with me as I navigate this world of blogging......

Wishing you a Happy and a Blessed New Year!

Your friend,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

my Christmas card to you....

Here is the Christmas card & letter I sent out this year ~ I wanted to send it to all of you as well...

from our home to yours...

It seems like I just sat down to write the 2008 Christmas letter ~ does anyone else feel like time is flying by at warp speed??? We had a busy year ~ here are the highlights...

Dusty arrived home from Afghanistan in early February!!! He, Aleah and the kids are still enjoying life in Vegas where he continues to work on the Predator drone. He is being trained on the Reaper now, and unfortunately is getting ready to go back to Afghanistan in early 2010. Aleah began Beauty College in April, so their lives are extremely busy. Dusty is Mr. Mom during the day (works swing shift) while Aleah goes to school (she LOVES it and is doing GREAT!) Karise is four (almost five!) and aspires to live the life of a Princess. Dres just turned two, and loves anything that roars or that has wheels! We are able to *see* them and talk to them through Skype, which makes those months of separation more bearable!

Jaime and Jacob arrived in San Luis Obispo from New Zealand in late March!!! The good news was, they’re back home ~ the bad news was we had to give back our grand~dog Murphy. They had a marvelous six months in New Zealand, Jacob working in the tasting room of a brewery, and Jaime working in the winery there. As much as they loved that leg of their adventure, I think it felt good to be back home in their own bed again. Jacob is back at Trust Automation and Jaime is a freelance writer in the food & wine industry, and has a handful of piano students. But their BIG news is that they are thrilled to be expecting their first child ~ a BOY! ~ in early May! Another grandbaby!!!!! They will be joining us up here for Christmas and we can’t wait to see the *three* of them!

This past winter was another doozie ~ we had more record snows, but we were able to get out of it for a month in our wee trailer. We first went south to Las Vegas where we were able to spend a week or so with Dust, Aleah and the grandkids. From there we traveled to Escondido to see my dad, then on to Hollydale for a visit with Dennis’s mom, and finally north to the Central Coast to spend time with Jaime & Jacob, as well as so many of our old friends and neighbors.’ We spent Easter with all children and grandchildren, and then left to come back home to Idaho. But we had such a great time that as soon as we came home we traded in the trailer for a larger RV ~ one that we can live out on the road in for longer periods of time. So as soon as we can’t stand the cold and snow any longer, we will take off for warmer weather! We made a couple of trial runs in the Spring and Summer ~ just to try it out and work out the kinks ~ first to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula & Victoria, B.C. and then in August we drove north to Banff and Lake Louise in Canada. We also had a fun when Dust, Karise & Dres (unfortunately Aleah had school and couldn’t join us) and Jaime & Jacob came up to visit Oma & Oompa over the 4th of July. We did lots of boating, swimming, tubing, fishing, campfires and biking on the Route of the Hiawatha. Oh yes, and plenty of fireworks ~ of course!

We also got back into the *carnie* world ~ we set up our tent and sold our wares at the Vintage Barn shows up here in Idaho, and I traveled to California for the Remnants of the Past Antique Show. Dennis designed and built custom shelves, window boxes, & cabinets and I sold my jewelry & ornaments. Even though the economy was suffering, we managed to pull off record sales! Some of this may be due to the fact that I dove into the blogging and social networking world, which was a great way to share our work. It has also been a new creative outlet for me that I never expected.

Dennis also got into cutting down old and diseased trees in our area and splitting it for firewood ~ which we are enjoying now since the temperature has dipped! And I joined the Northwest Sacred Music Chorale. Along with our usual concert schedule, we had the opportunity to be the core choir for the local sing-a-long Messiah, accompanied by the Coeur d’Alene Symphony ~ Halleluiah! We are also still enjoying our weekly in-depth neighborhood bible study with some terrific people….it only took us a year and a half to get through the book of John!

All in all it has been a good year, with some highs and some lows. We lost some special friends this year ~ Danny Barabas, Aleah’s father, was one of them. He left this world in April after a long and courageous fight with cancer. In the words of Paul, Danny fought the good fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith.

It has been such a tough year for many folks ~ more than a few friends we know are struggling with illness or have lost loved ones. Some have lost their jobs and are barely hanging onto their homes. But through all of life’s challenges we celebrate the One who never changes ~ the One whose shoulders are strong enough to carry us through both the darkest of times as well as those times of celebration and contentment and it is His Son whose birth we celebrate this season. After all.....

He is the Lord of Lords ~ Mighty God ~ the Prince of Peace!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

my Christmas....Idaho-style!

I have been so busy filling those last minute orders, that I am just now putting the finishing touches on my Christmas decorations. So here it is, December 22nd and I want to finally invite you into my home to share a bit of goodwill with you....

The first thing you will see upon entering my front door is my beloved Nativity - it is a beautiful Fontanini scene that Dennis designed a stable for. He built it several years ago from 100 year old *felled* redwood. If you look closely (to the right) you will see a little drummer boy and his goat (my Dusty) and a little girl spinning yarn (my Jaime)

my fireplace and mantle decked out! The word REJOICE spelled out in inexpensive gold-glittered cardboard letters from Joann's....

you know I had to have a couple of candy cane-carrying rabbits get in the act!
I made this Father Christmas years ago when I took a porcelain doll class - I cut up a real fur coat to trim his cloak with.

Dennis made this cool mirror from an old window and it sets the stage for my Santa collection in the dining room...
this swag says *shalom*

O Christmas Tree.....

I made this guy in the same doll class - he wears newborn long underwear!

Here is my favorite ornament of them all - doesn't Monkey look excited for Santa to arrive???
he's been a very good little boy....

Finally, here is one of Dennis's wonderful churches - he lit it from the inside and filled the planter with greens - it is the most charming greeting as you enter our driveway....

so from my little light in the attic to your home.....

I wish you.....

Merry Christmas and a Blessed and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

smoke and mirrors...

As we enter into the season of Advent (arrival that has been awaited ~ especially of something momentous), I thought I'd share a little story with you....

Before we retired up here to Idaho, I was Visual Arts Director at New Life Community Church in California. I was part of a creative team that worked out all of the artistic elements of the weekend services, as well as spearheading an art gallery that gave many artists an opportunity to express their faith through their art. Our pastor was part of this team, and had very specific and creative ideas for bringing the Gospel to life through the use of the arts.

One particular year, as we approached Advent, he wanted us to create a work of art that would illustrate the coming birth of Christ - something to use as a visual aid that he could refer to in his sermons each of the four weeks of Advent. Pastor Ron wanted something that would not be revealed all at once - a piece that each week would be added on to throughout the season until the last Sunday when the last piece of the puzzle would be revealed. He wanted to create a sense of excitement and anticipation - which is what the Advent Season is all about!

The inspiration for the whole concept came from a stained glass piece Ron had seen somewhere, and since I was more of the "hands on" artist in the group, it was up to me to create this piece. I was given the titles of each week's sermon for inspiration, and lots of great creative input from the team.

My dilemma......
  1. I wasn't a stained glass artist
  2. I had only a couple weeks to design it
  3. I had to add to the piece every week to tell the story
  4. The space in which the piece would be displayed was cavernous (to say the least!) - 20' at it's lowest point
What I came up with was truly divinely inspired - I can't even remember how exactly it developed, but this is what I did....

  1. Asked my dear husband to build a huge Gothic-inspired *box* - a mere 12' high - it had to be huge or it would be swallowed up in that space. Oh and please paint it black.
  2. Asked my art gallery partner, artist and art-hanger extraordinaire, Stefanie (more about the amazing Stefanie Hilstein here)to find some simple coloring book images and enlarge them to fit each of the four spaces. I needed a shepherd, some angels and Mary holding the Christ child - I would take care of the rest.
  3. Rounded up all colors of wrapping paper (cheap!) and got to work.
  4. Divided the box into quadrants. (one for each week of Advent)
  5. Cut up all the wrapping paper into geometric shapes.
  6. Decoupaged the paper onto the box leaving "grout lines"
  7. Traced the first image onto the first space
  8. Filled it in with more decoupage.
As each week unfolded, I would come in and add the next image - but enough talking - see for yourself.....

The Ancient Lights of Christmas
...Finding Hope in the Darkness

Week #1
“The Gift That’s Worth the Wait”
Isaiah 64:1 – 9

Week #2
“Getting Ready To Receive”
Isaiah 40:1–11; Luke 2:8-11; Mark 1:1–8; 2 Peter 3:8-15

Week #3
“The Best That’s Yet To Come”
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Luke 2:8-14; 4:1-30

Week #4
“When Dreams Come True”
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7; Luke 1:26-55

And here is the completed work....

Just to give you some context as to how huge this piece was...

...that screen is twenty feet from the stage floor!

I have to give a shout out to Scott Spierling and his amazing lighting - the way he lit it made it look like actual stained glass - I remember someone actually tracking me down and asking me if I needed any extra glass for future projects!

I'm telling you, most of what I do is smoke 'n mirrors...

One last thing...I challenge you this Christmas season to go back and read through those scriptures - from the prophet Isaiah telling of Christ's coming to the New Testament's all there in black & smoke and mirrors there.

'Tis the Season...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Nanny!

Today my mom would have been 84 years old - hard to believe. If you have been a regular follower of this blog, you will remember Nanny from my previous blog post here.
Birthdays are all about celebrating and honoring a life, and when a loved one has left us, many of us go to a grave site to pay our respects on their birthday.
My sister Kate, brother Tyler and I had scattered mom's ashes at the beach in her beloved Summerland,Ca., as well as around the little park overlooking the beach there, where we shared many fond and funny memories - of birthday parties and pinatas that were empty because my mom thought they came loaded - didn't know that she had to fill the darn thing with candy. (you should have seen the look on the grandkids' faces when they whacked that thing open and NOTHING fell out!)
I think it was my sister who thought of donating a "memorial" bench to Summerland's Lookout Park - the perfect way to remember our mom in the most perfect spot. Nanny was a quiet, introspective woman, so a bench looking out over the ocean seemed like a great fit.
A couple of years after moving up here to Idaho, I was visiting California and knew I would be traveling through Summerland. Armed with paper and crayons, I stopped by Nanny's bench to pay my respects. After having a good cry, I pulled myself together and made a few rubbings from the plaque on her bench:
So today I am re-visiting Nanny's bench by running my hands over the rubbing saved from that trip.
If you are ever at Lookout Park in Summerland and need to take a moment to gather your thoughts, stop by and visit Nanny's bench - at the furthest end of the park in a quiet little spot away from the noise of the picnics, parties and bar-b-ques....

Happy Birthday sweet Nanny!


Monday, November 23, 2009

grat•i•tude : \ˈgra-tə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\ noun ; from Latin "gratus" ~ grateful; the state of being grateful; thankfulness

Saturday, November 23, 1974 - a day filled with emotion.

Thirty five years ago I married my best friend - that sounds so cliche, but it is true. We were musicians living "for free" as caretakers on a beach estate in the Santa Barbara area. We had little money, few responsibilities, but knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

I am so thankful that I followed through with an invitation to come and spend an evening singing with a crazy group of boys...

...and thankful that one of them asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.
Happy Anniversary to the love of my life.....long may we run.

As we enter into this busy season, my heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude for my lovely family and dear friends...

...and for a Savior who has brought me from darkness into Light.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.



Thursday, November 19, 2009

and speaking of snowmen.....

Around this time last year I hosted my Bunco group. I needed to come up with a fabulous dessert, so I decided on cupcakes - but not your ordinary cupcake.

I made regular old vanilla cupcakes (from a mix) and frosted them with store bought icing - then dipped them in coconut "snow".

Pretty boring.

I have a thing for snowmen, as you've probably noticed. I love meringues too - who doesn't? (oh yeah, my daughter doesn't)

Meringues kind of look like mounds of snow, don't you think? If I made three different sizes and piled them on top of each other(using a dab of frosting as cement), they might look like a snowman.

Using pretzel sticks for arms, a dot of melted chocolate for eyes, and an orange Tic-Tac for a nose...

I plopped this little snow dude on top of one of those cupcakes - success!!!

My dessert was a hit - and made the ladies smile....

It made for a pretty cute centerpiece too!

Here's my recipe for the meringues:

Meringue Cookies Recipe:

3 large egg whites (3 ounces or 90 grams)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 cup (150 grams) superfine or caster sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar simply take granulated white sugar and process it for about 30 seconds in a food processor)

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven
to 200 degrees F and place the rack in the center of your oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can form the mounds with a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) plain tip, or I often just use two spoons to make the cookies.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Note: The meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks and when you rub a little between your thumb and index finger it does not feel gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers.

Before placing the cookies on the cookie sheet
, place a little of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper. This will prevent the paper from sliding. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) tip. Create 3 sizes of mounds of meringue in rows on the prepared baking sheet. Alternatively, spoon the mounds of meringue, using two spoons, onto the prepared sheets.

Bake the meringues for approximately 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, rotating the baking sheet from front to back (about half way through) to ensure even baking. The meringues are done when they are pale in color and fairly crisp.

Note: it is much easier to pierce the meringue when it is fresh out of the oven and warm - it tends to crack after it has cooled. Use a toothpick to create each hole for arms and nose.
Also, finish each *section* before stacking them on top of each other.

Cupcakes are not just for kids anymore....they've come a loooooong way.

That's all from Pammy's kitchen...thanks for stopping by!


Let no one ever come to you without leaving better or happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile
~ Mother Theresa

Sunday, November 8, 2009

there's a chill in the air....

A few years ago I stumbled upon Dee Foust's work for Bayberry Cove - I loved those potbellied vintage-esque snowmen and angels and decided to try my hand at sculpting.

First I found this book and started playing around with Sculpey clay.... I discovered that as long as I followed the step-by-step directions,
it was remarkably easy to do!

Here are the first faces I came up with....

They needed a body, so I made one out of paper mache clay...

Once I had a body and an assortment of faces I was satisfied with, I decided to try and *clone* them by making latex molds of them using this product.....

they don't look like much yet...
I filled the molds with this.....

It takes so much time to make one I can make as many as I want to and they all come out the same!

They needed a few accessories....After affixing their heads to their bodies I added a little rouge and antique-ing to make them come to life....
I decided to add some vintage mica flakes and glass glitter too.
His collar is made from a used coffee filter. Some may think my wee SnowBees are a little scary.

I think they are...




Thanks for visiting!


Monday, October 26, 2009

the great wall...

In April of 2005, my son Dusty, his wife Aleah, and their baby Karise were visiting us in California from Germany where he was stationed in the Air Force. Since it had been a few years since all the kids had been in the same zip code, I called on an old friend to see if he could take some photographs of all of them - before everyone flew the coop again.

That old friend is Barry Goyette - a gifted photographer who I originally met when he took PR shots of my daughter Jaime when she was applying to theater programs. You see, he used to do all the photography for PCPA (Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts) I had also seen an exhibit of his in San Luis Obispo, Ca., where he used regular people as his models. These unique portraits were quite stark - black & white and printed life-sized. I never forgot this, so when I called him to photograph the kids, I asked him for that same "look". Barry never disappoints....

here is what he came up with.....

Dusty..... Aleah & the wee Karise..... Jaime & Jacob.....

equals.... happy family!
This is the composite Barry put together - most people think they were standing together when this was taken.

I had him print this very large, and ordered a few of the individual shots as well. I had Dennis build three "floating" shelves for me, and I came up with this arrangement:
The *F A M I L Y* garland I made from 2" beveled glass - and I think you might spot a couple of familiar paper dolls dangling from corners....

I'm not sure if Barry would approve of me stacking all these photographs against each other - or hanging fun little chatchkes from each corner - but I love it!

Fast forward a few years....we have a new grandchild, and Karise is growing like a weed....

Time for an update.

Since that original photo shoot, we had moved up to Idaho, and Dusty's family was now stationed in Las Vegas. I knew I was going to be in California for a few days last fall, so I called on Barry again, made sure all the *youngsters* could be in Ca. when I was, and we had another session.
Also, Dusty was deployed to Afghanistan, and I thought it would be the perfect Christmas gift for him to open so far away from home...

Here's Karise now, almost four years old!

...and 10 month old Dresden, just getting used to those legs....holding onto mommy's hand....

...and here is the composite Barry put together of the two of them... may look like this is one shot, but again, Barry worked his magic and put two shots together to come up with this one.

Just for fun, here are some examples of why I continue to call on Barry...
Jaime at 18....
This is the album cover Barry did for the CD Jaime recorded in 1996...

...this one is almost like a picture within a picture...I love it's graininess...
Barry used Jaime's image from the above photo shoot for this poster...
Barry also is a master at photographing dance - I love how he not only captures dancers in action....

but how he is able to use them as still life as well...

Want to see more of Barry's work? Click here.

...this is a favorite - little brother and big sister...

Lastly, Barry just put the final touches on a video he directed - if you have never heard Inga Swearingen, you are in for a treat here. I have temporarily taken my playlist off the blog so that you could hear this music. Sit back and enjoy Barry's beautiful photography and Inga's beautiful voice.....

Get ready for another call from your biggest fan Barry - Pammy's Great Wall will need another update....Jaime and Jacob will be adding to our family in early May!

We may need a bigger wall....

Thanks for stopping by,
(I even got in the act....)