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...