Pam Charmin is a night owl.
As organizer of the Yukon Craft Society’s annual Spruce Bog craft sale, she has to be.
Charmin joined the society two years after its founding 35 years ago. She inherited the mantle as organizer of the society’s annual sale in 1991, when her predecessor left the Yukon for medical reasons.
“I got coerced, I got bullied, I got shamed – you name it – and I got the job,” she recalls.
Besides the daytime meetings, phone calls and arm-twisting required to “put all the little puzzle pieces together to make the great big picture called Spruce Bog,” Charmin is also a prolific producer, one of nearly 100 society members selling their wares this weekend.
With this year’s sale rapidly approaching, her Porter Creek home has taken on the look of a mini-factory.
The dining room table is littered with wooden Christmas tree ornaments her husband Dave has carefully cut out with a fine scrollsaw.
Her son Brian and his partner, Michiko, are in the kitchen making liqueur jellies.
Boxes of neatly-labelled jams, jellies, marmalade, sauces, zucchini relish, mincemeat and vegetarian antipasto are stacked in various nooks and crannies.
Charmin’s own domain is a cluttered basement room that’s part kitchen, part office. On one side of the U-shaped counter, four cookie sheets of candied ginger stand beside a roasting pan full of pecans that have just emerged from the oven.
The ginger is for what she calls her Moose Nuggets.
“They don’t really look like honest-to-God moose nuggets, but you need something kitschy to call them,” she explains.
The pecans will be used to coat her signature pecan logs of penuche fudge and vanilla caramel. The broken ones will go into what she calls Santa Snacks – huge, because after a night of work, Santa needs something substantial.
Today, Charmin is busy dipping pretzels into white chocolate, then dusting them with Christmas-coloured sprinkles. Once they are set, she’ll package them into 80-gram bags – about 150 of them.
The broken pretzels will be mixed with dried fruit and miniature marshmallows, then “blobbed together with some white chocolate” and marketed as Fruit Crunch Clusters.
Charmin will likely be in her candy-making domain until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, half-watching an old musical or a British TV show as she churns out a daunting list of goodies from chocolate popcorn to mint sticks, Amaretto sticks, even chocolate hamburgers.
“Then there’s the chocolate breakfasts, which consist of two strips of chocolate bacon, a couple of little waffles with a pat of butter on it, and a fried egg,” she explains. “Oh, and a little tiny croissant.”
That’s just the short list.
The secret is to just “do it and do it and do it until you get as much of it done as you can,” laughs the self-proclaimed night owl.
“If I’m still alive and coherent by the end of that, we take it all to Spruce Bog. And then I have a Spruce Bog hangover for three days afterward. It takes me a good three days to catch up and start thinking properly, and forming sentences again.”