December 31, 2008

How I wish

This last year laid the foundation for so much change. It seems, in looking back, that 2008 was a year of stirring.  I look back on our year, and am utterly amazed by how much those twelve months held. How quickly the pages of the calendar turned, and continued to turn, one replacing the other. And equally surprisingly, I am entering the New Year more relaxed than I can ever recall myself being. 

I was conversing electronically with my sister Anna the other day about New Year's resolutions. And, how she doesn't make them, because she doesn't want to disappoint herself. And that reminded me of how I wish.  

Dave and I tugged at opposite ends of the wishbone the other day, after each of us mentally making our wishes. [Yeah, I know, vegetarians, breaking the dried bone of an animal...another story for some other time] Anyhow, I was relieved to lose. I didn't have a worthy enough wish. I wish for extremely mundane and overly realistic things that I have pretty much orchestrated to already happen; sparing any potential disappointment. Or fleeting random wishes, also weightless in the eternal scheme of things.  But Dave's wish...to be revealed here later, is worth wishing for. A dream long dreamed, and something nearly within his grasp. A wish he deserves. A wish he has earned. 


So, how appropriate, my resolutions are in step with my wishes. Things that aren't such a far stretch from where I am right now. But this year, they are also more about others. My main resolution is to increase connection. To deepen relationships with my friends and family, to correspond more. To remember and acknowledge birthday's and anniversaries. Locally, to stop in more frequently with meals, hugs and yummy baked goods. One of these baked goods being bread. This year, a second resolution, I am going to master bread making. I want to move our diet closer to the made and further away from the purchased and processed.

I realized in a conversation with a friend on Christmas Eve, regarding child-giftedness in music + the visual arts, that it is perfectly normal to Bella that one would make a card, and not buy one.  I am not sure she even knows that there are such things as card stores. And yes, that is small. But that is also profound. She is hard-wired with the compulsion to make, not buy, and hasn't been re-wired by our cultural norms. Rather, it has been reinforced effortlessly by osmosis, and example. And I began to think about everything else that is perfectly normal to our children, and how I want to grow that list while they are still so little.  And that, is my third and final resolution for this New Year. 

Move towards more normal.

December 30, 2008

Monumental Miniature

Little books about big issues.  Artist books, hand printed and bound in an edition of six.  I am delighted at the sweet song that they are singing. Due today, finished yesterday. As always. That very last minute.  My title is falling to pieces
 


My book was initially about the earthquakes that rippled through the southwestern province of Sichuan on May 12th. Shortly after the quakes, I heard Liao Yiwn speaking on NPR about  professional mourners, the corpse walkers. And how there would not be enough of them available to cry, to mourn these great losses. And the perspective shift stopped me in my tracks. Not enough to co-labor in coping seemed to equal the priority of the actual loss of human lives.  


And from that time, I have been researching the topics of loss and mourning. And watching the landscapes of my friends and family shifting simultaneously. Battling earthquakes of disappointment, heart ache and loss. And this book soon transcended one earthquake on one day in one region of the world -- though the loss was catastrophic, in and of itself -- but widened to include miscarriages, still born babies, alongside unsuccessful pregnancy attempts and depression, and eating disorders, life threatening illnesses, and deaths of dear friends.


This book became more of a love poem to contain all these tears fallen, and collected, saved and counted precious


To understand the losses of life, and their incredible power of shaping our individual and collective futures. And to in some small way, begin to articulate this resolve to move forward; this process of grief and coping.


Here is what she looks like, spread by spread: 








The colophon reads: falling to pieces explores the tragedy and trauma of natural disaster in both the physical + psychological landscape; the human struggle to cope and put the pieces back together.  


The outside cover envelopes these folios. Making an intimate book of 2 X 3 inches.  The cover detail includes a stitched gauze bandage, each slightly unique.  Five of the edition will travel + be exhibited both Nationally and Internationally, more info about the project here. The sixth will remain mine for the time being.

December 29, 2008

Let the Bread making Begin

A while ago I decided that I really should be making our bread. Mostly because we enjoy real bread--the kind where the grains haven't been pulverized to dust, bleached white, partnered with sugar and steamed to produce a perfectly rectangular log of thin slices. And real bread, from the bakery is not cheap. When the price teemed near the 5-spot, I drew the line in the flour. And I googled some reads, and fell in love with Artisan Breads, here. It promises to revolutionize my home baking. And I am just the extremist that this book is so cleverly marketed to. It claims that it will only require 5 minutes of my time whichever day I decide to make a loaf. Active minutes, I find in the smaller print within the text...as there is rise time after the 5 minutes of paying attention time. And the five minutes only happens after an evening or small window of time on a weekend to make up a big tub of dough that will store in the refrigerator for weeks, waiting for me to have a fresh bread whim. But, the recipes read great. The ingredients are simple + real. It required almost no new equipment, and nothing fancy or complicated. And the loaves, well, they look stunning. 
 

So, I centered my Christmas wish list around some new kitchen tools to promote my new hobby, I hope to fully delve into as one of my New Year's Resolutions. Mainly a nice thick bread stone for the oven, a dough rising bucket, and an oven thermometer.

Everything was either on order or on its way to me from Williams Sonoma and King Arthur Flour during the week of Christmas, so on Christmas Eve morning, I ambitiously decided to start off the bread making with a bang. Sort of test my ability in the kitchen, if you will, and to see if I could even master the simple chemistry of yeast. And, well...WOW.

Babka, I love you. Flaky buttery but moist dough, entangled with a stream of one-and-a-half finely-chopped pounds of dark chocolate laced with cinnamon, topped off with a sugary crumb topping. All made entirely from scratch.

It was A LOT more than 5 minutes of active time. It was an overly complicated recipe, and took most of the day from ingredient combination, to consumption. But, it yielded 3 full-sized loaves, though I opted for one full sized loaf and six mini loaves, for gifting. And every bite was heavenly scrumptious; I expect something that requires every dish, utensil + appliance in the kitchen should be so delicious. So, Babka will certainly be a new holiday staple for the baking repertoire, though my daily bread is likely to come from the book. 

December 24, 2008

Make merry


This morning I am finally breathing out, and officially resting into the holidays. We accidentally slept in this morning, causing a crescendo of chaos in getting the hubby off to work much later than appropriate for the start of an already half-day on the calendar. Ooops. Too many late nights in a row. Late nights filled with design + printing, collating of Christmas correspondence. Hand addressed mailing labels, little red gummed seals.  Last minute photos for immediate family. Birthday dinner for David. Baking some new holiday fare, and of course many a  familiar chocolately favorites. Watching It's a Wonderful Life, and the Polar Express. Eating too many cookies, wrapping presents, and enjoying the strung lights on the tree with hot cocoa. Holiday outfits handmade by one Grandma using navy blue Irish wool from the other Grandma. Photos of all this merriment, I promise...

The house resembles what I would imagine as an elves workshop.  The Epson is relieved to no longer be cranking out calendars and Christmas cards. I am relieved to have put away the olfa knife, as is my wrist.  All the details of packaging, sealing,  addressing, and sending...the flurry of holiday cheer that is annually familiar to Team Craun is finally in the hands of the post office, and already in the hands of many of you.

Merry Christmas Eve. The bell on our advent calendar is on the 24 spot, and we have as much excitement about today and tomorrow as the kids do. May your holidays be merry and bright, and filled with renewed hope in this New Year.

December 19, 2008

Making Money

Bella recently watched a performance of Finian's Rainbow. And not only did she sit through the entire 3 hour show, she was mesmerized by the visual treats of the set and the lighting, entertained by the actors and quite captivated by a couple scenes in particular.  It certainly helped that she was constantly on the look out for the little leprechaun, played by a good friend, but surprisingly more so, she was also captured by the magic of theater. Any time there was a dramatic lighting change, a leprechaun sighting, a character bursting into song, or another random stage trick, her eyes widened with excitement and her smile stretched across her face.  Money falling from the sky, to name one such trick. One that seems to have had the most magic to her, and certainly has had the strongest staying power in her present thoughts and play. 
  

Did I see money fall from the sky?

Yep. That preschool brain knows that generally doesn't happen, but heck, why not? And it's pretty funny when things shower down from heaven. The falling apples moved her to the edge of hysteria in laughter.  And that she could enter in this humor immediately, was a delight to watch. Pretend play around the house hasn't been the same since. She is constantly needing money for her errands, and her play store, and pretend purses.

So, today, we printed money. And one would think the stuff was falling from the sky around here. The kids were giddy with delight  as the paper jetted out of our Epson...giggling and handing each sheet to me to cut up as quickly as I could. Fidgeting and bouncing around with anticipation of the next sheet, the next denomination...that we were making money, right in our very own dining room.

Interested in printing up some money for yourself, this is where we found ours. Internet, I have no idea what we would do in the lull of our afternoon playtimes without you.

December 18, 2008

coming undone

I had a lunch meeting with Aunt Liz today. She is an artist friend, mentor, teacher, director, colleague, fellow mommy and art maker. We are preparing for our upcoming exhibition, opening January 16th, [mark your calendars!!] and are still flexible on the title.  She brought a lusciously dark text drawing over, black on black, that reads: I have come undone. And I love it. And I am excited for our show. And all of the new work that is brewing here, and yet to be printed in the few short weeks I have remaining.

The conversation couldn't have been better timed.  I would have disagreed with that statement just this morning, true...but, as it turns out, it was uplifting, salve to my wounds this afternoon, and also a swift kick in the back end to get it all moving.

So, here is a tiny preview of where I am headed. This is a piece of an etching that I trimmed + used to cover a book I made a few weeks a go. 
 

And I am ruminating on the notion of coming undone. And how it might just make a lovely exhibition title. Because we have about four days to decide, to get that PR out to press, and wrap up the design of the exhibition announcement card. We have mulled over taking flight | flight delays.  Any thoughts?? 

December 15, 2008

Current Shenanigans

Just what have we been up to? 

As Bella would respond:
Can you guess?

We finally updated our picture pages. 
Click here if you've run out of guesses.

What Normal Looks Like Here

Winter ballerina snow fairy princess meets Christmas Puppy. These shots were taken during a quick break from rocking out to some kidlet Christmas tunes. Rocking out, in this household, is spinning until one is so dizzy that they subsequently fall to the ground and must further sit a round out to catch their breath. Or perhaps engage in a quick costume change during the excruciatingly long quiet moments that lapse between songs on the CD.

 


December 12, 2008

The baby turns TWO



This little baby turns two today. This little bundle now chatters away, and laughs incessantly. He climbs to the very tops of our tallest furniture. He loves the bath, and adores his big sister.  He has an awesome sense of humor + love of adventure.  He is both a cuddly and  grizzly wild little bear. And these teeny tiny toes now wear toddler size 7 shoes. 
 


But he still lets his momma hold him + rock him all the time. He hugs and kisses, and drives trains and trucks into everything with crashing clamor. He provokes Bella and gets all sorts of adventures started, but on her demand, will sit captive on the kitchen floor as she reads him a book. 
 

Happy Birthday Nathaniel Pierce.


[Photos taken by Emily + Angela Powers, 2007]

December 10, 2008

Advent, at long last

So, ten days into advent, I have finally finished our advent calendar. 
 

I got the idea somewhere in the bloggy world last year, and began to percolate the idea. I slowly collected all the necessary little boxes, bought the chip board numbers, and the holiday tone spray paints. Then I stashed them all snugly into a larger box, and I even printed out the image and adhered it to the outer lid of the box. And then said box was stored away in the attic with all of the other miscellaneous holiday boxes of ornaments, our nostalgic old-fashioned crystal strung lights with little branch clips, stockings, and all the other necessary holiday trimmings.  

Now I just need to figure out what sorts of goodies we will stash away in the remaining boxes for this advent. This year will be our practice round, I suppose. We will work out all the bugs for next year! And at least all the little boxes are made, and they will certainly store away nicely in their box in the attic, so come December 2009, we will be ready.

---

Update: Credits. Source for the Advent Calendar boxes, found here, and is further credited to Martha Stewart Kids here

December 9, 2008

All Bella wants for Christmas


I asked Bella what she would like for Christmas the other night. After some serious thought:

1. Clothes for my baby doll[s]

Then, like a flood, the full rationalization of her request followed:

Mom, all Francie has is her pajama pants to keep her legs warm. And I have to put them on over her ballerina clothes when I take her out, so she doesn't get brrr legs...and she looks silly. Francie really needs a pair of jeans. And baby Brie too. She doesn't have any jeans. and maybe some shoes. If Baby Brie gets mud on her shoes, I am going to have to wash them, and then they will be wet. She needs another pair. I think they both need more shoes.

Melted by her compassionate heart, wanting to take care of her babies ahead of herself, and to keep myself from crying, I changed the topic from the long list of expensive doll baby clothing needs. I ask her if she could think of anything else, not for her doll babies, that she might like.

2. Another Nate.

ANOTHER??!! I quickly explained that one of Bella, and one of Nate is certainly more than enough.

December 7, 2008

1,2...GO!

One doesn't get a lot of time to hide whilst playing
Hide-and-Seek with Nate. 
 

December 5, 2008

What day is it, anyway?


Every day Bella asks what day it is. As if she will know what the day ahead might look like, if only she knew its name. The next question in line is usually: what do we do on ____________ (fill in the name of the week that I just answered her first question with).  Maybe it is the craziness of our schedule, or our obsession with when we do what around here and our maniacal love of the routine, but I have found myself calendarically obsessed this year. 

Last night I made nearly a dozen of these. 
 

Swing on in to Zygote this weekend to peruse these lovlies, and piles of other artist handmade goodness.  Tonight's reception is 6-9 pm. Saturday is noon-7 pm, Sunday is noon-4pm. Click here for more details.

December 4, 2008

A lot with a little

Team Craun sort of moves in and out of color schemes. And right now, feeding my candy cane craze, I am loving the simplicity of back, white and red. It started with our Christmas Card idea. Then Nate's birthday party invite, and now these darling calendars.

pigeon + sisters

Yesterday, during my glorious Craunlet naptime, I created these striking monthly calendar tags. And the best part is that they are created entirely out of available materials. I scored the monthly tear-off calendars ages ago at a paper outlet store in the area, hollo's, for my local readers. And I had yet to figure out what to do with them. Until the middle of the night on a random evening last week, when the rest of the household was peacefully sleeping.  I would laminate this lovely cotton rag paper card we had left-over from a wedding invite job.  I made them double ply, and cut them to the largest tag size, roughly 3 1/2 X 6 1/2. I would use my black + white photocopy transfer marker to get a variety of images onto the card.  All of the images come from various source materials from my art making.  With watercolor, I quickly added some spot color, to pull in the occasional red from the calendars. And does it get any better? I borrowed one of Bella's scented markers [just the right red, black raspberry I think] to color in some white reinforcement rings we had in our office supply drawer. Lastly, I scoured my art closet, and found some self sealing cellophane bags to both package and protect them. 

chickadee + house

 chestnut + clover
 
letters + wishes

When I began to package the calendar tags into their little cellophane bags, they were lonely with too much empty space lurking in the only size bag that I had that was even near appropriate. What do do? cut up a few red file folders for backing. And why not stick on a postal to + from label? It looks great, could be a cheeky tag for on-the-fly gift giving, or better yet -- fill it out, and pop this baby in the post. Surprise someone with this gorgeous piece of mail. Below is the back of the red card that I slipped into the little bag behind the calendar tags. Clever, yes.
  

I will have all of these, several more like them, and scads of other glorious creations in the Zygote Press Holiday Sale, that starts this weekend, and runs through the entire month of December.  Swing on into our festive reception this Friday night from 6-9, for artist made holiday gifts, great art, and good eats. More details here.

December 3, 2008

Candy Cane Cake


Though I found several recipes online for Candy Cane Cheesecake, I have no glorious images just yet. However, I did mange to find this lovely Candy Cane Cake, and am tempted to try making this as well as a cheesecake.

I was busy this afternoon making some monthly calendars using touches of red over black + white photocopy transfers, on a lot of white space. Monthly tear-off calendars, with occasional accents of red, are mounted below the images to the white rag cotton cards. I would have included those photos also -- Had my camera not broken.

Which kills me.
Dave and I were just lamenting over my pathetic camera last night, as we were dreaming up our Christmas wish lists, with budgets far less than the price tag of a digital camera.

And I go to shoot a picture less than 24 hours later, of some candy cane inspired goodness, and the screen is purple scrambled eggs instead.

December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving, and Candy Cane Lane

I won't go into all of the gory details, but I will simply say that Team Craun is no longer Team Vom, as David cleverly coined our sick family. We are all, at long last, on the mend. Unfortunately, we gave the Grand Dubs a stomach bug for Thanksgiving.  I suppose it was nice having the extra sets of hands that our company provided us while we all took turns being sick.

As you might imagine, Team Craun is now in full-swing Christmas preparation...time to begin some baking, make arrangements for the Christmas tree location, get out all the decorations, and start designing the holiday card to name a few on this week's to-do list. 

I thought I would list off the current Candy Cane treats in the household:
  1. Traditional Candy Canes, the larger tree-hanging ones   [I remember from my youth]
  2. Organic Candy Canes, for making #3
  3. Candy Cane White chocolate "Reindeer Bark" lollipops
  4. Dark Chocolate Candy Cane truffles
  5. Candy cane peppermint sticks dipped in Dark Chocolate
  6. Candy Cane Green Tea
  7. Candy Cane Jo Jo's [Trader Joe's version of Oreo's]
Still looking for a good candy cane hot cocoa, let me know if you know of a good one. And also, someone [or many of you] MUST have a yummy baked good delight for candy canes?? Please share...I know we are missing a lot...and the season is so short!

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