January 29, 2010

Sparkle and Spin

Bella's first semester of ballet ended today. To honor their hard work + commitment, the instructor invited parents and siblings in for a class performance. How sweet a moment.

Her first official [be it quite casual] performance. The small class of ballerina's were lavished on with big proud smiles, much camera flashing, and applause. A small but mighty supportive audience.

And per the Grand Dubs ever thoughtful suggestion, Bella even received a small bouquet of roses*. Her very first bouquet of flowers. She left the performance floating with excitement, and ready for next semester--which starts without a break--this coming week.

*thank goodness we remembered late last night, per Bella's bedtime conversation and excitement, that she was expecting a bouquet of flowers. And further, thanks to the Dave for running out at the very end of the day and finding a few appropriately pink roses.

January 25, 2010

I Must be Turning Old

Next month, Bella and I both celebrate our birthdays, bringing to a close the multiple winter month festivities for Team Craun. A sure sign that I must be turning old, what I would really love for my birthday is some kitchen stuff. I blame it partly on the room makeover bug I seem to have caught this year, wanting to turn all of the rooms in our house on their heads, switch out and repaint all of their furnishings, and just really make this space ours. But sadly, a lot of the kitchen want, is plain old useful. Beautiful, but practical.

Like this slick light yellow metal breadbox. Really. Perched on our counter-top, it would make such a charming little house to hold our daily bread.
I even want new dish towels. For my birthday. This upcoming one, where I am most definitely turning old.

January 22, 2010

She did say that Sparkles and Pink were her Two Favorite Colors...

Somebody please slow the girlhood train down. After weeks of asking for her "very best birthday present" from the Grand Dubs, Bella has at last pierced her ears.

She carefully examined all of the sparkly choices in the cabinet, and then decided on gold hearts with pink jewels. Confidently, she sat bravely still for her next big leap towards girlhood.

Another big growing up milestone. How does the first baby turn five so quickly?

January 21, 2010

Nathaniel's Cadet Blue Cave

Our little bear has always been a big fan of sleep, but his recent move across the hall has really been a deal-maker for his love of his bed. Finally, at three years old, the baby is out of the nursery. It was a bittersweet transition, but getting him out of the tandem room and into his own space was long overdue.

We started dreaming of his room somewhat early, when the Grand Dubs made and delivered us two maple twin-sized beds. Grandpa figured if he was making big sister one, it would only be a matter of time before he would be back in the wood shop for little brother, so he made them both at once. Foresight I somehow couldn't muster up, clinging onto the baby. But thank goodness, because never in a million years would I have guessed how fast Nathaniel would charge forward in growing up, and wanting to be just like the Bella, nearly two years his senior.

In preparations to receive the new beds, we trekked the 2 hours to our nearest IKEA and picked up some bedding. This wacky perfectly fitting bedding and matching rug began his boyhood room. The vision became black + white animal with cadet blue, and an occasional red. We ripped up several layers of flooring, and refinished the wood floor, we patched, primed and blue-painted the low bent walls crowded by the roof line, and eventually landed quite the cozy little cave. We scored his hodge-podge of dressers, tables, shelves and his nightstand from local resale shops. Finally, we moved in his bed over-brimming with snuggle animals, a reading rug and shelves teeming with books, some wheels and wings toys with ample floorspace for play, and lastly, hung a small collection of art [made mostly by family and friend] on every wall.

January 20, 2010

Immediately Available

Yesterday I donated a print to Craft Hope, one from my series Hope Deferred. Craft Hope has set up an Etsy Store receiving entirely handmade donations of art + craft, where all proceeds [100%] will go towards Haiti, specifically through the organization Doctors without Borders.

Looking through my appropriately befitting series, I selected the print Immediately Available for my donation. Keep your eye's out for its listing in the next day or two:

I am excited to keep checking the shop to see when it will be listed among the myriad of other exquisite donations they have been flooded with. ** UPDATE: It's Up!!! check it out, right here. They are close to raising $10,000 already, which is so amazing to me...a big idea put forward by a small few...and the swelling of the handmade community to give what they can make. And collectively, make a big difference.

Craft Hope for Haiti Shop Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time

Stop in frequently, the store changes by the hour. Click the above button, and you land in their growing store.

Two days ago, I bought this little treasure [pictured above] for Bella's new room, for her upcoming birthday. A doll named Hope. Beautiful. She will fit perfectly in her baby doll cradle. I can't wait to tell Bella all about what this doll supported. And then to locate Haiti on her new orange atlas duvet, also a birthday gift, and tell her about how this doll brought hope to Haiti.

January 18, 2010

Hope for Haiti, Handmade

Craft Hope for Haiti Shop Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time
Craft Hope. Their Hope for Haiti Etsy Store is growing by the hour. Stop in, donate some of your handmade goodness, or make a purchase to support Haiti. All proceeds [100%] go to helping Haiti, providing hope, through Doctors without Borders. Craft Hope for Haiti has raised $7,000 in the last 2 days. That is so profound. All donation. All handmade. All heart. All hope.

January 16, 2010

Picture Pages, Picture Pages

We've updated our picture pages. Please stop in, and see what we've been up to, right over here.

A lot of Hours Pass in this Place

I find myself in the kitchen most of my awake hours. I sit on her counters first thing every morning for espresso with the Dave. Lean against her cabinets for breakfast. Pit stop there for drinks for myself and the Craunlets like clockwork on the hour. Between meals, and snacks, and baking, the preparations, and then all the clean up...I'm in this corner of our house most frequently. We read books on her wood floors, leaning against her lower cupboards in the late afternoon. And at the end of the day, when the house returns to quiet, often a bottle of wine is started here as well.

For a long while now, I have wanted to make the room not pink. And when I say not pink, what I really mean is not a pepto-bismol pink crowded with light pink stencil printed flowers and further over-painted with a brush-streaky clear coat that is de-speckled with a multi-color glitter kind of not pink. Um, Yeah. Some serious desire to de-pink.

A few weekends ago, I tackled one wall with a deep shade of oyster, and to celebrate our forward-progress on the project, the Dave wired some under cabinet lights above the sink, and I finally started my vintage this-and-that installation. The wack-a-do growing assortment of friends that I hope will someday consume the entire back splash wall. The not-pink one.

January 15, 2010

Back to the Barter System

I dream of days gone by where bartering was once alive and, I reason, thriving. Such want I have to live in community of shared service and skill and just function happily off of the grid. As much as I love modern convenience and technology, I think I really could live happily, far away at the other end of the spectrum.

Our household is constantly trying to reduce waste, as best we can in this modern world. We are implementing change slowly, but surely, so as to be forming better and lasting habits, and processing their impact. And wow have kids helped to peel off the waste-blinders. When it was just the Dave and I, our footprint seemed so small, inconsequential even, we reasoned our attention away from the matter with little to no actual thought about either our consumption or our waste.

And then we met our children. Paper towels were a huge one for us. We could peel through a roll in no time flat. And we liked the really thick cloth-like ones. After all, that's what we were thoughtlessly replacing, right? Completely natural that we should be so inclined. And then one day, chucking multiple rolls containing yard upon yard of the perforated convenient not-cloths into our over-sized shopping cart, a small thought crept in. The waste. Rolls and rolls of waste, packaged further in and on waste, that we guessed would likely only last us a week or two before we would be back for more.

And then a sneaking, why not? started begging for our attention. Why not have a pile of economy bar rags? Small serger-edged squares of white terry. We washed and folded up a pile of them and placed the stack directly next to a single roll of paper towels. How funny the square pile looked beside the tall round peg. Using cloth became quickly normal, more convenient, and even more useful. Washable, and entirely less wasteful. That was two years ago, and we haven't thrown away a single rag yet. Because even the worst of them still function somewhere for the household, even if their service is no longer within the kitchen.

The other day, as I introduced a dozen new gleaming cloths to the pile, I took a long hard stare at the sponge. And next I thought, I have never liked you. You smell bad, you look ugly, you cost money, and eventually we throw you away and replace you. And I blew that thing a sweet kiss goodbye from our household.

I put out a proposition on facebook less than a week ago. Any friend interested in knitting or crocheting me some nubby washcloths for some kitchen scrubbing, I would gladly trade talent, service or art. And I was overwhelmed by the response that I received in less than 24 hours. So, in exchange, I am finding myself in the next few weeks framing a piece of art, cooking up a small feast, and trading a piece of artwork for the gifts, talents and labor of love, from a handful of friends to create a nice stack of washcloths. Pictured above are the first fruits of my bartering.

I have already washed a sink full of dishes with one. I was first reminded that I was holding something made, by someone I know and treasure, and I found myself enjoying the texture beneath my fingers. And then I was surprised at its phenomenally great performance, and that I could actually better feel what I was doing as I traced the contours of the dishes in the bubbly warm water. I smiled, laughed out-loud to myself and thought: let the bartering begin.

January 14, 2010

Wishes Sweet as Kisses

If Bella's biggest dream would come true right now, her Kindergarten teacher will sing to her, like the teacher in her new favorite book. Is that the sweetest thing that a 5 year old could wish for?

Bella's world alternates from being a very big and quite small place seemingly on a whim. At moments, so compassionate and introspective beyond her years. And seconds later, so focussed on the minutia right in front of her nose. She is in such an engaging season right now, watching her take in this world, and being more and more ready for it, I am finding myself simply standing in awe. What a brave and bright little lady she is becoming.

January 13, 2010

Warm Fuzzy Wednesday

Remember warm fuzzies? I am thinking about them today, as we received the official letter from Bella's school, stating that her application has been accepted and she is now officially enrolled in Kindergarten for the Fall.

I faintly remember filling out little warm fuzzy notes in school, thinking of good things that I could jot down. I think we all sat around in a circle, sort of kumbaya-style, as the teacher read them? Well...my memory is a little fuzzy on the logistics of it all, but I do remember that the premise was that everyone walked away feeling good. Amazing how uplifting it is to self, others + group when good things are shared, acknowledged + appreciated together.

I went to sleep last night overwhelmed with recollections of all the good of the last couple days and week. The warm fuzzies, if you will. I have a lot of hope for 2010, as I have shared previously. And I mentioned it to a friend just the other evening, over some tasty vegetarian spring rolls, that 2010 must darn well live up to it's expectations -- I mean, it's a new decade after all. It MUST be good. It simply must.

So, right -- back to the warm fuzzies. I thought I would take a moment to rattle off + appreciate some of my current good thoughts right here, in no particular order:

warmly folded laundry, four loads of it
new white kitchen rags
the Craunlets using their manners
my 30-minute make something every day slot
marking that time off daily on a little inventory sheet
drawing with the Craunlets in the family sketchbook
being overwhelmed with good opportunities for employment
letter-writing to a dear friend
wrapping birthday presents
planning a rainbow artist party for Bella
watching the Craunlets hold hands while playing
my amazing understanding + hard working husband
sun in the winter, and temperatures above freezing
long-time friends that call out of the blue
exchanging art + service with friends
lighter orange rooms, and design vision
a bottle of red wine shared with my husband
reading a good book in the sun
a child that is learning to read, and is ready for school
a child that fills this house with laughter
making books
a 3 year old that wants to take singing lessons
listening to talk radio in the car by myself
a sweet friend who volunteered to watch the Craunlets
yummy tasty food, and children that enjoy it also
toasted fresh bread with butter

January 12, 2010

On Project

We spent the sporadic moments of down time that the holiday's afforded us on a few household projects that would benefit and increase our creative family time. Two of these projects, which I have long wanted to do, are making friends with one another as natural companions. Meet our new family [+friend] collaborative sketchbook + our snappy color pencil caddy.

I saw the idea for a family sketchbook at cakies, and was instantly sure that our small family of the drawing-inclined most certainly needed one of these. Being really picky about materials and branding, I also wanted to be sure that the pad was filled with a stack of nice drawing paper, would be large enough to really use and share in the living room, and also had a simple but eye-pleasing cover which did not advertise a sketchbook brand. This task turned quite daunting -- but, at last, I searched one down at New York Art Supply. A nice gray binders board cover, 11 X 11 generous square proportion with a cloth spine. simple. functional. quality. Perfectly what I was searching for, and subsequently also stores so nicely in our wood storage shelves adjacent to the couch. Double bonus; stored away, but in always view and easily accessible.

Each of the Team stamped their index fingerprint on the cover, in descending order. Our original intention was to do little Ed Emberly drawings, turning each of them into corresponding Team Craun characters, but we hesitated, as we also love the simplicity of our lined up imprints. What do you think? We are still on the fence...keep it simple as-is, or get busy with the pens making fingerprint caricatures? do tell, what would you do?

Partnered with the family sketchbook, is our new color pencil holder -- specifically on reserve for use in the living room with our shared drawing pages. I earmarked this tutorial from the long thread quite a while ago, and began to save cans from the recycle bin, excited to make this simple lovely holder, and to fill it with a spectrum of color pencils.

And what a snap it was. Such simple and honest materials, it partners so perfectly with the book's cover. And the re-purposed/recycled feel that both of these objects are imbued with, brings such a warmth to the living room, and simple pleasure to their creative yet practical uses.

Though we already have several pages off to a sporting start, I look forward to seeing the collection of drawings grow, as the Craunlets move through their drawing phases , and as guests add their contributions to the many waiting pages.

January 11, 2010

This relentless cold, and its subsequent conversations

I think our recent conversation with the Craunlets regarding the dangers of frostbite might have went a little too far.

The other day I heard Bella insisting with her Baby Brie that she wear her hat,
"Brie you have to wear your hat today. It is really cold out there. And if you don't wear your hat, then you will get frostbite. And we will have to cut off your head. Would you like that?"

January 7, 2010

These New Arrangements

I think, if permitted, the Craunlets could spend the better part of their awake hours doing, as Bella calls it, desk work. In an effort to reorganize and freshen up the living space, as well as make their desks more easily accessible for their endless hours of art-making, we found ourselves a new arrangement. I am loving the baby-steps-start that we are making towards of our little school/play space. And enjoying also the convenience of having them in the living space alongside all our other projects.

Adjacent to that view, separated by the huge open doorway entrance to the dining room, is the larger half of the living space. After all the moving around of furniture, and lamps -- we arrived at nearly the same arrangement as we had prior, only switching the placement of the two chairs.

Apparently we are too boring for big change...that and laying out this hallway proportioned space always proves such a trick.

January 6, 2010

Moved Beyond Measure

I heard on NPR this morning a renowned surgeon talking about his research regarding the use of the checklist. And he hit upon something we talked about with friends over New Year's Eve. We now teach our children how to seek and find information, because as a culture we have gained too much knowledge and information to store it in our brains. We simply have access to far too much to be expected/able to remember it all.

I think some of the lack of retention is also due in part to the impulsively quick availability of answers through the Internets, but oh how this convenient information sharing has really crowded our thoughts. Literally. But how do we learn for ourselves [and teach our children] the disciplined discretion of what to put in? Really. Think about filling up. I want to be sure I am full of the right thing. Not just full. That kind of sounds daunting to me, actually.

Anyway, this is some tangential and rambling really long introduction to where I was intending for this post to go. So, this list making research, so profoundly simple. So reconnecting to the real. So empowering. I couldn't imagine a day without a list. Or several. I usually comment in defense of my messy heap of to-do's and various listed jottings, that they keep me sane. But more important, I think they also help to keep me local and present.

In this New Year, I want to live more slowly. more simply. and more thoughtfully. I want to measure things more eternally, and less temporally. I want to enjoy my children more, and worry a lot less.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon this New Year's resolution Generator. Go here, and play for a minute, by clicking gimme more [so aptly put]. It is lovely to look at, and enjoyable to click through the changing messages. But what also struck me, after my first message: do what I love, was that they are beautifully simple goals [mostly]. But ones that we so quickly pass by as we are too busy. And too certain that there will be more time, some other time.

We sang a John Mark McMillan worship song this Sunday that really ministered to me, and spoke directly to the many fronts that I am facing right now. The song is called I am a Temple. My mind was at first aswirl with thoughts of Bella getting her ears pierced. And then my thoughts moved in closer to myself.

With my unexpected heartache over not teaching at the Institute. And with all the emotional repercussions not really being about the job loss itself. AT ALL. But that of a heart loss. A realization that I shared with a friend in a facebook chat the day before New Year's Eve. It was like all this disappointment descended. I realized I was building a little temple there. Something that was mine. Something that I loved too much. If that makes any sense. It was surely a good thing, and I would love to have the opportunity again, but I hope to be forever changed by this circumstance, for the better, and I hope that I would arrive on different footing. I would hope to not be operating out of a mine mentality. The one I am always talking the Craunlets through. To find myself in this place, was most disappointing and heart breaking.

And the sweet salve came flooding over me.

We once ran entirely out of money on our young travels through Europe. And I tell you what. You truly understand provision when you have none. I know where it comes from. I have lived it. Lived it when it required more faith than I imagined I was capable of.

And we were singing about being a temple. And we get to these two lines:

I can't get over how quickly you recover
The pieces of my heart as they shatter

And the melancholy broke. I remembered that I stand on a promise.

Today, my husband sent me a link to the video below from a circular e-mail that he was forwarded at work. And all of this came flooding to the present. What a sweet opportunity we are given in this life. One to live. And dream, and have hope for.

I am looking forward in this New Year. I am hopeful and eager, both.

Creamsicle Kingdom

We sort of bit the bullet this last weekend, and launched ourselves into Bella's new room project. The promised makeover that we assured her [while knee deep in Nate's room transition] would be complete by her birthday. Trying to avoid procrastination in the worst way, as home improvement projects on any scale are somewhat more unpredictable, sporadic and even a teensy bit stressful with the little ones engaged, we wanted to get started pronto after the holidays. One room seems to so easily upset the entire household.

So, in dreaming up her Creamsicle Kingdom, I worry that we may have teetered off the deep end. Here is a preview at her too-bold walls, soon to be tamed down with something a little [or a lot] lighter and creamier. Wish us luck...it has been a lot of fun dreaming, planning, + pulling things together creatively from other rooms in the house. It's a wee bit bittersweet to think that her baby room is leaving for something so much bigger and older. It will have a little girl in a fresh big world sort of feel to it, while still being playfully educational and book-centric. And certainly a lot more cozy + well thought out than her prior hodgepodge of this and that lining the perimeter of her room. How has this sweet little peanut grown so quickly?

January 4, 2010

On Keeping Warm

I've been sort of tip-toeing into the New Year, reluctant to do too much or get moving too fast in any certain direction, sort of testing the waters of what is in store for the next season, before things return to normal [read: CRAZY] around here again. The holidays are behind us, rather they are all packed up and stacked into boxes that have crowded the bathroom upstairs into two small passable hallways, in desperate wait to be stored into the walk-in attic accessible only from this room.

The weather has been quite kind in keeping the pace slow, as the white stuff is finally descending in quantity. It's as if someone shook the inner snow globe of Cleveland and she just hasn't settled down yet, after days of flakes, and promise of a few more still to come.

This past week, I have found myself mulling over the list of 101 things I hope to accomplish in 1001 that I began one year ago at the entrance of the last New Year, here and here, and while I have not completed even one-third of the items on the list, I am still feeling quite confident and inspired. And the list helped to energize a few quick household improvements + a handful of small projects over this last weekend. So that is good. Maybe this year, I should get that list out a little more often...

So, I'll likely spend a few more days all bundled up at home, savoring these snow days and the slow start to a New Year. And I'll be all cozied up in my new scarf. A charming thoughtful gift from a friend. It is from the Ohio Knitting Mills. Upon a quick note of thanks, she returned: I thought you would enjoy all aspects of the piece. And I do. Truly. Locally made. Regional History. Virgin Vintage. Luxuriously knitted, soft and lightweight, yet long and warm. And just lovely partnered with my brown coat, and all of this snow.

Hope you and yours are keeping warm, and sauntering slowly into the new and sweet beginnings that this year offers.


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