March 31, 2011

On Pins + Needles.

I have a thing for sewing notions. And for making books.
I probably have enough notions to be a professional seamstress--if only I possessed that skill-set, or even had the slightest measure of patience to sit down and learn it more fully. I cannot even sew an automatic buttonhole using the 3-easy-steps printed right on the front of my sewing machine. The machine for which I have never even cracked open the manual. Pathetic really.
In the meantime, I have been sewing up little woolen felt notions books; a sweet place to securely stash all of the pins + needles. A spot to stitch down an extra button, or hold a little this-and-that for quick retrieval or clothing repair. Or even just a charmingly nostalgic soft book and beautiful object to set out on my studio desk, and hold on occasion. They are such a great scale to the hand; so easy to hold.
All of these photos are details of the most recent book I whipped up for my sister. Someone who does know how to sew, and quite proficiently.
Again, as with all things I enjoy to make on occasion, I find myself dreaming up a small side business of making and selling these en masse. It's the joy of selecting striking color combinations, the layering of pages + pockets, and all of the lovely details + attributes of bookmaking that draw me in. And the honest I-lack-professional-sewing-skills construction of them, transparent and revealing of all the structural and decorative stitches. No holds barred.

Lemon Cornmeal Skillet Cake.

I hold a certain nostalgia for desserts baked in cast iron skillets. I am emotionally convinced that this  baking trick would have been totally old hat and all everyday delicious to my Grandma. The farmer's wife Grandma, and mother of eight, who rolled out her own egg noodles. YEAH. It seems so richly domestic and divine.

So, imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this Lemon Cornmeal Breakfast cake online, here, and at a quick glance I knew I had all of the ingredients on hand. The only logical conclusion was that it must be made immediately. I am an absolute comfort-baker when it comes to the cold months, and given that Winter hasn't quite loosened its grip on us -- this citrusy yummy concoction seemed just the perfect mix of down home comfort with the fresh and hopeful friend of lemon that makes me think of Summer's certainly-coming hottest days and tall glasses of icy cold fresh-squeezed lemonade. 

This recipe was fabulously simple. We shared it with my in-laws for an after dinner visit several evenings ago, and quite enjoyed it alongside some slightly-sweetened strawberries. I missed all photographic opportunities, fully enjoying every minute of our great conversations, and feasting around the table, so today's still-moist and delicious leftover slice will have to do the trick.
Lemon Cornmeal Cake + Glaze Recipe from Joy the Baker, right here.
It's been just divine to usher in a little summer as I sneak in forkfuls of this scrumptious cake in the afternoon hours.

If you've never baked a sweet good in your cast iron skillet -- you should go make this immediately. It's absolutely old-world-exhilarating to put the whole fry pan in the oven, and moments later enjoy such deliciousness with so little effort exerted.

March 30, 2011


Even on Spring Break. Just a breath before April.
And it is snowing in Cleveland.

March 29, 2011

On Spring Break.

It seems having the luxury of a more relaxed morning routine--not rushing to get both Dave and Belle out of the house by 8 am sharp has really loosened the grip on the family's entire routine and general order of our day[s]. And we are even embracing a lot more household chaos--like un-made beds, and piles of toy stashes and half-played games littering the living spaces. It's been a lot of Princess Polly Pockets [ugh] and silly faces, drawing on the art frames wallpaper, and downright stay-at-home merriment between the Craunlets. And lots of food. Somehow, spare time always translates to baking for me. 
Belle's bed pile up, I LOVE how the ballerina looks totally spent, dangling off the bed!
Nate's tousled up covers and bed full of snuggle animals.
Belle teaching Baby Brie how to change all the princess clothes for a performance.
Always time for silly faces in the studio chair.
All this fun, and we are only closing out Tuesday. This week is certainly looking grand.

Beautiful Normal.

Remnants of Breakfast in the golden morning light.

March 28, 2011

On Security.

Having hope, trusting in notions of created security, and relying on OK to be enough.
Security envelopes from paychecks, punched into circles, arranged on a grid. Seems so apropos to tax season to me. All of the meticulous sorting through saved documents and pay stubs, the hours of accounting, the organization and the completion of spreadsheets--all of the painstaking and constant keeping track. 
This is my 8 X 8 donation piece for Zygote Press, for our 15th Anniversary Tax Relief Benefit Party. Local peeps should head on over for some raucous fun tax-day festivities. See and buy much terrific art donated by 100 artists, and enjoy: live music, yummy nibbles and drinks a plenty.

SGC At-a-Glance.

Here are some of my favorite little bits of the Southern Graphics Council recent conference in St Louis; there was a flurry of print, paper and book activity dotted all over campus and town.
Zinery Exhibition, artist made zines by the hundreds, hanging in rows for reader perusal.
D-I-Y Zine-making from artist-collaborative already-made spreads.
Most ironically perfect documentation stamp on my hotel key.
Official Business, Stamping Station for Documentation.
More Documentation on my SGC Conference Book.
Courier: a work shop. On-demand screen printing + delivery project.
Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. work, adjacent to his fabulous letterpress demo + project.
Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. letterpress posters. LOVE the Coffee one.
And how fabulous is this totally overt LANDFILL Sticker?
Clever Landfill Stickers on trash cans.
They were stuck prominently on all of the trashcans that I encountered on Wash U's campus.  Brilliant.

It was a terrific inspiring handful of days filled with lectures, panel discussions, demonstrations, and exhibitions; frenetic print activity at every bend. And it was Spring there too.

March 25, 2011

Beautiful Normal.

Certainly this is the creation of our household's Chief Cuddlebug.

A Small Measure of Magic.

The loveliest of smiles was quite excited this morning to find that her tooth was gone, and a golden princess coin had been slipped into the treasure pocket in exchange.
A certain wonderful start to Belle's Spring Break. 
We are off to enjoy today's promised sun!

March 24, 2011

After Much Wiggling.

We have lost our first tooth.
And gained a new smile.
Although her belief in the Tooth Fairy waivers, Belle insists that we put the tooth in the little pillow, and tuck it under hers tonight.
Good to see small parts of her still believe in magic. Even if only on occasion, and it is mixed with willful skepticism.


Making new work.
I spent yesterday in my studio cutting up some intaglio prints of curly whirlwind voices into small circular discs, one inch in diameter. They will become part of an artist book that I am cooking up, and  the image source for a series of new prints that I can't wait to get started, to be titled Hold On.
I love the hopeful resolve of the make do, and bunker down kind of slogan that it references, while also at the same time semi-congratulating itself.  Processing the recent SGC conference has been fuel for my art-making fire. 

It's great to revisit this particular image; I first made this line drawing in Dresden on a copper plate during a print residency exchange through Zygote Press and the Ohio Arts Council, while completely pregnant with Bella. I like that a mark's meaning can change alongside me, and develop with my work. I am also completely loving the cropping in of the full gesture from the original series of prints. How it dangles, and drips more now, a little less full-circle. A little less in control.

On Not Catching Leprechauns.

The little Miss poured her heart into her Leprechaun trap for Kindergarten [remember its beginnings? here], and she turned it in bubbly and confident that she would catch a little green friend while we were away. 
Though her trap received the highest marks on the grading rubric, she was dismayed that no Leprechauns had been snared. She even filled the little black pot with Lucky Charms for bait.
Its a crazy mix of hopeful belief that she has in occasions such as this. Belle is the most practical, real and serious little lady that I know. She doesn't dream or play very often in the  realm of make believe; she really loves the concrete. On her own, she has fully denounced Santa, the Easter Bunny, and before she has even lost a single tooth [STILL WAITING!!] she flat out denied that Fairy's reality also.
So, when she came home sort of sullen over the news of no Leprechaun, I was taken a bit off guard. She doesn't even believe in Leprechauns, surely. Where is this disappointment from?
I think it was all the magic of crafting. She swept herself up in the glitter, and rainbows, the hand-drawn Lucky Charms on the wooden coins, the fuse bead rainbow and shamrock, the gold coin spiral staircase. She worked so hard, she just wanted to believe in all that gold glitter. The Lucky sign, made from a sticker and a popsicle stick, the cardboard and marker rainbow, and the cotton ball clouds perched on the outsides of the rainbow whimsically. 
Surely, it could lure in even something that doesn't exist. 
Surely, it could become magical.

She worked the full two weeks--as assigned--on this project, and enlisted our help only when she needed it; and mostly in the execution of construction details.
Nate, Mr. Make-believe-all-the-time, is convinced that all of the Leprechauns saw the sixty or so Kindergarten traps and skedaddled to the North Pole, where Santa and the Elves are hiding them in presents. It was precious sweet to overhear his conspiracy theory as he offered it up to the disappointed Belle as encouragement.

In the meantime, we have an awfully sparkly little sculpture on the sideboard in the dining room. A pretty fancy trophy of the experience; and though it didn't catch a Leprechaun as the Craunlets had hoped, it certainly did bring in a little magic.

March 23, 2011

The Season of Our Kitchen.

It was this afternoon, fully engrossed in my studio, I noticed the gray. A sudden overcast to the sky, a deepening dark that enveloped my indirect light. The task light on my desk began to burn so brightly in comparison; my eyes noticeably straining in the dim quiet.

And then the mental alarm sounds. I fight off grumbling, and go to wake up the little bear from his nap so we can be on time to pick up the kindergartner.

I hit the stairs and hear a sudden down pour.

It always seems to rain at precisely pick-up time. Doesn't it? Always and surely. If it is to rain, it is in this very window of the afternoon. This moment where I reluctantly wake up a sleeping child, to rush to school to stand under umbrella by the side door of the gymnasium to receive the older child. The girl who will not step across the threshold--into the wild outdoors--whence she sees any amount of water dripping. She must be coaxed out with an umbrella, convinced.

And I carry the lumbering boy. I hit the first stair to descend, and the pelting rain is suddenly louder. Much louder. Almost metallic sounding. I look out the window, dangerously leaning heavy holding the half-asleep on the landing of the stairs. Why it is hail that I hear, certainly. Of course. After all, it is a miserably chilly day, is it not? White marbles are ricocheting off of our driveway. Sort of amazing that the dramatic weather shift can take place so fast. Close to comical.

And still, I keep my grumbling within my head, not to become contagious within my company. And I actually think about what it might be like to have a better attitude, to be full of adventure and wonder about the glorious weather that waters the earth and brings the life of Spring we are so ready for. To be that crazy fun mom I constantly and selfishly censor myself from becoming. One who is wildly in the moment. 

The greening grass is littered with pebbles of ice, nearly covered entirely, but the bold and bright crocus are absolutely un-phased by this violent ordeal. Small and yet standing so tall and strong. Confidently, they are heralding loudly Spring's arrival. 
I decide to also usher in the promise of warm days ahead. In the kitchen, I get to chopping after school. It will be rosy red tomatoes--like the ones we will pick from our summer garden--and basil, some lemon and a dash of salt and pepper. We shall feast on a summery bruschetta. And we will refrain from all complaining about the weather; this day that paves the way for tomorrow. It will be warm around our dining room table tonight, most definitely.

March 21, 2011

Of Course the Trip was Good.

How could it be otherwise, whence it started with this sweet sentiment from Belle?
And then it was further and quickly blessed with the hand-me-down Garmin GPS from the Grand Dubs. 

Not failing to mention that it was a little road trip excursion, by ourselves--without the kids--for several days in a city we had never previously explored.

Of course it was good.

The Whirlwind Escape.

We piled the family into the car last week, and drove the Craunlets to stay with the Grand Dubs in Chicago for a merry few days, as Dave and I further trekked it to St Louis to attend the Southern Graphic Council's Annual Conference, and to play tourists a bit as well. 
My very first view of the St Louis Arch, against the most glorious of blue skies.
It was a vacation of sorts, based on the annual conference I enjoy attending--centered on printmaking--where the host city comes alive and together rallying all of the arts and cultural organizations for quite an overture. In St Louis, we toured museums and galleries many, attended lectures, and demonstrations, listened to panels, and feasted like royalty for every meal, nightcap and networking party, and even eked in some St Patrick's Day celebrations! I connected with friends from college, many of which are now flung near and far away from Cleveland, and with colleagues of community and college print-shops from all over the country. It was a talking, walking, visually intensive little art escape.

And the Craunlets? They had a fun time that surely rivaled ours -- getting a several-day stay with the Grand Dubs. A weekend of play-grounding, motorcycle riding, eating out, and the undivided-attention of both Grand Dubs. They are still bubbling over with stories, and excitement.
Detail of a curly + crimpy paper installation at WASH U in conjunction with SGC 2011.
I think both the Craunlets--as well as the older counterparts of the Team--were in great need of a little get-away. We are all immeasurably refreshed, and now absolutely taken into Spring.
A leafy green paper installation affixed to a tree on WASH U campus for SGC 2011.
My mind is a whir of post-processing. I am on a book, paper + print overload. Hopefully this magic can unfold throughout the next couple weeks on Chatter, as I furiously get the headquarters re-acquainted to normal over here.

March 15, 2011

Future Perfect.

I donated this recent print to ArtCares this week to benefit the Cleveland Chapter of the Aids Taskforce. It feels empowering to be a part of change through my I can do something to further a good cause, by simply making and sharing my work.
I love the title; it seemed so apropos to the cause.

March 14, 2011

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful XXXIX

Despite this Winter's continued pounding of snow, and most recent mini-blizzard we were so fortunate to receive just the other day--on the heels of what seemed like a week straight of freezing cold rain--today we had sun. Show-stopping sun. It was partnered still with quite chilly wintry temperatures, but the sky was gloriously blue, dotted with magnificently cottonous clouds, and the most achingly warm sun.

Its these little glimpses into Spring, that puts the wind back into my sails. Helps me to slow down, see the little bundles of leaves unfolding on our gigantic maple tree in our front yard, and the relentless piercing purple and green shoots of the tulips, standing nearly two inches tall above the mud. Its the not-waiting-anymore of all this life around me. So contagious. 

This week, I find myself thankful for these many sweet moments of paying attention. For quiet carved and culled from the crazy; an intentional appreciation of where I am right now. 

I am thankful for:

371. afternoons spent thinking, planning, and quietly dreaming. And for all the little treasures that have made their way to me via post in these last couple weeks. Certainly to include this terrific witty card, a Deborah Maris Lader print.
372. the mindless useful tasks that can be done while enjoying the sunny patch of the living room. Because, despite all of our recent blizzards, Spring is coming!
373. precious sweet birthday packages for family birthday parties, and all of the sumptuous details of wrapping that I so enjoy.
374. the girl who thinks and creates on the grid, straight lines, patterns, and everything all lined up.
375. the boy who prefers things all mixed up, dumped on their sides, and built on the diagonal.
376. stir-crazy trips to the libraries. lots of them, all of the regional county and city branches--too many times a week--because it's just not quite warm + dry enough to play outside yet.
377. all of the conversations I could have never--in my life before children--imagined having; specifically ones about fictitious and imaginary characters attached to the various holidays and childhood milestones. Most recently, the Tooth Fairy, and the Leprechaun.
378. pillows that were meant at first just for play, that are decidedly much better in the living room. And for everybody's favorite--the one always missing and hidden, and just the right size for a doll--raspberry mini-pillow.
379. packing away the party season. Aaaahhh, Team Craun doesn't see another birthday until December. Whew.
380. little artist-made treasures, picked up on a whim at local arts sales, and perfectly fitting--in size and season.


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