June 30, 2011

Sanding vs. Playing.

I was hoping to start sanding the spindles of our porch railing this morning, and ready them for paint.
But the Craunlets talked me into this instead:
I am so glad.

June 29, 2011

Wooden Spoon Bath Oars.

For nearly a year now, we have had a pair of wooden spoons residing among our bath toys. Something about the obviously misplaced household tool really irked me, as the bathroom door is directly off of the kitchen, it seemed like a thoughtless error in unloading the dishwasher had daily occurred. 

Brightly bare wooden spoons--somehow a total treasure to Nate--given to him by the Grand Dubs during last summer's Playcation. And finally, I figured out how we could both be happy. Nate could keep his bath toys, and I could stand to keep them in the bathroom. Meet our new bath oars:
In hindsight, a matching pair might have been nice, but I was torn between the two color schemes, and gave it a go somewhat without advanced thought of oars generally being a pair. However, having two bathers now -- I will likely make each of their matches in the coming days. It was a simple project that employed only items and supplies that we had on hand.
First, I sanded them smooth.
Then I coated them in Gesso, and I borrowed some rainbow tape from the Craunlets to mask off some stripes. 
Next I painted the first layer of color. Each color received two coats.
In the case of the blue and yellow oar, I moved the tape for each subsequent color in the pattern, protecting the color already laid in.
Lastly, both oars were given two hearty coats of acrylic gloss varnish, and set out to dry over night, before nestled back into the bath toys.
Bath time is becoming quite the nautical experience.

June 28, 2011

New Work.

A little collage, a few lines of graphite drawing, and a wee little line of machine sewing too...why not?  The triangles were begging for a little something to stand upon.
It's a small piece, like what I have been working out in the spreads of an in-progress artist book these last few weeks, and I framed her up this morning at the studio. She's titled: nothing invulnerable. I'm delivering the piece to Bay Arts this afternoon, for an educational fund-raising benefit exhibition that opens this Friday. Though I am hoping it sells, it matches our master bedroom perfectly.

This Dad.

We celebrated--at last--the very hardest worker of our Team this past weekend. 
As it timed exactly with the arrival of the crew for our house-painting week, Father's Day got somewhat swallowed up by a mound of work. Somehow fitting to the very DNA of this Dad, however.
Never have I met a harder working, never-quitting, and slow-to-anger man. His love is deep and serious, and the kids absolutely know this thoroughness and steadiness of his character. Yet, he is also the first one to cut it up with them, and relax about all of the rules and routines.
Every single day of this week, Dave has had a tool or several strapped around his waist, packed into his tool belt, or firmly in his hand busy at work. So, when I saw these screen-printed wood hatchets and axes in the gallery at Zygote Press [as part of the current exhibition; Field Guides] I knew I had scored upon the most fitting of Father's Day presents for him this year.
And we could certainly use some more 3-dimensional art around here. Now I am on the hunt to find a most perfectly sized log to set it into. We've been meaning to trim back a few precarious limbs of our front tree for a while now, and this might provide just the motivation.

June 27, 2011

On Getting Smaller.

Belle was fitted into her brace at the end of last week. 
In an instant--with three easy velcro straps--new freedoms fell upon her. Mainly, water. And also sand. And the potential of on-demand momentary relief by removal that the cast never considered. Almost four years of always-on, overturned in an instant. A blink.
Also immediately, she shrank. The bulk that we had become so familiar with was shed, and along with it, her waistline. She looks trimmer, and taller, and even more grown up. How does that happen in an instant? It brings tears to my eyes. Happy crying; rejoicing.

The bathing suit we purchased for her soon-coming swimming lessons? Two sizes smaller than her age, is still too big. The snugly fitting and outgrown un-snappable pants now fit her again with plenty of stretch and wiggle room. 

All too big.

Like these new freedoms.

This season to surely remember forever.

Also hanging huge on her thin frame is her big smile.

Her continued perseverance and unmatchable joy in life is so constantly convicting.
Belle's journey continues to be one marked with much hope and great victory. And for that, we thank God entirely. Anyone wanting past installments of her story, can catch up here, and follow links within that post that chronicle the full history.

Weekend: Icing on the Cake.

I painted the front door this weekend. YELLOW. And I love it.
And even though our cake is nowhere near completed, I decided to skip straight to the icing. It was one of those weeks that just called for a little instant gratification over the weekend. So, I sanded, primed and painted our front door. And it was fabulously motivating to have a small portion of the painting to go so quickly from the start to the finish column. Including the screen/storm doors, we still have four waiting for paint. The yet-to-do list is always so much longer than the already done one, isn't it?

We also set up some picture pages just for our merry old house, to document our painting process. If you are interested in a looky-loo click right here, or over on the house-painting picture in the sidebar. Fancy.

June 24, 2011

CSA, Week Two.

Community Supported Agriculture. Local, In-season Food. Fresh.
Yesterday afternoon we picked up our second week's family share of produce, and we are completely excited about the 18-weeks still ahead in this local fresh food adventure. 

Week Two Round Up:
1 bunch onions
1 bag shell peas
1 bunch garlic scapes
1 bag leaf lettuce
1 new season garlic bulb
1 bunch mint
3 pints strawberries
2 yellow summer squash
1 bag pickle cucumbers
1 bag multi-colored popcorn
1 bag red-skin potatoes
1 bunch beets
1 head romaine lettuce
1 bunch beet greens

With last week's share, we enjoyed many a minty mojito, whipped up an indulgent but simple salad dressing using a few teaspoons of the black raspberry jam and the remaining mint, which we drizzled over numerous salads employing all of our garden greens as well as those included in last week's share. We also baked up some delicious buttermilk biscuits, which we enjoyed under piles of fresh strawberries.

As a little Go, Team, Go! CSA-encouragement present, I purchased this fabulous book to keep our ideas and combinations fresh, as we embark on all sorts of new foods and flavors. I got the UK edition, and I absolutely adore the language and cheeky descriptions.
I am also smitten with the food flavor categorization pie-graph on the end sheets of the open covers. Delicious!

The Craunlets shelled this week's peas already, which they found a completely captivating process of discovery, and they enjoyed the fruits of their labor for dinner, as Dave and I enjoyed the summer squash, with a bit of butter, a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and a dash of freshly ground black-and-white peppercorns.

Now armed with even more garlic scapes, as we still have last week's, I really must get some fresh basil {Maybe from my sister-in-law's garden tonight?} to combine and chop into a fresh pesto with lemon and some finely grated pecorino romano cheese.

Happy Weekend to you all, and Merry Feasting!

House Painting, Day Four, Five, and Likely the Rest of Our Lives.

We wake up today with a somewhat surreal optimism. Likely it was the additional hours of sleep, as the entire Team slept in until half passed eight am this morning, and then further grabbed books to read for our usual morning snuggle time. It was 9am before we ventured out of the covers and down  the stairs for  our morning espresso. What a weekday delight.
The earth is soggy with overnight rains, and the weather promises showers for most of the day.
Little this week moved itself over into the done column --  and no painting elves showed up whilst we dreamed last night to finish up the house as a surprise for us this morning, but all that remains [though great] is reassuringly do-able. It's just many, many hours of hard work. 
Our absolutely fabulous hardworking volunteer team headed back for home yesterday afternoon, after finishing every single insulation puck -- all of them pounded in, bondo-filled, finish-sanded, and paint-ready. They also replaced the flashing above the front window, as well as the upper siding board that needed replaced like the lower rows that they tackled the day before. The front façade is encouragingly close to receiving primer. Only a fraction of scraping and sanding needs to occur on that face, and then the installation of the new horizontal trim boards, ALL of which lay in wait--cut, sanded, and prime-painted on every side. 
We joked as the team left, that they should take a detail shot of the awesome looking lower replacement boards, to assure their friends and family back in Tennessee that the entire house looks this almost-finished-amazing, and they just couldn't capture a wide enough shot...These boards, at the front of the house, do provide a both hopeful and beautiful picture picture of what's to come. And it was an incredible blessing to have a week of skilled labor as a jump-start to this endeavor.
We are also getting a slow rhythm down with the radiant heat plate, it's great for removal on the front and flat part of the siding boards, still leaving the grooves for the extremely tedious scraping. It is a great two-person process, where one moves the heater, and the other pulls the blade-scraper across the bubbled paint. The porch wall illustrates the clean paint removal this method provides.
Dave spent many hours on the corner of that face, that turns to the front façade of the house. He fully sanded all the board edges, and treated them with linseed oil. The corner is now ready for foam insulation, and then the vertical trim boards that cover and finish the turn. Again, so close to completion. Atypical to my normal disposition, I am actually finding all of this almost encouraging. So do-able, though not done. I have no idea how many hours and days are ahead of us yet in this endeavor, likely the better part of Summer. [Local readers, we have a dozen scrapers always at the ready!]
Today marks the last of our daily-house-painting-coverage posts, and from here on out, we will update as we see more visually measurable progress! The coming weekend promises sunny skies and mild temperatures; swing on over--if you are in the area--we hope to make some marked progress out there!

June 23, 2011

House Painting, The Craunlet Edition.

My sister inquired after the Craunlets this morning, as to how they were faring in the midst of the ALL PAINT, ALL THE TIME week here at Team Craun. So I paused [albeit brief] to summarize their general and sheer joy of finally experiencing more freedom than we usually ever allow entertain in our average days, and certainly never for days-straight that stack up into full weeks. 
Freedom like: all day outdoor snacking meals; and this morning, doughnuts even; too many cups of sweetened iced tea [for our volunteer crew from the South] and lemonade; dirty faces; stinky feet; lounging in their pool chairs; skipped baths; late bedtimes; and all types of outdoor sport and bubble play. 
They really couldn't be merrier about the whole situation. They are like two miniature retired folks. A few glimpses I captured of their passing time together totally crack me up.
On small breaks from their wild adventures, they have also proved most willing and helpful in various prep needs for each of the day's tasks, in clean-up efforts, and various jobs that arise that can be completed at their skill level. Read: almost none
Still, their ownership in the process has been sweet, and their spirits higher than we could have anticipated.

June 22, 2011

House Painting, Day Three.

The sun shone behind a fully clouded sky, one that brought a terrific breeze to all of our awake hours. At last, the weather is in our favor for this week's venture. 
We decided to best employ the carpentry skills of our most generous hard-working volunteer team today, and take a small reprieve from all of the endless scraping to focus on finishing the filling of all of the insulation pucks, replacing the soft siding with fresh new boards, and preparing the new horizontal trim. And we made terrific progress -- all of which should easily be completed on day four, given the weather permits.
In removing the old siding boards of the lower front façade, we discovered a small ants nest. Every day seems to have it's hearty dose of drama. After a small delay of  ripping out insulation, exterminating, replacing boards, and treating the existing boards to prevent future ant colonies, we were installing the new siding boards. Finally, a taste of where we are headed! We have several rows of gray-primed boards that look fantastic on the front face of our house. A sense of great accomplishment to the trials of this week.
Today, we also had the pleasure of a small second team of friends that stopped over to keep on scraping with us into the evening. And though this hard work continues to prevail over all of the little bits of instant-gratification construction + priming, it is a joy to work alongside friends. Even if this might define our entire summer, as it currently promises to.

We go to bed absolutely exhausted tonight, but feeling incredibly fortunate to be so well supported.

June 21, 2011

House Painting, Day Two.

Morning rains timed themselves brilliantly with the purchase of all the new trim and siding board as if on cue. All the boards, and all the workers, thoroughly soaked. And this is only 10 am, just into the start of our day. Then the sweltering sun came out, bringing with it, a most humid haze for the afternoon. Though it is somewhat a gear shift from the necessary and still-awaiting scraping, it was good to see a small mountain of sawdust on the driveway, and freshly primed boards lying in wait in the sun.
Dave is currently on an errand in the dark, to pick up a borrowed taller ladder--to reach our high-up front gables--so it comes as no surprise that as I sit here waiting, I hear the hustle of winds that are picking up fiercely and announcing a certain coming rainstorm. It is almost laughable. This very moment, the husband is securing an aluminum ladder to the roof of our car in a lightening storm.
Despite the seeming opposition to our efforts, the front porch wall is now fully scraped, outside of the remaining sound paint. And the front West face is very close. Progress was certainly made, albeit slow. Strangely quite rewarding, I also ripped off our terrible house numbers, and started chipping away at the front column of the porch as well. A sort of herald of what's coming for the whole house. As if any our visitors could miss the other more obvious indicators.
Lessons on patience, hard work, and perseverance abound.

June 20, 2011

House Painting, Day One.

Never would I have guessed how many square inches exist on the outer surface[s] of our small house. Also, to note that scraping is a tirelessly slow process would be a most horrible understatement. Laughably so. 
Never have I struggled so intensely with futility and discouragement partnered with such an output of hard work. When your face is inches from the peeling façade for hours straight [Thank you husband and the handful of super-skilled men--volunteering their time--working alongside him] it is surely miles long of what still remains, and inches of what is certainly finished.
Oh, and further. The rains must really take a break. The week's forecast is thunderstorms. EVERY SINGLE DAY. So far, [Since Saturday] we have experienced this to be true, and generally arriving at the worst possible hours of working. Please let this relent. 
Day One's largest feat has been in closing the exploratory and testing phase, rounding past the learning curve of which tools each of us prefer, which supplies we need in greater quantity, and what the most efficient processes are for the job--after many hours, and several several trips to a variety of local hardware stores and lumber yards. We are also now more comfortably aware of all of the house's surfaces and their varying individual conditions; hopefully, from here on out it is uninterrupted work.
In looking at pictures from the end of day one, however, I find myself quite encouraged. Though the project still seems so unbelievably daunting, there are sizable swaths of surfaces that  are nearly prepped and almost paint-ready. And that feels incredibly victorious. Watching the burgundy chips fall and begin to accumulate is definitely delightful.

June 17, 2011

Camp Snacks.

Looking for a snappy way to package up some snack bags filled with homemade trail-mix, I went a little overboard when I decided to whip up some simple muslin drawstring bags.

Overboard to the tune of hand-died cotton twill tape tags, little wooden bead stays tied to the ends of the cotton drawstrings, and hand-stamping personalization on each of the 20+ bags. It's always all the lovely little details that I enjoy so much in the handmade.

Just before the end of the school year, it was camping week at Kindergarten; we volunteered to contribute some of our homemade trail mix.  I have been meaning to teach myself how to whip up quick drawstring bags for all sorts of storage and packaging needs; I figured now was as good as any time to finally give it a go. And every little kid loves their own little stash bag, am I right?

I am still not sure I have the edge construction quite figured out where the strings come out of the top channel hem -- since they were raw edges, I decided just to pink them, and call it a day.   

To make the bags, I cut out rectangles of muslin, double-rolled and stitched down the top and bottom hems anticipating the drawstring. I gave thick cotton twill tape a bath in some dye, and washed and dried the now orange and green lengths of tape to set the colors. I used a thinner cotton twill tape which I left white, to stamp out each of the names on the class list. I cut small lengths from the colored tapes, and folded them in half to make a tag-like tab, and I trimmed a triangle cut out of the ends of the name tags. Next I folded the right sides of the muslin rectangle together lining up the top + bottom channel as straight as possible. I don't like to bother with pins, so I carefully held the two twill tags near where I wanted them at the side seam of the bag interior, and I stitched shut both sides--stopping short of the top + bottom hem, to not close up my drawstring tunnel.

I righted them out, and was sort of stunned that I managed to pull them off. The tunnel ends were clunky, from the way I avoided them in the side seam, so I solved that problem as I mentioned above with some pinking shears. I tied the cotton string to a safety pin, and threaded them through the tops of the bags. I decided further to tie on some small wooden beads to keep the string from getting lost in the bag and constantly needing re-threading. Plus, I absolutely loved the look of the little wooden spheres against the white muslin and the campy orange and green tags.

Outside of being a big hit for camping week at Kindergarten, the Craunlets have found all sorts of snacking uses for their bags in the last two weeks, which brings me untold amounts of delight.


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