August 31, 2011

Sweet Local.

On a bit of a morning whim, Nate and I headed out to pick a quart of raspberries at a local berry farm
I think we might do this weekly for the season -- what a sweet delight! The patches were heavy with deep red berries, and it was such a lovely quiet start to the day. We slowly combed a row of the patch together, talking and moving the berry basket along with us in the grass.
And we even scooped up some local raw honey; a golden treat gathered from Cleveland bees.
If we can refrain from eating up all of the berries this afternoon, I'm hoping to whip up a raspberry peach pie. I'm on a bit of a summer pie kick around here; they are so delicious with all of this in-season fresh + local fruit.

August 30, 2011

To Those Who Make.

Cleaning the studio today. Making space for more making.
A small new piece on a wood panel, part of my endurance stamping series. Pondering security, control and withstanding. It's perched in front of a fabulously large screen-printed poster: Good things come to those who make. And is beset behind a small ceramic sculpture from a friend.

In Order.

It's the first frenetic week of the Fall semester. And I'm actually faring alright with all the chaos and change, reduced hours of sleep, and crazy rushed morning routines.
And oddly, I am longing so very much for an outdoor clothesline. We've had the perfect line-drying weather this week; breezy and sunny skies in the mid 70s. It makes me want to turn the music loud, hang lemony wet clothes by wood clips just above the freshly shorn grass. And I want to overindulge on freshly baked blueberry pies with vanilla ice cream.
Like the one I baked up just a couple weeks ago for a quiet opening at Zygote Press remembering and honoring one of our friends. And a long overdue pie that he had joked about on the review of my MFA thesis show. Standing under a print that referenced 4 and 20 blackbirds from Sing a Song of Six Pence, asking where the pie was, casually cheerful but with a certain undertone of grumpiness.
Don't pies fix everything?

Summer's Promise Blueberry Pie

All-butter double pie crust
6 C fresh blueberries, rinsed + stems removed
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 T lemon juice
1/4 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 T butter, cut into small pieces
Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 T heavy cream

Roll bottom crust in 1/8" thick circle on lightly floured parchment to 13" diameter, fit into 9" pie plate, and trim edges around pan. Set aside in refrigerator to chill 30 minutes.

Gently mix berries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon zest + lemon juice in a large bowl. Transfer to chilled crust. Dot with cut butter pieces. Roll out top crust, cut vent holes with cookie cutters, or slit later with knife, and place gently on top of blueberry filling. Press to contact firmly around edges of crust, joining top + bottom layers. Trim, and then crimp with tines of a fork to seal.

Return pie to refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill. Preheat oven to 425º, line bottom shelf with aluminum foil to catch bubble-over.

Whisk egg + heavy cream [or milk] together and brush on top of pie. Place pie on middle rack in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350º and bake 35 additional minutes until juices have thickened and are a hot bubbly mess.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

August 26, 2011

You Make Me So.

I am ready for the weekend. For the miles of house-painting ahead. For the friends that are coming alongside us. For never quitting; for keeping on. And staying encouraged. For working all the available hours of the sun. Ready for the last weekend before the fury of our Fall academic calendars resume; the ones that promise to make us so...

Print on left is by Terry Schwarz, print on right is by Brooke Inman.

CSA, Week Eleven.

Community Supported Agriculture. Local, In-season Food. Fresh.
Back from Playcation, we were all very eager to pick up this week's family share of produce from our Cleveland CSA yesterday evening. At week eleven, we are now more than half way through our 20-week local food adventure with City Fresh.

Week Eleven Round Up:

1 zucchini
1 bunch cilantro
8 apples
3 tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 head red leaf lettuce
4 peaches
1 bag new potatoes
1 head cabbage
1 bunch dill
1 bag purple, white + green beans
1 eggplant
4 pickle cucumbers
1 yellow summer squash
1 bunch kale
1 quart assorted peppers
1 red bell pepper
8 ears sweet corn

Out celebrating our Anniversary, and then jumping town for our annual Playcation--we deferred our missed two shares to a friend. And lovely as she is, she documented the loot in list and photos [thank you Sarah!] so I could keep a full season record.
Glad to have our fridge and counter-top restocked with fresh produce, we grilled up four of the ears of corn last night, and they were certainly the most sweet and tender of the season we have had yet. We have two quarts of tomatoes of all variety that we harvested from our garden, and with our now surplus of peppers, and the bunch of cilantro, we are up to much chopping this weekend for some garden fresh salsa.

August 25, 2011

Don't Thank Me Now.

It was the weekend pictured below, now a handful of weeks past--but I remember it keenly. The reassuring mess of our progress. Somehow all of these colors and in-progress pieces of our house all piled up on the front porch being strangely encouraging.
We were thanking the last of our friends who were leaving, Dave shook his hand as he expressed his gratitude for the hours of heat-scraping paint removal that he had generously given to us, way up on a ladder on the side of our house. It was then, following our expressed appreciation, that he turned and remarked:

Don't thank me now, thank me when I have been over half a dozen times, and the job is done.

These few words; a sweet balm to our weary and worked spirits. Certainly the most generous and encouraging string of words that have been spoken to us in this entire endeavor. I want that attitude. I want that compulsion and commitment to friends and family to come alongside them for the duration. To partner with them in facing the things ahead of them that threaten to swallow them up whole.

We pack up our efforts every night, and look at the swaths of still-to-do and it is so incredibly easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged. And this friend, he knew that. He worked alongside us. He experienced it. That aching wish that more could get done. But further, he committed to keep helping. To keep going.

August 24, 2011

Playcation, in a Nut Shell.

This picture totally cracks me up. 
It is the very epitome of this year's Playcation, captured so effortlessly. Tons of just hanging out and letting our legs dangle on the patio swings and chairs. It was a constant rest made mandatory from the nonstop daily adventures, but so completely rewarding to be afforded the many consecutive late afternoons and evenings to just chill.

We updated our Picture Pages with the highlights of our Playcation, you can get a glimpse right here.

More Firsts.

It's unbelievable to me that we are back-to-school again, and facing now the first grade with our very first babe. This growing-up-way-too-fast little lady, Isabella on her first day of first grade:
I love her facial expression and posture in the second shot. It's so Isabella, and  it came right after her cheesy posed-picture smile on the left. Seamlessly, and so her.

August 23, 2011

Meet Clementine Bubbler.

After much begging and pleading, the Craunlets have at last had their way. Meet their first pet:
She's a feisty little goldfish who they have collaboratively named Clementine Bubbler. 
We've been opening up the family sketchbook behind her to make her world a little bit bigger and definitely more interesting. Isabella is certain she enjoys this tree-house community best.

August 22, 2011

Playcation; We Think the 6th.

Outside of a hugely terrible small accident that Dave incurred, resulting in an ER visit immediately upon our arrival, an x-ray that revealed a fracture, several doctor's opinions, a follow-up with a surgeon who is specifically a hand specialist, and a trip to the OR for some surgery, it was a pretty awesome Playcation. All of this crisis was dotted over our first few days of vacation. Seriously. It so began on the very way to Playcation somewhere in the blurry space between Ohio and Indiana; it was a seemingly casual finger-caught-in-the-door situation that presented the most unimaginably worst implications on Dave's right pinky. It was an awful quick injury that managed to entirely cut through the nail, and further partially sever the tip of the finger.  All sorts of terrible, basically
I'll spare you the frantic play-by-play panic and first aid that was parsed out in public at the fueling station of the rest-stop, and reassure you that the Craunlets waited merrily in their car seats to get to Chicago knowing nothing of the situation ensuing behind the car, as I unpacked the entire trunk to locate our first aid kit. Note to self: In future travels, keep that handy first aid kit on the top of the luggage pile where it actually stands a chance at being handy.

Other than the trauma start to the trip, both Dave and I agreed upon our departure for home, that it was by far the most restful and fun Playcation to date. As we celebrated our One Decade Anniversary just before we hopped town, we decided to forgo the usual Craunlet-free downtown stay that we've enjoyed on prior Playcations, and to pretty much just hang in the suburbs instead. We rested frequently in scenes like these:
We did train into the city as a family midweek, and holy amounts of fun! these Craunlets are growing up all sorts of way too fast, and it was undoing to see them each explode with sheer joy to be in the city. Specifically one tiny spot of the city, the Water Tower know the one I speak of, where the American Girl Store sets right beside the Lego Store, that one...and two very excited Craunlets.
These very excited Craunlets were up to all kinds of adventure, and they kept us all in laughing high spirits and utterly exhausted for the long week.
Normal is returning like a flood, school resumes on Wednesday for Belle, and it's been a flurry of catch-up in all of our work. Tonight, however, I am catching my breath; tomorrow is full steam ahead.

August 11, 2011

Today We are Ten.

A Decade ago today, Dave and I exchanged our I do's.
How relentless time is. Ten years, so quickly.
Reading up about tenth anniversary traditions of tin or aluminum [and following none of them] I learned that a decade of marriage celebrates pliability; flexibility. So confirming to me, like a  refreshing gust of encouraging wind in my sails. How we are surviving this hardest-working-on-the-house season ever, together. Side by side. And because of that, we are both also enjoying it, and becoming stronger. More intertwined.
I love that both of the cards that we created encapsulate this. And also feel somewhat nautical, this mutual longing to sail off and to be temporarily untethered by all of our commitments, yet still tied to one another so steadfast and sure. Both celebrating blue, and a thus-far life of happiness despite its moments of trials.
Happy Anniversary, husband. May our next ten be just as rich.

August 10, 2011

The Cost of Freedom.

It was almost two weeks ago now. An afternoon doctor's appointment, and the first scan of how the brace is holding up for sweet Isabella's spine. And the initial conclusion is, not so well. I can actually type this out today without crying, so I decided to finally write the post I have been laboring over in my mind these almost two weeks. Deliberating the cost of freedom daily.

The bittersweet joy of seeing swim lessons come to a close for the Craunlets this morning. In a torrential downpour of rain. It seems so apropos; this great cost for this little pleasure.

In one single month, we have gone backwards on about two year's worth of progress that was made with our four years of casting.

My jaw dropped in the quiet patient room.
Tears fell like a river.

Our first discouraging news in all of our four years of progress in correcting her curve. This slow straightening; this constant bending of our hearts. It is so undoing. So out of our control.

However, this does not steal our victory. For that is already finished. Whether it is to be seen with our eyes on this side of eternity or otherwise, our God heals. He has, he does, and he will. And I cling to my knowing that he is good, that he is creator, and that his love for Isabella knows no end. That he created her body, and ordains its growth. That he created her for a purpose. And as he grows  and reshapes her spine, he continues to do the same in each of our hearts.

We wait now until October, for a second scan, to better understand how we will move forward. I am thankful that there is no hurry; no immediate alarm. Consistent with our journey thus far, it is slowly moving. And accordingly, it is slowly moving us all.

Readers unfamiliar with Belle's journey of straightening her scoliosis can catch up here, and further back through the link at the bottom of that read.

A Slow and Certain Paying Attention.

We spent our morning at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo yesterday. 
It was an intentionally slowed day that held frequent stopping and studied observations of the stunning diversity within the created world, and an intense enjoyment of the cloudy skies and their boisterous breezes. It was the best kind of day.

August 9, 2011

From the Garden.

We were a bit over zealous with our tomato varieties this year, and the abundant variety has been a marked treat from last year's total blight. Next year we will have to consider larger containers [or more of them] as our current plants are quite crowded, but the growing test--positioned as far away from our black walnut trees as possible--has proved a success. These were all picked yesterday, and only represent a slight smattering of what's currently ripening on the vine.
So I say next year, we bring on the gargantuan salsa container gardening scheme. Hello, peppers of all  color and temperature. And basil, and cilantro...

August 8, 2011

On Harvesting.

A friend of mine brought me a lovely little multi-grain loaf on Friday evening. It reminded her of me, she shared, and she said she simply couldn't resist indulging. Such a warm gesture. I love following that quiet nagging impulse. The knowing of a little thing that will certainly please a friend. And the action, the very legs of thought--taking that risk of vulnerability, encouraging relationship, and actually showing up with a small loaf of bread that has been shaped and baked to look like a stalk of wheat.  just because.
It's the kind of stuff I ardently love. Give me any grainy bread, and I am smitten, but go completely over the top in elegant presentation, and I am certainly won over entirely. It was a small gift, but it so appropriately articulated to me the parallels of this season to one of harvest.

Dave and I  have weathered a significant amount of relational losses in this season, it's been a honing and keen awareness of who our friends are right now, and others who we have continued to pour into with no return; those chronic takers. Relational drains we can no longer retain. Yet the staid and true that remain still at our sides in some way having sustained so many iterations.

Heading into our tenth anniversary this week, it's crazy to think about the relationships we still hold that have known us half our lives, or more. How time has refined them to have the strength to continue to bend and grow with the seasons that life moves us collectively through.

Makes Me Smile.

I love this row of happy faces; it's so nice to have good friends.

A "special fun" Sunday with friends.
Photo Credit: Leanne Wadenpfuhl.

August 5, 2011

Weekend, More of This.

Completely unprovoked, the Craunlets exchanged the sweetest cards yesterday. I am hoping the weekend holds more of this.

CSA, Week Eight.

Community Supported Agriculture. Local, In-season Food. Fresh.
A diverse and fairly abundant share this week, as Ohio's later-than-usual harvests become fuller, we are experiencing a better yield. And we have watermelon this week! That's a huge Hip Hip Hooray! in this family! The piles of apples will soon be whittled down into a couple of pies, and another round of salsa is in order, as our own garden has us buried in mounds of rosy ripe tomatoes!

Week Eight Round Up:

1 ear sweet corn
14 sweet lodi apples
1 bunch basil
4 beets
1 head cabbage
1 cucumber
2 eggplants
2 heads bibb lettuce
1 white onion
1 patty pan squash
1 green pepper
3 mild cubanelle peppers
3 hot peppers
2 jalapeno peppers
2 sweet banana peppers
2 lbs potatoes [new + red skin varieties]
1 heirloom tomato
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 slicing tomato
2 yellow squash
1 zucchini
1 watermelon

At eight weeks into our 20-week fresh and local food adventure with City Fresh, we are duly excited about what remains ahead.

August 4, 2011

Birds on a Wire.

My studio needs these. I am certain.
What a lively little flock of clips to keep track of all my ideas.

August 3, 2011

At the Press.

Nine hours at the letterpress today. It was a day-in-the-life of my dream job kind of day. Not that I don't have millions of those all lined up for the future, or many of which I am admittedly employed by currently.
However, I spent ten hours alongside a fabulous friend and colleague at our mutual favorite letterpress in our shop at Zygote Press working away on a spread of a forthcoming book project that we are printing. A sweet little book about the incredible journeys of a bear named Mitch. It's the long-coming project of a mutual friend, and we are doing all that we can to inch this thing forward. 
It was a whirlwind of paper and ink, and the clickety-click-clack of the letterpress. And much great collaborative conversation.
A most lovely day.

August 2, 2011

Monday Night Mini Flash Mob.

With twenty minute's notice, a six member work mob from our church arrived last night to put in a few hours of work on our house. They inched down the front facade removing paint, oiled + readied the porch wall for primer, and began putting the first layers of the color scheme onto the brick piers and porch railing. 
In reflecting how totally amazing it was to have the unexpected and on-the-fly help stop over, I found myself marveling in the easy fact that last night we were able to get six times more work done than usual. Six times more.

Further, work that was made more fun by the presence of many.
One friend among the group proposed the initiative. And moments later, the meeting location was shifted to the exterior of our house. This same friend arrived this morning to put the primer on the porch wall for us. 
During the Craunlet's rest time, I opted to bust out the trim priming, to begin to see the under layers of the scheme unfold in a space. 
And as I sat and stood with the brush in my hand, I couldn't recall a single consecutive 24-hours that took this much ground out there. 
And I could better see the light at the end of this long tunnel.


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