November 30, 2011

Advent, rearranged.

We've got our Advent boxes up again this year, but with a little change in their arrangement. 
I thought it would be lovely to have a tree-shaped board behind them–secretly hoping to avoid pinning 24 little boxes to another spot on the wall once again–giving them a natural and cohesive backdrop. I laid out the boxes on our dining room table last week, and was amazed at how easily they shaped into a lovely tree. 
The fabulous Dave measured, sketched, and then whipped out this spectacular plywood tree in his woodshop using a scrap piece from another project. All in an afternoon, our Advent calendar got an update. I love when projects work out like that.
Nice to see the reconsidered version of the usual. Tomorrow is Day #1, and the Craunlets couldn't be more excited about the promise of all those tiny sweets.

November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I decided to tackle the atrocious salt-n-pepper tchotchke cabinet this morning, to unearth the wide collection of shakers that have with time accumulated in the far reaches of the lower cupboard. 
Turkey Salt-n-Pepper shakers inherited from Dave's Grammie,  Ellie Craun.
These broken and twice-repaired [ironically, right at the necks] turkey beauties will be the lucky pair to grace our Thanksgiving table this year. I can't help but already laugh while thinking about each of us taking turns shaking a turkey over our feast.

November 23, 2011

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful XLI

As we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I would pause for a bit and catch my breath to gather in a few good things that I am thankful for this week.
Though this last week has been hurried and busy, it was also chock full of beautiful life and blessing, and for that I am so thankful:

401. for the Craunlet's laughter, and slow-poke mostly stay-at-home days that school breaks afford. This morning we made art for almost two hours before bothering to get dressed. Perfect start to the day.

402. Sunshine. It's mighty cold out there yet, but the welcome light is warming and uplifting. 
403. little surprises like metal shirt clips found in a forgotten pocket of my satchel. ones that read HANDSOME and VALUABLE on either side. I couldn't agree more. And I cannot stop turning it over in my fingers, smooth and sturdy, polished and true. I need to remember this more. Even if I have no idea where it came from. Possibly from a shirt of my handsome and valuable husband.
404. for our fabulous fold of friends, family, and colleagues that rocked out with us Sunday afternoon for our House Painting Appreciation Party. We are mighty blessed here. I am certain this was markedly one of my most favorite gatherings that we have ever hosted. A surely diverse group of people, centrally celebrating their collective carving out of their time and life to come alongside us. I was overwhelmingly encouraged and undone at how supported we are–even in this seemingly lonely season–and certainly reminded to keep building relationships that invest into people, to lift up our friends and family more often, and to serve others in seasons both slow and busy.
405. for gold glittery stripe-painted sticks all glued around a tall glass vase. How lively the height of the wild centerpiece was amongst our party spread.
406. for gilded paint brushes, hand metal-stamped with the word GRATIS. Our party favors for our guests. The joy of making things lovely and personal. All the glorious details of appreciation and celebration.
407. handmade paper food flags folded over popsicle sticks. Sheets of paper that I personally pulled at the Morgan Conservatory with the Artist Book course that I am teaching this semester at the Cleveland Institute of Art. It's such a pleasure to create with materials on hand, constantly using life's bits-and-pieces and making things beautiful.
408. hearing compliments spoken about my sweet growing-up-too-fast Isabella from many of her first grade colleagues at the Fall Festival that I was able to volunteer for in her classroom yesterday afternoon. Hearing other 6 year-old's speak encouragement into the witnessed life and choices of another 6 year-old is a profound and encouraging atmosphere.The hope of our future.

409. the sweet sibling relationship of Nathaniel and Isabella. My heart breaks to pieces with joy as I listen in on them creating games, and playing side-by-side in their rooms. Their friendship is a blessing beyond articulation.

410. for the manners which Nathaniel has been exercising this week in full force. For his compassion and generosity that are time-and-time-again convicting. His capacity to give is astounding.

H A P P Y    T H A N K S G I V I N G  !

November 17, 2011

Still Holding On.

Somehow busy demands that our house move like clock work.
Nate has started making his bed this week. The Craunlets each cleared out and organized their desks, making them again useful for homework and preschool activities. We've managed to keep the dishes and clothes cleaned and put away for each day, and even tidied up the living room nightly.

Bills are being paid on time, mail is still being sent out and brought in with cheer, and there has even been a little room for some Craunlet catalog perusing and Christmas wishlist creating.

And it's been oddly refreshing to drop into our beds entirely exhausted. Like sleep is somehow better deserved in this season.

November 11, 2011

For the Love of Letterpress.

YOUR EXHIBITION. Isn't that incredibly inviting?
Image Credits: We Love Letterpress
Seriously, what are you waiting for, this REALLY COULD BE YOUR EXHIBITION. It's a call for entries sort-of-thing, for an International Letterpress Exhibition that is slated for the Spring of 2012 at Zygote Press. April to be exact; what a lovely time to celebrate Letterpress.

I've already pledged for my wall space. Do you love or print letterpress? Check out the initiative here, and reserve yourself some wall space in the exhibition.

11.11.11 and Holding On.

November 9, 2011

A Week of Mondays.

I knew going into this week that it would be a brutal one. It's a less-than-ideal schedule full of several overlapping opportunities that couldn't be passed by. November filled up way back in September, when I was still optimistic about my Fall schedule. That's probably a good thing. Had I fully considered the life and household impact of teaching 4 different programs, at 3 different locations, to a diversity of age levels [from Kindergarten to College] on 4 of the 5 available weekdays, I might have worried. A LOT.
But here we are, most of the way through the first week of overwhelming overlap for the handful ahead of us, and we are holding on better than I anticipated. I think it was Monday. Thank you, Monday, for fully sobering us up to the insanity that November will be to our family schedule.

We woke up early–the new schedule for 3 days of the 4 committed to this craziness–and started to get ready and pack up for the day. To add to the insanity of our starting week, we scheduled a windshield repair for my car. Only, I had a demo scheduled for my college class that day, that required transportation, so the husband and I planned to switch cars.

Easy, right? Except it involves switching belongings, transferring car seats + parking passes. So, I move the husband's car into the driveway to ease the transitions, and park it right behind my car. We have 10 minutes to spare, and we are actually all ready. This means that Nate is my car, because I forgot to mention, that even though he felt better on Saturday, he decided to continue being sick on Sunday–AND MONDAY TOO–so he was coming to school with me. Which required MORE STUFF, to the tune of a bag full of activities, and the portable DVD player with Superman and Horton Hears a Who. All of this, and my teaching necessities, packed into husbands car. 

OK, so we are all packed up, and both vehicles are ready. Isabella and Dave are in my car so he can drop her by school like usual and then get to work. Nate and all of our combined stuff is in Dave's car, and we are ready for our now half day.

I climb in, adjust the mirror, and then turn the key in the ignition GRRR RRRR RRRR RRRR. Every light on the dash flashes on in a panic, and then nothing. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. As in definitely and completely dead battery at 8 am in our driveway, and blocking in our working car kind of nothing. LOVELY.

This made certain the need to contact the Print Department's fabulously skilled TA to take on the demo I had scheduled for the afternoon. Thank goodness I had already called her the afternoon before, after Nate's illness cancelled our childcare plan for the day. Now I needed to tell her, that I would also be arriving late for the morning session of class.

Because next, Dave maneuvered my car out into the lawn and around his car, and we pushed with every tired muscle in our overworked-on-the-house bodies to move his impossibly heavy Volkswagen forward in our driveway.

To note, Isabella is now in full-fledged panic mode–still buckled into her car seat in my car–and worried to death that she will be LATE FOR SCHOOL. I reassured her that although I appreciated very much her deepest concerns, and her passionate commitment to punctuality, that this crisis actually affected her in THE VERY LEAST. As she is FIRST on the drop-off list, her day will remain absolutely NORMAL AND UNAFFECTED. 
After much rearranging, extra driving and dropping off and picking up, Monday turned out OK. Nate got better by evening, and the battery replacement was a success in the afternoon.

Take that, WEEK. Team Craun is for the win.

November 7, 2011

Inches and Miles.

After 20 combined working hours over the last two days, we made significant strides on the front face of our old and lovely stick built house. And we are truly seeing her begin to shine. The second color coat made the grays so deep and rich, and we finally sliced through them with creamy white horizontals [to be actual trim next Spring], tackled more of the rake painting, and the front face of the porch roof.
I cannot remember nicer weather in November. The weekend was made absolutely grand by the sunny warm temperatures and our outdoor productivity.

November 5, 2011

Assurances Fading.

I think my work generally reflects our life and my response to the world in each of its seasons, but I am finding myself particularly enjoying the act of making my current work. I think it's the planning and the process both, as well as the final image that results. I think it's also the straightforward accessibility to the right now as well. I find them strangely encouraging and hopeful despite their portrayal of  change, degradation and uncertainty.
I'm dropping off a triptych of these framed and progressively fading OK prints this morning, for a regional print invitational exhibition that will open in a few weeks.  They hang lovely in their frames [thanks to the handy husband for his time and love in the woodshop, and all of his attention to detail in their finishing] and I am so proud of how I hinge mounted them, applying new tricks from my  recent Matting and Framing Works on Paper workshop offered through the Intermuseum Conservation Association in Cleveland as part of this year's Octavofest programming.
Taking the paper hinge up and through a small slit in the mat board [hidden just below and under the top edge of the work] is absolutely ingenious, and profoundly simple! The hinge tension pulls upward onto the back of the board [fastened down by a horizontal overlapping tape], there is no folding, and potential for future slippage, and the work hangs confidently flat against the board on the front.  

Local readers, come on out for the Opening Reception [Friday November 18 from 5-8 pm] and enjoy the work of 28 regional printmakers. More info here

November 4, 2011

What Today Mostly Looked Like.

Nater bug takes a sick day; at least he's got this spiffy new truck box.

In the Crevices of My Spare Time.

I busted out my porcelaine paint pen yesterday during some art time with Nate at the dining room table. I drew up a storm on a small pile of white ceramic mismatched mugs from the resale shop.
The marker slides across the already-glazed ceramics effortlessly, and makes drawing a sheer and quick pleasure.
After drying overnight, and then baking in the oven for a short little while, they become permanent and dishwasher safe.  
What a fun little collection for our coffee drinking.

November 3, 2011

Rock, Paper, Scissors.

I found these gorgeous tiny pencil-top erasers in a local art supply store for ninety-nine cents, so I splurged on two sets. I'm thinking they would be lovely perched  atop some round wooden dowels. 
A beautiful variation on a fun little game, and something to keep in my pencil cup for when I need a studio break.

November 1, 2011

CSA, Week Twenty.

Community Supported Agriculture. Local, In-season Food. Fresh.
WEEK DONE. As the Fall pace quickens around here, and we charge into the whirlwind of the holidays, we are sadly looking at the end of our weekly CSA with a bit of relief. It's been a delicious 20 weeks of much incredible flavor, food variety and exploration.

Week Twenty Round Up:

1 eggplant
5 purple beets
1 bunch white radishes
1 pint hot pepper butter
2 green bell peppers
1 head cauliflower
1 bunch curly purple + dinosaur kale
1 head broccoli
2 lbs carrots
1 bunch cilantro
1 buttercup squash
3 turnips
1 lb sweet potatoes
6 red apples

To celebrate the conclusion of our 20-week fresh + local food adventure with City Fresh, Dave whipped up a fabulously smooth and tasty Sweet Potato Pie!!! What a simple and heart-warming comfort food with fall flavor. So delicious, we found ourselves cutting slices even for breakfast.

Celebration Sweet Potato Pie

1/2 C butter, softened
1 lb  sweet potatoes, cooked + mashed
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C milk, plus a splash more
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/8 tsp allspice
1 pie crust, unbaked

Mix butter, potatoes, sugar + milk until well blended. Add vanilla, eggs, and spices; mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake in 350ยบ oven about 1 hour, until set [a knife inserted into baking pie should come out clean]. Pie will puff up as it bakes, and sink down as it cools. Allow to cool on wire rack.

The Straight and the Curve of It.

It's been a long road of many bends, and one that promises a long journey still ahead. We had a lovely quick doctor's appointment at the close of last week for another x-ray of Belle's curvy curve in her new-ish brace. The doctor bounded in with a big smile, and raised his hand to meet Belle's in the air for a high five. His first words, following the smart sound of their two hands coming together, were: We have a hold! The brace is holding!
Though we lost a lot of ground in terms of numbers, and degrees, [remember here] the scan we had on Friday heralds the same report as July. That overwhelmingly discouraging news then; how quickly it is good news now. There has been no movement in these four months. The curve certainly shifted and settled into a larger number than the cast allowed, but it is holding.
And Bella floated out of that appointment. For this next four months, her freedom still in tact. And that is also something, by the grace of God, that we are so thankful to be holding.

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