January 31, 2012

It's the Last Day of January

and we found ourselves outside on the playground without jackets.

January 30, 2012

Beautiful Normal.

Just Because is my very favorite occasion to receive flowers.

Weekend, in Review.

We were fortunate to start our weekend Thursday night, as Belle had no school on Friday, and Dave had enough hours in for the week to use some comp time. The timing couldn't have been better!

Belle lost her two front teeth [now seven total!] so we celebrated twice with local ice cream–as has become our tradition–it's been such a fabulous tour of regional ice cream shops!
In between our ice cream indulgences, we also managed to get the upstairs closet remodel all finished, the rod installed and Dave has already moved in the better part of his wardrobe.
We also completed the studio painting, and I am mostly moved back in. The light that now bounces off the brightened walls in that space is lovely beyond what I could have hoped for.
All this work afforded the Craunlets a little more than usual freedom play–which they both heartily enjoyed. The living room was a heap of a playscape from their adventures, and the couches remained pushed together forming a nest for all the increased movie-watching.

The work-and-play balance was grand indeed, and so both refreshing and productive for the Team.  

January 28, 2012

It's Almost Done.

A weekend on Project.
Here's hoping all the furniture goes back into the studio tonight.
It's been so good to reclaim this room–oh how bright it is again–but the piles of displacement are quite daunting.

January 26, 2012

Please Slow Down.

almost seven years old–seemingly moments ago just a babe–please slow down.

January 25, 2012

Sweetest of Parcels

The best mail days are ones where the postbox lid isn't all the way closed due to the height of a small present. Tucked neatly–but tall–into today's mail, alongside a small handful of letters boasting their importance, was the sweetest of parcels.
So unexpected; a treasure of a surprise sent with attentive generosity from a friend.
The Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook; it's pages full of good reasons to stay in the kitchen all winter and bake. Awesome towering layer cakes, honest in their assembly and lavish in their ingredients.
It's a beautiful read, a sweet story of a young pastry chef stir-crazy for her future, and a sumptuous book packed full of comforting-come-fancy recipes, enticing pictures, and clever kitchen tips for dramatic cakes. 
As Team Craun approaches birthday season again [for Belle and myself] in February, it couldn't be better timed.

Beautiful Normal.

The lovely weight of a book in the hand; my recent finished stack on my night stand.

January 24, 2012

On Treasure Hunting.

Nate and I tackled a few morning stops at our favorite resale shops in quest of some much-needed Craunlet footwear. Though almost wholly inappropriate for Winter, we found these uniform-friendly and sweetly styled navy leather buckled flats for Belle. 
And the tag was the magic color-of-the day, which translated to ONE WHOLE DOLLAR total. My word, the luck!

Sitting right next to them on the shelf were these casual and easy-to-slip-on-in-a-hurry brown boots for the Nate. Unfortunately, they were not marked with the certain deal-busting color, but still at a mere four dollars, we decided to go for the stellar Winter option. They will certainly beat out his cool–but only cloth–Converse in both warmth and protection.
I chuckled to find the two pairs situated right beside one another–like best friends–on the same shelf among the 100s of children's shoes, spread over three shelves down the aisle. Both pairs match the personality of each Craunlet near exactly, and are perfectly-sized to their little feet. Sitting there side by side, just waiting for us.

We toured the tsotchke aisle lastly, and scored the loveliest little yellow butterfly trinket plate. I was absolutely smitten at first sight, and rationalized that it could be useful–though small–for Belle's party, so we brought it home as well. 

It has two tiny holes in the back where a ribbon could be threaded for hanging, so I think it's more permanent home will be among the eclectic and growing installation of plates, salt-n-pepper shakers, bud vases, and the like,  on the kitchen shelf and wall above the sink.

For under 9 dollars total, it was quite a lucky little treasure hunt.

School Valentines.

Her fingers busy with thread again, Belle is hard at work in a decided effort to tackle braiding. I flagged this sweet Valentine's idea and printable [from Dandee] a while back, and it seemed the perfect time to pull it out for Belle's classmates. I updated the text layout just a bit, so it could be on center in the circle, as Belle requested she sign them on the back. We used a heart punch for the holes–we just couldn't resist the over-the-top Valentine's cuteness.

Isabella's braiding ability is really improving, and in her impatience of waiting on me every time she needed a knot to start and stop each bracelet, she has also mastered that skill with this project.

I can remember countless hours spent with string pinned to a cushion creating simple woven friendship bracelets. Time and memory flash by in an instant, Belle now poised in the same determined posture so familiar to my own childhood.

Watching her like a little factory, sweetly concerned if she will get them all done in time, wondering which color pairings the boys will like best, and how she might package them to hand them out.

Her care with all the details and minutia of the project is all too familiar; how can so much of who we are be embedded in our babes?!

Anyone else working on their Valentines in January?!

January 23, 2012

Beautiful Normal.

Nate is building, building, all the time.

Tackle-a-Weekend-Project Cinnamon Hot Cocoa

Somehow this most comforting broken-and-repaired mug of cinnamon stove-top hot cocoa with marshmallows encouraged the impulse to finally paint the studio.
Or get it started, rather. The lower level is now in a total state of displacement, as the studio is piled up and stashed all over the place. And it's taken two fastidious layers of primer to un-red the room. The week is looking so bright already.

Tackle-a-Weekend-Project Cinnamon Hot Cocoa

1/4 C extra dark baking cocoa
2 T brown sugar
1 Cboiling water
dash ground cloves
dash ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 C milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
mini marshmallows

Combine cocoa and sugar in small saucepan; stir in water. Bring to boil; reduce heat and cook whisking constantly 2 minutes.

Add cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon + milk. Simmer 5 minutes [keep just from boiling]. Whisk in vanilla. Pour hot cocoa in mugs; top with marshmallows; freshly whipped cream would be heaven, surely–but we had none on hand.

January 20, 2012

Weekend Breakfasts, on the Weekday.

There's nothing more lavish to me on a weekday morning than a bubbly sweet baked breakfast; something generally relegated to weekends and holidays. It seems the most royal of indulgences. 
This morning I put an end to a fierce craving I've held back for almost two full weeks.

Blueberry Stuffed French Toast Bake, Worth Being Late for School.

16 slices white Italian bread
1 pkg cream cheese [8 oz]
1 pint blueberries [fresh or frozen]
3 C milk
3 eggs
1/3 C maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs butter

Butter a 9x13 baking pan. Cut 10 slices of the bread into 3/4" cubes, reserve. Spread softened cream cheese over one side of the remaining 6 slices of bread, and arrange in pan cheese side up to cover the entire bottom surface. Spread remaining cream cheese to fill/seal all crevices between the bread. Sprinkle 1 generous cup of blueberries, and then top with bread cubes.

Whisk milk, eggs, syrup, vanilla and 1/4 cup of the sugar until well combined, and pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Mix 1/4 cup of sugar with nutmeg and cinnamon, and sprinkle over bread. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake for 25-30 additional minutes until top is golden brown, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
In a small pot, mix cornstarch with 1 cup water, and add remaining sugar. Bring to a simmer on medium heat and cook until thick. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and remaining blueberries.

Pour blueberry glaze over individual servings.

January 19, 2012

A Glimpse of Her Growing Up.

It's an otherwise closed-door instructional model at the Arts Center where Isabella has taken Ballet for the last handful of years, excepting the once-a-semester in-class performance for parents. This semester, Isabella was introduced to a new instructor; one that I quite admired upon first meeting, and respected immensely upon hearing glowing recommendations from the head of the dance program. I was struck immediately by her professional demeanor, and let's be honest, her fabulous British accent completely drew me in.
However, after getting a glimpse of class this week, watching her interactions with Isabella and the other students, and seeing firsthand the results of her rigor with them, I am beside myself with awe of her, and the progress she chartered in one semester. The performance held no silly songs, no spinning, leaping, or twirling. It was an intense presentation of form, ballet positions, and increased understanding of movement to music and body awareness. And though each of the girls occasioned smiles during their performance, all of the girlish giggling and silliness was absent. It was smooth, orderly, and shockingly professional for the 6-yr old demographic.
Watching Belle's sweet little frame float across the smooth floor, stretch out upon the barre, and lift itself up upon her tiny toes, I couldn't help but see her far older than we she first entered those doors. Her concentrated looks, and entire body focus illustrated the determination of the few months of this semester.
I was reminded of the profound potential within children to rise given both the challenge and a healthy learning environment, partnered with someone that can simply convince and encourage them that it is possible with practice.
Nate's Dalcroze Eurhythmics class performance was the very same evening, so we divided and conquered. As soon as I lift the footage from Dave's phone, I will share his performance as well.

January 18, 2012

I Love Hanging Out With This Kid.

We stopped into a dollar store this morning on our way to a meeting with the sole purpose of finding a few new distractions. To Nate's absolute delight he found a nearly-identical to Grandpa's motorcycle–complete with Grandma's seat, and a leather travel bag.
Even better, its one of those pull 'em back, and watch 'em race off kind of wheeled toys. TOTAL WIN.

Missing It. And Not.

We failed to get to any annual correspondence this year, at Christmastime, and then even the New Year. I cannot recollect when we last forwent either. We had a bumpy relational Summer, one with much growing pains and heart ache. A shifting of terrains that seasons provide in letting some die to make room for the new life of others. But eye opening at the very least, and though I feel like certainty is still quite coming into focus, embracing a little blur has also been OK.
Driving down to Columbus for the New Year, committed to connect with good friends despite distance, drove such a terrific stake into the ground. I will not let relationships that matter keep sliding. I suppose it's a resolution I never penned formally, while we quietly let the Holidays pass without cards. But one that incised itself in my consciousness throughout Autumn.
I will pen more letters. I will send more packages. I will get in the car and drive to visit friends. I will invest more in relationships that are working. I will relent and give needed neglect to the ones that are not. I will let those go. I will let those go

People will pick up and leave with no consideration, and they will text one-liners that read simply: very busy over here. And they will not always tell the truth, even without lying. And I will let those go. All the withholding, all the unnatural struggle. I will let those go. And all that letting go, will clear out more space for bringing in. And I will dwell here most decidedly, and not miss it.

January 13, 2012

Happy Weekend.

Nothing more exhilerating than playing in freshly fallen snow.
And then thawing out all of the frozen with warm cups of hot cocoa.

Snow and Paper.

It's snowing out there something furious. So I am inside, and playing with paper.

The glorious light reflecting off all the white is so sweetly welcome.

January 12, 2012

It's Official.

The letter we have anxiously awaited, arrived by post at last this afternoon, and it bore our expected good news!
The babe is enrolled in Kindergarten! And both Craunlets are in school this coming Fall–how has the time flown by so quick?

Give Her Needle and Thread.

Belle is taking sewing by storm. Both her patience and her craft are astounding.
Her second hand-sewn project is a wooly soft felt needle book. Her running stitch is wonderfully even and sturdy; her first button is sewn down snugly in place, and is keeping the book neatly closed.
It's staggering to watch her, all focused and aware, engrossed in a sewing project. She's concentrating with her tongue half out of her mouth, merrily stitching away with her legs crossed. 
And she is smiling ear-to-ear with accomplishment when the project is finished. Eager to start the next.

January 10, 2012

On Comfort, and Coconut Pudding Cake.

There's something about the divine indulgence of a sunny and quiet afternoon. One further sweetened with some leftover delicious. 
It's a fabulously comfortable "everyday" cake, and it's always my go-to when life slows down enough to make a quick cake. 

It's the classic "box of this" and "box of that" recipe. These type are not all that frequent in our home, but the occasional indulgence feels so lavish and comforting both. I was introduced to this particular cake through Dave's family, it was Grammie's Cake–and famously appreciated–I fell for it immediately.

Bake a yellow cake [I usually err for a box that boasts pudding in the cake, etc.] in a 9X13 pan, and then let it cool completely. Smash gouges into the top surface of the cake all over using the back of a wooden spoon. Next, whisk up two small boxes of instant vanilla pudding [I used a french vanilla one for added richness] and just before it is setting, pour all over cake, and smooth with a spatula. Refrigerate for a bit. When set, coat entire top with a small tub of whipped cream [I went for real cream here] and press in generous amounts of flaked coconut. Chill, and eat cake.

January 9, 2012

Legos and Brrrr Little Boy Feet

Play is so intense around here sometimes, there is little time for bothering with lost socks.

January 6, 2012

That Remind's Me...

We stopped into our favorite local coffee shop this morning. And I got my double espresso macchiatto served up in the cup we prefer above all the others. We refer to it as the perfect sad fishy cup.
And it reminded me. We haven't told our sad fishy story yet.

You see, for Christmas, we gave our two pet fish [Clementine Bubbler + Finnegan Dasher] a cleaning fish, remember? All was going well, for a handful of hours. And then it wasn't. Initially, Clemmie and Finn seemed to be bullying the new guy. Fish are a surprising emotional roller coaster – it was tragic to watch. But, as it turns out our sucker fish had some kind of YUCK, and he pretty much moped around the back of the tank for his first day, before we realized that he wasn't actually cleaning the filter's water intake vents, he was being pulled to them because he was lifeless. We were so sad, here it is Christmas Eve, and our Christmas present to our fish just died. 

It seemed like even Clemmie and Finn were sad about it, they hung out together disconcertingly close to the bottom of the tank commiserating. Or so we thought. Only they continued to stay too close to the rocks for comfort–like hovering–and they all but stopped swimming their friendly competitive laps around the tank. Turns out they weren't sad about Christmas, they were sick. VERY SICK. We tried treating it, we immediately changed out the filter, and even refreshed their water.

And they just got worse. Visually and emotionally traumatic degradation. We watching them slowly become lifeless. Just terrible. New Years Day we lost Clementine. The very next, poor Finnegan followed.

So Team Craun is taking a little reprieve from pets, and from the cinematic heart ache of life and death. And honestly, as much as I miss watching them swim around their tank happily, it's nice to have a little break from all the worry and stress that these little lives also brought with them.

January 5, 2012

This Quiet.

In my afternoon, I began writing truth to quiet all the commotion–the crowded chatter of my mind a whirl with deadlines and to-do's. Almost finished, I was brought present by the sing-song quiet ringtone of my new phone; still an unfamiliar sound.
It was an almost stranger; the distant daughter-in-law of our former sweet neighbor Mary. She was calling to tell me that she passed away on January 01. And in our awkward quiet, she interrupted my processing of the truth with:

She always insisted that she would die in January. She always seemed to have it her way.

And we both laughed. Because she did, and that made knowing and neighboring her such a splendid treasure. She lived so loudly, bold in her age in wisdom–and born to die.

January 3, 2012

It Snows, Therefor we Build Forts.

It's Belle's last day of Winter break.
And it's blizzarding something fierce outside.
Enter Nate's new and super Awesome Fort-building Christmas present, the Habitadule.
Watching the Craunlets design and build collaboratively in the living room, then explore and enjoy all the crevices and openings of their fort was just what our snowy morning needed.
Happy Snow Day!


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