March 30, 2012

Easter Preparations, Under Way.

The NEON bunny painting is underway, and so far I'm quite pleased with the brightly painted hexagon pattern. I plan to leave a lot of bare space, and love the honesty of the unglazed ceramic and the pencil lines of the hexagons. I also like that the hexagons are climbing around and somewhat growing on the surface of the bunny.
We ordered up a leg of lamb this morning for our Easter feast next weekend. We are excitedly making preparations around here, including lamb-shaped butter, and a towering lovely heirloom carrot layer cake from the fabulous Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

It's the details of holiday celebrating around here, and for this Easter we are also preparing for the Grand Dub's visit–it'll be a busy and fun week ahead!

Happy Weekend, all!

March 29, 2012

When it's Quiet.

Sometimes, when the house goes all quiet for rest time, I find myself sneaking in a quick sweet treat.
I must find a recipe for these homemade peanut butter sandwich cookies. I've been waiting all morning for this D E L I C O U S quiet.

The Loveliest of Sights.

Constantly struck by the small details of place, I was stopped in my tracks by two lovely visual bits yesterday. I'm at the Morgan with good frequency, and these two delights–until yesterday–had managed entirely to escape my notice.
The giant silver orb is suspended above the papermaking studio, so shiny and gloriously convex reflective. I'm told it's a solar-powered oven that actually baked a fairly decent birthday cake over the Summer. That's some seriously silly DIY that I can get behind. Is there anyone wouldn't love to try a sun-baked chocolate cake?!
Then there was this quiet little flower perched all by itself on a pedestal adjacent to the gallery. It took everything within me not to beg to get to take it home. I slayed my selfishness only when I learned that there used to be an entire arrangement of them in the ladies bathroom, all of which managed to walk away without inquiry. I think it's the sweetly scented lavender center, and those gorgeous pulpy handmade paper petals; the glowing golds and royal purples, tapering down to a thin floral wire stem. LOVE.

Both of them, stunning and surprising in their spaces. 
These little details of place.

Flying and Flown.

Wow, March, where have you gone? 
I cannot believe we are about to close out the month here; It's been a coming-and-going handful of weeks. I'm juggling a quickened schedule with two teaching residencies right now, on top of my other usual fare work commitments with Zygote and art-making. And Spring is benefit time for Zygote, so my administrative to-do list–though many of the items fun–seems miles long. 
Time has been divided up into small parcels around here, and I feel like I am cramming in my making time into every available crevice. I'm working away on several prints for a variety of art commitments, and I also stitched up this little hoop for the stitch swap, and put her out to post the other day. Those turquoise feathers totally lured me in, and you all know how much I love birds. 
What's overwhelmingly different in this busy season, is the relative calm. I don't remember squeezing out so many afternoon walks with the Craunlets, whiling away so many hours on the playgrounds, and spending this many minutes blowing bubbles and playing with chalk on the front walk in prior busy seasons. Our early Spring has brought such solace and sanity.
Yesterday was exactly one of those crescendo afternoons. I came home from two different teaching residencies, and a handful of art errands absolutely spent. It was only 4pm. I called into the jury duty answering service and learned that–to my great relief–that I would not be needed today. [Fingers crossed the same thing happens this afternoon.] I was so unbelievably weary, that I actually found myself trying to explain my exhaustion to the Craunlets. I went on and on in a grand overture listing my points, and at my first pause, Bella's eyes alighted and she let out a hearty laugh. 

That's great Mom, Press on.

Laughing in return, I picked myself up and off of the couch, to brew a quick cup of coffee, and then we marched out and up to the neighborhood playground. The cool air, the warm sun, and the many laps up ladders and down slides lifted us all up quickly.
Life affords so much freedom. It's a matter of taking the available moment, and moving.

March 27, 2012

NEON Easter.

I'm not sure what these things will have in common just yet, but I am certain that they will have a happy relationship. 
I was lured in by the potential of this little unglazed ceramic bunny, and the sweetly wooden handle on this small metal pail. Both seemed surely to want a little NEON pick-me-up; Team Craun's Easter is looking bright already!


The Little Miss is on Spring Break this week.
First grade has brought crazy amounts of confidence and playful personality into the mix. She's as fiery as ever, quick as a whip, and in such a hurry to act and look way too old all too quickly.
This little photo session took place on one of the evenings of last week, as she impatiently waited for her family to be ready for her music performance. Outside on the porch, she was smiling and tapping her feet in restless excitement; all ready to go.
Somebody, please slow this growing-up down a bit.

Life Abundant.

The new life of this Spring is so completely encouraging. The colorful life triumphant in our front garden is almost undoing.
Never have I seen all the blooms orchestrated in this almost-impossible overlap. 
Witnessing early, mid- and late-spring blooms happen concurrently, it's a symphony for the eyes out there.
All crowded into a tiny bit of earth in front of our home.
Our sweetly deep pink redbud tree is all abloom before the only almost-finished fa├žade of our house as it's tall and confident backdrop. I could stand and just stare there for hours, taking it in. The two of them, such a fine pair. Both of them–the fruit–the lovely gorgeous and rewarding fruit of our garden and the days of hours that we have poured into that painting. 
The sweet song they are together. The promise of life lived out. A glimpse into the reward.
With the heralding beauty of all these blooms, I'm actually looking forward to the re-beginning of our painting out there. Antsy even, to tend to our patiently-waiting house.

March 24, 2012

Ready and Excited, Officicially in Kindergarten.

Nathaniel headed to his Kindergarten Interview; ready and excited. Big Day!

March 23, 2012

More Pressure.

This week has been off-the-hook crazy. No one single thing to point to as the source, but a sort of constant low-grade frustration. Every day, reliably, repeatedly. A week chock-full of missed appointments, much phone-tagging, many late nights, a kazillion e-mails, a handful of deadlines, too many miscommunications and a few rescheduled commitments. And today was no exception. 
I feel like I've been bending–repairing so much unexpected–all week. And the weight of all the piling up was getting so great.
Layer upon layer. A lot of hit-and-miss.
It actually became predictable, and laughable even. Like this print below, when my little stencil plate got swallowed up into the rollers of the press. And the horrid swath of blue across the top that followed.
So this afternoon, the Craunlets and I decided on a whim to skip out on our rest time today. To take advantage of this gloriously blue-skied and sunny weather, to play hooky and head out to Chagrin Falls. We fed the ducks and geese some crackers, we played hard on the playground until our cheeks were rosy and our tired legs were giving out. Then we lavished on ourselves with tall glasses of icy water and delicious cake pops, and we watched forever [read: two quick seconds] the waterfall rushing in absolute wonder and excitement. 
And it worked; we took back the day.
We ended this week on a high note. And we are soaring into our weekend.
Monday–when the week just beginning to pile it on–I added another color and layer to my pressure printing [remember here and here]. I should have seen the forecast of my week that afternoon, when I  absentmindedly left my inky mess on the palette.
I love the warm navy on top of the glowing green, somehow coming to the rescue.
Happy Weekend, all!

These Two. This Instant.

Nathaniel's new spiky hair style, an apropos match to his personality right now.
Isabella's pink rose clippers, and new favorite twirly curling-iron hair style.

March 22, 2012

Making Magic.

Yesterday was one of those crazy chaotic teaching days, where I arrived to nothing in place that was planned.

Octavo, quick-folded book from a single sheet of copy paper.
On my way to my afternoon school, I received a text regarding a class location change. I would not be in the classroom, but instead the teacher community room. Picture large work tables with grown-up sized chairs, a huge lamination machine, two copiers hot from being overworked, piles and stacks of reams of copy paper on metal carts, and the hodge-podge makings of a break room with a microwave still smelling warm from reheated teacher lunches.

I arrive to a complete miscommunication of which supplies were needed for this first session of bookmaking with two classes of Kindergarten. The first teacher is marching in with her class, 20-some little people, filing into seats too large, waiting expectantly. Me, wanting to quit, to just give up and go enjoy the sanity of a sunny afternoon, and to cave into the crazy of the accumulated day. 

Their shining hopeful faces. Waiting. Big eyes meeting my adult worry and disappointment.

Wiping panic from my forehead, I grab a nearby ream of paper. One already open and awaiting it's potential.

Ream of paper; future book. Many, many future books in fact.
I pull all the pages out. I tightly grip the short thick end of the stack, and fan out the almost 500 sheets pretending that I am holding my favorite book. I turn through it's pages more slowly now, and I share my favorite spreads with the class. I make believe that I am reading. I am completely captivated by my book. And soon, I meet their eyes with mine, and they are captivated also. Curious but suspicious smiles stretch wide on their faces. These super-smart kindergarteners are not wanting to fall for a trick, but they are also so desperate to believe.

Center fold, bringing short ends together, then open again.
I am driving towards the core understanding of what makes a book a book. The made object of which we are all so familiar. What are the necessary qualifications? Why cannot this stack be called a book? And I know they can discuss this in terms far more grand than their first attempts with lifted shoulders, and quiet I-don't-know's. I know they know deep down that these wildly fanning pages are not a book [yet]. And I beg them with my humor to tell me why.

Center fold, bringing long ends together, then open, making quarters.
A student in my second class whispers loudly and excitedly to her teacher; Miss Jen is making magic! And the audience of small eyes is rapt. On the edge of their seats, and splitting with laughter and wonder and disbelief. Could this really be? It's so impossible?! But interesting also. And terribly funny. 

First door fold, bringing short end to center fold crease line.
Bringing other short end also to center, press both + open, eighths are made.
I ask again, What is so different? and Why not? How is this pile of paper NOT a book? And I know that they know. Beyond being able to articulate their reasons–and dumbfounded that they cannot–I decide to make my point more boldly. I let go my grip of the stack, sending all the sheets flying. Sheets upon sheets of paper cascading through the air in a flutter. Soaring every which way to the ground.

Fold in half, short ends together, tear half-way down from folded edge to center crease.
Then quietly within the crowd of raucous laughter, I hear a small voice distinctly; there is no spine. I am breaking through! I repeat his observation with excitement to the class; there is no spine! This book word that this 5 year old does indeed know. This elaborate visual, now clicking confidence into place. This is a difference. And we discuss so many more–because the door is now open–and we talk about covers, and pages, and binding, glue, and spines.

Open flat, torn space spans only the center two panels.
This is my addiction. What I completely love. Ordinary paper, even a single sheet–as I go on to show each class–can become a book. And more profound, a creative learning moment. A few folds, a small tear, a little pressure. Book. The simple Octavo, the step-by-step we walked through together are the pictures within this post.

Fold lengthwise, pushing on ends to create a diamond space from the tear.
A closing remark from another student; Miss Jen! [eyes wide with excitement, hands fumbling on his spread open paper] I can make the magic too! [and he pops his book back together confidently].

Push ends together, until diamond closes into a spine for the single-sheet book.
This is why I do this. Why I love it so. And this is what occasional crazy days can pave the way for; wild and simple learning, much laughter, and the making of magic.

Keeping Our Cool.

The new chiller is in without a hitch. We gained an additional 8 inches of walk-space in front of the refrigerator to the narrow hallway that leads to our back door. It's crazy how great that impact feels, like the whole kitchen opened up significantly, and breathed a collective sigh of relief. Along with each of us, in finally getting our cool back.
The new chiller has all the bells-and-whistles we were hoping to avoid, like an automatic ice maker, and a water dispenser in the door. I've never seen the Craunlets so exited about being able to get their own drink. I'm pretty sure that I've also never seen them this hydrated!

Bella pretty much mowed David over this morning, wrestling her little lunch drink container out of his hands, eager to fill this up too.  Here's hoping the chorus of I'm thirsty! is heard with less frequency around here; that would be a bonus for sure!

We opted for a scratch-and-dent model from the sales floor to save some dollars on the so-expensive counter-depth prices, and fancy seemed to be the only option available. So I guess we'll have to adapt to all of these new luxuries. My word, there's a rack, holder, and compartment for just about everything in there!
Up tonight, groceries. So far, all we have in the freezer side is a quart of ice cream. Priorities, right?

March 20, 2012

Maintaining Control; Coffee and Cookies.

24-hours without refrigeration, and I am quite a mess. More than anything, I want a cold drink of water. One from the fridge. I'm not even sure what I might be hungry for, but I'm certain that if I could swing open the door of the refrigerator and take a look, I would find just the chilled thing that would satisfy.

This last month or so, our refrigerator's freezer has been failing to freeze. What gives, this is your sole job, freezer?! Our initial solution was to move our ice cream to our upright freezer in our basement. And things were great for a while. Until they clearly weren't anymore. Soggy unfrozen food abounded...
So, we bought a new refrigerator over the weekend. Why is appliance shopping spending never any fun? In order to receive the delivered fridge today [finger's crossed], we needed to empty out and dissemble the other fridge last night. [Insert much grumbling here].

One small cooler on the ground in the kitchen is maintaining our most essential refrigerator items.

One large broken refrigerator is sitting on our front porch awaiting recycling.
How can one day without a chiller leaving me feeling so without control? At least I can still brew coffee and eat cookies, right?

The other good news, now that we are buying a refrigerator–as opposed to inheriting one–we selected one that will actually fit into our kitchen properly. So that's a bonus! Once it's here. In the meantime, I have control coffee.


We had dinner on an outdoor patio one of the gloriously warm evenings of last week. It overlooks a deep ravine with a rocky and rushing river and a terrifically loud train bridge. 
How is Spring so easily and magically captivating?

March 16, 2012

Waking from Winter's Slumber.

It's happening! The front gardens are beginning to shake off Winter's long sleep. The beds are bursting with sturdy green shoots piercing up through the warming soil, and we are finding many of our earliest Spring bulbs in bloom!

Variegated Dutch Pickwick Crocus. A lovely line-up of whites, purples and golds.
The color and the life unfolding. More and more with each day.

Both golden forsythia bushes are opening their bright yellow flowers at last.
It's a quietly orchestrated beauty. All the waiting potential.

The Magnolia is all-over dotted with buds, getting ready to burst open their bright pinks.
I am so ready to get digging, and dreaming up more garden out there.

The first of the Orange Gipsy Queen Hyacinths is displaying a few blooms.
Most of our bulbs were buried quickly, without much of a grand plan. After the accumulation of several year's additions–hundreds of bulbs later–I am itching to get out there in a more organized fashion, and move everything around a bit more logically. 

Showcasing the beauty better.

Tiny Purple Snow Glories, barely taller than the grass they rise up through.
I am also dreaming up low garden walls made of small round stones, of raising the beds up a bit higher, and I'm longing also for lofty mounds of little flowers behind the stone path where the now almost-invisible snow glories bloom too short within the growing Spring grass.

The striated foliage of our early season Red Riding Hood Tulips is appearing already.
I love that the front gardens are constantly evolving. The flexibility and the growth over time, always changing and surprising. It's a contagious thing, and such rewarding work! And the smallest of efforts that we have made thus far, have had a shockingly huge impact not only in our front yard but in our neighborhood as well. 

Sharing that life is so rich.


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