April 30, 2012

Every Bite Matters.

I always tell my students that my favorite thing about manners, is that they are contagious. Apparently, so is conversation about food. Over the last two weeks, I've had the most  unexpected–but welcome–discussions about eating. And a lot of talk about our local beef. Us former vegetarians, and vegans; it's really something. 
This afternoon, I had a mother at Isabella's school apologize for listening in on a conversation that she overheard me having in my car parked next to hers a couple weeks ago, and she wanted to know the farm where we were getting our beef.
We grilled up two of our thick-cut Porterhouse steaks this last week, and portioned out the best pieces of the filet to the Craunlets. Tender doesn't begin to give them justice. Perfectly grilled just more than medium rare, and plated with quickly-roasted spring asparagus. It was one of those melt-in-your-mouth meals. I smiled wide around the table–us feasting like kings–and every piece of the meal with known origins, local and in season. Absolutely delicious.

Week Two at the Market:

2 half gallons Milk
1 quart Dill Pickles
2 marinated fresh Pork Chops
2 bunches variegated Carrots
4 oz herbs de provence Goat Cheese
8 oz Asiago Cheese 
8 oz Swiss Cheese
1/2 lb. Oyster Mushrooms
1 dozen farm fresh Eggs
1 dozen cheddar pierogis
1 bunch Rhubarb
1/2 lb. Spinach
1 bunch Japanese Leaf Lettuce, Mizuna
1 bunch Arugula
1 quart Apples
1 bunch Basil
1 loaf Multigrain Bread
1 pkg. Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 Peach "Puffin" [pie muffin]

Lemon Paprika Grilled Asparagus Rafts

Lay [1 lb] asparagus spears side-by-side. Thread them carefully onto two grill skewers to create a raft. [I made two smaller rafts]

Marinate the asparagus rafts generously with a mixture of:
3 T Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp grated Lemon Zest
1/4 tsp Paprika
Dash each of freshly ground salt + pepper

Grill rafts for 5 minutes on each side, until just tender.

April 29, 2012

In Two Places at Once.

Here we are, my art website, live–at last!
We turned the lights on this weekend, and I now officially have my own little art space on the Internets. Stop by jencraun.com, and check it out. Look around, and click on Thanks for Stopping By, and if you leave a comment there by the end of May Day, I promise to whip up something both papery and sweet, and I'll send it out to you as my way of saying thanks for stopping by.

Happy new week; it's been a fabulously productive weekend here!

April 27, 2012

On Taking Flight.

I've got a lot of printing to do this weekend, and I am very much looking forward to the hours in the studio! 
We've been super busy sorting out all of my art images on our desktop computer, cleaning up and tightening down all of our files, and punching away at the keyboard. It's been a way too technical kind of week over here, and it's got me antsy to get some ink on my fingers!

Saturday night–after I scrub up from my day in the printshop–we've got the ArtCares Benefit, which I am also quite looking forward to. Should be a fun night of art auctioning, delicious nibbles + drinks, and hopefully generous in support for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland.

Happy Weekend!

And the Very Next Day.

It's a Happy birthday to Uncle D today, my youngest brother.
Image Credits: here.

He spent his birthday morning getting and paying for a brake job on his car. If I lived nearer, I thought I might deliver a basket like the one pictured above. We'd sit on the back patio together and share a beer–complaining about getting older–enumerating the list of expensive responsibilities that it entails.

April 26, 2012

Sky Ballooning; Happy Birthday Anna.

Today is my sister's birthday, so I sent her this:
Image Credit: clusterballoon.org
by e-mail, that is.  How fantastically exhilarating would it be to actually go on a sky-ballooning adventure?!

I cannot remember if I have shared this photo here before, but it is hands-down one of my favorite pictures of her. Auntie A, holding Bella as a weeks-old babe. How does time pass so fast? It's such a dear picture to me. 
She swooped in for a weekend's visit, shortly after Isabella was born, and spent hours coaxing this loud crier to sleep in her arms.

H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y,  A N N A ! ! !

All the Thin Layers, Nine Hundred and Fifty.

Behind the scenes here at Chatter–where I clickety-clack all of these words–I noticed that this here post is number nine hundred and fifty. Which means that I have sat down here in this space some nine hundred and fifty times and punched out a trail of thoughts. 

These thin layers building slowly on top of one another weaving larger stories and making sense of all the momentary. All these little shreds of Chatter–the accumulation, the record–simply persisting.
Nathaniel has been saving all of our little foils from our Easter candies this year. One at a time, he layers them upon each other. Thin and fragile–he is careful with each piece–as he presses it into the collection. He got the idea from our fantastic sitter [whom I've actually referred to more than once this semester as St. Rebekah] who shared with him a story about her grandmother–then a child–with resolve to find and collect more than anyone she knew in an effort to support the troops during WWII.

Watching the sphere grow in diameter slowly, but surely, has also been a patiently rich experience. These inconsequential bits gradually becoming more.

All the thin layers, like anything I suppose, tended over time; happy nine hundred and fifty, and thank you for reading!

April 24, 2012

Day Off.

Long overdue, I have the entire day off. And it's been a whirlwind of catching up on all the little life stuffs, because I HAVE THE ENTIRE DAY OFF!!

I've made this week's tub of fresh bread dough, then I whipped up a hearty batch of our delicious honey-roasted peanut butter. Nate and I went out this morning and bought our favorite local dark-roasted espresso beans, and then our best-ever locally roasted Full Moon drip coffee. Good to be stocked up on our brews! I'm on my third load of laundry already, and am in the process of clearing off + organizing the desk that's littered with long-expired to-do lists and reminders.

It has felt great to catch my breath today, and to also break out the NEON paint for a little wooden berry basket update. [idea inspired by Abbey Hendrickson on Pinterest, here.]

Next up on the list? Brew up some of that fabulously indulgent coffee for my afternoon cup.

April 23, 2012

SHARK! Feeding.

Last week we hurried after school to the Cleveland Aquarium to watch the Sharks being fed. Although I might have better anticipated what that would look like [and let the Craunlets know what to expect visually] we had a total blast taking it all in. 
One entire side of the miles-long shark tank is floor-to-ceiling glass. Mesmerizing close views of the sharks. Let me repeat that, as you think over what it might look like to watch a shark eat, mesmerizing close views of the sharks.
Bella put it best–her mouth dropped wide open paired with her gigantic eyeswhen she exclaimed: SHARKS EAT FISH?!! in a tone of mild concern. Here are all these sharks swimming along merrily [with other fish] devouring fish that are flung in as food. YEAH, a bit gruesome.
Watching the Craunlets absolutely enamored at the aquarium has been a total treat, transfixed by the illuminated tanks and fabulous variety of aquatic creatures. 
Seriously?! What's not to love here, walking through rooms and rooms of beautifully bright tanks.
It's so nice to have another place to drop into for a little adventure. 
And now that the Craunlets fully know the lay-of-the-land there, they have such great ownership in the place, they excitedly interact with the map expressing their preferences. It's a good time for the entire Team; TOTAL WIN!

Our Next Adventure in Local Food.

Over the weekend, we decided to aggressively go local with our diet. As much as possible, we want to chip away at our dependency on big-box grocers and retailers. We want to know where our food comes from, buy it directly from the farmer whenever possible, and eat primarily produce that it is in season.
Saturday morning Dave and the Craunlets hit up our fabulous local farmers market, and scooped up a small pile of produce and other groceries to get our week started. After enjoying a good measure of our bounty, and thinking on it further, we have decided to commit 1/2 of our grocery budget to local food. And the other half, we hope to primarily spend in locally-owned and supporting food stores.

Our CSA experience last season was a certain local food adventure, but it was not portioned well to our family's size, and fostered a continual and frustrating lack of control. I want our local eating to be both healthy and satiating for our family, but I also want it to be fun and full of experimentation.

It's a small step, but an exhilarating one!

Week One Round Up:

1 Cornish Hen
1 quart local Apples
2 pints Apple Cider
1 bunch Asparagus
2 bags mixed Lettuce Greens
2 bunches Radishes
Grass-fed Mozzarella Cheese
Grass-fed Muenster Cheese
1 loaf Banana Bread

April 19, 2012

3 Times a Day.

The other evening, we finally watched the film Food, Inc. It left me completely speechless and a bit overwhelmed. Mostly because I feel like food-wise, we've been gradually peeking around a barely-opened door, and making more informed choices about the food we select for our household and our daily meals. 
But this film, however, flung wide open the door. And I stood there, stunned to have actually invited this bold guest into our living room, staring with my mouth agape and my eyebrows raised. Wondering what we would have for dinner the next night. Wondering how a family might try to live off of the modern food grid. Is this even possible?

We made huge strides last Summer in joining a local CSA. This once-a-week effort alone, rewired our preference for fresh produce. With the added bonus of known origins, it's being grown + harvested locally on small farms within a 100 mile radius of our city, and grown in it's proper season. It cracked open the myth we inadvertently were embracing about frozen vegetables somehow being just as good, and more convenient.  Fresh produce flat out tastes better, is it any wonder that it fuels our bodies better also? It was like waking up from a long Winter's nap.

This weekend we are driving down to farmtown, less than 100 miles South of our city, and we are picking up our side of beef that is ready. A cow that lived outside, ate primarily grass, and was processed all by itself by a single locker.  We've been wanting to do this for ages, knowing we really should, yet constantly falling back on the grocery store, and supporting an industry of unknowns in smaller increments, with our seemingly casual [we don't eat a lot of meat, we'd rationalize] food choices and our wallet.

The film closes with a line that really resonated with me; You can vote on this issue 3 times a day. 

We can change our reliance on false-conveniences. We can eat well, and we can make choices that directly support our local agriculture. It's mostly deciding to take the time, and then enjoying the fruits of our efforts around the table together.

April 18, 2012

Signed and Delivered.

The small pile of prints all titled, numbered, and signed–now delivered.

A busy day of teaching goes quiet now with sleeping babes. 

The timing of how and when things bloom is so profound. All the orchestration, all the beauty. 
I came home this afternoon to a sweetly penned note from my neighbor pressed into my front door. It was an invitation to take part in GardenWalk Cleveland. I smiled with delight, and then laughed upon further thought. My little patch of earth. How very funny. Though I love her quite tenderly, I doubt she is any rival to the gardens that my mind paints with lavish detail when pondering the phrase garden tour.  I dig in the garden to make beautiful, to get my hands dirty with what is mostly outside of my control.

And I glance at the checklist that follows the description portion of the entry form. Water features? No. Rock Gardens? No. Sculptures? No. Arbors/Pergolas? No. Rain Gardens? No.

Just love. But there's no box to check for that.

April 17, 2012

I can't Stop Planting.

Spring is here, and I cannot seem to keep my fingers out of the dirt. The sunny afternoon is harkening me outside to our garden beds to finally sow our sugar snap peas and our pole beans. It's nice to finally have a little window of time for a bit of pleasure-work!

This morning, Nate and I planted more than 50 seeds in our indoor starter greenhouse. Much lettuce varieties, some bell peppers, and some sweetly colored heirloom cherry tomatoes. 
I also need to weed those crazy-spreading strawberries outside–they now consume two of our five raised beds. Maybe next season we will be ready to build some more beds...
Yesterday, I nestled a bunch of hen-and-chicks into the crevices of our stone path. I'm hoping they take well, and spread pretty quickly...I just LOVE the look of them against the stones.

April 16, 2012

Indeterminate. Edition finished.

Five printed layers, forty in the numbered edition–with a handful of artist proofs–and I couldn't be happier with how they all turned out. I'm still somewhat stunned at how accurately pressure-printing on the letterpress can be both registered and editioned, and I am completely smitten with the added pop of the bright orangey-red in the blooms of the inflorescence drawing. The thin and lovely screen-printed line drawing delicately standing atop the layers of atmospheric pressure-printing is just as I envisioned. Almost fragile, yet bright and determined hopeful.
The title is indeterminate. The edition is a donation to ArtCares, an annual benefit for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, and they are being given to selected-level donors at the gala event. It's been both an honor and a pleasure to have be chosen as the edition artist, and a joy to make art that can celebrate their continued work in our community.

April 15, 2012

Because We are Completely Running out of Space.

I found these pots of tulips at our local garden center on sale for three dollars. How could I pass by these three bulb-heavy pots of lusciously dark and tall purple tulips at a price like that? Scandalous, almost. I don't think it's possible, even if we are completely running out of space in our front garden.
I simply couldn't leave them sitting there, alone on the shelf. Stranded, all bloomed out, and mostly unwanted; certainly our garden could make a little space for them.
Plus, I couldn't bear the thought of Dave being the only one digging this weekend.

Hardest Worker I Know.

Dave spent his entire weekend bent in half in the small and dark crawl space of our basement digging. The guy is a total champion. For the last handful of too-busy-of-weeks-to-figure-it-out-fully, we have seen a small fountain of water trickle from the crawlspace wall onto the basement floor, luckily near a drain.
Plumbing failure, we were certain. Where precisely? Quite uncertain, though definitely several feet beneath the dirt of the crawl space, and potentially anywhere along an eight foot stretch of buried pipe.
So he spent his two days off digging, digging, digging. Then–at last–he discovered the leak, and the failing link in the long stretch of clay pipe. And he repaired it. With his bare hands, the determination to solve the problem correctly and professionally, and a perseverance and work ethic that I am of total want.
He is the hardest worker that I know. 
And I am so grateful, again and again.

April 14, 2012

Pressing and pulling–repeat, repeat, repeat.

This week was about pushing. Its days the culmination of terrifically orchestrated planning and preparation down to the minutes–and much, much perseverance. 

New tulips from the Grand Dubs Easter Weekend, going to the front garden soon.
It was two full days printing in the studio. This carved out space–likely the only thing that held my sanity–anchored the miles-long list of tedious to-do's, meetings and teaching commitments. The forever long hours of clickety-clacking away at the keyboard for Zygote's Annual Benefit, and the pleasure I have of making us look so good. Looking so together–graphically speaking–all the way down to the hundreds of teeny tiny fluorescent logo pin-back buttons I somehow cranked out in the spare time of  this week. Actually, the button-making was somewhat therapeutic, to be honest–the pressing and pulling–repeat, repeat, repeat. 

That line so perfectly sums up the week: pressing and pulling–repeat, repeat, repeat.

Intense light amidst a storm this week, Nate and I watched mesmerized one morning.
The benefit party was last night; a terrific success, and past tense. Sleeping in this morning was the very sweetest reward for the week.

My apologies for the quiet here in this space. I missed the conversation; immensely. But at the same time, I knew I didn't have the spare hours to unpackage all of my thoughts in any coherent way.

Afternoon reading in the Hugglepod; the most restorative bit of the day.
My only shreds of time not specifically working [does one ever really stop?] found me listening in a state somewhere between awake and asleep to the sweet sound of the young reader in our household. And these afternoons–these still and shared moments in our house–are worth more than words.

April 9, 2012

Easter Eggery.

We waited until after the Grand Dubs arrived for the weekend to dye our Easter eggs this year. We tried a variety of both packaged and homemade dyes, with clear wax crayons and even some glistening paint kits for our two dozen hard-boiled brown eggs. 

The deep and rich colors from dying over brown eggs turned out pretty nice, I was especially smitten to the one's that Bella and I referred to as the chalkboard eggs. These were the eggs that we multiple-times dipped, which resulted in an all over darkest-ever blue, with various color drawings and words revealed from simple wax-resist over the several color baths they underwent in intervals.

April 8, 2012

Easter Weekending.

It is here, it is here–Easter morning, at last–and we are celebrating!
We had a fantastic weekend hosting the Grand Dubs, enjoying baskets full of candies and sweet surprises, a small feast with a roasted leg of lamb, many glasses of wine, and hours and hours of play and laughter. It was the best kind of holiday weekend, H A P P Y   E A S T E R  all!

April 5, 2012


For the love of line, delicious grids and various listed forms, I picked up this small pile of new jotters at a local paper store this week. Already, I feel like I might have a little more control, and at the very least a few new lovely notepads to jot down my to-do's and various reminders.
I'm absolutely smitten for the red line glue-binding at the top of each of the pads; I really must get myself a little jar of that here soon, and start making my own stash of jotters.

April 4, 2012

Trimmy Trimmered.

I came home yesterday to perfectly edged out green grass running the length of our sidewalk. My neighbor standing there–smiling wide–in the process of raking out the leaf-cluttered gutters of the street in front of our two houses.
Neighbors still exist; the world is still a good place. It's so nice to be reminded on occasion. I almost wept at those manicured lines. And all the thought, and labor that went into them over the course of an afternoon. In the middle of the city. So sweetly undoing.

April 3, 2012

Beautiful Song.

This is a detail of one of the three sketches that I presented today for an upcoming commissioned print–more details on that later. I'm very much looking forward to the etching and printing process; I've spent so much time on the letterpress lately.
It's a piece about triumph, and rising from the ashes. In my research about the mythology around the phoenix rising from the ashes, I was struck with the following detail: It is said that the bird's cry is that of a beautiful song. I feel like that resonates in this piece especially.


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