July 31, 2012

Cicada Collecting.

It must be the year of the Cicada in Cleveland. Or perhaps we are just taking better notice this Summer. The other evening we watched intently as a cicada–freshly out of his shell–hung out his clear wings to dry before taking flight.

Nate is collecting the abandoned exoskeletons of the cicadas in his outdoor pail. He has accumulated more than twenty already–in a single week's time–searching our small backyard alone. It's astounding to me how many we are finding day-after-day in a few repeating spots.

UPDATE: A friend of mine has just connected me with this brilliant post that captured a cicada as it left its shell, and its wings slowly unfurled. Absolutely amazing!

July 30, 2012

From the Back Seat.

Isabella [speaking to Nate with emphatic certainty] was clearing up a matter that arose in their coversation about aging: After you are done growing, you start shrinking. That's how you get wrinkles.

Al la Mode. All by my Lonesome.

I sure did. Over the quiet of the afternoon, I helped myself to the second-to-last slice of our crispy sweet homemade apple pie. I even indulged in a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, and an allover dusting of cinnamon.  

We are setting an all-time new record, as Team Craun is set to finish this pie in less than 24-hours without help. Our first slices were cut and enjoyed warm as a bedtime snack with ice cream last night. This morning, we plated our slices room temperature for breakfast. Needless to say, we are all heartily enjoying the newest cookbook we added to our collection United States of Pie with all of our local and fresh fruit abundance. Up later this week, a fresh peach pie. YUM.

Weekend. Work + Water Battle.

We spent the majority of this weekend's hours outside. We made great progress clearing swaths of siding boards for new paint, and weeding several of our gardens. 

It was a weekend of ladders and extension cords, cleared and sanded smooth siding boards, piles of pulled weeds, and many trips to the compost pile. 

Then it was 100s of filled little water balloons, a bit of waiting, and a small battle in the back yard as we grilled our dinner. 

The best kind of weekend–a loveliest balance of work and then play.

July 27, 2012

Turning the Corner.

The corner of our front west façade is surely getting close to paint. It's nearly all sanded smooth, and is getting all filled in and patched up. It's nice to pull into the driveway and see the gleaming smooth boards that turn the corner of our finished front façade.

Occasionally, I find myself still sitting in the car a moment, taking it all in and just admiring the stretch of cleared boards–their hopeful and bright future. 

Made to shine again through so much work, this whole wall of boards is 1880. Unbelievable.

July 26, 2012

It Matters Much.

I think that I knew the title of the exhibition was Time and Place, but it had somehow slipped my attention or memory. It was this afternoon, when I received a small bundle of postcards in the mail, that the title hit me like a rushing flood. 

It's sort of what I was cheerfully pecking about yesterday, the profound impact of relationship. Only, today I was offered a different perspective–one completely opposite–on the same subject. Relationships that are brave enough to drop bombs, but suffer simultaneously the lack of love, and courage to really discuss tough issues in truth and gentleness. 

The balance and timing of life is something I think about almost constant. The power of our relationships and words; be them for good or bad. I must unpack this same conversation on a lower level near-daily with the Craunlets.

I was delighted to see the cards, and further smitten to see that a small detail of my work was included within the lower right arrow. Always a lovely surprise! More information about the exhibition is over on my art blog here, or at the gallery's website here.

July 25, 2012

Hop in Our Steps.

This morning on our way into the library, the Craunlets and I stopped hand-in-hand at the curb in the parking lot to check for traffic in the lane that passes the front door. After we deduced that our path was all clear, Bella loosed her hand from mine and skipped, nearly-running, as the Craunlets were bent on getting into the library fast to cash in our their completed Summer reading charts, and to claim their prizes. 

At the same time, an elderly man was leaving the very doors that we were approaching. Across his face stretched a wide smile, and he lifted his walking stick up into the air and nodded. Boldly and most surprisingly he declared "I can still run too!" and light on his feet–like he claimed–he bolted several yards in a fast sprint. He stopped, turning towards us, his eyes fiercely lit with life, and a quiet laugh emanated out of my smile. His walking stick was still not in contact with the ground, his eyes met mine, and as he nodded again, he said "thanks."

It's such a great reminder of our impact in life. It can be so brief and fleeting, but so deep and rich if we are vulnerable to share in the joy of relationship with everyone around us. All human, often with so much more in common than not.

It reminded me instantly of another moment. I turned my head from our Lemonade Stand, to our few garage sale tables in our front yard. Knowing both the volume of people that shop the sale, as well as the great needs within the families along our street, I have started selling all of the Craunlet's out-grown clothes. Everything is marked well under a dollar, as we would have otherwise donated them to the Salvation Army or similar.

A young girl is asking her mother–wide eyed and hopeful–please can she have this dress? It is brightly pink, and has a ribbon that ties around the waist. Ruffles and trim galore. Almost certain her mother is saying yes, I see her holding the dress against her body, arms wrapped tightly like a hug, and she is spinning on our sidewalk. Full of so much pleasure, and dreaming of all the occasions she might wear this dress. And she is dancing the very same steps that Bella once did in the same frock.

"It will fit you perfectly," I tell her. "I love it," she responds smiling under her excited eyes. She is hand-in-hand with her mother, and I watch as she continues to dance with her dress down the sidewalk.

One turn and then another. Again and again and again. This forever circle of living, keeping us all connected, and on occasion putting a hop in our steps.

July 24, 2012

Hen and Chicks, Who Knew?

I had no idea that Hen-and-Chicks bloomed. What a lucky treat, as our window boxes are teeming with them, and all are posturing tall with buds. 

Plants that are both surviving this dry Summer + even thriving! Total WIN!

July 23, 2012

Cook Booking. A bit of a Bender.

It seems I cannot stop loaning cookbooks from the library. I'm mostly gravitating to the memoir-style, so there is much to read, with interspersed favorite recipes and accompanying long-winded descriptions.

The top two of this stack are new from this morning's trip to the library, so I cannot wait to dive into those. Most especially the Amish Cook's Anniversary Book. When I was a little girl, I longed and dreamed of being Amish. I'm still smitten by their children's wardrobes, and I would gladly clad the Craunlets similarly from head to toe if they or Dave were willing.

I love love loved Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. I read it fast, laughing and learning, and have already purchased a copy for myself. It is her candid and honest writing, and the slow chronicalling of a changing food life as she turns her postage stamp back yard into a mini-farm [complete with chickens, goats, and bees for a short while] that is both captivating and relatably comical.

We've been cooking up a storm over here, and enjoying the bounty of Summer. Fresh and ripe delicious local peaches, heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers. Broccoli and Purple Cauliflower, and tender baby squashes of astounding variety. It's been a fantastically filling season of delicious dining around our table.

July 20, 2012


I still can't get over how awesomely fun our family photo session was. 

Team Craun family Photo by Brittany Gidley.

I've been turning through the 340 images on the CD again and again, at a complete loss to figure out which ones we should have printed first, and in what sizes.

Team Craun family Photos by Brittany Gidley.

Our little family was recently featured on our photographers blog here, and I saw a few more favorite images in that post. It seems they are all my favorites! Oh, decisions, decisions...

Team Craun family Photo by Brittany Gidley.

Happy Weekend, all!

July 19, 2012

Boxed Lunches, Armed for Meetings.

In my defense for keeping our towering and teetering piles of berry baskets, I converted two of them yesterday into boxed lunches for the Craunlets. It's the pulpy blue-green that does me in, all various shades from sun-fading in quart, pint and half-pint sizes. It's partly the pride of shopping local, and the accumulated collection that acts as proof of all the delicious in-season fruit we are enjoying. A record of feeding the family well. I can't part with them. And it's getting borderline crazy over here.

I have half a dozen of them in constant rotation in the kitchen storing tomatoes and new potatoes, summer squashes and zucchinis.  But still, the pile grows! 

Yesterday, arming the Craunlets with a healthy lunch for a meeting that I had at Zygote, I decided to whip up some quick and useful handles and personalize the baskets with small alphabet stamps for quick and quirky boxed lunches. I punched two holes in the rims of the baskets on opposite sides from one another, and then I laced some leftover clothesline cord through each of the holes. I secured them on each side with a small piece of red-gridded paper tape. Presto! Sweet little lunch boxes in wait. 

To tell them apart, I pulled out my mini alphabet stamps, and added each of the Craunlets names to the front rims of the basket lunch pails. Then I tri-folded our favorite pair of lunch napkins to line the basket bottoms, letting them drape out one side for quick grab. Next, I filled them up with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, a granola bar, some peanut butter for dipping the celery and a small nut cup with raisins for making ants on a log. I added a paper straw, for their water cups, and they were ready to go!

I love creating quick and fun lunch solutions on a whim. It's certainly motivating and encouraging to the Craunlets to eat a healthy lunch, with the fun of conveniently packaged food. A sort of homemade and healthy riff on the happy meal, if you will.

So, I found another use for two baskets?! The terribly stained ones have all been composted as we collect them, and I'm considering making a slew of giant fire starters [we currently make these] for bonfires and camping...other than this, any clever ideas for berry baskets out there? What do you do with your berry baskets?

July 18, 2012


Early in June, we lost our very favorite and young garden tree when we felled a giant Maple limb which broke it's fall to the ground on the tender limbs of our Redbud. Jog your memory here. As I sadly sawed down all the limbs and branches of my prized tree, I trimmed out and saved two future slingshots.

I'm not entirely sure which part of me thought the best way to remember this tree would be to arm the Craunlets with small weapons, but it seemed at the time a most endearing way to keep a few of its small pieces from our firewood pile.

We easily found some slingshot replacement bands online, and carved out small grooves into the ends of the forked branches to hold the tied pulls into place. While purchasing the bands, we were recommended to buy ammunition. You know, other customers who bought this item, also bought...

Only, it seems all those other shoppers were adults who use slingshots in their sports + hunting hobbies, as they use steel rounds for their ammunition. Worried that rocks might be too big and/or irregular, and still a bit more dangerous than I was brave enough to encourage the Craunlets to fire from their slingshots, I thought about other round options.

In a quick search, I had found the perfect thing.  Several dozen of brightly colored mini bouncy balls. Small, round, and rubber-soft, but launchable, and easy to find and retrieve in the grass. 

Photos of Craunlets with Slingshots by Brittany Gidley.

It's been a terrifically fun new outdoor toy, and grandly humorous to watch the Craunlets get better at their aim and pulls, lobbing the balls to the farthest points of our back yard and beyond, to have them ricochet and rebound brightly. And amazingly, no one has been injured thus far. The pull is hard enough to require some pretty good strength and concentration, which has also luckily helped to limit to speed and force of which the ammunition is launched.

July 17, 2012

On Summer.

I have never lived a more relaxed Summer than this one, on record in all of my memory. This last Saturday morning was the epitome of the lazy days of Summer in my opinion. It was quiet, and slow. It was uncombed hair, and pajamas. It was extra cups of coffee, lounging around and family laughter.

I pulled out my camera–not the one built into my phone–and captured some lovely be here now photos of these growing-up-fast Craunlets, and a moment of our most relaxed Summer.

The first babe. Stretching Out, and making her own space. On her own terms always.

Seriously Seven.

Shy and withholding, guarded secretly in her thoughts. Contemplative.

With her Summer Toes, and measured smiles. These tiny glimpses of a still-little girl.

And the second babe.  Never long is there an empty cozy chair nearby. Snuggle.

Fiercely Five. And smitten handsome. With an independent attitude.

Fun and always finding a spot for putting up his feet.

Filled unabashedly with fantasy and make-believe. All the time. Dreaming. Living Loudly.

Both of them, in their personalities so rich and complimentary to one another, contributing to the most fun Summer ever.

July 16, 2012

Riding on Wind and Wave.

Friday night we went for an impromptu sunset sail on our friend's small boat. It's been a conversational offer for almost two years now, and as we stood around in the sweltering crowded gallery at an art opening together, we spontaneously decided to head out for an evening sail.

The Craunlets were nearly unglued with enthusiasm. We drove to the docks in a matter of minutes, and the air was still warm, but chilled with a breezy wind, and gentle waves.

We laughed, distracted by watching all of the work that goes into sailing, caught up in conversation with our good friends, and watched the sun set on a gorgeous day. The Craunlets did magically–staying up more than two hours past their bedtimes–and have talked and drawn constant about the wind and the waves since they set their feet back on land.

Having never been sailing before Friday night, I was nearly overcome with the peaceful sights of our city by way of water, and captivated by the sheer power of the wind. I have long heard and even used the analogy of encouragement being the act of blowing wind into someone's sails. 

I felt this picture fully in my being on Friday night. 

Riding on wind and wave, with friends who are life mentors, left me feeling so encouraged and allover restored.

July 15, 2012

1 0 0 0

In scattered free moments of my busy last week, I was ruling out a one-inch grid over a large sheet of white paper. I filled in each of 1000 squares with a red stamp, that reads POSTED. It was a cathartic one-by-one relating to each of the posts that I have punched out and published here on Chatter. Each of them hanging on a grid of days, weeks, months and years. Each of them stored away tidily, and recording moments in real time. I love the building up, the large view of the parts and whole.

It was a week that afforded no time for baking, so we have no fancy cake for celebrating. In fact, I'm crazily not even hungry for cake right now. I'm more in the mood for curling up in one of the small chairs in our front window with a quiet cup of coffee. It's been a pleasurably full week here, and it's felt amazingly restorative to use this large print as a way to catch my breath, to overhear the current conversations of Chatter, and to process visually what 1000 looks like. 

The mechanical and rhythmic stamping–the lulling of time–and the sweet recorded sound of the chatter that I hear all day long.

July 12, 2012

Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine.

I shouldn't be so surprised that sharing a fantastically fun afternoon with a talented photographer and friend on a gorgeous day in Cleveland should lead to so many beautiful images.

However, when our photographer surprised us with a much earlier than anticipated "sneak peak" of nearly 100 images [a scant third of what is coming our way on a CD shortly] I was completely undone. 

She brilliantly captured this season of Team Craun–those silly and growing-up-too-fast Craunlets–and the photo shoot was hands down one of the most fun afternoons we have shared as a family this Summer.

Want to see more of our shenanigans? Click right here to check out the sneak peak album of 99 images.

UPDATE: Local readers, our photographer Brittany Gidley is offering a $50 credit to anyone who books a session and mentions our name TEAM CRAUN, or the referral from CHATTER. Hurrah!


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