July 15, 2014

Our window to the world.

We have hugely tall windows in the front room of our house.  They are the almost floor-to-ceiling kind, and look out on our front gardens, beyond to our street, and adjacent to our driveway. The view is wide and far. 

This room functions as my studio, and has a beautifully drawing light that fills and bounces throughout the space during all of our awake hours. The Craunlets often join me in here when I am on task, or wrapping someting up. Two small-backed chairs stand in front of the window.

I've seen this view a hundred times or more:

I've watched them perched upon those chairs together watching the rubbish and recycle trucks roll by for their weekly collections. They've watched the road be repaired for broken water mains, gas leaks, and recently a fresh resurfacing. Any time we are expecting guests, I can count on finding them here, in ready position to spy out our expected visitors.

So imagine my delight, when my visiting niece captured this shot as she arrived with her husband for a family dinner. 

Photo credit: Jacki Folk.

So this is what the other side sees? These two completely slay me.

365 Days, Week XXVII.

We are wringing out the long days of Summer and trying to savor the slower pace that it affords. This week, Nathaniel took his turn in the kitchen, and baked up a pair of fabulous zucchini orange loaves. We had a glorious week of sunny weather, and exhausted ourselves on many a swings and slides on various playgrounds. The Craunlets are making some serious headway in their swimming lessons, and Summer feels like it's washing over us in the most delightful way.

We packed up and trekked down to Blossom Music Center for the 4th of July, as posted here, and took in the Cleveland Orchestra outside, enjoyed a picnic on the lawn, and were delighted by the fireworks display.

Through the generosity of a dear market friend, we enjoyed our first ears of fresh sweet corn this week as well. We are eating like absolute kings, and are enjoying the robust variety that our local farmers bring to the market -- so much is in season right now!

Changing the calendar from June to July, I give you week 27 of 2014:


Nathaniel put his intense focus towards his baking endeavor, and treated us with two delicious loaves.


I love the way they relate to one another, and when I catch a little picture of their relationship. Even if we are stuck waiting at the muffler repair shop for more than two hours.


Swinging sideways, because sometimes silly is more fun.


New West Side Market bag. LOVE both it's look and function.


Enjoying dusk together as we listened to the orchestra and waited for the night to close with fireworks.


The season's first sweet corn. Absolutely delicious on the grill. We are so blessed in this life.


At last we made it into Brewnuts -- Cleveland's newest donut shop, which features a mighty tasty offering of craft beer donuts.

July 7, 2014

These Are My People.

This crazy Team Craun has hit it's Summer stride. I am so thankful for this nutty little crew, and the life that we have been afforded on our little patch on this planet. I'm thankful for our city, for our country, and for the freedoms within.

On the evening of our Independence Day, we trekked it down to Blossom -- Cleveland's backyard -- to listen to the Cleveland Orchestra perform outdoors and to spread out on the lawn enjoying a picnic and a bottle of wine. Then we delighted in our front row seats for a most spectacular display of fireworks. We held each other close into the cool evening, and just celebrated life together into the morning hours. We set a new record this night as well, latest ever Craunlet bedtime: 1 AM.

Get a look at those smiles; we are one blessed bunch. I thank God that he gave me these people, I couldn't dream it up any better.

July 2, 2014

Starting Somewhere.

I've spent all week in my studio space making a big mess. Last week's mess was all due to art making, this week, it's been a hunker down and haul it all out to rearrange, organize and make better sense of the space and furniture in this room.

I looks like my brain exploded in there. The floor is nearly impassible, and there are tall piles everywhere. And gold glitter. Yet, this space is making me unbelievably happy right now. So much potential. These baby steps this week, and the hope for where this space is headed. This tiny glimpse today reminded and encouraged me:

We've come a long way. There's a lot that is unfinished, even in this small view, but I'm starting somewhere. And it feels so good to be making again on a daily basis. A most certain way forward.

July 1, 2014

Memory, what was that?

So yeah. I punched out yesterday's post fully thinking incorrectly that the letter projects were our first Summer arts + crafts project. Whelp, I blame it on my over-stuffed iPhoto that is in some serious need of back up and then a good measure of reorganization. That, and the first week of Summer break is kind of a blur of adjustments...so, I forgot.

The Craunlets indeed started Summer with another project -- some quick and easy small sewn softies. Isabella went into tiny pillow production for various dolls, and Nathaniel created a sweet and wacky monster/bear for his bed.

Both employed various swatches of fabric from Isabella's growing collection, cut out their own patterns, and got to work with needles and thread. Nathaniel tackled his first-ever embroidery work for a zig-zag smile and some details on the paws. And Isabella refined her tiny and even stitches along the perimeters of several small pillows. She also employed a little applique on one of her miniature stuffed cushions.

I remember loving my grandmother's button jar, now my mother's, and it is such a treat to see the Craunlets run their fingers through all the potential options of my own button jar. I love that they can see a small stash of fabric and dream up some new potential; the endless possibilities of creation. I hope they remain makers into adulthood.

June 30, 2014

Camp Craun.

We've been trying to have a pretty intentional Summer over here, and not let all the days just run through our fingertips. We tend to run a pretty tight orderly ship over here -- but I assure you -- we are certainly enjoying Summer mode, where we can wake without alarm clocks and enjoy a relaxed morning pace, and we are absolutely finding frequent occasion for ice cream treats on our hot afternoons. Dinner is less urgently prepared on time, and we are often going to bed past our traditional hard-fast bedtimes on school nights. That said, we are also working in a few hours [on most days] of some school-related enrichment, as well as some typing lessons, swim lessons, piano lessons, a Summer nonfiction reading challenge, and some afternoon arts + crafts sessions. I mentioned our weekly planning calendar here, and that is helping us keep on track immensely, while still carving out plenty of time for Summer fun and exploration. It's been a lovely balance so far.

In a conference the last week of the school year, I was outlining some of our plans [mainly our educational goals] as well as our regular daily routines/chores [bed making, cleaned rooms, table setting + clearing, etc.], and the principal of our school remarked that she would like to send her children to Camp Craun.

And I thought, EXACTLY. Let's be that intentional this Summer. Let's think of Summer through the lens of Camp Craun. Let's have a family focus [we are beefing up on our USA geography, more on that front later], a few individual goals, and let's have some daily structured activities/classes in for a good mix. We are including lots of field trips, and trying to invite or meet friends whenever possible. 

A great part of my memories of Summer Camp experiences were the arts and crafts, so I decided to have a semi-weekly project that the Craunlets could work on. It's great that their attention spans can handle a several-day project now and that they can have more ownership in the final pieces.

Together, initiated by Isabella, we determined that our first project would be initial letter sculptures for the Craunlet's rooms. We found the paperboard letters at a local craft store for $1.50 each. Next, the Craunlets selected the color of their letters, and the themes. Isabella wanted a garden of flowers, and Nathaniel wanted a shark. We came up with color schemes and planned our compositions.

We spent the 1st afternoon priming the letters with gesso, and the 2nd + 3rd sessions were devoted to two coats of color. We decided to give them a coat of acrylic clear varnish next. The last session incorporated their chosen objects into their letter-forms with a few holes [for the flower backs], a small hacksaw [for the shark] and some hot glue, and then they were moved proudly up to their rooms. 

I think they did a pretty bang up job with these, and they really held to their vision and kept their high spirits throughout. It turned out to be a great first project, as we had many of the materials on hand, and the skill-set required of the Craunlets was pretty much painting and planning. And then BOOM, they had a fabulous letter sculpture for their rooms. Now, what to do for next week's project?

June 29, 2014

365 Days, Week XXVI.

BOOM. We are halfway through the year. This photo-a-day project has just wrapped up week twenty-six, and yet it seems like only a blink ago we started this effort. Time does that, so relentlessly, it presses us on. And Summer is doing the same thing, with only one more day of June in front of us, and then we are already into July.

It was a week that started off abruptly, and quickly made absolutely clear the way forward. It's a much-needed Summer of growth ahead; one of both escape and recalibration. Awaiting are days marked with simple pleasures, and checkered with the creative things that fill my spirit and bring joy. It's daytime adventures with the Craunlets, marked with more time outside completely present and in awe of creation, pie-baking, and an adventurous recipe-trying kind of season. It's also afternoons in my studio making work -- long overdue -- and most welcome.

We are happy and healthy, and the days are long and full of laughter. It feels like Summer could stretch out and last forever. Week twenty-six of 2014:


Our kitchen timer, ticking away every minute, and keeping track. I received the most insulting e-mail that I have ever been sent this afternoon. And more than any day that I can remember, I was so thankful to have the quiet space of rest time to regroup and fix my heart upon what is true and life-giving.


So astounding, right up close -- like time stopped -- so still and reflective.
We enjoyed a balmy morning at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, surrounded by the lush gardens and admiring the layers and circles of life we could get right up close to. Creation has such a way of renewing the spirit. Look at these three, all of them squat in the same position.


Pie makes all things better. Rolling out chilled dough thin, and baking away my heavy thoughts from yesterday's heated conversation. Our family-favorite Summer pie: Blueberry Rhubarb; delicious every time.


Craunlets looking at their 'personal favorite' tour maps at the Cleveland Museum of Art. I know I've said it before, but Gallery One and the ArtLens app are absolutely one of my favorite things to do with the Craunlets; their greater depth of appreciation for the museum's vast collection is absolutely engaging.
Two girls, completely still and captured, both looking forward into time.
The escalators in the atrium, and capturing the best views that they afford.


So thankful for my afternoons in my studio. This week I've been cutting fringe, sewing, collaging -- making and moving mountains. And I'm covered in gold glitter; the very best kind of days.


Because I have wanted to pickle FOREVER. Prompted by a peck of pickling cucumbers at the Farmer's Market this weekend, I dove in head-first today with dill pickles and hot pepper pickled heirloom cauliflower.


Sabbath morning hike in the heat and the humidity. We stopped for lots of breaks along the Rocky River this morning, and still tackled almost two miles together on our feet. So thankful for these miles of MetroParks we have all around us.


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