Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Smallest Voices

"You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering."
Ernest Hemingway from "A Farewell to Arms"

Coming Soon! "Winter Miracles" and "Snowdrop Hill" Collections from Cynthia Crane's

Another holiday season will soon be upon us bringing with it tidings of great joy and promises of love and laughter among our dearest friends and family members.

But we all know that for all too many this is sadly not the case. I'm speaking of those whose small voices are easily overlooked at this time of year for want of the newest shiny bauble and those making the loudest noise.

This post is a reminder to all of my lovely readers that before you begin your rush to prepare for the joyful holidays ahead, you take the time to put first those who need our help the most. 

What follows is a charitable project recently implemented by my fellow blogger Vicki of 2 Bags Full

"Letters From Africa"

Many of you already know Vicki and are aware of her many selfless acts of charitable giving shared on her blog. A few months ago Vicki received a letter from a social worker in Uganda who has been working with vulnerable and disadvantaged children, many of which are victims of physical and sexual abuse, and are children of young mothers, and/or are living with or are affected by HIV and AIDS.

The children make jewelry and other crafts which are sold to support the work of the agency.

Thus Vicki set upon another charitable giving project - "Letters From Africa". The childrens' needs range from craft supplies to personal items, but most especially there is a serious need for small monetary donations in the form of a Walmart gift card or Paypal transfer. There is a wealth of information on this most worthy charitable cause on Vicki's blog, including the how and where to send your donations.

And Vicki is also having another one of her lovely Giveaway Contests in conjunction with this charitable project!

The deadline for donations is December 1, which is also when the winners of the contests will be announced, so if you've not already done so please try to respond to Vicki's call very soon!

Listing in my Etsy Shop, Friday October 31

My contribution to Vicki's "Letter From Africa" charity will be a cash donation of 10% of the proceeds from the sale of 8 ornaments from my 2 new collections of Holiday Ornaments. "Winter Miracles" is a collection of miniature woodland animal ornaments, and "Snowdrop Hill" are snowmen and snowlady ornaments all decked out in comfy winter attire. 

I will be presenting these new ornaments in my Etsy shop this Friday, October 31, beginning around 11:00 ET.

I hope you will join me this year in sharing of little bit of your own love and kindness with these disadvantaged children in Uganda.

Next post: A little window into the world of nationally recognized folk artist Paul Gordon! 

With love and gratitude to you all - thank you for visiting today!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I'D RATHER BE GARDENING: A Few of My Favorite Spring Bulbs

It's 3:00 a.m. on a crisp fall night in October and rather than lay in bed wide awake, my mind whirling with its usual cacophony of thoughts and ideas, I thought "What better time than now to write about spring bulb planting."

Brent and Becky's Bulbs, Gloucester, VA

In my Zone 6 garden I usually do my planting around mid-November (soil temp. must be under 55 deg.) I often split a large order from Van Engelen with a friend, which is a great value, or for smaller orders I purchase from their sister company, John Scheepers. But recently while visiting my local garden center I had the good fortune to find the bulbs on this year's wish list.

So what follows are a few of my favorite bulbs, most of which I've grown, starting roughly by bloom time.

SPECIES CROCUS (crocus tommasinianus)

Following are a couple of "species" crocus varieties which I choose because squirrels supposedly don't like them so I figure that gives them an advantage.




Of course daffodils are on my list! I don't think there is an easier or more pleasurable bulb in the world and squirrels don't like them either. I usually grow varieties that naturalize well and I like to plant them in large numbers for greater impact.

Brent and Becky's Bulbs, Gloucester, VA

This year I intend to plant them directly in the lawn rather than a mulched bed. Here is my list of favorite naturalizing daffodils:
Dutch Master
Ice Follies
February Gold

'Tete-a-tete' daffodils
I especially love the little Tete-a-tete daffodils.

'Tete-a-tete' daffodils with viola.
So lovely with little violas planted around them. If I could only have one variety of daffodil,  'Tete-a-tete' would be it.


'Gravetye Giant' Snowflake
Said to be the "big brother" to the Snowdrops, Gravetye Giant Snowflake boasts larger blooms than the species Snowflake.

Brent and Becky's Bulbs
After touring the gardens at Brent and Becky's Bulbs a few years ago, I fell in love with their large drifts of Summer Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum). This will be my first year growing them and I just learned that they prefer moist soil, even boggy areas, so I'm not sure how well they'll do for me here.


Allium 'Purple Sensation'
Here you can see Allium 'Purple Sensation' growing at my former home, along with the little heirloom shrub rose 'Midnight Blue'.

Allium 'Gladiator'
And here is the taller Allium 'Gladiator' that I planted last fall here in my new home. I think it needs some "companions" so I may add pretty white Ornithogalum magnum as well as more tall bearded iris in this bed.

Well, hopefully I've inspired you by this small list today! Of course I do have other bulb varieties on my favorites list, but I'll have to save those for another day. As a working artist, I am in the midst of my busy season right now so I'm afraid gardening and blogging are having to take the "back burner" for awhile.

I have been very, very busy in my studio creating lots of new jewelry designs to add to my Etsy shop, which I will begin listing today.

New Bracelets by Cynthia Crane's Pottery!

New necklaces by Cynthia Crane's Pottery!

I would love to know YOUR favorite spring bulb selections, so please do share them in your comments below!

That's all for now friends! I think I'll go back to bed and get a few more hours sleep because later on, well, you know ....


Monday, September 8, 2014

Around The World Blog Hop: Sharing My New Video "One Fine Day ...."

"One Fine Day at Cynthia Crane's Pottery"
Well, the day has finally arrived for my turn in the Around the World Blog Hop. I'm supposed to answer a series of questions about my creative process....yada yada yada....but rather than ask you to spend 10 minutes reading all about moi (which might bore you), I thought you might rather only spend 5 minutes watching a neat little video my daughter helped me make recently.

I think it should tell you all you really need to know!

So.....without further 'tis:

One Fine Day at Cynthia Crane's Pottery

I certainly hope you enjoyed that! 

Now I must give a big THANK YOU to my blogger friend Jan of Sew and Sow Farm for inviting me to participate in this Blog Hop. A real "salt of the earth" gal is she, helping manage a huge farm in north George while she makes time to create the most splendid quilts you ever did see. 

Featherweight Quilt Company
Jan's current specialty is designing and stitching quilt blocks called Patchwork of the Crosses using the English Paper Piecing method. She even offers her lovely quilt block kits and supplies in her Etsy shop, FeatherweightQuiltCo.

Sew and Sow Farm
Her blog is full of heartwarming photos and stories about the animals on her farm, interspersed with loads of helpful information about quilting. And she has the most wonderful and generous Giveaways, too! So be sure to visit her blog and tell her I said "Hello"!


Well, friends, this will be my last post for a few weeks as I prepare for the upcoming Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival in Berryville, VA at the end of this month. My first fiber art show! Yay!

Button, pendants and beads.....and stuff with bunnies and sheep painted on, will be the order of the day. 

Buttons, pendants and beads, oh my!
But these lovelies are being fired in my kiln as I write, to be listed in my Etsy shop on Wednesday. Oh, what but that the kiln gods will be kind to me tonight as many many hours of love and devotion went into the making of these precious little jewels.

Thanks so much for visiting and watching my new video!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Part 2: My Dated Ranch Home Kitchen Gets Some Fresh New Cottage Style!

It's all in the details. 

You know, those special flourishes that give a space personality. Today, as promised, I'm sharing more specific information about the various details in my recent kitchen renovation 
 - those special flourishes I used to create the cottage charm that I love.

Many of our design decisions were made because our home had no architectural detail whatsoever and has only an 8 foot ceiling height.

Throughout this post, when you will see this - PEARL - you will find little "pearls" of wisdom.

I'll start roughly from the beginning of the renovation and take you right down through to the very last detail.

Click to enlarge.
During the demolition we removed the existing (varnished white oak) cabinets and purchased a few more cabinets (unfinished white oak), and placed them in the garage for painting. A few of the old cabinets and the sink were installed in the garage for my future pottery studio, so we had an excellent place to wash paint brushes (and dishes!)

Click to enlarge.
We removed a few walls and the bulkheads above the cabinets. Then we had a LOT of wallpaper to remove. Ugh! The vinyl flooring and all of the carpet in the entire house was also removed.

Click to enlarge.
The walls were then painted with Valspar Signature Paint & Primer (eggshell finish) tinted with Olympic color C12-1 Prairie Winds. 

PEARL: These rooms are fairly small, especially the family room opposite the kitchen, so by keeping the walls and ceilings some shade of white this helps to visually expand the space and raise the ceiling height. I used color in my furniture and accessories.

Then all of the dark wood trim around the doors was painted with a product called Cabinet Coat. I used a creamy white that I had matched as closely as I could to the door color. 

Click to enlarge.
This was also the point at which the recessed and new light fixtures were installed. The Industrial Cage Pendant Lights were from (Their home store is in Richmond, VA so I made a trip back there to visit friends and family.) And the ceiling fixture is Cary's Mill Clear Hollophane Semi Flush from Jann Richardson at LampGoods on Etsy.

Click to enlarge.
Next came the installation of unfinished 3 1/4" wide long-length Middle Tennessee Red Oak Hardwood flooring throughout the home.

Cookie likes it, too!
This flooring is a slightly distressed and has fewer joints since its quite long. It was actually about the same price as many options for pre-finished wood flooring, and since we still had our apartment to escape to, solid unfinished hardwood was the obvious choice.

Click to enlarge.
Before the floors were stained I covered them with protective paper sheets and set up tables at the other end of the room to create a space for painting the cabinet doors. 

PEARL: To make this job easier, I took some of our scrap 2 x 4 lumber from the demolition and hammered 2 rows of large nails into each board and placed some small round furniture protectors over the nail neads. Then I placed the boards side-by-side running the length of the tables and used that to support the doors while I painted them.

Click to enlarge.
All of the cabinets were painted with the same Cabinet Coat brand paint used on the trim around the doors and then distressed them a little. We then re-installed the cabinets approximately 6 inches from the ceiling and had them trimmed out with crown molding.

Crown molding was also installed throughout the home and painted with the Cabinet Coat. 

PEARL:  We made and installed shelving under the cabinets since now we had 6" extra space below them. This was a much less expensive option that replacing/purchasing all new 36" cabinets. We used white laminated stock shelving from Lowes and added thin lattic strips to create a recess for under shelf lighting. The white shelf brackets are from

Click to enlarge.

PEARL: I think one of the best things we did to give this plain little rancher some "pizzaz" was replacing all of the door knobs with reproduction Victorian Glass Knobs, purchased from We also purchased the cabinet knobs there, keeping with the same octagon shape.

Click to enlarge.
The new butler's pantry was installed on a wall we added blocking off access from the kitchen to the foyer. 

PEARL: To add a special design element and to allow more light into the foyer, I had my contractor create an open space at the top of the wall. 

Papa Crane and I made the wine rack with lattice style grids from

PEARL: Since the foyer previously lead to a hallway, space which is now part of the new kitchen, there were 2 large ugly HVAC returns. I had plantation shutters made to cover them. 


Now for a bit about specific design/decorating details.

First, my color scheme. 

PEARL: Design experts always say its good to start with an inspiration piece, typically a rug or painting.

Click to enlarge.
But since I tend to do things my own way, I started with this pistachio green stand mixer - a purchase made long before the kitchen reno was complete - in order to cheer myself up. I was still feeling very homesick for my previous home, where we'd lived before my husband was transferred. 

I made the floral tea towel from a vintage feed sack purchased from Katey Deasy's Etsy Shop Lovethegiver. And the yellow fruit tea towel I won in a blog giveaway from Deb and Kathy over at Secondhandroses.

I like lattice designs.......
PEARL: It is a good idea to repeat shapes or designs in a space.
So since I really like diamond or lattice patterns I included them in several places.

A daring move, this diamond patterned sofa!

as well as stripes.......
I also like stripes -  and don't forget beadboard paneling - that's a stripe, too!

but MOST of all - I LOVE scalloped designs!
But perhaps my very favorite of all - very cottage-y scallop-edged designs!

This brings us to the very last detail of my new kitchen - the window treatment. I chose the bamboo shade, inexpensively purchased from Lowes, and topped it with a scallop-edged fabric valance I made with help from Spencer's Easy Peasy Scallop Tutorial over at Bellamere Cottage. I was very intimidated about making the valance, but her tutorial was fantastic! Thank you Spencer!

The fabric is Waverly Gingham Check, color 'Pool' purchased from

Gosh, y'all, I could go on and on but this post is probably already too long! I'll post again later with more details on how we made the kitchen island.

But my next post will be for the Around the World Blog Hop. I have a special surprise for that post so be sure to come back now, ya hear? And if you'd like to participate, just shoot me an email or comment below and I'll get right back to you with the particulars.

Hope you've come away with some good ideas today!

Thursday, August 21, 2014


 "Today, explore ways to see your world differently. 
Let your eyes drink in the beauty that surrounds you."
Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy
by Sarah Ban Breathnach

I'm learning to embrace my new home and to more fully appreciate the beautiful and lush landscape here, so very different from my previous home in a large city.

A peachy site indeed!
Its taken me awhile to adjust to the change, but when I arise in the early morning to discover I have a visitor like this sweet little fawn, I am filled with delight and gratitude. 

Aww, can't reach the peaches, but this grass will do.
She had left the safety of her mama and daddy over by the treeline to venture closer to my backdoor where she found a little patch of sweet green grass that the mower had missed.

Mama, daddy and their wee little one.
Soon though, she was scurrying back to them again. I know that next year I will have my little kitchen garden installed near here and maybe then I won't be so "delighted" to see these lovely creatures. But something tells me I would miss them if they weren't visiting me. I must find a way to keep us both happy.

Wendy the Whistle Pig
This little guy,  and his parents, and siblings, and all of his aunts, uncles, cousins and ALL of their friends, live in burrows among the trees at the back of my property. Maintaining a vegetable garden here will indeed be a challenge.

I just learned from a neighbor that these groundhogs are also called "whistle pigs", and I discovered why. They make a loud whistle sound when they are startled, in order to warn all the other whistle pigs in their community.

Big Daddy Bunny
And, of course, bunnies.....lots of bunnies. Big ones, little ones, even itty bitty ones. I can't get my dog to run after a stick or a ball, but she'll chase bunnies. Doesn't even come close to catching them though. I love seeing their little white tails bounce as they go leaping across the lawn.

Listed recently in my Etsy shop!
And, oh! The inspiration I get from all of these wonderful creatures!

I had a very special 2-legged visitor recently, too.

My 2 favorite men in my life: My son Jared and his daddy, Papa Crane.
Our only son Jared came to stay for a few days before classes start back up again soon. He's in grad school for art in NYC, and we miss him a lot. We had a great time and ate lots of good home-cooked food. Jared is quite an accomplished cook as he worked for many years in fancy restaurants. He's certainly taught us a thing or two!

It is hard when you leave a home where you've been for a long, long time. And when your children live far away. But we cherish the time we do have with them, and all of our visitors!

I also cherish all YOU! The many new friends I've made in the blogging community this past year. You help fill my days and provide me a wonderful outlet while in my new home striving to establish friendships here.

I am so very grateful to each and every one of you!

NEXT POST - more of the "skinny" on my recent kitchen renovation!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Part 1: My Dated Ranch Home Kitchen Gets Some Fresh New Cottage Style!

This, my friends, is a classic story of turning an ugly duckling into a swan. After a few teases in former blog posts, I'm thrilled to announce that my kitchen renovation is finally complete! I am delighted to share with you here some of my budget-minded solutions for giving a dated kitchen fresh new cottage style.

I'll be posting the details of this project over several posts, this post being Part 1, but first I want to share a little back story of how this crazy 18 month renovation came about. So fix yourself a cup of tea, cozy back into your chair and take yourself back to October 2011.


My kitchen in my previous home, a 1937 cape, original to the home - SWEET!

Only 10 ft x 10 ft - A place for everything and everything in its place!
The above 2 photos are of my sweet cottage kitchen in my former home, a 1937 cape in a historic city neighborhood. The kitchen was only 10 x 10, and it was original to the home, and OH how I LOVED it! 

Then one night in October 2011 my husband came home in the middle of his graveyard shift with news that, after 32 years, his plant was closing in December. But happily by mid-November the new owner of the company offered him a transfer, then after nearly a year of house hunting we finally settled on a home in our new location. And when I say "settled" I do mean SETTLED! There were no 1937 capes to be had here, let me tell ya!

PART 1: Ranch Home Renovation - Kitchen


My kitchen - BEFORE

My kitchen - BEFORE
Yoohoooooo! 1984 called and wants its kitchen back....will say no more on THAT subject, and will simply let the photos speak for themselves.

After months of house hunting we ended up purchasing our little rancher under budget but with great potential and in a great location. Thus began the biggest renovation project we have ever endeavored. 

I was homesick as could be for my former home and my consolation was going to be creating my dream kitchen.


My "dream" kitchen - AFTER (scroll back up for the BEFORE!)

Whew! Its like a breath of fresh air, isn't it?!! Now for the "skinny".......

My "dream" kitchen AFTER (scroll back up for the BEFORE)
Our main goal was to open up the floorplan in the main living spaces of our home, and increase the size of the kitchen to allow space for an island. 

Our home is your typical long narrow rancher with a hallway running right down the middle from bedrooms on one end to the family room on the other. There was a wide foyer that led to the hallway, then you had to turn either left or right. 

Floorplan showing walls removed (red) and walls added (green)

So to open up the space we removed (red lines) the hallway wall at the kitchen, which increased our space by 42 inches. Then we closed off (green lines) the doorway leading to a small dining room and placed our fridge there. There was a formal living room just off the foyer, which is now our new much larger dining room. We also removed walls here to open up that space.

Have to go through a little ugly to get to the pretty!
We had a bit of help from a couple of laborers we found on Craigslist, thank goodness! We're in a new town - no family and no friends. They did all our demolition work, including removing the bulkheads.

New life for old cabinets! (Ugh! Please ignore the "black hole" under the sink, I forgot to paint and re-install the grate!)

So once the bulkheads were gone we just painted and remounted our old 36 inch cabinet boxes about 6 inches from the ceiling and had crown molding installed.  The upper cabinets were given new doors and there was now room for a few additional cabinets as well. The old sink and several of the lower cabinets and countertop were moved out to the garage for my new pottery studio.

Raising the cabinets allowed for space below to install shelves supported by iron brackets. Papa Crane and I made the shelves ourselves from white laminated shelving material we purchased from a local home improvement store. 

We finished the edges of the shelves with lattice strips which created a recess underneath for lighting. We also installed the beadboard backsplash - but that's about the extent of our expertise when it comes to carpentry. Well, except we did make the island, too, which we'd done before and really isn't difficult. I'm going to save the details on that for a future post.

I had a bit of a quandary about what do above the range, so last week I decided to just add a door. We had the range hood installed to vent through the roof so there really isn't any space there.

Our countertops are walnut and were made by a local artisan. I really really wanted marble, but by the time I got to this stage it just wasn't in the budget. The walnut was actually very economical - surprisingly much much less expensive than a lot of other options. 

This Blueberry Cake is to die for! I ate 2 pieces when it came out of the oven this morning - contact me for the recipe!
And besides, I didn't want anything glamorous for my kitchen - I wanted a homey space that would feel warm and cozy - a place where my guests would feel welcome to have a little sit down and enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of homemade blueberry cake.  I do believe the wood countertops do a good job toward that end!

New open floor plan with kitchen/family room combo.
So here you can see a view of the other end of the space where the family room is located. Removing the half wall between the two rooms made a huge difference! 

That's all for now, but I'll be posting more photos and details on my renovation soon, including how we made the island and the butler's pantry.

I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of my new kitchen and have learned a thing or two. Please feel free to email me with any questions, or just comment below and I'll be more than happy to respond!