Posts filed in: February 2012

Busy Day for the Hallways

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We got home late last night after the Wilco show, then woke up bright and early this morning for the crew from Rejuvenation coming over to shoot our hallways for their catalog. I'm so hoping that Clover made it into the catalog! We tried to take a few shots of her sitting at the end of the hall in the kitchen but she was pretty nervous. Also I had a treat in my hand while I was telling her to stay from way down the hall. This is a sure way to 1) kind of get her to stay but also 2) ensure that every muscle in her body (including her eye muscles) is focused sharply on my hand. Not exactly a relaxed pose. She had a wild look in her eye. Possibly not the emotion they were trying evoke in the hallway: vaguely obedient yet wigging. I think they were going more for serenely industrial Amish-chic (with organic undertones). But that's a guess. We'll see.

Have you ever seen a ten-person photo crew (and a catering crew) squeezed into a small house with a bobillion pounds of gear? It's quite awesome. The process of taking serious photos like this is pretty amazing. In this case, the photo was all about the hallway, and not our hallway but an imaginary hallway that is just using the bones and structure of our hallway to hang out in. The first thing they do is take pictures of all of your stuff. Then they take it all away — take our photos off the walls, our coats off the hooks, change the hardware on the cabinet doors, have an electrician change out the light fixtures, replace the switch plate covers, remove our kitchen stuff that could be seen at the end of the hallway and add all of their own props (though I will tell you that I was secretly very excited when I saw the stylist taking a couple of our newly potted herbs and tart tins off their windowsill in the dining room to use in the back hallway shot). It can be kind of nervewracking. People are coming and going every which way. Equipment is everywhere — enormous cords, enormous cameras, seriously enormous lenses, lights, cases, tripods, computers, accessories. Coats. Bags. And even with all of this going on, everyone involved was totally professional, totally chill, totally fun, and totally cool. I wasn't sure that I even wanted to do it when they approached us (someone there saw the photos my sister took), but I'm glad I did. They couldn't have been nicer or more respectful of us or our property (and yes, they put everything back exactly as we had it before they came). I love getting peeks at how professional stuff like this comes together. I can't wait to see the finished photos — the catalog will be out in April, so watch for it. Really just a super fun day. Very pleased.

Recipe Box

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Many years ago, maybe ten years ago, my mom gave me her 5" x 8" wooden recipe box. It was always in our River Forest house and then when my parents moved I think that's when she gave it to me. I've used it for my big pile of smaller-sized handwritten or printed-out-and-glued-to-a-5- x-8"-index-card recipes. I've had this pile for about as long as I've had the box. Commercial recipe cards are usually 4" x 6" or even 3" x 5". I've never really understood that, because those are just way too small for me — and I even have small handwriting. My mom's card size, 5" x 8", works so much better, in my opinion. But obviously making this recipe box really work has meant rewriting pretty much all of my recipes. And I never did it. For some reason I would get the urge to do it every year around New Year's. I'd usually pull the box out and immediately sort of collapse with fatigue, just imagining all that writing. Then I'd put the box back.

I'm trying this new thing, though. I call it Do Things in Winter You Don't Do in Summer. Or sometimes I call it Take Advantage of February (Which Is Sort of Like Extra January). Or, like, yesterday I called it If You Don't Get This Done Now You Never Will So Sit Down and Write. Because if I can knit bobillions of rows of garter stitch in fingering weight yarn without batting an eye (much), I can do this.

And it's important to me. I love to cook. My recipes are precious. I make them over and over. Andy makes them over and over. Our history together is, in its own way, in this box. I hadn't really realized, until I started rewriting them (on the proper size cards), how much I would remember. The blue table with Ann and Martha on Eighth-and-a-Half Avenue in Rock Island, and no-knead bread with honey. Our first apartment's miniature kitchen in the Rozale, painted top to bottom wedding-cake white, and our little lasagnas. The shrimp crostini we made for the big Christmas party we had the first Christmas after my accident. Memories, memories — it was weird how easily they came. The places we've lived, parties we've had, friends we've fed, friends who have fed us and passed along their recipes. My favorites were childhood things I remember but rarely make (applesauce muffins, chicken and dumplings) and things I often do (Mom's sauce, my dad's chilli). I'll keep my few original recipes that are in other people's handwriting, but not in this box.

This box will be totally functional, and that's what I want. And need. I have a binder with page protectors that contains recipes I've printed off of the internet. I have a small library of my favorite cookbooks. But this box is going to contain all of our personal recipes, family recipes, and our most-used internet and cookbook recipes (I'll rewrite them onto the cards, because I can't tell you have many times I've tried to remember something I want to make and can't remember if it's in the box, or the internet binder, or a cookbook [which cookbook?], etc.).

I wrote out a list of categories: Breakfast Things; Appetizers, Drinks, and Dips; Soups and Salads; Pasta, Pizza, and Bread; Side Dishes; Main Courses; and Desserts. Then I went through some of the recent photos I've taken and resized them to fit on a 5 1/2" x 8" space (so, a little taller than the index cards), added the text, printed them on photo paper, then cut them out and took them over to Julie's to laminate them (should have known Julie would have something cool like her own laminator; we were laughing about this one time when she was absolutely incredulous that I didn't have my own sticker maker — [snort!]). Anyway, they came out just like I was hoping they would, so that was so nice.

For the past few days, every time I walk past the table I try to sit down and write a recipe. It's a big project, but actually going faster than I thought. I might be 1/3 done. It's obvious to me that I now need a laminator of my own, because I'll be laminating every single one of these, too. In my kitchen, recipes on paper get trashed. I can't tell you how many recipes I was trying to copy that I couldn't read because the ink was blurred off by water spills, or whatever. These little guys are getting protection. I've gone through three pens so far. But I kind of enjoy writing things by hand, especially when I'm taking my time. And I'm now thinking, Yeah. February! It's like an Extra January.

Blustery Night

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We went up early and snuggled in. Making oatmeal for breakfast right now. Hoping for a quiet day. I have a million little loose ends I need to get organized so we'll see. I'm never particularly good at tying up loose ends. I spend a bunch of time running around in figure eights trying to clutch at the flailing loose ends, and then suddenly I find that I'm . . . knitting. Er.

Not even a metaphor. Actually knitting.

Blustery Day

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It's so windy today. Very unnerving. I have never liked wind. My puppers does not like it either. Usually she cries a little bit at a big gust. Usually I clench my teeth, I notice. I have to remind myself throughout the day to stop doing it. Kind of weird. They say it's going to get windier tonight, too. Andy's working. I have four more episodes of Downton Abbey to watch until I'm caught up, so I think puppygirl and I will go get under the covers upstairs and watch a few on the bedroom TV early tonight. That show is so good! Intense! (And I love Daisy's apron. I want to make one.)

I wanted to show you another option that I use for organizing embroidery floss when working with lengths of floss, as come in kits, instead of skeins. My mother used to work on a lot of embroidery kits when I was a young 'un, and I remember that she always made these: cardboard strips with notches cut into them, labeled with each color name, color number, and the number of lengths included. You can separate the strands and put the remainders back in the notch. My strips are cut from a few extra pieces of mat that they gave me at the frame shop this morning when I went to pick out a frame for the sampler. I just measured out spaces 1 1/2" apart, cut the notches about 1/2" deep with my old paper scissors, then labeled each notch in the order the floss colors will be used. It's a really nice way to keep the lengths organized, and if your cardboard is heavy enough, it's a pretty sturdy little system. Nothing falls out. Matting works really well for this!

I have no idea how I got anything done before we had this table. (To those who have asked about them, all of my enamel kettles are vintage from local secondhand and antique shops, but there are lots of cute ones on Etsy if you are looking for one. The teacup is from my sissy.)

Winter-Spring Things

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I made a little still life yesterday afternoon of my winter-spring things. The wind is blowing like crazy this morning. My fabric sample finally came so I have a lot of cross-stitch to do this weekend. I think I'll watch movies. Or maybe try to catch up on Downton Abbey. I've only seen the first two episodes (of season one) but I really liked it. I love the color palette they've got going. Pale mustard, gray, warm peach, midnight blues, rose, mushroom, mouse-y browns. Pretty.

Maybe

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As usual, trying to become better about plants. I'm often a neglectful, capricious gardener. Collecting inspiration these days. Maybe this year I'll do better. Hmmmm. I think I say that every year.

A Stirring

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No doubt about it, I have had a lazy winter. My very cells felt tired. I tried to let them rest. There were many mornings when it was so dark and cold at wake-up time (and to know us is to know we generally rise around 5 a.m. — nurses' hours), I'd head downstairs to make up a thermos of coffee and bring it back up to bed after Andy headed out to work. Deep under the covers with a little black Cloverdog heavy on my legs (no, our animals have no concept of personal space — they barely let you position yourself before they are claiming some part of your body; I recently bought Violet one of those heated kitty beds, and have barely seen my cat since, so I know this cozy act is not personal, but purely thermostatic [though I like to think they do love me, too, maybe, a little]), I'd drink up my coffee and watch the news until the sun (or, more typically, clouds) came up. Last night I stayed up late having dinner and eating part of a small cake with dearest Amy, and this morning slept in until dawn, and wake now to see that the local weather report is, as I'd hoped, full of warmish, springlike things for the next few weeks. This will do nothing for my intention to be lazy, still. No. Supposedly, anyway, I have a job. Fabric for two thousand cross-stitch kits was ordered yesterday, so it is on. Upwards of forty-six thousands of yards of embroidery floss for us to cut and package will soon be on its way to the dining-room table. Excited. I truly relish this work, and am so grateful for it. It suits me. I don't know when we'll finish the kits, but I'm not going to rush it this time; things are happening. Eileen Beatrix and Nanny Katie, who worked so cheerfully and tirelessly on the ornament kits this fall, will be here to help again. I love having them here with me. I love that Clover Meadow loves them both so much and sleeps under the table on their feet while we work. Our crew. I feel ready to get busy.

About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Photography

Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.