Posts filed in: April 2012

Sunshine Day

comments: 45





The weather here has been so glorious the past few days it's almost all I can think about. And talk about. I think my life revolves around the weather more than I think it does. Getting outside into the sunshine this weekend was like a dream. We had my family over for Easter lunch and got to spend most of the day outside. My mom made that beautiful strawberry shortcake!

I'm off to the woods before the rain starts up again. Back in a bit!

Flowered Eggs

comments: 93






Last night Andy and I made some Easter eggs inspired by these pretty ones. I just clipped some tiny sprigs from our tangle of a yard, placed them on the raw eggs, took a square of pantyhose (if you do a dozen eggs it's best to have two pairs of pantyhose) and stretched it over the sprig and egg, then caught up all the edges of the pantyhose in a little rubberband. (You want to pull the pantyhose pretty tight, so the sprigs stay on the egg.) Then, in a big soup pot, we made a little bed of outer skins from about eight or nine yellow onions, placed all the eggs on the skins, covered them with more skins, then added a few tablespoons of vinegar and enough cold water just to cover it all. Brought it just up to a boil then let it simmer very gently, without rumbling the eggs, for about fifteen minutes. Took the pot off the heat and let it sit for another fifteen minutes. Took the eggs out (careful, they're hot), rinsed them in cold water, and unveiled them. Voila. Beautiful botanical eggs.

My favorites are the ones that picked up some color from the blue flowers that were laid on top of them. It's best if you use sprigs that are very delicate, with thin leaves so that they can really press down on the egg. It also helps if the egg is a bit wet, because then the leaves will stick better when you go to wrap them with the pantyhose. Anyway, I think they look pretty. And I am a deviled egg fiend so I might have to make some more. I might try making some other colors, too.

Happy Easter weekend, dear friends!

Spring Plans

comments: 62




Loveliest friends for dinner Tuesday night. I made a salad with roasted vegetables, chicken tikka masala, and basmati-rice pudding with cardamom (my version of kheer). I'd make a double batch of this pudding next time. Maybe triple. 'Cause I wish I had some right now!

I was so lazy yesterday I didn't do anything. Well, I sat on the sofa and hand-sewed the binding on my quilt while watching Bravo for about six hours. It rained, again, all day. The thing I don't like about the rain in Portland isn't really the rain. It's the cold that always seems to come with the rain. It's really cold rain. It's never, ever warm rain. Even in summer. Cold water hitting me in the face just . . . I don't know. It's not that fun.

However, the ornamental pear trees that are blooming like crazy all over my neighborhood right now? Oh my gosh.

It's time for us to work on the front parkway. The old, spindly, unhappy roses are coming out and three raised beds for a parkway veggie garden are going in. Obviously, much willow edging will be needed. Oooo, that just made me kind of excited. Don't you think willow edging is adorable? And functional. I worry about the neighborhood dogs getting into my garden. Don't even think about it, you. No.

*Update: Any advice for keeping the kitterses out?

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It was so beautiful yesterday. I had the doors and windows open. I didn't have any music on at all, just so I could hear all of the birdsong we've been missing so much these past long months.

I have a dream to buy a little piece of land — a meadow edged by forest. A weekend place. Not too far away. I found one on-line. It has an old red shed on it now, and a tumbling-down old rabbit hutch. Someday we could build a cabin on it, but for a few years maybe we could just have a little trailer, or even a tent. I'd throw my quilt on the long grass and read all afternoon. What I imagine mostly is how it would sound. Quiet, with birds and leaves.

Spring Rain

comments: 107








Whew. A few days ago I was about to do something else, and before I knew it was sitting under an enormous half-finished quilt with a big blister on my finger. It was like I accidentally stepped into the fairy circle, then was further tempted to eat one of their little cakes (even though I know you should refuse all offers of food there!). And so then they just kept me for a while, and made me sew. And sew and sew. Yes. I think that's what happened. I was under a spell.

I do remember that it was pouring rain for several days straight. It was a rain spell. At times I think I had almost every light in the house on just so we could see what we were doing. The sun came out just for a short, glorious while on Saturday afternoon. Andy came into the studio with me and played video games on his phone while I went from cutting table to sewing machine to ironing board, and back again. I just kept adding patches to patches patches. In all honesty, seriously, this quilt top came together faster than any quilt I have ever made. If you really look at it, once all the pieces have been cut, it's just a matter of putting it together like a puzzle, and many of the patches are BIG. I left a few of the big long pieces uncut until closer to the end, when I knew whether groups of vertically pieced patches were going to match up to groups of horizontally patched pieces. (Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't.) If they didn't (and if they didn't it was, luckily, never by too much), I just added a bit to some other piece that I hadn't cut yet so that the collective group of patches was still the right length, or width. It came together exactly like the diagram except in a couple of places, like where my little green blocks didn't get done in the right order, and I needed to add a strip to the bottom of the log cabin column because it was way too short (and I still don't really know why). As each part came together, I was very happy. I thought it all looked so pretty together. Thank you to anyone who was here over the weekend with me! Your comments were cracking me up bad! That was really fun.

When I first started to cut all of the patches, before I stitched them together, I basically printed out a diagram of what I had drawn, so I knew exactly which patches I needed. As I cut them (randomly, from some new fabrics and from my stash), I crossed them off. So by the time I started sewing I had all sorts of little piles, labeled with sticky notes: 16" x 4", 4" x 4", 58" x 2", etc. Almost all of the patches are 2", 4", or 8" wide. The grid made it easy to see the exact size of each patch, and I just added 1/2" for seam allowances to both the length and the width before I cut. As I finished each strip or section, I hung it in front of the sliding glass door and then I sat and looked at it to figure out where to put some of the darker colors, so that they were a little bit balanced. I didn't plan which fabrics to use where in any sort of labored way, and they just sort of fell where they did. I didn't follow the chart color-wise at all, expect for a few places like the big gray boxes, and the navy-and-green mini stripes.

When the top was all finished I realized that I wanted it to be even bigger than it was, so I added a 4" border all the way around. The binding will be some kind of mustard yellow, or maybe brown. The back is a patched mix of really beautiful cotton lawns — in fact, there is a ton of cotton lawn in this quilt, from Liberty prints to some from my friend Anna to various stuff I've collected over the years. I don't know how well it will all wear, but oh dearie me is it dreamy to touch and work with. It also has made the sandwich so light. I used Dream Wool for the batting (which is what I used for my log cabin quilt). They say you can stitch up to 8" apart on it. I love it. It makes the whole thing feel like a big puffy comforter. I prefer that so much to flatter, cotton-filled quilts. Firstly, it's so much lighter and loftier. Secondly, I just like the way it looks more poufy when it's all finished. Thirdly, It's seriously warm. I was sitting under it (with all its pins in it) last night with just my thin nightgown on and I was toasty.

To finish it, I've decided to tie it. I was thinking of having it professionally quilted, but then I decided that I really just wanted this project to be all mine. It felt like me, and I wanted to keep it close to me. It will take much, much longer to tie than the top did to put together, I think. I'm going to use all sorts of different colors — to match the background fabrics — of embroidery floss. I don't want them to show up too much. Not sure exactly what kind of arrangement I will tie it all in yet. I'll work on the binding first. I stitch that by machine on front and by hand on back. It's about, oh, eleven yards of binding, so that will take me quite a while. But at least I can do it while I'm sitting under it.

Oh — I almost forgot about the cross-stitched patch I made for the back with my initials. It only seemed fair to make a cross-stitched patch, though I didn't actually think of it until the back cloth was all pieced together. So I used 14-count waste canvas and sort of centered it on there. I ran out of room, so although it was supposed to say 4-1-12, I just had it say 4-12 for month and year. I expect to be working on the second half (finishing) through April. Though knowing me I may become possessed again and in that case I can't say what will happen.

Did you notice the woodpecker (I think it's a Nuttall's woodpecker? Downy woodpecker — thank you!) in the second photo? I took these pictures from the house, so I was quite far away from the birds.

I know.

comments: 126




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About Alicia Paulson


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




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.