Posts filed in: May 2012

Pittock Mansion

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On a hill in the woods overlooking the city sits century-old Pittock Mansion (and its former servants' quarters, Gate Lodge). It's a beautiful house and has all of the old house-y things I love: butler's pantry, breakfast room, sleeping porches, cedar closets. From it you can see the mountains (that's Mt. St. Helens through the window), and the air smells of pine needles. The woodland gardens are also lovely and gentle. You could hike the Wildwood Trail to get up here and make a day of it.

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Wishing you all a wonderful weekend and a very happy Mother's Day xoxo.

Lilac Time

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When she sticks her tongue out like this I just melt into a foamy puddle of butter.

For the winter squash, eggplants, and cucumbers (that Andy wants to pickle), my neighbor (who is a garden wizard) told me to build little paper (I used parchment paper) bubbles to protect them for a few weeks. We took some little tubing (that we usually use for the water dispenser in our refrigerator door) and made two little hoops on either side of each plant, then crossed two pieces of parchment paper perpendicularly over the hoops, and weighed down the edges of each piece of paper with some stones. One of the eggplants is busting out, so I (as my neighbor told me to do) cut Xs in the top of the papers, so the leaves could come out. I think the plant will be a little bit colder with that opening now; one is still completely covered, so we'll see. Contest!

My cabbages definitely have four new leaves now, and my beets each have two new leaves. All of the lettuce is really sprouting; still no sign of germination for the carrot seeds or the spinach (or hyacinth beans). My mother came over yesterday to help me take out all of the candytuft on the front wall and it's all going to good homes. It was just too big for that precious little wall. A bunch of big rocks came out of the parkway, so they're going in the bed on top of the wall now (where the candytuft was) and some sedums and succulents will make a nice little rock garden out there. Most of new sedums and succulents will come from the overplanted rock garden on the side of the driveway which is also busting out at the seams (already!).

Worried about all the naughty neighborhood cats getting into my raised beds, I thought about mulching with hazelnut shells but haven't yet. Naturally, the only cat I've seen go in there is our own eighteen-year-old dowager queen, who, though she has barely left her heated kitty bowl in five months, had no problem trotting outside and hopping right up into the first bed no problem, then looking at me like, Oh, perfect, thank you for building me my own enormous litter box — that was pretty nice of you. I went racing down the stairs toward her faster than she's seen me move in about fifteen years, causing her to do a goggle-eyed double-take when she saw me coming, like a cartoon cat, and jump out faster than I've seen her move in about four years. The whole thing just went so much differently than how she thought it was going to go, poor thing. She gave me a very dirty look, and then I explained that the hazelnut-shell option is still very much on the table. She's the type of half-human cat who understands English and likes to get good grades, but we'll see.

The lilacs are blooming; we have three bushes, and our neighbors over the back fence have one huge one. They smell like home.

Rhubarb Custard Pie

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Ah! Pie! Rhubarb custard: sweet, tart, creamy, crusty, and generally awesome. Simple spring pleasure. It worked out well! Now (naturally) I want to grow rhubarb but I don't think we have enough room in any of our sunny spots. Need to find a spot.

In other garden news, my little teeny lettuce seeds that I planted six days ago are sprouting!!! You know I got choked up about that. Well, it's been a hard year.

I was thinking I would take a photo of the raised beds from the upstairs window every Wednesday, just to watch how they grow from a different perspective. It's supposed to be fairly warm (though fairly cloudy) all week. I have to say I really love this time of year, which feels like pre-summer. Summer itself stresses me out, because it feels like 1) it's too hot, 2) it's too sunny, 3) it's too busy, 4) it's too hot and sunny, and 4) it never really seems like it goes how I want it to. I always wind up feeling kind of . . . frantic. I don't know how to change it, but I think that feeling has been with me since childhood. Great expectations?

I swear I think it has something to do with the light coming from straight overhead. Interrogation. I have trouble with overhead lighting, even in the house. Makes me anxious. I prefer a lower angle.

And speaking of dresses (yesterday), a tree peony–colored one wouldn't be bad either. Jeesh. Planted ten years ago, in a pot the size of a bucket, this poor thing is one of the most neglected plants we have, yet it rewards us every year, without fail, with the most gorgeous and enormous blossom. And this year, two of them. Splendid angels. They're like six or seven inches across, seriously. I'm truly afraid to transplant it, or move it, or otherwise care for it (other than adoringly gawk at it this week), lest I break some unspoken arrangement between us and actually upset her. It's so hard to know.

Full Sun

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Things are happy because the sun is finally out. I love being in the shade when it is sunny. Riding bikes up to the grocery store for the first time. I love this time of year. Think I might make rhubarb custard pie later. Remember that poppyseed lemon cake I made for Martha? Cute, but it was a total brick. I've never made rhubarb pie before. Kind of excited. Wouldn't a rhubarb-colored dress be gorgeous?

Coming Along

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I treated myself to a little pile of publications yesterday (this one and this one and this one). I've had a nice week, soaking up inspiration and getting my hands really dirty. I even have a sliver (proud). I don't think I mentioned that I used this cool web site to help me plan the beds. Not everything has gone in yet, but so far I have transplanted purchased organic starts for cabbages, garlic, onions, beets, leeks, potatoes, peas, and some herbs, planted seeds for lettuce, spinach, and carrots (and a hyacinth bean), and are waiting for warmer weather for tomatoes, butternut squash, basil, and eggplant (and those varieties might change from what I have listed on the plan). A little of everything. Some flowers will get in there somewhere, too. I found planting the seeds to be about fifty times more exciting than I expected.

Garden Fever

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The weather turned winter-cold and insistently wet, and I beat the retreat back into the house and dove into my quilt pile to watch every episode of River Cottage and Jamie at Home that I could find on YouTube (we get YouTube on our TVs). I also watched everything I could find of The Little Paris Kitchen and The Delicious Miss Dahl and French Food at Home. Cooking shows (especially when they include pretty kitchen gardens) are my pain reliever of choice. They flood my brain with endorphins. Yahhhhh. It was pretty awesome because every single muscle in my body was seriously aching, and I couldn't move, and I was freezing because we're almost out of oil for the season, but there was nothing else truly pressing for my attention. So I just piled on pets and down comforters and wool-filled quilts and made an Earl Grey latte (steep the tea in steaming hot milk — try it) and watched hours of beautiful potagers and steaming vegetable soups and incredibly gorgeous rustic kitchens flicker across screens, and was happy as a clam. Thank you for all of the sweet comments about our little garden project! I'm really looking forward to working on it. And I really think it will be so much fun to watch it evolve and grow up. (Also, for those that have asked, the willow edging like the stuff I used can be found here.)

The sun has come out a bit this morning. It's playing very hard to get, shining for five minutes, then changing its mind and disappearing into a cold cloud. I've had a lazy couple of days and should do some house chores and get some groceries and pay some bills and do some work and plan something more for dinner than buttered noodles. It's hard to make time for these silly things when you're a gardener, though, y'know?????

*The cup came from this Etsy shop, but it doesn't look like that seller's page is working anymore :-(.

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.