Posts filed in: Baby Things

T-Day and Tree Day

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My sister was hosting Thanksgiving, but her whole family came down with the flu last week (ugh, poor dears) so we had a little dinner at our place. Amelia dragged her chair around the table so she wound up sitting next to each of her guests at some point throughout the afternoon. I love her. The weather has been so perfect — very clear, and just cold enough to feel like winter. I love the weekend after Thanksgiving. We always go and get our tree right away. I do so like to get things going early so I can relax and go do fun stuff. Tree is up, house is more-or-less decorated, stockings are hung. Parties need to be scheduled, but shopping is done. Wrapping and shipping is not. Cards need to be ordered. Amelia keeps saying, "Mom, is it Christmastime yet? Mom, is this Christmastime?" Oh, December! With a three-year-old, things are magical (and vaguely bonkers), already. I love this season and all it brings. So many gifts. So many beautiful, sparkling little things.

Last year at the tree farm, and the year before.

THANK YOU!!!

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* * *  T  H  A  N  K      Y  O  U      Y  O  U      G  U  Y  S !!!!!  * * *

I am gob smacked. Thank you for your orders and all of your kind words. You guys are seriously awesome. And I am truly grateful. Super-stellar awesome-assistant Stacey has shipped almost everything, with the rest going out on Monday. Then there will be more five thousand Maggie and her animal cousins' kits all over the world at this point, and I'm so proud of them. Thank you ever, ever so much for buying and making my patterns and kits. I love designing and producing them more than I can say, and am very grateful for your enthusiasm and support. Thank you so much.

So, it's deep fall, isn't it. October was really busy. Halloween came and went (in a torrential downpour). The Red Riding Hood cape (McCall's M4567) was a total fail. It was so crazy big and so heavy (I even shortened the thing by about a foot or more!) it wouldn't stay on her shoulders at all, and I couldn't blame her for not wanting to wear it even once! I tried a few solutions, including buttons at her shoulders (her hair wound around them horribly) and tying it on like a backpack under the arms but nothing really felt functional. Halloween morning I made a run to JoAnn's for yarn and a giant hook and wound up speed-crocheting a new hood in a few hours. The pattern was also sort of nuts and no one was more amazed than I when, lo and behold, a hood came off my hook, and the child donned it willingly. Until it started raining cats and dogs and every one of us and our friends were in a ton of rain gear, slogging through the drowning neighborhood in a downpour to get about twelve pieces of sopping candy. Man, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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It's a gorgeous, gorgeous morning here today. Andy and Amelia are headed out together for the day and I'm sitting in my newly reorganized office trying to collect myself. My office is so clean and tidy and . . . where am I, seriously. It hasn't been like this in years. This morning I made a giant list of all of the things I want to make this fall. Bathrobe (she wants a bathrobe, which cracks me up) for Meems. Nightgown (she wants nightgowns) for Meems. Thanksgiving dress and pinafore for Meems. Thanksgiving skirt (gathered, with pockets — I've made two already and love them — will tell you how I did it as soon as I get my act together) for me. Friendship quilt with Martha like this gorgeous one by Lucy. This sweater for Amelia. An advent calendar. A crocheted blanket I am halfway done with but I don't think I've shown you yet. A kooky flowered skirt for Amelia. Christmas dress for Amelia.

Seriously??? It does seem like a lot. I think it will be okay. The quilt's obviously a long-term project. And a lot of the other stuff can be done on the sofa while watching Christmas movies, so what could be better?

I've also been cooking a lot. I made Ann's No-Knead Bread. I made Thai curry lentil and sweet potato soup. That was excellent. I made Tessa Kiros's meat sauce from Apples for Jam, which is one of my favorite cookbooks (though the font they used for the recipes is seriously unreadable). I made dirty chai (that's chai with espresso, FYI) cinnamon rolls using the one-hour dough from this recipe and the filling and frosting from this recipe. OH MY STARS WHAT AN AWESOME PAN OF CINNAMON ROLLS THOSE WERE. I made butternut squash and spinach lasagna. That, too, was very good.

I guess I made a runner for my dining room table, too. Apparently Andy had the whole week off and I got a little excited.

Twinkle Twinkle

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Oh. My goodness. Has any child in the history of the free world ever blown out more candles for her third birthday? The cakes (and creme brulee, and chocolate mousse) just kept on coming. Wow. I think she thinks her birthday is a week-long national holiday. I think so too. We did so much stuff. I took so many pictures that they all got out of order, and I can hardly remember which days were what. Man, it was fun. We went to Sunday lunch at Jake's Grill with Andy's parents, who flew back to Chicago on Tuesday. Andy gave her the incredible crocheted squirrel from this pattern (his name is Marty, and he has his own birch-bark-sided house, with lights; the man is a crocheting genius) and the five crocheted acorns he spent all summer making. I gave her her quilt. We made breakfasts (both felt [cookies for breakfast] and real [pancakes]) and drove out to Multnomah Falls and its lodge for lunch. The day was silly gorgeous, the night filled with cake and candlelight. And suddenly my sweet baby is a little girl.

The house is recovering, and I've spent almost every lazy minute crocheting a blanket myself. Outside the windows the leaves fall and fall and fall, and the sky is more gray now on more days than it was a week ago. I've taken hundreds of pictures in the past week, and we've driven a zig-zagging spider web from one corner of town to the other, doing stuff. Autumn is short and so special now. It's dark after dinner, but I keep the window behind the sofa wide open in the evening, and sit with tea in the my flannel nightgown under a little comforter, and listen to the leaves rustling outside. Then I close the windows tight, and pull the blinds and close them, too, and we snuggle in.

P.S. Andy saw this post and sent me the actual selfie from the shot above:

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HAHAHA ROFLing!

Party Girl

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Her third birthday party, filled with all of her beautiful people — birthparents,  grandparents, birthgrandparents, aunties, uncle, birthsiblings, cousins — all of us here together, all family now. In my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined how it could be, and yet it's better than anything I might've hoped for. Anything. It amazes and humbles me daily, and yet on this day every year (though this year her party was not on her actual birth day), when we are all together again, all joined in so much love for our sweet girl, being part of an open-adoptive family overwhelms me with gratitude, amazement, and pure joy. How blessed we all are that she is here! How blessed we are that we are family because of and for her! How blessed we are to have each other, every one! I would not have it any other way.

She said goodbye to her guests outside in the afternoon rain, careening up and down the driveway with the giant umbrella, then zoomed back into the house to race around a bit more. Clover Meadow, who had been on her best behavior all day, went zooming back and forth between the living room and dining room about eight times, doing laps as fast as she could. Small ones were still zooming for quite a while; the rest of us collapsed in various heaps.

Parties are so crazy — there is so much going on and they go so fast and there are so many people and it's so loud and raucous and fun. I don't take many pictures during them, though I always intend to. There was a lot more to the weekend  (I do have more pictures of that; we just got back from dropping Andy's parents off at the airport, in fact). I ran into some of my neighbors at the grocery store last week. We were all waiting in line and we started talking about our earliest childhood memories, which for everyone there started at age three. I hope hers start a few days before, and that she will remember what a magical time this weekend was. I know I'll never forget it. My sweet love. Your party was so, so nice.

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Soup and Sew

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Well, thank you. Thank you, thank you. What an incomparably lovely experience it was to read your kind comments (for Andy, too; I don't know if you know he reads every post, and every comment as well). Thank you so much! I took the quilt top and the batting and backing (yep, I embroidered a tag, as well; I'll show you that sometime, probably when I'm completely done with it all) over to Modern Domestic for the afternoon that same day last week and used their tables to lay it all out and pin the quilt sandwich together. That place is pretty rad; you can pay to use their space and equipment to get stuff like this done, and I'll never do it at home again. The tables were nice and tall and I spent hours pinning and my back did not hurt at all (mine at home is way too short — I absolutely need risers — all my stuff is too short for me, actually, including the kitchen counters). Anyway, I got it all pinned together, and got the front part of the binding sewn on, and now I'm hand quilting a few squares and stitching down a bit of binding every night. I have two more weeks. I'll definitely finish. I'm really happy.

Answers to some questions that came up:

Yes, I changed the October patch significantly. I kept the same girl, because I really did not want to lose any of the continuity of this amazing design, but added a simple birthday cake from another book by the same designer and some bunting.

As far as getting the book that these patterns are in, it is (sadly) out of print. I found mine easily on Etsy, but I'm guessing there aren't too many of them out there, I'm sorry. I don't really have any good advice about how to get your hands on a copy other than Googling the title or ISBN (in the previous post), or trawling eBay, Etsy, or other Japanese craft book sellers.

The top was pieced with strips of the salmon/silver background fabric. I think I did all the blocks going down with short strips between (to make three columns) and then added four long vertical strips to finish. For the back I used this 100% cotton gingham in gray. The salmon/silver background calico came from JoAnn's. As far as the rest of the fabrics used to make the calico frames, er. . . . I'm not great at keeping track of that kind of info. All of it was already cut into strips by me at some point, and kept in my big 2" strip scrap basket. I buy almost all of my fabric locally, at JoAnn's, Fabric Depot, and Mill End Store, and also at Knittn' Kitten. Some of my fabrics are Liberty of London Tana Lawn cottons, which I've been collecting for probably twenty years. I have never been good at keeping track of the names and designers of fabric, and I really am going to try to be better about that. But my stash has been accumulated over such a long period of time and from so many places that it just overwhelms me to try to keep it straight. (And also, for the people who have asked where I find most of the vintage patterns I use for Mimi's dresses, I just get them on Etsy or eBay, or at Goodwill or Knittn' Kitten when I see something I like. Eventually I'm sure I will sell my collection of vintage patterns but I don't really have time to do it right now. I like vintage patterns because they have already been cut out [most of the time] and you don't have to fight with multiple sizes and giant pieces of tissue paper, or printing and cutting and taping, etc. And of course I just like the styles better, too.)

Anyway, I was mostly just kidding about not letting Mimi use the quilt. She'll absolutely use it, but I will try to keep it nice. I will absolutely try to keep Clover and Bridget off of it (they are going to be bewildered, seriously — I've never tried to keep them off of anything in their lives). I'm definitely going to wash it cold with some of those color-catcher things. I've never been worried about dye in embroidery floss running before, and of course I did absolutely nothing to mitigate the possibility, but in that June block especially, oh shasta. That one's gonna be tough to imagine not running, honestly. . . . That umbrella is so solidly packed with red thread (against a white ground). Ugh. Oh well. That's life.

Anyway, once again. You guys. Thank you. Your enthusiasm made my day just so big and fun and bright. I truly appreciate your kindness and, just, I don't know how to explain it anymore, but all the thoughtfulness that goes into what you say. All of the things you said, the stories you offered, the kindness you shared, all of it has also gone into that quilt now. And I don't know, that makes me cry, too. It's just cool. Thank you.

So, there's a lot of soup up there. There's chicken with wild rice. There's black bean. There's Andy's chicken soup (we were sick). There's a loaf of bread, as well, but it was a just a loaf of frozen white from the grocery store, which, though it only weighed about an ounce (seriously, I actually laughed out loud when I picked it up) after it was baked, made kind of a nice turkey sandwich, I have to say. Also, there's a Halloween costume. It's Little Red Riding Hood's dress from Simplicity #2571. I know. I . . . yes, I already made part of a Halloween costume. I have no explanation.

***Her poncho; her dress; her sweater.

Eighteen XOX

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Thank you EVER ever ever so much for all the Cooking Things and meal-planning advice! Awesome. I haven't even had a chance to check everything out, but seriously, I am inspired and excited. Yesterday I thoroughly cleaned out the two big cabinets in the kitchen (baking supplies, cans, pasta, oils, etc.). It really wasn't as bad as I thought. It just needed some TLC, which, admittedly, not much other than this big, beautiful baby girl has gotten over the past three years. I left her in the living room to her own devices most of the day yesterday while I cleaned. Seriously, she was psyched. I think she's at the perfect age to have a little less attention. She built a dolly high-chair fort, spread out every single ponytail holder and barrette we had (oh, soooo many), dumped entire baskets of Fisher Price and Calico Critters people/cars/animals all over the room, took out all the shoes and boots in her basket, took out all the hats and scarves and mittens in her other basket, rode the neighbor's electronic fire engine, watched Charlie and Lola, ate her weight in fresh fruit, "read" her magazine, had a fit when I wouldn't give her any more bubble-tea straws, and made block towers. I made breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was exhausting, all that cooking, and cleaning up after all that cooking, but pretty cool (especially since today I have everything we need). We almost never just stay home all day, ever (well, we did take a walk up to the grocery store). But anyway, it was a good day (possibly because it was also cool and cloudy and so wonderfully gray out), and I am feeling excited. After she went to bed (passed out at 6:45, actually), I added more recipes to my Paprika app, and that thing is AWESOME. More on all of this as I get more organized. But again, thank you for the commiseration and encouragement. I really needed it! I was so overwhelmed. But even in just a couple of days I've gone from panicked to pretty excited, which is so nice (for once).

Also so nice: Being married eighteen years last Sunday to my true love. Celebrated at the river, right where we started going so many long years ago, talking talking talking, then and now, and dreaming our dreams together (then and now). Driving home through the woods, sandy baby (miracle baby) sleeping in the back seat, Joan Armatrading on the radio, sun flashing hot through the trees. All I need. It's everything.

***We didn't build them, but the rock formations pictured are called cairns. Interesting and lively (as they say) debate here about them to be found here

The Plan

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Hot days, hot nights. It looks like we've been home a lot but really we've been outside, in or around water, almost daily. At home, the garden is quickly sizzling, turning from the bright greens of early summer to the pale, wispy, washed-out parchment-colors of late summer, though it's only mid. I pick the blueberries from our one little front-yard bush in the morning. Amelia comes out and takes the basket and says, "'Bye, Mummy. I going on holiday." She watches British cartoons. She eats all the blueberries before they can make it into the house.

In the kitchen, I have a new plan to start cooking things. It's called the Cooking Things plan. Yeah. It means you have to buy actual groceries and cook them instead of ordering things from Delivered Dish and/or eating out in general (getting extra salad rolls at lunchtime to bring home for dinner) or making smoothies. Yes, kitchen. You and I are going to get reacquainted. You, grocery store. I'm coming to you. And you, meal plan, YOU AND I ARE GOING TO FALL IN LOVE WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT. I will make myself love you, M.P. There is no doubt you won't even like me. At all. I've lost count of how many times I have written about this. A hundred million. I should have just copied and pasted an old post here. But this time, seriously. I'm a mother now. Mothers should be able to plan a meal more than forty-five seconds before dinnertime and do more than cut up fruit.

In no particular order, things that have to happen here include: All cabinets (not to mention all drawers and closets, but that's for another rant) need to be cleaned out and reorganized. The fridge and freezer are both in decent shape but could probably stand a swift weeding out of expired condiments and a really good scrub. My spice cabinet is completely insane, with bottles toppling and things literally stacked on top of each other, falling into pots on the stove-top (when we actually have pots on the stove-top). My pantry, my beautiful new pantry, is totally underutilized, currently holding party plates and toddler art supplies. And my recipes that I've printed out from the internet are currently in a giant ruffled (waterlogged, spattered) disorganized pile on top of the microwave and need to be curated and filed. My beautiful recipe box that I worked so hard on a few years ago actually makes me laugh-cry. I see it in the cabinet when I go to feed the dog (I do feed the dog) and it looks so long-suffering and forlorn. My cookbooks, or lord. So many cookbooks. Too many cookbooks. Get ready you, too, cookbooks. You're going to be taking a trip to Powell's very soon.

So, look above: I have tried to cook some things. I made corn salad (fresh corn kernels, a little olive oil, a diced jalapeno pepper, a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes, a quarter of a diced red onion, fresh lime juice, salt and pepper). I made blackened fish tacos (a little too blackened, dang). I made some more chocolate ice cream. I made cantaloupe agua fresca. I’m starting small. I have the Paprika app on my iPad. I have a cute shopping basket. My apron is in the laundry right now. I’m going to find a new binder. I can do this. People do this! I can do this.

Berry Hot

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Meems and me to Smith Berry Barn, Hillsboro, Oregon; July 8, 2015.

Yes, that's string cheese in the candle holder, "just like Mommy's."

Her dress, made here, exactly five years ago. Never, never, never give up.

Sweet Days

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Thank you very much for all of the comments on my last post, and for the music recommendations! I haven't had time to check them out but I plan to — thank you. Thank you also to those of you who suggested here (and emailed — my inbox is a disaster, so I can't often get back to everyone, I'm so sorry) portrait artists several months ago. I wound up having Amelia's portrait painted by Olga of Olinka Fine Art on Etsy, who I found myself while browsing Etsy for portrait artists. She did an absolutely incredible job, and was a total joy to work with. The picture I gave her (from this post) was taken a little over a year ago, but even when I took it it just looked like a painting to me, and I always meant to have it painted. I really don't know how she could have interpreted it more beautifully; I think it perfectly captures Amelia at that time and with that expression, a face I've seen a million times, tired at the end of the day, her serious, slightly melodramatic look (which I think it sort of amuses her to give), hanging out in her high chair, with the late afternoon light coming down from the west-facing windows. I love it.

We had a busy weekend, and I have more pictures, but little time! The pool is open. I find it hard to leave.

Do you like frozen custard? Try this. Crazy rich. You hardly need to eat any to be quite delighted, seriously. And I think I'm going to change that recipe so that you heat the half-and-half and the cream at the same time. Why would I have you temper the eggs with half-and-half and then add that back to the (cold) heavy cream separately? Couldn't the creams both be heated, added to eggs, then put back in the pan to heat a bit further? Trying to think of the best way not to scramble the eggs. . . . I'm no expert; please advise!

Splash!

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Summer has come kerplunking in this week — today it's supposed to be 80-something degrees, and, suddenly, it's here. Bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming, grass is growing, sidewalks are being chalked, iced lattes are being ordered. It's still light out toward 9:00 p.m. The grill has been lit, the plants need water, the plums are already starting to fall on my sidewalk. Last weekend the weather was chilly and overcast. Suddenly, now, it's summer.

I have absolutely no plan for the summer. Nothing. There's nothing in place. Not that there ever is. But we really have no plan. I'm not great at volleying at the net. I feel that I should come up with something, even if it's just some general organizing idea? I don't know. Watering the yard with a toddler can take all afternoon, for instance, so I suppose there's really not that much need for a plan. . . .

Thank you to everyone who commented about my library post. Your comments were very poignant — so many people have memories of libraries, and so many libraries seemed to have changed. That was so surprising to me. I don't know why. I thought libraries were so immutable! Why would I think that? Newspapers have changed, and I used to think the same of them. Thank you to those of you with information about or offers to take pictures of the River Forest Public Library! I really enjoyed hearing news about it, thank you. I think this summer maybe Amelia and I will do a library tour, and go check out a bunch of the Portland branches and see what they have for us. She's even sort of letting me read my own book everyone once in a while which feels fantastic. Right now I still have Sometimes a Great Notion, Brideshead Revisited, and Canada by Richard Ford in my backpack. Those all seem too hard, don't they? I don't know what I want. But I think it should be lighter than these. There's a reason they call 'em "beach reads," right? (Not these, I mean — the other ones I don't actually have. . . .) Because it's hot in the summer and you need something light. I think I want something funny. . . .

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.