Posts filed in: Clothes

Strawberries and Cream

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After I made the lemon ice cream I remembered that I am obsessed with frozen custard. How could I have forgotten that I am obsessed with frozen custard? And by frozen custard I mean specifically the kind they sell in the middle of Illinois. With lots of eggs. It doesn't really exist out here, far away from cornfields, fireflies, and summer nights that stay so hot you go to bed hot and you wake up hot. Inspired by this recipe, I set out to attempt it (but even eggier, because I like eggs) when we had friends 'round for dinner Saturday night. I think I got it.

Frozen Custard like You Get in the Middle of Illinois

1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
7 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

With a sharp paring knife, slit the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center and scrape the seeds into a medium saucepan. Add the bean pod itself and the half-and-half to the pan and warm over low-medium heat until it just barely simmers.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar by hand or using a stand mixer (I used the mixer). Slowly pour a very thin stream of the hot cream into the eggs while continuing to whisk; this will temper the eggs and keep them from scrambling. Continue to pour the cream in a thin stream until half of it has been incorporated. Transfer the eggs/sugar/cream back into the pot with the rest of the cream. Heat on low-medium (do not overheat here, or you will still scramble the eggs) while whisking continuously until the custard is thick and smooth, like pudding. Remove the vanilla bean and rinse it off; let it dry and put in a mason jar with some sugar which will give you some yummy vanilla sugar in a few days.

Prepare an ice bath: Fill a 9"x13" baking pan halfway with ice cubes. Find a smaller pan or a bowl that will fit inside of the 9"x13" baking pan. Place the smaller pan or bowl in the larger baking pan and nestle it into the ice so it doesn't fall over. Gradually add the heavy cream to the custard in the saucepan and whisk the mixture until it is smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the smaller pan or bowl that is in the ice pan. Let it sit there (you can stir it occasionally) until it is cold. (I do it this way because I don't have that much room in my fridge and I don't want to heat up my refrigerator trying to cool this stuff off.) It will take a couple of hours for it to get cold. Following the instructions for your ice cream maker, spin this into delicious frozen custard, serve with fresh June strawberries, and eat it up. You can transfer it into another container (with a lid) and freeze it if you don't finish it right away. But I think this is best when it's just out of the ice-cream maker.

As far as ice-cream makers go, I know nothing, but I took Amanda's recommendation last summer and bought this one, and it is wonderful. Ice cream in thirty minutes (though you do have to freeze the bowl overnight, at least).

Speaking of freezing, the mornings dawn quite cold and the afternoons heat up to almost 80 degrees. It reminds me of Montana, where I walked to school every morning wearing a heavy sweater, then left it in my office by afternoon when it got to about 90. At some point (when I ran out) I had to bring the truck to school to retrieve the gigantic pile of sweaters in the office because I couldn't carry them all home. We've been changing clothes here twice a day. I cleaned out my dresser and closet this morning. I usually do this twice a year, in spring and in fall. I think I'm the opposite of a hoarder. A reverse hoarder. If I don't have space in my spaces I get very uncomfortable and twitchy and huffy. I can't stand it when every empty space is filled. It leaves no room for inspiration to strike. In spite of my tendency to shed (and I don't think I really have that much stuff anyway), everything I own is completely disorganized and ridiculously wrinkled at the end of each six months. I'll have socks, dresses, pants, underpants, tights, and a bathing suit all in the same drawer. Dresses, in a drawer. It's really weird. Well, my closet is the size of a small bathtub, with two pretty much unusable shelves above my head which hold, for the most part, an empty computer box, one of those gigantic plastic foot spas that you plug in to make your feet jiggle (for about five minutes until you get sick of it), four gigantic pleather purses, and my English riding hat, none of which I ever use but can't seem to part with. Though now that I mention it I think I'll go right back upstairs and get those purses down immediately. I guess there are just some days when I literally stuff whatever is in the clean laundry basket into the most empty drawer, slam it shut and call it done. I don't know why I do that but I always have done. (Speaking in Britishisms now, since watching about eight episodes of Restoration Home over five days.)

Speaking of, I'm embarking on a new (old) decorating trend: Early '80s country. Everyone I've mentioned it to (two people) is appropriately horrified. "You mean like my ex-husband's parents' house?" Probably!!! I'll keep you posted. ;)

The Calming Technique

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After all the friends, family, picnics, and pool days of the past month, my girl and I spent a lovely, quiet past couple of days inside, in the air conditioning, doing not much. Not much at all. My very limbs were limp. I pushed the ottoman over to the chaise lounge and made a day bed. Why didn't I think of this before? We rolled around there for hours. She took her nap there. I watched this documentary (I think it was on Xfinity on-demand, maybe?) while she slept beside me and was moved to tears by it, remembering things. I knit this very pretty little sweater in the prettiest color (I think). I fretted about all the work stuff I have to do (fast-paced shallow breathing here). I decided instead to order many vintage toddler dress sewing patterns from the '70s on Etsy, because I have these ideas. My pickiness about the exact lines I want to see in a toddler peasant dress has reached epic proportions. It's weirdo. I've thought about it a lot. Which is weird. I was starting to panic a little bit. Over toddler dresses. Stress-shifting. Pant pant. I thought about designing something myself and laughed out loud. I thought about splurging on some French patterns (the cuts, oh the cuts!) but the French were on vacation and wouldn't ship soon enough. I looked through the contemporary-designer PDFs I've bought, and the big commercial pattern books, but no. My brain tightened around these certain shapes and wouldn't let go. Then I started browsing the vintage patterns (hundreds! hundreds!) and — you guys — things got all  f l o w y  and  r e l a x e d. Chillllllllllled. I swear I felt all those millions of blobby wrinkles on my very brain start to melt out. Yes, those were the dresses, and the shapes. There they were. Relieved sigh. Down, girl.

When I was a child I spent hours — a lot of hours — browsing pattern books at the fabric store with my mom. I always loved it. When I got older, in high school and college, I did it by myself. I always had a lot of ideas. I always needed time to think about them. I always wanted something that wasn't exactly in the book, or a fabric that wasn't exactly on the shelf. Much like now. What is that? Such a curious phenomenon. When I had a lot of other stuff I needed to do, I would still be making things up in my mind, working on a plan for something. I find it impossible to surrender the impulse, no matter how busy I am. If I don't have that little space — just a little space to dream of shapes, before I fall asleep at night I see them in my mind — I am unhappy. If I have it, I am happy. There isn't much else I really crave doing, when time is tight. I find the dreaming even more satisfying than the sewing (which I don't actually have much time to do). I thought of making a notebook with the line drawings of the dresses, and swatches of fabrics and trims, and color combos. Then, when I do have a few minutes, I'll be ready.

My pet peeve about contemporary indie patterns: Many don't include line drawings of the dress, and they are made is such bright, colorful fabrics that I seriously cannot seeeeeeee what is going on. I SO very much prefer the old patterns, with drawings instead of just photos. I really seem to need the cover drawings and the line drawings, myself.

(Her little pillowcase dress was a gift from my mom from Camp Hollyhock.)

Flowers and Fruit

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My favorite part of summer is now, I think, when everything is still green and plump and hasn't been frizzled to a hollow. Barbecues with old friends, and baby is crawling. We spend our time together walking, or I ride my bike on the sidewalk so we can go as far as we want without my foot getting angry. Up and down the streets, past house after house and garden after garden. This is my favorite thing. The winding. The talking. He says we can go anywhere — and as far as — I want. Ending up at a restaurant, the bead store (yep, working on a new ornament kit), a pie shop. On and on. Amelia is so game. Amelia goes everywhere, does everything, and takes it all in with this placid, happy-go-lucky way she has. There's a sparkle in her eyes, but she is mellow yellow. There are no moments where I do not marvel at this quality. Knawing on her kitty, waving her foot up and down, she's watching. She shows me her bottle cap, her little deer. I like it. I kiss it, her. We rub noses. I ride in front, zig-zagging, about to fall off going two miles an hour and trying not to crash into everyone's rose bushes. Mommy the goofball. Andy buys a guitar made out of a cigar box and puts it on top of the stroller. Can't resist playing it while he walks. We're the ragtag parade, carrying a ten-pound sweet-cream raspberry pie and a stolen daisy.

By the way, brunch at the Woodsman was a delight in every possible way. I had pancakes and very strong coffee and I was about as happy as anyone's ever been about anything, I think.

I told you I'd tell you about Amelia's midsummer dress. It was inspired by a traditional Norwegian bunad, or folk costume. Each region has its own style of dress. Amelia's birthfather is three-quarters Norwegian, and his family is from the Dovre region of Norway. The dovrebunader, like this one and this one, are just so gorgeous. I have always loved these, so I was ridiculously excited to make her her own baby version. I made the pattern by tracing the bodice pieces of one of her basic little dresses from H&M, and then added a skirt that was 10" long by 44" wide. For the embroidery, I used the traditional dandelion-like design on the dovrebunader, and then just chose two other random designs from one of my clip art books. I traced everything onto copy paper and made a copy onto a special paper called Transfer-Eze. This stuff is VERY COOL. When you peel the top (printed) layer of the paper off of the heavy paper behind it, the top layer has a sticky backing. You press that smoothly to your fabric, then hoop it, and embroider away, right through the Transfer-Eze. (See the photo of my embroidery-in-progress in this post.) When I finished the embroidery, I cut out the bodice (adding a seam allowance) and then soaked the whole thing in cool water for just a few minutes. The Transfer-Eze dissolved and disappeared without any problem at all. It was wonderful to use, especially since transfering is kind of a pain, especially on dark colored fabrics. This was my first time using this and I will definitely use it again. The only thing I noticed is that my hand and fingers were a little bit sore after I worked these pieces; you do have to push the needle a bit harder as you stitch, but it's not too bad. I was doing a lot of satin stitch in a pretty short span of time. I haven't really looked into who manufactures this product but maybe I will try to carry it in my web shop because it is pretty awesome. I'll let you know if I do. Anyway, I thought the little dress came out very pretty and it was really cool to make something by pulling together parts and pieces of inspiration.

I also finished her midsummer sweater, and just have to put the buttons on. I think this is the first time I've ever done anything in reverse stockinette. Kinda cute. I think the yoke looks too deep, but maybe I'm wrong. I'll put the buttons (covered, I think, in Liberty lawn) on today and try it on her and see. It's cold and chilly today, so this will be good.

In our yard the rose mallow is blooming, and the hydrangeas are just starting. The apple tree had three tiny green apples but they all fell off already. We built a little teepee (using this tutorial — really easy, really fast, really inexpensive) on Saturday afternoon when it was still sunny and gorgeous. She played in it for a while, though it got kind of hot; there was no breeze, especially in the teepee. After Amelia went to bed, I sat out in the yard and ate pie and watched the darkness arrive and pretty much became infatuated with the teepee at dusk. So far we haven't really used our backyard lights that much because it stays light so late right now, and I can't stay awake! But I stayed out Saturday night and it was worth it. Oh, how I do love a good ambient light source!!! It's sooooo romantic back there now. We had the lights done by this company. I basically told them what I wanted — two strands of light bulbs crossing over the seating area, hardwired into a dimmer switch on the garage wall — and they did the whole thing (even more romantic). I don't fool around with electricity, and I knew we wanted this to be permanent. Neither do I have the details about the cord because Chris the electrician provided that, but it was twisted black and brown, and what I liked about it was that he was able to put the lights into it only and exactly where we wanted them — right over the chairs, and not down the entire length of the cord as they stretch from the corners of the garage to the pergola thing, and then across to the fence (they added a little 2" x 2" board so the cord would connect at the right height). The bulbs are 40 watt clear appliance bulbs. The dimmer is fantastic. I'm really pleased with how this came out. Now we just need to drink some coffee after dinner so I can stay awake and enjoy it.

Oh, and the other outdoor wicker pendant we have over the table we've had for several years, and it just plugs into an extension cord. I think it's like this one.

I did wind up ordering a battery-powered lantern for the teepee, too.

What else. I'm playing catch up today. I sincerely apologize to anyone who is waiting for me to answer an email. I am not good at this and the email just keeps piling up and up.

Wimbledon starts today. Yippee! Does anyone know the name of that little daisy-like plant (feverfew — thank you!), and the pink frothy one (spirea — thanks!)? Those were out in the neighborhood somewhere, but I'd love to plant both of them. Pretty.

***My tablecloth is from Powell's Books for Cooks; the teepee cover cloth is from eBay or Etsy; our bedding is from Pottery Barn; I made my skirt several years ago from cotton calico (don't know the name of it — I'm sorry); and I think the pillow cover was from Pottery Barn a few years ago, too.

Sweetest Flowers

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Honestly. The sweetest ever.

***The facial oils and perfumes that I love are from my dear Amy Karol. I made the knitted bunners a couple of years ago from a pattern by Barbara Prime.

Old and New

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Another day, another hippie dress. Not like I don't have fourteen other things I should be doing. There is so much hand sewing on these things. The bodice lining is stitched in by hand, along with the entire hem, and the sleeve hems. Two entire afternoons of hand sewing. Good thing I like — love — that sort of thing. Especially because we have a new sofa. With the chaise lounge thing. Best invention ever. Except you can't get out of it. Literally; it tilts backwards (need wedge). Finally, we have enough seating. Comfortable seating. It's not the nicest sofa in world — kind of scratchy (compared to our old microfiber one), and from Ikea (it's the Kivik). But it's kind of frumpy in a way that is really appealing to me right now. We are very hard on our furniture. We wear it out. It serves us well, but we live hard on it. Now I have three offices: the studio, the office, and the chaise lounge.

My first hippie dress was Bloomsbury. My second one (which I guess I never took a picture of), Hefeweizen. This one, guest lecturer in medieval studies at Reed College. Last night I was thinking the next/fourth one would be Sigur Ros groupie but then I changed my mind to Joanna Newsom groupie (because I was watching her on TV last night [it was TiVo-ed], and took a picture of the TV). I wore the second one to the mall the other day. I took my extraordinary, luminous niece/goddaughter shopping for some school clothes. I got some interesting looks while wearing the dress. I think some people thought I was on my way to my handmade-soap booth at the Oktoberfest. Cool!!! Or about to serve them a hot pretzel and a pitcher. I said to Andy that I thought it might be a bit too "bar maid." He said, "You say that like it's a bad thing!"

There was a barbecue with lovely new friends, there was more curried soup, there are now eggplants in the garden, there was brown sugar–banana ice cream good grief. There has been almost no reading. I thought this was going to be my summer of reading and it's been my summer of no reading. I don't know what the problem is. I picked everything up and put everything down. And then I fell asleep. Summer kind of wears me out, I think. It was good to have the long weekend of lazy. I think I needed that.

The best part of this summer were the afternoons we spent sitting in the river on our chairs together, watching the rapids and the hawks. I think of those afternoons every day. I hope there's a chance to go back one more time before it gets cool. I really, really, really, really enjoyed those afternoons.

Plummy

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Hello! How are you? We are sleeeeeeepy puppies around here. I can't seem to get up and do anything productive thank goodness. I am having a wonderful day.

One of my dreams came true on Sunday night when the boys played "Tales of Coming News" at Edgefield. I apologize to anyone standing near me because I sang every word as loud as I could (we were standing right next to the speakers). The show was just awesome. It was our fourth year and fifth time seeing the Avett Brothers. The Crystal Ballroom show a couple of years ago (or maybe it was last summer?) was so great, but I have to agree with the people on the fanboards that Sunday night's setlist at Edgefield was epic. I can't say enough about how much I (we) love this band. In thinking about it, this song is probably more of a fans' song than a song that will make you fall in love with the band if you've never heard of them before. (They're repertoire is enormous, so you will find something.) But if you click on the video (and thank you again for sending it to me, Kari, and thank you marysstikal for posting it originally), be warned there's a guy in crowd who in the first few seconds of the video drops the f-bomb about five times in a row at the top of his lungs when he hears the opening notes he is so excited. I completely understand this.

Anyway.

All of those fabrics were from JoAnn's! All on sale, too! Two more new dresses for me. I am desperate for some fall clothes. I almost never buy clothes for myself but lately I want to. I've got new tights but now I need some clothes to go with them.

I love this book. A girl can dream.

I was thinking about fall colors. Stereotypical fall colors — that is, crispy golds and jewel-like reds and shocking oranges — are not really the fall colors I see out my windows. Here, our fall colors are dusky plums and russet reds and heathery grays and blue-ish greens. Not quite as brown and muted as winter's sunless, mossy, piney, muddy colors. But still somewhat dimmer, duller than classic, sassy red, or crackling-bright orange, or blazing yellow. Sunset-lit and smudged. We have these smoky-coated plums on the table. I picked some up off the street the other day while we were out walking in the neighborhood; a tree had dropped an entire branch in the road and there were piles of them all over the place, yellowy-blue, not quite ripe. I couldn't believe how beautiful they were. I put as many as I could fit into my coffee cup to take home. We have a plum tree (two actually) but the plums are nothing like these. (I wish they were like these.) I will take a macro picture of them so we can see them better.

I think I like fall. I think it's the shortest, and, in its own way, the most precious season in the Northwest. I hear a lot of people say that about summertime here, that it's the shortest and most precious season. But for me, the season I yearn for and try to hold on to is definitely fall. (Once the rains start, that's winter.) Andy is a summertime person. He really tries to stretch it out as long as possible. We have brilliant conversations about September:

Me: "That [whatever it is we happen to be talking about] will be in the fall, in September."
Him: "That's not fall, that's still summer."
Me: "September is fall."
Him: "No, it's summer."
Me: "No, it's fall."
Him: "No, it's summer."
Me: "No, it's fall."
Him: "No, it's summer."

I really can't tell you how many times we have had this conversation. We must like it.

He has a point. September sometimes feels as hot as July here. I sit in the hot wind and the fried up grass, holding my tights and my clogs, and hope the temperature will drop like a stone.

Summer Sweetness

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August has a glow. There was twilight birdsong all around us in the field. I cried in the sunset. My sister's visit has been wonderful. The world spins and spins. The flowers. The nights. The years.

Bloomsbury

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I finished my dress today and I just love it. The vast majority of things I try to make for myself look totally horrideous, which is why I hardly ever try to make anything for myself. But I love this (though I had to fuss with the pattern quite a bit). I used mostly cotton lawn, except for the bodice front/back which is regular quilting-cotton-weight. I apologize, but I don't really know what the fabrics are named or remember where I got them (but mostly all locally, and I have a decent size collection of Liberty Tana Lawn from local and various on-line sources). I just collect fabric whenever I see something I like, and am useless with the details. This dress is made mostly of rectangles or versions of rectangles. It's all very floaty and light, with lots of folds and drapes and gathers everywhere. Rather Vanessa Bell–ish, I thought.

The Sigur Ros show at Edgefield last night was exquisite. We have been big fans for many years but this was our first time seeing them live. Lovely, gentle, amazing people. The evening just couldn't have been more beautiful.

The garden is entering the late-summer phase. I think I'm supposed to be thinking about fall/winter planting. I replanted beets and kale already. Maybe I'll plant more beets where the potatoes were . . . ? Half of my butternut squash blossoms fell off, and a bunch of the leaves. A couple of the other little squashes just shrivelled up into little puckered things. Wah. :(

It's a quiet day here. Bright and breezy and we have no plans. Wonder of wonders. I shudder with pure delight.

Summer Swell

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Dude, did you see my garden potatoes? I AM PSYCHED.

Tonight, curried potato, corn, and shrimp chowder. And it's finally cooled off so we can make the choco cake. I'll write out the recipes when I get a sec.

You know how when your one sister goes out to lunch with your other sister for the afternoon and you should be doing some chores that you've been blowing off while you're home alone but instead you decide to make an Afghani nomad dress? So weird when that happens, I know.

Weekend at the Lake House

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Weekend at the Lake House
 
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.