Posts filed in: Crocheting and Knitting

Winter Days

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I don't have much to show for the past few weeks. Things have felt alternately rushed and then slow and then rushed and then slow — hurry up, wait, hurry up, wait — depending on what I'm doing and who I'm with. Days with Amelia are long and lovely and also generally mildly exhausting, as life with three-year-olds in wintertime must be for most people. We don't stay home much. With her, it's truly harder to stay home. She gets bored. We go to our usual places to play, take hours to eat lunch at various Thai restaurants and brew pubs and sandwich joints from one side of the city to the other, visit Daddy at work and see him be presented with a very special award (so proud of you, babe), go to potluck suppers with all the neighbors and neighbor-kids, wander around Ikea for most of a day, splash in water rooms and pound clay in kids' museums, linger over ice creams in empty ice-cream shops, watching the rain and talking, talking, talking. My girl. I like the quiet days, the rain, the lack of a certain kind of expectation. When I'm not with Amelia, I'm going as fast as I possibly can, wrestling with two computers — one old, one brand new — trying to get the old one to work long enough for me to get the new one up and running, and no matter how much you back up, there is still just a ridiculous amount that you have to do (or at least I have to do, and no, I don't really know what I'm doing) to get the new one working. Well, not working, but properly functioning — get all my files migrated, and my software installed, and the updates installed, and the fonts installed, and all the stupid passwords transferred, and get new software to replace the obsolete software, and the printer drivers, and the email, etc., etc., etc. Apparently there are People who can do this for you, but apparently I don't believe it, or something, because I haven't taken my computer to anyone, anywhere. Blech. How bored are you right now, seriously. I'm sorry.

I'm also trying to fix some things on this blog — well, I myself am not trying to fix those things, other people are, thank goodness. Hopefully when all is said and done 1) the monthly blog archives will look like the home page, so there aren't those little thumbnails where you have to click on every single post to read the blog (hate that), 2) I'll have some sort of way to occasionally respond to comments (which I can't do easily now because my template is customized, and the code just isn't there to easily turn this "on"), and 3) I'll have a new subscription service, so that if you want to subscribe to this blog (which you don't now, because of the boring) you can get updates in your email inbox (instead of through feed readers).

Stuff like that. Etc., etc., etc.

I guess this, too, is what January's for, in a way.

At night I've been buying vintage cotton voile saris on Etsy with the intention of making kaftans for summer, and crocheting a woolly lamb. I'm glad January is thirty-one days.


Slow Lady

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Hello! How are you? Happy January! It's been quiet around here. I'm relieved, and I might even say thrilled. The house is disheveled and so am I. I had a birthday last week. It was lovely. We went swimming over the weekend at an indoor water park and it was awesome. We were there for three hours and Amelia didn't want to leave (and that's a first — usually she's ready to go and they have to drag me out). It felt like a little mini vacation. At night I've been crocheting a little bunny guy. It's time to get back into a regular routine (apparently) but I'm gonna try to hibernate for as long as possible. I'm just not ready to get up and at 'em yet, you know? New books, hot baths, and plenty of yarn. Thumbs up, January.

***The bunny is a pattern I am working on. I'll let you know when he's done. :)



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So. Much. Rain. It never seems to stop. If it does stop, it quickly again starts. We're used to doing everything in a downpour now. Pushing a grocery cart full of groceries and a toddler through a parking lot in the pouring rain. Walking the dog in the pouring rain. Eating Christmas cookies in the pouring rain. Christmas shopping in the pouring rain. Ah, I shouldn't complain. . . . It's very cold rain, though. And did I mention, it never stops? . . .

Wintertime in Portlandtown. Make some coffee, light some candles, turn on the made-for-TV Christmas movies (favorite new Christmas movie: Just in Time for Christmas. I absolutely loved it.) Knit knit knit. Have a party or two. We've been having or going to party after party, which is not our usual style, but it has been really fun. All different groups of people. We're having another party here next weekend! That's the neighborhood progressive dinner. We're doing appetizers here. Can you suggest easy, cold appetizers for twenty people? I don't really know how to do this, but I do know I don't want to be shoveling hot things in and out of the oven. Even when they originally came from the freezer at Trader Joe's. Dips, cheeses, crackers . . . er . . . what else . . . ? This is only the first course of several, so, I think it can be pretty simple. All advice welcome!

It's busy right now, isn't it? No matter how you try to slow it down. There are just lots of things! The Christmas cards I ordered should be arriving in the mail here today. I'm going to make some hot tea and find the address book. Doing the cards is one of my favorite things. I've been looking forward to this. Go slow, Monday: I'm gonna settle in, stay warm, and write to all our friends with an actual pen.

***To those who have asked, the dollhouse is one I got at a secondhand store years and years ago. :) Sorry, I don't have a lead on a new one!


Cold and Clear

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So cold these past few days, and the air tinged with blue, or silver, or some color I can't quite capture. Frost color. A ballerina's skirt color, frozen drops balanced in the air as evening descends. So begins my longing for snow. Maybe this year. Maybe this year. . . .

Inside, outside, inside, outside. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we go over the river to be with family. I've been thinking so much about forests and trees and little houses and fields. I was telling Andrea about my junior-high American history teacher who didn't use the hideous overhead lighting in the room (oh, it was wonderful, wonderful, and I still remember him for it) and gave us a new hand-drawn, hand-labeled map of somewhere in New England almost every day. The maps were absolutely exquisite, the names magical. Plymouth, Concord, Dover, Wethersfield, Salisbury. Every year at this time I think of them, and would give anything to find that binder full of those lovely maps. How do we ever know what will stay with us, and why? Will Amelia remember the tune of the lullaby I sing every night as we snuggle and read under the quilts in the big bed? By the light of our tiny lamp, with the winds blowing outside, overwhelmed with gratitude I wrap around her, and quietly sing of small things.

I wish you much peace and comfort and love this holiday weekend, and throughout the season. Thank you for your generous, peaceful, and kind presence here. May your days be merry and bright, and filled with love.

Love always,
A+A+A+C+B. Xoxo

***The book pictured is The Big Book of Slumber, and it is one of our very favorites.


WIP Mash Up

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So then. I have a bit of a list. A whirling, swirling to-do. It's all because (I'm convinced) Stacey (Wonder Assistant) and I finally took the time to clean my office very well. We emptied every nook and cranny. We didn't get rid of stuff as much as we thoroughly rearranged. It had been a few years since the last time. Remember how pretty my studio was then. I'm sobbingly happy to say it now basically looks exactly like that again. Even better, in fact, because I folded all of that fabric in the glass cabinet onto the comic book backer boards. That project, though it took a long time, was a righteous success for several reasons. 1) Obviously, it's much neater and more functional now — I can actually see what I have and that means I am using it like crazy. 2) I became intimately acquainted with those fabrics again, and that was kind of nice. I feel like I really know what's there now, and it is inspiring to feel in control of that pile. And 3) There's a lot less fabric there than I thought (believe it or not). Not, perhaps, in terms of numbers of prints. But certainly in terms of actual yardage. To be wrapped on a piece of backer board, a length of fabric needs to be about 18" or it won't really fit nicely around it. Many of the pieces in my Glass-Cabinet Stash are between 18" and a yard. Some are 2 yards. Very few are longer. A TON were less than 18" (and those are all folded into shoe holders from Target, now on my sewing table). Anyway, all of this was very, very satisfying and also revealed to me that I have more quilts, toys, and patchwork dresses in my future, because I am determined to use up this stash (even though it fits oh so perfectly now I almost can't bring myself to touch it. But only almost) and this stash is made of smallish pieces.



Okay. So, that's nice. Something else that's nice is that my dearest is now old enough to be in the studio with me. She watches Blue's Clues and Backyardigans on the computer, draws in her handy-dandy notebooks, eats an incredible number of bananas, sorts buttons into complicated rows, breaks a lot of colored pencils by smashing them, tip-down, as hard as she can, tries to get her hands on any marker or pen we accidentally leave lying around, "knits" (which means she takes yarn and wraps it around her hand or finger about two hundred times), sweeps, types, and generally keeps me very good company. This is a new development and it has been life-changing for me. For both of us, really. She's very proud to be "working" in here with me. I couldn't be happier.


The other day I said, "Are you going to learn to knit and sew when you grow up?" And she said, "Yeah. I'll do that for you."


[Insert wide-eyed emoji guy here.] Only if you want to, baby girl! Only if you want to, really! Wink.


I just want to squish her all day long. MWAH. I love you.

Now, projects. Do you like her sweater? Apparently I knit an entire sweater without mentioning it once or taking any progress photos. It still needs to be blocked, but, yum:



This is the Top-Down Garter Stitch Baby Jacket on Ravelry. My details (not many, sorry) are here.

I think I started that back in September. Or maybe it was after I'd finished the birthday quilt, in October. Regardless, I like to have easy projects for nighttime. Really easy. We wake up early around here (5:00 a.m., every morning, no matter the morning) and go to bed early — Amelia is asleep by 6:30 (since the time change) or 7:00 p.m. every night. That gives me about two hours of total and complete leisure time before I fall asleep. I get every single chore finished before I put Amelia to bed so that there is absolutely nothing left to do other than drink tea, watch TV, and knit/embroider/crochet. I like this schedule. A few weeks ago, I saw these lovely photos (I actually saw one first on Pinterest) and decided to make a blanket exactly like the one pictured (I just figured out her color scheme, chained 160 to start, and am simply doing V-stitch), using my fairly substantial stash of DK- and sport-weight yarn.


This will have a border like the one in the picture (white, I think, with blue, and black?) and is, ostensibly, for Amelia's future big-girl bed, which we've been talking about a lot around here and which I think will be this one, because those head- and foot-board panels are calling out to be wallpapered, aren't they? Cuteness. I told Amelia that when she goes potty only on the potty seat we can get rid of her changing table and crib, and then she can have a big-girl bed. She was very excited. The next day she told me, "When I get my big-girl bed, then I'll go potty on the potty seat!" Errrrrrr, um, no that's. . . . I did not see that coming. . . .

NEXT. Thanksgiving dress for Meems:


Blue gingham for the blouse, vintage calico (from Knittn' Kitten, I believe) for the pinafore. Probably the long version because I have such a soft spot for a long dress for the holidays. Interestingly, this blue gingham fabric (which is like a voile, super light) is on my work table in one of the photos in the studio re-do post I linked to above, from five years ago. I believe it was from Mill End Store. Will probably go for a brick-red ribbon on this. Eighty-five cents for a pattern back then. Wow.

For me, I've been making skirts like this:


This takes 2 yards of cotton calico, with extra for the patch pockets. It's gathered crosswise, from selvedge to selvedge, onto a 2" waistband with elastic in the back. It's pretty much the skirt I've been wanting for years and just never really got around to making for myself. I've made two so far (the other one was teal calicos), and wear them with some really soft cowl-neck sweaters  (I wear them tucked in) I got from Ann Taylor Loft, and really soft and wonderful over-the-knee socks from Sock Dreams. And a chunky clog. Good, classics-professor-at-the-grocery-store winter uniform. Hoop earrings. Another skirt planned in these fabrics:


I'll write a tutorial or pattern or something when I get some time. Really easy. (And by the way, that orange poppy fabric I just got last week at JoAnn's. The smaller brown calico was in the stash.)

NEXT. Amelia's nightgown and robe. She wanted both, and I just couldn't resist this pattern, or fabric (double-sided pre-quilted cotton, also from JoAnn's).


I'm not sure how she even knew what a bathrobe was. We don't wear them, but I may rethink that because:


Aaaaaaaaaagh!!!! I love it so much! It has a drawstring waist. I did the neck with binding using toothpaste blue vintage bias tape. I want one exactly like this for me. Mommy-and-me robes? Too Grey Gardens?

The nightgown (flannel, also from JoAnn's [yes, I used about four coupons there that day] with a vintage embroidered ribbon from I know not where) is from a vintage pattern, Simplicity 4719, and there are a couple more planned. Next is one out of this dotty grayish-blue.


I have a few more nightgown patterns, too. Just realizing now that she needs a new one for Santa Lucia. Last year's is so worn out it's dingy, and too small. This is a problem I relish.

NEXT. A winter sweater. And a swingy skirt (I need to adjust the waist, because it's too big). I don't have the pattern in front of me but I don't recommend it, either way (it was vintage). Next time I'll use the same formula I developed for my gathered skirts above. This one is kind of a circle skirt.


The sweater pattern is Trixie on Ravelry, and it's quite darling, though there are no projects to date, so I'm not sure what it looks like on. I'm making the 2-3T size in House of a la Mode Stunning Single Ply yarn in Candy Cane Lane. Love this yarn, and it's local, too, from Happy Knits, my happy place (and Amelia's, too):


Yay! Isn't it brilliant of them to have a play area? With chalkboard-painted walls? Oh my stars, how I love these guys she is drawing every single day. They are so cute. The arms? Or legs? Love.

What's next. Advent calendar. This goes closer to the top of the list. I don't want to be late with this.


This is the Advent calendar pattern from Purl. They have a kit, too, but I have a ton of felt I'm trying to use up. I did order their sequins and beads, though, just for something special. I've never really had an Advent calendar before. I think we had paper ones, with little windows, but they weren't a big tradition with us. Andy says this one is similar to the one he had growing up. I changed the pattern a bit and am adding Velcro dots to stick the little ornaments on the tree (instead of straight pins). I finished the number embroidery and added the dots yesterday, and it's cute. The dots look like snow.

Lastly but certainly not leastly, a Friendship Quilt based on a beautiful quilt that Lucy made.


I'm making this with my BFF for the past twenty-six years, Martha. She lives in Boston. We were college roommates, and sewed Laura Ashley dresses together waaaaaay back then in our little white cottage with the big blue table on 8-1/2 Avenue. She wore flats with hers, I wore Doc Martens. She has a wicked-awesome stash of rather proper '80s calicos. I have a mish-mash with mutt-like provenance. We're trading 30 or so 2" selvedge-to-selvedge-cut strips, then doing something like this with a mixture of our own and each other's strips:


Each little square on the grid represents 1.5". Colored rectangles are blocks of horizontal strips. I've been wanting to do a quilt like this since I re-pinned this one a long time ago. I really love my quilting Pinterest board. Sometimes I just look at it and feel generally extremely happy that someone invented quilts. They are so beautiful. This one is going to be special to me.

This post is very long.


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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.


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.

It's October

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Oh, autumn, everywhere, and yet, it's still consistently above 80 degrees here. But the sun is low and lovely in the morning. Amelia and I play in the front yard. She collects leaves, crow feathers, splinters of chalk, seed pods and puts them in a candle holder that looks like a bird cage. I sit on the top stair and watch the world go by — dog walkers, cars and bikes, baby strollers, squirrels. Up and down the stairs she goes, leaning against me as she passes, pausing to give me a hug or sit on my lap, hair blowing against my face, sturdy little body pushing into mine. I lift her shirt and kiss her soft belly. So much sweet softness in such a hard, sad world sometimes. My heart is heavy for the people of Roseburg, Oregon. I send a prayer into the sky, up toward the morning moon. Peace be with you, friends. Please, peace.

Inside, the light is changing. I've forgotten how pretty my pipsqueak of a kitchen is in the afternoon. It has a big door-window facing south, and the light turns rose-gold around three or so. Rice pudding must be the ultimate comfort food, and Andy's grandma's is my favorite — it's more like a cooked custard with rice in it. This is her recipe, written in her words:

Helen's Rice Pudding

Wash 1 c. rice (not Minute Rice) in ice cold water. Put in double boiler and add 2 c. hot water. Steam rice until dry. (*Note: I just cook it like normal; I actually always use a rice cooker. You just want cooked rice here. :) Put in large baking bowl. Add 2 more cups of milk and 1 can [sweetened] condensed milk, 3/4 c. sugar, and 4 beaten eggs. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle cinnamon on top and put pieces of butter. Bake in medium oven — 375 degrees about 1 hour, until pudding is firm.

I've made a lot of homemade Swedish meatballs. I've never liked any of them. Or at least, I felt they were rarely worth the work they took to make (I don't like making meatballs). Martha and I were on the phone discussing something else entirely when suddenly we were talking about Swedish meatballs, and she told me that her brother made the meatballs from the Ikea cookbook (or something like that? This recipe is the same as the one she gave me that her brother had written out) and they were awesome. I then immediately made them and they were AWESOME (though still a lot of work. But awesome, so it was okay). In Andy's family, they serve Helen's rice pudding with Swedish meatballs and this is, indeed, just the best, heaviest, but most comforting plate of food in the world, should you be in need. Highly recommend.

Peanut-butter chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies, with raisins added. Not bad.

For the past six months or maybe a year or so I've been more-or-less consciously really trying to bust my stash, both yarn and fabric. Now that Amelia's birthday quilt is finished (it's finished! Photos to come!) I am in the mood for something easy easy easy. I'm thinking a blanket like this: single-colored solid granny squares (that tutorial makes a very nice "square" square, in my opinion), in a checkerboard pattern but with this sort of pale salmon pink I happen to have about six big skeins of (why?) instead of the cream. I saw the blanket in that pin and went really crazy for it and I think it will be a very nice project to work on a square at a time, with no fuss. Just a bag of skeins of worsted-weight yarn, and an ever-growing pile of squares. People don't like the joining part, I guess, but I always kind of do.

We're about to get ready for a birthday party around here. I can't wait!

***The painting is "Spring Lambs" by Bonnie Fisher.

Hello there!

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Hello there! How are you? We're settling into fall here. It's come on with speed and determination. At 6 a.m. this morning, Amelia and I laid in bed in the dark bedroom, listening to the rain outside. She noticed it. It sounded beautiful. It's so dark in the morning now. We snuggle until the quilt and the wool blanket, both kitters and puppers in the bed, too. After a long summer of tremendous heat, everyone's suddenly cold, and grateful for that. The transition to new season and new routines has been unexpectedly hard for me these past few weeks, though. I feel like I'm scrambling to find traction somehow. I think I'm getting it, but I've been a bit all over the place. I was so anxious for it that I immediately started panicking and flailing about once it happened. Typical.

We went to the river for the last time this summer. It was so shallow it was hard to believe. A flock of geese sat on the sandbar all afternoon. The leaves, tinged yellow, fell into the water. I really loved all the days we spent there this summer. I know Andy and Amelia did, too. Our intrepid explorer has grown so much these past few months. What a blessing, to have these nearby places to be free together. Home by dinner, bath, and then early to bed, clean and tired.

Thank you so much for your incredibly kind comments lately, and for all of the glorious-sounding apple recipes, and for the big-girl-chair advice. I made my sour cream apple pie and this thing just never, ever disappoints. Highly recommend. Double the topping if your pie plate is big and wide. (Put tinfoil under your pan if you think that stuff might bubble over and drip off, though; you don't want that spilling in your oven.) Next I'm going to go through the recipes you suggested and find some more that sound good (they all sound good!). I'm getting back into the whole cooking routine I was so excited about a couple of months ago. SOUP is going to make life just ever so much easier. It tastes just as good the next day. I made kale and potato soup with corn and chorizo and it was fantastic. I had it again the next day and it was absolutely just as good. Tonight I'm making the chicken with wild rice soup I made last year, because I know that was really good. Should walk up to the store and get some sweet potato to make biscuits to go with. And boom, that's tomorrow, then, too.

The big-girl chair is a work in progress. We got a Keekaroo — I happened to spot one at the kids' resale shop that cost the exact amount of the credit I had. I like it (though, as everyone says, we've tripped over it literally every single day since it's been here) but the seatbelt has got to be replaced — she is totally able to take it off herself, thus completely defeating the purpose. Dinnertime now is a constant negotiation where I try to get her to stay in her seat. Last night I said, "Well, I just started eating, and if you can't stay in your seat for a little while I might have to go get your old high chair and bring it back, if it's really hard to stop getting down." I thought that warning might work, since just last week the idea of sitting in the high chair was so distasteful it caused all sorts of pandemonium . But she just got these big, bright eyes and said, "Oh! Can I have my high chair?" Pfffft! LOL. But the big-girl chair'll be good with a toddler-proof seatbelt. The clip is just too easy to snap open. She's not quite ready to be free yet, and, quite frankly, neither am I. Getting there, though. She and I eat dinner alone three nights a week when Andy is at work, and our days start around 5:00 a.m. By 5:00 p.m., I just need to sit for a little while.

Do you like the poncho? I think I like it — well, I love the pattern, I just don't know if I like my colors that much. Does it look like I went to Michael's and got one of those little strips of acrylic paint pots (the "country" colors), and then matched them? Maybe that works, I don't know. This has yet to be blocked. I was going to wait for a warm day and block it outside on the outside table so it will dry faster. The details are on my Ravelry page. Her groovy dress is from a vintage nightgown pattern (Simplicity 4719) that I shortened. I like peasant dresses that gather onto a bias strip, and have a continuous placket and a snap in back. I added pockets to this one but I matched them to the fabric so they almost don't show. It's the softest baby wale corduroy, from Fabric Depot, a few years ago now, I think.

Some very cool vintage postage stamps to use on Amelia's birthday invitations. And paper party hats I can't stop making: I used some of the floral designs in this most awesome book, printed them onto lightweight cardstock on my ink-jet printer, then traced my party hat pattern, glued them together at the seam, added some cotton rick-rack, and made a yarn pom for each. These are for everyone besides the birthday girl (who will get a felt one, of course). I absolutely love party preparations. Love them.

Still Summer

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Wah! Here, there, and everywhere. Often in the kitchen. I'm surprised, with all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning, and the broken dishwasher, there's been time to go anywhere, seriously. And yet, I have a moment every single day where I ask myself, "Can what I'm about to do wait until fall?" And if the answer is yes (and it's almost always yes, though I'm so anxious for it), we go back outside. These days. There is so much to do. Andy's two-week vacation starts today, and we are staying home this time. Already, most of the days are accounted for. I picture myself running around a track, knock-kneed, arms flailing wildly; I cross the finish line, and fall dramatically to the ground then do a really fast volleyball roll where I land flat-out on my back, and then someone pours an entire bottle of water directly onto my face — and that's September. I bought Amelia her new yellow raincoat and she put it right on. It's very wishful thinking but we girls can dream. We had one lovely, rainy moment that we watched from the kitchen door and I tell you, no two-hundred-and-fifty raindrops and ten whole minutes were more appreciated in the history of the world.

THANK YOU thank you for all of the party hat kit (and pattern) orders. Thank you!!! Things started slowly but have been rollicking along, and I truly thank you. It's a weird time of year to be launching a new kit, but I have so many plans and projects coming up. I'm sort of just whacking at things and hitting them back over the net. But I'm so excited that these hat kits are out there, and I hope you like making them. I'm already working on stuff for Amelia's birthday in October (that embroidery project above, which will be a quilt, bumped the log cabin out of the queue, and that's now planned for Christmas). I absolutely love where her birthday falls in the year. I think it would be my favorite day of the year anyway, but this is the first special occasion we've ever had that falls in October, and wow, what a treat.

Is this not an insane amount of cooking above? Agreed. And much of it repeated recipes, which I'm finding is, as you mentioned, the way to go. I'm ridiculously happy with how this is all going. Above please find blueberry custard pie (without the streusel this time and just a sprinkle of demerara sugar; much improved, in my opinion), chicken with peanut sauce and ginger rice (and steamed broccoli; and I have made a LOT of peanut sauces, and this one is my favorite by far), Sarah's quinoa salad with tequila shrimp added, my dad's Chili Lobo, and another round of blackened fish tacos (which I now make regularly, baking the tilapia in parchment paper at 400 degrees F for twenty minutes, and serve with my dad's coleslaw, avocado, and mango). Amelia and we are in negotiations for a big-girl chair, so she can sit at the table and not be in the high chair. I have mixed feelings about this, as it will change dinnertime from what is now a pretty relaxing scene (because she is fully restrained in her high chair, and seems rather content to be once she is actually in it) to one where she constantly wants to leave the table (cue ensuing negotiations, etc.). She may be ready but I'm not sure I am. Especially with all this 4:00 p.m. cooking, I really can't even express how much I love collapsing into my chair for dinner knowing that she's happily strapped in, unable to destroy anything else. We successfully negotiated the stop-throwing-your-dishes thing (which was a big problem here); I used my Parental Reverse Psychology on her (yay!) and bought a bunch of Very Fancy china salad plates and bowls at Goodwill ($1 a piece, cheaper than plastic, quite frankly), explaining that she now had her own set of Very Fancy Dishes and needed to take care of them, and could not throw them, drop them, fling them, or otherwise. Weirdly, this totally worked. She carries them in to me after dinner as if walking a petri dish across a crowded lab — very, very carefully (she assures me). I make a big deal over this, and she is proud. And I am so proud of her. Any advice for the chair?

Also, yes, I should advise you that I intend to fully embrace the whole toddler bento phenomenon when she starts playschool two mornings (including lunch) a week next month. Whaaaaaa? What is happening here?!?! How have I never heard of such a thing? It's too adorable. I'll now be spending approximately all of my free time in the kitchen cutting stars out of cantaloupe and piercing hotdog bites with dry spaghetti. I can't wait.

***Garter scarf to go with new toddler raincoat. Not at all impressed with my edges or weaving in of ends. May rethink concept, or actually Google proper way of doing this. Go through back loop on first stitch? You can't slip it, when changing colors? . . .

***Her coat is from 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.

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.