Oh, we're in the thick of it, and it delights me: Cold clear days, cold gray days, mucky-bright leaf-slicks, neighborhood tromps, drooping gardens, hikes on the butte, boots and sweaters, roasted things, flushed cheeks, woodsmoke, white moons in the early evening sky. Halloween was just utterly adorable — Amelia had a fantastic time going door to door with her friends (that's the neighborhood crew, above, and my friend Gillian in her totally rad Mary Poppins costume — isn't that just brilliant? She looked so awesome). There are a LOT of stairs in our neighborhood. We made it to about fifteen houses, and once the Tootsie Pop showed up she was so focused on the lolli it became hard to walk up and down them and hold/eat the lolli at the same time. Man, it was cute. First-ever lollipop. I had to sneak it away when she was distracted. We didn't trick-or-treat last year because she had just learned to walk, so this year was basically her first Halloween. I had her wear the costume I made last year. It's so adorable watching her trying to figure out what in the world is going on. Every time someone opened their door she'd push past them and walk right into the house. Hilarious. Sweetly, she would also take the candy out of her basket and put it into the other kids'. Definitely my favorite Halloween ever.
When we weren't out walking — that was Powell Butte, on Saturday — I was cooking. Yes, me! I made this black bean soup (which we both thought was totally delicious). And then on Sunday we did our traditional First Fall Feast, though we did it a little differently, and just made several really savory side dishes: Ina's spinach gratin, and Brussels sprouts lardons, and caramelized root vegetables. Everything worked really well together and I was very happy! I also made a salad with mushrooms, shaved Gruyere, candied walnuts, pear slices, and my favorite salad dressing, Stacy and Elizabeth's "What Vinegar?" Salad Dressing. I swear I've written this down on the blog but I can't find it (all I can find is a picture of the recipe card, but I'll keep looking, or I'll rewrite it when I get a sec). THANK YOU thank you thank you for all of the soup suggestions. I'm in the process of pinning them all to my board and I am so incredibly inspired. Thank you so much. I even ordered some new soup bowls. I actually feel quite thrilled to cook now — thank you! Now I just have to figure out which one to start with! I think I should experiment with some breads, too. Okay. I can do this.
Oh, what a weekend it was. Amelia's little party was truly wonderful. She had such an awesome time, and so did we. Yesterday was her actual birthday, and the three of us drove out along the old highway to Multnomah Falls for lunch, then came home and made lasagna and had cupcakes for dinner. She insisted on wearing her party hat at all times. It was a perfect day (except for the couple of times she snapped the elastic from the hat against her cheek and started bawling). She went to bed an hour or so past her bedtime, and had no nap all day. She is a partier!!!
So many toys, so many beautiful presents from everyone. Andy and I worked on ours for most of the summer — that's turning into such a sweet tradition for us. Andy's mermaid (from this pattern) — it was an epic experience. He worked on it every lunch hour for two months, and pretty much every waking free hour he was home. I tried to help him with a little bit of it and the hook was so small and the yarn so shreddy I seriously thought I was going to scream every time I picked it up. I truly don't know how he did it. He also made her a crocheted Clover doll. He is incredible. The mermaid's name is Ethel Shirley. She'll get her hat and her life-ring for Christmas. :) The doll I got for her was one I'd been coveting for years (from Happy to See You) — major splurge, couldn't resist. I made the beddy-bye-basket from this pattern (more or less, I had to add a lot more rounds because my yarn was thinner), her dress from this pattern, her nightgown from this pattern, and her sweater from here. I made the pillows and mattress and little quilt for the basket just out of some little pieces of fabric and trim that I had. Naturally, she is vaguely indifferent to both of our dolls. Naturally, Andy and I both prop each of our dolls up in front of her several thousand times a day. "I think she likes mine better." "No, she likes mine better." "No, mine." Etc. Her birthday dress and pinafore I made from a 1972 Simplicity pattern, #5277. I used a brown vintage calico I had, and some Liberty Betsy Ann in gray for the pinafore. I have to take pictures of the totally rad play food my sister Susie made for Amelia. It's incredible, and I will find out where she got the patterns, too. She also received some other really excellent presents I will photograph, too.
I had the best time over the past few weeks gathering ideas for her party. The balloon/lantern collection is ubiquitous, but oh boy did it please a two-year-old who went out for a walk with her grandma and came home to find it suddenly and magically floating above the dining-room table on Friday afternoon. That was cool. Andy and I made it together, and it was so much fun to do. Once it was up we decided it needed something distinctly "2"ish. He cut the number out of a thick piece of styrofoam, and then I covered the edges with fabric tape and the front and back with glued-on fabric (I just traced the styrofoam number and cut out the fabric — super easy). Her cake I copied from this adorable cake that I just couldn't get out of my mind (I think I pinned it ages ago). I used this cake recipe and my mom's frosting recipe (I call it Cloudburst Frosting). One of the best parts of the day was the rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday to You" sung by all of us just before she blew out her candles — it really sounded like a chorus to me; it was truly awesome — and she looked around in complete wonder and delight at this big, bustling, beautiful family, fabulously doubled in size with her amazing birthfamily. All love. We are all just so blessed in this. I also loved watching her feed her little deer some coffee out of a wee teacup after the party as we sat quietly together and played and talked. Oh, how I love it all. I absolutely love it. Two. The best two years ever. Darling, wonderful, greatest girl. I love you so.
* * * T H A N K Y O U E V E R Y B O D Y ! * * *
so very much, for all of the orders!!! I am so thrilled that you like the new kits. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I am beyond pleased. We are shipping at lightning speed because
s o m e o n e is having a little birthday party tomorrow. Someone is turning two! My dearest darling, already two. Preparations — and present making and finishing — are seriously underway. Details to come. But later! Right now it's bake, wrap, sew, fuss, fiddle, blow up balloons. My very favorite things to do. Oh, girl. I just love you more than I can say.
It's been a busy week — playing, people, parties, perfect weather, broken cars (again, after it was supposedly fixed — no comment; car shopping), pastries, parks, a birthday, birthfamily party, knitting, golden sunshine, rainy nights, more playing, the days rushing like stars across the sky in a fast-mo video, a beautiful, sparkling blur of all the things and places and people I love. Amelia travels her spaces with confidence and moxie, here, there, everywhere, full of light and delight, always with a stick in her hand, tongue out, always happy, always curious, forward, forward, naturally careful but without fear or hesitation, arms open to everyone. At the start and end of each busy day we lie in the big bed listening to the noises float through the open windows; it's there where I get to think in long, looping strings of images like garlands of photos, her sweet face in every one as my fingers thread through her hair and trace her golden eyebrows. She lies soft and quiet at my side, thinking her own baby thoughts. Little bird with ruffly, downy feathers tucked up close. Her softness, her sweetness, her sounds. In the distance dogs bark. Neighbors arrive home or leave. Breeze blows. Voices ebb and recede. We drift and dream. I can hardly wait for each new day. When it comes: Good morning, my dearest sweet lovely adorable little dearest sweetest darling. What will we do today? Everything, everything. Oh, everything's possible.
My gosh, it's just so good. This precious gift. This feeling of amazed wonder, and overwhelming gratefulness that never leaves.
Two years ago yesterday I went for a walk in the woods and made a wish on my birthday. Though I didn't know it then, that night, that very night, my wish (at last, at last, for I'd made the same wish for many, many, many, many birthdays) began to come true. And now she is here. My birthday miracle. The miracle of my life. My wishes are all for her now. Darling, darling, darling wonderful girl. Thank you.
Happy New Year to you, and thank you so much for all of your kind Christmas wishes! Oh, it's been so lovely and slow here. Slow like only the week between Christmas and New Year's ever is. It's the only one like this in the whole year. How I long for a snowstorm to keep it going, keep the glacier-pace of these quiet, messy, wonderfully slow days going! Alas, it's already January 2. And we have only moss on logs and gray skies for our winter so far. No snow in sight; we might have to go and find some.
In the mornings, I listen to her waking up. She hums and talks to herself in her baby language. Da-dee-dee. DA-dee-dee. Outside it's still black and cold. The lights from the baby monitor, the alarm clock glow in the dark. I listen to her: Hmm-hmm-hmm, hmm-hmm-hmm. The first six notes of "Jingle Bells," over and over. I hum the rest to myself, smiling. Eventually she insists — HMM HMM HMM! — and I know it's only a minute or two until it's a flat-out squawk — Come and get me now, people! I got you, babe. I am here.
These bright, brisk days the house fills with her sounds. The humming, the chatting, the thumping of the walking, the thumping of the dropping of things, the sliding of chairs across rug, across wood, the bongo drums, the tiny piano, the jingle bells that she shakes and bangs, the stumbling, the falling, the crying, the giggling, the chasing of the dog, the banging of spoons on trays, the banging of blocks on gates, the clatter of the tin cake-carrier when she drops it (favorite thing to carry around), the bubble-blowing, the singing, the questioning, the humming, the dear, sweet, jolly blah-blah of babydom, and oh, my stars, oh, oh how I love it so.
I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a wonderful week of peace and tenderness, and simple pleasures wherever you find them. I hope joy comes to you, and your family, and your friends, and your animals in this wintertime, and I hope there are wonders, too, and wishes that come true. I hope you get to give a kid a great present, walk in the snow, go ice skating, see the city lights, sit in front of a crackling fireplace, or hold a sleeping baby. I hope you find magic in the season, especially in the moments when you least expect it. Thank you for being a part of our lives this year, and, from all of us Paulsons, I wish you much love and happiness. Merry, merry Christmas to you.
Oh, in the midst of summer! What a lovely weekend it was: glorious weather, great fathers and grandfathers, a festival, lazy mornings, good company, good food, tiny lights, sun spots, a picnic on the hill, cool breezes through the pine trees, ukelele songs, a wedding in the distance, baby singing, bright nights, rose mallow blooming, a sleepy kitty in my spot on the chaise, a baby bunad, a band playing. Birds singing. A blue jay that visits us in the back yard lately, making me feel like little Mary Lennox. I was buzzed by a hummingbird. Oh, June. You've been so good to us, June.
***I will definitely tell you about the dress and the lights when I have a minute more to write. And to make the daisy chain you just pick a bunch of little daisies that grow in the grass at the park, keeping their stems as long as you can. Braid the stems tightly together (with the flowers at the top), adding new daisies in when you have about an inch or so of stem left on the previous daisy. The stems are flexible so just tie the end of the chain gently to the beginning flowers when the crown is big enough. Place on baby and kiss one thousand times.
Thank you so much for all of the New Year's greetings! We had a very, nice quiet (embarrassingly quiet; we didn't even stay awake until midnight) new year! I made a pancake. Amelia rocked her new bouncy seat. Our dear friends and neighbors had us for dinner at their lovely house on New Year's Day. I made a bunny (I named her Marjorie) for Amelia (I don't have a pattern for her because I made it up. But maybe I'll write a pattern. I have a few changes in mind, anyway!). I made seafood chowder yesterday in my new stock pot (an awesome Christmas gift from Andy's parents) and it was really good! I find that it's Friday already, and that is startling. My birthday is on Monday. What kind of birthday cake do you think I should I make?
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
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.