Posts filed in: Family and Friends

Petal Powered

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Ohhhhhh, I loved your comments on the last post. Loved them. Thank you, thank you. Little poems. I was right there. I dusted off my perfume bottles and wore honeysuckle on Sunday and it was a delight. Such a little thing. Thank you for taking the time to write.

Such a fairy dusting of blossoms and blooms we have had this week, as our plum tree flowers and the city sprouts. There is every kind of weather — sunshine, rain, wind, sunshine, rainbow, hail the size of peas (which Andy scooped into a cup and Amelia ate with dinner), clouds, heat, cold. Everything. Spring is storybookish here, and it's impossible not to love every minute of it. I love the beginning before the beginning, and this is it.

When I'm not outside, I'm sewing, sewing. Dresses appear like dandelions — not here in the morning, out on the lawn by lunchtime. Martha took pictures of all of the fabric she's sending and I said yes or no to each; later I realized that almost all of them were in the patchwork pillow she gave me for my birthday! Pretty calicos. I splurged and bought some new fabrics, too — linens and lawns and double gauzes for bloomers and smocks and Easter and Birthmother's and Mother's Day. Ribbons I just wanted to have. I spent my free hour yesterday going through my (quite extensive) vintage pattern collection, matching patterns with fabrics and trying to get sort of a well-rounded wardrobe will last through summer, and last into size four, as well. She's three, but I keep sewing into size four, refusing to pre-wash my fabrics and hoping everything will shrink just a bit to make it work for a while. The light blue dress at the top is from Martha's '80s stash, sewn with McCall's #3470 from 1972. I made the neckline into a rounded one, and added a ruffle made from a 22" strip of fabric that I edged with the scallop stitch on my machine. I'd seen this done on some of the French sewing blogs and thought it looked really pretty. It came out nice except that I think my ruffle strip needed to be longer and gathered a bit more, because it really wanted to flip up on her. I finished the back with a continuous lap and a snap. Getting that whole snap maker kit for size 14 snaps with the decorative snaps (pink, green, blue, and yellow) is turning out to be one of the best things I ever bought. I think I originally got it for baby bibs. But I'm loving it for the backs of dresses, and it's actually really fun to do the snaps with the hammer, etc. I put the snap right under the neck binding.

The golden daisy dress is baby wale corduroy, so soft, made from my standby peasant pattern, vintage Simplicity 4719. I like the way the arms and neck is cut on this — not too full, though the dress itself is full. I added a belt — more on this below. I added pockets, because m'lady has requested that every dress have pockets. For flowers, rocks, acorns, berries, rose hips, and her leftover sopping wet cinnamon roll from the bakery.

The navy dress is such cute fabric (by Elizabeth Olwen and called "Go Your Own Way" — I'm not the only one having a Stevie moment, yay), also baby wale corduroy. Perfect for just exactly this time of year, when it's still a bit chilly but you want flowers. The pattern is McCall's #2997 from 1971, and it has a front tab and two front pockets (which are hard to see). It had a tie belt, that tied in back, but that seemed like folly to me; there's no way she would keep that on, and would be sitting on it, etc. I made a little belt that was a continuous ring, gathered along the back, that slips over her head and sits around her tummy. She didn't like that either and only kept this on for about a minute. I broke my new rules with this dress — it has a zipper, it has set-in sleeves, it has a wide hem. But instead of lining the yoke I finished the neck with some vintage bias tape that was the perfect color blue, and in my stash was a vintage zipper that was also the perfect shade of blue, so, what can you do.

My sweet little hand-dyed bunting is from Sugarhouse Workshop, and those little lavender sprigs I picked up at JoAnn's the other day for a song. And we got the loveliest package all the way from Niina in Finland the other day. Amelia's been happily playing with Moomins and postcards and licorice nibs for three days. Mud on her hand, flowers in her hair. Spring is so good.

Starlight, Starbright

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Sweet days, and a rush, and and now, hopefully, a hush to the finish. Christmas was so nice. A bit of a whirlwind, really. I must admit that as it speeds up I just try to hang on for the ride. I'm better at downtime. I'm good at January and February. I feel accomplished if I manage one thing a day, then.

With my smidge of remaining energy, I had a cleaning fit on Sunday and donated our extra blankets, coats, and toys to make room for some of the new ones. (Amelia's amazing dolly was made by Hillary. Isn't she so big and cool? Thank you, dear friend! I need to get a picture of the crocheted giraffe [Raffy] that Andy made, too. She is awesome.) On the way home from the shelter, it snowed. I was possibly in the least romantic of places when it started — driving on Halsey and NE 122nd (not particularly picturesque) with a sleeping toddler in the car who missed the whole thing. By the time we reached the house (I'd planned to hustle us inside and start heating up hot chocolate as fast as I could) it was over. Just big, fat, cold drops of rain. That's okay. In December I did nothing but drink Burgerville chocolate-peppermint milkshakes and make appetizers for everyone I've ever met and clean the house fifty thousand times. In January I plan to devote myself unflaggingly to breaking in my new flannel sheets, reading actual books, and wishing for snow. I think that's plenty.

So, house and brain are disheveled and fluffy, which feels kind of nice. We have no plans for New Year's Eve, thank goodness. Andy works both Eve and Day, and Amelia and I will probably make shrimp cocktail and I'll see if I can get her to watch Snow Buddies (which has actual dogs and not cartoon dogs) and we'll be in bed with the new flannel sheets by 7:00 p.m. Should you lead a more exciting life have need for some party food, I can highly recommend everything that I made from your appetizer suggestions a few weeks ago:

Smoked salmon dip
Onion and bacon marmalade (spread onto goat-cheese smeared crostini)
Snowman cheese ball!
Shrimp with cocktail sauce
Badenjan dip
Olive cheese spread on English muffins
Jezebel sauce over cream cheese
Taco dip
Bar nuts
Spinach dip

Forgive me for not also mentioning each commenter who made these suggestions! Many of them were repeated so I took that as hearty endorsement and I will say that all of the food got eaten — the olive cheese spread most of all! I thought the homemade shrimp cocktail was amazing, myself. And, to note, I was looking for mostly cold appetizers to serve; the list above was a nice mix of mostly cold with just a few things that needed to be heated up. It seemed like the perfect amount for about twenty-five to thirty people (who were all going on to eat other courses elsewhere). It was a really fun night. My favorite part was when Amelia shouted, "C'mon, everybody! Let's go to the next house!" (and then, naturally, walked to the McNeil's front door and opened it herself and tried to leave). The girl loves a party.

That said, now that I've paid my Appetizer Dues, I'm seriously rethinking this cooking-for-parties thing. I love having parties but it is such a ton of work to make all of that food. I've had four in the past three months, including Amelia's big birthday party (also lots of appetizers), and you know what? I'm having at least that party catered next year. I swear it costs practically as much to buy the groceries, and then you still have to, you know, make everything yourself. With a toddler running (and climbing) around and a galley kitchen, it's just too much. And I don't have the storage space to do anything ahead of time. I'll make one special thing myself, the birthday cake, or maybe crab cakes for a holiday party, but otherwise I'm going to start saving up a little Catering Fund so that I don't wind up sprawled in a chair, hoping someone will bring me something to drink and hoping someone else will keep my kid from touching every single thing on the table. (As if that were even possible. That's not possible. But that's why I have to save my strength.)

The day after Christmas we went outside. I felt like I hadn't been outside in weeks. It was cold and clear, and that's unusual lately. I could've walked all day. Resolution for 2016: Find a flat, wide trail in the woods along which it is possible to push the stroller for the walk back. Like a logging road, but flat. I only need it to be about a half a mile. Anybody know of one like that? You'd think this would be easy, but it's very hilly around here. Wide and flat is pretty rare. Meems is great on the way in, not so great on the way out. The woods were so green, like a fairy tale. They got me thinking about gardening again, in a dreamy kind of way.

Two seed catalogs have arrived in the mail. Wintertime is for dreaming. I think I might make a list of things I want to do in the new year. I've never actually done that before. I wonder why I haven't. I'm in the mood for it now. It might be nice to write some things down.

Happy, happy almost–New Year to you! I hope your days this week are slow, and sweet, and filled with light and quiet and peace as we roll into 2016.
Xoxo, a

***Lots of questions in the comments I'll try to answer here: The snowflake mobile is many years old, from Pottery Barn Kids. All the knitting on the table is detailed on my Ravelry page here. The little deer was at my sister's house and I'll have to ask her where it's from, I don't know. I got the Territorial Seeds catalog (local) and one other one from Iowa I can't remember, and can't seem to find now. All of my electric (well, battery) candles I've bought locally at American at Heart in Sellwood, and I know they don't ship, so I'm sorry I don't have a source for out-of-towners. They're wonderful; I'm sure you can find something similar on-line. And my Swedish pancake recipe is here:

Swedish Pancakes

4 eggs
1 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 c. milk
a little bloop of vegetable oil

Whisk eggs, flour, sugar, and salt together into a smooth paste. Slowly whisk in milk until just combined, then add a bit of oil (just to keep them from sticking) and stir again. Ladle or pour the batter onto the griddle over medium heat, and tip pan to swirl batter into a thin circle. Flip when edges look dry.

 

Rainytown

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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!

 

Tiny Lights

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Christmas things, loving things, soups and breads and friends and parties, lights and candles to fill the December days. This morning it is raining as hard as I've ever seen it, and it's as dark as late afternoon. We have a busy week ahead (who doesn't), and I'm resisting the urge to climb back into bed and pull up the quilts and knit and knit and knit; but no, that won't happen. Instead I light candles and say a prayer for the world, the news of which I can't lately seem to absorb with anything but melancholy, though I strive for hope. In the mornings, we snuggle for hours (one of the benefits of getting up hours before light sneaks up on the windows). Andy and Clover sleep. Under the covers, I pull my daughter's warm body into mine. She holds my big hand on her small belly. She eats a banana (two bananas) and I drink very hot, very strong coffee by the light of the string of paper stars we got a few months ago. I've put them on a dimmer, and thus can turn them down to the barest, dimmest, almost-golden glow. We're under softest flannel sheets and wool blankets and wool-filled quilts, with a dozen pillows at our backs. Foxy, Pengy, Snowy Bear, Bruno, and Big Bunny — all here, too. Quietly, quietly she sings back to me the lullaby I sing to her each night. It's a tune I made up, with the words from a book. Her sweet voice, her lisp. Her whisper-singing: on key. Her warm, bare legs sliding along mine. She fits so perfectly against my shoulder, under my arm. I ask her if she can hear the rain and she nods (mouth now full). It drums, relentless, against the old windows just inches behind us. I hold her close and kiss her head, and press my cheek to her hair. Stay like this. Just here. We'll let it all swirl and rumble outside. I'll hold you tight. I'll hold you tight.

Fields and Furrows

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Oh, the pumpkins, the pumpkins, and the little kids. The gray pumpkin morning turning to mist and drizzle (perfect). The birds, my goodness, what you hear there in the cold, country air. The sky is filled with birds, and they are enchanting. The kids run and stumble. There is all the time in the world here with our dear friends, the Montgomeries, and their darling boys — my heart bursts watching them all pick right up where they left off last year, covered in mud, searching for the world's smallest pumpkin, Amelia and Asher walking straight out into the field without a backward glance, the cow train over the rutted fields jolting every adult on it into slipping a disc, the caramel apples and sausages and kettle corn we can't resist. Faces painted. Zinnias blackening. Sunflowers folding. Cornstalks softening in the rain. Later, beer and burgers at the brewpub, and I can't wait for them to light the fireplace there. If only every weekend were this one.

Look how little they were last year, and the year before. Oh, sweet darlings.

Speaking of rainbows: At home, I begin to achieve the unthinkable, and fold my fabric stash onto comic book backer boards. During every waking free moment I have. It feels like I will never get to the end. But look how pretty! More on this soon.

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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!

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year, dear friends! I hope all is well with you, and that you had a wonderful bunch of holidays. Ours were truly wonderful. It's been so nice to just chill out and I really have. I got sick over new year's and spent a few days on the couch. For the past several afternoons even my little darling has slept next to me under her quilts while I've watched movies and drunk tea and knit and knit and knit. Favorite new movie: Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. I loved it. Light and frothy and funny (the scene where she "confronts" what's-his-face in the restaurant? I coughed so hard! That was hysterical!) and still moving (I love the amusement park scene, so sweet). Also watched About a Boy which is one of my faves. Going through a later–Hugh Grant thing. Watched the beginning of Mickey Blue Eyes, where Jeanne Triplehorn and Hugh Grant are running through the streets of New York, trying to make their dinner reservation. He is a few yards ahead of her and she is laughing and laughing and you don't really know why she's laughing but you assume she's just having fun, and she finally stops and doubles over and says something like, "Stop! No more, seriously! Just run normal!" And he looks all faux-wounded and Hugh Grant–ish and he's like, "Run normal? This is my normal run." And she goes, "Oh! I'm sorry! I've never seen you run and I thought you were doing a funny run!"

:))))) Ha!

Someone was very excited about her new play kitchen! Oh yes, I was, and I even let Amelia play with it because I am just cool like that, people!!!

The other night I was lying next to Amelia before putting her to bed and I thought of about ten resolutions I wanted to make for 2015. Even as I was thinking of them I was trying to think of ways not to forget what they were, because it was dark in the room and I didn't have paper or pencil or phone or anything to write them down. And sure enough, the only two I can remember now (besides the private ones) are "Try not to be such a jerk about the hot weather in the summer" and "Try not to be such a jerk in general." I wish I could remember the others because I think there were some good ones in there but I guess these are a good place to start.

Pumpkin Morning

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At the pumpkin patch with the Montgomeries. Dearest friends on a misty morning. Watching the kiddos navigate a field of pumpkins. I could stay forever, listening to them talk pumpkin to each other and seeing them slog through the mud without reserve. Everything smells like it's been stomped and then rained on. I love it out in the country in the morning. It's hard to get out there in the very early morning if you don't already live there, but it's the feeling I long for — languorous autumn morning, stubbled fields stretching out and away, no sound but birds coming and going, the rain heavy in the air but it's not raining. The gray mist washes out so much color, rendering everything tentative and faint, and I like that. I like being cold and snuggling my nose into the crook of a toddler neck to warm up. I like eating bratwursts and caramel apples with our friends and their babies. I like the mud and the smell of mud. I love the bath at the end of the day. Mimi comes in with me at the end, crying a little as she draws.  Scribbles on the tub with the soap crayons. Warm water pouring back and forth between little cups. No hair washing, and quiet conversation. Candles in the late afternoon. Soup for Sunday dinner, and I'm done working for a while. It's the season of resting for me, and I am relieved. Everything slows, and feels heavy and warm. I needed this.

You Are 2

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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.

Natural Wonders

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Our girls' beach weekend was EPIC. The house we rented in Cannon Beach could not have been more incredible. It was seriously awesome. We had a great time. We talked, we laughed, we cried, we cooked, we lounged, we shopped, we sunned, we slept, we toasted marshmallows, we listened to the sound of endless waves and gazed at seemingly endless numbers of stars, and just generally marveled at the incredible beauty of the world. About a million times. I'm kind of at a loss for words, actually. It was so awesome to see my ladies altogether again. We calculated that it had been twelve years since all eight of us (two others couldn't make it this time) have been in the same place at the same time. What a privilege and honor it was to host everyone, and stay in this breathtaking location. Ah. Still thinking about it.

Back at home, we're sliding quickly into silvery fall weather, along with runny noses and sore throats and coughs. Amelia and I are laying low today. Getting back into our routine. The wind is blowing through my open windows and it is cool and rainy and sweet. How grateful I am to be here, right now, watching her play the ukelele in her pajamas, with a mitten on one hand and her toes curled under, our yellow lamps lit and the leaves rustling and red. Later we'll stroll up to the store to get more milk, then have some butternut squash soup I made on Wednesday. Oh, sweet mystery of life. How grateful I am for all of this! How blessed. How blessed.

I have about forty-five other things to tell you, but I'll be back next week, when we're all settled back in.

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

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.