Posts filed in: Family and Friends

Long Weekend

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I organize all of my blog photos in folders by year, and then by month, and then by day. In looking through November's this morning, I don't think there is any other month that starts as much in one season and ends as much in another. I love winter. I feel like I come alive, somehow. Winter, winter: Bare branches. Pink skies. Muddy streets. Evergreen scents. Misty rain. Cold mornings. Smoke from neighborhood chimneys. Kitchen afternoons. Fogged up windowpanes. Mimi takes a bunch of miniature fake pine trees and and sets them up in her room next to her mushroom nightlight. She fluffs up her bed, all flannel sheets and gingham comforter and quilt after quilt, and climbs in. "Mom, look at me." I open the back door in the darkness of early morning and sniff the chilly air. Delicious shiver. Hot coffee. Winter. I am a daughter of the North Wind.

I hope you are well. Thanksgiving was lovely. The whole past weekend was so wonderfully long. I kept getting my days messed up, forgetting where we were in the long stretch. We made the house a bit Christmassy on Saturday and Sunday and then I spent as much time as I could hand-stitching a whole bunch of felt ornaments for Amelia's little tree that we usually put upstairs in the big bedroom. I used so many different patterns (all other peoples' patterns) and they all came out so cute and I had so much fun doing it it was ridiculous. I will take pictures of them and show you next time. We haven't gotten our trees yet.

Fabric for the rest of the kits is supposedly on the UPS truck right now, coming to our house by the end of the day. Stacey just left after having pulled all of the floss. I'll pick up the patterns on my way to get Mimi at school. We are sure we can get everything out by the end of the week, so thank you again for all of those (new) orders. Love and Joy is sold out, and we won't be doing more. We've held out fifteen kits, as we always do, for emergencies and lost packages and all that sort of thing and once we have confirmed that everyone who ordered has received their kit we will trickle them back out onto the web site but for all intents and purposes, the kits are all sold and I thank you so much for that. Thank you.

Do you remember the Alice dress? That was 2010. I know. Dear me. All of it. This girl. And that lovely creature peeking out from behind her mother's elbow up there is my beautiful niece, who just turned eighteen. whole. years. old. this month. I recently found that painting (it started here, went wrong here, recovered here, and ended up here) I did of her in 2009 and gave it to her just this weekend for her birthday. Oh, time.

Autumn Feel

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Few words, lots of feels. I stood on the other side of the one-way-glass window and watched her dance and was filled with so much joy for her obvious joy I couldn't speak, embarrassed by my tears in front of the other moms. She tried to curtsy, crossing her feet and falling over sideways, smiling. It's so beautiful sometimes I am overcome. How incredible to have a piece of one-way glass behind which to stand, and watch, and not be observed, and, so, not distract. She waved right at me and someone said, "But how can she see you?" I said I had no idea, and instinctively almost ducked. Later she told me she could see the shadow of my glasses, and I had told her I'd be standing right there. The music was poignant. The afternoon outside glowed. The little girls were birds in their nests, birds flying, and butterflies. In the hallway, the older dancers gossiped loudly and were shushed. The paint in the clothes-changing room was such an incredible barely pink shade of pink I touched the wall. Sometimes I have these moments in parenthood where I just can't believe I am finally a mother, and the air changes color. This week it was frequently pure gold. If you're still waiting, don't give up.

 

Almost Halloween

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Late-October glow. We go to pumpkin patches and ride hay wagons. I forget what the birds sound like over the fields in the early mornings until this, this one early morning per year that I'm here. Our house sits so squarely, so solidly within the grid of our neighborhood that I can't ever see the sunrise or the sunset for all the houses and trees. Especially in the fall, I long for the farm-fields and furrows. We drive north, to Sauvie Island: It's our annual pumpkin-patch morning with dear friends and their darling children. The fields are slick with mud. The pumpkins are past their prime, and threaten to collapse at any moment. The fog lingers, then lifts, and leaves: It's perfect. The kids squat and pull tiny worms from the ground, having a long, private toddler conversation we can't hear. We get kettle corn and carving kits and caramel apples and, afterward, we all go down to the brewpub for lunch, and I wish that every day could be this one.

Mimi requests a purple fairy princess costume. I flail my way around long pieces of polyester chiffon, wrap pipe-cleaner-crown braids with ribbon and roses, iron sheets of cellophane over soft wire wings with every type of joy I know. How long I've waited to love Halloween! She wears her costume to school on a Tuesday. I am delightedly shocked to pick her up at 1:00 to find that she is still wearing it. Wings crooked, flower crown low on her forehead, it's all held up well but for one small rip in the front of the gown, and her eyes are bright with excitement. With the school, on Wednesday, we go to another pumpkin patch. It's so muddy that I, with my reconstructed foot, can't walk on anything but the most-dry, mostly flat surfaces, trying with all my might not to face-plant in front of the entire preschool while carrying an enormous camera. I photograph them all bumping along on the hayride, Mimi waving and Andy smiling wildly. The teachers' and parents' faces are as joyous as the children's. How sweet it all is. The rain holds off and the preschoolers run around the play area. Mimi darts and races, shrieking with glee, her usual language of happiness. Riding the mini-carousel, she waves and rocks and wants to go around again. Later, four of them sit in the dried-corn sandbox, running their hands through bright-yellow kernels and I know they'd happily sit there for ages, if only it weren't almost time to go. How grateful I am to be here, listening to their voices in the corn maze and watching geese fly low overhead.

This weekend, we're hosting the neighborhood pumpkin-carving party. I've spent this afternoon making my dad's chili and chicken-with-wild-rice soup, listening to Pavement radio on Pandora with the back door flung open. It's sunny again. I remember a conversation I had with my dad the October before he passed away. He was telling me about a Halloween party he and my mom had gone to years before, before I was born. "What did you go as?" I asked him. "A secret agent," he said and we giggled, and I was filled with a sadness I could hardly bear to feel. Our neighbors are our friends, and they'll walk over with beers, bread, and salads on Sunday. Ten adults, nine kids, one baby. Along with the chili and soup, I'm making hot-dog mummies, spider-topped English-muffin pizzas, apple monsters, and pumpkin cupcakes for the kids. I need to figure out what I'm going to carve on my pumpkin. I hope I have enough bowls. I can't wait to have everyone here.

Fabulous Four

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Oh. My. Goodness. What a weekend it was. Amelia's fourth birthday party was a blast! I always love her birthday parties so much. We spent Friday getting ready, and I really love those party preparations. Saturday afternoon, when the doorbell started to ring, she got shy, but quickly rallied. She was serious about her cake and her presents. I literally could not get her to stop stabbing her cake with appetizer skewers and eating frosting off of them. (I had the food catered by Artemis Foods, and a better decision I doubt I have ever made, but I did make the cake myself.) She wanted a piece of that cake so bad. Once the cake was eaten she opened her presents (such lovely, lovely presents) and honestly, I have never seen her so focused. She's never really been particularly into stuff in general, so I'm guessing this age is when the fascination with specific toys really starts. It was pretty cute and quite fascinating to watch. Certain things she tossed over her shoulder before quickly moving on to the next present; certain things she was so captivated by that the world stopped, as far as she was concerned, and she sat off to the side and started playing while the party went on around her. (Musical birthday cards were, quite possibly, the sleeper hit of the day.) Grandma and Pops Paulson (Andy's parents) are in town from Chicago and their presence here, especially after getting to spend so much time together in Chicago and Wisconsin this summer, has always made Amelia's party weekend extra special. This time there are six whole days between her party and her actual birthday so it's gonna be one looooong celebration. I almost planned a friend birthday party in addition to her usual family party but it just didn't come together. With Halloween so close, and a neighborhood party scheduled, and a school thing, and a pumpkin-patch plan, and another pumpkin-patch plan, I think the partying will continue through the month, so it's cool with her.

Her birthday. Her birth day. I remember the evening she was born like it was yesterday. I remember the days in the hospital afterward, when it was just Amelia's birthparents and Amelia and Andy and me. Those were some of the most intense and incredible days of all of our lives, I expect. There were tears and laughter and courage and strength and honesty and beauty and intensity and just . . . total love. It was like we five were on our own mysterious, unnameable planet together, and it brings tears to my eyes to remember those days even now. How blessed we were to have them! How blessed we are, all of us, in all of this! I love the family that our open adoption has created. When everyone — birthparents, grandparents, birthgrandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings — is together, it is the best day of the year. And every year gets better and better. I find it almost impossible to talk about because I just cannot find the words to explain. Amelia is loved so thoroughly and by so many. She's only just beginning to understand exactly what that means. But when we are all together, the house is filled with joy and rings with laughter, and that she absolutely understands.

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After everyone left, and I was so tired that I laid down on the living room floor. She came over and we made a picnic with the Buckley deer family and some party napkins. Clover trip-trapped over to see what we were doing and Andy (superstar) worked on the kitchen. We talked in quiet voices for ourselves and for the deer. We talked about the picnic, the party, the cake, and the people, and all the very sweet things we love.

Proper Schoolgirl

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Andy had the whole weekend off and we had nothing to do (this almost never happens). I had a pile of fabric and patterns and needed some alone time (I almost never get this). Into the sewing room I tear, and the scissors start flying. My girl is growing, growing, and has no clothes. I make a lot of her clothes. I made a lot of her clothes before she was even born (as you might know :). I made them up until size 3T, figuring she might not want to wear the clothes a made after that. DARLING GIRL, she still does, but has none that will fit her this fall, when she turns four. Oh, how my heart sings at the circumstance! Here comes a plaid jumper for the first day of preschool (McCall's pattern #7590, from 1981); a dusty pink dress that was made from a nightgown pattern (McCall's #3381, c. 1972); a blue plaid smock with the prettiest embroidered daisy ribbon (McCall's 3237, c. 1972); and a sundress for the back-to-school picnic (Simplicity #8712, from 1978). I have a lot of ideas for things in my head, but not much time to sew. When I do get the time, the things pour from my hands. It's a start. Amelia will go to preschool three mornings a week this fall. We are all very excited about it!

Next week is the last week of summer. The yard is parched and pale yellow, already covered in spiderwebs and dusty things. The spent hydrangea blooms turn russet, the grass dies. I half-heartedly water stuff, not sure if it's already too late. I can't remember the last time it's rained. Summer, you do challenge me. Day after day of 97-degree temperatures and I can't see anything but waves of heat in the air. We routinely get in the car and the thermometer there says its 109, 110, 111. . . . I'm cooked. I bought a bread machine for sandwiches. The loaf was so adorably runty, all bulbous on one side. I couldn't help but love it. It tasted just fine to me, and I made a ham sandwich with a ton of lettuce and avocado for dinner. Our apple tree has loads of apples, many with holes, some half-eaten by something before they're even picked. They're good though. If it ever gets below 90, I'll make a pie. I really cannot wait for that day.

Andy, Amelia, and Clover Meadow spent one (actually cool-ish) night in the tent in the backyard for the first time. I slept in the house, listening on the monitor. She woke up around1:15 a.m., and they (we) were up for an hour. She insisted on staying out (though Clover came back in), fell back asleep, and slept until dawn. Dawn's coming so much later these days. I don't mind that, either. Today is the last day of swimming lessons. Simon, the teacher, comes and tells us yesterday, "Tomorrow, we get to turn on the fountains! Tomorrow we get to do whatever we want!" "Oh, she'll be good at that!" I say, winking. I'll miss swimming lessons, sitting on the chaise lounges in the shade with the other lesson parents, listening to the kids sing "I Had a Little Fishy," watching them chase rings and lay on their backs and blow bubbles and put their faces in the water. I'll miss holding up the towel for her to run, shivering, into my arms when she's done, cuddling her on my lap while we watch the lifeguards put the lane lines away and crank up the beach umbrellas for open swim. We took six weeks of daily swimming lessons this summer. I will miss all these pool days, and some of the summer things. But I'm ready to go outside again, and not feel like I have to be covered in water to do it. . . .

Buds and Birds

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Grandma Paulson was visiting all last week, and Mimi had an absolutely wonderful time playing with her grandma pretty much non-stop. She also had her last day of her lovely, wonderful playschool, wrapping up two years of this perfect experience that fills me with emotion. She has grown and changed and thrived there in every way. For an only child (in our family at least; thankfully she has three birthsiblings that she knows and loves and sees often, but obviously they don't live with her), having friends to play with, talk to, learn with, walk with, fight with, make up with, laugh with, and share her days among is invaluable. I'm so grateful for our time there. I'm excited for next year (she's going to a pre-school in the neighborhood, and her friends, only one of which is a close neighbor, are going elsewhere), but I will miss these sweet days. (I will also miss the free eight hours a week they afforded me when I don't have them this summer, but that's another story.)

The weather has alternated cold and rainy with only mildly cold and rainy. I haven't spent too much time reading in my Adirondack chairs, but when I have been out there I've been nothing short of enchanted by all the little birds that are coming to our new bird feeder — a suet feeder that keeps squirrels and bigger birds out. Black-oil sunflower seed got spilled on the porch recently and not cleaned up; the squirrels went absolutely mental after they ate it all, and attacked the plastic milk jug we've used for years to fill the feeders, and destroyed the cap to the jug, and threw the jug across the yard and down the stairs to the sidewalk, and then threw the two empty feeders off of the trees, and completely destroyed the squirrel-proof one (I have two seed feeders — one is squirrel-proof, and one is just for the squirrels) by shredding the plastic tube inside and losing half of the parts. ANNOYING. Anyway, when I went to the store to get a new squirrel-proof seed feeder, I also got the new squirrel-proof suet feeder for the smaller birds. And now we have the sweetest little bushtits and chickadees. We've always had a lot of very friendly hummingbirds. Andy told me my red feeder (not squirrel-proof) was down on the sidewalk again this morning. Hrmmmm. Obnoxious. One squirrel sits on the fence and stares at me and thwacks his tail with fury the whole time I'm out there reading. He's quite annoyed that I'm in his yard, apparently.

My roses, good lord. Too bad I can't remember what they're called. I have two different bushes and they have been nothing short of fairy-tale quality this year, I do say.

I made a barbecue-chicken chopped salad like California Pizza Kitchen's from this recipe, but I used this chili-lime chicken that I've been making about once a week since I discovered the recipe. The salad tasted EXACTLY like CPK's. Exactly. It was awesome. Andy ate it (standing, still in scrubs, watching ESPN) when he came home from work.

Him, shouting from kitchen: "This is good!"
Me, shouting from living room: "I know, it's the jicama."
Him, mouth full: "The WHAT?!?!?"

Pfffft. I used the chicken on another night to make chicken tacos with this Mexican street corn salad, a vaguely unappetizing picture of which is up there, but I assure you, oh man, it was crazy good. So, chili-lime chicken, soft tortillas, corn salad, Spanish rice (from a box, I think it was Zatarain's). Boom.

Up there as well, Molly's Granola #5, the only one I'll eat anymore, originally gifted to me by the lovely Andrea for Christmas and which I've made several times since. I use cashews, sometimes almonds, and sweetened coconut. Very, very excellent granola. Simple and plain and toasty.

And then, magic custard cake. When I made this last summer, it occurred to me that it is exactly what I always want a clafoutis to be, but never is. So yesterday morning I pitted a bunch of cherries and added them to the bottom of the pan before I poured the batter in. It worked perfectly, though next time I would use more cherries, and actually more sugar. The cherries were seriously tart, and the cake just needs to be sweeter. Maybe a pinch of salt, too. This cake is really cool. It's a little bit of work, with beating the egg whites and all, but I've never seen anything like this before, and it is really delicate and delicious.

This week, ah . . . this week. I have a whole day — today — to myself. I'm sending the 'Night, Neighborhood cross stitch pattern off to the printer. Stacey's going to start pulling the floss tomorrow. The fabric should be arriving any day. This one has taken a while because I just have so many things going on at home right now. It's almost done, we just have to get it together around here. Things are a little rough around the edges. I could use a whole day to start smoothing them out. I'll be back soon.

***It's shaving-cream paint, to play with in the bath tub :).

***The upholstered dollhouse furniture was a long-ago sweet gift from Leigh. Thank you for that, Leigh. Meems set up this Calico Critter phalanx herself. Xox

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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IMG_1657

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.

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.