Posts filed in: Family and Friends

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.

Here, There, Everywhere

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Oh, it's a bit of a blur around here these days. In the past couple of weeks we went on our vacation, Andy's mom came for a wonderful visit (that's her with my mom and Meems), we saw The Avett Brothers not just once but twice (yeah, we accidentally showed up a night early [duh], and bought more tickets, then went back again the next night, and Aunt Susie was there too!), and now I'm getting ready to take off again: In a couple of days seven of my high-school girlfriends are coming to visit, and we're going to spend the weekend at the beach. It's the first time I'll be away from Amelia for more than a few hours. I know she'll do great, and I'll try to do great! I will try. I haven't seen my girlfriends in about ten years. Beyoooooooond excited.

Try this pasta. It was awesome. I added broccolini and a touch of cream. Good.

When I get home, bulbs. Tiny duffel coats. Smallish wool coats. New dresses. Autumn. We'll talk.

***Also — I keep forgetting to say — thank you so much for all of your kind and generous comments on my last post, and all of my posts this summer (and always). I truly appreciate them. Thank you.

Then: One

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Thank you for all of your sweet birthday wishes for Amelia. Oh, but it has been a brilliant sort of blur around here the past few weeks! A lovely blur, sort of like watching a merry-go-round whiz by. Our party was so, so nice. Everyone came, all of our friends, and neighbors, and Andy's parents came from Chicago, and Amelia's birthparents and birthgrandparents were here, and my family, and lots of kids of all ages. We had gorgeous weather, and there were crabcakes (and cupcakes), and hot cider, and wall-to-wall partiers all through the afternoon, and Amelia had a blast. We did, too. I hardly took any pictures because there was just so much going on, and there wasn't room, somehow. Balloons, flowers, children, presents, people: To watch her eyes light up the way they do at all of it, for everything and everyone, is just pure magic. Oh, dear, dear girl. You love, and are so very loved.

Right now the child is crawl-herding the corgi, and that's pretty much how it goes. Around and around in circles, always the corgi fleeing, always the baby giggling. She's just beginning to walk around the furniture on her own, and many, many (many) times a day we practice marching, with me holding her hands, and her giggling, both of us marching back and forth, back and forth across the house. It's pretty awesome, this whole learning-to-walk thing. I watch her standing with her hands balanced on the sofa cushions, then letting go with one hand, then both hands, wobbling and sitting down hard. Looking over at me to see if she should cry. Aw, naw. You're doing great. Try again!

The day after Amelia's birthday felt much more like New Year's Day than January 1st ever has, to me. I was surprised at how it felt. I'm so looking forward to this next year!!! Less working. More cooking. More sewing. More playing. More outings. One is pretty cool so far!

Food, Flowers, and Friends

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Oh, we are lucky ones. Our friends Martha and Mila were here for an entire week of glorious summer days. We cooked, we ate, we laughed, we knit, we played with our baby girls, and watched them play together. We played in the pool, walked up to get waffles, went to the farmer's market, got yarn so I could teach Martha to knit (she's a natural, and making this), had a picnic in the park where we saw a wedding and watched the adorable bride and groom ride off on their bikes, drove out to the river and spent an afternoon playing in the water and sand. What a great visit. We've been friends for twenty-five years. We've only gotten to see each other twice in the past sixteen. What an incredible privilege to have them here with us. It's been my dream to have them here with us. Aw, just so happy.

We cooked good things! We made this pasta pesto salad, this spinach quiche, these pancakes, this delicious vegan chocolate cake (seriously amazing) to take to the river, and my staple dinner this summer, quinoa shrimp bowls. Originally I was inspired to make these bowls by this recipe, but I do mine a little bit differently now. I cook a cup of quinoa in 2 cups of vegetable broth. I top it with black beans from this recipe (but I also use these Cuban black beans in a pinch), this grilled corn salad (though I don't grill the corn, but just use it fresh at this time of year), broiled shrimp (just toss them, raw and peeled/deveined, with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place in a shallow pan; place under broiler for a few minutes, turning once, until pink), avocado, and sour cream. I make a bit of lemon vinaigrette from the original recipe, but it really doesn't need much. Tasty and just delicious.

After an exhilarating month of almost non-stop visitors, it's time for me to settle in for the next few weeks and get some work done (boo). Behind the scenes here we are assembling ornament kits (as some of you sequin-spotting eagle eyes have guessed!). I do have a new kit for this year! I'll tell you more about it as we get further along. Things are coming together. Thank goodness for Greta!!!!!!!!!!

M&M

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My dear Martha and Mila arrived yesterday from Boston. They're here this time for an entire week. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! So happy!

P.S.: Thank you for all of the sweet anniversary comments :) :) :) xoxoxoxoxo

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.