Sugarplums

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Andy is back at work. The house is so quiet! It's just us girls here. Amelia's sleeping on my lap. I'm watching Gilmore Girls from the beginning. The Bee is looking out the window. Clover's sitting in Andy's spot. Pining. Yesterday was Andy's first day back after being home for over seven weeks. In the morning, I put Amelia down in her crib for what I thought would be just a minute while I got dressed, and she fell asleep. I grabbed the baby monitor and ran down and unloaded the dishwasher. Clover stayed in her room with her while she napped. It's the first time in Clover's entire life that she did not come downstairs with me during the day. I absolutely couldn't believe it. My sweet girl. I finished the kitchen and tidied the house and then went back upstairs. I put my hand on my heart when I saw her, still there, and gave her a behind-the-ears thank-you scratch and a big old kiss right between the eyes, then took her picture. She takes her jobs very seriously. Serious, earnest, dear, good lady.

Thank you for being so generous and lovely in your comments lately. Xoxo. Thank you. You are the nicest people.

I'm thinking about Christmas cookies. We're having a party in a week or so and I need cookies. My (gorgeous) friend Jolie sent me the Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread cookies, which are SUPER GOOD (as are her hilarious videos). So I'll make those. The Swedish Dream cookies also pictured on that plate I got at ScanFair this past weekend, and dayum those are also SO SUPER GOOD. I searched and found a few recipes on-line but I'm not sure which one to use. If you have a good one, let me know. Most call for ammonium bicarbonate (baker's ammonia), so I need to find that. I'll make some regular frosted sugar cookies, and knowing me I'll buy three rolls of Pillsbury. I'll probably make some bar cookies of some sort because those are easy and they make a lot with a little effort. I don't know what else I'm going to make. I am open to suggestions!

I did make a pretty decent curried cod with spinach from this recipe the other night. And a big bowl of Mexican hot cocoa after the child was nestled all snug in her bed. Bliss.

I've been gathering little Christmas presents for Amelia, including the sweet little hand-carved and -painted Dala horse (also from ScanFair). For her actual stocking stuffer I decided to start a silver charm bracelet for her. The one I ordered has twenty-one little links, so I thought we could get her one special charm for every year until she's twenty-one. It's really fun to think about starting entirely new traditions for her. Do you have any special traditions that you do every year? I love stufff like this.

*The mouse is Kathe Kruse; it was a gift so I'm not sure where it's from. And the little fake wood stove is from Plow & Hearth. :)

Decembery

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The past seven weeks have flown by like a team of reindeer racing through the night sky. Everyone said that would happen and everyone was so right. Amelia is so big and beautiful. Each day she is more like a baby and less like a newborn. Something else I didn't know about infants is how much personality they have, even in these early days. I laugh so many times a day at the funny things she does. She frequently seems to me as if she is auditioning for a play. The expressions that cross her face in rapid succession (we burst out laughing at how quickly they change) suggest that she is trying on every character in an already-vast repertoire of characters. There's happy baby, mad baby, worried baby, quizzical baby, curious baby, peaceful baby, hand-wringing baby (that's my favorite — the weensy hands wringing while she's sucking madly at her bottle as if it's the last bottle on earth), wise baby (that's little lips pursed into a perfect circle), silly baby, blissed-out baby, Maggie baby (that's sucking on her pacifier, like Maggie Simpson), I-got-this baby, which is all confidence and happens when she's holding her head up, and what-was-THAT! baby, when she sees something she just cannot believe.

Oh my dearest, sweetest dear girl. I spend hours sitting and just watching her breathe in my arms. She holds my finger. Her fingers play with my arm. I kiss her eyelids and trace snowflakes on her cheeks, wedge my nose into her warm neck. Sometimes I have to go out by myself to get some stuff done and then, alone in the car, driving my old familiar routes out to the post office, the fabric store, over the little mountain whose village-like view I like to treat myself to in every season, I usually cry a little bit, thinking about everything that came before, how hard it was, and how hard some things are, and how tender life is, for everyone. Everyone you meet. December, with its fog and dark trees, and delicate branches waving in the cold, and its white berries hanging heavy from wire-thin black branches waving in the cold, makes me feel soft and tearful. I wind the car through the trees. The cold air smells of cedar. The route is old but I am new. I hurry to return home even though I'm trying to go slow, to let myself go slow enough to feel it all, to settle into every mile of this journey. Every season of this life. This glowing, golden gift.

Winterlikes

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I like winter. I like wool socks and toasted oatmeal and the rocking chair in front of the fireplace and a warm little baby cheek on my chest. I like beeswax candles that smell like golden honey and glow through the evening. I like gray afternoon skies swollen with rain, and black birds that hop from fence to tree. I like nightlights that go on at dinnertime, and curry dinners that start early and end early, with Mexican hot chocolates at the end of them. I like travel shows about how Christmas is celebrated in other countries. I like piles of tiny wool undershirts and booties that don't fall off and baby blankets stacked in every room. I like tiny white lights that brighten every corner, and electric Swedish candles in every window. I like my pale gray flannel sheets. I like Medieval Christmas carols and a new stack of books about snow (I have this one and this one so far) on my night stand. I really like hours and hours of sitting with the baby in my arms, watching her tummy move up and down as she breathes, watching her rose-colored eyelids flutter as she dreams, feeling her fingers thread themselves through my fingers while she half-sleeps. I like tiny warm baby feet in my hand. I like little handmade stuffed-animals and dolls and little mice that wear sweaters and calico aprons. I like bunnies. I like plain white nightgowns with long sleeves. I like things with peppermint chips in them. I like Pillsbury sugar cookies decorated with buttercream frosting by kids. I like corgis that lean on you when they sleep, and stare longingly at you when they're awake. I like husbands that are great fathers. I like knitting with a baby asleep on my legs. And for the record, I like miracle snow, and if Brother North-wind wanted to send some this way this December, I'd do fifty pirouettes and faint with glee. Not that I want for anything at all, but . . . just saying.

*Her pink sweater and her Christmas dress, halfway done! I finished the stocking yesterday :) Yay!

'Tis the Season

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Over the river and through the woods to auntie's house we went this year, a beautiful Thanksgiving in a million different ways. I love how long Thanksgiving weekend is. You wake up the next morning and it feels like Sunday except that it's Friday. The weekend hasn't even started yet. It's so great.

I remember my mother always working on Christmas projects late into the night, trying to get them finished in time for Christmas. I totally get that now. I can't say I've ever understood that before, but I get it now. Because you have so many more ideas and so much less time. But I am trying to make two things I really love for Amelia this year: a knitted Christmas dress (which I will tell you about — I'll take another photo of it this week) and a Christmas stocking. I bought this pretty pattern from this cool Etsy shop, and had an idea to make new stockings for each of us using motifs from the sampler pattern. But in reality I might only get Amelia's done. We'll see. I guess I've never been much of a stocking person in the past, though I've made a lot of them. Andy and I haven't actually gotten any stocking stuffers for each other before, now that I think about it. I think that needs to change! :)

I'm making soup all by myself tonight so I need to run to the store. I can't believe I am this excited about going grocery shopping and cooking dinner. WOW. That's weird. I will let you know if it lives up to my skyrocketing expectations!!!

P.S. Her dress (and maybe I will get a pattern written for that someday), and her blue bodysuit :)

P.P.S. These smiles. Oh my stars up above! They light my world.

Thanks Giving

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This Thanksgiving my heart is aglow with wonder, and a gratitude greater and more humbling than anything I've ever felt. Blessings abound, even in places I'd forgotten to look. As the holiday season comes upon us once again, I wish you and your family a slow, golden-warm, bounty-filled, truly joyous weekend. Thank you for being such a beautiful and important part of my life these past many years. I am sincerely grateful for you, and every single kind word, wish, and prayer you've ever sent our way. Thank you.

With very much love from all of us here,

Alicia, Andy, Amelia, Clover Meadow, and The Bee
Xoxoxo

Settling Days

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Oh, really nice days. I still don't feel like we've quite settled in — still a lot of visits and a lot of activity at the house — but I think we're getting there. The days do go quickly, as everyone says. She is an incredibly happy, laid back, comfortable, and most placid baby. I'm constantly amazed at how at home she seems in the world. I think she's going to be one of those people. I've never really felt that way myself, so I recognize it when I see it: She lounges and cuddles and kicks and flails and stretches and sighs and, always, settles. Her tiny fingers grip my fingers. She relaxes into your arms so completely, big belly breathing, all heavy and sweet. She looks at me now with her beautiful almond-shaped eyes. In the mornings, we sit on the chaise-lounge and she stares at the big windows, up toward the trees. In the tops of the trees I see (I don't know what she sees) birds coming and going against the autumn-frosted sky. She lies on my legs and looks around at stuff and makes little noises, awake but calm. I really didn't know babies could be calm like that at this age. She seems so peaceful. And it gives me a great sense of peace, myself. My darling, darling girl. I am learning and changing every day. She is just beginning to smile a little bit. Every time she does it my heart soars across the universe. Whoosh.

For Keeping Warm

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I finally figured out the bonnet, but it did give me fits. I can't really even explain why because I can't even really remember (something about Row 11, something about decreasing 7 stitches every other row on the back). But I think I've got it down now, and this bonnet came out too big for her now anyway, so I am going to try again. Now that I understand how to make it (felt like a miracle), I think this is the perfect I-want-to-knit-but-can't-concentrate-that-well-so-please-don't-make-me project. My goal this year was to use up stash yarn, so these little pieces fit the bill. Plus, our lady doesn't have that many hats that fit her right now, so a hat that works up in just a few days is really nice. I usually knit while carrying her in the Moby. Oh how I love that thing. I don't really like putting it on (it's super dramatic; I feel like one of those gymnasts doing a floor routine with that giant ribbon thing, except that instead of twirling it I'm stepping on it and falling over), but once she's in there, I can do almost anything (except breathe). I made the bunting last year. And the heartwarmer, too (and oh how I love those things). I guess I didn't enter that pink vest on Ravelry because it's not in my projects, and I have no idea where I got the pattern or what yarn I used! Bah.

Isn't the quilt Andy made for Amelia so adorable??? Love love.

Now, the oatmeal. I saw this on Bobby Flay. Oatmeal layered with apples and raisins cooked in butter and brown sugar, drizzled with cream. Here is his recipe. It was DELICIOUS. I love oatmeal. He cooked his in milk, which I also did this time but had never done before, and I must say that it will be hard to go back to water now. I'd like to have the wherewithal to make this every morning. Ribsticking.

Saturday afternoon sunset. I long for these. We don't get many. They hit me deep. They remind me of home. Fleetwood Mac. Woodsmoke. Wooden houses. Bare trees. Brown leaves. Brown river. Orange sun out the back bedroom window. The way the train rolled through. The dry cold. The sound of crows. How I planned to live in a hollow tree. How I planned to cook over open flame. How I longed for snowfall. Up to my knees, or more.

This baby girl! She is a wonder. Life gets better every day. I am so grateful to the veterans of every war for the sacrifices they and their families have made that allow us to live in safety and security here at home. Thank you.

Sweater Weather

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These golden days. It has been absolutely thrilling to go out walking together in the neighborhood and the park. We've walked down the road to get breakfast or lunch or coffee in various places every day. It sounds so simple but it feels like more than enough. I got this cute cape this year and I love it.

As you may know, my favorite genre of movies is Christmas movies. I am beyond excited that they have already started playing them on the Hallmark Channel (favorite channel). Some people don't like that they start so early but I do! Nevertheless, it's shocking that Thanksgiving is already the week after next. I'm pretty sure we are hosting it at our house because we usually do but I haven't even given it a thought yet. Since everything takes a lot longer now I should probably start thinking. Perhaps it will be a potluck this year. . . .

Such a very lot to be thankful for. Oh my stars. Sweet girl.

Just Us Girls

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It's just us girls home today. Nice and quiet. I made chicken stew and chicken stock while my mom and sister held the baby. I think those were the first things I've cooked in weeks and weeks. Something about the kitchen reminded me that I hadn't cooked in a while but now I can't remember what it was. I'm trying to put some of my normal activities back into my days, when I can. Cooking (I honestly haven't needed to at all). Reading at night before bed (just finished Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, which was strange, and strangely readable, and for some weird reason I just couldn't put it down). Need to knit something because knitting is like my multi-vitamin. I shouldn't go without it or I become unbalanced. I literally just cannot decide what to make. That has never happened to me before. Maybe this bonnet. It would be cute with a little bound edge and ties in Liberty lawn. I have the book with the pattern somewhere. We'll see if I can actually find it.

Shine Bright

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We are each growing and changing so much every day. Outside our windows, autumn leaves shine bright — it's the prettiest autumn I can remember here in a long time.We've been getting out for a walk every day since it feels like only a matter of minutes before the rains come. Today is rather dark and quiet, which I like. I need it. I'm drowsy and flopsy and warm. The baby is drowsy and flopsy and warm. She's sleeping beside me as I write. She snorts and bubbles and wriggles in sleep, stretching her legs and curling her toes. Oh how I love this girl. I guess I'm still in my "speechless" phase. I'm so in love with all of this. Even the hardest parts of it are still so much easier than anything was, before she was here.

(Her sweater is here, and the pillow pattern is in here.)

embroidered A

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.