Then, Amelia.

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My heart is so full it's hard to speak. We have adopted a baby girl. We were honored and privileged to be asked by her luminous birthmother and her gentle birthfather to attend her birth. That moment, and the four days we spent in a hospital room with them and their family and friends were the most incredible, and humbling, of my entire life. This baby was born into the most beautiful circle of people I can possibly imagine, and both Andy and I are in continuous awe of their tremendous strength, courage, and incredible love. Our gratitude is boundless. Her birthgrandfather took this picture of Mt. Hood at sunrise on the morning of her birth. It made me cry when I saw it on his camera, and it makes me cry now to look at it again. It is a symbol of an auspicious beginning.

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Amelia Jolene Beatrix Paulson
October 14, 2012, at 5:42 p.m.
8 pounds, 3 ounces; 20 inches

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Welcome, welcome, welcome dear, sweet, precious, exquisite, wonderful, wonder-full Amelia. I love you more than I can say.

Brownies!

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Chocolate craving. Resulted in brownies. Which I've never, ever been good at. Until now!!! These were awesome. They're fudgy (not cakey — I don't really like cakey brownies) and salty (the original recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon salt, but I added 1/2) and not too sweet. You can add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, but Larry doesn't, and neither did I. I ate them for dinner with a giant glass of cold milk while sitting under a giant duvet with all the windows open and the October evening blowing in. Oh yeah.

Crowd-Pleasing (Fudgy) Family Brownies
from Sara Bir in The Oregonian, modified by my friend Larry Payne

Makes 16 brownies

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cold eggs, straight from the refrigerator
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Melt the butter in a high-sided saucepan over medium heat, keeping an eye on the pan so the butter does not burn. When the butter is quite hot (you may hear it sizzling or popping a bit), remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir once and set aside to finish melting while you prepare the pan.

Line an 8-inch square pan with foil or parchment paper, letting several inches hang over two opposite sides to create handles. Grease the pan and foil and set aside.

Now, stir the chocolate and butter mixture until it is smooth and the chocolate is completely melted. With a wooden spoon or with an electric mixer, beat in the sugar and salt, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. (Add the vanilla, if using.) Beat in the flour until the batter is smooth. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out with moist crumbs, not raw batter, about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack or place in the freezer until browies are cool and set. Using the parchment or foil handles, lift the brownies out of the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into squares and serve!

Fall Food

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Lots of cooking, lots of eating: Pumpkin pancakes, patitsio (we split it into two dishes and froze one), the apple pie (from the freezer, which I thawed for about 20 minutes and then baked as normal and it came out great), chicken with morels (for a Sunday night dinner-party; there wasn't any left to freeze), mashed potatoes from the potatoes from our garden, and roasted vegetables. Thank you so much for all of the freezer-food recommendations! I'm going to go through the list this week and make a few! I also made brownies yesterday. I'll show you those tomorrow.

The weather will be turning here in a few days. They say rain, rain, rain. We have half a cord of wood left from last year. It's stacked and ready to go. I'm going to try to knit exclusively from my stash for a while. The freezer is filling up. We have apples and carmel wraps. I say bring it on.

*Oh, and here is where I made the table runner, from a pattern by the Purl Bee :-)

Octobery

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I need to fuss with the garden today. It looks a wreck. Not that I know what I'm supposed to do with it. But I'd better do something or the neighbors will start complaining. That's part of having a garden in the front yard. It's everybody's garden. Though, wait, I'm the only one who works on it. Hee hee. I'm wishing I had grown a pumpkin now. I see them in the other parkway gardens around town and they are big and charming.

The leaves haven't really turned color yet, for the most part. It's been very dry and very clear. The past few days have been terribly windy, and Clover and I don't like wind at all. We're sensitive girls. They say that there will be good star watching this next week. Perhaps a trip to an open field tonight. Our house is so tree-wrapped and the neighborhood so bright it's hard to see stuff.

I'm still trying to work on my freezer food. Do you have any suggestions for good things to make that freeze well? A lot of people asked me if I was going to thaw out that apple pie I froze before baking. I don't plan to. But I've never actually done it before so I'll have to let you know how it goes.

Look at the gorgeous wedding cake my sissy made! She's amazing. I love her.

And the best randomly received magazine-selling pitch ever. We'll take a subscription to Fine Cooking. Just to prove about the no rocks.

Early Autumn

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Before the rains come, there is warm, early-autumn light. It's the best light. Oh, I love love love it.

On Sunday afternoon we wandered around up near the park near the woods. When we were tired we climbed a long hill and put the quilt under that big green canopy of leaves you see up there and were drowsy. So nice. Warm. Dappled light. The sound of leaves rustling. No talking. Just resting. Quiet. Then some dude came along and started playing the BAGPIPES. For an hour. It had to have been an hour. And when I say playing I mean practicing. Not even complete songs. Just parts. It was seriously deafening and sort of hilarious. He cleared out the park. We were too lazy to move. Portland.

Busy and Bright

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Crunch and crisp and the pink light of late September. A bit quiet-feeling lately. I am busy, and hopeful, and anxious to get out into the woods. Maybe this weekend. I'd like to lay on a blanket under a tree and read for hours, with my head on my love's stomach, and my little dog's chin on my ankle (that's where she likes to rest it). The days feel brief and brilliant.

Baa Ram Ewe

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I feel like my Quill is never-ending. I truly wish I had kept track of how many hours I've spent working on this thing. The tally would be an impressive answer to the question that incredulous, goggle-eyed non-crafty people like to ask crafty people: "How long did it take you to do that?" With this one I'd say [incredulously, and with (bloodshot, half-crazed) goggle eyes] THREE THOUSAND HOURS. And then that'd be the end of that. And probably the end of the friendship, because clearly I don't have time to maintain friendships. Beause of the Quill. Agh.

We went to the sheep show (that's what we call it) over the weekend. It was a gorgeous weekend here. Crisp and clear and early autumn in all ways. I bought more yarn and felt more urgency than ever to finish Quill and start something else. I need to be smarter about how I'm picking my projects. I need to pick things that I can finish while I'm still happy with them. Not things that make me want to stuff them in bags and shove them toward the bottom of the closet when I'm 84% finished. I love the Quill but I cannot seem to memorize that lace edging. I have to stare at the chart the entire time I'm knitting. Not relaxing. Each little pointy thing is twelve rows (with only six rows to memorize, not counting the purl rows). Is that a lot? I'm gonna try again. It's getting colder now. I need this thing around my neck, not in my lap.

Doubled, then.

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A frozen-food person. To that end, I made two sour cream apple pies and two butternut squash lasagnas, one (of each) to eat, and one to freeze. I wish I had had the wherewithal to take photos of the lasagnas but I was In Crisis most of the time because the kitchen is so small and there was literally not enough room to put all of the bowls and pots and pans and sheet pans and baking dishes I needed to make two lasagnas on the counter. After the one went into the oven, and the other one went into the downstairs freezer, and the kitchen got cleaned by Andy, and then the one came out of the oven, I was too lazy/busy being In Recovery in the living room to actually get off the chaise lounge thing and take a picture of it. "It was delicious!" is all I have to offer you for that one. Being a frozen-food person is a lot of work. Maybe not twice as much, exactly, but I don't know. The kitchen I have, I now realize, is not built for the double batch. It was built for teeny-tiny little 1920s flapper people. I like a challenge, though. I'll keep trying. At least there's pie.

Cloudy Fall Morning

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Cloudy, and I can almost feel water in the air for the first time in ever so long. Hallelujah. Happy dance. Suddenly, under the flat gray light, I can see the fall colors. More dancing. I harvested the onions, a couple of eggplants, my precious butternut squash, another smattering of candy-sweet tomatoes this morning. I still can't get over what those tomatoes taste like. The vegetable beds are quite worn out. I thought about watering and decided, again, to let it go. I'm not sure how much is left to take out. Sweet potatoes — I don't think they did much. Carrots — the one I pulled was about the size of one of those little yellow Ikea pencils. This garden was a great experience for me.

Out there, the sound of acorns falling from the great oaks onto the pavement and the tops of cars. It's the sound of my childhood Septembers. The constant pinging of falling acorns on Forest Avenue. We had so many ancient oak trees there, and that sound of acorns falling, and bouncing, like other sounds from that place — freight trains coming then going, the cooing of an unseen mourning dove in the morning, cicadas, another freight train — is something I feel like I never hear enough. It's a sound you don't remember you've forgotten until you hear it. And it sounds like it's all yours.

I've decided to become a frozen-food person, and this morning put frozen pizza dough and two little frozen chicken pot pies from the bakery (where I go almost every morning to get a chai — kind of a little luxury I allow myself) in the freezer. It felt kind of like the year that my friend Allyson and I decided that we were French and wore stripes and scarves and spoke only Franglais, or the time I decided that I was a ballerina, and stood, whenever still, in fifth position. Or sometimes first position. Usually fifth, so there would be no mistake. This morning I decided that I would be one of those people who cooks things like soups and stocks and chilis and curries in big batches and freezes them in clearly labeled containers, and who then, when she is hungry, takes them out and cooks them for dinner. Eureka! This actually seems do-able. I have very low expectations for myself with meal planning. But this seems do-able. I have a freezer, and electricity. I want to believe.

September mornings forever remind me of traveling around Europe when I was a lass. I pulled out my scrapbook from that trip this morning. I haven't looked at it in ages. Photo taken in September of 1990, in Berlin, when I was twenty-one.

Catch Up

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I slowed to a wander on Sunday. It felt good to be so lazy and slow. The weather has been gorgeous. Bright and dry and just generally so pleasant. Our yard has been suffering the drought. It's been months since it's rained, I think. I was watering a bit through the summer and then I got busy and stopped. Andy spent the day moving the hose around from place to place. He did an imitation of a hydrangea before and after watering that was spot on — I wish I had a video. "Before" was this sad, parched, drooping, reaching thing; "after" he was bouncing in place and looked like he was on his way to a birthday party. :-) Pretty cute. I think the yard is a bit happier now, but honestly, I'd be relieved to stop worrying about it. A good rainy day would be most welcome, but all week we're supposed to be mid- to upper-eighties, and clear as a bell.

Before the slow, we packed and shipped orders, cleaned the fridge, got some groceries, did some laundry, watched television. Every night lately we've been falling asleep before 10 p.m. I made the blueberry cake again with marionberries, and a version of this pasta for dinner, but with sage instead of rosemary. I need to get it together, and get back into my cooking routine. I feel like this happens every year at this time! I need to sit down with my cookbooks and get inspired to cook for fall. Maybe actually plan [shivers involuntarily]. I suck at that. I don't mind the cooking; it's the thinking of what to cook every day that hinders. "What should we eat?" "I don't know. What do you want?" "I don't care. What do you want?" "I don't know. Pizza?" And pizza, because unless I'm actually looking at a cookbook or a recipie or a restaurant menu it's the only food I can seem to remember. I have the palate of an eighth-grade boy now. Hrrmmmm.

Making a new little preppy-hippie quilt. It's very yang. Thinking about maybe putting together a little quilt kit this winter. I think that would be really fun.

Puppers worries so when her Andy is down in the front yard without her. . . . What if he should fall down? Or need help with the sprinkler? Or someone should walk by? Or someone and A DOG should walk by? "Could you open this thing please?"

Last year (or maybe the year before?) the dahlias were $2.50/bu. Inflation. Still, a bargain.

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.