Just Us Girls

comments: 259

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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.)

Settling In

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Oh. Warm little baby hand on my chest as I write. Dreaming-baby breath on my chest. Birds and squirrels everywhere in the front yard. A riot of yellow leaves and fluttering birds. Joanna Newsom playing somewhere else in the house. Clover Meadow sleeping on the ottoman. The light rain falling. The past two days have been mostly just about us; our visitors have started to disperse and we are finding our daily rhythm alone together. Andy is home for six weeks. He has skipped more than a few vacations over many years to save up that much time off. It's so awesome, so very awesome to be able to have him here at home right now. (Actually, right now he's at the store. But, yeah.) I have the window behind me open. The air is cool and damp and gray, with birdsong and wet pavement sounds. My prayers go out to everyone on the East Coast who has been affected by superstorm Sandy.

Thank you so much for all of your incredibly kind comments these past two weeks. My heart is so full of your words and wishes. Thank you. Thank you also for commenting on Amelia's name, but I can't take credit for that! It was definitely a group effort. Her birthfather wanted her to have four names (first, two middle, last). Her birthmother picked Amelia; we picked Beatrix; and then her birthmother picked Jolene. I think they are all beautiful names and I love how her whole name came together with something from each of us.

We had our first walk up to the bakery the other day. The weather was gorgeous — cool and crisp and the leaves blazing bright. It was the first time I'd been out of the house just for whatever-time in weeks, really! I carried her in the Moby (which is where she spends most of her day) and it felt so good to stretch my legs. I think she loved it, too. Andy walked the dog with a bottle in his back pocket, just in case. We got chais and wandereded through our familiar streets together. People smiled at us, which felt strange and wonderful. We smiled back. Walked slow. Crunching leaves. No rush. No rush at all.

Magic Days

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The days are filled with so much now. They are both long and short and not like any others. Everything feels full and sweet. Amelia sleeps as I write. She is awake much more now, but at this moment: quiet, quiet. Outside the windows the season has definitely turned to fall. Our trees glow yellow and maroon and crimson red. Yesterday Andy spent the afternoon cleaning up the yard. The rains are starting today, and the sky has turned opal white. Frosted glass. The house is warm and dark. The fireplace is hard at work. The lamps are lit low, even at mid-day. From early morning until night, the bulbs glow like illuminated peaches. The baby's room is robin's egg blue with rosebud wallpaper, the slanted-ceilinged corners lit by tiny bulbs behind rose-pink shades. When I check in on her in her crib, it's like looking in on a pearl in her pearly shell.

We have the nicest, nicest family and friends I could ever hope for. People come throughout the day to catch a glimpse of my fair lady with her eyes open. They bring salads and casseroles and soups and enchiladas and emapanadas and apple cakes and gingerbread cakes and roasted chicken with potatoes. It's glorious. For lunch we quick-munch turkey sandwiches and chips; for dinner we are well taken care of by our industrious crew. I am so grateful for this kind of love.

Miss Clover Honeytoes Meadow Paulson has taken to big-sisterhood as if she were born to it. She seems to have been waiting for the chance to prove how good she can be at this. She's very, very quiet and gentle when she is anywhere near Amelia. It's kind of amazing how she just knows to be that way. I'm so proud of her. We are still quite cautious with her, and have given her plenty of space to get used to this new member of our pack (and, also, plenty of attention). But she knows what's up, I think. Clover is a gentle soul, and naturally cautious, and quietly protective. When we are in the living room and Amelia is in her cradle, Clover lies under it. I put her dog bed there after I saw her do it several times. Dog of love. Thank you to those of you asking about how she and the Bee are doing! I think the Bee is still, for the most part, completely oblivious. She comes and gets some food and some pats a few times a day, as she always has, and she's looked at the baby a few times, I think. But she's Bridget. And that's about what (and all) I expected from her!

Andy is over the moon. I'm floaty, and tired, and so happy, and wandering around in utter amazement. Still dazed. Frequently teary. So happy. Just can't believe it. I can't believe she's finally here. I really can't believe she's really here. Wow.

Sunshine Day

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Thank you, thank you. Thank you for being on this long journey with us, and for all of your kind words and sweet wishes and prayers and tears and enthusiasm and joy that this little girl has arrived in the world and in her families' — both her birth family's and her adoptive family's — arms. Andy and I are each reading every one of the comments. There is a lot of sniffling, and occasionally outright sobbing. The comments are so beautiful, each one a wish for Amelia. I always imagine all of them together sparkling like a net of stars across the sky for her, like so many stars I wished on over the years. Thank you. It has been a week filled with every emotion (I could list them, but I'm typing with one hand), and more love and happiness than I have ever known. Oh, dear, sweet, darling, darling girl. She blinks when she's awake, and looks placidly out at all of us. She purses her rosebud lips and sticks out her tongue. She claps her feet (too big already for all her socks and booties). Buongiorno, bella principessa. You had three rainbows over your house in your first week.

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

comments: 46

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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.

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.