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Mornings, noons, and nights. My girl and I are early risers. Up around 5 a.m. (which is when Andy gets up to go to work), I take my shower by Christmas-tree light, and bring my trusty coffee pot and my fake candle back up to bed on the tray. Then I wait for my lady to wake. When she does, I go in and unwrap her from her swaddle and she smiles at me. Her big huge darling smile. (That's been happening for about a week. Still just can't believe she does that. It's my favorite moment of the day.) She unfolds her tiny arms and reaches up with her fists and down with her tiny toes and stretches everything. She makes her little blustering noises, tiny snorts and snuffles — it's hard to wake up. I say, "Good morning, my dear lady! What are we going to do today?" Then I pick her up and she buries her face in my neck and puts her warm hands on my chest. I kiss her neck where it's warm and soft (well, where isn't it warm and soft) and we linger here, only minutes (before she wiggles and yawps and calls for her breakfast), but for as long as she'll let me. The day begins. These lazy, busy, soft, warm, long, lovely, lovely days at the end of the lovely year with our sweet, funny, silly, snuggly, adorable, adorable, darling girl. I look into her beautiful navy blue eyes and make a wish.

***

Just a minute ago it was "snowing," small almost-flakes that Greta (miracle Posie assistant, who comes three afternoons a week and who has kept everything running like clockwork, running better than when I ran it myself, quite frankly) and I, both of us Midwestern girls, watched from the windows with pure longing. I can see why they call them flurries. Such a pretty and capricious word. The flakes swirled and fell, invisible as they hit the ground. Inside, we are cozy and keeping warm, piled under our various piles of calico, wool, and goosedown. We seem to have so many piles like that here. A pile for every room. We don't do much (well, dear Greta does, but the rest of us don't). Just sit, and snuggle, and drink, and sometimes rock in the rocking chair, maybe make some tea or hot chocolate, maybe watch Downton Abbey, maybe light a firelog or add some wood to one that's already flickering, and then go back to the downy pile. I like to turn all the sounds off and listen to the furnace sometimes. Last night, late last night, I finished The Long Winter. That book was awesome. I can't believe I'd never read it before. The scene where Almanzo and Cap are trying to make it back across the frozen slough with the sixty bushels of wheat and the horses keep falling through the snow? Ouf. The way she described Prince standing in the snow hole with his head down, waiting for Almanzo to help him again almost made me cry. MAN do I love pioneer lit. I still have to tell you about my other books. But I am so lazy.

New Year's Eve. A goodbye to the old year, even as everything here still seems so new. I still haven't really found the words to describe most of how I feel. Part of that is probably just plain old tiredness. I was generally worn out by the holidays when I didn't have a three-month-old baby. Part of it is (still) just plain astonishment. Even when I'm just thinking to myself, hearing my own voice ramble on inside me and not even trying to talk out loud, I'm still just mostly thinking, "I am astonished!" And that feeling looks like a big blue Montana sky.

Part of it is that gratitude just floods me moment to moment, and humbles me speechless. I think in prayers now, and I guess they have a language all their own.

I wish you a very, very happy and fun New Year's Eve, and a really wonderful new year.

Nicest Week

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Christmas was wonderful. Festive, joyful, fun, and so sweet, with just enough quiet to let you stop and take the quiet moments in without rushing. Christmas with this baby girl is a dream of mine come true. I think she had a wonderful time!

This week between Christmas and New Year's is one of the best. There are no expectations for it, really, other than to finish off Christmas cookies and try to clean up the house a bit. We have a whole new remodeling project starting in January. It's gonna be cool. A big built-in wall of drawers, cabinets and bookshelves, with a window seat for Amelia's big-girl room (currently the guest room). It's even going to have sconces wired in so she can sit in the window seat and read. I'm pretty psyched about this! More on that later.

For now, there is just a ton of lounging around under lots of blankets by the fireplace. Cider drinking. Clementine eating. Baby books-and-presents (so many beautiful presents!) sorting. Area-rug browsing. Movie watching. Knitting. A lot of trying to figure out what to eat and who's going to make it. Napping. Reading (I got some new books, too). Baby kissing. Baby cuddling. Baby rocking. Baby watching. A LOT of baby talking. She is "talking" like crazy. Really, the cutest thing ever.

She's also been sleeping eight hours a night for the past week. A Christmas miracle! Awesome.

I hope your week has been just wonderful. Thank you for all of your kind greetings!!! Xoxoxo

P.S. Those two portraits (at my sister's house) are of my two grandmothers, Angelina and Lucille.

Merry Bright

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*** Wishing you all a peaceful and joyous Christmas, filled with everything and everyone you love. ***

With much love and best wishes from us here,
The Paulson Family: Andy, Alicia, Amelia, Clover Meadow, and the Queen Bee

Winter Wonder

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Oh, snow! Thank you, thank you Brother North-wind!!! A million small blessings, falling on my face in the front yard, in the morning light. The most beautiful thing to wake up to.

[Pirouette, and flourish.]

All gone now, but nevermind. It was glorious.

There's a very small, very adorable baby dressed in a pale pink kimono onesie and oatmeal-colored tights lying between my legs under a crocheted blanket here on the chaise lounge. She's looking up out the big windows and talking to herself and kicking me in the stomach, which is one of my favorite things. She has long conversations with me and with herself and with the sky as she kicks and makes funny faces and balls up her fists and shoots out her arms and laughs at little things only she understands. We've been here for hours and hours today, wrapped in quilts and corgi and bottles and cups of tea. Sometimes she suddenly sleeps, or requests her bottle, but mostly we talk, and look, and sometimes I watch Christmas movies and surf Pinterest for ideas for window seats and her big-girl room (extremely fun). The furnace kicks on and goes off again. The sun comes out and disappears. The UPS man comes and goes, causing the poor puppers to lose her mind with anticipation. He often stops at our house, and brings her a treat; when he goes to someone else's (his truck is quite distinctive, so we know the second he turns onto our block) she can hardly believe her ears. We spent the weekend at parties, one ours, one our neighbors' for us, surrounded by friends and families. In the wake of such a long, sad week, it felt good to stick together and stay close to everyone we love. Under the evergreen boughs and the Christmas lights, listening to the old carols, remembering my dad and the ones who aren't here anymore, I held my baby girl in my warm arms and kissed her big pink cheeks and told her all sorts of things I wanted her to know. About good people. About snow. About good things. About joy. About love. Always about love.

Today

Today has turned into a such a sad day. My heart is breaking for all of the children and families and everyone in Connecticut, and for all victims of such terrible senseless tragedies, including my fellow Portlanders here at the shopping mall this week. My thoughts and prayers are with them. I really can't find words. I send this out as a wish for peace and comfort for all.

Early Light

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Baby Santa Lucia. She is Norwegian by birth, Swedish and Italian by adoption. What a little love. She looks like she's fake sleeping in that last photo, and she is. She was up almost all day yesterday. That's only happened once before — usually she is a very reliable napper. She chuckled out loud to herself at one point. I burst out laughing. I think that's the first time that I've really seen her actually laughing. It was quite fleeting — like a big smile that got so big it made a noise and then turned into something else. It was awesome. I hope she does it again today!

*I made her dress from this pattern (it's in French, sorry!), and her shoes were made by a local designer called Little Deer many years ago (I used to carry them in my shop, when I had it, but I don't think she's making them anymore). I made the chevron blanket from this pattern. I don't know why I never put that on Ravelry. I should do that! :)

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Outside it's cold, dark, gray, blue, windy, rainy, and wet. Inside we are warm and dry and happy. Andy's mom has been here visiting from Chicago since late Sunday night. Amelia has spent the past two days pretty much completely wrapped in her grandma's loving arms. It's been so nice to have her here.

I can see now from the photos that there has been a lot of tea drinking and napping in quilts and baby-cuddling around here. Ahhhhhhh. Yes, please.

I did make soup. And biscuits. And wrapped a lot of presents. And went out with my niece for Moonstruck chocolate milkshakes. We had a great time at the calendar store. I sewed a bit, and watched some Christmas movies, and tried to write some Christmas cards, though I didn't get too far.

Early this morning I woke up before everyone else. I crept around downstairs and started the coffee maker. I turned on the Christmas tree and let the cat out into the dark. I washed my face and brushed my teeth then made my coffee and took it back to my sofa-nest. I had on my new white nightgown, made out of the softest cotton lawn and trimmed with a pale blue ribbon, the sweetest gift from Andy's mom. The sky was just starting to get light. Tiny dark birds flitted from the branches down to the bird feeders and back up to the branches. I sat and watched my neighbors getting up and going to school and work in the blue-gray half-light. Whispy white smoke came out chimneys across the street. I thought about Amelia going to school in a few years. I got so happy and excited for her. It was a really great morning.

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!

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.