Eighteen XOX

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Thank you EVER ever ever so much for all the Cooking Things and meal-planning advice! Awesome. I haven't even had a chance to check everything out, but seriously, I am inspired and excited. Yesterday I thoroughly cleaned out the two big cabinets in the kitchen (baking supplies, cans, pasta, oils, etc.). It really wasn't as bad as I thought. It just needed some TLC, which, admittedly, not much other than this big, beautiful baby girl has gotten over the past three years. I left her in the living room to her own devices most of the day yesterday while I cleaned. Seriously, she was psyched. I think she's at the perfect age to have a little less attention. She built a dolly high-chair fort, spread out every single ponytail holder and barrette we had (oh, soooo many), dumped entire baskets of Fisher Price and Calico Critters people/cars/animals all over the room, took out all the shoes and boots in her basket, took out all the hats and scarves and mittens in her other basket, rode the neighbor's electronic fire engine, watched Charlie and Lola, ate her weight in fresh fruit, "read" her magazine, had a fit when I wouldn't give her any more bubble-tea straws, and made block towers. I made breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was exhausting, all that cooking, and cleaning up after all that cooking, but pretty cool (especially since today I have everything we need). We almost never just stay home all day, ever (well, we did take a walk up to the grocery store). But anyway, it was a good day (possibly because it was also cool and cloudy and so wonderfully gray out), and I am feeling excited. After she went to bed (passed out at 6:45, actually), I added more recipes to my Paprika app, and that thing is AWESOME. More on all of this as I get more organized. But again, thank you for the commiseration and encouragement. I really needed it! I was so overwhelmed. But even in just a couple of days I've gone from panicked to pretty excited, which is so nice (for once).

Also so nice: Being married eighteen years last Sunday to my true love. Celebrated at the river, right where we started going so many long years ago, talking talking talking, then and now, and dreaming our dreams together (then and now). Driving home through the woods, sandy baby (miracle baby) sleeping in the back seat, Joan Armatrading on the radio, sun flashing hot through the trees. All I need. It's everything.

***We didn't build them, but the rock formations pictured are called cairns. Interesting and lively (as they say) debate here about them to be found here

The Plan

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Hot days, hot nights. It looks like we've been home a lot but really we've been outside, in or around water, almost daily. At home, the garden is quickly sizzling, turning from the bright greens of early summer to the pale, wispy, washed-out parchment-colors of late summer, though it's only mid. I pick the blueberries from our one little front-yard bush in the morning. Amelia comes out and takes the basket and says, "'Bye, Mummy. I going on holiday." She watches British cartoons. She eats all the blueberries before they can make it into the house.

In the kitchen, I have a new plan to start cooking things. It's called the Cooking Things plan. Yeah. It means you have to buy actual groceries and cook them instead of ordering things from Delivered Dish and/or eating out in general (getting extra salad rolls at lunchtime to bring home for dinner) or making smoothies. Yes, kitchen. You and I are going to get reacquainted. You, grocery store. I'm coming to you. And you, meal plan, YOU AND I ARE GOING TO FALL IN LOVE WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT. I will make myself love you, M.P. There is no doubt you won't even like me. At all. I've lost count of how many times I have written about this. A hundred million. I should have just copied and pasted an old post here. But this time, seriously. I'm a mother now. Mothers should be able to plan a meal more than forty-five seconds before dinnertime and do more than cut up fruit.

In no particular order, things that have to happen here include: All cabinets (not to mention all drawers and closets, but that's for another rant) need to be cleaned out and reorganized. The fridge and freezer are both in decent shape but could probably stand a swift weeding out of expired condiments and a really good scrub. My spice cabinet is completely insane, with bottles toppling and things literally stacked on top of each other, falling into pots on the stove-top (when we actually have pots on the stove-top). My pantry, my beautiful new pantry, is totally underutilized, currently holding party plates and toddler art supplies. And my recipes that I've printed out from the internet are currently in a giant ruffled (waterlogged, spattered) disorganized pile on top of the microwave and need to be curated and filed. My beautiful recipe box that I worked so hard on a few years ago actually makes me laugh-cry. I see it in the cabinet when I go to feed the dog (I do feed the dog) and it looks so long-suffering and forlorn. My cookbooks, or lord. So many cookbooks. Too many cookbooks. Get ready you, too, cookbooks. You're going to be taking a trip to Powell's very soon.

So, look above: I have tried to cook some things. I made corn salad (fresh corn kernels, a little olive oil, a diced jalapeno pepper, a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes, a quarter of a diced red onion, fresh lime juice, salt and pepper). I made blackened fish tacos (a little too blackened, dang). I made some more chocolate ice cream. I made cantaloupe agua fresca. I’m starting small. I have the Paprika app on my iPad. I have a cute shopping basket. My apron is in the laundry right now. I’m going to find a new binder. I can do this. People do this! I can do this.

Haystack Rock

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It's only an hour or so away, but it feels like a million miles. What you don't get from pictures is the smell of the ocean and the sound — the incredible volume! — of the waves. It's loud. It feels like the edge of the world. The air is always moving. Everyone is there, and everyone is so happy. The sound of children all around, and the waves, and the birds. We arrive at low tide, and walk all the way to the rock. Amelia screams and points when she sees kites. She draws a face and carries shells. She runs and runs and runs, a little tiny run, only inches per stride, around and around. Carrying buckets and dodging waves. The water flashing silver under gray skies. Fish and chips and a caramel apple. Flowers along every fence and saltwater taffy. Home by sunset, with a sleeper in the backseat and Ryan Adams on the radio. These loves. You forget how extraordinary the ordinary can be. I absolutely love Cannon Beach.

Her first time. Second time. Those were from last summer with Amelia and Andy. This one is from my trip with the girls last September. Awesome place. I want to go back again.

***Yep, that's my Ramona cardigan! And her swimming costume (as we call it) is from J. Crew.

Berry Hot

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Meems and me to Smith Berry Barn, Hillsboro, Oregon; July 8, 2015.

Yes, that's string cheese in the candle holder, "just like Mommy's."

Her dress, made here, exactly five years ago. Never, never, never give up.

Summer Circles

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Big full moon :: Pinky-pie skies :: Finished Ramona cardigan (needs blocking and buttons) and immediately started another :: Hot hot hot and yet, knitting :: Apples on my tree, and I am so charmed :: Pool day, fountain day, pool day, fountain day (with Sarah & Charlotte) :: Warm, big, beautiful, round, scrumptious golden peach of a girl I can't stop kissing :: Trying to recreate the quiche from Maurice and failing :: Chocolate frozen custard :: Andy-made ribs and Susie-made dessert :: Party-hat pattern-writing :: Streaming Wimbledon on the computer in my studio :: Listening to this thoroughly delightful podcast from my dear and beautiful friend Rebekka :: Ready for some cloudy skies and cooler temperatures :: It's possible that last picture is in my top-ten favorites of anything I have ever taken. I'm not even sure exactly why.

Hello, Heatwave

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We alternate between pool and air conditioning. The air feels, as they say, like a blanket. I know exactly which kind of fluffy wool blanket, too. Soft and thick and pale gray and vaguely fuzzy. Water, water everywhere. My yard absolutely feels like August, not June. It's dry, and there are things blowing around, dry things. There are plums already falling, and smashing, and smearing the front sidewalk and the stairs. There is brown grass and brown plants. But we have apples, for the first time, in the backyard. The Cox's Orange Pippin tree we planted I don't know how many years ago — it has apples the size of billiard balls on it, and that's a first. Usually they all fall to the ground when they're the size of golf balls. I don't know why in either case. The climbing hydrangea on the garage wall, once lush and so green it didn't look really, looks like it's hanging on for dear life now. Sigh. This is too hot.

Strangely, with the heat, over the weekend we had clouds. Don't let them fool you; it was still hot as a gray blanket. At the pool our girl is so happy, and so are we. We might have been there four or five times this week. I think I was born to be a pool bum. I think I was actually born to be a ski bum, believe it or not, but oh, right now, I love the pool so. Not that there's much bumming with a two-year-old (well, there is for Mama when Daddy's there). When he's there, I sit in the shallow water and never want to leave. My tolerance for pool time has always been high.

Back in the studio, I have an idea. Usually I have a lot of ideas and no time to work. Yesterday I had all day to work, and a bunch of party hats burst forth. So weird how that happens. I was going to do something else, actually. But then, these came out. I try to go with it. I'm thinking kit, actually. No ribbons on the hat, but elastic instead. Off to find the right kind. And poms to top.

Oaks Park

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First time at the amusement park! Cautious but confident. Went around the merry-go-round three times. Went down the big slide three times. Won two donuts and a star. Shining eyes, up for everything, so happy with what she finds of the world. and the summer. Choo-choo! Xoxo


Oaks Park, Father's Day, June 21, 2015.
One of the best days ever. I love it there.

Sweet Days

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Thank you very much for all of the comments on my last post, and for the music recommendations! I haven't had time to check them out but I plan to — thank you. Thank you also to those of you who suggested here (and emailed — my inbox is a disaster, so I can't often get back to everyone, I'm so sorry) portrait artists several months ago. I wound up having Amelia's portrait painted by Olga of Olinka Fine Art on Etsy, who I found myself while browsing Etsy for portrait artists. She did an absolutely incredible job, and was a total joy to work with. The picture I gave her (from this post) was taken a little over a year ago, but even when I took it it just looked like a painting to me, and I always meant to have it painted. I really don't know how she could have interpreted it more beautifully; I think it perfectly captures Amelia at that time and with that expression, a face I've seen a million times, tired at the end of the day, her serious, slightly melodramatic look (which I think it sort of amuses her to give), hanging out in her high chair, with the late afternoon light coming down from the west-facing windows. I love it.

We had a busy weekend, and I have more pictures, but little time! The pool is open. I find it hard to leave.

Do you like frozen custard? Try this. Crazy rich. You hardly need to eat any to be quite delighted, seriously. And I think I'm going to change that recipe so that you heat the half-and-half and the cream at the same time. Why would I have you temper the eggs with half-and-half and then add that back to the (cold) heavy cream separately? Couldn't the creams both be heated, added to eggs, then put back in the pan to heat a bit further? Trying to think of the best way not to scramble the eggs. . . . I'm no expert; please advise!

Sunshine

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Days alone with a toddler are really hard to describe. I don't know why. They're some of the absolute most exhausting and absolute most sweet days I've ever had in my life. In between those two extremes are a lot of utterly prosaic hours — the taking off of boots that are on the wrong feet; the cleaning up of water that gets carried in a soap dish to the bed; the picking up of hundreds of thousands of barrettes, doll shoes, blocks, puzzle pieces, wooden dogs, sippy cups, pieces of tape, felt pancakes, tiny saucepans, wooden boats, baby sweaters, Matchbox cars, bunny stickers, little socks, plastic wolves, and ponytail holders; the pitting of cherries and slicing of apples; the changing of diapers; the braiding of hair that's halfway down her back; the practicing of arabesques on alternate legs; the learning to skip; the learning to spin; the strapping into car seat covered in crackers; the grabbing of soy sauce bottles as they're about to be flung; the grabbing of almost everything as it's about to be flung; the recapping of markers left on the floor; the wiping of chin; the drying of tears; the putting on of Hello Kitty Band-Aids; the smothering with kisses; the getting of hugs; the taking off of pants put on backwards; the washing of dishes; the popping in of Charlie and Lola DVDs when the sun starts to sink, and all I want is a half an hour to sit and stare at the sprinkler before dinner.

She's not a stay-at-home girl. Every day, we go somewhere: the library, the bookstore, the fountain, the park, the museum, the other museum, the mall, the pool, the playground, the river, the woods, the store, a friend's house, a restaurant. We go out. She's easy. She'll go anywhere, do anything. She likes places, and parties, and people. A diaper change in the back of the car, cold milk, and some dry clothes buy us hours. She sleeps on the way home. I listen to Elizabeth Mitchell radio on Pandora and try not to sob. Children's music. I had no idea. I can't even listen to this song without bawling. I've never cried more to any music than to children's music, usually in the car while she sleeps. I look at her face in the mirror. I drive slowly down through the woods. The sunlight flashes through the trees. The birds sing up above. I drive through downtown, with the buildings and people, then back over the shimmering river, and go through the Burgerville drive-through for a fresh strawberry milkshake. It tastes like every single dream I ever had, all come true at once.

Happy, happy, happy Midsummer to you. May it be filled with everything little and sweet. Xo

Basil Fox Back in Business

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Just a quick note to let you know that dapper little Mr. Basil Fox's softie kit is back in the shop with several shirt options (even a new, 1/4" magenta gingham, which is adorable). I also added some fabric/yarn options to Maggie Rabbit (who was sold out, too, in case you were waiting for her) and Juniper Kitty. Just click on the little thumbnail photos on the product pages to see the options, and be sure to choose them from the drop-down menu when ordering!

Thank you! I'll be back soon with a post, but I'm doing some housekeeping today, so . . . working on my to-do list! :) Feels good. Xox

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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.