Posts filed in: Portland and Oregon

Clackamas County Fair 2016

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Oh, it's the county fair! I'm so glad we went on Tuesday instead of tomorrow, like we almost planned to, because they say it's going to be 102 today and tomorrow. I'm so beyond over the hot weather I could literally scream. We have spent a lot of very, very hot days in the blazing sun this summer, including in Wisconsin, where naturally they were having a "very unusual" heatwave that (naturally) began the minute I arrived in the state. . . . Anyway, Tuesday — even though it wasn't technically scorching, it was hot, and I will confess that I am a little bit weary of wandering around in the sun. Understatement.

Amelia is at the age (almost four) where she doesn't want to ride in the stroller anymore (and can get herself out of it) but can't really be successfully . . . managed . . . when running free in places where there are, oh, gigantic animals, a thousand pairs of sunglasses to take off their tables, hippie jewelry within arms' reach, tractors, industrial-size fans, nipping goats, melted candle wax, etc., etc., etc., etc. I love watching all of the little dancers on the talent stage. Amelia jumps down and starts to swing. She rides the same pony (Champion) she rode last year and I race around the ring with the same-as-last-year's tears in my eyes (I don't know why, it really chokes me up to see her riding) trying to get pictures. Afterward, she climbed up onto a saddle cinched to a barrel and started "roping" the fake steer like some sort of baby pro cowgirl. The natural way she was handling the rope freaked me out. How in the world did she know to do this? Andy and I stared at each other in amazement. It was a cool moment. Candy-covered pretzels, kettle corn, huckleberry lemonade, ice cream. We are the family with iron stomachs, apparently, if the last three weeks are any indication. . . .

I love the fair, and the kids at the fair. I love the silly juggler with terrible jokes and the slightly grouchy moccasin-making man and the blacksmiths in smock-tops in the pioneer village, and the tiny dancers with their fancy costumes and their fearlessness. I love the patient animals, and the 'tweens in silver-trimmed jeans and braces sitting in camp chairs, flirting and playing cards. I love the fair moms and their 4-H broods, the grizzly old farmers standing by big metal fences, the serious farm kids grimly tugging on cows' halters as they drag their long-suffering, cud-chewing, flies-in-their-eys cattle to the show ring. I love the old barns and the light coming through the cracks in the boards, illuminating the dust in the air like a shower of stars. I love remembering my own city childhood dreaminess, how I knew things like how much land one needed in order to keep a horse at grass, that you should always pet a horse's face as if you were stroking a small bird, that you should pull his mane and never cut it. I love remembering how one or the other of my parents drove forty-five minutes each way every weekend so that I could go horseback-riding every single Sunday for five straight years. I hope that Amelia will have the chance to experience country life more often than just her yearly trip to the fair. I think she's almost old enough to do something that will help foster a love and respect for rural heritage, but I'm not sure what, or how.

Three more weeks of summer. Homestretch. I can do this!

And here are our other trips to the fair:
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Stockinette Stitcher

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Well, hello there. How are you? We're fine here. Keeping the faith, as you do. I've been knitting like a woman who has time to knit. I don't, but I've made time, and taken time. Andy Paulson, you're the greatest. I got to sit on the sofa and knit and watch movies and listen to the birds sing and drink iced tea and knit and knit and knit. I'm making Ysolda's Strokkur sweater for myself. Myself! I don't have a picture of mine yet. Mine's teal blue (!). The fair isle yoke will be dark blue, mustard, and ice blue. I measured an existing cardigan of mine for width and length (and sleeve width and length) and rewrote the pattern a bit to accommodate those modifications, and also adjust it for the row gauge I'm getting. This was all exciting enough for me. I delved deep into these numbers, and knit so much I actually punctured the pad of my index finger where I pushed the needle tip through a thousand, ten thousand times. I switched fingers and kept knitting. If only the world's wounds could be salved by knitting. I never wanted to stop. I knit the whole body of the sweater (it's bottom up). I started one of the sleeves. I just kept going around and around and around. When Andy and Amelia got home, Amelia sat next to me and watched Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties and Andy made dinner. I was fine with both of those things. I needed them.

Thank you, thank you for the cozy mystery recommendations. Wowee! This next week I am going to go through every single comment and make a list of what I want to start reading. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave those comments. I really had no idea there were so many good ones out there, nor so many good resources to find them. I'll post my reading list once I put it together. I'm looking forward to this. Thank you!

I also started Amelia's birthday sweater, pictured in the basket above. I'm using Blue Sky Fibers Extra, which is lovely yarn, though might be too warm for our climate. I've been too lazy to enter these into Ravelry, but I shall do that soon. For now I'm going to ask you another question, though: What are your favorite very soft, non-scratchy, plied, worsted-weight natural-fiber (wool or alpaca) yarns in solid (not ombre) colors? Amelia has finally started protesting wearing the things I'm knitting for her because she says they're too scratchy. . . . But I do want to find something really soft that's still wool (doesn't have to be washable — I don't mind hand washing) or alpaca, or something that has a slight halo, no sheen, and has a really pretty color palette. In worsted.

The single-ply peachy pink yarn (knitted into another Lil Shepherd) above is from my dear friend Rebekka at Camellia Fiber Company and it is so scrumptious. I love that color so much. Their yarn sells out so fast I always feel thrilled to have gotten some.

I've used Quince & Co. Lark a lot and I do like it (I'm making my Strokkur out of it), but I need even softer than that for her. . . .

I might consider cotton if it didn't actually feel like cotton, but I don't know . . . you know? I like things to have more give than cotton. On second thought, I don't like cotton. Forget the cotton. Sorry about that.

Woolfolk Far is gorgeous, but the palette is just too limited. . . . I need pretty pinks, mustard, grays, pale greenish-blues, mauves, and some warms.

Gee, I don't ask for much, do I. I know. I do.

Should you have need for a very good blueberry muffin recipe try this one. It's delicious.

Sweet Summer

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Our lives seem to have this small circumference right now. I'm not sure exactly what I mean by that but I've felt a sort of pulling in. When deciding what to do I'll choose the easiest, most do-able option, treading ground that's familiar and simple, staying in the slow lane. It feels like an instinct, some primitive reaction to the world at large (while trying to process the large, often terrible things in it, and failing, failing) making the same recipes over and over, cleaning the house, going to bed early. My days alone with Amelia are long and light and sweet; suddenly toddlerhood feels different, less about mitigating meltdowns and more about true communication, shared emotions, playing at so much make-believe, doing drawings of things ("This is a house, laughing; this is a flower, going down the stairs"), giving and getting the sweetest kisses and hugs. I've listened to almost all of the Janet Lansbury toddler-parenting podcasts in the past couple of months and they've added a lightness to my heart and sharpened my perspective on what's important to me, parenting-wise (and Andy; we see pretty much eye-to-eye on all parenting stuff). Watching Amelia play her days away is so fascinating and funny and just excellent. Listening to toddlers talking to each other is just about the sweetest thing in the world. She is no wallflower, and gravitates toward the slightly older girls, four or five years old. She walks up to them and says, "Hi! I'm Amelia! What's your name?" Then she'll look over to me and shout, "Mom! I made a friend!" Huge smile. Heart explosion into a thousand pieces of salt-water taffy, every color of the rainbow. I pray for peace for our children. All of them, everywhere.

When I've had some free time, I've been sewing a bit. The pink dress is the Hattie from Brownie Goose, and the pocket dress is Simplicity 8087 from Ashley of Lazy Daisy Jones. Super cute, and reminds me so much of the house-dresses that my grandma used to make for herself — also calicos, always simple A-line dresses with patch pockets, short sleeves, and bias-tape bindings. I don't think I ever saw my grandma in anything but a dress like this, though she preferred black and navy calicos. The fabrics were always worn so soft. I can picture them now. I wish I had a couple of those dresses now. I bought the Ann Carolyn smock pattern by Odacier for myself after seeing some really cute versions on Instagram so maybe I'll have some cute clothes too, one of these days.

Here is a meltdown: Yesterday Amelia was putting on a cute pair of mint-green jean shorts from Baby Gap and she freaked out. "Mom, the tag is in the back but the pockets are in the back! Why are the pockets in the back, Mom? Nooooo! Whyyyyyyyy? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?" Tears streaming down her face, very Nancy-Kerriganesque. Apparently the child has never seen a pair of jeans before. This is how you know you're a serious home sew-er (of mostly dresses).

The weather here has been, dare I say, practically perfect in every way. Cool. Bright. Sunny. Cloudy. Not too hot. Not too cold. If Mary Poppins and Goldilocks had a baby it would be the weather in Portland lately. Thumbs up there.

I'm starting to collect reading material and knitting projects for our cross-country train trip later this month. Cozy mysteries, and a fair-isle sweater for Amelia's birthday. Recommendations for cozy mysteries appreciated (they need to be reeeeeally cozy, and not too scary)! ***Oh, and yes, I've read almost all of Agatha Raisin! :) Love curmudgeons! Thank you!

Summer Spirit

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Oh boy. It's good. It's so good. Here, there, and everywhere. I have almost no time to work or be on my computer these days. No childcare at all, and every day at the pool for swimming lessons, then most afternoons staying afterwards to play in the pool. This is my dream, these golden-lit days, buzzing with children and water and wildness. We're on the go, and the go is good, though I can, if allowed, beach myself in the shallow end and sit for hours, hours. Hot weather is tolerable, even preferable, when I'm covered in four or five inches of sparkling turquoise water, and I find it very hard to leave the pool. There's no need. I sit and watch toddlers negotiate who's gonna get the ball and who's gonna get the pool noodle, have water poured over my legs fifty times from a plastic cup, help my girl learn to blow bubbles and lay on her back, see her enormous smile as her dad swings her around as fast as he can in the middle depth, over and over and over (he's one of those AWESOME DADS and never tires [insert starshine emoji here]). Joy radiates from her beautiful face and I just can't stop smiling. There's no photograph of this, but I'll never forget.

At home, the house waits for us to return with our damp towels, damp suits, tubes of sunscreen, snowcone-stained shirts. Every day we get home around four or five and try to find something to eat. For Father's Day I ordered Giordano's stuffed spinach and sausage pizzas to be delivered and oh, modern living, you got this one thing right, if nothing else. (I'm finding modern living and the state of the world at large to be very challenging lately.) Overnighting four frozen pizzas is ridiculously expensive but seriously, it tasted EXACTLY like home, and what a strange miracle that is. It was worth it, and the papa was psyched, so thumbs up on that, I think.

The house stays cool and clean. It reminds me of my grandparents' house in the summertime — climate controlled and quiet, the sound of the television at night playing Hallmark mysteries or Strangest Weather on Earth (I'm obsessed — and have you seen a shelf cloud lately? A haboob? Creeping ice? I find all of this ironically relaxing). After Amelia goes to bed, I put on my white nightgown and knit, two Lil Shepherds so far (and another one still on the needles), a sweet little green one for sweet baby Mae, born one week ago, above. My Christmas cross stitch was almost finished before I dropped it to knit, too [insert wide-eyed, startled-looking emoji]. I have made no moves to dismantle the stash but I do have a plan, so that's a start (I was fascinated that so many of you were feeling the same way, honestly). Sometimes I just have an urge to do something and I do it until I get it out of my system. Currently that urge is to knit and not purl anything, and also sit in some water for long periods of time while water is poured on me (see above), so things are working nicely. I try to keep it simple.

Middle of June

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The apples on our Cox's Orange Pippin apple tree are already turning red. I'm not sure if that's normal, for mid-June, but it seems early. The weather this week has been blissfully cloudy, cool, rainy, and it even hailed yesterday, but the weekend should heat up in time for swimming lessons to start next week. Amelia is excited, and practices "swimming" circles around the living room, showing me how she will blow bubbles and paddle and put her face into the water like a big girl when she gets there. This age, oh man. It is just awesome. It is busy. It is mercurial. But it is fantastic. There's just so much going on for her right now as she gains independence and confidence and grows in physical and emotional ways. When she's angry, she stomps her foot as if trying to freeze the entire kingdom (thanks, Elsa) and her fury truly blazes, hot and sure. When's she's cuddly she'll wrap every long limb around me and tuck her face deep into my neck, or put her hands on my cheeks and look into my eyes. When she's sweet, she tilts her head to the side and talks to her stuffed animals in the sweetest little mommy voice, explaining things patiently and patting heads and tummies with reassurance. When she's silly she squeals and launches herself in wild arcs around the king-size bed, flopping and jumping and bucking and kicking, trying to reach the mobile with her feet. She's very tall for her age, I think, taller than the other kids who were exactly her size when they all started playschool together last fall. Every week we measure her against the yard stick at the library, and she's grown four inches since her third birthday, eight months ago. My sunflower, stretching and swinging and singing for the sun, sweet and big and brave and true.

I made honey/garlic/butter/coconut milk shrimp for dinner, and it was delicious. I made a couple of pairs of baby-doll pajamas (from vintage Simplicity pattern #5562, c. 1982) and a couple of shirts (from vintage Simplicity pattern #5757, c. 1964) and a couple of skirts (from vintage McCall's pattern #7882, c. 1982). I made plans for a birthday dress (vintage McCall's #2661, c. 1970) and ordered some beautiful Tana Lawn (Michelle, in Blue) for it. I finally started knitting a present for a friend (more about that later). I think I may have resolved to give away almost my entire yarn stash. I feel like it's just holding me back somehow, and I can't really explain that, because it's not that big, and I did feel like I was making a good-sized dent in it this past year. But there's just something about it that isn't helping me anymore. Maybe it can help someone else. I feel like my palette and my fiber preferences have changed, and my stash is reflecting a me that was, and not the me that is. I don't even want to have a stash at all, in fact.

Weekend Ways

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Thank you ever so much for all of the kind comments about 'Night, Neighborhood and for all of the orders for the kit and pattern. Thank you, thank you. I am so thrilled that people are excited about this and can't wait to see how everyone gets on with this one. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and I think you will. I have some things to tell you about cross stitch in general and I'm going to work on a post about that soon, one that answers some questions that non-cross-stitchers might have about getting started, and some general information about stitch counts, fabrics, flosses, etc. For now, I believe all of the orders that came in last week have shipped, and we will ship everything that came in between Friday and today on Wednesday. A huge thank-you also to my intrepid assistant, Stacey. She single-handedly pulled all the floss for this kit, and packaged it, and assembled every kit itself, and processed and shipped every single order. I don't have that much time to work these days, so I concentrate solely on design and stitching and pattern writing and printing, and she does all of the hands-on work of managing our floss inventory, pulling all of the floss, all of the assembly of all of the kits, and then all the processing and shipping of orders every day. It's a pretty good system we have going, and I'm so grateful for her careful, diligent, tireless help. She'll be working on the grape harvest at the end of this summer and I won't have her help for about four months during harvest season this year (August through November), but we're hoping to get a Christmas kit happening here soon, hopefully ready by September.

I sewed a bit for Amelia yesterday, a couple of pairs of babydoll pajamas and two little swingy skirts. I will take photos and give details when I can find them all (flung, right now, all over the house). I had wanted to make her a dress for the Midsummer Festival at Oaks Park this year but I found the golden stripey one at the Hanna Andersson outlet for 40% off and it just seemed perfect. We had a nice day there, although it was a bit chilly! I'm not complaining, but it was chilly. So many hard things going on in the world; our hearts are breaking for the city of Orlando, and the LGBT community, and all people who love freedom and pursue the right to gather — and dance — in public everywhere. Have courage, have courage, spread love. My heart feels weary today. I sew and think and pray.

Sweet treats: my homemade vanilla ice cream, and a peach cobbler. I doubled the biscuity topping (for some reason, I had a box of Bisquik and I thought I'd try to use it up), which I don't necessarily recommend. It's also quite clear I have absolutely no idea how to slice fresh peaches — well, get the peach part off the pit, specifically? I truly mangled these babies, and that just wasn't pleasant. I looked at some directions on the internet that said cut it in half and twist one half off of the pit, but there was absolutely no way mine was going to come off the pit. . . . Oh well, it was still pretty delicious! Tonight we will have our new standby — the chili-lime chicken tacos with the Mexican street corn salad (links in this post). This is just too good, and it goes on the table about once a week, now.

Andy's home, and he's planning some fun activities with Meems for the day. It's cold and raining again, and I'm going to enjoy that — ride my bike out to get some lunch, read my new library book (Us by David Nichols) by myself, make some tea and sew. I don't get a lot of days like this, so I am a little excited. I try to soak it all up, and wait for my loves to get home.

Summer Starting

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Andy had a birthday over the holiday weekend and it was one of the nicest ever, I think. We went up to Multnomah Falls for lunch, which has become sort of a birthday tradition in our family. It was crawling with people (on a Saturday, in May — of course) but it's still a beautiful place and a nice lunch. Andy and our brother-in-law went to see a band on Saturday night, then Michael spent the night. I made homemade dirty-chai cinnamon rolls with this recipe for the rolls and using this filling and glaze and, oh my. Ridiculously decadent and the perfect treat for a birthday morning. We had lunch at Por Que No and then I baked a cake in the afternoon. Amelia and her friends had an almost-sleepover down the block on Sunday night while all of us parents barbecued in the backyard. We were all home by 9:00 p.m. and sleeping within the hour! Har! But happy birthday, my love. Forty-five looks very good on you, dear papa bear!

This week we're putting the finishing touches on the 'Night, Neighborhood kit, and I am thrilled about this. The floss is almost all pulled and the fabric is here. The patterns arrive tomorrow, and I am nervous; I used a new printer this time, and I'm hoping everything looks good. If it does, we'll put kits on sale next week. It's a weird time of year to launch a new product, but it just worked out this way, and this one has such a summery feel I actually think it'll be perfect. If you are looking for a good project this summer, stay tuned. I will talk a lot about this one next week. I'm so happy with how it all turned out.

Today, oh glory be, it's rainy and cool. Birds are singing, Mimi's about to take a bath, and then we'll go to the grocery store and make some kind of pasta tonight (I'm thinking bacon, chicken, and mushrooms, since it feels like fall). I have a stack of library books it would be lovely to crack. Yesterday we spent the afternoon at Ikea, playing house in the fake kitchens and living rooms for hours (I was the baby and she was the mommy), finishing the day with a fruit bowl, chocolate cake, and a cup of coffee for mum in the cafe. Highly recommend.

***Sorry I forgot the links to the cinnamon roll recipes — all fixed now. And for those who asked, those are just rock pies in the tins above. :)

Glorious Greening

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Oh, busy bees! Parties and family and friends and here, there, everywhere. We had such a nice Birthmother's Day party at our house on Saturday, went to my sister's for a nephew birthday/Mother's Day party on Sunday, and then out to my other sister's (glorious) place on the creek on Monday. I have so much to say but no time, it seems, to say it right now. I'm playing Twister, my hands and feet pointing in every possible direction as I contort and balance. I'll leave you with a delicious coconut cream pie recipe (and the cake is my old Cloudburst standby here, though I use this recipe for my chocolate cake now; make two of them for a double layer). Late spring. My goodness. Time whirls around me. Blur and wonder.

Morning Light (and Night Neighborhood)

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Oh my, the mornings! Honeygold and fragrant with apple blossoms and lilac. We moved some chairs to the front yard and that one hour, from about seven a.m. until eight, is now my favorite of the day. Andy had the whole weekend off, which rarely happens. The weather was consistently beyond glorious, which rarely happens. I said I wasn't going to make a cross stitch pattern and then five minutes later I did, which often happens. Good thing my capriciousness is so predictable. It keeps me employed. And out of trouble. More or less.

Flowers Fair

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First walk in the woods of spring, just the two of us. A Wednesday afternoon, temperature perfect. The trillium is blooming, and the yellow violets. We don't go that far, just up the trail a bit to the meadow, wandering as if we have all day, and we do have all day. Trying to catch a butterfly. Stuffing pockets full of rocks. We turn around and go back to town for ice cream when we're done. Days of green. The smell of trees. The song of birds. The soft trail. Holding hands on the sidewalk. Her little hand in mine.

About Alicia Paulson

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.