Posts filed in: Portland and Oregon

Little Buds

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Fairy flowers and a manor house. Tree-root-laced paths, nodding buds, and a mossy cottage tucked into the dell. It had been three years since Amelia and I were here. The last time, she was in an umbrella stroller (this is not the place for an umbrella stroller), newly walking and I was afraid to let her out lest she fall into the creek. This time she flitted and flashed between the trees, racing down the paths, dancing under the arbor, quacking at the duck, building a nest for the wood sprites who were sure to come out after we left. It's an enchanted place, for sure. The river was high and green and foggy with spring run-off. The rickety, metal bridge was up, lofted high above the water for another month or two, I would expect, so we couldn't go across to the cottage or to the fireplace. It's been, apparently, the third-wettest March on record. They said that spring was getting a late start; everything was about a month behind. No matter. I sat on a bench by the creek and she whirled and twirled around me. She knocked on the pretend door to my pretend house and I invited her in for pretend tea. She gave me pretend cookies. I gave her real kisses. I hope the spirits of dearest John and Lilla Leach, creators of this magical glade, were smiling down on this little forest fairy and her fox from above.

Her sweater, Little Buds, made almost five years ago and fitting perfectly now is, once again, detailed here.

Time of Flowers

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This is my absolute favorite time of year. I do love winter, but this time, on the far edge of winter about to tip into spring, is my favorite. The daphne is blooming. The daffodils nod, heavy with a thousand rainstorms. The sky is gray and bright, the ground soaked, the rivers high and brown. I went to Starlight Knitting Society for the first time this afternoon to get some yarn to make a sweater for Amelia's Easter dress (cutest little Laura Ashley dress that I found, used but in perfect condition, on eBay). I had parked a couple of blocks away and walked through the neighborhood to the shop. The air was deeply, darkly fragrant with wood smoke and magnolia blossoms and mud and oh, spring, you are deeply enchanting.

Thank you to every one of you for your orders and your kind words and your patience about the quilt kits. As I said in my update on the last post, I will be making more. I've already found more fabric and it is on its way. And I don't think I was able to find more than three or four of the original prints I had, if that, so this next batch will be entirely new. Now that the pattern is done I will have more time to just focus on kits, so, never fear! I will definitely do at least one more round, and I will keep you posted on this. But more than that, I just do sincerely want to say thank you, and I really will do my very best to deliver as many as I can.

This past week Stacey and I untangled all of the orders and got them organized. She went on vacation and I am going to start shipping them all tomorrow. At night I've been working on my Beatrix Blanket, although I was trying really hard to make this Anya cardigan and it just proved to be beyond me right now. I'm going to pick it back up, but I needed something easier after this week, when I also got together all of the volumes of paperwork for the accountant to do the taxes, too, etc. Bah. I need a vacation. Alas, for the next two weeks, Amelia is on vacation from preschool for spring break, so rest will not be forthcoming. But that's okay. It's spring and that is exciting. I'm not sure what we're going to do yet. It's still pretty wet, and I believe there's still a lot of rain in the forecast, so, I don't know. Lots of play dates. I feel like watching Anne of Green Gables. And making another rhubarb pie. And some egg salad. Currently it's raining so hard we can hardly hear ourselves talk.

Beatrix Blanket

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Well, hello! Apparently, it's March. The days just go so fast. . . .

Thank you for all of the sweet words and reminiscences on my last post. That was so much fun. It took forever to put together but it was really fun to do. I wish I could do cool stuff like that more often but I don't because my brain is not that organized. I made a to-do list the other day and it looked like the dog's breakfast, as they say. I'm kind of all over the place. Volleying at the net, as I say. Thwack, tennis ball. Thwack at you, another tennis ball. Backhand, forehand, through the legs. Missed that one. We all went for a long walk last weekend and got lost, and wound up wandering around randomly, eventually working (ugh, it was a slog, uphill) our way back to a favorite cafe and a club sandwich for mama, after which I felt much better about everything. Everything feels mildly reckless and scattered. My projects are coming together, but I need to keep my racket up. I feel flat-footed. Quilt kits are 75% of the way there but they're not there yet.

I love age four. I love it. She's so sweet and so dramatic and so imaginative and so, so, so sweet. Aaaaaaagh. I love her so much. Girl doesn't stand still. The only clear picture I could get of her in her new sweater was when she was trying to balance a yardstick on her head. She never stands still, or sits still, or lays still until the minute that last note is sung (I sing her to sleep every night) and we get under our covers together and I wrap my arm around her, and she literally falls asleep in less than a minute. I lay there in bed with her, luxuriating (finally stopping for a minute) in between the pale pink flannel sheets before slipping out of bed. I leave her in the big bed until Andy gets home at 9:00 p.m., and then he transfers her to her own bed long after she's fallen asleep. When I open the bedroom door, Bridget and Clover Meadow are always just on the other side of it, waiting for me. The minute Amelia is asleep the pets always come out, and seem to relax. We all go downstairs and clamber onto the couch to wait for Andy to get home. I pull out my yarn basket. I'd made a new Cricket sweater for Mimi much earlier this winter but just got around to blocking it. The Thousand Tiny Tulips sweater came out quite cute, and she loves it, and I needed that. I saw Amanda's blanket and, at almost the exact same moment, a little vintage copy of Tale of Two Bad Mice that Andy had bought me as a surprise arrived in the mail, so I decided to start a sport-weight stash blanket for Mimi inspired by its colors. The blanket is crocheted, in moss stitch, with an E hook, wide enough to fit across her toddler bed, done is horizontal stripes, each one as wide as whatever amount of yarn I have left in that partial skein. No thinking, other than choosing the next color. This is the start of my Beatrix Blanket (it's folded in half, here):

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I think this is right:

Chain an odd number of stitches the width of the blanket you'd like.

Foundation Row: Sc in the 3rd ch from the hook, *ch 1, skip next ch, sc in the next ch; repeat from * to end, turn.

Row 2: Ch 2, sc in the next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, sc in the next ch-1 sp; repeat from * to end, ending with a sc in the ch-2 sp at the start of Row 1, turn.

Repeat Row 2, changing color at the end of a row when you run out of yarn for each color, until your blanket is the desired length.

 
It feels good to make a stash blanket and use up some of this stash that has been, literally, in some cases, almost two decades in the making. I think Beatrix and I have almost the same palette, so, colorwise, this is no stretch, and immensely satisfying for that, as well.
 
***Oh, and: Mimi is wearing her Bunny Rabbit sweater, above, too, which is here.

February Flowers

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Hello dears. The wind whips around the house today. Out every window is flashing daylight and blowing branches. Something on top of the roof of the studio clanks and clanks. It's some sort of metal flap. Over and over again it's slapping against the roof. The power went out once this morning and then came right back on. Every few minutes comes a raging, howling gust. I'd better write this quick, before all electricity leaves, as it seems it surely could.

I've been tucked into the studio, spending most of my free time with floral fabrics. This is good medicine. Why should it soothe? I don't know. Thank you for your kind words and enthusiasm about the new quilt and the pending quilt-top kits! I couldn't be more thrilled, and am trying to collect so many fabrics that I want for these. They're more rare than I thought. I can't believe how beautifully they all work together, though. In the back of my mind I'm constantly thinking about how to offer these kits. The amounts of each fabric that I'm able to get are so varied. I'm not sure exactly how to display what you'll be getting, as there will be too many different arrangements to photograph each individually. Maybe I'll have to describe them in general terms and let you trust my design sense. I'm not sure yet. I'm pretty much finished with the pattern, which offers a toddler size, throw size, twin size, full/queen size, and a king size. It's been kind of fun working on all of the layout diagrams for each size. It's not all there yet but it's getting there.

February. I don't feel quite ready for it. I think we'll make Valentines today. Spread a little love around.

Birthday Dream

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Boy did I ever have a great birthday. The self-timer picture above, with the camera on the tripod, was taken just an instant before Andy blew out all of my birthday candles. We were going to do it altogether but I don't know what happened. We tried again with just three candles, one for each of us, and that time Amelia blew all of those out one note before the song was over. There was a three-fold stunned pause followed immediately by the most sheepish little "Sorry, Mom" you've ever heard in your life, and then Andy and I, on exactly the same beat, burst into huge peals of laughter. It was the funniest, sweetest, dearest thing, and I'll never forget it. I love these two so much. When it started snowing around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night, I thought I might explode with pure joy. It took Andy two and a half hours to get home on the streetcar and bus; he was giddy with delight though frozen solid when he finally walked through the door, neither of us realizing that it was even supposed to snow that day. Indeed, getting more than eight inches of snow here overnight pretty much threw the whole city into a complete state of wonder and disarray (and a few other things, I'm sure). Snow absolutely paralyzes Portland, Oregon, and this much snow hasn't fallen in this short amount of time in almost forty years. It was just extraordinary. It's still on the ground, and will be for several more days. Snow day after snow day after snow day. They hardly plow anything here, and they almost never salt. It all shuts down, and they tell you to stay home (though medical personnel never can, so Andy always has to go in, but he has had the past several days off). It's glorious. Everything's canceled, everything's quiet. The light in the house is so clear and bright I can hardly believe it's the same house. I put on the Yaktrax (bless those things — I've had them for about five years now and they have been life-changing) and we walked and walked. It's a bit colder now, and a little icy, but for the first three days it was just perfect snow — cold but not too cold, no wind, perfectly white. I mean, it was just . . . totally . . . excellent. We had lunch and hot cocoa at the bakery, went sledding at the park, hung out with all the neighbors, made waffles, ate dinner by candlelight (and thank you for all of the birthday wishes and birthday-dinner ideas; I wound up taking Nickie's suggestions of chicken à la king over rice and it was great snow-day food — thank you, Nickie!), played with the dollhouse (I'll tell you more about that later), took baths. Made miniature baskets. Hung out with neighborhood friends. Read books. Watched movies. Watched birds. Saw the full moon rise last night, and cut out old fabrics for a new quilt. I don't know. It was the best. It was just the total best. Xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo.

Moon on Their Wings

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It's Sunday night, the fourth Sunday of Advent. I'm watching The Sound of Music on network TV. The colors and the clothes, if not certain details of the interiors (Maria's room: my dream) and, of course, the songs and scenery trigger some deep holiday memory within me that I can't even identify. They play "My Favorite Things" and "Do-Re-Mi" on the children's Pandora station we listen to in the car, and, even though she's never seen the movie and has no context for the songs, Amelia always listens intently to them. They hold up. Julie Andrews's voice is comforting and confident. Would that we all had such an enchanting, capable governess in a dangerous world.

Typepad has a new function where you can upload a whole bunch of images into a blog post all at once. I flung every picture in this post at the screen in one fell swoop; they uploaded successfully, but were placed in some random order only Typepad knows. Usually I string my photos together more-or-less chronologically from top to bottom; here they lay (more or less) where they landed, and I am too tired to reorder. Happy accident! Their (dis)order seems better reflective of our life this week than any chronology I could've mustered. Wild snow-blur — more snow, more ice, lovely sunshine, long walks, lunatic child, freezing pipes, sleds and snowpants, kindest neighbors, cold hands, cold swings, tomato soup, starry nights. These days of December. Impulsively and though she has never expressed interest in such a thing I buy a used dollhouse one night on Craigslist, and first thing the next morning Andy and I, giddy with excitement (and haste over the forecasted snow), drive out to pick it up while Amelia is at school. We hide it in the basement. Coincidentally, as if channeling my suddenly appearing and rapidly filling Pinterest board of tiny teapots and miniature fireplaces, Amelia starts pointing to every dollhouse in every catalog and every picture book she sees, saying, "I want that for Christmas." I literally gawk at her. So much for the big surprise! Your wish is my command. This morning she said, "I want a wind-up cow that runs around the house. "

A wind-up . . . huh.

Me: "You're eating a lot today. Are you having a growth spurt?" Her: "No, I'm not. I'll have one when I go upstairs."

Kids and cookies and carols and Christmastime. Age four is truly magical. It's all just starting to sink in, and I marvel each time, at each holiday or event, at both their sense of wonder and their nonchalance. She liked the M&Ms I got her at intermission as much as she liked The Nutcracker; I, however, was trying not to cry as the curtain went up. The beauty! The orchestra! The snowflakes? My lord. I had forgotten. She sat on my lap in the dim theater and swayed, pivoting occasionally to throw her arms around my neck and lay her head on my chest, yawning dramatically. My heart, my heart. At bedtime, by the glow of the twinkle lights, she asked me again about the Mouse King, and, after much questioning, was vaguely relieved to find out that he only pretend-died, a fact I hadn't even thought to make clear from the start. Dearest, sweetest, darlingest girl. I try to get her to make ornaments for everyone and it is almost impossible. I taste-test hot-chocolate mixes and buy fabric for her pinafore. Andy makes Swedish meatballs and we eat by candlelight. The snow we've had this past week is my Christmas gift; I want for nothing. I wish you hours of love and joy as we glide into this last week before Christmas. Slow and steady. I can see my breath in the cold air. I lift a prayer into the dark for the homeless, and the hurting. Peace be with you. Peace, if only peace, on this earth.

Walks in the Woods

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Hello, dear friends. I hope you are very, very well at the end of this week. I've been mostly quiet in every way, trying to process the results of the election and find ways to think about it, listening to voices that I care about, and determined, as ever, to move forward into the future with an open mind and an open heart. On this day, Veteran's Day, I sincerely thank everyone who has served and given their lives to this great country and protected every extraordinary freedom that we get to so often take for granted. I thank every member of their families, as well, as their sacrifices are equally profound. I pray, as always, for peace and acceptance and understanding for all of us and for our children.

I'm extraordinarily tired today, and feeling flat. Daylight savings time, even this autumnal kind (in which we supposedly "gain" an hour), destroys our usual, mostly clockwork-like routine. I will never understand how one little hour can cause so much trouble. A couple of times this week, Amelia has woken up at 3:00 a.m., ready for her day. We've never been good at getting her back to sleep in her own bed after she wakes, so she comes in the big bed and then, and only then, she promptly falls asleep. I, on the other hand, lie curled around her warm body, limp as a towel on the floor except for my eyeballs, which are like that startled-looking, wide-eyed emoji guy's. Wide-awake. That, plus staying up talking way too late into the night for several nights, has got me fighting a cold I can feel coming on from somewhere far, far away. . . . I just know it's coming.

Out in the woods and in the meadow in the woods, all three of us, late last Friday afternoon. The air was so warm, the light was so mellow. There are too few of these golden days in Pacific Northwestern autumns, quite frankly, and we've had several just this week alone. What gracious balm they have been after the second-wettest October on record. On Sunday Andy had to work, and Mimi and I went out by ourselves, to a different forest on the other side of town. We brought a camp chair and a little quilt and walked to a secret viewpoint, across from which Mt. Hood rose glimmering-white in all its perfect, peaceful majesty. The woods were incredibly quiet. We only saw three other people, and one of them might have been the same guy twice (once on his way back). I sat in the chair, as per my dream of the woods. She sat facing me in my lap and we talked. Occasionally she'd put her head down on my chest and we'd just listen for birds. We heard hardly any, strangely, and no birds flew into the birdhouse ornament she'd brought from home (darn!). Sometimes we'd get up and walk again, leaving our base camp set up near the viewpoint. The woods had been muddy until we got into the pine forest. There the path is soft and dense and pinkish, and the smell of cedar comforts. Mushrooms sprouted and sat, so delicately, on pads of loamy leaves. Sticks cracked softly under our feet. Piles of acorn (?) shells at the base of several trees had us wondering. We practiced not shrieking in the woods (this has been hard to learn, but I sympathize there; it's so tempting). But I think quiet is best-practice. Quietly sitting in a chair, listening, looking — this I like. I plan to do more of it. The chair had a strap so I could carry it on my back. When set up it was only a foot off the ground, so I felt like part of the ground. Hiking is nice; sitting and watching her play her afternoon away with acorn shells and pine cones and pieces of fairy food (feathers, and mushroom gills) without getting soaking wet, now, those were some glorious hours. Highly recommend.

Peace be with you, friends. I hope you get to do something you truly love to do this weekend. We have finished all of the assembling and will be putting my new winter cross-stitch kits (and pattern) on sale on Tuesday, I think, so I will see you then, and wish you well until. Lots of love, XO, A

Almost Halloween

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Late-October glow. We go to pumpkin patches and ride hay wagons. I forget what the birds sound like over the fields in the early mornings until this, this one early morning per year that I'm here. Our house sits so squarely, so solidly within the grid of our neighborhood that I can't ever see the sunrise or the sunset for all the houses and trees. Especially in the fall, I long for the farm-fields and furrows. We drive north, to Sauvie Island: It's our annual pumpkin-patch morning with dear friends and their darling children. The fields are slick with mud. The pumpkins are past their prime, and threaten to collapse at any moment. The fog lingers, then lifts, and leaves: It's perfect. The kids squat and pull tiny worms from the ground, having a long, private toddler conversation we can't hear. We get kettle corn and carving kits and caramel apples and, afterward, we all go down to the brewpub for lunch, and I wish that every day could be this one.

Mimi requests a purple fairy princess costume. I flail my way around long pieces of polyester chiffon, wrap pipe-cleaner-crown braids with ribbon and roses, iron sheets of cellophane over soft wire wings with every type of joy I know. How long I've waited to love Halloween! She wears her costume to school on a Tuesday. I am delightedly shocked to pick her up at 1:00 to find that she is still wearing it. Wings crooked, flower crown low on her forehead, it's all held up well but for one small rip in the front of the gown, and her eyes are bright with excitement. With the school, on Wednesday, we go to another pumpkin patch. It's so muddy that I, with my reconstructed foot, can't walk on anything but the most-dry, mostly flat surfaces, trying with all my might not to face-plant in front of the entire preschool while carrying an enormous camera. I photograph them all bumping along on the hayride, Mimi waving and Andy smiling wildly. The teachers' and parents' faces are as joyous as the children's. How sweet it all is. The rain holds off and the preschoolers run around the play area. Mimi darts and races, shrieking with glee, her usual language of happiness. Riding the mini-carousel, she waves and rocks and wants to go around again. Later, four of them sit in the dried-corn sandbox, running their hands through bright-yellow kernels and I know they'd happily sit there for ages, if only it weren't almost time to go. How grateful I am to be here, listening to their voices in the corn maze and watching geese fly low overhead.

This weekend, we're hosting the neighborhood pumpkin-carving party. I've spent this afternoon making my dad's chili and chicken-with-wild-rice soup, listening to Pavement radio on Pandora with the back door flung open. It's sunny again. I remember a conversation I had with my dad the October before he passed away. He was telling me about a Halloween party he and my mom had gone to years before, before I was born. "What did you go as?" I asked him. "A secret agent," he said and we giggled, and I was filled with a sadness I could hardly bear to feel. Our neighbors are our friends, and they'll walk over with beers, bread, and salads on Sunday. Ten adults, nine kids, one baby. Along with the chili and soup, I'm making hot-dog mummies, spider-topped English-muffin pizzas, apple monsters, and pumpkin cupcakes for the kids. I need to figure out what I'm going to carve on my pumpkin. I hope I have enough bowls. I can't wait to have everyone here.

Dappled Apple

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Apple picking with Mimi, just the two of us, yesterday. The apples were high in the trees, and small. I love apple trees. The air was cool and dry, the noonday sun dusky and golden. After about an hour she said, "Mom, let's go home," and I had been thinking the exact same thing. The drive through the country was long and sweet. We talked and sang. We're almost never, ever home by 2:00 p.m., but yesterday we were. I peeled and chopped apples while she stirred in the sink and filled it with apple peels and mountains of dish-soap bubbles (a cheap thrill I encourage). Applesauce simmered on the stove. The house smelled like cinnamon. Today I bought an autumn door wreath, little fake red apples on dried grapevine. I knew she'd like it, and she does. It will remind me of yesterday. Xoxoxoxo.

Thaaaaaaaank you for all of your great comments on my last post. Because of them I decided to chill psychologically the way I was already, in spite of myself or my to-dos, chilling physically. It's taking longer than I thought it would to find my motivation to do my chores, or much of anything else, but I'm down with it. I am knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting! I can't believe how much I am knitting. Last weekend we went to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival with Amelia's birthgrandfather and -grandmother, who is a spinner and knitter. She made me the most gorgeous shawl for Mother's Day, using fiber from last year's festival that she spun and knit in lovely, natural shades. I need to take a photo of it, and luckily it's finally getting chilly enough that I'll be able to wear it soon. We've all gone to the festival together for the last three years, and though I don't often find yarn for myself there (there is more fleece than yarn available to buy, I think) I do come away so inspired. Sometimes I think I just want to do nothing but knit. I've been knitting so much I haven't even taken the time to photograph the things I have knit. This gorgeous, russety weather won't last, so there will be time (though perhaps no gorgeous, russety light).

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:
2015
2014
2013
2011
2010
2009
2008

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

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.