Oh, This and That

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This past week: a little o' this and a little o' that. Sewing a bit, knitting a bit, hand-sewing a bit, cooking a bit, just like I wanted. The weather has been so beautiful that everyone in Portland is just pretty much walking around in a haze of delight. This — this lovely, warm, sunny, crunchy, very colorful, very beautiful month — is just not what we usually get, for autumn. Usually, just as the leaves turn October-pretty, we get them for one day. And then the next day we'll have a huge rainstorm and everything will get knocked off the trees. And then everyone will rake all of the leaves in the pouring rain, and the city will come and collect them in the rain, and then that's winter. This picture-postcard autumn — well, everyone, all over town, is smiling. It makes such a difference.

I made Mimi a little lamb from a pattern in the book I Love Patchwork for her birthday. Her name is Heather. We all love her. It was really fun to make her. I embroidered a panel on the back of her skirt with a special message and the date. It reminded me that I had a stuffed Winnie the Pooh from about birth until I was about in high school. Maybe I even took him to college, I can't remember. I took him with me to horse camp at Culver Military Academy in Indiana. My third year there, I was probably fourteen or fifteen. I was roommates that year with both my first-year roommate and my second-year roommate. We had a triple dorm room on the third floor. My two roommates were as different as night and day. One was a teen beauty-pageant queen from a little town in Michigan. The other one was street-smart and edgy and snuck out every night to smoke pot with her secret boyfriend (who I would later meet again many years later when he was, totally coincidentally, dating a [different] friend of mine at our college). I loved bothmy roommates. They didn't like each other at all. The only thing they did enjoy doing together was taking my Winnie the Pooh and hurling him out the window into the quad. I would be screaming with laughter, and have to run all the way down three flights of stairs to get him before someone picked him up, and then I'd have to run back into the dorm so no one would see me with my bear. And then the girls would wait until I'd forget about Winnie for a minute, or one would distract me with talk of trail rides and hoof picks, and the other one would grab him and throw him back out the window. And everything would start again. They could not believe I still had a stuffed animal. We would be laughing so hard we couldn't talk, and I could barely run. They must have thrown him out the window twenty-five times. I was exhausted. There was nowhere I could hide him that they wouldn't find him. That bear was so threadbare and gross it didn't even look like a bear. It looked like a hairball. Which was part of the reason for all of the screaming as the bear got tossed around — no one but me actually wanted to touch him. But I really loved him. And it made me happy to see the girls getting along for any reason. To this day it sticks out in my mind as one of the funniest things that ever happened to me. The other thing I remember is saying to the beauty queen one time, "Don't you hate it when you go somewhere and you're totally wearing the wrong thing?" And she said, quite sincerely, "No. That never happens to me. I'm always wearing the right thing." Hah! Awesome! You go girl!

Okay, what else. Mimi's sweater coat. Thank you for the advice on lining the coat! It turned out that it wasn't bad at all! I laid the sweater out on the fabric and cut each shape (back, two fronts, two sleeves, hood) out with a generous 3/4" seam allowance. Then I sewed everything up with 1/2" seams. So there was plenty of ease and it just went in like a glove. I stitched the lining in, all the way to the edges, by hand, and then did the buttonholes in the lining just behind the knitted buttonholes by hand as well. I should have taken a photo of that. I'll do that. I'll get a picture of her wearing it, too. It's pretty darn cute, and now she has a cozy winter sweater. Happy! And proud. It was a pretty big project, actually!

What else. Sausage-kale soup! It was DELICIOUS! Better than the Olive Garden ;)! The recipe is here. My friend Sarah convinced me that I needed to make better use of my food boards on my Pinterest. I just had one food board at the time. When I went to take her advice and reorganize it, everything I had pinned to the board was either 1) a sweet, 2) a curry, or 3) a fish taco. Everything. That's pretty much all I had pinned. Sugar, curry, and fish tacos. Oh-kay. No wonder I never know what to eat for dinner. So I am determined to do better with this. I really think it will make life so much easier because I enjoy cooking but I am mostly pathetic at figuring out what to make. It's like my mind just blanks the moment I have to decide. It's really unfortunate. I've created a few more food boards now and I really do need to take the time to add more things to it because in the long run I think it will be a fun thing that will actually make life easier, too.

I did use the Pinterest boards to try to find another black bean soup recipe and then wound up making up one of my own. We baked the no-knead Dutch oven bread to go with it. And it was a very nice weekend fall dinner, if I do say so myself. With some butter and honey on that bread, aw yeah.

Black Bean Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 teaspoons Mexican seasoning
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 14-ounce cans of black beans, with their liquid
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon chipotle pepper sauce
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 pound broiled shrimp (toss them with some olive oil, Mexican seasoning, and salt and pepper and put them under the broiler for a few minutes, under pink), cut into bite-sized pieces
Sour cream with a little chipotle sauce stirred in

In a large soup pot, saute the jalapeno, onion, and carrots in the oil for ten minutes or so until soft. Add spices and garlic and saute for another minute. Add the black beans in their liquid, the stock, the chipotle sauce, and the molasses. Bring to a boil then turn soup down to a simmer and let simmer for 30 minutes, more if you like your beans softer (I do). Garnish with broiled shrimp and sour cream. Not bad.


Mmm, need to bake some of that bread!

My favorite bread! So glad you love it too. Mimi's sweater coat is gorgeous.

My sister has a journal she keeps with her and every week she goes through her Pinterest boards and plans her menus. She is WAY more organized than I am about it. She even goes BACK through and deletes things that she fixes that didn't work out. If you're interested she's on pinterest here: http://www.pinterest.com/bettymc75/

That OG soup is one of my faves!! You've got me craving some now!! It's going down into the 20's at night this weekend so this might be the right time to whip up a batch.

That sweater is adorable. I can't wait until I'm skilled enough at knitting to make something like that.

Amelia's sweater is beautiful, love the buttons w/red thread! And little blue sweaters are my favorite, they remind me of Peter Rabbit who I love!!! That is a great pic of the spider web, I can't seem to get them on film but I seem to never miss them w/ my face(yuck)! You never fail to make me hungry, but always for real food, I have to say you inspire me to try harder, I say that after I ate a bowl of cereal for dinner. Heather turner out sooo cute, wasn't Andy making her a mushroom or something, it's so great that she will have so many handmade things from you both, my most cherished things from childhood were the things my grandma made just for me, she is no longer here but her love is!

Now I know where our usually-lovely Tokyo October went. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

We were having a glorious October here in Michigan, but it went from 70s to 40s overnight, so we didn't really get fall. From summer to winter, whoosh!

I was thinking about what you said about not liking Halloween, and then I started hoping that as Amelia ages, you'll come to like it a little bit and maybe be inspired to create another cross stitch alphabet like the Winter one from a few years ago, only for autumn. I stitched the winter one last winter, finishing it as spring arrived, so it hasn't hung on my walls yet. December 1, up it will go. So excited!

I would just like to say thank you, Alicia. Thank you for your blog being a space of light and happiness and deep breaths on the internets. Thank you for sharing the beauty of small moments. Thank you for happy Mimi smiles, and Clover Meadow melting eyes, and Andy's amazing work on your sweet house, and the beautiful things you make, and cook, and write. Today was a kind of shitty day, but your blog has helped my faking-it-till-I-made-it finally feel real. Finally, a deep breath, and a peaceful moment. Thank you, and blessings to you and your world.

I adore your jacket you made.
I've been working downtown for the last seven weeks and I cannot believe what glorious weather we've been having.
My cubicle-mate, Darcy, makes me walk every day, so we exit near Union Station and walk down to the Willamette. We walk up one way to see the police horseys and turn to go back the other direction. It has been amazing communing with the river this fall.
We've seen Grimm being filmed around Union Station - cannot wait to see those actual scenes in an episode. One scene that had eight 'takes' involved multiple people getting on the train to Portland.
Keep your knit on.

Thanks for the recipe! I have a sausage kale soup recipe, too, that we all adore here. Kale is good stuff. And so is that sweater coat! You make everything sound so easy and that's what I love about you :) (It might take me 100 years to figure out how to line a knitted sweater :)

Oh, gosh! I slept with my baby dolls til my mid twenties!! For the last 6 or 7 years of that time, they were just propped up in the corner of my bed, but still. It was hard to remove them (though they didn't go far - just to the closet!). Also a couple of special animals that are now my childrens'. My son has a stuffed Pooh bear that he is inseparable from. He has had him from birth, and he is nearly 5. Pooh has lost most of his stuffing, and looks pretty poor, but is loved just as much. And my daughter has her beloved stuffed kitty. I think it so special when children latch onto one lovey for years.
Do you know that you have knit about 12 sweaters in the time it has taken me to knit 3/4 of one??!
Happy you are enjoying a beauty of an October! It is my favorite month, and is always gorgeous here in New England.

Beautiful girl. Beautiful sweater. Beautiful photos.

If you like pot pie, Pot Pies: Forty Savory Suppers by Beatrice Ojakangas, is a great resource.

I just made that Olive Garden soup last night! It was delicious - light, but substantive. :)

That is a hilariously funny story about your roomies at horse camp. A friend like you...PRICELESS! As usual, beautiful photos and words! Thank you ;0).

That sweater coat is unreal! When I saw the pic, my first thought was, "Alicia MADE that?!?" Wow!

Alicia, Mimi's coat is exquisite and the lining makes it that little bit more cozy. I remember Indira had one like that at the same age that my sister made it for her. The photograph of the spiders web is dazzling. I love patterns in life and I love the way you combine your patterns and prints with nature, such beauty in elegance. Katie x

Cindy Pittman says: October 23, 2013 at 09:26 PM

That IS perhaps the cutest child's sweater/coat that I have ever seen. Oh my! Won't Alicia have just stories and stories of the love that went into all her clothes and dolls and little animals and bedroom and on and on. Thank you for showing the sweetest side of life and motherhood and delighting in each moment. I'm thrilled that you are experiencing a beautiful fall.

Blessings to all,

Cindy in Texas

Oh, beautiful. You did a brilliant job with her little coat, it looks wonderful. I wish it was mine!! :-) I would wear that! I love the spiderweb, I also enjoy photographing them. As for Heather ... she's adorable. Not as adorable as that baby of yours, but still!

i love how the wallpaper mimics the treetops in the first 2 pictures. and that little sweater is just divine, the colors are super together ... your story about winnie the pooh made me a little sad though, poor little bear of little brain :(

Everything looks so good. Cozy Kitchen had a great recipe today for cocoa pasta. I've included the link. I think I want to try it.


Okay, now you're talkin'! Small world- I grew up near Culver Military Academy. We'd go swimming at the lake- Lake Maxinkuckee-a place of so many vivid summer memories, not to mention seeing the Black Stallions parading in the 4th of July parades and before the fireworks over the lake. Happy times. Wish I was there.....

Lots of beatiful photos.... Love the cardigan and need to make some bread

I love reading your blog, such an interesting and uplifting slice of life. My neighbour (I live in the UK) has just returned from visiting friends in Portland and she commented on how beautiful the weather was.
I hope the sunshine continues for a bit longer.


Oh my goodness - I too have a Winnie the Pooh who still lives with me. I got him as a baby and he became my favourite. He was good to cuddle as he was flat - he was a pyjama case stuffed with clothes and sewn up. He too was abused by friends while I was at University, although never thrown from a window. Poor, dear Winnies!

Love Mimi's sweater, I would happily wear one of those myself and I'm a big girl of almost 43. I think Mimi will always be perfectly dressed for any occasion too.
I've still got a panda bear from when I was a toddler (think it was bought for me to behave when I was having my photo taken....hah, yeah, that didn't work, I have a face like thunder on all the photos) and he is pretty worn and threadbare, all his fur has been cuddled off and he does look a bit of a fright, but I wouldn't part with him for all the world.

Hi, I'm new to your blog, but it is lovely! Love the fact that you now have a whole pinterest board for fish taco's! That is a new one for me. Also, strange but true, I love the wallpaper on the ceiling above Mimi's crib, it is beautiful, and such a lovely way to decorate. Loving all of your other lovely things too of course. xx

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About Alicia Paulson


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