Winter Warming

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Oh, the days of January, I love them so. I love that the weather is cold, the garden is sleeping, the skies are gray. I love that. I love hibernating, and flannel sheets, and flannel nightgowns, and hot tea, and pretty tea mugs. I love yarn, and knitting, and television at night, and dark. I'm tired, and getting over my cold, and wanting to go slow, and wanting to go upstairs early. The house is frowsy and soft. I'm gearing up to Marie-Kondo everything in sight, but not right now. No, not right now. Right now everything is a bit droopy, and needs fresh paint, and to be vacuumed for hours. I sit and make lists, stab at the taxes, pick up take-out Indian food, read picture book after picture book after picture book at bedtime, and listen to a thousand six-year-old hopes and fears. Her warm body beside mine, we listen to the wind and rain, and talk about going to Great Wolf Lodge someday, where they have an indoor water park, and water buckets falling on your head, and pool after pool after pool of warm water. I'm in. Take me there. Let's go now.

We went to a conference with Mimi's teacher the other day and it's like . . . I could just sit there and talk about my kid all. day. long. I love her two teachers and I love her school, and love how she is thriving there. I don't love the commute, but I'm trying to learn to like it. It's long, and can be ugly if I take the busy way, which I usually don't, and then it's just plain long and slow. I've been listening to The Secret Garden audio-book (read by Finola Hughes) while I drive, but it's almost over. I think I really need to get into podcasts. I don't even know what I want in a podcast, honestly. I'm not sure where to start. And can you download them so you don't have to use data on your phone while you're listening? Or . . . how does that even work? I don't seem to know anything about anything that everyone else knows lately. Thank you in advance.

I've been thinking and working a lot on the Secret Garden projects and the bath boxes that will go with them. What I think we will do is offer two different craft projects -- one is an embroidery project (not cross stitch, just regular free embroidery, of the robin, and the key), and one is a knitting project. The embroidery project is small, about 5" in diameter and will fit and be framed in a 6" hoop (which will be included with the kit). The knitting project will include a pattern for a pair of simple handwarmers decorated with with duplicate stitch, and will include hand-dyed fingering-weight yarn for the main color of the handwarmers and also all of the small amounts of yarn you will use to duplicate-stitch the designs on top. Then, if you'd like, each project can come with the Secret Garden–inspired bath box, which will include a bar of our handmade cold-process soap, a lotion bar, a really pretty apothecary jar of bath soak, a wax sachet, and a little candle.

You may order either of the kits with or without a bath box, or you may order just the bath box. We are going to take pre-orders for all of this in the next couple of weeks, and then it will take at least six weeks for us to ship everything. It will take this long because we don't know how many orders for everything we will get and we want to make sure we can include everyone who wants any of these items. So, since the soap takes six entire weeks to cure, we will continue to make soap almost every day in anticipation of orders. We also need to order the hoops I think I want to use for the framing of the embroidery project from Europe, and they have a long turn-around time (also about six weeks after ordering). So that puts us shipping around the beginning of April, and if you've read The Secret Garden, doesn't that seem kind of like the perfect time for this? I definitely will put together a post that shows you my inspiration for all the things we're working on for this, like I did for the advent calendar. I love making those collages so much and will start working on one later this week. I can't wait.

I've watched a few of the Tidying Up episodes on Netflix. I honestly get choked up every time they thank the house. It's weirdly emotional. I would've never thought to do that but it feels very poignant. It's a really beautiful moment in the episodes, I think. I also watched the documentary Three Identical Strangers last night and that was so incredibly intense. Did anyone else see it? Man. I don't even know what to say about that. As an adoptive parent, especially, it chilled me to the bone to think that they separated those babies. Unrelated, my sister Julie got me the British TV Field Guide for my birthday and I am psyched. I should do a run-down of my favorite British TV shows (mostly mysteries and thrillers) this past year. I love Shetland, Vera, Happy Valley (OH MY WORD crazy intense), Last Tango in Halifax, No Offense, Striking Out, Acceptable Risk, and Keeping Faith. Should I tell you about those or do you already know them?

I took that moon photo during the Super Blood Wolf Moon lunar eclipse! Josh was over and he and Andy were gonna go out to the garage to play video games; they went out on the back porch and flipped out because the eclipse just happened to be almost total at that moment and we had an awesome view of it from the porch. I grabbed my tripod and put it on the back table and got a few photos of the moon right before the clouds moved in. So that's almost total eclipse right there. It was just so totally cool to see that. I'm so glad they just happened to be going outside at that moment or we would've missed it!

The sweet winter field painting is the print I bought from Jo Grundy and had framed a few years ago, and I love it so much. And that beautiful watercolor of Amelia riding the rabbit? The sweetest gift from the most lovely Emily Winfield Martin several years ago. I absolutely treasure it, and it hangs over Mimi's bed.

Advent Calendar Wrap-Up

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Oh, hello! How are you? Guys, it's been kind of a sloooow start to the year here. . . . I'm trying to get caught up with 2018 and I feel like I'm treading molasses. We've all had colds, me the worst. Feeling better now. Andy is downstairs making Autumn Woods lotion bars (which were sold out — now back in stock, if you need). We were both looking forward to having a quiet day at home working (he just got home from working four-twelves in a row at hospital) but woke up to a text from the school saying there was a major water leak at school and it's closed. Sooooooooo. They'll probably go out and find somewhere to play today. I'm going to try to play catch-up and try to collect myself, now that I can actually breathe through my nose (kind of). Such is January. It's okay.

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What I've been wanting to do is show you the rest of the treats that were in the Northern Light Advent Calendar.

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There were lots of pretty, fingering-weight mini-skeins in light, icy, starlit colors. I painted some original watercolors and sprinkled them with salt to make starbursts. Then I scanned the paintings and created some little gift tags. There were six of these, with tiny glassine envelopes.

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We made a mini lotion bar we called Pomander Ball, scented with orange and cloves. It smelled so bright and fresh, like a winter kitchen. I'm still using mine daily. Especially on my nose, which is smarting because I've been blowing it every four and a half minutes.

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There were eight rustic, lovely mother-of-pearl 1/2" buttons. With lots of blue, purple, and gray lights, I thought they would be perfect on any winter cardigan. These were nice and chunky. I love how they feel, all uneven and rough and smooth at the same time.

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I couldn't decide whether to have you open this tiny honey jar before you opened the tea or after, but we ultimately chose to make the honey December 12th's present, hoping you would guess that the 13th would deliver delicious tea. This sweet little bee-skep jar of creamed honey came from Bee-licious Honey, a local bee farm here in Portland. And the gorgeous, fragrant tea was Inland Grey from Winterwoods Tea Company. Inland Grey is an organic Earl Grey tea with bergamot oil with dried orange peel and pretty blue cornflowers. It's a pretty as it is delicious, and together I thought they made such a nice treat.

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On Christmas Day, there was a full-size skein of fingering-weight single-ply Merino. I loved dyeing these yarns for the 25th. Every one of them was different, but most were in a range of pale blues, aquas, and lavenders with splashes of pink and bright yellow. (And, unrelated, but I just wanted to show you the sweater I am working on for myself with yarn I dyed on my Merino-cashmere-nylon base. It's the Wool and Honey sweater by Andrea Mowry and it is such a fun knit:)

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Anyway, okay. So, let's get on to this: some things that were in the advent calendars that I have made more of that are now available to order in my web shop.

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Firstly, handmade stitch markers. You might remember that I showed you these from the advent-calendar reveal I did a few weeks ago. For the calendar I included five of these little rings: four non-tarnishing silver-plated markers and one brass (to mark beginning of round). My thinking was that you'd have four markers for a raglan sweater, with a special one for beginning of round. For my web shop, I'm making these in bigger collections of ten silvers with one brass. The rings are all handmade by a jeweler in the Midwest. I purchase them directly from her and decorate them with various kinds of pretty glass beads. The beads are in a random assortment of colors that I will choose for you. They fit up to a size 11 (8mm) needle. You can purchase them right here. Depending on how many get ordered, it may take me a week or so to get them out to you.

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Also in the advent calendar, I made sweet little botanical wax rings and discs like these. While I was researching lotion bars and candle molds, I kept running into several Japanese designers who were making these and I thought they were so beautiful I really wanted to try them. I love making them. Each one is unique, though sometimes I try to make several that look the same if I like what I did. Generally I would add essential oils but for the advent calendar I did not — because there were edible treats in the box, I did not want any scents from the wax rings to affect the flavor of the marshmallows, etc. (There were essential-oil-scented candles and lotion bars in the box, but they were in capped jars and tins, so the scent stayed in.) I've now made some of these lightly scented rings and discs for my shop. These are made with local beeswax, soy wax, essential oils, dried flowers and other botanicals. They have brass eyelets and are tied with various colors of French gingham ribbon. You can choose whether you would like a ring or a disc, and you can choose your scent from Lavender and Mint, Bergamot and Grapefruit, Ylang Ylang and Jasmine, and Cedarwood and Fir, or Natural Beeswax scent (no essential oils). They are $22 each. They are available here. I have three of each already made. If more than that sell, I will take pre-orders and make more next week. These would make such sweet little Valentine's presents, especially if you've recently cleaned out your closet. . . .

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Steel cut oatmeal at home. Sugar cookies. Snowy branches. Cozy quilts. Lacy legwarmers. Winter lights. My favorite part of the advent calendar was this: a collection of eight 5" x 7" postcards (and eight plain white envelopes) of my favorite original photos that evoke my love of winter days here at our place.

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It's been quite a while since I've had new postcards made and I could not be more pleased with how these came out. I took all of these photos myself, and they are professionally printed on 15 pt. satin-matte-coated paper with rounded corners. The back of each postcard is blank pale green except for my copyright line at the bottom. If you haven't written your holiday thank-yous yet, these would be perfect. They are $20 per set of 8 cards/8 envelopes and they are ready to go! They are available here.

Thank you for all of your enthusiasm for this calendar, and for your patience with me as I've strung out this reveal. I swear I meant to post these every day of December! Well, that didn't work. I truly hope that those of you who received the treats in real life enjoyed them as much as we enjoyed making them for you. We have so many new plans for 2019, and I am excited to share all my ideas with you, and so grateful that you hang out here to see them come to life. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Xox xox x o x, A.

Weekend Away

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Aw, helloooooooo out there. I feel like it's been so, so long since I've had time to be here. The holidays are so busy. New Year's always stresses me out. It was my birthday a couple of days ago. My brother-in-law's is today. My mom's is tomorrow. My sister-in-law's is the same day as mine. My other sister-in-law's is in a few days. It just goes onnnnnnnnnnnnnnn and on! Andy, Amelia, and I went to Skamania Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge for the weekend. It was really, really nice. It's about an hour east of Portland. We got there on Saturday afternoon and left Tuesday morning. It's a nice place. We splurged on a fancy suite with a fireplace. There isn't a whole lot to do there at this time of year — we took a hike on Sunday and it poured cold rain the entire time. But it was nice. We spent hours and hours in the pool and hot tubs both Sunday and Monday. I think my favorite time was floating around in the outdoor hot tub on Sunday when it was cloudy and rainy and foggy and freezing. It felt like we were in some medieval hot spring. We had it all to ourselves on Monday, literally. We were the only people in the pool all day. It was so weird to just have so much time to do nothing. I clutched a big rubber ball and just floated around aimlessly. Paddled here and there. I thought about my life and the new year and the new decade for me, thought about all the things I am happy about and all of the things I want to change about myself, all the things that worry me, all the things I want to accomplish this year. I never think this way at length but I was thinking this way in the pool. I was making lists in my head. I have so many ideas and things I want to do.

At night, we always turned in early. Andy was fighting a cold. We watched Nickelodeon shows that we never watch and it was a blast. All these kid sit-coms. I laughed out loud at every single one. Mimi stayed up late. We snuggled in the bed. The wind howled outside. It's very windy there and the wind whistled in the fireplace and against the windows. On Tuesday morning, the morning we were to leave, it was basically starting to rain ice and I couldn't see across the river we were in such a cloud . I flipped out and hustled everyone into the car because the weather report seemed to indicate things might get worse. I really did not want to get stuck out there. And honestly, I was ready to get back to regular life. Turns out that right where we were at the lodge was the worst — the road was fine. But I was still ready to go home. We drove back through the gorge through the rain and the pines, listening to Woody Guthrie singing about the Columbia River. Amelia had learned the song at school and we sing it around the house often now. When I asked her if the river was what she expected, she said no: She said she thought it would be "rolling," and made big circles with her hand. It was so adorable. Roll on, Columbia, roll on. When we got home, we found this gorgeous cake that my sister, who had been house- and pet-sitting for us, made for me. I squawked with delight. What a treat. Andy and Mimi went to the grocery store and bought stuff to make individual lasagnas and they spent the afternoon making them. We had such a nice dinner, and such a nice weekend. I feel just beyond blessed in so many ways. Andy and Amelia are literally two of the nicest, sweetest people I have ever met in my life. I love them so much.

Today it's been back to school and work for all of us. When I got home after drop-off, I realized I hadn't been alone in the house for weeks. It was quiet and clean. Luckily I had done a lot of cleaning before I left, and we'd put all our Christmas decorations away. Everything was nice. The studio and office are not nice because we're in the process of reorganizing them. But everything else was nice. I felt my shoulders dropping. I photographed all of the advent calendar treats I just haven't had time to show you yet. It felt good to get a little bit caught up. I made some things I want to put in my web shop next week. I watered my plants. I drank a cup of tea. I ordered a 2019 calendar. Then it was time to go back to school for pick-up, and then ballet, etc. But honestly, I'm so happy to be back in the routine. Hello, January. Here I am.

P.S.: I have done a lot of knitting that I need to photograph and get on Ravelry. But I did finish a little hat for Mimi and it is the Faded Splendor Tam. It actually matches her plaid coat perfectly, but she didn't bring that one on the weekend. All of the yarns I used were various fingering yarns that I dyed myself. This hat is supposed to look like a beret (we were trying to make a hat that looked like the one Annabelle wears in Mary Poppins Returns [which we've seen three times now, and it is awesome] but I think I need to block it on a plate to give it that beret shape. Alas, it's cold here and Amelia doesn't really want to take it off! I'm so pleased by that I can't bear to swipe it from her for the time it would take to block and dry it right now. But I really want to see if it can be a beret! :)

At Year's End

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Oh, the days, the lovely days! One after another, filled with light and love. I'm already missing it all, this holiday season that has been so simple and sweet and soft. I'd been meaning to get back here to update my blog last week, last sometime . . . the days rolled out and on, a blur of lights and cookies and carols and crows against the blue morning sky and I never could slow the roll long enough to take stock. Andy's sweet grandfather passed away just before Christmas. He would've been ninety-five in February. He always sang "Happy Birthday" to us, to all of his children and grandchildren and many great-grandchildren on our birthdays. I picture him with his date book and phone book, marking time and leaving these sweet singing voicemails throughout the year, year after year. Andy flew home to Chicago to be with his family in the early morning hours of December 26th, and Mimi and I spent the rest of the week curled together like fluffy kittens, snuggling under blankets watching movies, going out to the wintergreen woods for walks, trotting about downtown to see the lights and the people, going out to fancy lunches and ordering whatever we wanted, messing up every single corner of the house with our gifts and toys and treats. Bubble baths and storybooks, Christmas cookies and new nightgowns. This unexpected week where it was just us girls is one I will never, never forget. Andy got home yesterday evening and we all had a sleepy, sweet reunion. Our dear little Christmas tree is drooping and tired. The floors need sweeping, the beds need straightening, the big house and the dollhouse are basically trashed. But we have had love and joy in abundance and I am so grateful for it all.

Merry, merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, my dear friends! Thank you for all of the generosity, kindness, support, and great friendship you have shown us this year and all these many years. I hope your holiday season has been filled with light, and I wish you much love and peace and comfort and joy in these last days of the year as 2018 trails off and we collect ourselves to begin again. Thank you all for everything you give here, and for all of your indulgence in and encouragement of me. You brighten and enrich my life more than you could possibly ever know. Thank you!

Love,
Alicia, Andy, Amelia, Clover Meadow, and, last but not least, our nineteen-year-old little Bee

Jenny Lind Redux

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My mom had my childhood headboard and footboard in her garage and I got them from her recently. This was my childhood bed (here I am in it back then) that my mom and I stripped and refinished at some point when I was a kid. She brought it out when she and my dad moved from Chicago to Portland in 1998. I don't know why I didn't think to ask her about it sooner, but I had kind of forgotten all about it. Sure enough, she still had these pieces; I ordered new hook-on side-rails and a box spring and Andy put it all together for Mimi over the weekend. Mimi was downstairs playing with two gigantic bags of Barbie stuff that I found for free on Nextdoor; our class has been collecting donations for a family of refugees from Syria, and “Barbie house and toys” was on their wish list and I got so lucky to stumble upon these almost immediately after reading the wish list. Mimi knew she would be bringing these to her friend on Monday, and oh my word, no toys have ever been played with as much as those toys that were headed immediately back out the door. She had the best time. Andy and I busied ourselves with taking out the toddler bed and putting together the big bed and washing the curtains and cleaning her room. In the late afternoon, just as we were finishing, she wandered upstairs and saw the new bed and loved it. I mean, she knew it was happening, but it was really fun to have her walk in to it all having been done without her watching the progress. It felt pretty magical. I have always loved this little bed and I don't really have words to describe how sweet it is to see my little daughter excited about getting it for her own. Naturally I am now spending most free time trawling eBay for vintage Laura Ashley bed linens.

The Nutcracker was so lovely, as always. I did not take that photo of the dancing snowflakes (I found it online and it is by James McGrew) because they don't let you take pictures in there and I'm always sad because I just want to remember how pretty it is — the snowflakes are my favorite. They do have a photo-op for the kids with some of the younger dancers, all dressed up. Andy bought Mimi the tiara she picked out during intermission. Before we left the house, she found a pink flower headband and put it on, and posed with the two battery candles in front of the Christmas tree. This was all her idea and she asked me to take her picture and yeah, my heart melted into a puddle of melted snowflakes in an instant and does again, looking at this.

A few advent calendar reveals! Pretty yarn, spiced hot chocolate from Treehouse Chocolate (from Portland) and handmade vanilla marshmallows from Lil' Miss Marshmallow (also from Portland), silver-plated stitch markers with tiny beads (made by me). Andy and I also made beeswax-(from Portland!)-and-soy-(not from Portland) candles with clary sage and juniper essential oil. I hope everyone loved these things as much as we loved making them and putting them all together. Yesterday Andy and I made our very first batch of cold-process soap and it was thrilling and exciting. It really was. We had a blast. I have plans to include soap in my upcoming Secret Garden project boxes if I can get good enough at it. We used the Creamy Shea Butter Bastille Soap recipe from Simple & Natural Soapmaking by Jan Berry. I scented it with Raspberry Jam fragrance oil, colored part of it with purple Brazilian clay, both from Brambleberry. I decorated it with blackberry seeds and tiny heather flowers. I'll let you know how it turns out in six weeks. My first bars that I made at the class I took at OMSI are almost ready to use. I can't wait.

I've been on the fence about using fragrance oils, even only the phthalate-free ones, instead of essential oils but I think from now on I'm only going to use essential oils. Here is an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of both. Thoughts? Do you have strong feelings about this? I didn't think I did but I guess I might. But what to do when you want something to smell like blackberry and there’s no such thing as blackberry essential oil? First-world problem. But I find all of the soapmaking stuff intensely interesting. It kind of reminds me of learning to throw pots and then glaze and fire them. So. Many. Options. For what to make. And when it turns out how you planned it feels like a total miracle. This soap did not turn out like I planned and in some ways that was the most thrilling part. Much more soap experimenting to come. I'm really excited.

Magic Days

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Early-December-days mash-up, and I don't even know how to organize these pictures. That in itself feels accurate, nonetheless. The days are a swirl of present-gathering and preparations. I try to get my work done as early as I can (thank you for the lotion bar [and cowl pattern] orders! We are making bars and shipping them as fast as we possibly can, so you'll be seeing your orders very soon) and then I go out and have fun. There are so many special things to do. We went to The Grotto one night to see our school choir sing and wander among thousands of Christmas lights. We went to Merrywood Farm, which is just the cutest, sweetest little place, and spent a gorgeous afternoon walking in the woods and hanging around the fire drinking cider. The low, pale sun shown for a while through the pine trees and yule smoke as I sat with my feet up, listening to Celtic Christmas carols piped over the speakers. It was just so, so nice. This weekend is The Nutcracker and dinner afterwards, and Amelia has her outfit all picked out, along with her new (well, used, from eBay) pink suede fancy shoes. I'll be sure to take a picture. I haven't been good about the advent calendar reveals but I am definitely going to try to catch up with that next week now that I'm getting caught up with everything else in my life. We're having a party next weekend. The days keep rolling along. . . .

CURRENT OBSESSION:

Alicia's Winter Day Bath Soak

1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup pink Himalayan salt, fine
1 cup pink Himalayan salt, coarse
1/2 cup colloidal oatmeal (just grind rolled oats in a food processor until powdered)
1/2 cup whole milk powder
1/4 cup coconut cream powder
1/4 teaspoon rose Kaolin clay
Dried cornflowers, jasmine buds, and rose buds

You could add any kind of essential oil to this if you wanted to, but I thought it smelled so fresh and delicious all on its own I did not.

To use, spoon a few tablespoons into a teabag and hang under warm running water while filling your bath, then plop the whole bag into the tub to further dissolve. Relax and enjoy until they make you come out.

Makes enough to fill two 15 oz. bottles like these.

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Also, cutest winter book in the world: Mice Skating by Annie Silvestro (illustrated by Teagan White). I just bought this for Amelia and it is absolutely darling. About a mouse who loves winter but her friends don't. #relate

I want to totally have a dye-plant and soapmaking flower garden this year, and also plant dahlias. I'm going to put it in our neglected and frizzled raised beds. For my birthday present, Andy is going to dig it all up and add a lot of compost, etc., and try to get it ready for spring. Question: Do we wait until spring to do this? Or should we be doing something now before really cold weather comes and then let it sit until spring, or . . . ?

Amelia: "Mom, your wreath you made looks so good! It almost looks real!" (N.B.: It was real.)

December 1st through 4th, and a Lotion Bar for Winter Days

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Well, hello! It's now December 4th! Let's open the Northern Light Advent Calendar!

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For the first four days of the advent calendar, we had three mini-skeins (one with sparkle) and a pattern that I wrote specifically for hand-dyed mini skeins called the Northern Light Cowl.

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It's a perfect pattern for evening knitting on the sofa while watching a movie. It's made from repeated groups of short rows (without wraps; just turn and go), and all you need to do is set up your stitch markers and knit the repeat ninety-eight times. Then you stitch the short ends together, then pick up all of the bottom edge stitches, knit a few more rows of garter stitch, and you're done. Amelia and I wear a lot of cowls because we can't lose them and they don't have a lot of bulk in the back. I love cowls, and I hope you love this one! The pattern is available as an immediate digital download for $4 right here.

We also received the tins for our lotion bars and I've updated the inventory to reflect every single bar that is finished and ready to ship, including our newest bar, Peppermint Cream:

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I love this sweet and delicate design and it smells heavenly. It's made of local beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, a bit of lanolin, and scented with first-distill peppermint essential oil and a touch of Balsam of Peru, which has a vanilla-ish scent (since there is no true vanilla essential oil). If we sell out of what is there, we will make more, but those won't ship for another week or so, so if you are trying to get presents for Christmas please order as soon as possible so that we can get them in the mail. These would make such perfect little stocking stuffers!

I have lots of weekend pictures to show you but I wanted to post this because it's taking me so long to go through all of the photos. We had such a nice weekend. I hope your holiday season is off to a really lovely start!

Posie Winter Patterns from the Archive

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I thought I'd put together a round-up of all of my past patterns that you might want to make this winter. It's sort of trippy to look back at all of these! All of them started off as kits, but the kits (except for a couple, which are noted) are all long-since sold out. PDF patterns are available for every one of these patterns, and they are linked to through the photos and the text. People do ask if we will ever "get more" of the kits for these older patterns, and unfortunately the answer is, at this point anyway, no. We (and by "we" I mean me, and Andy, and a trusty assistant that is working for us at the time) actually put every single one of our kits together ourselves, by hand. It works for us to produce kits when a design is launched because there is a lot of interest and we have the numbers that make it possible for us to pay for all the stuff that goes into every kit, including the labor and the assembly. Once I get on to other things, I'm also usually too busy to go backwards and remake kits. As it is, I have a half-dozen ideas I'm wanting to pursue right now, and I only have so much (and it's not much) mental bandwidth available to keep things happening. . . . But I'll talk a little bit here about places I know where you can get supplies to make these things, and hopefully that will help you find what you need.

So, first off, at this time of year, I think everyone is thinking about making ornaments. I designed six collections of embroidered felt ornaments, one each year starting in 2008 with the last one coming out in 2013. I truly loved making these. All of them are made from wool-blend felt from National Nonwovens. I love this felt. Single sheets of it are available on-line at CommonwealthFelt.com. I know a lot of people sell National Nonwovens felt on Etsy, too. All of my ornaments were made with DMC floss, which is available at any craft store. I have a list of all of the felt colors and floss colors I used available here. These are not specifically sourced in the individual patterns, so you will need to consult this list if you want to get the exact same colors I did. Otherwise you can use any kind of felt you want as long as long as it is not too soft. I don't like working with very soft felt, personally. You also need to make sure that all those stitches don't just rip your felt to shreds. So get some lovely, sturdy felt and go for it.

IceSkatingAfternoon

(I guess I still have some of the old labels on these photos. Ooops. Must change that.) Anyway, above is Ice Skating Afternoon.

WalkintheWoods

Then there's Walk in the Woods.

Here is Snow Day. You'll need cross-stitch waste canvas for the mitten, which is this stuff.

SnowDay

Then there was Sweet Home. And we still have kits available for this one.

SweetHome

My personal favorite, Winter Cabin.

WinterCabin

And lastly, Night Before Christmas, with little Mimi with her dark hair! (Remember when her hair was dark like that? I seriously can't even deal with how adorable she was.)

NightBeforeChristmas

Okay. If you prefer to cross stitch, I'VE GOT YOU. If you need cross stitch supplies, try 123stitch.com. They usually have everything I need.

Winterwoods

Oh, Winterwoods ABCs. I still love this one. I designed it after we went to that cabin.

LoveAndJoy

Love and Joy was for Christmas 2016. You could easily change that 6 to an 8. This one is the first that fits easily into an 8" x 10" ready-made frame, which is nice.

FirstSnow

And then First Snow. This was the first of my seasonal series from 2017-18. Also fits in an 8" x 10" frame.

If you would like to make some softies for good little girls and boys, these do not take as long as you'd think. All patterns for all animals and clothing can be found here.

Animals

A few people have written and asked whether I am still working on the girl dolls I started earlier this spring that are based on these animal bodies. And YES, I am planning to produce those patterns and kits for the dolls and LOTS of their clothing. That is on my list for 2019, after I finish Secret Garden. That doll project is bonkers -- probably the biggest one I've ever done, and I got kind of overwhelmed by it and all of my ideas for it. But it is still happening.

Since Santa Lucia Day is coming up on December 13, you still have time to make a A Flow'ret Bright crown (and it's free!)

Flowret Bright

Lastly, if you just want to stay cozy and snuggle, try the Calicozy Quilt. We have two of them, one for me and one for Meems, and we both still use ours every single day. I'm making her a new one for Christmas for her new (well, my childhood) Jenny Lind bed (I wound up ordering bed rails and boxspring, but they haven't arrived yet).

Calicozy

Hopefully I got all of those links correct. If you have any questions, let me know and I'll answer them here. Thank you!!! XO

***Also, we will have a new winter lotion bar available next week if the tins I have ordered are correct. Stay tuned for that — I'll post it on Tuesday morning along with a couple of advent calendar reveals! Very excited.

Start the Season

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Oh, Happy Thanksgiving to you! I've been laaaaaaazy this week. We had a nice Thanksgiving here, and I hope you did, too. People brought stuff to our house and Andy and our nephew, Perry, cooked a bunch of sides so although we had dinner at our place, I think this was the first year ever that I haven't cooked a single thing. I kind of missed it but at the time I wasn't complaining. I was tired. I really had no mojo. We'd gotten all of the advent calendars mailed by Monday the 19th, and then I sort of collapsed into a deflated little balloon-like shape, with just a small puff of air keeping me three-dimensional. Amelia was off school from Wednesday through Sunday and oh my lordy it was so wonderful having her home every day. By today, we were all ready to get back to our routine, I think, but having a long weekend was bliss. She and I went to an ice-cream place for lunch and then a birthday party at a play cafe on Saturday, and it added the perfect amount of sparkle to the mostly gloomy weather we've had. I got to knit and catch up with old mom-friends of mine, which was so nice. Yesterday Mimi and Andy baked cookies and made turkey Tetrazzini and I took a bath and read soap-making books. Usually Andy and I have gone to get our tree immediately after Thanksgiving, but this year the house feels too messy, the legs feel too tired, the weather feels too rainy . . . and so we put it off.

I feel like I have so much cleaning to do. I've started so many new hobbies lately and have gotten so much new equipment for all those things, and I haven't really cleared space, proper space, for these new things. Consequently, it's seriously starting to bug me now. I just literally haven't had time to completely reorganize. I keep talking about it but I haven't done it. I'm hoping to do it in the new year. It feels like a huge project. Everything goes so fast, somehow. I frequently feel quite overwhelmed.

At night, before bed, I watch soap-making videos. Has anything in the history of the world ever been more relaxing? No. No it hasn't. I don't know what it is about them. I like to hear people ramble on about stuff, I guess, and I like looking at the texture of soap as it's poured. I love these ones and these ones. Also, these ones. If you want to learn how to make soap you watch these ones. I don't know, there are a ton out there. Just start poking around. YouTube keeps suggesting things and then I find myself engrossed. I have so many ideas now. You need a LOT of supplies to get started. I'm waiting for one more shipment of stuff (including new goggles and some blackberry seeds) and then I'm going to make my first official batch. I'm pretty excited. Andy is going to help me make space in our pantry for soap curing. I can't wait.

I took Amelia to WinCo yesterday to get a big bag of cinnamon and some applesauce and glue to make cinnamon ornaments. I don't usually shop in big grocery stores like that, and I definitely don't shop in stores like that with a kid who no longer rides in a (absolutely enormous) cart. It was seriously stressful. She kept wandering away to look at things despite my admonitions to stay with me, and I was looking for things because I'd never been in that store before and I didn't know where anything was, and the combination was lame. It's a weird age where they're too big to be contained but too little to totally stay in control of themselves where there is candy and toys and all sorts of junk all over the place. She was loving it, I was stressed. I was in a neighborhood that I don't normally go to, either, and it's just funny how all of those things added up to being something I doubt I'll repeat. Especially now that the holiday season is starting, I think this was a good reminder to me to really pick and choose how to interact with the world over the next month or so. I never really think about stuff like that, to be honest — I usually just bust my way through any and every situation as required, and it's mostly fine — but I think I'm going to actually try to be intennnnnnntional this year. I hear it's recommended. . . .

Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to making the ornaments. I've never made them before. I usually have a theme for our mantel but I don't really have one this year. I think I'll just try to do something pretty and simple.

I noticed people ordering my ornament patterns over the weekend (thank you!!!) and I am going to put together a post with all of my winter stuff in it this week so it's easy for you to find it all together if you are interested. I probably should have done all this before, but I've moving slow lately. Also, I will start revealing all of the advent calendar presents daily on December 1, so you'll hopefully be seeing me more. I'm breathing a bit easier now that it's all in the mail (and, actually, hopefully, at its destinations . . . ).

Wrapping It Up

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Well, hello there! How are you? I finally have a morning to write. This is our long day, with ballet at the end of it, and it is just plain looooooong. Ballet doesn't end until 5:00 p.m. For us, that's very late to be out of the house. We're getting used to being out when it's dark. It's suddenly dark, and cold. November! It's here.

Thank you beyond words for all of your orders for the advent calendar. I'm so grateful for your interest and your support. We are almost done wrapping every single thing and are planning to ship at the beginning of next week. It's very exciting to finally be at this point and I'm so anxious to finally start sharing the goodies here. I'm already working on my next project, which will be inspired by the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is such a beloved book. The version illustrated by Inga Moore is just so extraordinary. Andy, Amelia, and I have been listening to the audio version read by Finola Hughes, and I seriously can't recommend it enough. She does an amazing job. And I am one of those weird people who really just can't get into audiobooks. But this one is totally on point. I love it.

I drew a new embroidery design inspired by the story, and worked it over the weekend, and I just loved doing it. Almost the entire thing is done in a single ply of DMC floss. It was such a cool experience to watch Mr. Robin come to life stitch by stitch by stitch. I didn't think I could do something so naturalistic but it sort of happened like magic. It's honestly easy! You just do it! This design will be available as a kit that is part of another treat box later this spring. (It will also be available as a stand-alone kit.) I'm also planning to do a yarn/knitting version of the treat box, and I'm working on that now, too. Stay tuned. We will make a lot more of these, hopefully one for everyone who would want one. It will be smaller than the advent calendar and the items in it will not be wrapped — the wrapping of every single item in the advent calendar was absolutely bonkers, and I'm afraid that was a one-time-only experience for this crew! I literally lost track of the number of hours we spent wrapping. So this will free us up just to make more boxes. I have so many ideas. It's gonna be really fun.

I took a soap-making class at OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) over the weekend and it was really fun. Those pink moons are my first-ever bars of cold-process soap! They are made with olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, lye, almond cybilla fragrance oil, ground oatmeal, and madder root. They won't be ready for another five weeks or so. Andy and I went to the bookstore on Monday while Mimi was at her grandma's and I got a couple of soap-making books and now I'm so anxious to make so much more. I started following a bunch of soap-makers on Instagram and have been watching soap-making videos on YouTube and ohhhhhhh dear, here we go. Andy knows the signs of an obsession coming on. He says he sees one coming. I have many, so I hardly notice anymore. I've been so excited by the new things I've learned this year. This is exactly what wintertime is for.

I also started a micro granny-stitch crocheted blanket inspired by this lovely one by Deb. I, too, used Lucy's tutorial for the stitch (I chained 302 to start) and this video for the magic knot method for changing colors. I've never used magic knot before and it's pretty wonderful. You do end up with little knots on the edges but they're so small I don't care. I planning to give this to Amelia. I'm using all fingering-weight mostly hand-dyed yarns, both my own and those that I just have. My mom gave me the headboard and footboard from my childhood Jenny Lind bed. We don't have the side rails (or, for that matter, a box spring). But I think I want to try to find some of those second-hand (if they fit — are they standardized? I need the kind that hook in) and set this bed up for Amelia. Her Ikea toddler bed extends all the way to a regular twin size but it's so damn low that it's really hard to make and I seriously don't think I have ever approached that bed without stubbing my toe on that middle leg and practically fallen into the bed. I've literally kicked that thing probably a thousand times. It makes me insane. Anyway, she's six years old now and she's ready for a taller bed, and I loved this Jenny Lind when I was little. She's just starting to want to hang out in her bed before sleeping and after waking up. She has a clipboard with paper on it that she carries all over the house now and she is constantly drawing. She sits up with her little light on and draws almost every night before she falls asleep. This is just amazing to me. I don't know why. When kids just start doing stuff like this, stuff that they just decide to do with no prompting, no suggestion, no encouragement, etc., it is so exciting. It's just all them, becoming themselves. I love it. I love her.

***Oh! By the way — several people have mentioned to me that they were having trouble with my blog lately, and I was too. I opened a help ticket with Typepad and they wrote back and said that last month they "upgraded to support HTTPS — something which had been requested by many Typepad bloggers for months. Some of our more veteran bloggers like you may have links that use http instead of https in older content and so these will need to be updated to use the secure URL now that it is available." So, it turned out that the links in my template did need to be updated. I was able to figure that out and fix them, and it seems to be working fine now, but do let me know if you have any more problems and I will look into it!

****Actually, I don't know that it's fixed. It looks like all of the old photos are still calling up the http prefix. More to come on this — I've opened another ticket. UPDATE: Looks like Typepad was making further changes yesterday that were causing my old photos problems, but I'm told they've discarded those changes and are still working on a future solution. So, we'll stay tuned and I'll keep you posted. Thank you! XO, a

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.