Posts filed in: January 2007

Afternoon Delight

comments: 96

Pillowcases3 Sherbet colors. My favorite. I covet and hoard old sheets that look like summer did on my old block. Across the street lived a family with three beautiful hippie sisters. Tana, Kiki, and Mimi. The youngest was at least five or six years older than I was. They all looked like what you wanted to look like: long, blond, halter-topped, big-toothed, always laughing, always coming or going, never there for as long as you would've liked; you waited to see them, and hoped they might give you the time of day. Sometimes they did, and that kept it going. We were afraid of them, because they put on scary plays on the front porch and had lots of inside jokes and couldn't have cared less about us. They built a house for their cat, which lived outside, and when the family moved they just left him behind, and he became ours. That was Spot, who lived for years and years afterward.

Retrofabric That's what I think of, when I look at these fabrics. Sleeping-porch fabrics. Humidity fabrics. Nightgown fabrics. A party across the street. Braids and daisies. Bare feet. Oak trees. Sagging screens. Playing tennis alone for hours against a wall. How sunburn bloomed at night. Smashed lightning bugs streaked across the driveway. Someone yelling something to somebody. Longing. How we wished it would rain, but only in big, booming downpours that would flood the viaduct. We'd go sit on the fence and watch cars drive through. Some would go too fast, spraying dirty water like enormous gray wings.

A-Period

comments: 45

AmaryllisA, obviously, for Miss Amaryllis, who has finally decided to make her flamboyant and much-welcome debut in the dining room. Pretty pretty girl.

But also A for "And some other stuff." In school, my favorite period was always A- (or "announcement") period. Twelve minutes of randomness. (Did you know I also went to high school with this comic genius? He was a year younger than I, and he was hilarious then, too, in just about every school play.) Anyway, this post is kind of a hodgepodge of little things I've been meaning to tell you, but it should only take about 1.2 minutes.

Thank you for all of the eggroll-, Bears-, and Andy Paulson–lovin' yesterday. He was so excited to read all of your comments, and get more egg roll tips (I'm excited about that, too). I have to admit it was rather nice to see him out of his Bears jersey this morning (on his way back to work), since he wore it for about three days straight, having put it on directly out of the envelope, sent from Chicago by his dad. Twenty-one years since we last did the Superbowl Shuffle. It's hard not to be excited about that, even for me, who doesn't even really know who we're playing. (I thought it was the Scouts, and then someone said Colts.)

Have you heard about the Softie Awards? I'm thrilled to be one of the judges for this cool contest, which is now open to everyone who makes original softies. I just looked at some of the entries that have already come in and am blown away by the never-ending cleverness, talent, and humor of softie makers from all over the world. This is going to be really, really fun, so please go on over and check out the rules and all the info and then submit your favorite piece!

Portobello_1 I got an email the other day from Sandi who said that she was participating in a "launch" (when several designers get together and create items based on a theme) and the theme was "magazines." She decided to make a little girl's outfit inspired by my studio. Isn't this little ensemble the cutest thing (second of course to the super-cutie-patootie model)? What a confection. I'm excited that my special room inspired such a treat. Thank you, Sandi! It's really just so beautiful, and right on. (The dress, not the room. The room's a total mess, currently.)

The auction to benefit Drawbridge over at Apartment Therapy has some beautiful pieces, like this, for a good cause. And Claire is having a benefit auction for a very good cause, too. And Free Geek always needs you and your hardware.

Also, for those of you who have asked if I will be selling the dolls — weeeeeeell, I will probably be selling some dolls, but not those dolls. I'm actually going to keep those three girls for myself. But I'm sure I'll be making some more here sometime. I'm also working on more musies, and more bookbags (crazy excited about these — wait 'til I show you all my new [old] fabrics I found thrifting last week) for spring reading.

I'll definitely do a shop update in the next few weeks. Not in time for Valentine's Day — wouldn't you know it? I am totally not into V-Day, I must tell you. I don't know why. They just put too many things-you-must-do-something-for together. It's like, after the endless parade of holidays and birthdays, that thing rolls around five minutes after I've cleaned up all the stuff and it's like, Dude, enough already! Leave us alone, then! Sorry. Everyday romance, good enough for me. A paper heart glued to a doily and a little kiss — good. And several people who know me in real life have written to me gagging with disbelief that, as stated in the RH article, I actually "advocate the return of hand gloves and serving tea." My sister said, "Please! You are total Big Gulp, and sweatpants." Yes I know. I told you, I can't control these things people. We serve you Coke, egg rolls, and coffee, and encourage comfortable clothing around here, at all times, FYI. In fact, I haven't worn anything that doesn't have an elastic waistband in several weeks. If I don't finish that ripple blanket soon (you cannot crochet a ripple blanket while wearing anything other than pajama bottoms, and if someone comes to the door at two o'clock in the afternoon and sees you in your pajama bottoms and says, "Oh no! What's wrong?" you just say contentedly, "Nothing. Everything is so, so very right." 'Cause I tell you — there is no greater joy than making a ripple blanket in complete comfort) I may never wear anything else again.

keeping her in eggrolls

comments: 108

Eggroll6 Hi, girls (and boys)! It's Andy again. Alicia has been working on some stuff over the weekend and I have had it pretty much off, so I promised to "keep her in eggrolls." She thinks that sounds obscene, but I vaguely recall the priest saying ". . . in sickness and in health, through crochet patterns and in eggrolls, through the Superbowl if the Bears ever go again . . ." I could be wrong.

Eggroll1 Eggroll2

Eggroll3 Eggroll4

These are from The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook that Ali got me for Christmas. The book is already in heavy rotation. One of my favorite parts about using this book is making the trip to the Asian supermarket. I am fascinated by all the crazy seafood and strange cuts of poultry. The recipe, thankfully, doesn't call for chicken feet, but if you need those they have them there. The main thing that you need is barbecued pork, eggroll wrappers (from the freezer section), sweet-and-sour sauce (the stuff we got is called "Thai spring-roll dipping sauce"), and Chinese cabbage (though regular cabbage works, too). So here is everything you'll need:

1–2 cups of Chinese cabbage, chopped up
2 stalks of celery chopped up
about 4 inches of that barbecued pork (they, like, shrink-wrap it), cubed as small as you can
about a half a cup of cooked, baby shrimp, chopped up really small. Who are we kidding, use the whole package.
a can of bamboo shoots, chopped up
half of a can of water chestnuts, chopped up
3 tablespoons of oil
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
large pinch of salt, small pinch of pepper
the white of an egg

First, get some water boiling while you are chopping these things. Then get your eggroll skins out of the freezer. They thaw amazingly fast; by the time you need them, they'll be ready. Once the water is rolling, blanche the cabbage and celery. I throw it all in until the water starts boiling again, then drain it into a colander. While it is cooling, I chop the other stuff up. Keep the shrimp and pork separate from the veggies (which can all go together). Squeeze as much moisture out of the cabbage and celery as you can, then roll it up in a dish towel. It is important for these to be as dry as possible.

Get the oil going over medium-high heat and add the pork and shrimp, enough to get them hot. Then throw in the veggies, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir fry to get them hot. Pour this stuff back into the colander. Go check your email or something while the mixture gets cool, because you will be handling this mixture. After 20 minutes or so, it'll be ready.

Eggroll7 Next is the extremely fun part, rolling them. See the pictures above for how I did mine. You take a bit of the egg white and use it as glue, to keep the eggrolls, uh, rolled. I haven't had one break open in the wok yet (knock on bamboo). You know, you should really buy this book. It tells you all about these things and how to make all different kinds of fillings. And they have hand-drawn pictures of lots of crazy seafood and strange cuts of poultry.

Eggrolls8 Next, get the oil going in the wok. I just use vegetable oil over medium-high to high heat. Fry them like this, four at a time, on all four sides. You'll know when to turn them. When they're bubbly and brown. Use tongs instead of your hands. Trust me on that. I have experience with that.

Eggrolls10Then transfer them to a cooling rack with a paper towel under it while you fry up the rest of them. So good.

Eggrolls13 Here ya go!

Eggrolls11 Now for the hard part, finding a spot for this food on her coffee table filled with crafts in various states of completion. Goes well with that sweet-and-sour sauce from the Asian market. Oh, and I know how everyone loves the corgi, but look at what she did while we were out, see that coffee splattered all over the pattern? Picture her with her back legs on the couch and her front legs on the table drinking Alicia's coffee while looking over her shoulder to see if we're back yet. Audrey, it isn't that you aren't cute, it's just that some of the things you do aren't cute. Thankfully, she hasn't discovered eggrolls yet. (By the way, for those reading the magazine article, we don't give her any scraps!!! She is strictly a dog food/coffee dog.)

Have you ever made eggrolls? Any tips for me?

Thanks Everybody

Oh dear me, thank you peeps. You're too good to me. I'm officially completely sick of myself now and I know you must be too so I'm going to crawl off for the weekend with my ripple blanket and actually stop talking for once. Thanks, everybody. You're all just so nice. Thank you. I mean that.

Out There

comments: 171

Rhcover1 It's a bizarre experience, to see yourself and your stuff in print. I can't quite explain why, and I wouldn't understand it if someone was explaining it to me, about themselves. But I know that when it happens to me it feels dreamy — as in, that dream I have where I'm buck-naked on the subway, desperately grabbing at people's Tribunes to cover myself, while praying that the thing comes to a screeching, sparking stop so I can sprint out the doors and run straight off the . . . planet. In other words, I feel profoundly vulnerable and exposed, and thrilled, and a little bit scared, like I must only look at it through the little shutter of my fingers while my hand is covering my eyes. But I keep looking, trying to take it all in.

Rh2Today I must say, I'm pretty overwhelmed by this. If you've hung around here for a while, you may remember last fall when there were some photo shoots happening around the place and I was cleaning like a crazy person and chattering away about it all. This October afternoon in particular was pretty magical, and yesterday the results hit the stands (or at least some subscribers' mailboxes). This is the March 2007 issue of Romantic Homes magazine with an article about our house. I'm actually a little bit speechless. It's ten beautiful super-saturated pages long. It just kept going and going.

You never really know what these things are going to be; as the subject, you don't have a lot of control. Once you've said "yes," you pretty much have to let go, put yourself out there, and allow it all to be . . . interpreted, however it will. But it's never easy. It's always fraught. You sort of stand, pigeon-toed, off to the side while they do their thing, full of hope and pride and nerves, wringing your hands, crossing your fingers, pretending it doesn't really matter anyway, what anyone thinks. But when it comes out, it's impossible not to care, or feel emotional. I couldn't be more thrilled, or flattered, or nervous today if I tried. I'm thinking of having Andy take my blood-pressure. It's nice to have an R.N. around the house when your magazine article comes out.

Thanks for being here, you guys. My legs feel a little bit wobbly. If we pack really tightly into this subway car then I might be okay.

xoxox,
a

Ripple Effects

comments: 110

William11_1 Ripples. You'd think there wouldn't be much to blog about when one has done not much the past two weeks other than stack ripples up like years, but oh, you know I'll find a way. I was running late yesterday but took a few shots of the half-done ever-growing ripple blanket in action. I seriously think this is my all-time favorite thing I've made so far. I take it with me from room to room around the house, adding a few ripples wherever I go. I can hardly believe I'm saying that because of my little problem with putting things down half-finished. But no. Still going strong on this one.

William10This little puppers is William, a hound I bought from Kristina and gave to Andy for Christmas. I love the things Kristina makes — they always have such personality. Every once in a while when I'm having a bad day and I need a giggle, I think of that pig she made a million years ago whose head exploded? Oh god, just thinking about it makes me laugh — go look at it, seriously. And the way Kristina writes about her just CRACKS me up. This is one of my all-time favorite blog entries anywhere, and definitely one of my all-time favorite most-adorable pigs. But William is ours (er, Andy's) and we love him.

William12 This morning Andy said, "How come you didn't call that guy about the tool-and-die magazine job, anyway?" Many other people asked me this question in the comments the other day and all I can say is: Peeps, did you hear the part about it being a tool-and-die magazine? What even ARE tools and dies? I didn't call because I was horrified, and, worse, suspected the handwriting analysis was probably completely right. Now, in retrospect, I guess I can safely say, "Well obviously it would've been good experience, etc." But at the time I just saw myself wearing a hardhat, carrying a notebook around a factory in Berwyn, Illinois, eating a Lean Cuisine in a windowless lunchroom forever. At 24, I wanted to move to the mountains of western Montana with my boyfriend, and write short stories, and ride the vintage bicycle he gave me to the farmer's market to buy lupine and sunflowers, and get a kitten. I just didn't quite know it until the tool-and-die guy was handing me his card, when I saw my whole life flash before my eyes. So, we hit the road, and here we are. I'm not saying the things I do make any sense, but that's rarely stopped me.

William8 They say, when decorating, to, you know, just "use things that you love" and it'll all go together, etc. I was just looking at the colors in the blanket and the room and watching them show up here and there, a little bit here, a little bit there. I'm always trying to get the blue right, but the other colors do seem to . . . keep showing up. Which, I mean — maybe everyone's stash is like that? Is that how it just naturally works? That the stash blanket becomes the blanket that goes with everything, by virtue of its being made of everything?

William6 I was slightly surprised that even Andy didn't get why I didn't call the tool-and-die guy, but maybe he just wanted to hear me explain it. He and I are pretty much naturally simpatico on just about everything, except when it comes to interpretations of our long-shared past where we have great conversations that go like this:

"College was totally [insert adjective here]."
"No it wasn't."
"Yes it was."
"No it wasn't."
"Yes, it was!"
"No."
"Yes."
" . . . "
"YES IT WAS!!!!"

Or:

"She was always doing that."
"No she wasn't."
"Yes she was."
"No she wasn't."
"ARE YOU INSANE YES SHE WAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
" . . . "

You can see I always win these. I mean, it is the person who shouts the loudest and calls the other person "psycho" enough who wins, right?

Yes it is.

William7 I forgive him, I really do, for being wrong about so many of our common memories, where we were apparently in the same place, at the same time, with the same people, but, also, apparently, on different planets. Occasionally it does occur to me that it is only I who am on another planet. The Planet of Small Cute Chairs and Cakes.

Soon to officially replace Pluto, if things go according to my plan.

Little Sisters

comments: 90

Please come in and meet my girls.

Gretelabigail3 This is Gretel-Abigail. She's the oldest, and as such tends to be the most inclined to set a good example. She plans to go to med school to study epidemiology. She's also a bit of a worrier. Which makes sense.

Gretelabigail1 But who wouldn't be.

Gretelabigail2 It's a chicken-or-an-egg thing.

Simoneelle1This is her sister, Simone-Elle. She is actually adopted, from the Alsace region of France. Which explains her weakness for flammekueche.

Simoneandmarjorie Being the middle child, though, she knows how to share.

Marjorie-Bea has now developed the taste for bacon and onions. And, of course, a good Riesling. But mostly she likes to build pinatas. She has made, to date, over fourteen-thousand.

You wouldn't think it, to look at her, would you.

Marjoriebea1 But it's totally true. She's the foremost pinata-maker in the world.

Six Weird Things

comments: 48

Library6paneRosie and Tracey tagged me (thanks, guys!) to tell six weird things about myself so, in no particular order, and as if there were only six:

It is almost impossible for me to call  the parents of my friends by their first names. I only recently stopped referring to my own mother-in-law as "Mrs. P" although I've been married almost ten years and she had been asking me to stop doing this for longer than that.

I had to stop watching America's Funniest Videos in bed at night because I would laugh so hard I'd get a terrible headache almost every time, which would make me incredibly pissy, and thereby completely ruin all the positive effects to be gained from watching people fall off merry-go-rounds, lose their pants, or get spit on by llamas. But I totally love that show, as she does.

I had my handwriting analyzed in the local paper when I was 24. (This was a regular column in the Forest Leaves.) I told Dr. Murray, the handwriting analyst, that I wasn't sure what I should do with my life; I was thinking of either moving to a farm, or going to grad school. (I was, at that time, a waitress in Oak Park.). He told me that, based on my handwriting, I should become a computer programmer, a watch repairer, or a tool-and-die maker. That night I went to my waitressing job and two older, well-dressed gentlemen came in and ordered a stuffed pizza. We chatted and they said, "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" I said that, strangely enough, my handwriting had just been analyzed and I was told I should be a tool-and-die maker, but I thought I wanted to work in publishing. The two guys looked at each other and their eyes practically popped out of their heads. The one guy pointed to the other guy and said, "Do you know who he is?" I said, "No." He said, "He's the president of the American Tool-and-Die Corporation!" or something like that. I said, "No!" And then the other guy pulled out his business card (which indeed did say President, American Tool-and-Die Corp.), handed it it to me and said, "I need an editor for my tool-and-die trade magazine. Call me first thing tomorrow morning and you've got the job." When I got home that night, I told my parents what had happened and they were like, "You are calling him first thing, missy!" (They were not too happy that I was a waitress.) I never called him and immediately started making plans to move to Montana. Close one!

(I have, however, always wanted to learn how to build rock walls, and think I could've been pretty happy sitting in a field with a few cows and sheep, figuring out which rock to put where, over and over again, for mile upon mile.)

I am afraid to go into banks and do all of my banking through ATMs. I like banks that feel like fortresses. I don't like banks that look like they were IHOPs four weeks ago, as my bank branches always seem to. Also, every time I turn on the news, one has just been held up, so I just avoid them whenever I can. I was also afraid of escalators for a year and couldn't go down one unless someone was standing immediately in front of me.

I went to Italy in college and cried almost the whole time I was there because it was so emotional for me and everyone thought I was completely insane and wouldn't have anything to do with me. Someone spit on my shoes when I was there, too, but I couldn't tell if it was because they thought I was American or German (I was wearing Birks). I decided it was because I was American, even though the world didn't hate us quite so much back in 1990. Anyway, that was weird, and I always wore socks after that. Anyway, I had an almost supernatural sense of being "home" when I was in Italy which caught me totally off-guard and left me pretty shaky and I hope someday I can go back, possibly without all the blubbering, which makes it hard to see the sights.

Okay, Jorth, Mary, Valerie, Beth, Amy, Amelia, and anyone else who wants to play, poke poke: You're it!

Springtime in Paris (and Not So Much)

comments: 41

Dress I just bought this but now I want these in red for when I don't go to France but pretend I do. I used this to save up for that.

Shoes

The Stare-Down

comments: 37

Doggie Yeah. She won.

Carlene's talking about this post, which still cracks me up every time.

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.