Yep, like I said. Though it's actually mulch/compost. Remember that we don't know what to call it. What's not pictured is the ginormous mountain of it that was piled in the driveway. Four yards of it (that's lots and lots), which Andy Paulson almost single-handedly dissemenated around the property, and on our neighbor's flower beds. My sister saw the pile before it was dissemenated. When she heard, the next day, that it was gone from the driveway, she apparently could not believe her ears. But I am here to tell you that four yards is about 479 wheelbarrows-worth, or at least that's how many times I think I watched Andy load and unload this thing. My job was just to spread it around stuff and even that was exhausting, so I can only imagine. Anyway, PHEW. Good job, babe.
These beds are the parkway, and they are a major problem for me. More dirt than plants. Space too big. The bed on the left is actually very dry, very clayey shade, presided over by the infamous plum tree (there is a better picture here). Almost no rainwater makes it onto this location in the summer. You can stand under this tree in a total downpour and barely get wet. When we first moved in, we vigorously amended the soil, but it reverts very quickly to a hard, dry layer of tree roots and dust. A raised bed might be a good alternative, though we can never decide on how to edge it, and worry that it, too, would turn into clay. Would it? Only the vinca seems not to care where it lives.
Gravelizing our backyard was truly one of the best things we ever did for our property.We have another enormous plum tree back there, too, and were having the same problem. Unfortunately, for the parkways, gravelizing is not really an option, though I see people do it. When you see it, it seems like such an act of desperation — but I can completely understand the impulse. But it just looks wrong to me, in such a public location, and our parkways are quite wide.
Xeriscape, naturally, is the right thing to consider. It has taken me quite a while to learn this. But look at this: a list, with pictures, and links. And THIS, which is just awesome and small and not overwhelming and you can make a little shopping list for yourself. And a thorough exploration of how to save money with xeriscaping, because these plants are expensive. My mother, who has the greenest thumb I've ever seen, did not pass this gene down to me, and gardening books seem to overwhelm me — I just want to be on a need-to-know basis, somehow, with this. So . . . whatever they've got that will make it easier for me to make it happen. It is times like this when I say THANK YOU Al Gore, for inventing the Internet!!! My goal for the summer is to befriend the dry shade garden.
I'm rushing out to the P.O. to get the scraps outta here, but look, Charlotte's having a drawing for some wooly bits (no, I don't know how to spelly "wooly" but it probably doesn't have two Ls like I had it last week and now I'm apparently too lazy to even run spell check, though not too lazy to write a whole long sentence about it, natch) so visit her and I'll be back tomorrow with pictures of . . . dirt. HOW CAN YOU RESIST. I know. Thrills.
There are fourteen half-pound Woolly Bags ($21) and fourteen Calico Bags ($19). All of them are a little bit different, but they look very similar to these. Lots of color, lots of stripes, lots of my favorite prints.
U.S. postage is included. Extra shipping will be charged to Canada ($2), Europe ($9) and Australia and Asia ($11).
If you'd like one of the scrap bags, please leave a comment here, letting me know which one (just one per person, okay?). I will send out Paypal invoices to the first twenty-eight people at the same time, later today. Then I'll get the bags out on Monday, since they're already packed up.
If they all sell, and you don't get an invoice from me, I'm sorry! I won't have any more Woollies, but I will do more Calicos sometime later this summer.
I think that's it. Thank you!
Can't wait to see what you do with them!
UPDATE: ALL SOLD OUT! :-) Thank you! And so sorry to everyone who didn't get one, seriously. I will definitely try to do more Calicos soon. xo
Since it is, once again, fureeeeezing out, I don't feel so bad still playing with wool. I finally got around to making a cool little pincushion out of felted sweaters the other day. This little chunk is the Recycled Sweater Pincushion, a project designed by Meshell Taylor from my friends Larissa and Martin Brown's book, Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together.
It is such a cool experience to see a book come to life, and over breakfasts and barbecues in the year or so that I've known sweet Larissa, I've gotten to hear about and watch this one happen. Still, seeing the real thing is so different from seeing the page proofs, and finally getting to sit down and read the text is really inspiring — even for a sporadic knitter like me. This is much more than a book of projects, though there are twenty patterns here. It's truly an exploration and a celebration of the history of social knitting, as well as a mosaic of contemporary ways that knitters have come together around the world to knit with each other, even though they may be thousands of miles (and even generations) apart. I love Larissa and Martin's voices in the text — there is something incredibly soothing about this book. I've never done a knitalong, and I am a truly terrible, unreliable joiner, but this book makes me want to play with the group. L & M, you've really done a beautiful job with this topic, capturing the spirit of the individual knitter with her (or his) needles and skein in the context of this incredibly diverse and soulful community. I am so proud of you!
I was on the phone the other day with my friend Betz White, another genius with wool. We talked books, too, as it is so easy to do when you are trying to make a book and spending the vast majority of your time at home alone in your little studio, making things and making a book and not really talking to anyone about it, because it's kind of hard to explain what it's like. There are so many parts and pieces to the experience, it's hard to start from the beginning. If I get someone on the phone who has shared or is in the process of sharing that experience I begin to speed-talk intensely and at such length until the batteries on the phone die (this frequently happens to me). Betz's book Warm Fuzzies: 30 Sweet Felted Projects is so totally adorable, just like Betz. I frist saw Betz on Martha making these cupcakes and they are as cute today as they were the first time I saw them. The pattern is here, along with so many other darling things: a dog sweater, pillows, bags, kid stuff, book covers, hats, an apron. She is now working on her second book, and just updated her Etsy shop today if you want an original!
Inspired by the books, I went downstairs and pulled out my huge box of felted sweater scraps. Then I decided that I had too much, and I would pass some on, along with the calico scraps I mentioned a few weeks ago. So, tomorrow? Let's say, 11 a.m. PST? There are only fourteen half-pound bags of each, the wool and the calico, and there is absolutely no more wool. There is more calico, but I made as many as I could stand to. There's kind of an art to it — you gotta get all the pieces sort of facing out and you want all different pieces and, anyway, not my favorite thing in the world to do. But it always feels good to pass these on — I love the idea of people opening the bags and finding new little things to play with. I'm an inefficient cutter for exactly that reason, I think. I know my mess-ups will be shared and recycled.
Ooo — and I forgot to say thank you for all the kind comments on the tulip pics! Thank you! I wound up entering the tractor (16), the little girl with the hair in her face (3), and the one right below that (2). And if I could ever manage to get a link correct in this blog or on my web sites, it would be a miracle, but check these out — last year's winners. Awesome.
On Sunday, we took little highways out to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm for their annual tulip festival.
On Sunday morning, after a quick trip to Voodoo Doughnuts and a nice walk in Laurelhurst Park (with some amazing sitting/staying showoffiness at twenty-five yards by Clover Meadow) (just sayin), we wanted to stay out, despite the capricious weather.
Wooden Shoe is about thirty miles south of Portland. If you take the little highways, once you're out of the city you go through beautiful roly-poly countryside freckled with orchards, Shetland ponies, creeks and ponds. I love it out there. I don't think I'll ever be able to get Andy Paulson to live in the country, even the country that's only a half-hour from the city. But I like to pretend it might happen. I always pretend it might happen. Honey, did you not love living in Montana, even more than I did? You did.
It's funny, when I was taking these pictures, the light was bright and I couldn't see much on the LCD screen. I was just kind of snapping here and there, not expecting much. It was so cold that I felt like my fingers weren't working very well.
So I was amazed to see the color on these photos when I uploaded them. It was all there. All of these photos were taken within about a half-hour, and I've posted them in the order I took them. You can see how quickly the light was changing. It was literally changing minute to minute.
They look better if you click on them, and see the enlargements. Which one should I enter into the contest? Will you help me pick?
The color rolls out in long strips. It's a ripple afghan Jane would love.
Here's Clover doing her sit/stay. What a pro.
Beautiful snowy mountains (and rain streaks) far off in the distance.
Isn't it pretty there?
We brought some home. Jane, these are for you, dear.
Our oven, though outfitted with a new element, is still sporadically quitting on us, so the repair man comes on Thursday. In between hissy fits, I managed to keep the temperature at 375 degrees for an afternoon so that I could bake some cookies. For some reason, I have been really wanting these classic peanut-butters with a little bit of strawberry jam. This is the same recipe my mom used — I wonder where it comes from, originally. I rolled mine in sugar, then did the criss-cross, then did what someone in the comments on that recipe suggested and made a little bowl with the back of a 1/4 teaspoon, then blooped the jelly in before baking. I think this is the first thing I've baked in months that actually worked out.
On Saturday afternoon, our friend Amy came over with Clover's boyfriend Bennie, who is a "Cavachon" — a cross between a King Charles Cavalier spaniel and a Bichon Frisee. He looks like a spring-loaded flokati rug. I have never seen a dog bounce like this one. Bennie and Clover have known each other since they were baby puppies and they play very well together. It is hilarious to watch them. They both charged upstairs and Bennie taught Clover to jump onto the bed in one second. This was something she didn't know she was "able" to do.
I made fried corn chowder and garlic bread for lunch. The fried corn chowder comes from Caprial and John's Kitchen. I watched them make this on TV a few months ago and have made it a couple of times since. I've made a lot of different corn chowders and I really like this one — you carmelize the corn before throwing it in the soup at the end. I used frozen white corn and it worked just fine, thought I will say that I prefer using chicken stock to the vegetable stock. Vegetable stock sometimes has a really strong flavor that I don't care for. The chicken stock seems mellower. But you could leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock for a vegetarian option that would still be really great, don't get me wrong. This soup is delicious.
This weather is seriously making me crazy. It's been freezing and raining all week and I am just so over it. It snowed on Saturday, hailed on Sunday. This is the longest winter ever. I want to be in California, near the ocean, laying out by the pool, drinking a Bellini RIGHT NOW!!!!!
It was time to plant the front-porch pots yesterday.
I chose a mix of grapey purples with a bit of honey thrown in.
Clover has been learning to be in the front yard, which is not fenced. She starts off on a long, 30-foot lead.
The idea is that, on this lead, she is free to wander about the property, but we are supposed to correct her from afar when she crosses the boundaries.
In four days, we haven't had an opportunity to to correct anything since she pretty much sticks to us like glitter.
We should probably ask our doggie tutor Steve about that.
Why so pensive, little pansy?
She has a heart of gold and is so sweet and generous, so much like her auntie. So much like her.
It's hard to take photos of black-and-white dogs, I must say. It's hard to get the detail in both those colors to come out well. And you need the eyes, most of all. Sometimes you're lucky and you get the tongue, too.
I have so scored in this marriage: I pick out the plants, arrange them where I want them to go, and then take pictures while Andy Paulson cheerfully plants them all for me. Every year.
I don't enjoy planting things. I enjoy picking them out, arranging them, I'm getting better at watering them, but I don't love the actual stuffing them into a pot or the ground. Andy likes that part, not the picking them out or the thinking about what to get in the first place.
They should have questions like that on Match.com. "Do you like picking pansies out or planting them?" and if you both say "picking them," keep looking. Or know that you'll need to hire a lawn service.
Andy Paulson, while sensitive and literate, also brings considerable brawn to the relationship.
Puppy loves her daddy most of all.
My cup runneth over. xoxo
Over the weekend, I worked on my little headscarf, for the next time I go the park to read in the sun. I don't like to wear hats cause I feel like I can't see anything and then that makes me all panicky. (Neither do I seem to wear sunglasses successfully, for the same reason.) But the triangle headscarf — now you're talking.
The design is a little spray of apple blossoms, done in satin stitch and very teensy backstitches, with cotton embroidery floss. Just a simple outline, my favorite thing. The pattern is from 400 Floral Motifs for Designers, Needleworkers and Craftspeople from Dover, the coolest-ever publisher with so much incredible copyright-free clipart it just makes me want to sob blubberingly. I intend to bind the edges of this with a thin strip olive-drab color binding, and make the ties from that, as well, and tie them under my hair in back, like a bandana.
Though if I could look like this with it tied the other way you know I would never, ever take it off:
Oh, my dear Audreys. You really were the most beautiful, enchanted creatures ever.
Here are the books I picked out on Friday. What I did was print out all the comments and then start at the beginning and circle everything that looked interesting or that I hadn't read yet. I only made it through maybe the first third. Then I went around the bookstore and pulled everything that they had from my circles, and a couple more that I just thought looked good. Then I sat in the coffee shop (in the bookstore) and very quickly went through the stack and thinned some things out. If anything looked even remotely sad or serious or complicated I didn't want it. I don't like to know too much about books before I read them. Most of my choices are just based on intuition/cover/first page. I don't read book reviews. This is possibly why I am constantly coming home with books that I don't actually like, but that's why I mostly go to the library. I almost never seem to agree with the reviews, anyway. For me, it's best to have a big pile, and no due date. I cannot read my library books on time, generally. I don't like hardcover books, for the most part, and I hate dust jackets. Neither do I like new mass-market paperbacks. They don't open. Old ones are okay — they sort of crack open. I like trade paperbacks printed on nice paper. You can see I have many requirements before I even know what the book's "about." And you thought I was picky about lasagna (which, by the way, I didn't have this weekend, because the oven is still busted. We had shrimp scampi).
Andy is different than I am. I have never known him to do much "light" reading. In the past several years he has read The Canterbury Tales, The Plague, The Aeneid, Beowulf. Frankenstein. Not even kidding. Things the rest of us were forced to read then write papers about. Since he recently survived a period of head-exploding work-related stress, I convinced him to perhaps read something a little less taxing on the gray matter. He picked out several Louis L'Amours and I think he is enjoying them immensely. There really is nothing better, or more relaxing, than losing yourself in a great book, don't you think? I would love to see, like, some research on what people's brainwaves look like when they're reading some fiction they are loving. I bet they're long, loose scallops.
I've finished two books since last week, which is more than I've read in a looooong time, so I am psyched, on a roll. I read Mary Stewart's Rose Cottage, which I loved and was just what I wanted: English village, gypsies, cottages and roses, a second chance at love, mysterious disappearances, missing documents. Thornyhold is next for me. Already it has a witch and a lonely child. Perfect. And I finished Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone, which was brilliant. I've seen that book around for the past several years and probably wouldn't have picked it up had my friend not handed me her copy, but I really loved this memoir, and I will put her other books on my list now, too. She is such an honest writer, economical and evocative with her language.
I realized when I got these books that it has been a long time since I've bought fiction. I am really out of the habit. I miss it. I used to read constantly and this past year I've just made it through a page or two before falling asleep every night. I want to change that this summer. I might need a summer-reading t-shirt, and some stickers. I'm going for quantity here.
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
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.