Posts filed in: December 2008

Christmastime Above the City

comments: 171

Andy went to work yesterday and took some pictures from the tram up to the hospital, which is on a hill above the city. Let's look.

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I was home gazing down on my own private snowdrift :-)

Wishing you all a very merry holiday, and so much love and peace in the coming new year. xoxo

Miracle Snow

comments: 117

More snow than anyone's seen here in forty years. It just hasn't stopped in days and days and days, and it's snowing now. We pulled the hide-a-bed out in the living room and have been hanging out here since Saturday night. We didn't want to leave the beauty of it all. It's been truly magical.

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[Saturday night.]

On Sunday afternoon, we went across the street to our neighbor's house for a holiday party. All of our neighborhood friends were there — everyone came on foot. It was so much fun. No one had been out of the house much in the past week, so we were all just so excited to visit. It was really great. I had so much fun. I wish I had taken a picture of the incredibly huge pile of shoes and boots by the front door. It told the whole story.

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[Sunday afternoon.]

During the party it started to snow heavily again. I could see our house from my neighbor's kitchen window, and I could barely make out our Christmas lights. I'd heard at the party that they'd closed down one of the streets nearby and turned it into a sledding hill, so we tried to walk down there in the dark, but I couldn't make it. So we just went home and Andy made a pizza and we ate it while snuggled with Clovie under the duvet (and the quilt, and the ripple blanket, and six pillows) on the hide-a-bed, and stayed there again until early this morning.

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[Monday morning.]

There seems to be no end in sight, at least until the end of the week! I feel so bad for everyone who is trying to get somewhere for Christmas — a lot of the highways are closed, the trains aren't running, few people are flying out of or into town (though hundreds of people are stranded at the airport). We might not even make it across town, ourselves. It's just as bad in Seattle, and although our local news is pre-empting most of the usual national coverage, I know we in the Northwest are not alone in being snowed in. They just said that by the end of the day we'll be breaking snowfall records set back in the 1920s and '30s.

I guess my chalet dreams came true, after all!

So sorry, Clover Meadow, but we'll need you to share that gold medal.

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With Sam.

(Sorry about the ad at the beginning of the video, but it's worth it.)

Snow Event

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Snowevent

Gold-medal winner in the "How Stinkin Cute Can Something Possibly Look in the Snow" event: Clover Meadow Paulson.

At My Imaginary Chalet

comments: 78

It's now been three days — this is the beginning of the fourth — since I've left the house. We are having another *SNOW EVENT* today! When I hear that I think, "Ooooo! A snow event! Is that, like, synchronized sledding? A speed-shoveling competition? A hot cocoa–drinking contest??? [I could win that one.]" This is all part of the aforementioned *ARCTIC BLAST* that is apparently moving across the country. It's actually been quite productive here for me at home. I've gotten tons done, workwise, in the past several days. Of course that "work" is hand-sewing, which involves not leaving the sofa for long stretches of time, during which all muscles but my finger muscles have atrophied, and I've been too lazy to do anything but occasionally get up to go to the bathroom, force the dog outside to go to the bathroom, turn up the heat, or put on more clothes. You know it's cold when I don polarfleece. But I'm now into my fourth day of wearing a very cozy olive-green polarfleece shirt of Andy's. I have never liked them before. But now that it is below freezing, I totally get it. I get it now, Polarfleece. You can stay. I'm glad you're here.

Not to sound maudlin, but when it snows here in Portland, I feel like the whole year makes more sense. I went out onto the porch yesterday and I could smell the snow, and almost sobbed — it smelled so much like home, a smell I couldn't have remember-imagined until then, when, just for that moment, it was in the air. It's this clean, empty sort of smell. Do you know it? You look out the window at the snow-covered yard and notice that all of the ambient light in the house is completely different — there is brightness and glow. When we get snow before Christmas like this, it just makes things feel right, to me.

Conveniently, my work is entering an "alpine" phase — hearts, hearths, and Heidi-ishness. Chocolate browns and ruby reds, eyelet details, gingham and soft homespuns. I have distinct urge to make fondue, and research the history of telemark skiing. In my mind, I'm here:

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Or here:

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And later, here:

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Red-and-White Holiday

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I started holiday baking over the weekend. This year I am going to make fudge for my friends and neighbors. We have a pretty close-knit group of neighbors, about seven families, and we all exchange little gifts every year. My mom has a great recipe for fudge that I am going to use — I will post that, and photos, when I do it, probably sometime this week. It's so nice and easy, and really, who doesn't like lovely, smooth, chocolately fudge? Even I do, and I am not a huge chocolate fan. But fudge I love.

These little berry-buttons, above, are my mom's raspberry thumbprint cookies, making their national debut in this month's Hallmark magazine (and that link will take you to the recipe). They are a standard part of my mom's awesome Christmas-cookie plate. She makes plates for all of us kids and her local friends, and even ships lots of cookies to peeps back home. Though we drizzle these thumbprints with icing, the editors didn't like the way the iced cookies were photographing, but unless your cookies are going to be in a magazine, I would highly suggest adding the frosty drizzle. Deliciousness! And so perfectly red and white.

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In other red-and-white news, I have an embroidery project out right now in the current issue of Holiday Decorating Ideas by CraftStylish. This is a version of a traditional Hungarian folk-art design and I think it is so simple and sweet. Done entirely in three strands of dark red embroidery floss, this design can be completed with only two stitches — backstitch, and lazy daisy (both are explained in the article). If you are a beginning embroiderer, I highly recommend starting with a project like this! It is so, so much fun, and will give you lots of confidence to tackle more complicated color-and-stitch combinations. You can find the magazine at most craft and fabric stores, or just click on the link above. It will include the template and an illustrated tutorial for this project, along with many other wonderful wintry things to make.

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Like the crocheted pillowcase edging here, which was created by my amazing friend Linda Permann! Look at some of these other recent sewing and crochet projects she has out there in magazines right now, too. That cupcake teapot cozy? Genius! And the darling gingerbread mobile is by the incredibly talented Kayte Terry, whose book, Complete Embellishing, will give you countless ideas and very thorough technique tutorials for embellishing all sorts of clothes and accessories — Kayte is a former visual manager for Anthropologie, and her aesthetic is so lovely and sophisticated in that perfectly rustic way I love. Isn't this cardigan from the book just gorgeous? I love the woolly ruffle. Yummy.

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Isn't it a great time to be a crafter? There is so much out there for us to make. I LOVE IT.

Now. The auction! I am loving this auction stuff!!! Thank you so much to everyone who bid yesterday — you are awesome! But I want to update you on some stuff and answer some questions that came in yesterday.

Firstly, in order to go to the eBay auctions for each doll, just click on her name in yesterday's post. All of them together are here. :-)

Secondly, about international shipping for the auction: So, I wasn't going to do this, because I was worried about the time crunch before Christmas, and not being able to get to the P.O. to ship overseas, but I got a lot of email about it yesterday so I'm reversing this decision. Although I ship all of my domestic packages on-line (where you print out the labels from the computer and the postperson comes directly to the house to pick the package up), I never ship international on-line because, although it is much more convenient, it is more expensive than taking it directly to the P.O. I ship enough overseas packages every week that this just doesn't make sense for me, so I take them all in myself. BUT, if you are overseas, and you would like to bid on the dolls, and either pay a higher shipping fee to get it quickly or wait until our weather makes it safe to drive, that is totally cool with me! Please bid! Thank you!!!

And thirdly, I was talking to my friend Shelly on the phone last night and she said that she didn't realize, from looking at the photos of the dolls, that they all have braided hair twisted up on top of their heads. So I thought I would mention that the hair on all of them is the same, but you just can't really tell that from the photos of the brunettes, because their hair is so dark. But they all actually have the same twisty-braid hairdos as Ingrid and Devon. Don't you wish you could do your hair like that? You CAN??? You lucky!!!!!

Good Morning, Girls!

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Brrrrr! We are having an *ARCTIC BLAST* here in the Pacific Northwest! That's what they call it on the news. Meaning it's 22 degrees F. I've lived in a lot of snowy, freezing-cold locations in both the Midwest and the Rocky Mountains in my life; it has been much, much colder, and much, much snowier. But for some reason, when it gets to be in the twenties with an inch of snow on the ground in Portland, Oregon, we might as well be at the North Pole. North of the North Pole. The entire city freaks out, including me. Oh, the drama! Oh, the beauty! I love it. Of course, this is my luxury, another one of those work-at-home perks I love on mornings like this (as long as the power stays on, and I have pets to pile on top of me). Poor Andy had to trudge out through the ice and snow to get to work early early, while it was still pitch-black out. We have the worst front stairs going down to the sidewalk — no railings, and a lightpost at the top of the stairs which doesn't actually light the stairs, but does blind you as you approach it so that you cannot see the stairs as you're walking down them. Awesome.

So let's just stay inside, do click-'n'-ship, and have the postman bring us some sweet dolls!

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Here's Mabel Abigaille, who will benefit World Vision. She's writing her dissertation on peasant culture as depicted during the Northern Renaissance. She wishes she could have met Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

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This is Maisie Elspeth, who will also benefit World Vision. Dr. Maisie Elspeth is a veterinarian, specializing in the crossbreeding of Swiss Toggenburg goats with breeds (like the Galla and Boran) indigenous to the pastoral areas of Kenya. (I meant to have her benefit The Salvation Army but I forgot to change the charity before I listed her, and I can't seem to change it. That's okay, because I wanted to try to buy a goat.)

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Ingrid Marigold will benefit Toys for Tots. She is the premier importer of wooden toys and Christmas pyramids from the Erzgebirge region of Germany.

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Kendall Margaret will benefit the Red Cross. She is a trained emergency medical technician, and enjoys antiquing in Cape Cod on her days off as a way to decompress.

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Here's Dorie Violette. She will benefit UNICEF. She is a trained perfumier and owns a flower-extract factory in an undisclosed location "south of Grasse" on the French Riviera (where she met Angelina Jolie at Cannes in May). I am trying to convince her to bring back a reissue of (the sadly discontinued) Laura Ashley No. 1, my favorite perfume which I don't have.

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Fiona Flannery will benefit Free Geek. She is an Irish dancer (and also plays the bodhran semi-professionally), frequently attending ceilis around county Antrim. She's single, but fine with that.

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Miss Devon Everleigh trains Cardigan Welsh corgis, the most awesome dog breed ever. Her sale will benefit the ASPCA. She lives with fourteen blue merle Cardigans on a small farm near Mist, Oregon.

Yes, I am a lunatic. I guess I have cabin fever.

But anyway, so these auctions are up! This is my first time selling anything on eBay, and I am excited to see how it works. The auctions will last three days, and then I will ship dolls immediately after payments are received. Because of this crazy weather, I will only be able to ship to locations in the United States this time, since shipping overseas requires me to go across town to my post office to do the customs forms and all that, and I don't think I'm going to be going anywhere this week. (And if you did send me a bookplate request late last week, unfortunately that's probably stranded at the post office box, too!)

As they say on eBay, "Thanks for looking!" xo

Snow Day

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Snowing all day. Love love love.

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We're lazy with the ripple.

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Enter: cat.

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Triple-warm me: crochet, cat, and corgi blanket. My legs are under this pile-up somewhere.

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Exit kitty. Snow falls, stage right.

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Will it keep snowing, on into the night?

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I hope so. We love snow days.

My Little Group of Girls

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Yay, I finished the girls! I'm so excited about them. I am going to show you all of their individual photos and start my eBay auction for them on Monday, December 15. It will last for three days and then I will ship them really quick, so they will hopefully get to you for Christmas (but no promises — unfortunately I am just cutting it too close, sorry!). But as I mentioned the other day, I will send half of the proceeds from each doll to a different charity, including World Vision, Unicef, Red Cross, Toys for Tots, The Salvation Army, Free Geek, and the ASPCA. So stay tuned and I will put all the links and photos up on the blog on Monday.

Thank you to everyone who came out to the signing at Bolt last night! I had the best time. You guys are all so nice, so adorable, and so generous. Let me tell you, it has been such a fun experience doing these signings during the holiday season — it just feels like party after party. Thank you for that. It has been such a great experience getting to meet so many of you, and hear your stories, and understand more about why we all love to make things for the special people in our lives. I have really loved all of it.

Kristen Rask, who owns an absolutely darling little store in Seattle called Schmancy and who also was one of the hardworking organizers of Urban Craft Uprising last weekend, asked me some unique and interesting questions the other day about my life and craft — you can read that interview here, and also leave a comment for another chance to win a copy of Stitched in Time if you haven't gotten your copy yet!

We have a busy weekend, and I bet most of you do, too. Tonight we are going to see the Portland Revels Christmas show (and unfortunately, it is completely sold out — I got my tickets several weeks ago and there weren't even two seats together at that time!). This year's show features dance, music, and drama inspired by Scandinavian legend and lore, and it just sounds so cool. I can't wait. And tomorrow we are taking our niece to see The Nutcracker downtown, and that's always one of my favorite things about Christmas.

AND — it's supposed TO SNOW this weekend. Oh joy!!! I need to go find my flannel nightgown and make sure we have pancake supplies for Sunday morning. I can't wait.

Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup

comments: 30

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I love winter cooking. I do not enjoy blogging winter cooking. Rather, I do not enjoy photographing wintertime dinners, because my kitchen is totally dark by four o'clock in the afternoon, and there is no option but to take photos in artificial light. Which I don't normally like to do. But that's winter for ya. You take what you can get as far as light goes.

This is Jamie Oliver's Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup (available at this link for a short time). I watched him make it on Jamie at Home (this links to a different episode, but if you've never seen the show it will give you the idea of why it's so cool) the other day, the "Winter Veg" episode, and it looked scrumptious. (And did you know he has his own magazine now? How in heaven's name do these people get so much done? I stand in bewildered awe.) I used a beautiful loaf of Como bread from Grand Central, and we still had sage in our garden. You grill the bread (I used a grill pan) and rub it with garlic, then layer it with Fontina and Parmesan cheeses, and Savoy cabbage and kale that have been simmered in chicken stock then sauteed with pancetta and anchovies. A lot of anchovies. Four ounces. And that was my problem. As I was rendering the pancetta with the anchovies, I could really smell the anchovies, like really really, and I got very nervous. But I kept going with it, and assembled the pungent, rustic stack, hoping for the best.

But it was too much. I took one bite and anchovy was all I could taste. I pushed my bowl away. But as quickly as I was finished with it all, Andy Paulson was there to swoop in and finish not only his but mine. He loved it. Love-love-loved it. He was psyched. I was just thrilled that someone was happy. I will make this again, but with only one or two little anchovies, instead of the sixteen or seventeen that went into this, because it makes a huge pot for just one person. I didn't know I was an anchovy wimp but I guess I am. And me the Italian in the family, too!

Now, please come to my last scheduled book-signing event at Bolt tonight!

Thursday, December 11
Bolt: A Fabric Boutique
2136 NE Alberta, Portland
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

I am really looking forward to it! I am enjoying these things so much. Who knew. A hermit like moi. Out in actual public.

Also, I meant to tell you yesterdy — thank you for all of the SASEs and sweet notes and little presents that have continued to fill my P.O. box lately! So, so sweet. I am so happy to sign bookplates for you anytime — keep sending requests to me — but, if you are trying to get the bookplates back before Christmas, please send your SASE today! The P.O. box is nowhere near where I live (long story) so I only get out there to check it once a week or so, so the turnaround on these is not exactly lightning speed. There is a bookplate-request button on my book page — just click on the button and it will take you to my address (and explain what a SASE is, too! :-). Thanks!!!

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.