Posts filed in: September 2010

There's a Good Dog

comments: 83

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Oh, this dog.

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She likes to sleep on top of my clothes that I throw on the bed.

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She yawns about forty-five times a day. She is the drowsiest, floppiest, cuddliest, kissiest puppers you've ever seen.

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Unless of course someone makes a noise six blocks away and then she is on it.

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For a moment. And then she goes right back to nappers.

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What you don't want to see is the electrician, standing in your bathroom torn down to the studs, with his face in his hands, shaking his head, as I just did.

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You want to see him smiling and nodding, and saying, "No problem! This will be very easy and inexpensive!"

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But I love my new quilt so much. This is the Oregon Summer quilt that I started earlier this summer. Gayle, Amy's mom of Tillie Studio quilted it so beautifully for me. The backing is kind of a terra-cotta pink cotton gingham (printed gingham), and the binding (I did it by machine and then by hand) is actually a pink and white candy-stripe. It was pure pleasure making this one, and my knees were very, very happy with me (because I didn't make them crawl around pinning every square). The dog, however, missed laying on it while I was working on it. So she's making up for it now. People ask me how I keep pet hair off my furniture. And I just say, "Seventy-two dpi. It hides a multitude of sins."

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Not kitters's carpet poms, but black dog hair, at least.

*Sorry I forgot to mention this — for those who have asked about sizing/quantities of fabric, etc., I used my Ollalieberry Ice Cream quilt pattern for this quilt. It is available to download in my web shop. Thank you!

Home Unimprovement

comments: 139

When we got beautiful new wool carpet on the second floor about a year and a half ago, I really thought it would be our dog (and her friends) who would wreck it.

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I didn't think she would stain it because she is very well house-trained, and though there have been one or two barfing incidents those were really very easily cleaned up, and no evidence of them remains. But I did think she might wreck it a bit when she ran her fourteen or fifteen laps in a complete frenzy back and forth between the guest room and the master bedroom (about once a day, usually around the time that Andy gets home, so excited is she that she cannot contain herself — I would do the same except at that time I'm usually in my nightgown in bed eating a bowl of ice cream with honey-roasted peanuts so I typically just wave my spoon at him and go "Hey!" which sounds more like "Haj!" with my mouth full but in my mind I'm deliriously sprinting between two rooms yodeling: Andy's home! Andy's hooooome! ). Yes, I did think she might wreck it by pulling up the little loops of wool with her nails as she ran along that well-trod path.

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But it turns out it wasn't her nails that needed worrying about.

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It was someone else's nails.

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Deterred from one spot, she moves on to another. No scratching post, no corrugated cardboard box thing leaking catnip (everywhere), no alternative provided thus far satisfies her feline instincts like our beautiful new carpet. (Actually, now that I think about it, the old dust ruffle on our bed used to be the preferred alternative, but I got rid of the dust ruffle around the time the new carpet came because they had shredded it, not realizing that once it was gone they'd move on to new carpet. STUPID ME. They don't touch the new dust ruffle, naturally. But oh what I wouldn't give for dust-ruffle chiffonade now!)

After she gets her little fix, she happily and exhaustedly goes back to lying in a little patch of sunlight, stretching her little legs.

I so got the wrong carpet. She's turned it into carpet pom-pons in four places.

Hellity hell, cat!!!

Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes

comments: 44

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So, it turned out to actually be totally muggy and hot yesterday — very bizarre. Normally we don't have that kind of humidity here. It zapped me of the will to do anything other than sit around with my eyes closed, wishing it wasn't so humid. I couldn't imagine turning on the oven for pumpkin cupcakes. But I did make the cauliflower and sweet potatoes, which didn't need an oven.

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They were surprising delicious! I don't know why I say surprisingly, exactly. Except that the entire time I was making them I was thinking, "Hrrmmm. Hrrmmm. I am not sure about this one." I added 1/2 cup of water to the sweet potatoes (which get cooked before the cauliflower goes in), because that's what she did on the TV show (though it wasn't called for in the actual printed recipe), and also tossed in some peas. I also cooked everything for about twice as long as the recipe called for, because I wanted this kind of mushy and soft (and I think she used yams, which are softer). When I tasted it at the end, it was (you guessed it) surprisingly delicious. I put it on top of some basmati rice. Then I sat under the ceiling fan and ate it while watching Judge Judy as the worker guys finally came and took away the backhoe and it all made me very, very happy. When they left, it was finally quiet.

For a moment.

What I would like is a good, old-fashioned, very humid thunderstorm. That's not something we normally get around here, either. Usually when it rains, it's cold, even in summer. But I think one of those really great storms, with lightning and thunder and rain plunking down in big, fat hot drops would be wonderful, somehow.

Sag paneer today, either way. Someone asked me where I get paneer (Indian cheese): Zupan's.

How do you like this sconce for the bathroom? Pretty cute, huh? In polished nickel, though. Ooo, I should run upstairs and take a picture of the ugly "before" bathroom before he starts ripping it apart today. I'll go do that now.

Burning the Midnight Oil

comments: 41

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Well, it was actually only the 8 p.m. oil. But that's how dark it is at 8 p.m. now — I can't believe it! We got a lot done this weekend, though we skipped the sheep show (shoot). Just too much going on right now. Saturday was gorgeous, so we tried to stay outside as long as possible. Andy is on felt-cutting duty. My arm is about to fall off from winding yarn (for wee neckwarmers), but it's going really well.

The sewer party is over, thank goodness, and despite my nerves that went pretty well, too, eventually. Bathroom demolition starts on Tuesday, so I have this one day of peace and quiet to myself. Very excited about that. Plan to cook (for once). Perhaps sag and paneer or cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Something Indian, at least. It's cool and damp and fall-like and I want something a little spicy. Maybe pumpkin spice cake cupcakes, too, but with the right frosting. Oh, choices, choices! A whole day to myself and I hardly know where to start!

Oh my gosh: roasted brussels sprouts with wild mushrooms and cream.

Bike Ride with Andy and Josh

comments: 17

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A whole lot more fun than partying with the sewer at home, let me tell ya!

Ugh.

comments: 72

Let me just say that it is very disconcerting seeing an enormous backhoe thing (if that's what this thing is) digging an enormous hole a couple of feet away from your house, and coming very close to your very fancy new windows [bites nails bites nails bites nails].

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I really did not have a great day yesterday, witnessing all of this. I tried to stay in the back of the house. But then I was informed that they are also digging a hole in the back yard today.

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This is not a project that we chose to do; we were informed by the city this summer that we had to disconnect our (oxymoronishly named) party sewer, which was joined with our neighbor's back in 1927 when the houses were built, and reconnect individually into the city line. So it has to be done, but it's still giving me a stomach ache.

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All that dirt came out of two giant holes under those orange cones.

Serenity nooooooooow.

Stone Quilt

comments: 74

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Done, and done. Booyah. Yesterday afternoon I got all the pots and table put back together and sat for a sec.

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I think the pets really like the new patio. This evening shot is a rare photo of all three of them in the same place at the same time (the Bee usually doesn't sit still long enough for a photo, but you know how she loves blankets — apparently even stone ones). The pets are so dang cute. I love that they are excited about whatever I am excited about. They follow me around wherever I go, which sometimes drives me insane (because every once in a while I would like to sit down without someone climbing over my shoulder, parking themselves in my lap, or resting their head on my ankles), but generally makes me feel like I'm leading a fur parade: Here I come, with all my animals! Now we're going to the kitchen! Now we're going to the bathroom! Ooops, I forgot to get my water glass [back to the kitchen]! Now we're going to the studio! Here we go, out to the patio! Now the phone's ringing — we'll [all] have to get that. I take no step alone. Ever. Until Andy comes home, and then they all start following him (phew). But then I almost immediately miss them following me.

The patio is so lovely. It is made out of these stones from Montana, where we used to live, which I love. Our contractor was Euro Masonry (you can find them on Angie's List) and it all went so well. I am emboldened. Onward.

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It's definitely fall.

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Almost Harvest Moon with Spider. (It's hanging from the pergola thing.) Ack.

Well, the sewer guys just got here to tear up my entire front yard, so I'm going off to have a good cry now. Bye.

Whew!

comments: 39

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What a week!!!!! My goodness. Firstly, THANK YOU for all of the ornament kit orders! Absolutely fantastic — I am thrilled, and we are already very busy cutting felt, putting sequins and beads in tiny bags (with a 1/4 teaspoon), winding yarn, cutting rick-rack, proofing pattern pieces. It's all going well, and we will leave the orders open for several more weeks yet because we are strangely organized this time, and I think we can handle it. And yes, I will make downloadable PDFs of all three patterns available, but not for a few weeks yet. I will definitely let you know when those are ready — and thank you again!

The patio guys are almost finished building the patio, as you can see. It is sooooo pretty. I love it very, very much. This patio is in the back yard, just off of the studio. Remember Clover and Audrey's rock/step, in these photos? We saved the rock but now we have real steps (there are actually two of them there, even though the photo makes it look like there's one). Before we just had gravel, and it was really hard to move your chair back, which made it so that we never really wanted to sit there. When we moved in, there was a tiny wooden deck — not big enough to put a table for four and four chairs on, and no steps (so until the big rock came you'd have to sort of jump out the studio door). So this patio is ten years coming, and I know that we will cherish it. The weather has turned crazy — lots of downpours (the guys worked all day Saturday in a total downpour), lots of wind, but oddly warm (and oddly kind of icky — lots of spiders and SLUGS back there). I told Martha it is like living in a terrarium that someone is spraying water into and shaking. Blech.

I've been working pretty much non-stop on ornament kits, with frequent runs off to the plumbing store, the tile store, the lighting store — incredible how many things there are to pick out for two bathrooms. How many decisions to make, especially on a very tight budget. I'm actually very overwhelmed by it all — but now that certain decisions are getting made, things seem to be falling into place a little bit. I'm trying to keep it all straight and keep a look of utter bewilderment from my face as I talk to the contractor about stuff I don't understand. But you learn quick, don't you? It's sort of weird. Now I am obsessed with all of the remodeling shows, which I've never really cared about before. What is freaking me out about the Holmes on Homes show or that American Contractor contest show is how much they do wrong. OMG. That scared me. I just want to get to the part where I'm picking out new toilet-paper holders and towels. I fear we are a long ways out from those.

But it's all pretty exciting, I have to say. I'm kind of digging it at this point. At this point before anyone's actually chopped a hole in the wrong wall, or, you know. Like that.

That Winter Afternoon . . .

comments: 136

. . . when I left the library, it was already snowing.

. . . . The sky was the color of a pewter cup.

. . . . . I buttoned my coat all the way up.

. . . . . . I warmed my hands in my woolen mittens.

. . . . . . . I walked through the city until the city faded away behind me.

I could've sworn that my old friend P.B. was watching me from behind the trees. . . .

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Introducing my 2010 handmade felt ornament-making kit: SNOW DAY.

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It includes a Red Wool Coat, to keep you warm and dry . . . 

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A traditional Norwegian Selbu mitten, to keep your hands toasty . . . 

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And a Polar Bear, far from the Arctic Circle, peeking out from behind the trees. 

Each Snow Day Felt Holiday Ornament Craft Kit contains materials to make one of each of the three ornaments, including:

6 pieces of wool blend felt in assorted colors
5 skeins coordinating DMC cotton embroidery floss
1/2 yd imported French gingham ribbon (for hangers)
1/4 yd imported French eyelet lace (for hanger)
15 yd hand-dyed wool lace-weight yarn (for neckwarmer)
Beads, buttons, and sequins
Waste canvas
Stitching instructions
Pattern templates
Cross-stitch charts
Illustrated embroidery tutorial

You will need to have your own:

Wool batting or Polyester Fiber-fill
Sharp embroidery needle
Dressmaker's chalk pencil or fabric marker
Dressmaker's chalk carbon paper
Iron-on transfer pencil
Sharp fabric scissors and paper scissors
Size US1 (2.25mm) knitting needles
Tweezers
A knowledge of basic knitting (knitting and purling), or someone willing to teach you (or someone willing to knit a weensy polar-bear-sized moss-stitch neckwarmer for you)
Motivation
Snacks
Fireplace
DVD player to watch the first season of White Collar without commercials

We are also going to put together a limited edition re-release of 2009's handmade felt ornament-making kit, WALK IN THE WOODS:

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It includes the Cozy Cottage, with the wood fires burning:

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The Snowy Tree, sparkling with ice crystals:

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And my favorite, the Little Deer, who watches shyly from the trees:

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And for those of you who missed 2008's kit, you are in luck! We will ALSO be offering a limited edition re-release of ICE-SKATING AFTERNOON, as well!

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There's the Hot Cocoa Cup, to warm you up:

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The Ice Skate, with pom-pon for good measure:

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And the Gingerbread Girl, the sweetest of all:

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I'm sorry, but are you as psyched as I am right now??? That new kit is stinkin' cute, no? [Curtsies proudly.]

Please click on the links for each of the kits above to take to you the web shop pages, which list what's included in each and what you will need to have. All ornament kits cost $25 each. I put a Paypal shopping cart feature on the web shop pages so that you can add more than one to the cart. (I've never done that before but I think it will work — let me know if you have problems.) I have one major request: Please [begging begging], please update your shipping address correctly in your Paypal preferences so that there is no confusion when we go to ship. We have a bit of a complicated system for making sure that everyone gets what they ordered on time, and post-ordering emails requesting address changes really mess with that, so if you can get it all straight before or while placing your order, I would be very, very grateful.

My awesome dynamic duo — once again I couldn't do it without these two. I'll see if I can get Andy to write a post detailing his work process like last year — I think he was seriously hopped up on M&Ms — that man can inhale a bag of M&Ms faster than anyone on earth. We are planning to ship everything by late-October. That will give you plenty of time to finish them for the holidays. I do ship overseas — just click on the "Add to Cart" button and enter your country as the destination as you go through the process to see how much the postage is before completing the order.

About the skill level needed to complete these: In previous years I said that, while I don't think of these kits necessarily as a children's or a beginner's project, if you have some experience working some basic stitches, these ornaments take more time and patience than skill. I will include directions on transferring the designs to the felt, and basic diagrams for completing the types of classic embroidery stitches you will need to know — backstitch, lazy-daisy stitch, satin stitch, French knot, and blanket stitch — but once you are comfortable working those stitches, if you just take your time and settle in, you will be fine.

The Snow Day kit is a little different, in that it will call upon some new skills: basic knitting, to complete the Polar Bear's neckwarmer (in moss stitch, which is k1 p1, repeated — very simple); and cross-stitch from a chart using waste canvas (which is included in the kit). This not difficult: Essentially, you will baste the waste canvas to the felt, stitch over it, then moisten the waste canvas and remove it's fibers, leaving the cross-stitches behind. This is one of my very favorite things to do (if you've gotten yourself a copy of Embroidery Companion then you'll be familiar with how much I love waste canvas) and will open a world of cross-stitching possibilities (oh joy!) for you if you've never done it before.

I think that's it. If you are interested in ordering these, the best advice I can give you is do not wait to place your order. These have sold out every year long before Christmas, and once they are gone, they are absolutely gone until next year (and even then, there are no guarantees that we will continue to do them, of course). Putting these kits together is, quite frankly, a massive operation that Andy and I do together and entirely ourselves — from cutting the felt, to assembling packs of embroidery floss, to winding yarn, to scooping beads and sequins. This activity completely takes over our household for the six weeks it takes to assemble and ship these (from now until the end of October). But we absolutely LOVE this whole process (while it lasts, and then we both fall over with exhaustion) and we love these kits, so I appreciate every single one of you who say you love them, too. Any questions, let me know, and thank you again for your yearly enthusiasm for these! I really appreciate that so much. Thank you!

*Update: Yes, I will be offering all three patterns as downloadable PDFs — they will be available sometime in late September, but I will let you know exactly when they are ready. THANK YOU everyone! You guys are seriously rad!!!

Photo from a Moving Car

comments: 28

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Taken by Andy out the window on the way home from the fair (I was driving). I absolutely love this picture. I have looked at it about ten times. It looks exactly like it felt. Look closely to see Mt. Hood on the left. I am INCREDIBLY excited to be taking a photography seminar from Art Wolfe in a few weeks. I can't wait I can't wait I can't wait.

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.