Posts filed in: December 2010

Merry Time

comments: 110

Gingerbread

Our weekend was so slow, and just so nice. A sleepover, a breakfast, a dinner party that went waaaaaay into Saturday night, a day of baking, a day of nothing, and a day of fancy hotel brunch and a movie on a Monday afternoon. An abundance of slow time, especially now, the week of Christmas, feels like the best gift of all.

Gingerbread2

I baked gingerbread mini-loaves (topped confectioner's sugar + milk glaze and candied ginger) for my neighbors on Sunday afternoon, and generally puttered around in the spicy warmth of baking molasses-cake and flannel pajama pants. This week I'm all about soup and biscuits, with a handful of sweet clementines for dessert.

Gingerbread3

I have a few more batches to make. That's no hardship.

Gingerbread5

I'm going to take some time off from the computer until next week sometime, but from all of us here, we sincerely wish you every happiness and all peaceful days this loving season.

Gingerbread4

I wish you quiet time, too, to hear the winter birds singing, children laughing, knitting needles clicking, and snow (not rain) falling, if that's something you long to hear, as I do.

Love always,
Alicia & Co.

Gingerbread Morning

comments: 69

Houses7

Houses8

Dried cherries, almonds, peppercorns, red beans, black-eyed peas, pretzels, and banana chips on the houses. Waffles and whipped cream for breakfast. (The holidays.)

Ready

comments: 44

Houses2

Tonight is the Gingerbread Sleepover. One of my very favorite nights of the whole entire year.

Nutmeg Cardi

comments: 63

Nutmeg7

PATTERN: Sweet Baby Cardigan by Nancy Pietraczek
SIZE: 0-3 months?
YARN: Cascade Yarns Eco Alpaca

I'd like to just knit all day. And all night. I have knitting fever bad these days. I've had it all this year, of course, but now that it's winter, and wintry, and woolish, all I want to do is knit. Knit knit knit. Knit and then knit some more. And when I'm not knitting, all I want to do is surf Ravelry, looking for new things to knit. Like, say, this and this and this and this and this.

Nutmeg9

The little Nutmeg Cardigan kept me happily knitting (and by knitting I mean hardly any purling, as this is almost entirely made of garter stitch and bee stitch, the cutest little sponge-y, plump-y little stitch you ever did see — love love love bee stitch) for the past couple o' weeks. You just knit, knit knit. Perfect for watching Christmas movies (this one is still our favorite), stoking the fire, giggling at squirrel antics out the window (I now know they can literally dangle upside down — and I mean, completely upside down — from one paw, which is attached to an almost-vertical surface, one paw which does not seem to be particularly sticky, or grippy, and which, in fact, looks not even in the least bit strained, and stuff their little faces until they have eaten an entire birdfeeder's worth of black-oil sunflower seed in one sitting [or one dangling, as it were] ). It's perfect for being sat on by a displaced puppers who wants her dog bed back (it's become a whole thing now: Kitters gets on the dog bed around 6 p.m., Puppers skittles around anxiously, staring at/imploring me to do something already to restore order to the universe, I pretend I have no idea what is going on [this works in all sorts of situations, actually] and continue to k1, k1b across row to last 6 st, oblivious to all animal drama. [I mostly stop caring at 5 p.m.; at 6 p.m. I declare myself oficially off the animal-drama clock, turn on Judge Judy, and make everyone wait until their father gets home for anything else they might need] ).

Yes, it's a great little cardigan for all of those wintry things. I made a bunch of mistakes on this, and still am wishing that I had used a size smaller needles for the button band (came out too long, in my opinion). But generally, if you have four adorable little painted wooden buttons and you are wondering what to do with them, I would strongly suggest making this sweater. I wish that it came in sizes bigger than three months, but it seems a bit bigger than that, actually. If I have any motivation toward doing math in the coming weeks (can't really think of anything more unlikely than having any motivation toward doing math in the next few weeks), I'll try and upsize this cute little warm little squishable little sweater. Or else I'll just sit here and think about it instead. Or else I'll just sit here.

Cinny Buns

comments: 26

Cinnamon3

Thank you for all of the living- and dining-room love! I updated Monday's post with some source information in response to the questions that came in, so check back there for answers. Our downstairs bathroom is pretty much finished, and our hallways have new paint, too, so I'll have more house photos soon.

I have been so very much enjoying the quiet of the house these past two weeks. I guess I am someone who really likes it quiet when I am home alone. It seems to make the day go slower, somehow. I especially like it quiet when I'm baking. I like to hear the sound of the dog snoring, the traffic outside, the baking things clattering. I thought about this lately because we have a new oven and it is bizarrely loud. It is electric, convection. When it is on, I can actually hear it from all the way across the house, in the living room. I read in the instruction book that this is normal; I think it is the convection fan whirring. I guess that is a sound of baking, too, now.

Whatever it is, it baked these cinny buns perfectly. These are the Bakery Cinnamon Rolls from The Grand Central Baking Book: Breakfast Pastries, Cookies, Pies, and Satisfying Savories from the Pacific Northwest's Celebrated Bakery. I love this book. I have made the Irish soda bread, the blueberry muffins (many times), and now the cinnamon rolls, and every single thing came out well. This is all totally because this is a good book, and not because I am a good baker because I really am not. I try hard, and I have one cake and one pie that always work, but I would say other than that I'm about 50% (bewildered) sweets-fail. Not always documented, but sometimes (those cracked me up. I forgot about those). But this book, and maybe the new oven (maybe the old one had even more problems than I thought?), is giving me more confidence. Possibly even already a fat head, as I told Melissa, a cinny bun–making veteran who advised me on the cinny process (and oh my stars did she ever just make the most gorgeous and special quilt in the world). Because these cinny buns tasted very much like the bakery version and I was amazed. (They even have whole-wheat flour and eight-grain cereal in them, which in your mind can help offset the absolutely sin-ny twelve tablespoons of butter and the crazy amount of brown sugar.) I do aspire to be a better baker. Watch out, friends and neighbors, potential recipients. For my next trick, I have mini-loaf pans here on the counter and they are trying to tell me I can do this thing. We'll see.

Paint and Switch

comments: 161

House11

On my way out to run errands one chilly morning this fall, I started my little (fifteen-year-old) car, turned on the heater, and heard water trickling . . . somewhere. Somewhere inside the car. This was a few weeks after the last time the car broke down (again) at the mall while Andy's mom was visiting. Not being inclined to take chances, I drove straight to my mechanic. He told me it would take him three or four hours to fix the car that morning. He dropped me off at Ikea (which was a few blocks away) and told me he'd call.

House12

Well! With everything else I'd thought I was going to do that day postponed, I was slightly panicked for a minute — I had this, and this, and this, and that to do! — and then (very quickly, in fact) I felt suddenly and oddly liberated. Riding the escalator up to the cafe, I saw the morning stretch out ahead of me; it was now leisurely, to be filled with nothing but Swedish pancakes and fake living rooms for the next four hours.

House14

[This is the part in the story where Andy's wrists, far away across town, started involuntarily twitching, sensing they would soon be required to put together several more pieces of furniture.] Wander, wander, wander. Slowly I followed the arrows through too many installations to count. When I got tired, I found myself sitting on various sofas in the fake living rooms, relaxing. Hours passed. Our own house was in a state of complete dishevelment, with ornament-kit parts and pieces of our former bathrooms covering every flat surface. In the fake living rooms, "life" felt calm and orderly. I put my feet up on the ottoman in the fake living room and picked up a book. It was in Swedish so I fake read it. I felt my blood pressure dropping. That was real. I looked around and tried to figure out what it was about the fake rooms that felt better than my real rooms. I realized that in the past ten years we had cobbled together and jerry-rigged a lot of systems in our house that weren't really working for us anymore, and we had no storage. Also, the colors of our rooms (dark, dark grayish-green, for one) weren't making me happy at all. It was time to revisit the whole shebang. (Here are some photos from a few years ago that kind of show how things were, though we'd repainted the dining room and gotten a new sofa several years ago. The green armchair was the first piece of furniture we bought after we got married, so it's about thirteen years old and still going strong. The sideboard with the old typewriter on it was my parents'. They brought it out for me from Chicago when they moved to Oregon, and ironically it is made out of myrtlewood, which, as I understand it, only grows on the northern California and southern Oregon coast.)

House2

When my mechanic called to say the car was ready, I was figuring out ways to make the Hemnes entertainment center part of our life. By the time my taxi pulled up in front of the garage, in my mind I had already rearranged all of the other furniture (we had, about five years ago, moved all of the living room furniture into the dining room, and the dining table into the living room [the fireplace room] ). And painted the living room with a fresh coat of Stonington Gray (by Benjamin Moore).

House6

With Wickham Gray (also by Benjamin Moore) in the dining room.

House8

Yes, give me a few hours and nothing to do and I'll hatch a plan, alright. Here's the dining room from a little bit of a higher angle. We got these chairs about ten years ago from an ad in the paper. They look fine but they give me a terrible backache when I sit in them for too long. I have some big, cushy seat cushions (yet another round of seat cushions) on order, but there is something about these chairs that my back hates. I think it's that the seats actually tilt down toward the back. It's a shame, since they are incredibly sturdy and well-made. Just seriously uncomfortable. I hesitate to give them away lest they trouble anyone else, but Andy is not bothered by them so it's probably just me.

House4

Our house is one of those where the front door opens directly into the living room, which leads into the dining room with a big arch. There is no "entry," nor any sort of coat closet. A giant air intake thing right next to the door precludes adding a wardrobe or something like that (and there really isn't even room for something like that). We wound up putting a little Expedit shelving unit here, under the arch, to hold shoes and baskets for hats and mittens and dog collars, as well as mail. I don't know why I didn't think of this before.

House1

Almost everything else we already had, but somehow it feels like a whole new house. The new paint colors have been glorious, I must say. I think it's hard to tell in the photos, but the Wickham Gray is much lighter than the Stonington Gray, so they feel related but not the same. In some photos the color is reading as light blue, but it's really nowhere near that blue in real life.

House3

Oh, I do like it when things are all in their places with bright, shining faces. It makes my whole body sigh with gratitude. And it was possibly the only time I've ever actually been happy about the car almost breaking down.

Some Details:

The little red fake fireplace: My mom gave this to me for Christmas three years ago, and it is one of my favorite things. It's electric and from Plow & Hearth, and I know they carry several models. It can be used as a heater (though we never use it this way), or you can just turn on the little light that makes it look like a wood fire.

The entertainment center and lights: As I mentioned, these pieces are from the Hemnes collection at Ikea. The lights on top of the cabinets are also from Ikea, but I don't remember what they are called. They have many different types of cabinet-top lights; ours are plugged into dimmers, which is really nice.

The sofa: This is a hide-a-bed, from Sofa Table Chair here in Portland. Info is here.

The braided rug: From L.L. Bean several years ago.

The old silver Christmas tree (in the links to the old pictures): It was vintage, and just getting too fragile to keep putting up. The pets never really bothered it, but its center pole had been repaired so many times that it is quite compromised, so we've had a real tree for the past two years. We still have Silver, but I'm not sure what we will do with her in the future. Getting a new pole would mean drilling a million holes at all different angles, etc., so I don't know.

Dining-room hutch and table: From the Liatorp collection, from Ikea several years ago. Chairs, as I mentioned are used; we painted them ten years ago but I don't remember the name of the color (off-white).

Plants hanging in front of windows in living room: Fake maidenhair ferns. From JoAnn Fabrics. I can't keep houseplants alive. The wire pots they hang it might have been from Smith & Hawken many years ago, I can't remember.

Gingham curtains: Cabin Check in cranberry from Country Curtains.

Snowflakes over fireplace: These are hung from little white cup hooks that stay in our ceiling all year. They are basically invisible, so it works to leave them up.

The painting over the sideboard: It's from an artist named Eli Halpin who used to live in Portland but now lives in Baltimore, I think.

The ripple blanket: More info on mine is in my FAQ. And please see the Ravelry page for the Soft Waves pattern. If you're struggling, I'm sure the Ravelers can help!

She's Trying to Tell Me Something

comments: 63

Kitters

What oh whatever could it be? Clover paced around her in big circles, worriedly — cat on a dog bed had never actually happened before. Cat on a regular bed, of course; cat on a standard pillow, cat on the sofa, cat on the counter, cat in the shower, cat on a sweater, cat on the mail, cat on someone's neck, but never before cat on a dog bed. Someone else's dog bed.

The funny thing is that if I made her her own cat bed? She wouldn't touch it. Unless it was cashmere, shaped like a sweater, and I had just taken it off.

A Bit of Holiday Decorating

comments: 48

Mantle3

We've been putting up Christmas decorations a little bit all week long — a little here, a little there. I feel a deep need for simplicity right now, since there has been so much commotion around the house these past few months. I decided to forego my Christmas village, and pretty much keep the mantle the way it's been for the past few weeks. Amanda mentioned putting flameless tea lights in mason jars on the windowsills; I love the way candles look in jars, too, so I thought just a few for the mantle (though mine have the real tea lights in them), along with the snowflakes we usually hang, and the cranberry stand, and a little pennant garland I made yesterday using Stephanie's tutorial.

Mantle1

It's all made me quite happy to look at. Funny how Christmas does that to ya.

It's been so nice to be home in the quiet this week, puttering and dinking around. Going slow (it's already 5:43 p.m. and I am just getting to post). Cleaning. Knitting. Sitting around with animals on my lap. I am planning some holiday baking. There will definitely be cinnamon rolls. There will definitely be gingerbread. I am not great at baking cookies, but I might try. I am definitely planning on taking more photos around the house, but it's been so dark lately. I keep waiting for more light, but that seems downright silly.

(A couple of people asked where I got the ticking stripe fabric for the dog beds [there is a cat sitting on one of them right now, actually, so I guess it's a "pet" bed] yesterday — that ticking was in my stash from forever ago, but it probably came from Fabric Depot or Mill End Store. [And for those who asked about the braided rug, I didn't make that; it's from L.L. Bean about five years ago or so.] )

Animal Activity (and Not So Much)

comments: 47

Abs

My abs hurt just looking at this photo. He was in this position for, oh, ten minutes or so. Yesterday we decided to try to have one "bird"feeder for the squirrels, and one squirrel-proof feeder for the birds (thanks for that idea, those of you who mentioned it). So we got a new squirrel-proof birdfeeder (the one in the photo is not it — that's the old one; the new one is still in its box). The squirrel-proof one is hard to describe but the food window basically closes whenever there is weight on the little perch sticking out from it; a bird is not heavy enough to close it, but a squirrel is. The saleslady had said that we needed to put the squirrel-proof feeder far enough away from a branch so that the squirrel couldn't stand on the branch and eat out of it. I joked in the car afterward to Andy that since she said "branch" she probably didn't mean "tree trunk," and anyway I didn't see how anything could actually stand on a vertical surface. . . . HAR! Wrong! :-) Clearly I have not spent enough time observing squirrel behavior. I was cracking up when I took his photo from my window this morning. We'll see how it goes!

I finished the doggie beds yesterday — basically just covered two fleece dog beds we already had with heavyweight ticking, one for the bathroom (she likes to lay in front of the heat vent while we take our showers), and one for the front rooms.

DoggieBed

My sweet little darling. She likes them. Mwah little black nose I could just kiss all day long.

Garland-Making

comments: 59

Cranberries

Switching the living room and dining room (so that the living room is back in the room with the fireplace) has brought me back to sitting by both the fireplace and the window that looks onto the front yard and the two little trees we have in it. One is a magnolia, one is a yellow dogwood. Right now they are both bare and so beautiful. They are both small enough to hang birdfeeders from. At this moment I am watching a little brown and gray squirrel pig out on the seed I just refilled while a little brown sparrow waits patiently on a nearby branch for her turn. He's been eating for fifteen straight minutes so far. I hope she gets a turn. I have a lot to learn about feeding birds and squirrels. I am excited about it. My view from this window is incomparable — I am only about eight feet away from where the action is. The weather here has been dry the past few days, so all of the animals are out. It is supposed to start pouring rain for about six days straight here in a bit [sad face]. I have been enjoying this pale winter sunshine — especially the wintry sunsets, which are so very rare for us — so much.

I strung some cranberries and popcorn last night, thinking I'd use the garlands for the mantle and the Christmas tree and for the tree outside. I got too tired before I finished and was going to do it this morning but I couldn't find the bowl of popcorn. I asked Andy what had happened to it and he said he ate it. "You ate a whole bowl of cold, air-popped, unseasoned popcorn?" He is a popcorn vacuum. I've never seen anyone who loves popcorn as much as Andy Paulson. When we go to movies he eats popcorn for two straight hours. It's hilarious. He's part squirrel.

This is on the needles right now. In nut-brown alpaca with some little red-flowered buttons planned. It's got a cool stitch pattern I have never done before, K1 (knit one), K1B (knit one below). Such an adorable stitch pattern!

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

Archives

Photography

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.