Posts filed in: August 2013

And Vacation

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Aw, we did get away, just a little. Not too far, not too long. My gosh. Birdsong and crickets. Glowing sunrises. Crayfish and minnows. Slugs and eagles. Swedish pancakes (fail) and burgers and brownies (yeah). Cousins and uncle for an afternoon. S'mores and the wind in the trees. Sun on the water. Bananas and coffee (didn't bring enough). Rocks and ducks. Geese flying straight down the river. Too-soft beds and too-hard chairs. Puzzles and yarn. So quiet you could hear the leaves rustling. The frog croaking. The baby talked and talked. I can only get a non-blurry photo of her when she's in one of her seats or sleeping; the rest of the time she is on the move. Everywhere, everywhere, smiling, laughing, talking, blowing bubbles with her lips, crushing leaves, carrying rocks, pounding the table, cracking herself up, crawling as fast as she can that way, crawling as fast as she can this. Waking up to the sound of raindrops. Mornings on the porch. Everything soaked and beautiful. Grapes on the arbor. Bees in the perennial bed. Naps in the hot afternoon. Deer at twilight, racing across the lower lawn in three giant arcs, almost leaping straight over Andy's head in the murky dark. Lazy river. Friendly floaters occasionally drifting by, feet in the water, beer in hand; we charged them a toll  — a joke — to pass. Clouds hanging. Swallows swooping in the evening. Bats zipping across in the dark. We're in their world. The river world. No music, no television. Just crickets, and eagle calls, and the baby's delighted voice, carrying across the shallow water.

On Staycation

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Andy has been on vacation for the past week and it is pretty darn awesome in every possible way. Time, time. Time to do things together that we don't always get to do for days in a row. Our schedule is pretty great during the rest of the year — at least, it works for us. He works three twelve-hour days, with about an hour or so on the bus on each end of the day. So my days at home without him are loooooong, from about 5 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. But then we get him home for four entire days of every week (and that's when I try to work). He used to work four twelves, before Amelia was born, but now he just does three. And this is pretty awesome. We've been living with this non-Monday-through-Friday schedule for so long — ten years — and we are so used to it. We rarely do any errands or shopping or chores or things like that on the weekend, when everyone else is out, and the rare times that I have had to go grocery shopping on Saturday, say, along with the rest of the world, I am totally freaked out by how much more crowded it the streets and the stores are, how much longer it takes to do anything, how hectic and an intense the energy is (to get finished, so the relaxing can begin). I love going out on the weekend just to hang out, though. I love leisurely brunches at French bakeries. Walks in the woods. Playing at the fountain. Being downtown. Shopping for silly things (not necessary things). Buying flowers. Three o'clock lunches on the sidewalk at Piazza Italia. Strolling along the city streets without a schedule. Nowhere we have to be. Nothing we have to do. Aren't those days just the best??? Wander wander. Meander, stop. I think so.

The Clackamas County Fair 2013

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It's our favorite day of the summer. Oh, I just love it there so much. Everyone is so nice. I took a lot of pictures of people this time, including the hands of an veteran cowboy who told us stories while we ate our frozen custard at the end of the day. A master gardener. He was born when his father was fifty-six years old, and referred to his father, every time he mentioned him (which was a lot), as Daddy. What a cool guy, with hands that have seen a lot of hard work. Been going to the fair since 1948. I wish I had a picture of the look on his face when I asked him if I could take a picture of his hands. He definitely thought he'd heard me wrong. I liked that moment. I wish I'd gotten his email address so I could've sent him the photo.

Amelia's first fair! She loved it. She looks all around, takes everything in, watches everyone and everything, and every animal. She is up for everything, all of it. No matter where we go or what we do, she is game. She reminds me of Andy in this. It is just so easy and fun to be with these two.

Favorite photo of the day, taken by Andy with his phone:

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The moccasin-making man at the pioneer village. Andy gets a new pair every year. He brought one of his old moccasins, to see if he could repair a hole in the sole. "Pshaw, boy, that ain't no hole. You got a loooooong way to go before you need to worry about that." Hands them back.

What a great day. :) Next year, pony ride!!!

August

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It's been incredibly dry here. I keep hoping for a nice storm, or even one single raindrop, but everywhere I look our plants are fried, our lawn (what little we have of it) is fried, my pots are fried, my garden is fried because I never watered it, our two stupid plum trees have dropped hundreds — and I seriously mean hundreds — of small, bitter plums in both front and back yard, causing a huge (and I seriously mean huge) mess outside and in. Too high to pick and not even good for eating, they smash on the ground and explode, splattering purple. Man, I am frustrated with those things. They just make being in both of our yards pretty miserable at this time of year (without a ton of clean-up work first, and sometimes you just want to sit down . . .). That photo is the cleaned-up version, too.

I have so much angst this time of year. I don't want summer to be over, but it's too hot, now, and too dry. Everything feels desperate and yellow. There's relief in the wind-down, but regret, too: Already the mornings are dark when we rise at 5:00 a.m., and we drink coffee in bed with tiny lamps on, just like in winter. I can't handle the heat, but oh, I do love the light! I miss the light! I've started counting pool days. How many more times will we get to go before they close it? We have gone a lot. I have loved every single minute of every day with Amelia at the pool. Loved it. So did Andy, and so did she. Already I'm thinking of a plan for swimming indoors, once the outdoor pool is drained in a few weeks. Just this morning as we walked up to the grocery store, leaves fell from the trees onto to Amelia in the stroller. I bought baby cereal, two avocados, and a sweet potato, and some tapioca pudding. Comfort foods.

On Sunday, I had such a nice day. Andy watched Amelia for the entire day and I got to do whatever I wanted. So I made the little dress on the right in the morning (which is Simplicity 6713; the one on the left is Simplicity 5293, and I made that one really fast on Saturday) and then took it to a cafe downtown to work on the hem and the buttons in the afternoon. All by myself! Then, after I got bored (bored! I'd forgotten the feeling!) at the first cafe, I went to another coffee shop and sat out on the deck, and people-watched, and sewed on the button loops, and drank an iced latte. And lingered. Until dinnertime. CRAZY. I never do this. I probably need to do it more. I keep thinking about it!!! "Man, that was so awesome, when I had that latte!!! And I was just sitting there!!! Listening to other peoples' conversations! And then I had another latte! That was so great!!!" Etc., etc. Pretty funny.

Thank you for the help with the big-collared sweater suggestions in the last post! Lots of good ideas there. I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do but I'll keep you posted! I have to put the buttons on the Lilla Koftan. Next up in the sewing queue is some smocking on more dusky pink from another one of the vintage patterns (whose number I don't remember, and sweet Baby Mimi is sleeping partly on me right now so I can't get up and check). I've been working on the Milk Glass Pink sweater while watching ballet documentaries (huh???) at night after she goes to bed. I hit a MAJOR roadblock when I misunderstood the directions and put the first sleeve on ten stitches beyond where it should have gone. And then proceeded to graft the underarms (why??? did I do that?) and knit about twenty rows before I figured that out. Gah. I cut it all off with a pair of scissors, ripped back until I knew where I was, and began again. Wah. I had plenty of yarn so it was fine, just frustrating. I've never cut knitting with scissors before. It was a super weird feeling. The ballet must explain all this pink lately. I don't know.

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Oh my stars how I love her. Beyond words.

This morning our walk to the bakery was glorious: chilly, gray, and threatening rain. The perfect summer day!!! (Not kidding.)

I got some cute little binders from Target, along with some page protectors and half-size notebook paper for my vintage patterns that I ordered. I was so satisfied with this project that once I had stuffed all the patterns in (some of the edges had to be folded, but most of them fit) I didn't feel the need to do anything else for the rest of the day. Which was kind of awesome in about forty thousand different ways.

Our dryer broke, but then it got fixed. I'm glad I took that picture of pretty laundry on the line, because the next round was boxer shorts, sweatpants, and black socks. Not quite as pretty.

Remember this picture of Martha? Guess what she was working on there, thirty years ago: The quilt that would become Amelia's baby quilt! I had no idea. She finished it just for Mimi and and gave it to her in person when she was here last month. Adorable and amazing. So special and dear. I absolutely love it and so does Mimi. Xoxo

Does anybody know if there's a pattern on Ravelry for a baby/toddler sweater with a big round collar like this that is in English (that one's in French)? Maybe with even more fullness in the collar, like a true bias ruffle? I wasn't sure how to search for that. I put in "collared sweater," I think, but I just got a lot of things with shawl collars and then ran out of time to keep looking. Just thought I'd ask, in case you knew. I'm kind of into the short-sleeved sweaters now. Cute over long sleeved vintage peasant dresses, and whatnot.

The Calming Technique

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After all the friends, family, picnics, and pool days of the past month, my girl and I spent a lovely, quiet past couple of days inside, in the air conditioning, doing not much. Not much at all. My very limbs were limp. I pushed the ottoman over to the chaise lounge and made a day bed. Why didn't I think of this before? We rolled around there for hours. She took her nap there. I watched this documentary (I think it was on Xfinity on-demand, maybe?) while she slept beside me and was moved to tears by it, remembering things. I knit this very pretty little sweater in the prettiest color (I think). I fretted about all the work stuff I have to do (fast-paced shallow breathing here). I decided instead to order many vintage toddler dress sewing patterns from the '70s on Etsy, because I have these ideas. My pickiness about the exact lines I want to see in a toddler peasant dress has reached epic proportions. It's weirdo. I've thought about it a lot. Which is weird. I was starting to panic a little bit. Over toddler dresses. Stress-shifting. Pant pant. I thought about designing something myself and laughed out loud. I thought about splurging on some French patterns (the cuts, oh the cuts!) but the French were on vacation and wouldn't ship soon enough. I looked through the contemporary-designer PDFs I've bought, and the big commercial pattern books, but no. My brain tightened around these certain shapes and wouldn't let go. Then I started browsing the vintage patterns (hundreds! hundreds!) and — you guys — things got all  f l o w y  and  r e l a x e d. Chillllllllllled. I swear I felt all those millions of blobby wrinkles on my very brain start to melt out. Yes, those were the dresses, and the shapes. There they were. Relieved sigh. Down, girl.

When I was a child I spent hours — a lot of hours — browsing pattern books at the fabric store with my mom. I always loved it. When I got older, in high school and college, I did it by myself. I always had a lot of ideas. I always needed time to think about them. I always wanted something that wasn't exactly in the book, or a fabric that wasn't exactly on the shelf. Much like now. What is that? Such a curious phenomenon. When I had a lot of other stuff I needed to do, I would still be making things up in my mind, working on a plan for something. I find it impossible to surrender the impulse, no matter how busy I am. If I don't have that little space — just a little space to dream of shapes, before I fall asleep at night I see them in my mind — I am unhappy. If I have it, I am happy. There isn't much else I really crave doing, when time is tight. I find the dreaming even more satisfying than the sewing (which I don't actually have much time to do). I thought of making a notebook with the line drawings of the dresses, and swatches of fabrics and trims, and color combos. Then, when I do have a few minutes, I'll be ready.

My pet peeve about contemporary indie patterns: Many don't include line drawings of the dress, and they are made is such bright, colorful fabrics that I seriously cannot seeeeeeee what is going on. I SO very much prefer the old patterns, with drawings instead of just photos. I really seem to need the cover drawings and the line drawings, myself.

(Her little pillowcase dress was a gift from my mom from Camp Hollyhock.)

Food, Flowers, and Friends

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Oh, we are lucky ones. Our friends Martha and Mila were here for an entire week of glorious summer days. We cooked, we ate, we laughed, we knit, we played with our baby girls, and watched them play together. We played in the pool, walked up to get waffles, went to the farmer's market, got yarn so I could teach Martha to knit (she's a natural, and making this), had a picnic in the park where we saw a wedding and watched the adorable bride and groom ride off on their bikes, drove out to the river and spent an afternoon playing in the water and sand. What a great visit. We've been friends for twenty-five years. We've only gotten to see each other twice in the past sixteen. What an incredible privilege to have them here with us. It's been my dream to have them here with us. Aw, just so happy.

We cooked good things! We made this pasta pesto salad, this spinach quiche, these pancakes, this delicious vegan chocolate cake (seriously amazing) to take to the river, and my staple dinner this summer, quinoa shrimp bowls. Originally I was inspired to make these bowls by this recipe, but I do mine a little bit differently now. I cook a cup of quinoa in 2 cups of vegetable broth. I top it with black beans from this recipe (but I also use these Cuban black beans in a pinch), this grilled corn salad (though I don't grill the corn, but just use it fresh at this time of year), broiled shrimp (just toss them, raw and peeled/deveined, with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place in a shallow pan; place under broiler for a few minutes, turning once, until pink), avocado, and sour cream. I make a bit of lemon vinaigrette from the original recipe, but it really doesn't need much. Tasty and just delicious.

After an exhilarating month of almost non-stop visitors, it's time for me to settle in for the next few weeks and get some work done (boo). Behind the scenes here we are assembling ornament kits (as some of you sequin-spotting eagle eyes have guessed!). I do have a new kit for this year! I'll tell you more about it as we get further along. Things are coming together. Thank goodness for Greta!!!!!!!!!!

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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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.