Sunshine Sprout

comments: 100































Um, the weather? Sixty-three degrees yesterday? Me oh my. We spent hours walking along. Everything is burgeoning. I tucked a sprig of daphne in her hair. I put it on my nightstand last night. Sweet smell of springtime. When I was a teenager, I worked after-school and weekends as a candy girl at the Lake Theater in Oak Park. Next to the theater was a store called Essence, and it was a gorgeous little shop that sold bath and body products. Inside it was all dark wood shelving and glass cabinets, baskets of dried flowers, bars of hard-milled soaps, Crabtree & Evelyn stuff, vanilla and violet perfumes (I had my bottle of vanilla perfume forever, and kept it long after it was empty — frosted glass with a little vanilla-colored ribbon tied around the neck). I used to haunt the place after school and before work started. The same lady worked there forever. She looked like the lady who sang back up for Stevie Nicks on The Wild Heart. She was always there. She was never friendly to me and I was very intimidated by her. I thought she was possibly the coolest person alive. I loved all of those soaps and flowers and lotions and perfumes so much. I would go in and figure out what things I could afford to buy and what things I had to save for. I saved for a long time for a bottle of lilac perfume (which I still have). I was trying to tell Stacey the other day about the Spring Rain scent (and packaging) from Crabtree & Evelyn. This scent was discontinued several years ago, and then I guess they brought it back, or something. I bought some two or three years ago and it was NOT the same at all (and didn't have the pretty packaging). The scent was so different I actually threw it away. Amelia's dress (which I made a few years ago, and is Liberty Tana Lawn, but I can't remember the name of this colorway) reminds me of the old Spring Rain packaging. I also mourn the discontinuation (?) of Crabtree & Evelyn cherry soap. That was my absolute favorite soap ever. It reminds me of taking a hot bath one night in our little hotel room at the Crofton Hotel in London after walking all day in the rain all over Hampstead Heath and arriving at Highgate Cemetery just as the ancient lady was locking the ancient gate with an ancient key (that's how I remember it, anyway). It was November, then. I had walked all the way there, from Kensington. I can't imagine how many miles that was. It took me all day. I was alone. I took the tube home that evening, in the rain. When I got back to the hotel, I ran the hottest bath in the world, and had a new bar of cherry soap. There was a casement window that opened — no window screen — above the bathtub. It was inky black outside, and drizzling. I could hear Londoners outside — it was Friday night. I was so incredibly tired and happy that night. For some reason, I just always remember and think of that day, and that night. I think I knew, even then when I was twenty, that there would only ever be that one single November day that I would spend walking for miles and miles across London to Hampstead Heath, stopping at John Keats house, grabbing Indian food on the way home, counting how many pound notes I had left to see if I could afford the tube after eating dinner (this was before such things as debit cards). Ah, well. A very strong '80s-era Laura Ashley-vibe will always be alive in my heart. My friend Martha told me she is sending me a bunch of fabric from her stash of Peter Pan and other '80s calicos. That she has a stash (gifted from a friend's mom) at all is so exciting sometimes I actually fall asleep thinking about it. I love little flowers. I made this little style board on Pinterest a few years ago that reminds me of all of this (because I think about it often), or something. I'm so excited to get the fabric. It's weird how things come full circle sometimes. The circle's always there, but sometimes it comes all the way around.

Do you have a little bundle of memories about something, several things, that all sort of converge (sometimes, some days) in a smell, or a picture, or a color of sky, too?

Made three little dresses for Meems this week (two pictured above, one with a Mina vest). Will photograph with details once they come back out of the wash. :)))


The 10th picture of Amelia looks incredibly like a painting by Carl Larsson! Beautiful!

I have to tell you that I have the Stevie Nicks website bookmarked on my laptop. I check it often. I'm a not-so-secret Stevie fanatic. I just love her. I'm so excited about your getting that fabric. I still have my first quilt that I made as a teenager in 1992, and it's all fabrics just like that. I picked them out myself, for my own bedroom, and they're still the kind of fabrics I immediately go to today.

What a gorgeous post, I love your trips down memory lane. I can perfectly picture that evening in London. Scents are so very evocative aren't they. It's such a loss when they are discontinued. Fantastic photos. All that blossom, and touches of green and playing outside without a coat. Wonderful. CJ xx

I love little flowers too. Thanks for sharing your November Friday night in London with us. Sounds like a dreamy day and evening.
Portland's blooms are just ahead of ours. I can't wait to start seeing signs of Spring pop up around the neighbourhood. Soon.
Have a wonderful weekend. xxJen

I ADORE all the little knitted items you pair with her sweet little dresses/tunics. It looks SO cute! And then because I know how much work you put into sewing and knitting, I can't help but think that it creates a little spell of protection around her. Magic.

Spring Rain!! I got bought that for my first Mother's Day. My baby girl was 8 weeks, fifteen years ago. I remember the scent and I know it would take me back to being a very young new mum.

Spring Rain was the best! I had the scented paper drawer liners through middle and high school and I just felt like they were the fanciest, most divine thing.

I'm sighing wistfully, over memories you've painted so effectively, they feel familiar.
I really must remember to have a cup of tea when I find you've put up a new post... Something to sip and savor, enjoying every bit, like I do your blog.

I enjoyed all your images - especially the one of Mimi with her dress and crocheted vest. Adorable. I have a bouquet of our own daffodils on the table today.. I just posted on my blog of my St. Patty's centerpiece I put together. A bit early.. but.. it's pretty! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Oh I love her little calico dress - seriously, I wish I had one like it for myself! I think scents recall memories more strongly than anything else. I can smell hair products today that I used 25 years ago and instantly recall the memories and feelings of that time. I try to keep this in mind as I try to create a wonderful home for my children...what kind of scents can I raise my children with that will remind them of home. Fresh baked cookies, homemade bread, lavender flowers in vases, etc. Hey that's something - you've given your readers over the years pictures of your beautiful home, you've mentioned the music you like to listen, but what does Alicia's home smell like? Kind of a funny question, but seriously, have you found a way to make your home smell as delightful as it looks?? :)

Today we could feel Spring come, and it made my daughter and I so happy. Suddenly, we could feel the fog of February lifting, and we felt full of plans. Your post today seemed similar to how we felt today too!

Looking at the photos of Highgate Cemetery I do not think you were ever suppose to go in there alone...Yikes!....only an ancient lady with an ancient key could be the caretaker of the gate!!..what a great smorgasbord of memories...I so look forward to your posts...they are truly the best!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

::sigh:: These days the only things that my olfactory senses pick up on are the oniony smells of my teenagers armpits. LOL Ever since my oldest hit puberty I haven't been able to go into one particular hot dog restaurant at home because the smells are so similar. I long for some delicious association like cherry soap and London baths!! That sounds truly divine.

Laura in Sacto says: February 26, 2016 at 04:09 PM

What a wonderful, wonderful memory! I do have one, it goes back to my childhood. Living in Southern California we were 2 hours from the Pacific Ocean. Newport Beach. I remember my family driving quite often in summer, and I would wait for it...just wait for the hills and over the hills...the wide open o c e a n. And the air. Oh my goodness! Those were some awesome days. There is something about the ocean that cleanses the soul.

Yes yes, Spring Rain! I loved the drawer liners in that. And true, the reissued stuff was ick.

A question not terribly related to a specific part of your post....but kinda. I have been looking for a really wonderful wisteria scented fragrance. I love wisteria. Got any clues, anybody ? I do not really know where to look. Fragrance cannot be experienced on a website. Just thought maybe Alicia or one of the rest of you could help me out. Love and thanks.

Aaah I love this post, you write so beautifully! I have been reading and re-reading your "I sew " post from way back, and the one that follows it, they inspire me so much and I have some sewing ahead of me this weekend, yay!
Isn't it amazing how smells evoke memories ... when I was 19 I also went to the UK with my sisters, and we bought Morello Cherry Lip balm from The Body Shop down in Bath. A few years ago I found a cherry lip balm here (I think it's made by Nivea?) and as soon as I smelled it I was transported back to that holiday. I bought one for my sister and told her to smell it and tell me what she thought ... "Morello Cherry! From Bath!!" Awesome :-D

Funny how memories and smells are so inextricably linked. One whiff and suddenly you're catapulted into the past. Loved reading your fragrant reminiscences.

The smell of baking grass on a hot, dry summer day and I'm a child again playing tag with my sisters in our back yard.

Less romantically: the whiff of old beer at the grocery store bottle return and suddenly I'm back in the dorm stairwell on a Friday night.

Another Spring Rain girl! I also bought the drawer liner papers and hoarded them for special things. My husband built a special box for me -- and I cut one of the sheets to fit perfectly the inside space. Loved that paper.

I love Crabtree and Evelyn but their stores have closed here, unfortunately. My regular perfume was Nantucket Briar; my dd still remembers it as one of the main scents of her childhood. I also loved their Rosewater perfume but they changed the scent and the packaging, and it was not as lovely.

Oh, and Laura Ashley, and Stevie Nicks ... all the wonderful beauty of the past, I wish so much it would come into fashion again. Thank you for sharing your lovely memories :-)

as if I needed further proof that we are indeed, soul sisters. Crabtree & Evelyn? and "A very strong '80s-era Laura Ashley-vibe will always be alive in my heart." First of all, the C&E cookbook (do you know it? do you own it? it's the BEST and you SHOULD. you would LOVE.) and for me, my great soap love was their swiss goatmilk soap. it was the perfect 'clean' smell - whyyyyyyyy have they discontinued all of those fantastic soaps of yesteryear? I don't like the new stuff nearly as much. Their Christmas room oil and potpourri, Noel, is THE smell of Christmas for me and my mother, and you can only find it on Ebay now.

Also. I lived, breathed, and worshiped at the shrine of all things Laura Ashley. Have you seen their UK based blog and website? Laura

I love your quote about having an 80's-Laura Ashley-vibe in your heart. That rings so true for me, too. I grew up in the 1980's in a working class family and we frequented thrift shops. When we were little girls my sister and I used to pretend to be Moms, shopping for our daughters in the baby clothes section. One day I found three Laura Ashley floral rompers and I fell so in love with them that I bought them with my allowance. I adopted my beautiful daughter four years ago and she wore those vintage rompers in the summer rain, so many years after I bought them as a little girl.

I used to work in the bath department of a fancy department store in Michigan, and we sold Crabtree and Evelyn stuff, and I can still smell "spring rain" in my head. In fact, I may have a dresser drawer with a piece of spring rain drawer liner in it. Quite sure it no longer smells, but my brain remembers it!

Wonderful post. I felt I was on that walk with you. I've been to Hampstead Heath, in the rain, but decided not to go into the cemetery. Creepy. Yes, I have memories come flooding back, with a sight, a sound, or a smell. Most recently the sight of a little girl in a skirt that my oldest daughter had and adored and wore endlessly for the better part of 5 years. Seeing that skirt made me nostalgic in a way that I hope was not creepy to the little girl's mom. I am grateful God made us humans with the capacity for experiencing these sorts of powerful memories. They give us the gift of remembering things that we wouldn't want to forget. But they are always bittersweet, making me a little sad about sweet times gone by, but happy that I ever had them.

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About Alicia Paulson


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




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.