Posts filed in: May 2016

Buds and Birds

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Grandma Paulson was visiting all last week, and Mimi had an absolutely wonderful time playing with her grandma pretty much non-stop. She also had her last day of her lovely, wonderful playschool, wrapping up two years of this perfect experience that fills me with emotion. She has grown and changed and thrived there in every way. For an only child (in our family at least; thankfully she has three birthsiblings that she knows and loves and sees often, but obviously they don't live with her), having friends to play with, talk to, learn with, walk with, fight with, make up with, laugh with, and share her days among is invaluable. I'm so grateful for our time there. I'm excited for next year (she's going to a pre-school in the neighborhood, and her friends, only one of which is a close neighbor, are going elsewhere), but I will miss these sweet days. (I will also miss the free eight hours a week they afforded me when I don't have them this summer, but that's another story.)

The weather has alternated cold and rainy with only mildly cold and rainy. I haven't spent too much time reading in my Adirondack chairs, but when I have been out there I've been nothing short of enchanted by all the little birds that are coming to our new bird feeder — a suet feeder that keeps squirrels and bigger birds out. Black-oil sunflower seed got spilled on the porch recently and not cleaned up; the squirrels went absolutely mental after they ate it all, and attacked the plastic milk jug we've used for years to fill the feeders, and destroyed the cap to the jug, and threw the jug across the yard and down the stairs to the sidewalk, and then threw the two empty feeders off of the trees, and completely destroyed the squirrel-proof one (I have two seed feeders — one is squirrel-proof, and one is just for the squirrels) by shredding the plastic tube inside and losing half of the parts. ANNOYING. Anyway, when I went to the store to get a new squirrel-proof seed feeder, I also got the new squirrel-proof suet feeder for the smaller birds. And now we have the sweetest little bushtits and chickadees. We've always had a lot of very friendly hummingbirds. Andy told me my red feeder (not squirrel-proof) was down on the sidewalk again this morning. Hrmmmm. Obnoxious. One squirrel sits on the fence and stares at me and thwacks his tail with fury the whole time I'm out there reading. He's quite annoyed that I'm in his yard, apparently.

My roses, good lord. Too bad I can't remember what they're called. I have two different bushes and they have been nothing short of fairy-tale quality this year, I do say.

I made a barbecue-chicken chopped salad like California Pizza Kitchen's from this recipe, but I used this chili-lime chicken that I've been making about once a week since I discovered the recipe. The salad tasted EXACTLY like CPK's. Exactly. It was awesome. Andy ate it (standing, still in scrubs, watching ESPN) when he came home from work.

Him, shouting from kitchen: "This is good!"
Me, shouting from living room: "I know, it's the jicama."
Him, mouth full: "The WHAT?!?!?"

Pfffft. I used the chicken on another night to make chicken tacos with this Mexican street corn salad, a vaguely unappetizing picture of which is up there, but I assure you, oh man, it was crazy good. So, chili-lime chicken, soft tortillas, corn salad, Spanish rice (from a box, I think it was Zatarain's). Boom.

Up there as well, Molly's Granola #5, the only one I'll eat anymore, originally gifted to me by the lovely Andrea for Christmas and which I've made several times since. I use cashews, sometimes almonds, and sweetened coconut. Very, very excellent granola. Simple and plain and toasty.

And then, magic custard cake. When I made this last summer, it occurred to me that it is exactly what I always want a clafoutis to be, but never is. So yesterday morning I pitted a bunch of cherries and added them to the bottom of the pan before I poured the batter in. It worked perfectly, though next time I would use more cherries, and actually more sugar. The cherries were seriously tart, and the cake just needs to be sweeter. Maybe a pinch of salt, too. This cake is really cool. It's a little bit of work, with beating the egg whites and all, but I've never seen anything like this before, and it is really delicate and delicious.

This week, ah . . . this week. I have a whole day — today — to myself. I'm sending the 'Night, Neighborhood cross stitch pattern off to the printer. Stacey's going to start pulling the floss tomorrow. The fabric should be arriving any day. This one has taken a while because I just have so many things going on at home right now. It's almost done, we just have to get it together around here. Things are a little rough around the edges. I could use a whole day to start smoothing them out. I'll be back soon.

***It's shaving-cream paint, to play with in the bath tub :).

***The upholstered dollhouse furniture was a long-ago sweet gift from Leigh. Thank you for that, Leigh. Meems set up this Calico Critter phalanx herself. Xox

Glorious Greening

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Oh, busy bees! Parties and family and friends and here, there, everywhere. We had such a nice Birthmother's Day party at our house on Saturday, went to my sister's for a nephew birthday/Mother's Day party on Sunday, and then out to my other sister's (glorious) place on the creek on Monday. I have so much to say but no time, it seems, to say it right now. I'm playing Twister, my hands and feet pointing in every possible direction as I contort and balance. I'll leave you with a delicious coconut cream pie recipe (and the cake is my old Cloudburst standby here, though I use this recipe for my chocolate cake now; make two of them for a double layer). Late spring. My goodness. Time whirls around me. Blur and wonder.

May Days

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This season is my favorite. Everything is still so green and fragrant and glorious. The days alternate cold and rainy with bright, white sunshine that makes us squint and run. We've planted a bit in the parkway raised beds, which have been sorely neglected the past couple of summers. The hose just doesn't reach down there very easily and the place just fries. This year, a bean teepee for Amelia, cherry tomatoes, beets, nasturtiums. Peas. Keeping it simple. Maybe a bed just for pumpkins to turn into jack-o-lanterns this fall. I assure you I am dreading the hot temperatures I feel sure are coming, even earlier this year than ever. Over the weekend it was 85 degrees, and that ain't right. Our Adirondack chairs stay blessedly shady for a good portion of the afternoon. I read an entire book in three days (unheard of for me). That was Claudia Silver to the Rescue. That girl made some horrideous decisions. She reminded me a lot of the girl in the book I finished just previous to this, Twelve Rooms with a View. These are all library books I've been picking up quickly at the library, and pretty much devouring. I can't say enough how liberating this has been. I'm just mentioning them here mostly because I've been kind of excited about how much I've been reading lately and was wanting to keep track of the titles somewhere, because I'm usually awful at remembering. I usually pick up four or five every week and finish one of them. I read a few pages of the others and if they don't grab me immediately, for better or worse, I put them back in the return basket without a smidge of guilt. Everyone knows this, I don't know why this is feeling so novel (har) for me. . . .

Yesterday I worked on my new cross stitch pattern pretty much all day long, and by that I mean the actual pattern itself, which requires figuring out which colors I used, how much of each color I used (like actual strandage), making sure the pattern reflects exactly what I did on the fabric (you'd be surprised), picking out all those little symbol things which go over the color blocks in the pattern, and then chopping the pattern up into four pieces so it fits on the pages in a way that's readable. That last part almost destroyed me. As I was in my sixth hour of doing it wrong, in one way or another, I had a distinct sense of deja vu, and of having done pretty much every single (wrong) thing in pretty much the exact same order over the exact same (ridiculously long) amount of time for the Sweetiepie sampler (of which there are literally only nine kits left, so get those while you can because they're not coming back). By 5:00 p.m. I had figured it out — I was determined to figure it out before I got out of my chair. I did. It wasn't pretty (I could see my reflection in my computer screen). But, I did it. And now to order the fabric for those kits, and get that show on the road. Should be just a few weeks before the Night Neighborhood kits are available. I'm excited about these. The finished piece itself looks really, really cool. And thank you for the framing recommendations! I almost forgot. I wound up ordering frame samples and supplies on-line from americanframe.com (thank you, Sharon, for the recommendation!). I'll let you know how it goes. I think I'm going to paint the frame again, so I can get the exact color I want. The wood seems to have a veneer on top of it, though, so it may not work. . . .

Have you heard of the thoroughly talented Carrie Hoge's gorgeous new print magazine, Making? I'm so honored to have a little cross stitch ring, inspired by my next-door-neighbors' dogwood trees, in the first issue. Thank you so much for asking me to contribute, Carrie, and thank you for putting up with me. Usually I say no to things when I'm asked to participate because I'm an unreliable disaster when it comes to meeting deadlines or providing everything required. I stand in bewildered awe (as Hugh Grant would say) of you, and all people who can put incredible publications like this together while raising small children, seriously. Very, very well done, dear friend.

I hope May goes slowly. I feel like things are moving quickly, maybe because it's been so hot. But I want this green to linger, and I want to linger over it. I want to do some things that are just plain indulgent, like perfect my chai recipe for iced chai this summer, and read more library books in the front yard, and watch New Girl from the beginning, and make summer pajamas for Amelia to wear to her end-of-school almost-sleepover at her friend's house in a few weeks (they're all bringing sleeping bags, watching a movie, eating snacks, and then sleeping at home :). I want to make Indian food and go to the river. I want to pull some weeds and feed some birds and watch my little girl whirl and twirl in the sun.

***That's Barefoot Contessa's pasta, pesto, and pea salad, above. And I forgot to mention, for those who have asked about the quilt, we got it at the antique mall (Stars, in Sellwood) for $18 a few weeks ago. Score.

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.