Posts filed in: July 2017

Some Summer Reading!

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It was our twentieth wedding anniversary on July 19. That's the china anniversary, so we were planning to eat Chinese food on our wedding china but instead had our standby anniversary dinner, Rozale Lasagna, named after our first apartment together back in Missoula, Montana, where we lived when that first picture of us was taken, back in 1994 or '95. That picture was taken on Flathead Lake and I can't imagine who took it; I think it might have been a timer selfie taken with my point-and-shoot. We started dating in 1992, but we actually met in . . . 1989? Almost thirty years ago. We were a very unlikely couple and started dating on a whim, literally, after a chance road trip together going to visit some other friends from college. Somewhere in the cornfields between River Forest and Peoria, Illinois, we fell in love in the car and have been together ever since. Being married to Andy Paulson is one of the great miracles of my life and I wake up every morning and still can't believe I ever got this lucky.

Actually, on our actual anniversary we went on a boat ride, above, and wound up having dinner downtown at the world's most unlikely place, Morton's Steak House. Morton's Steak House, in case you don't know, as I didn't, is one of those places that has a super-dark interior with big super-dark leathery chairs and no windows and $59 steaks, where people with expense accounts go when they're traveling for business and trying to schmooze some account rep (maybe). It was, however, blissfully air-conditioned. We wound up there because, after our two-hour boat ride down the river, we were headed over to Piazza Italia in the Pearl (a district that should have been about five or ten minutes away from the boat place) but got stuck in the biggest downtown traffic jam in the world. We were averaging about fifty feet every five or ten minutes. Then we heard the words that strike fear in the heart of every parent sitting in a traffic jam: "Mommy, I need to go potty." Cue me, pulling over (tires squealing . . . just kidding) and tossing the keys to the valet at Morton's Steak House, right in front of which we happened to be most conveniently (or not, stay tuned) sitting, unmoving, in traffic. Into the empty restaurant (it was 5:00 p.m.) and very nice bathroom we went, looking like a bunch of hippies who just tumbled off a boat ride. I won't go into details about the food but will just say that I could have bought her about fifty pairs of new undies for what that (totally overpriced and burnt, ahem) meal cost. But it was an absurd, sweet, really fun and memorable evening, and lord how I love these two. Andy said, "Let's come back in another twenty years but then go somewhere else instead." Ha!

Thank you EVER, EVER, EVER so much for all of the book recommendations. I am so excited about these, and I haven't heard of almost all of them. Amelia wound up picking out my next book, Rosamunde Pilcher's Coming Home, because she liked the cover and color of the spine (pink) and wanted to leave the library, stat. I've never read a Rosamunde Pilcher book before, I don't think, but this one turns out to be perfect for me right now because I just found out through Ancestry DNA that I am actually part English. This is completely shocking and I will tell you more about it later as soon as I figure out a few more things. Sadly, I've also damaged my library book by throwing it into my pool basket and then having everyone's wet towels thrown on top of it so I'm guessing I'll be buying that? I don't think I've ever damaged a library book before so I'm not sure what happens when you do. I feel really bad. I want to finish it quickly so that I can get to some of these on the list you put together. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this list, and I hope you enjoy these!

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towle
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
The Nightengale Nurses by Donna Douglas
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center
The Time in Between by Maria Duenas
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The Bear and the Nightengale by Katherine Arden
Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
The Woolgrower's Companion by Joy Rhoades
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
In the Castle of the Flynns by Michael Raleigh
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
The Scarlet Sisters by Helen Batten
The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
The Dry by Jane Harper
The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard
A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
Change Agent by Daniel Suarez
Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman
The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil
The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan
Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia Macneal
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley
Camino Island by John Grisham
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald
The Trespasser by Tana French
The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Raven Black by Ann Cleeves
The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick
The Great Kitchens of the Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Also, thank you to everyone who reminded me that the tree book I was talking about was called Trees of Greater Portland. I still have made zero progress on my to-do list re: railings and replanting, but I'm ever hopeful. ;)

Summer Season

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Amelia's in a morning day-camp down the street three days this week. I drop her off and water the garden. Today I filled the bird feeders. Then I emptied the dishwasher, made myself a bagel with avocado, cleaned up, answered emails, and now I'm sitting down for an hour to write here before I go back and pick her up and we go up to the library. I'm having groceries delivered in time for dinner. In between things, I ship orders, etc. I'm working on a new cross stitch pattern. My mom was here yesterday afternoon and I got to work on it a lot, and I love it. My mom took Amelia to the grocery store and then made dinner for us (chicken and dumplings, my favorite) and then Mimi and I read all our library books for the last time and then I put her to bed, and then I got to play with my cross stitch pattern (it's for Christmas) for several hours before Andy got home and then I went up to bed. The days are busy. They just are. They're wonderfully busy, but they're busy.

Thank you so, so much for the Scarborough Fair skirt pattern orders and the fabric orders! I'm so excited that people are going to make that skirt. Please send me photos when you do, or tag them on Instagram (#scarboroughfairskirt, maybe?). I've heard from several people who've made it already and, I don't know, it's thrilling. I haven't heard of any problems with the pattern but if I do I'll correct it right away and send out a corrected version automatically. Please let me know if you have any questions about it, or comments, or anything.

Standing by the veggie garden, Amelia is posing as a flower. We watch our squash and pumpkins and cucumbers take over the raised bed. It's been fun and also mildly heartbreaking. So far there are only two cucumbers and two big tomatoes, and two pea pods and about seven strawberries. There are some Roma tomatoes coming, and hopefully an eggplant. The broccoli and cabbage look terrible today. Tiny, tiny white bugs all over the cabbage. I blasted them off with the hose. Need the soap spray there, I guess. It's shocking how much money and how many hours I've spent to get two cucumbers, two tomatoes, two pea pods, and seven strawberries. Sigh. Well, as they say, it keeps me out of trouble. Having a little chair to sit on between the beds sort of changes everything down there. I mean, it's just a little gardener's bench, and I don't keep it down there or anything because it would get ripped off in about five minutes (our beds are about a foot away from the street), but I drag it down there from the porch every day and sit and contemplate the squash blossoms. It's a completely different experience sitting than standing. I know I keep saying this but it's true.

This year we need 1) railings on our front stairs down to the sidewalk (if anybody has recommendations for iron railing installation, let me know) and 2) a new tree to replace the half-dead plum tree in the parkway, which has just begun its yearly assault on me personally by dropping inedible plums by the millions all over the sidewalk and stairs and making me shriek with frustration daily. The thing is so gnarly and bad. It's listing so hard it looks like it's about to fall over. It never does, but one by one its big branches just stop producing leaves and get covered with some kind of lichen and completely die off. This doesn't stop plum production, however, and they are the sourest, darkest purple plums in the world. The tree is probably original to the house, which was built in 1928. We've had several arborist dudes come out and look at it and they trim it and charge us a ton of money and it basically just looks worse and worse, not through any fault of theirs, I don't think, but it's just a troubled tree. I'm loathe to lose the shade it provides so we've been dragging our feet on this. One guy recommended we plant a Katsura tree, and that is a gorgeous tree. He also said there was a book that lists where a bunch of different trees are planted around Portland so that you can drive around and go and see them in neighborhoods and stuff but I can't remember the name of the book. Anyway, these things are on my list of stuff to get done this fall, among forty-five other things. Plant new tree and install railings. Who has the time? Insert chin-scratching emoji guy here.

Anybody reading any good library books lately? I need a page-turner that's not depressing. Anybody watching Grantchester on Masterpiece? We're only halfway through season 2 (it's on Prime, FYI) so don't tell me anything, but man. I love that show. I got the first book but I didn't like it as much as the show. The show is so good. I watched season 1 when it first came out and then I lost track of it, but recently found it again. I keep thinking about it during the day.

Scarborough Fair Skirt Pattern Now Available!

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***Update: THANK YOU so very much to everyone who ordered this skirt pattern and fabric. The fabric is completely sold out, and I am hoping to have a bit more to offer next month. Thank you beyond words for your interest in my work. I am so grateful. XOXO

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Oh, now I'm happy. My Scarborough Fair Skirt Pattern is now available! Please click here to go to my web site to purchase it!

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You can make this skirt in any size and length you'd like. Just take your waist, hip, and skirt length measurements and plug them into the formulas I've listed in the pattern and you're good. All of the pieces are cut with a rotary cutter and ruler, so there are no patterns to print out and tape together, etc. There are step-by-step illustrated instructions for making the skirt and it is really quite easy. I really hope you are going to love this and I hope you'll send me pictures of your finished skirts in action because I want to see them! I really love the skirts that I have made — I've made five of them now and I wear them almost every single day! For better or worse!

If you have any questions about the pattern let me know. (***Update: Yes, it is pull-on and has elastic in the back only.) It's an advanced beginner pattern. You need to have a basic understanding of sewing, including how to gather, sew around curves, and sew pieces together carefully to make this skirt. It's not difficult but might be a bit challenging for an absolute beginner, as the construction and method are a little bit unusual. But overall it's pretty straightforward and simple to make.

Should you need fabric, I am offering some of my vintage '80s and '90s calico in 2-and-1/2 yard  (2.25 meter) pieces. This fabric is quite precious, and it can be hard to find vintage fabric in continuous pieces that are this long. This amount will make a skirt that's up to about 30" long (the one pictured is about 25" long) so if you're not looking to make one longer you'll be good; if you'd like you're skirt shorter, you'll have some extra to make a hat or quilt patches or something else. I decided to offer this fabric in skirt-sized pieces rather than selling it by the yard, or by the half-yard, because there are a lot of different prints and I wanted to get it all cut and folded ahead of time. If you're looking for a smaller amount, you might want to pass on this; we will not cut these pieces down, and they are already packaged.

I hope you like them! Click on each photo to take you to the web page where each fabric can be purchased. There are only between two and seven pieces available in each print, so if you miss out this time, I will have a few more coming later in the summer. But in general this is a very rare stash, and one it is gone it is gone. I'm using most of it this fabric for quilt kits, but some of the bolts I recently purchased had upwards of 25 yards on them, so that was more than I needed and I wanted to make some available for skirts! All fabric is 100% cotton unless otherwise noted and 44" (112cm) wide.

 

Ecru with Morning Glories

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Steel Blue with Garland

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Gold with Grapes

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Blue with Roses and Daisies

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Pale Brown with Roses and Daisies

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Navy with Blue, Gold, and Pink

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Tiny Autumn Mix

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Green Gardens

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Cream with Roses

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Spring Garden

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Violet Riot

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Tan with Garland

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Mauve with Tiny Blue Flowers

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Dark Green with Roses

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Mauve with Blue Flowers

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Early July

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Good morning. How are you? I'm sitting here. The fan's whirling above me and Amelia and Andy are out for a walk with Clover Meadow. It'll be in the 90s today. I'm anxious to go out and patrol my garden. No sooner did I banish the katydid nymphs that were chomping my verbena than we've had new pestering. Since these pictures were taken, big fat green worms have gotten into my cabbage and broccoli. I tried plucking a few off yesterday but I literally almost threw up. I was surprised that I had this reaction. Scream-gagging in the street. Lovely. Amelia was mildly alarmed. I tried to blast them off with the hose. Unsuccessful. I'm not sure why I think I could live in the country. . . . Thank you for all of your kind and poignant comments on my last post. I was very moved by them. I'm really trying to take it slow and steady. Summer destroys me with longing, somehow. It happens to me every year. I don't know. Summer always feels hard in ways I can't even explain.

Meems and I have been rollicking through the days, nevertheless. Andy worked Sunday through Wednesday this week, through the holiday, but she and I kept ourselves busy with friends and fun stuff. It was hot yesterday afternoon, so we slowed to a crawl and laid around and did all the puzzles and watched kids' shows on TV after we got home from swimming. It was nice. I read a library book (The Headmaster's Wife — don't tell me what happens, I'm not done yet) while eating curried shrimp and pineapple and peas (weird combo, I guess, but it was good) and she ate a dozen enormous strawberries for dinner on the couch. At night I've been knitting miles and miles of stockinette on my Birkin sweater and that thing is shaped quite oddly. I think it's going to funnel-neck pretty badly on me. My tension looks pathetic, alternately too loose and too tight. I really can't do three colors in the same row. I can knit with both hands but dropping the second and picking up the third color just messed me up I guess. Usually my colorwork looks pretty good — I'm pretty loose — but this yoke (not pictured among the four thousand pictures above, naturally) looks positively smocked. I did try it on, though, and it fit, in a way, but I can see that it wants to ride up. The armholes are quite low. There is no increasing over almost the entire depth of the yoke pattern, so the yoke is pretty tube-like to begin with, almost poncho-like. I have about eleven inches left to do of straaaaaaaight stockinette, in fingering, in size XL. Soooooooo I'm going to be there for a while before I get a chance to block it out. I'm gonna block it hard and hope the yoke stretches. Or should I take it off the needles now (I'm about three inches into the body, after separating for sleeves) and block it and make sure it's going to be wearable without tragic funnel-necking before I keep stockinetting for hours of my life? OH such problems. Well, you know. I knit while watching the news so I should probably go up about four needle sizes in general, actually and in all things, to counterbalance the inherent tension of . . . oh, everything, everywhere.

My skirt pattern (second-from-top photo) is done and I'm going to release  it next week, along with some of the extra yards of calico leftover from cutting strips for quilt kits. There is not a ton of fabric, but I do want to make some of it available, so I'll probably do it next Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. again. The pattern is a PDF download and it will only be available as a download (not printed). I'm vaguely nervous about this as it's my first-ever clothing pattern, but it's pretty simple and I know you'll write to me if you have any problems. More quilt kits should be coming in the next few weeks or so — I just got a new box of fabric from West Virginia yesterday, so that will hopefully be cut next week and then I'll start designing kits again.

I've been thinking a lot about the various teachers Amelia has for her school and different lessons and stuff that she does. Isn't it incredible how certain teachers really are totally life-changing, in the best of ways? I'm just starting to watch this happen, and am learning what it means for my kid. It really moves me, watching her bond with and trust and love some of the teachers in her life. It really is like watching a flower bloom right before your eyes.

Here's a cute video that Andy took of Meems at Ryan Adams last week. Xo

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.