Full Swing

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We're in it, here: full fall swing. Halloween came and went in a frenzy of costume-sewing/meowing/negotiating for candy. Kids are so obsessed with candy!!! Amelia says she wants one piece of candy after dinner after she accomplishes her "chores." The things she considers her "chores" include: setting up the pillows on the couch in a nice way and propping up various stuffed animals at charming angles to greet me when I come back downstairs after putting her to bed; putting her eighteen pairs of shoes and boots back in her baskets instead of leaving them in the middle of the floor; hanging up her coat instead of dropping it in the middle of the floor; putting away her scarf and hat instead of dropping them in the middle of the floor; climbing on all manner of furniture to reach the wood blinds to pull them down and close them before she goes up to bed; remembering to wash her hands without being told after going to the bathroom. Hrmmmmmmm. . . . Good deal for her, eh? These are all the things she is supposed to do anyway. . . . Maybe it's really a good deal for me. Now she does all of them in lightning speed while singing the clean-up song and then comes skidding to a halt in front of me, smiling and holding her cupped hands out to receive her treat. I don't bribe with sugar under normal circumstances, but hellity hell it really works! Good thing she only has three pieces of candy left. This is too easy. . . .

THANK YOU for the discussion on working from home vs. renting a remote space. That was really fascinating and I truly appreciate so many of you taking the time to share your experience and thoughts with me. I really needed to hear all of that and I am so appreciative of the perspectives. I would only be going to an off-property space during the time that Amelia is in school, and I would still probably keep my sewing stuff here, but honestly, I really am now thinking it's probably too complicated and too expensive to consider. I think I have fantasies of having a really cool, big, shared, white-washed space where other people would be hanging out doing creative things, and I could have room to store my stuff and still have it all within reach, and also not have it anywhere in the living space. Like, embroidery floss, for instance. When we work on kits, we have a palette of probably sixty? seventy? different colors that I routinely use in my designs. Each color has a big, fat 500g cone of floss. For kits, we break down the big cone by winding it onto several different smaller cones, depending on how many strands of that color you need in a kit. So in First Snow, for instance, we have over thirty colors and over fifty separate lengths of floss. Each length needs its own cone since we pull all the floss at the same time. So that's a lot of cones sitting in the office over the weeks that we are working on this. It's just not realistic to be schlepping them up and down from the basement every day. Felt and fabric, too — they take up a lot of space. Welllllll, you get it. But honestly, I took every single comment truly to heart and you gave me so much to think about. And I think the obvious conclusion Andy and I came to was that we need to clean out the basement thoroughly, and think of more creative storage solutions right here on our property. We have a pretty small basement, as half of the house only has a crawl space underneath it. We do have attic storage, although it's truly just storage, not standing room, and you have to use a ladder to get up into it through the ceiling in the hallway. But these are all just details I need to think through more thoroughly, and I think I can do that, especially when I have more time to think. As I said, I definitely have time to decide, as we wouldn't be doing anything (except reorganizing here) until the year after next. But just reading through everything you wrote gave me a more hefty appreciation for all of the great things about working from home, and that was really helpful, so thank you.

It's about the most blustery, Winnie-the-Poohish day you could imagine here today. The trees are whipping around outside my rain-spattered window, and the wind is howling. I keep hearing things thwack against the house and the porch. Tonight is our school lantern walk, and I don't know how those little lanterns are going to stay lit in this gale. I've been cooking and baking lately. I made a frittata like Megan's with roasted delicata squash, sauteed mushrooms, fresh spinach, and chevre, and it was delicious. I made the NYT's curried cauliflower soup and it was really nice, especially with the famous but no-less-delicious-for-that Dutch oven no-knead bread. I did Mark Bittman's speedy version as well as the long version, and quite honestly, there was no appreciable difference that I could taste or tell, so it's Version Speedy for us from now on, and bread in 4.5 hours. That bread is so good. I mean, what in the world? How is it even possible to get something that tastes like this out of a regular kitchen, with so little effort? I can't even deal with it. I don't even like bread that much (unless it's really, really good) but that thing is amazing. I've made it probably ten times over the past few years and it works every time. I also made Mark Bittman's Everyday Pancakes and those were very good. I've totally been getting my money's worth out of my New York Times Cooking subscription and highly recommend it. Everything I've made from it has been great. I love surfing it on my iPad for relaxation. The photos are beautiful. I don't know. I needed some cooking inspiration, and this has been good for me. I seem to need a lot of hand-holding in the kitchen. I love to cook but even after all of these years of cooking I absolutely need recipes. I cannot think of a single thing that I know how to cook by heart. Not one single thing! I'm also kind of a picky eater, so, in all honesty, a lot of cookbooks don't really work that well for me as anything other than inspiration or eye candy, because I find that I might make one thing out of the whole book. Maybe two. I keep the books because they're beautiful. But they aren't that practical for the way I cook. I totally cherry pick, and I like the "search" function. Anyway, this isn't an ad — I mean, I guess it is, but it's unintentional — I have just been happy with that subscription and it's getting me out of my cooking shell, or rather my non-cooking shell, and Andy and I are both happy about that. Maybe it's also just the season of cooking for me. I love fall and winter food so much more than summer.

I've also been knitting hats and gloves and cowls. I don't have any photos of any of them, apparently, but I will take some. I'm using this pattern and have bought lots of colors of Worsted Twist yarn in many of the same colors they show to make us a bunch of stuff that we need for cold weather, and I'm really enjoying this kind of knitting — lots of stockinette, lots of knitting in the round, nothing very complicated, small things that go quickly and feel soft and warm and utterly practical. I seem to need a lot of direction lately. It's kind of a wonderful relief, I have to say.

35 comments

Oh my, the yarn, the sunset, the food, the Halloween fun! It's all too beautiful. It's pure joy and pleasure to see your artful photo's and read your lovely posts. It's makes my day even more bright.
Thank you!

I have been an admiring reader of your blog for a while now, but have never commented (usually there are so many, and feel I shouldn't bother you.) But I so enjoy the sweetness of your life on the northwest side of our great country (I'm from the eastern side). What strikes me so much in today's pictures are the beauty of the sky with it's weather-telling shades, that loaf of bread (!!) and the comfortable coziness of your dining room. Thank you for sharing your piece of the world with sweet cozy snippets. XO

I really like having directions too for cooking/baking! some things can ad lib, if I know it really well. I like both online recipes and cookbooks; lately I have been using my Joy of Cooking book! :) It's totally cool to take your time in figuring out how to best do the work you do! Haste makes waste, right? :)

Not sure if you are a Smitten Kitchen fan, but you should definitely check out her new cookbook Smitten Kitchen Every Day. I also follow her on Instagram and get tons of cooking inspiration from her. Everything I have ever made has been wonderful! Her everyday meatballs and spaghetti has become a weekly staple in our house - my eight year old would eat it every day! She's going to be in Portland at Powells next week for a book signing. I'm a little jealous that she's not coming to my state this time, but getting her signed, new book is the next best thing!

I had one other thought on your workspace issue. What if you looked for a different house that had a better setup for you? Either a full basement, an attic that could be finished or a garage that you could make a studio space above? Your house is beautiful, but sometimes thinking about your constraints differently sparks a great solution.

I've worked from home since my youngest was born in 2004. My work is all on the computer so I don't have big space needs. I do miss the camaraderie of being in the office, but I enjoy my commute!

hello alicia...i had ordered and submitted payment thru paypal on october 27, 2017 for 2 sets of your beautiful 2017 cross stitch kits...the purchase is listed on our paypal statement...do you have a record of my order?..thank you for your time and consideration...nick

What a great neighborhood you live in. It all just seems so lovely.

I really need to try no-knead bread already (100% of other bread attempts have been failures)!

I think the way real estate is in many places right now (ask me about the Bay Area...) many of us are learning to live a little more packed-to-the-gills than we'd like to, but sometimes it is a good challenge to say OK, gotta make that half-basement earn its keep, what can we do here?! We are doing that with every square inch of our apartment right now in anticipation of our first baby.

Though I would say that if, eventually, you do feel a pull toward a workspace outside of your home, that's a valid feeling. Just because there are perks of working from home and not everyone has the option that wants it, doesn't mean it has to be the right choice for you forever. Anyway, just want to drop my 2c to validate that feeling, I freaking LOVE being at home but I also value the separation of my two worlds.

Hi Alicia-- I'm finding I use my cookbooks a lot more now that I subscribe to Eat Your Books. You just pay ($30/year or $3/month), look up your books on their database, enter them into your library, and you'll probably find that most of your cookbooks have been indexed already. This means that the recipes and their main ingredients are listed for each book, and they have a search function so that you can type in (to let you know what I'm cooking with tonight) "eggs, cheese, pasta" and all the recipes with those ingredients will pop up. :). Think Ravelry's pattern database where you can search-- but for cookbooks. I resisted paying money for this kind of thing at first-- there's a free option with a 5-book limit-- but I find I use the books so much more, so now they aren't just pretty. :). And yep, I could just make something up for "eggs, cheese, pasta," but I was happy to be reminded that Spaghetti Pannagratto with a Crispy Egg was one of the options that even my kids will eat. :)

I thoroughly enjoyed each and every autumn-y image in this post. I'm one week into a low carb program and seeing your homemade bread nearly made me cry. :-) Not really.. but boy do I miss bread.. I love the stuff. I was impressed how you lit up your house for Halloween.. I miss having trick-or-treaters. We live on acreage out in Corbett, OR, it's too far between houses so we don't get any kids come by at all. Even when we did long ago it was only a handful. I do hope you model all the hats you're making for your family! I've made 7 recently, for my grandkids and my nephew and one for Dayle. I do love seeing my family wearing my warm hats. Enjoy your week. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

I'm just the same about autumn and winter food, I just got a "winter cabin cookbook" and oh my I read it in bed at night as it's so beautiful and tempting. I love cookbooks and can't get enough, but I'm trying to become a more instinctive cook and make some meals just with what we got in our garden or vegetables parcel we get every week... that's curries, omelettes, soups, gratins, salads... And receipes for the "I want to make it more fancy" days!

So nice to have a cozy catch up with you this morning. I love autumn and winter cooking too and was laying in bed thinking about all the hearty meals I want to make. We currently have a French foreign exchange student who thinks we think about food a lot. She's completely right! The only thing I think of more would be knitting!

Stefanie P. says: November 09, 2017 at 05:51 AM

Absolutely love this...and especially the photos of Amelia looking out the window...This is a great time of year...(although sleep seems to beckon as soon as the sun goes down!)...but there is something to be said for each season of the year...Fall is like circling the wagons...preparing for the dormancy of winter...all good!

Beautiful photos as always! I love the cat pumpkin ;)

Alicia, I have been making that bread for a long time. You're right, it's delicious. Whenever anyone asks me for the recipe, I tell them - you think it won't work out, but it will...and - everyone will think you are a bread genius. For the two of us, I will separate the dough into three pieces before it rests on the counter and just flop the three pieces into the heated Dutch oven. It all works out. I'll freeze the two we don't eat right away. We call it Dutch Oven Bread. I have also made it several times for the church bake sale.

Lovely post! I started the speedy artisan bread this morning. Thanks for the recipe.

That picture of the cabbage stopped me in my tracks. I keep going back to look at it.

FYI - NYT's links require membership to access. Don't know about your other readers, but I don't subscribe so I can't access the links you noted. Other than that an interesting post. Can't wait to see the hat when it's done!

Kids and candy! I was a bit shocked quite how much my daughter collected while out trick or treating this year and decided it was best to eat it all up as fast as possible (and she kindly shared it with me!) rather than having sweeties every day until Christmas! It all went in a few indulgent days.
Beautiful autumn pictures and everything looks so cosy and snug indoors. Just lovely.

The soup,the bread,the nestiness! Oh I love it all.I want that bread.

Leslie schneider says: November 10, 2017 at 05:04 AM

What is rib color on hat. Thanks.

My favorite cauliflower soup is this from Smitten Kitchen:

https://smittenkitchen.com/2016/09/indian-spiced-cauliflower-soup/

And, Deb's a wonderful hand holder!

OMG-made the speedy artisian bread and my husband said: "that is the best bread I have ever tasted." Sold! and so easy to make! Thanks.

I'm finally commenting after years of lurking -- to thank you. Thank you for continuing to add beauty to the world. I found myself literally (and I do not use that word lightly, ha) smiling while looking at your beautiful photographs today. And perhaps you hear this a lot, but I'm adding my two cents: your work is lovely. I am always inspired. Thank you.

So many great comments and I agree with the cookbook thing - actually with all that is on web sites, it is easier to just search for yummy things. I like Smitten Kitchen as well and Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman). The cooler weather is always an inspiration to cook more compared to summer heat. As always, I love that you share a glimpse into your cozy home - from recipes to crafts and the great pics you always seem to catch something awesome! Now, I'm gonna go make that bread this morning! Happy Fall!

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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.