A Happy Birthday

comments: 62

29Cake4

27CM4

11Yarn2

11Yarn2

28Sweater1

11Yarn2

15Yard4

15Yard4

19BangersMash2

15Yard4

15Yard4

15Yard4

15Yarn5

15Yarn5

15Yarn5

19BangersMash2

19BangersMash2

19BangersMash2

19BangersMash2

20Rhubarb3

20Rhubarb3

20Rhubarb3

20Rhubarb3

20Rhubarb3

27CM4

28Sweater1

27CM4

28Sweater1

27CM4

15Yarn5

28Sweater1

28Sweater1

29Creek7

29Creek2

29Creek7

Birthday4

Birthday3

29Creek11

29Creek7

29Creek7

29Creek11

29Creek11

Birthday2

Birthday1

29Creek11

29Creek18

29Creek18

29Creek18

29Creek18

29Creek18

29Cake4

29Cake4

29Cake4

29Cake4

29Creek2

29Creek2

29Creek2

The  most marvelous Andy Paulson had a birthday this week and we celebrated in style, picnicking at the creek and playing in the woods. A crow flew off with Amelia's entire sandwich — an untouched 6" turkey sub — right off the picnic table while we were down at the water's edge. It was actually kind of amazing to watch. He stalked it, then he took it. I was amazed that he was able to carry it. Amelia and I baked Andy a cake and decorated it when we got home. She picked everything, the colors and style and the decorations, and I just helped. We used my go-to birthday cake recipe (it's the best chocolate cake in the world, I think, if you need one) with plain buttercream frosting. Andy laid on the chaise lounge out back and read his book while we shouted hints out the back door toward him about what we were doing. "Oh, this looks good!" "Yeah! And we hope you like things that are green!" "We hope you like things that are pink!" "We hope you like things that are LURID!" He said he did, on all counts, so we carried out our plan fearlessly. Neon frosting, geranium flowers, rose petals, giant sprinkles, traffic-cone-orange powdered food coloring, and lots of blobs. I think it's one of our best ever, myself, and it was by far the most fun. Happy birthday to you, my darling, darling husband. I love you beyond words and am so thankful every day that you were born.

Thank you so much for all of your gentle and generous and thoughtful comments on my last post. I've been thinking about it all a lot and just kind of . . . absorbing, I guess. I was particularly touched by the people who said something like "well, of course you want to know these things — that's what we, as people, do." In reading those comments it struck me how, even in writing what I had written and sort of saying "oh, well, I'm not sure why this matters" in it, I was still on some level denying myself permission to be doing it. The looking. Or rather, I was trying to keep myself from feeling the need I felt to know, as if I wasn't really allowed to have feelings about it. But I think  I am. And I think that's something unexpected that I've gained from this experience: I'm just letting myself go there, and feel whatever it is I'm going to feel, or not feel, about it all. I'm encouraging myself just to be . . . human. Knowing names and dates and places doesn't necessarily answer the important questions. But maybe it is a start. It may also be the only part of the story I ever find. I don't know. I don't know yet.

Coincidentally, I started reading Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser (which just won a Pulitzer for biography) several weeks ago and was struck by this:

Discovering how Charles Ingalls and his family came to find themselves a few miles from the shores of Lake Pepin, just a few years after Pepin County was first marked on a map, is a detective story tracking generations into the past. Pieces of the family portrait survive, but the whole remains elusive, obscured under the soot of time. It may never be complete.

That is always a problem, in writing about poor people. The powerful, the rich and influential, tend to have a healthy sense of their self-importance. They keep things: letters, portraits, and key documents. . . . 

But the Ingallses were not people of power or wealth. Generation after generation, they traveled light, leaving things behind. Looking for their ancestry is like looking through a glass darkly, images flickering in obscurity. As far as we can tell, from the moment they arrived on this continent they were poor, restless, struggling, constantly moving from one place to another in an attempt to find greater security from hunger and want. And as they moved, the traces of their existence were scattered and lost. Sometime their lives vanish from view, as if in a puff of smoke.

So as we look back across the ages, trying to find what made Laura's parents who they were, imagine that we're on a prairie in a storm. The wind is whipping past and everything is obscured. But there are the occasional bright, blinding moments that illuminate a face here and there. Sometimes we hear a voice, a song snatched out of the air.

That said, this book is so depressing, I must confess. A lot of it is about Rose, of whom I knew nothing, and now I sort of wish I knew less. (I haven't even read all of the Little House books themselves, but Mimi is super into the junior versions of them right now, so there has been a lot of prairie talk around here lately.) I'm on page 347 of 515 of Fires and although I don't like it very much I can't seem to actually stop reading it. But when I do finish it I plan to read something utterly trite, so please feel free to recommend all manner of beach-reads because I'm all over it.

Andy made bangers and mash with brats for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding, and Mimi and I finally did wind up making the rhubarb pie. If I could pick my wedding dress over again I'm pretty sure I'd pick this one:

PrincessCarolinePhilippeJunotWedding2

Princess Caroline's in 1978 (I think). From the pictures it almost looks like it has a gathered — like, elastic! — waist. I would totally do my hair like that, too.

Some of my new labels for stitch markers, lotion bars, and yarn should be starting to be delivered this week. I'm ridiculously excited to see them, and to launch these new things I've been working on for what feels like forever now. Andy and I drove out to pick up my very first wholesale order of bare yarn a few weeks ago, and I've been dyeing it little by little when I have time. I will tell you more about it as soon as I get myself organized enough. I went to a really fascinating lecture the other night about the state of the wool industry and our place in it given by Clara Parkes. I learned so much and I have so many more questions. There is so much more I want to know. I feel like I'm at the very beginning of a whole new phase of my creative life, and it is quite thrilling. And a bit overwhelming, honestly.

I also have finished stitching my next cross-stitch design, the third in my little series of seasonal pieces this year. This one is called "Summer Storm" (at least, that's what I'm calling it so far) and if I can collect myself enough to take some pretty pictures of it in the next week or so, we'll open pre-orders sometime in June. If you're not finished with Time of Flowers, don't worry — it will be several weeks before the fabric arrives and we have time to pull floss, etc. But still, I want to mention it because yes, there are two more in this seasonal series, this summer one and then one I'll do for the fall. And because the Time of Flowers fabric has been discontinued, we will probably do around five hundred of these next two and then call it good, and I don't want you to miss out.

I'm almost done with my Flax Light sweater I'm making for Mimi, and I've started a knitted dress for her that kind of looks like Selekjolen by Hoppestrikk. I wasn't able to find the pattern for it, and then when I did find it it was in Danish. I bought it, hoping to figure it out, but instead I just kind of started winging it. When I tried it on Mimi she told me she liked it while at the same time ripping it off her body as if it was on fire so, might not be worth starting over. . . . This is how kid-knitting is lately. I knew this day would come.

62 comments

In all your wonderful post, the one thing I noticed was that skirt or was it a dress you were wearing while you were knitting? Did you make it and, if not, where did you buy it? It's beautiful. Also, I have a wonderful recipe for rhubarb crunch which I make quite often because I raise rhubarb.

totally just an idea, but if it's the "itch-level" of the dress Mimi finds offensive, maybe a thin little t-shirt dress underneath might make it more comfy?

Happy Birthday Andy. That cake takes the cake! I love the photo of Amelia beside it looking absolutely so proud of it. SHE ROCKED IT.

Alicia, I think you can do anything and everything. Your yarn dying is absolutely gorgeous! I love those copper lamps by the sink. Smart!
The cake you and Mimi made for Andy is gorgeous. I can't wait for my birthday so I can eat cake. Maybe I should also eat some on our (gasp!) 40th wedding anniversary this Saturday. If that's not cake worthy, I don't know what is.
Such lovely photos. Thank you for sharing them.

Hollie Duffy says: June 06, 2018 at 08:30 AM

I LOVE!!!! the fabric of the skirt? you're wearing while you are sitting an knitting! I so enjoy reading your posts and find a lot of peace and gentle joy from the stories you share. Thank you for opening up your heart to all of us out here in the cyber universe.

As for books, I have a cookbook recommendation. I can't recommend it for the recipes because I haven't made anything from it yet, but the narrative and pictures are enchanting. The title is The Cottage Kitchen: Cozy cooking in the English countryside by Marte Marie Forsberg. It's delightful.

So much fun! For your next book, try The Rules of Gentility by Janet Mullany. It's a riot. It's like Jane Austen if Jane Austen wrote about the terribly improper things that people think, instead of the seemingly proper things they do. It's hilarious and light and tons and tons of fun. Neon cake style.

Christina says: June 07, 2018 at 01:45 PM

I know very little of the Wilder clan and even less about Rose, so your review piques my curiosity. Do you know of the needlework book she wrote? I found it in a thrift shop a few months back, _The Book of American Needlework_ (1963).

Laura Smartt says: June 08, 2018 at 03:53 PM

Love all the pretty pictures and that’s the best bangers and mash I have ever seen. Can’t wait to cook some up! Also I love your beautiful dress! I love long dresses! It’s hot here in the south and I ain’t young anymore so I like my dresses over shorts .

I just finished re-reading the first two of Rose's rocky ridge books (written by Rodger Lea Macbride). I agree with you about Rose, so sad. But these books are about her childhood and I like seeing the glimpse of Laura as a mother. Its hard to compare Laura and ALmanzo as a young couple and see how life affects them as Almanzo is weakened by illness and Laura is worried about money. But I guess that could be a lot of peoples lives. I have always been more familiar with the little house books than the TV show and I think the stories have been a huge part of how I feel responsible to provide for my family with my own hands and for the way a house should be run. I sense the energy of so many pioneer mothers who formed society and homeyness across our country. This obviously hits a chord with me, thanks for sharing your thoughts and letting me share mine. :)

Happy Birthday, Andy!

I love it all! A breath of fresh air.

Christine says: June 13, 2018 at 06:43 AM

I may have shouted out something very NSFW when I saw Andy's Bangers & Mash. I love sweets, but savory will do me in for sure.

And the look on Andy's face while looking at your sweet little daughter is perfection.

Now just imagine... I finally have had success in finding a copy of your book 'Stiched in Time'... in England. It took two weeks to get here and arrived yesterday. I began reading slowly to understand the unique stories behind your lovely projects and can very well imagine making my own personalized treasures.

Thanks for such inspiration... anyone will say that for your wonderful blog as well!

XOXO Heidi

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

post a comment

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

Archives

Photography

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.