Posts filed in: Family and Friends

Feed a Crowd

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Well now, here's some more food! I made my mom's mom's spaghetti sauce for our neighborhood pumpkin-carving party the other night. This sauce was a staple in my mom's party repertoire. It came from her mother, who was not at all Italian. Regardless, this is delicious. It really doesn't taste like any other spaghetti sauce I've ever had, anywhere, but it's one of my absolute favorites. It makes a VAT of sauce — we went through two pounds of thin spaghetti for nine adults and eight children, and had sauce left over. (I should have made another pound of spaghetti, honestly. But there was plenty of sauce.) It has pounds of vegetables in it. It cooks for hours and hours. And it truly seems to please everyone, from kids to adults. It's got a wonderful sweetness to it. Like so many family recipes, this one has two brand-name ingredients in it — Ragu sauce and Kraft Parmesan cheese. I'm sure you could substitute other brands, but I personally wouldn't DARE. But that's just me. When I make this I want it to taste exactly like my mother's sauce, and it truly does. But if you like living on the edge, you should totally use what you have or what brands you prefer because I am sure it is still going to taste so good.

What you don't want to change is the amount of time this cooks for. A total of four hours. It matters. Plan to make this the day before your party and then just warm it up the day of. That's what I did and it worked great. (I'm guessing it would freeze perfectly well, too, if you're not in the habit of feeding seventeen people at one time.)

Mamaghetti

6 medium yellow onions
6 medium carrots, peeled
6 stalks celery (or basically, all of the stalks in an entire head)
1 bunch of parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound of ground beef
1 24-oz. jar of Ragu Traditional spaghetti sauce
3 6-oz. cans of tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 bay leaves
2 cups water

1 8-0z. jar/can of grated Kraft Parmesan cheese

In your largest heavy-bottomed sauce pot (I used my enormous oval Le Creuset pot), brown ground beef until it is no longer pink. Pour off all extra fat. Using a food processor or food mill, grind onions, carrots, celery, parsley, and garlic in batches until all of the vegetables and herbs are finely chopped (but so that you can still see a bit of texture). Add all vegetables to the pot, along with Ragu, tomato paste, cloves, bay leaves, and 2 cups of water (I fill the Ragu jar 2/3 of the way up with water, and shake it to get all of that sauce out of the bottle). Bring all of it to a robust simmer, and then turn down to a low simmer and cook, covered, for three hours, stirring occasionally. After three hours, add the entire jar/can of Kraft cheese, and stir into sauce well. Cook at a low simmer for one more hour.

Serve on top of buttered spaghetti with lots more Parmesan cheese and even a big blob of ricotta. Good with garlic bread and a glass of milk, too.

I also made apple crisp for the party from this recipe (I doubled it). I thought it came out very nice. Classic, nothing sophisticated or fancy, but all of it perfect for a dark and stormy night with our friends and kids, and a whole lot of pumpkin (alllllll over the place).

Gonna work on getting my cross-stitch kit ready for pre-order this week, so stay tuned for that, but don't panic. There will be plenty of time to order, I promise. Excited about this one.

Already: Five

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Glory be, what a party! Parties, plural. Amelia is a partier. The girl's got game. And stamina! Party stamina. It was a blast. A friend-party and then, this past weekend, a family party. Andy's parents flew in from Chicago last Thursday. It's so special to have them here with us, and then to have everyone — Andy's parents, Amelia's birthparents and siblings and grandparents, and my family, including a surprise visit home from our niece Arden (now away at college!) — here together in one place is just magical. I really have no words to describe it. I just love this group so much, and feel so lucky and so incredibly blessed to be part of this family. Amelia is like the sun. She talks into a megaphone: "ATTENTION, EVERYONE. I JUST GOT. ANOTHER CARD. IT'S GOT A DOG IN A CAR ON IT. " Her brother: "It's a bus." Amelia: "IT'S GOT A DOG IN A . . . TRICKY BUS." Oh, my dear, sweet love. "ATTENTION, EVERYONE! SIERRA CAN'T FIND HER BALLOON!!!" Everyone: What color is it? Where did you last have it? I'll help you look for it! There is so much laughter, and so much loving. There were so many pictures I didn't get to take, and so many moments I want to remember.

Because just like that, she is five.

Andy's mom and dad ("Grandma and Pops") leave tomorrow. I'll be sad to have the celebration close. Amelia's at school this morning, for a little bit of normalcy in an unusual week. We got a huge box of apples from a neighbor-boy of ours who was selling them for Boy Scouts. I have subscribed to the New York Times cooking app in hopes of kick-starting my flagging cooking mojo. I spent the morning looking at apple recipes and hope to try out at least a few with the thirty apples now sitting in the kitchen. Autumn is here in earnest. Flowers in the garden bleach out from the sun then sog under the weight of sudden, gumball-sized hail, then sun again, and then a huge rainbow goes right through the tree across the street. Clouds whirl, lightning flares, and then sun again through flashing trees. Cold nights, the smell of woodsmoke in the air. Pumpkins on the porch, and Halloween ahead. I'm making a cat costume next. Our girl is five and she picks these things for herself now. I couldn't be more proud of her. I love her and all of it so much.

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.

Calicozy Questions

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Aw, thank you for all of your comments on the tantrum post. Andy and I laughed so hard at some of them. I love all of these stories so much. Already our seems funny and the stuff of family legend. I know I'll never forget it, and will tell her about it someday. We spent several days sort of acting out how our next play-yard departure was going to go, occasionally reversing roles where she was the mom and I was the kid. When she told me it was time to go (and always with the calmest, most patient voice, which cracked me up) I pitched a whopper fit, stomping and howling and yelling, "No! I WON'T! Wahhhhh! I don't want to!!!!!" which made her laugh sheepishly and left her standing helplessly with her hand out, unable to find a way to convince me. But then I scratched my head thoughtfully, remembered out loud about my "privileges" I would be so sad to lose, and happily took her hand and skipped over to the "car." She sputtered. I asked her if she wanted to praise my good decision. "Oh! What a good decision, little kid!" Ahhhhh, I love four-year-olds. Many moments of reason spiced with a few moments of utter irrationality to keep things interesting. Next week it will be something else, I'm sure, but I'm happy to report that all of our leave-takings since Epic Melt have been peaceful, and even one has included her patting another melting-down kid on the head and saying, knowingly, "I hope you feel better." Pfffft! Oh, love.

I am crocheting myself a sweater. It is very exciting. Such is the life of a crocheter — these are our excitements: four skeins of O-Wool finger-weight washable wool and a very nice pattern! Hurrah!

Quilt-kit bundles are being assembled, so let's talk about this. . . .

It looks like this batch will have enough fabric for 120 toddler quilt kits. That means we will have between 15-25 toddler kits in each of 6 colorways. Each toddler kit has 15 print strips and 7 solid strips. Last time I offered these, I took the total number of cut strips I had for each colorway and split them up between sizes. So if there were 20 toddler kits available for the Meadowsweet colorway, for example, that was 300 total strips I had for that colorway. Then I split those and offered some in each size, going all the way up to king size. I think that, in my mind, the sale would happen at a leisurely pace, and I would be able to sit there and recalculate the total number of strips left as things sold and add more into inventory as necessary, all while drinking some coffee. But in reality it didn't go like that at all; things went in a whoosh, and some things got sold out from under people who had them in their carts but were slower to enter their ordering information than others, or were shopping for other things, too, or . . .

I seriously, honestly can understand how frustrating that must have been. I tried to write to a few people who were upset but my emails to them bounced. (If you think you might have been one of those people, please feel free to write me again, maybe with a different email address, and I'll try to respond again.) Unfortunately, there just isn't a shopping cart system in existence that can pull an item out of inventory when it is only in your cart, and hasn't yet been paid for. Even though it's in your cart, it could also be in someone else's cart, and if they pay faster, they get it. . . . I really do hate that there has to be this frantic element to buying something that has been created in so much relative peace. But, short of auctioning them or maintaining some kind of private preview/purchase system (I'll never be able to manage that), this is the sales channel I have. But I really do want to respond to your feedback and make it a better experience if I can.

So, here are some questions I have for you if you have time to answer.

  • The algorithm I have means that it doesn't matter to me what size kits sell. It's all the same amount of fabric, the same amount of work, and the same relative amount of money for you and me no matter how it shakes out. That said, would you rather have more toddler-sized kits available to purchase, and then supplement with your own fabric if you would like to make a bigger size? Or would you rather have fewer total kits available in general if it meant that you could have the chance to purchase a throw, twin, full/queen, and king-sized kit?
  • I have generally started sales at the time that it is most convenient for me, personally — around 9 or 10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. When we have much greater quantities of stuff like embroidery kits or, in the past, animal kits or ornament kits, the time the sale starts hasn't mattered so much, as we generally don't sell out of stuff so quickly. But with these limited quantities, timing can be frustrating. I could split the offerings in half, and offer them at two different times. So, question for you: What other time?
  • Lastly, and this isn't really a question but more of a statement, I do plan on continuing to do these, even after this next round. I have fabric coming in constantly now, and it is always different and always quite wonderful. So, really, if it doesn't work out this time for you, there will be more coming.

Let me know what you think about these things and I will come back on Monday with a preview of new kits, and some information for you based on the feedback I receive from you. Thank you, as always, for your interest and enthusiasm. It means so much to me and I appreciate it more than I can say. XO

*** For some backstory on these quilt kits, see the beginnings of them, my inspiration for them, this info post, this preview post, and this sale post, and Picking Patchwork.

Happy New Year!

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Oh, the messy, bright blur and wonder of all of these days! For goodness sake. Where does the time go? I would've written sooner but I was too busy making a dollhouse floor out of Popsicle sticks and looking at every miniatures web site ever constructed for the perfect diminutive wallpaper. I certainly am enjoying Amelia's Christmas present! And everything else about the holidays. It's been a glorious few weeks. Christmas with a four-year-old is the absolute best.

Today the winter sun is shining ever so brightly, and it's so windy that my office is flashing with light. It's freezing cold. It's Amelia's first day back at preschool in three weeks. Ahem. Mummy is a bit  e x h a u s t e d. The holidays, no matter how "simple" you try to make them, wind up being crazy busy. At least for us. Yesterday I got to spend the day by myself, and that was the first day that I haven't spent pretty much all day (and night — she keeps waking up) with Amelia in the past weeks. I went out to lunch at the brewpub all by myself, and they gave me such an awesome table, right in front of the roaring fire. I ate fish tacos and read my book and texted my friends. Then I went to the bookstore for a few hours and then I went to JoAnn Fabrics. At JoAnn's, which was pretty much empty, I wandered aimlessly and thought about things like should I buy these seven little silver cones (apparently jewelry-making findings) for $3.49 or should I use an old toothpaste cap for a tiny pendant-light-fixture (made out of a drawer pull) escutcheon??? I think about things like this now, when I have time to think of things. It was quite wonderful to wander aimlessly. I even looked at a magazine. Yes. It was a really nice way to finish the "vacation."

I wish you all a very happy new year and hope that you had a wonderful holiday season! It's my birthday in a few days and I want to make something good for dinner but I don't know what. Any ideas?

***The raspberry thumbprint recipe can be found here; the dress pattern I made for Amelia is Simplicity #9297 from 1979, and the fabric is from the wonderful Pioneer Quilts; the dollhouse I got used on Craigslist (but the same one is here) and I was totally inspired to get it because of Artemis's darling version — seriously, is that not the cutest ever; and I made Meyer lemon pudding with some gorgeous lemons my dear friend Sarah gave me for Christmas the recipe is here. I honestly don't think you need to add the butter, and a little zest could easily replace half the lemon juice.

Long Weekend

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I organize all of my blog photos in folders by year, and then by month, and then by day. In looking through November's this morning, I don't think there is any other month that starts as much in one season and ends as much in another. I love winter. I feel like I come alive, somehow. Winter, winter: Bare branches. Pink skies. Muddy streets. Evergreen scents. Misty rain. Cold mornings. Smoke from neighborhood chimneys. Kitchen afternoons. Fogged up windowpanes. Mimi takes a bunch of miniature fake pine trees and and sets them up in her room next to her mushroom nightlight. She fluffs up her bed, all flannel sheets and gingham comforter and quilt after quilt, and climbs in. "Mom, look at me." I open the back door in the darkness of early morning and sniff the chilly air. Delicious shiver. Hot coffee. Winter. I am a daughter of the North Wind.

I hope you are well. Thanksgiving was lovely. The whole past weekend was so wonderfully long. I kept getting my days messed up, forgetting where we were in the long stretch. We made the house a bit Christmassy on Saturday and Sunday and then I spent as much time as I could hand-stitching a whole bunch of felt ornaments for Amelia's little tree that we usually put upstairs in the big bedroom. I used so many different patterns (all other peoples' patterns) and they all came out so cute and I had so much fun doing it it was ridiculous. I will take pictures of them and show you next time. We haven't gotten our trees yet.

Fabric for the rest of the kits is supposedly on the UPS truck right now, coming to our house by the end of the day. Stacey just left after having pulled all of the floss. I'll pick up the patterns on my way to get Mimi at school. We are sure we can get everything out by the end of the week, so thank you again for all of those (new) orders. Love and Joy is sold out, and we won't be doing more. We've held out fifteen kits, as we always do, for emergencies and lost packages and all that sort of thing and once we have confirmed that everyone who ordered has received their kit we will trickle them back out onto the web site but for all intents and purposes, the kits are all sold and I thank you so much for that. Thank you.

Do you remember the Alice dress? That was 2010. I know. Dear me. All of it. This girl. And that lovely creature peeking out from behind her mother's elbow up there is my beautiful niece, who just turned eighteen. whole. years. old. this month. I recently found that painting (it started here, went wrong here, recovered here, and ended up here) I did of her in 2009 and gave it to her just this weekend for her birthday. Oh, time.

Autumn Feel

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Few words, lots of feels. I stood on the other side of the one-way-glass window and watched her dance and was filled with so much joy for her obvious joy I couldn't speak, embarrassed by my tears in front of the other moms. She tried to curtsy, crossing her feet and falling over sideways, smiling. It's so beautiful sometimes I am overcome. How incredible to have a piece of one-way glass behind which to stand, and watch, and not be observed, and, so, not distract. She waved right at me and someone said, "But how can she see you?" I said I had no idea, and instinctively almost ducked. Later she told me she could see the shadow of my glasses, and I had told her I'd be standing right there. The music was poignant. The afternoon outside glowed. The little girls were birds in their nests, birds flying, and butterflies. In the hallway, the older dancers gossiped loudly and were shushed. The paint in the clothes-changing room was such an incredible barely pink shade of pink I touched the wall. Sometimes I have these moments in parenthood where I just can't believe I am finally a mother, and the air changes color. This week it was frequently pure gold. If you're still waiting, don't give up.

 

Almost Halloween

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Late-October glow. We go to pumpkin patches and ride hay wagons. I forget what the birds sound like over the fields in the early mornings until this, this one early morning per year that I'm here. Our house sits so squarely, so solidly within the grid of our neighborhood that I can't ever see the sunrise or the sunset for all the houses and trees. Especially in the fall, I long for the farm-fields and furrows. We drive north, to Sauvie Island: It's our annual pumpkin-patch morning with dear friends and their darling children. The fields are slick with mud. The pumpkins are past their prime, and threaten to collapse at any moment. The fog lingers, then lifts, and leaves: It's perfect. The kids squat and pull tiny worms from the ground, having a long, private toddler conversation we can't hear. We get kettle corn and carving kits and caramel apples and, afterward, we all go down to the brewpub for lunch, and I wish that every day could be this one.

Mimi requests a purple fairy princess costume. I flail my way around long pieces of polyester chiffon, wrap pipe-cleaner-crown braids with ribbon and roses, iron sheets of cellophane over soft wire wings with every type of joy I know. How long I've waited to love Halloween! She wears her costume to school on a Tuesday. I am delightedly shocked to pick her up at 1:00 to find that she is still wearing it. Wings crooked, flower crown low on her forehead, it's all held up well but for one small rip in the front of the gown, and her eyes are bright with excitement. With the school, on Wednesday, we go to another pumpkin patch. It's so muddy that I, with my reconstructed foot, can't walk on anything but the most-dry, mostly flat surfaces, trying with all my might not to face-plant in front of the entire preschool while carrying an enormous camera. I photograph them all bumping along on the hayride, Mimi waving and Andy smiling wildly. The teachers' and parents' faces are as joyous as the children's. How sweet it all is. The rain holds off and the preschoolers run around the play area. Mimi darts and races, shrieking with glee, her usual language of happiness. Riding the mini-carousel, she waves and rocks and wants to go around again. Later, four of them sit in the dried-corn sandbox, running their hands through bright-yellow kernels and I know they'd happily sit there for ages, if only it weren't almost time to go. How grateful I am to be here, listening to their voices in the corn maze and watching geese fly low overhead.

This weekend, we're hosting the neighborhood pumpkin-carving party. I've spent this afternoon making my dad's chili and chicken-with-wild-rice soup, listening to Pavement radio on Pandora with the back door flung open. It's sunny again. I remember a conversation I had with my dad the October before he passed away. He was telling me about a Halloween party he and my mom had gone to years before, before I was born. "What did you go as?" I asked him. "A secret agent," he said and we giggled, and I was filled with a sadness I could hardly bear to feel. Our neighbors are our friends, and they'll walk over with beers, bread, and salads on Sunday. Ten adults, nine kids, one baby. Along with the chili and soup, I'm making hot-dog mummies, spider-topped English-muffin pizzas, apple monsters, and pumpkin cupcakes for the kids. I need to figure out what I'm going to carve on my pumpkin. I hope I have enough bowls. I can't wait to have everyone here.

Fabulous Four

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Oh. My. Goodness. What a weekend it was. Amelia's fourth birthday party was a blast! I always love her birthday parties so much. We spent Friday getting ready, and I really love those party preparations. Saturday afternoon, when the doorbell started to ring, she got shy, but quickly rallied. She was serious about her cake and her presents. I literally could not get her to stop stabbing her cake with appetizer skewers and eating frosting off of them. (I had the food catered by Artemis Foods, and a better decision I doubt I have ever made, but I did make the cake myself.) She wanted a piece of that cake so bad. Once the cake was eaten she opened her presents (such lovely, lovely presents) and honestly, I have never seen her so focused. She's never really been particularly into stuff in general, so I'm guessing this age is when the fascination with specific toys really starts. It was pretty cute and quite fascinating to watch. Certain things she tossed over her shoulder before quickly moving on to the next present; certain things she was so captivated by that the world stopped, as far as she was concerned, and she sat off to the side and started playing while the party went on around her. (Musical birthday cards were, quite possibly, the sleeper hit of the day.) Grandma and Pops Paulson (Andy's parents) are in town from Chicago and their presence here, especially after getting to spend so much time together in Chicago and Wisconsin this summer, has always made Amelia's party weekend extra special. This time there are six whole days between her party and her actual birthday so it's gonna be one looooong celebration. I almost planned a friend birthday party in addition to her usual family party but it just didn't come together. With Halloween so close, and a neighborhood party scheduled, and a school thing, and a pumpkin-patch plan, and another pumpkin-patch plan, I think the partying will continue through the month, so it's cool with her.

Her birthday. Her birth day. I remember the evening she was born like it was yesterday. I remember the days in the hospital afterward, when it was just Amelia's birthparents and Amelia and Andy and me. Those were some of the most intense and incredible days of all of our lives, I expect. There were tears and laughter and courage and strength and honesty and beauty and intensity and just . . . total love. It was like we five were on our own mysterious, unnameable planet together, and it brings tears to my eyes to remember those days even now. How blessed we were to have them! How blessed we are, all of us, in all of this! I love the family that our open adoption has created. When everyone — birthparents, grandparents, birthgrandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings — is together, it is the best day of the year. And every year gets better and better. I find it almost impossible to talk about because I just cannot find the words to explain. Amelia is loved so thoroughly and by so many. She's only just beginning to understand exactly what that means. But when we are all together, the house is filled with joy and rings with laughter, and that she absolutely understands.

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After everyone left, and I was so tired that I laid down on the living room floor. She came over and we made a picnic with the Buckley deer family and some party napkins. Clover trip-trapped over to see what we were doing and Andy (superstar) worked on the kitchen. We talked in quiet voices for ourselves and for the deer. We talked about the picnic, the party, the cake, and the people, and all the very sweet things we love.

Proper Schoolgirl

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Andy had the whole weekend off and we had nothing to do (this almost never happens). I had a pile of fabric and patterns and needed some alone time (I almost never get this). Into the sewing room I tear, and the scissors start flying. My girl is growing, growing, and has no clothes. I make a lot of her clothes. I made a lot of her clothes before she was even born (as you might know :). I made them up until size 3T, figuring she might not want to wear the clothes a made after that. DARLING GIRL, she still does, but has none that will fit her this fall, when she turns four. Oh, how my heart sings at the circumstance! Here comes a plaid jumper for the first day of preschool (McCall's pattern #7590, from 1981); a dusty pink dress that was made from a nightgown pattern (McCall's #3381, c. 1972); a blue plaid smock with the prettiest embroidered daisy ribbon (McCall's 3237, c. 1972); and a sundress for the back-to-school picnic (Simplicity #8712, from 1978). I have a lot of ideas for things in my head, but not much time to sew. When I do get the time, the things pour from my hands. It's a start. Amelia will go to preschool three mornings a week this fall. We are all very excited about it!

Next week is the last week of summer. The yard is parched and pale yellow, already covered in spiderwebs and dusty things. The spent hydrangea blooms turn russet, the grass dies. I half-heartedly water stuff, not sure if it's already too late. I can't remember the last time it's rained. Summer, you do challenge me. Day after day of 97-degree temperatures and I can't see anything but waves of heat in the air. We routinely get in the car and the thermometer there says its 109, 110, 111. . . . I'm cooked. I bought a bread machine for sandwiches. The loaf was so adorably runty, all bulbous on one side. I couldn't help but love it. It tasted just fine to me, and I made a ham sandwich with a ton of lettuce and avocado for dinner. Our apple tree has loads of apples, many with holes, some half-eaten by something before they're even picked. They're good though. If it ever gets below 90, I'll make a pie. I really cannot wait for that day.

Andy, Amelia, and Clover Meadow spent one (actually cool-ish) night in the tent in the backyard for the first time. I slept in the house, listening on the monitor. She woke up around1:15 a.m., and they (we) were up for an hour. She insisted on staying out (though Clover came back in), fell back asleep, and slept until dawn. Dawn's coming so much later these days. I don't mind that, either. Today is the last day of swimming lessons. Simon, the teacher, comes and tells us yesterday, "Tomorrow, we get to turn on the fountains! Tomorrow we get to do whatever we want!" "Oh, she'll be good at that!" I say, winking. I'll miss swimming lessons, sitting on the chaise lounges in the shade with the other lesson parents, listening to the kids sing "I Had a Little Fishy," watching them chase rings and lay on their backs and blow bubbles and put their faces in the water. I'll miss holding up the towel for her to run, shivering, into my arms when she's done, cuddling her on my lap while we watch the lifeguards put the lane lines away and crank up the beach umbrellas for open swim. We took six weeks of daily swimming lessons this summer. I will miss all these pool days, and some of the summer things. But I'm ready to go outside again, and not feel like I have to be covered in water to do it. . . .

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.