Summer Kits (and Lots of Soap) Now Available!

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Golly day! It's here! The day when I show you all the things! I was up at 4! Then I fell back asleep! Now I'm scrambling! This'll be short! You know what to do! It's Strawberry Season Cross Stitch Sampler Kit, above, and I love it! (Please note actual strawberries and actual flowers from our garden. Free photo props! Yay.) And here is the Strawberry Season PDF pattern.

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And this is your new hoop for summer, the eponymously named Summer Wreath. The kit comes with the printed pattern, floss, fabric, ribbon, and hoop for framing.  The Summer Wreath PDF is here. There will be a fall coming in 2021 and then we will be done with this sweet series.

Also, we still have MANY Spring Wreath kits, Winter Wreath kits, and Whan That Aprille kits (the first in the 2021 cross-stitch series) left available.

Now, as you might know, Andy and I made a whole lot of soap this spring and it is all now ready to come home to you. We make our soap by hand with all natural ingredients using the cold-process method. We have various but very limited quantities of eight different kinds of soap available today. They are all available here, along with our beautiful handmade, natural lotion bars (finally restocked!). Please enjoy browsing the soaps. I'm running late so I don't have time to post a picture of them each here, but they're nice. They're huuuuuge bars, they're gorgeous to use, I am super proud of them, and I mean seriously — I don't know if we'll ever do this again. We're funny like that. This was kind of a weird lark we both got on for a while during lockdown and I don't know if it will stick.

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I also just got a little bee in my bonnet to make these little mini Handmade Bubble Scoops, mostly for Amelia's baths but I also made some for you. Filled with natural butters, oils, and skin-loving ingredients, they'll bubble a little in your or your kid's bathtub and just make you smile. I think it would also make a sweet little gift. They're scented with blueberry, buttercream, summer berry, and apricot and smell delightful.

We have also issued 46 Daisychain ABCs Crewelwork Sampler Kits! Yay! You may remember these from many, many years ago. These kits include fabric, nine skeins of Appletons crewel wool, and a printed pattern with all the instructions for transferring and stitching the design you need. This fabric is discontinued by the manufacturer and once these are gone they are literally gone forever. We happened to have these pieces of fabric left over from our original launch in 2011 and I'm really glad. I loved this kit and am happy to have a few of these for you here.

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I had to include this picture because I literally laughed out loud when I saw the horizontal lines of the wainscoting and the picture frame tilted in opposite directions. I honestly don't know how the heavens I managed to do that, but I can't seem to correct it now so, there it is, my photography circa 2011. Not that I'm much better but I can see it now in a way I probably couldn't then. Or maybe I saw it then. I don't know, I can hardly remember 2011. Anyway.

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Anyway, because look, yay! We have 109 Things of Summer in stock!

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And I just wanted to remind you: We still have 53 Flower and Frond kits left, and these will never happen again, so please enjoy making jewelry this summer. I think you will love it. I'm really proud of these kits.

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This is a lot of stuff. Are you freaking out? I kind of am. My new assistant, Anna the Great, has been working overtime to stuff these kits and wrap soaps and cut fabric and bundle crewel wool while I've been snowed under a cascade of pattern writing and reprinting and printing. Anyway, I wanted to keep you busy this summer, too, so let me know if you have any questions, and as always, thank you for the bottom of my weary little heart. I love you.

P.S. I'm really rushing here so if any of these links are broken or go to the wrong place please let me know and I will correct, etc. Thank you! Also, I've changed my shipping charges to calculate based on the total weight of the order, so I'm praying that works — it's essentially untested because I couldn't figure out how to test, but yeah, let's do this! What could go wrong! :)

A Weekend at the Farm

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Hello! How are you?

Summer is here and I am thrilled. Amelia has three more days of school and then we are FREE. I've never been so happy about the end of the year before in my life!

Andy Paulson turned FIFTY a week or so ago! I spent the week before his birthday making a secret video (which turned out to be over 38 minutes long). I texted all of our friends and family and asked them to make a quick video of themselves saying "happy birthday" to him. Like, everybody. Literally every single person did it. It was epic. Some people were so creative they made entire little movies and wrote original songs! And so many people dropped in little comments in their videos about something very specific to themselves and Andy together. That was so moving to me (let's just say that when I showed Andy the video on his birthday morning I literally wept, sobbing, through the entire thing, ha!). But some people remembered stuff from college, from Missoula, from childhood, just all sorts of inside–Andy Paulson jokes that kept adding up into something just . . . I don't know, but it was pretty spectacular. I am a genius for thinking of this and feel free to steal the idea because it was epic!

The day before his birthday we went for a two-night stay at Dolan Creek Farm. What an enchanted place. From the minute we got there it was so pretty, the weather was so nice, the birds were so vocal, the sunset was so rosy, the breezes so cool. I mean, it was literally magical. The pictures above of Mt. Hood in the distance? Those are taken from the porch of the studio. Just, right from the porch. Where you sit and drink your coffee. And cows come up to the fence to say hello. And swifts swoop across the fields. And bullfrogs call across the pond. Agh. Andy kept saying, "It's just so big! There's so much space here! I'm never in this much space!" Amelia was beside herself with delight, getting to help gather eggs, bring the chickens in, and feed the horse her dinner. On the full day that we were there, I carried a quilt and my little chair to a big tree down by the pond and finished my book (All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews). Birds and bullfrogs kept me company. Andy and Amelia explored and found another hidden pond. They played cards and ran through the fields. At night we barbecued and the owners, Kirk and Chris, started a campfire for us and showed us around the barns and talked to us about the history of the farm and the pumpkin patch they have in the fall and what it was like for their kids to grow up here. (Several nights later, Amelia stayed up way too late listening to music on her iPod and when I came upstairs she said, "Mama, I just listened to a song that reminded me of the farm ["Thank God I'm a Country Boy," which she and Andy had been playing all weekend] and I'm so sad! I want to go back to the farm! I want to go to the farm! Why can't we go for my birthday! [We can, but we can't stay overnight, because they don't let you stay overnight in October because pumpkin patch, etc.]" Anyway, just utterly melted down, went downstairs to get a drink, came back up with her dad and did the whole thing again, crying true tears, shattering my heart into broken pieces of hay. My god, my darling girl, I would give you a life on a farm if I could. It was my dream when I was a little girl, too, though I've never really mentioned it. Farm Fever is real. I was a bit older than she is but I used to cry myself to sleep I wanted a horse so bad. My parents' garage fell down in a snowstorm when I was ten and they rebuilt a new garage and painted it barn red with white trim and I thought I'd die of longing. No horse in there, just bikes and floaties and tools. Evermore.

Anyway, it was the first time that we had been off the property at home in almost a year, and my god, it doesn't take much for us Paulsons. Two nights and a day at a farm forty-five minutes away on the backroads and we are REBORN. Ready to tackle these last few weeks of school, make some plans for the summer that involve rivers and trees, text friends to invite them along, hope for our own invitations, etc. Let it be, let it be! Vaccines!!!!!

My electric bicycle has arrived, and though I need to make some modifications to one petal so that I can fit my wonko orthopedic shoe on it safely AND figure out how to lift it into the back of the car (it's so heavy! it's so heavy!), I am further on the road to freedom and reinvention and I need it. Yesterday I saw a video on Instagram of a bunch of people dancing and singing to a band on the road by the reservoir in Mt. Tabor and I've never vicariously related to anything more. If only I had my pedal and could join them! I will get there. I'm meeting a bike guy on Thursday after I visit my friend in her rose garden and . . . just . . . life on earth. It can be so hard and so beautiful.

Much of the soap that Andy and I made six weeks ago and beyond six weeks is now cured, and wrapped, and ready to go! I think I'll have a launch. I've got two new patterns/kits, one a hoopdy and one a cross-stitch that will be ready within days of June 16, which is when all printed patterns get here. We'll have some reissued older kits, too (and just, for the record, this is literally the only time ever that we are reissuing kits — it is happening, and has already happened for some), and we'll have seven kinds of soap, and lotion bars. No, guys, I don't know how I do it either! I'm thinking Monday, June 21, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. PDT. Here's a cool chart that tells you when that is for you!

So, I'm making fish balls for dinner tonight, and this is one of those recipes where you can make almost all of it in the morning and then fry it up at dinner time. And I need more recipes like this, because I am good at things in the morning and I am bad at things in the evening, especially at dinnertime. I recently had my knives sharpened by a mail-in service called Knife Flight and I cannot recommend doing this enough. It is unbelievably great to have nice sharp knives — today I sliced green onions into transparent wafers (not like I have awesome knife skills, but that's how much having a sharp knife will do for you) and chopped up a pound of cod, and it was pure pleasure. I've also cut myself five times just by waving the knife around carelessly and touching it where it used to be dull (the bottom corner edge, hello; the tip, ow). Anyway, it was really perfect timing because I'm trying to cook a lot more. Here is my cake I made over the weekend and other stuff on Instagram, too.

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I mean, just look at this. I can't wait to go back either, Amelia. It was just so, so nice.

Already Mid-May!

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I'm sitting in the living room listening to traffic, lawn mowers, and birds outside. Andy's at work. Amelia just logged into math, and she'll be in Zoom school for at least another hour. Clover is asleep on her pillow and not stalking me to feed her. I've got old episodes of Real Housewives of NYC on in the background. I love Bethenny and I think she's hilarious. "The only person who got the memo was Dorinda, who showed up wasted. She understands. Where we are." Ha! Silly and funny. I find this show so silly it's relaxing. I love all the Bravo shows. My favorite is Shahs of Sunset, but I also like a few of the Housewives, and I love Million Dollar Listing New York and Los Angeles. Agatha is creeping around on the mantle chewing on stuff and chasing flies through the house like she's on fire. She will mow down anything in her way to get to her fly. I still haven't let her outside and I'm not sure I will. We've never had an indoor cat before. She seems to like it okay. The biggest change is that we never have our back door open like we used to. It opens out so there's no screen door. How do you put a screen door on an outward-opening door? Is that a thing?

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I've been trying to work on my gardening. There are a bunch of little calendula and cornflower and strawflower volunteers down in the parkway (parking strip) that I've been nurturing. I water down there almost every single day, and that is unusual for me. I am typically a very unreliable waterer. But now I've figured out how to do it with the small hose (it's one of those fabric hoses) and I can sit on the front stairs instead of standing. Its best done in the early morning when it's all in shade. I was down there this morning at like 8:00. I saw everybody. A neighbor across the street. A lady riding her bike with two kids ("Hey! I got the same bike helmet! It looks so cute on you!"). Two ladies who looked like twins walking down the middle of the street who complemented my sprinkler system (me with a hose on a stair). Then another lady stopped by with a birthday gift for my other neighbor because she wasn't home. So many people! That's more people in one morning than I've seen in a week!

I'm late with my summer cross stitch design and my summer hoop design. I am almost finished with the cross stitch sample. We have made five different types of soap that we will be launching soon, along with restocking lotion bars and making new bubble scoops and bath soaks. Making body care stuff has been bringing me happiness lately. Who knew! I am trying to make some videos about the process and I will post those on IG.

I get my second shot next week and I can't wait. My electric bicycle will be shipping out from California on June 4. I absolutely cannot wait for the bike to get here. We have a long multi-use trail called the Springwater Corridor that Andy and I used to ride our bikes on all the time. It's a 20+-mile-long trail that runs from Southeast Portland to Boring, Oregon. You can hop on it all over the place. I am going to ride all over it with my electric bike. I could not be more excited about it. I'm just going to ride and ride and ride. I just can't stop thinking about it and I can't wait until it gets here. It can't come soon enough.

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I was just heartbroken to hear about the passing of one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever known in the blogosphere, Teresa Kasner. She was so joyful, always so encouraging, so curious about things, so filled with delight, and always, always had something nice to say and took the time to say it. God, it just breaks my heart. Andy and I both (Andy still reads every comment on this blog, and he knew exactly who Teresa was from all of her many years of generous commenting here) are thinking of her and Dayle and their sweet family. Rest in peace, dear Teresa. You set such a beautiful example. Thank you.

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I mean, look at her expression, as she's walking back and forth across all my newly hung hanging clothes (I cleaned my closet). Naturally she's giving me the stink eye. She walked back and forth across here several times, wobbling, meowing, knocking my clothes of their hangers, and looking supremely annoyed by it all every minute, even though she’s the one who put herself up there somehow and chose to stay. Alicia. Why would you put a clothes' closet here where I'm trying to walk?” Ah, we humans are such idiots, I know. This morning I went down to my office and was bewildered by the presence of dried flower petals all over my work island, which I'd literally just cleared and completely wiped down the night before. Looking up, I saw all my cute dried flowers hanging from my cute little driftwood ladder suspended from the ceiling. And now I know what Agatha did last night. Generally she likes to break into my yarn cabinet and drag skein after skein of worsted all the way up the stairs to the second floor, and then drop them all over the hallway while we sleep. But I also cleaned my yarn-cabinet area up and put all the yarn away AND locked the door on it with a twisted rubber-band so apparently she had to find something else to do to wreak Aggie-havoc. She finds things to do that I didn’t even dream were things to do.

For yes, it's been chaotic around here. I've been scrambling to get a handle on it all but no, my taxes still aren't done, my driver's license is expired, the back yard looks abandoned, there are magazines all over the bathroom, yarn all over the house, and, even though my new assistant Ivy is leaving for the summer on June 1, I haven't started any of my summer designs yet.

Nevertheless, I do say to myself every single solitary day, Girl, you did the best you could. I do say that. I say that to the pile of coats, boots, and shoes piling up in Amelia's outerwear corner of the dining room; and Andy's Snack Central bags of chips, salts, and popcorn seasonings scattered on top of our red Ikea cabinet and on top of the cookbooks up there (bags of Funyuns, on top of the cookbooks, good lord); and of course detritus from my own fourteen new hobbies (resin, polymer clay, pottery, and, naturally, metal-smithing among them) covering any available surface. I look around and I say that to all of those things. Girl, you did the best you could today. For what it's worth. Someday I'll get there. Meanwhile I sit on the bed with a giant breadboard on my lap, making soap dishes out of clay and re-watching season 1 of Keeping Faith because Where the hell is Evan??? Season 2 just came out so I will soon know!

THANK YOU thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your orders of my new spring designs and all of the soap and lotion bars and yarn I released. I sometimes cry in the studio and I did cry while packing all of these things, from gratitude and maybe just a little bit of exhaustion but mostly gratitude for all of you and your generous orders and patience and interest in and support of my ideas. Thank you. It means more to me than I can say. My words feel so awkward and hard to find anymore so I don't write often. But I thank you for being here still.

I wrote on my Instagram that Andy and I have been making soap together again, and this, too, takes up much of my sunshine daydreams, thinking about soap and planning for new soap. Milk soap, aloe soap, baby soap, pink soap. We've made two 3.5-pound batches every weekend for the past four weeks. I must say, oh my, I don't know why, but the soap is coming out SO GOOD. Something is good! Maybe we're finally figuring it out. We made an executive decision to stop using anything but natural ingredients in our soap, so no micas or synthetic fragrance oils at all — only natural colorants and essential oils and perhaps pure botanical oils for fragrance. So far we've made a beautiful, creamy pale-pink scented with Ylang Ylang; a pretty seafoam blue scented with Clary Sage and Bergamot; a dull, chalky lavender scented with Bulgarian lavender and peppermint; and the one I'm calling "Dreamsicle," which is a pale rosy orange with cream, scented with orange, pink grapefruit, and balsam Peru (which smells like vanilla), like our Summer Day lotion bar. The bars are cut to 1.5 inches wide, or about 7.5 ounces each, and they are whoppers. They’re huge. And there's just something so beautiful about the big soap. It's so creamy and has these sort of creamy waves on the top that I just smoosh on with a spoon. The consistency of the soap when it's wet is like pastry cream or pudding, but even smoother. It's so satisfying to just mush a spoon through it. It's so pure and beautiful and it smells so good. It plops into the molds with such a ploppy, puddingy sound. I love it. After we put it all in the molds I just lean on the counter and stare at it for a long time. It takes six weeks to cure.

I was thinking about something I think I've written about before — I'm sure I've written about this before but I don’t remember when. I was thinking about this little jewel-box of a store called Essence that used to be on Lake Street in Oak Park, next to the Lake Theater where I worked as a candy girl when I was in high school. Essence sold Crabtree and Evelyn soaps and stuff and all sorts of pretty apothecary stuff, perfumes and soaps and potpourri sachets. The store was the shape of a rectangle with a center entrance and had wooden tables in the center and dark wood shelves on all the walls, and it just smelled so good in there. I used to spend so much time in that store, usually before work at the theater. I still think about it all the time!!! So weird! I also remember this other store that was in Galena, Illinois, on the Mississippi River, where I went for a weekend with my family when I was in high school, because my parents were thinking of buying property out there. There was an apothecary store there, too, and I think it was in an old barn? Maybe? It had dried flowers hanging from the ceiling and it sold herbs and soaps and bath stuff, I think. It was dark and warm and fragrant, like a Tasha Tudor sort of place. And I always remember that because my dad said to me that day that I should own a store like that when I grew up. And I was so flattered. Usually the things he wanted me to do only ever royally pissed me off (I won't get into it, but let's just say I did not want to learn to do martial arts — not judging martial arts but I had zero interest) and he also usually did not say very nice things in general. I remember the few that pleased me, and this was one. Another was that he told me, at my cousin Michele's wedding, before I was dating Andy, that he thought I should marry a hobby farmer and have a rural life (I would've done that). Another one was that I reminded him of Sigourney Weaver, and I will never forget that. I remember those three things. Those things aligned with how I saw myself or wanted to see myself and that was rare for us.

Anyway, I have this vision, those visions, of those places, around these soaps and I don't know why. I don't know if it is tapping into some childhood dreams of mine, or a fiercely beloved version of what I wanted my room to look like in high school (white, with whitewashed siding, and lavender-blue stuff, and dried lavender hanging from the ceiling, and rafters, and a little window, and slanty ceilings, and I swear I got this from an old Laura Ashley catalog I had and can no longer find even though I literally bought all the ones from 1983-1987 on eBay several years ago, I had such a longing to see whatever picture it was that I was "remembering," though I never have found it. Did I make it up?), or something sweet and beautiful that is just literally soothing me right now, in these days. I don't know. I spent a long time looking at '80s calicos again on eBay the other night, thinking this time of how they would look in little strips wrapped around soap. So I guess I haven't gotten it all out of my system. Maybe I'm just homesick. I don't know. I don’t know what it is. Or why it’s happening now.

What's your favorite kind of soap and do you use handmade soap? Do you think about this?

Oh — and also — I went to my P.O. box for the first time in over a year, and thank you very much for all of your kind notes and gifts! I am so sorry it has taken me so long to pick them up! I have not done a good job responding to emails and other contacts this year, and I hope you'll forgive me. I sincerely thank you and am hoping to respond personally soon. XO

Spring Things Now Available!

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Oh man, this morning I was just lying in bed in my nightgown drinking a second cup of coffee watching soap-pouring videos on Instagram at 8:50 a.m. thinking, "Gosh, Andy's got some work to do, he really needs to make sure Amelia is logging in for school, yeah buddy" when I remembered, "Oh mercy mercy me I'm having a sale in one hour and ten minutes and I haven't written my blog post!" Forgive! I am linking every one of these pictures to its product page, which, according to Shopify's new feature, is scheduled to automatically go live at 10 a.m. PDT. Let's see if this works! Above is Whan That Aprille, the first in my 2021 seasonal series. There will be one for each season, starting with this one for spring. The Whan That Aprille PDF pattern is here.

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Above is my new hoop=framed design, Spring Wreath. The kit comes with the printed pattern, floss, fabric, ribbon, and hoop for framing. I just love this one. The Spring Wreath PDF is here. There will be a summer and a fall coming in 2021.

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Okay, this: This is my baby. This is the Flower & Frond  embroidered jewelry kit. It contains a whole lot of what you need to make four embroidered necklaces and one pin. I think my method for mounting the jewelry is a bit different than other tutorials I've seen. Mine is better. I'll tell you all my secrets. We are only making 200 of these kits. I never know if I am going to reissue kits once they are sold out. There is no PDF-pattern-only available for this design. The instructions and templates are specific to exactly these findings that I have sourced. I'm excited and nervous to launch this one! I've never done a kit like this before! In fact, there is nothing even remotely like this available anywhere that I can find. I can't wait to see what you make with it.

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I dyed some yarn. There isn't much but it sure is springy. The worsted-weight skeins are here.

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Fingering-weight is here.

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There are stitch markers made by me.

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A very, very small amount of soap. But we're definitely making more.

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A few Early Spring lotion bars. (And we are definitely making more lotion bars, though probably not any more of these, very soon.)

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Oh! And some finished hand-embroidered jewelry! You know I never do this. But I did it.

We also have restocked Dovegray Doll kits, Time of Flowers kits, Love and Joy kits, and a few Misselthwaite Mitts kits.

Let me know if you have any questions, and thank you so very, very much for your interest and support! XOXO, alicia

UPDATED, 1:03 p.m.: Andy and Amelia just made a few Forest Flower and Summer Day lotion bars! Homeschool!

UPDATED AGAIN, 1:19 p.m.: Yep, I can combine shipping if you place two orders. No problem! :) You don't even need to let me know; the computer should find them and I will refund extra shipping charges from multiple orders at the end (refunds are on a different app on a different computer than shipping).

Web Site Update: Tomorrow, March 18, at 10 a.m. PDT

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Been busy! Lots of pretty new things for spring! I'll be back to talk about them tomorrow! XOXO, a

Waking Woods

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Headed toward home plate on a year of this. It's hard to remember how we did things. Did Amelia actually go to school with a roomful of other kids? Did I sit side-by-side with the moms on the playground and talk about genealogy and Shopify and in-laws? Did we eat at restaurants every other day? Did I take her to Ikea every other week to play on all the furniture? Did she touch everything in every room of the children's museum, where there isn't a single window and it smells like dirty diapers and microwaved food and lifesaving espresso? Did I sit in the front room of the ballet school, talking to sweetest Teacher Michelle and knitting as the high-school girls filed in and the little ones held hands and fell into each other's arms on the old couch? Was there ever a time when it wasn't just Amelia and me somewhere in the woods, building fairy houses, searching for tiny mushrooms, listening for woodpeckers, and hoping no one else shows up? I have a terrible time wearing a mask. My glasses just fog up no matter what I do and I can't stand it. My asshole eye doctor won't release my prescription to me so I can get new glasses because it's over four years old. Glimpsing another person coming from far down the trail fills me with adrenaline. God, I just hate the feeling. Hello, person fifty yards away! I'm terrified of you!

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The woods receive us nonetheless. Everything is still very chilly and very sleepy. There's usually at least one bird singing. The sound of traffic far off. The smell of red cedar. I watch the time because we have to get back so Amelia can go to math class online at 1:00. We drive-thru McDonald's for frozen lemonades and Happy Meals and eat them in the car, blasting Lizzo on the way home.

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Last week a nutria swam out of the beaver lodge and sat in front of a log in the water, staring at us. I had to rub my eyes because I couldn't believe it. Later he came up out of the pond right near where we were sitting and started snuffling around just yards away. It was adorable (however, invasive)! We sent a video to Andy. He's been at work a lot lately. I think we're both very tired (and our brand new hot tub is BROKEN). When he gets home there's a short, happy reunion and then I race to my room and shut the door and turn on the TV, knit something, call my friend, make some jewelry, surf Instagram, eat Chipotle carnitas burrito bowls delivered to the front porch by a rotating cast of GrubHubbers. I'm embarrassed by what my neighbors must think about how much I order GrubHub. I try to work. I've got spring stuff coming. My hand-dyed floss order got lost for a while at Weeks Dye Works so we're a bit behind, but it's here now and I'm hoping we'll launch stuff next week. Andy pulls the floss. It's kind of complicated. The cat has to be locked up the entire time. He's going to make more lotion bars soon. (The kid works hard. He does anything he can to help me every single day.) My new assistant Ivy is just a dream. And I still have my goal of reformatting my cross-stitch patterns for wholesale. I was supposed to do that in 2020. I still want to make it happen. Right now I desperately need to pull my stuff together to send to the accountant to do our taxes. Ugh. Whatevs. Send food and nap dresses.

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I started making resin jewelry. I enjoy this very much. I'm totally new at it. I learned a lot from my first batch: Let the resin sit for about fifteen minutes to get rid of some bubbles. Don't pour it in, just dab it with the popsicle stick. Don't ever put open bezels on whatever kind of packing tape I have (it sucked). Don't take the sticky residue off with a scratchy cotton ball (not sure how it can be scratchy, but it was?). I mean, in a lot of ways I did a mostly good job on my first batch. (I had watched a lot of tutorials about how to do it before I tried.) But I need more practice. I need to pop every single bubble. I bought a new full-face respirator and signed up for a beginner's metalsmithing-at-home class at Portland Community College that concentrates on all cold connections (no soldering). I want to make my own bezels. Right now I'm using the batch of them I bought online. I think my technique needs to get better before I use really nice bezels. All of the botanical material I used was from our yard or our walks in the woods. Tiny ferns, little Robert geraniums, plum blossoms, a few vinca and veronica from the parkway. All these sweet little baby greens keeping me from despair.

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I hope you are all well and finding vaccine appointments if you are eligible and finding ways to stay occupied until you are if you're not. I hope if you have little kids you are not fried. My friend told me yesterday that a local newspaper said that Oregon was going to have enough vaccine for all adults by the end of April. I want to believe that. Thank you for the emails and comments about the playlist. I'm so glad you like it! If you've made one, leave a link in the comments? Thank youuuuu. I'm grateful.

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February 2021 Playlist

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River

Note my extremely creative title of this playlist. Good, huh? I know. It's been a very long time since I've made a playlist, and this one has some songs from my old playlists that I hadn't listened to in a long time (probably since I made my last playlist, which has disappeared) but still like. I just got my own Spotify account. I usually listen to Pandora because I've worked on my stations there a lot (liking and not-liking things so that the station is more honed for you). My newest favorite Pandora station is Mother Falcon and that is still so varied for me that I never get tired of it. But Amelia is listening to music more often and Andy got a family plan on Spotify so we can each have our own accounts rather than kicking Andy off his at work whenever Mimi wants to listen to JoJo Siwa or I want to listen to Valerie June (yes, I've listened to that song probably a hundred times and tried to learn the words).

The last song, "Meaning" by Cascadeur, was played at the end of the last episode of Lupin (and if you haven't watched that, we totally loved it). The Michael Hurley song is in the movie Leave No Trace, which I though was an amazing film. (And thank you so, so much for the mystery and other show suggestions! I love them, and yes, I absolutely love Last Tango in Halifax! One of my favorite shows ever! Will be making my way through the rest of the list!)

 

Doing Random Stuff

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Jewel

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Sunrise 660

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House

Pond

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The biggest news in my life lately is that I bought a new duvet cover and king-size pillows. And also these shams. I just felt like our bedroom, which has become my Mom Cave, needed some cheering up. I also wanted those red gingham shams from Zara. They are a really weird size — they call them for "big pillows." A "big pillow" is 27.5" x 35.5". That's huge. That's like the length-of-a-standard-pillow high, and a yard wide. Those pillows sell for like $85+. There was no way I was paying that. I spent hours on Google looking for the same gingham shams (dark red gingham, not red gingham) but in a normal size (like, a king-size pillow, or even a standard) or big pillow inserts that weren't $85+. I Googled every word for dark red — maroon, wine, burgundy — and I couldn't find the right gingham that was like the Zara gingham. I finally found  floor pillows with yucky covers from Overstock that were the same size as "big pillows" but were about $30, I think. Then I gave up and ordered the Zara shams. I went totally crazy. I spent a week doing that.

So you see, you have missed nothing re: my lack of blogging.

Andy has received both doses of the vaccine, so that's been a huge relief. Amelia and I still live as if we are under house arrest but I don't care how long we have to wait, now that Andy is more protected. I send my prayers for all of you adversely affected by this virus. It's been hard. I'm eager for spring to start arriving. Amelia and I have spent many mornings watching for beavers at a local pond, but we're not having much luck. I need to start going very early in the morning because beavers are nocturnal, and I think they start heading home at dawn. . . .

I'm working on the three projects I told you about, and almost all of the things I've ordered for all the kits are here. The jewelry kit will include Weeks Dye Works hand-dyed embroidery floss, so that is still being dyed. The are going to be such nice kits. I am so excited for them. My assistant, Ivy, is working on cutting fabric and assembling jewelry pieces at her house and I'm trying not to overwhelm her with stuff to do — she has a full-time job and works for me only when she can. But we will get there. I'm hoping we can start shipping stuff sometime toward the end of March. I will definitely let you know when everything is ready.

Here's a list of the British mysteries and cop shows I have watched on BritBox and Acorn TV and Netflix this year: Happy Valley (my favorite), Vera, Shetland, Broadchurch, Scott & Bailey, Grantchester, No Offense, Dr. Foster, Unforgotten, The Sounds, The Nest, Marcella, Collateral, London Spy, and lots of Marple, Midsommer, and Morse. Also Loch Ness. What am I missing. Case Histories. I finished Catastrophe (loved it) and lost my mind for Normal People. Gosh that was good. What should I watch next?

It’s A New Year

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Happy New Year, guys.

Eeeee-yipes, am I ever lazy. That's January. I usually lay around. The other day I stayed in my nap dress and got back into bed and put my computer on my lap to work on my cross-stitch pattern and watched TV all day. It was glorious. Andy busted out laughing when he came upstairs and saw me, a stack of dirty dishes next to me on the nightstand. I'm finally starting to get into lockdown. Nowhere to go, no one coming over, nothing to do, no guilt about that! I did feel vaguely guilty about not even getting dressed. I only get to do things like this when Andy is home, of course. Generally he works four 12-hour days in a row, and yes, I am almost shrieking by the end of Day Four, especially when Amelia decides to throw a wobbly right at bedtime. Why is it only at bedtime?! It only seems to happen on Day Four. It's only Day Two today, so hopefully we're good. . . . I can’t take it.

Last night Agatha Kitten was just attacking me relentlessly for an hour! Biting my hands, stalking then lunging at me, and trying to jump up from the side of the bed to get under the covers and claw my feet. What is her problem! She was possessed. She just wouldn't stop. I put her in the hallway and shut the door and then she howled and banged on the door. I'm not kidding. I got up and let her in and she just started biting me again. She is a very bitey cat. It's been so long since I had a baby cat that I can't remember how long this attack-stage lasts. I remember Violet when she was little attacking my feet under the covers, too. That's very annoying. I'm ready for her to start acting a little more mature instead of like a rabid goblin. (And, BTW, she did very well with the Christmas tree and couldn't have cared less about it, but she was absolutely obsessed with the decorated mantel and went up there almost every day and tried to throw things off of it and knocked everything over regularly.) She has no fear and is utterly indifferent to our displeasure. But then she can be such a little lover! Agatha is like a Garbage Patch Kid. First she's sour, then she's sweet. Currently napping sweetly and adorably on the sofa next to me.

I cleaned the house for several hours yesterday. It was so messy. We put all of the Christmas stuff away and I redid my mantel with nothing but a few fake candles, a fake snowy owl, a little vase of fake eucalyptus, and two baskets. I ordered new curtains to cover the shelves on either side of the fireplace (they hold nothing but all of our photo album and old VHS tapes that we can't part with on one side, and a bunch of toys and junk on the other side). I used to have two matching curtains for those shelves but apparently one is lost. I might get two new lamps for the tops of those shelves. We just really need a change. I have two little Ikea lamps up there right now and I've probably had them for twelve or thirteen years. I don't like Ikea lamps because you can really only use Ikea lampshades with them (unless you want to do a clip-on, on the lightbulb). Ikea lampshades are kind of lame. I enjoy surfing Wayfair and maybe I'll do that later.

Andy got his first vaccine on December 26. He gets the booster in ten days or so, depending on his work schedule; I can't remember. So grateful for this. Beyond words.

I got a plug-and-play hot tub for my birthday! It's absolutely awesome. We go in it almost every day. It's really, really good. We need a cover lifter. I don’t enjoy staggering through the mud trying to heft a giant cover onto the table so we can get in when I’m here alone with Amelia.

Currently obsessed with documentaries and reality shows about polygamous cults and other cults. Naturally. Andy was mildly disapproving every time he came in and saw me watching Escaping Polygamy again, goggle-eyed, munching on my lemon cupcake in my nightgown and pointing at the TV like I can’t believe this! But then he'd sit down for one second and start watching it and couldn't look away! I told him! And have you watched Wild Wild Country? Rajneeshees in Oregon. Andy and I are glued. We have one episode left. Incredible story. Well worth watching this. ***Finished it: WOW. What a film. I highly recommend it.

Good times!

I have three embroidery kits I am working on. One is a new 6"x8" seasonal cross stitch (to fit an 8"x10" frame), one is another little hooped wreath (for spring), and one is the embroidered jewelry I was making last year. I'm trying to source everything for that now. I've never done this kind of kit. It will include four pendants with jump-rings and chains, and one pin. I think it's going to be really cool. I am happy with my cross stitch design; I was inspired by woodcuts and I think I have pretty good ideas for all of the upcoming seasons, too.

I hope you are all well and cozy. Tell me what January is like for you.

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.