Posts filed in: April 2006

Kitchen Nook, Early Morning, with Babbling

comments: 40

Kitchen6_1So, it only takes the weeniest amount of encouragement from y'all, and I spring into action to spiff up the nook. Mm, here it is again. It's a pretty tiny little space. I had been neglecting it a bit because it is home to the aforementioned utterly terrifying cat food and cat bowls. I found this little pink shelf of mine in the basement of the shop the other day, and I remembered how pretty Yvonne's little shelf  was -- and her other open shelves, too -- and promptly put in the work order to have it hung so I could put my stupid latte bowls somewhere. Yvonne is a fantastic stylist -- I love all of her pictures so much, everything always cheerful and colorful and spare and pretty. Yvestown is a very lovely town indeed. I wish Yvonne could come here and fix up my shelf for me.

Kitchen2I don't know why I was just mean to the latte bowls. I didn't mean it. I love them, actually, but there's nowhere to put them. I think I'm mad at myself because, in spite of the fact that I don't have anywhere to put them, I keep buying them. I go in to unpack groceries and there's another one. "She forgot to give me my avocado! Dangit! . . . Hey, how'd you get in here?" I think I'll put in another work order to have a little shelf put somewhere or other, just for them. They're so sweet.  I don't drink coffee out of them, though I've tried, because it sounds just like something pretentious and precious enough to appeal to me; the coffee gets so cold with all that surface area cooling down so fast. How do the French do it, I wonder. I thought they sat around for hours over cafe au lait. Another mystery of France we'll never understand.

Kitchen1I love this tennis girl, too. Her nonchalant, 40-love, so-what-if-I'm-winning posture. She's an old cake decoration. And little Miss Kitty up there is a salt shaker. And tucked way in the back is a patchwork card, given to me by the mod mother of all fairy godmothers, Lisa, made by the earth mother of fairy godmothers, Amanda. Irish oatmeal -- the greatest hot cereal. Since childhood I have been a Malt-O-Meal, farina, Cream of Wheat person. Lately, it's steel-cut oats. By the way, Miss Stephanie? Is it my imagination or were those not steel cut oats we got at Henry's the other day? I think those oats were as flat as pancakes. We should've gotten pancakes. You are two for two "should've gotten something else"s at Henry's now. Hmmm. We're blowing you off next time Henry. Not to mention it was freezing in there, my gosh. Almost as cold as it is in here, actually. Where's the heat.

Kitchen3Uh oh. I'm crabby. You know why? 'Cause I don't feel good. I have a sore throat. I took three Airbornes last night. I should take another one. We were supposed to clean up the studio today, because it's probably going to rain. All I feel like doing is lying on the couch and watching America's Castles. Or Gilmore Girls. Or Judge Judy. I could rival David Sedaris with my love for Judy. Would it surprise you to know that I watch Judge Judy every day? I do. But any of those would be fine. They all feel like poorly-bed shows, somehow, and watching JJ always makes you feel a lot better about your own life. I'm so behind with everything -- the Posie site is so empty and bare. I have lots of things in various states of completion but nothing completed. Errrrr. My body feels like it's made of overheated paper mache. I did manage to put together a gallery of all the Posie-ish things that have sold in the past six months, however. I thought it was a bit of a miracle that I finished that; of course, it is something I should've been doing all along. This little tulle apron with the rickrack and the roses? How cute is that. From Lisa, of course, the font of all things cool and excellent. She sent me another one that will make its debut on the mannequin next week. When I opened them I tried to scream "Oooooooo! OOOOOOooooo! Oh no you di-n't, oh no you DI-N'T girlfriend!" at her via email but I don't know if she could hear how loud I really was. I think she did, but some things are hard to communicate over email. I pranced around with my eyes closed, hugging the aprons to my chest, thinking not for the first time that the woman truly is prescient.

Kitchen5_1People are starting to notice that . . . I'm having a very difficult time staying on top of my email. Like, they go, "How do you answer your email?" and I go, "Uh, I don't, really," and they go, "Yeah no kidding you loser." My in box is a total disaster. If you've written to me and I haven't replied, I really am sorry. I probably lost your email. I'm serious. There are like 3,000 messages in there because I never delete them, and everything goes into the same mailbox. It's a nightmare, and getting worse and worse. I'm just saying. I really do love you. I'm just totally disorganized. Like, here are some recent comments I have a vague memory of not answering: Paper flower in the upstairs bathroom cabinet? Bernadette Breu, antique store in the Pearl district (Portland). Kind of camera I use? Canon A-80, love it. Paint color in the living room? Can't for the life of me remember even the brand of paint. Do tree peonies smell like regular peonies? Happily, yes! Were there others? Prob.

Violet2I'd better go. This post is pretty mental. Please forgive me. Maybe I have a hallucinatory fever and not just a sore throat. Maybe I'm raving. I don't think I'm quite as scary as bullet-eyed Violet over here yet, though. This is the face I call, "Oh, but you will do what I want." She gets so nosy when I come in the nook, her secret lair. I guess I'd better feed her before she puts me into some kind of tabby-induced canned-cat-food trance. I might be halfway there.

In the Night Kitchen

comments: 32

Nightkitchen6_2 The May issue of Domino, which I just got to look through a couple of days ago, is so beautiful. I love Domino magazine. You hear me, Domino? I love you. (This is how Amy talks to her pans, and I assume they hear her.) I have never really found a magazine, since all the Martha Stewarts, that inspires and influences me to such an extent that I actually do something about it. Last fall, when Domino launched, it truly sent me into a frenzy of redecorating and required me to kind of . . . clean up . . . the place. By that I mean a real clean up, where I got rid of a lot of stuff that was filling up space, stuff I had ceased to really "see" -- books I would never again read, gifts that weren't our style, fake flowers collecting dust (though we just read on the salt box that to clean silk flowers you put them in a bag with a bunch of salt and shake them around -- didn't know that), bulging stacks of magazines, carpets too big for their spaces. I don't know what else there was, but I know that we worked pretty hard to purge it. And it was all because of Domino. I felt like I could start fresh with the new magazine. Their manifesto makes me want to stand, with hand on heart, and recite it aloud from the front porch. I love every single solitary thing about the new issue.

Nightkitchen I wish they had the old content of the magazine available on-line in archives, but I don't think they do -- the site is mostly about the current issue. If they did, I would point you toward an article last fall where they accessorized a kitchen three different ways -- one sort of earthy, one French flea market, and one 60s mod. What I like is how do-able a lot of what they show really is -- it wasn't a whole kitchen remodel, it was just a counter and a shelf. I can do a counter and a shelf! I loved the French flea market. My kitchen was a little bit there already, but it was helpful to see the vision in print. I was going to order this polka dot pendant lamp but then I found this eyelet paper lantern and knew it would look pretty with those rosy paper lanterns from Laura the other day. Dimmer switches that you plug into lamps are the greatest invention -- I use them on all the important lamps in my house. It allows you to control the amount of light in your lamps down to the mere glow, just like a wall dimmer switch for an overhead light. (But you know how I feel about the overhead light.) Oh, and does anyone know a (cheap) source for striped cotton rugs? I just want a red and white stripey one. I feel like I see them everywhere until I want one and then I can't find it.

Nightkitchen5_2I got a bunch of square doilies that I taped to the lower part of the window, and then sprayed that frost stuff you use in bathroom window over them, but I did it too sloppily and it didn't come out great. The idea is to spray the frost through all the little holes in the doily and leave the relief on the glass. The fumes practically killed me. I'm gonna retry that and I'll show you.

Am I talking about the house too much? It's just that I have big plans for the summer, plans that include a lot of doing nothing. I want the summer to feel long and lazy and open and promising. I want to be bored. So I want to get all these ideas that I have finished up, so I can just lay on the hammock and read, and invite friends over for barbeques, and lounge around bored for hours at a time, with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and nothing else to finish up. At least until fall.

Peony and the P.O.

comments: 37

Peony2Two equally amazing things happened the other day. The first was that my tree peony bloomed. It was pretty windy out and the thing was blowing around like crazy, but here she is.

Peony1Tree peonies are a little bit different than your grandma's border peonies. Tree peonies are actually shrubs, and unlike the herbaceous peonies they don't die all the way back to the ground. Their blooms are huge -- this one is probably five inches in diameter, and it looks like I'll probably get only two on this plant. I bought it  for $20 at a little nursery on the way home from the Wooden Shoe tulip farm one spring, and it just had a tag on it, translated out of Chinese, that said "Pink Tree Peony" with some basic care instructions. I plopped it in a pot and stuck it on the front porch. I wasn't sure where I wanted to plant it in the ground, so I thought the pot would be temporary, but now it's been four years and the plant actually seems rather happy where it is.

Peony3Tree peonies have been around for centuries, and they are treasured in China. On a tree peony web site, I found a bit of history about them. They said that a poet once wrote, "Only the tree peony is worthy of being called the beauty of the Empire.  During its blooming time the whole capital city went berserk. Horses and carriages were coming and going like crazy. Those who didn't go to see the flowers were feeling ashamed of themselves." I love the image of a whole city going crazy bonk-bonk over a flower. When you see these girls in real life, you feel like it could happen.

My girl here has been a reliable bloomer every year, with little pampering. Little care, period. I told my friend the other day that I am the Joan Crawford of plant parents, by turns obsequious and enthusiastic, lavishing attention and encouragement, next neglectful and threatening, ripping out the non-performers who have not scrambled to receive my meager offerings. But this plant asks nothing and gives me this, faithfully, in return. I've always felt a little bit sad that I don't know her real name, since tree peonies have just about the best names in the world. Here are some I found on-line:

Snow Encircling Pure Heart
Palace Dress
Night Glow on the Sacred Mountain
Charming Scenery After Rain
Flying Swallow in a Red Dress
Taoist Stove Filled with Pills of Immortality
White Crane Standing in the Sun
Better than Jade with Triple Magic
Silver Pink-Glittering Gold
Snow-Kissed Peach
Beauty with Green Hairpin
Smiling in the Thickets

Peony11 I've decided that mine looks close to Green Dragon in a Pink Pool, so I'm going to call her that. This is how she looked this morning, all closed up and chilly. The color is so delicate and lovely it does make me crazy. I'm also rather moved by the whole entire plant itself; I wish I'd taken a picture of it but I forgot. It's just this long, stalky, sort of empty-looking plant -- not much foliage, just a couple of two-foot-tall skinny, woody sticks, and then this enormous ballet costume hanging off the end. It seems so incongruous that such a forgettable-seeming bunch of sticks could produce such a blatant miracle. I've got one more bud that looks like it'll be open in four or five days -- this one's already been hanging out for at least three or four. She closes up at night and then opens her petals as the sun comes around to that side of the house.

PoThe other amazing thing that happened on that same day, I think it was Monday, was that the post office was completely empty at one o'clock in the afternoon. That is my empty bucket you see there. I was busy spinning in circles saying, "But . . . but . . . where is everybody?" and "Wait -- I've gotta go get my camera out of the car. No one will believe this." In all my days of coming to the SE 7th Ave. Station, I have never seen it empty. It was Alicia Day at the P.O. Even I -- yes I -- actually joked and laughed at the P.O., just like I've seen other people do! Even Carlos laughed (as he tried to duck out of the picture).

CarlosBut I insisted that he smile for me. I think we shared a moment. Thanks, Carlos. I will try to have all my forms filled out properly and not be such a grouch, now that we're buds.

My Sister's House

comments: 37

Livingroom2_1I spent yesterday afternoon photographing my sister's house for her. She needed some shots for something and she hates taking pictures the way I once used to hate taking pictures. I really enjoyed doing this. It is different to photograph someone else's stuff, somehow. It is also different to see things through the lens of the camera. Some things you notice more -- that slipcover looks more wrinkled through the camera than I ever notice in real life, that pillow has a zipper sticking out the top; and some things you notice less -- no time to vacuum, oh well it won't show on film, etc.

Livingroom1My sister and I have a lot of things in common, though like most sisters we know we are very different. We are aesthetically fairly different -- her palette is generally much earthier than mine, and though her living room is this pale, shell pink, she teams it with her favorite color, mushroom brown, and other warm tones, whereas I usually go with the bluey-green. The lady in the portrait above center is our Grandma Lucie. The lady just to the left of her with the hat (and the glare) is our other grandma, Angie. I think our littlest sister, Susie, has tastes very similar to ours, but even better, somehow. She always manages to find beautiful things at places you'd never expect to find them.

Studio1 I see the effects of our overcrowded childhood in our similar present-day needs for things to be simple, orderly, rather decorous, really. My sister's and my houses have very similar floor plans, and they share the exact same placement on our streets, though she's about ten blocks directly south of me. Both of us are rather taunted mercilessly by memories of our hometown, and strive to recreate it within the more urban, edgy, weedier neighborhoods we live in now, but it doesn't work that well. For one thing, we all walked or rode bikes to school every day until high school, and that's not something most kids in Portland can enjoy. That makes me feel so sad for them! Walking to and from school is one of my best memories. I felt so much a part of my neighborhood then, and I know that walking, especially walking alone, had everything to do with it.

Kitchen5 It may be the burden of everyone who doesn't move away until well into adulthood that they are constantly striving to recreate childhood neighborhoods. I feel fairly contented with my new (er, eight years isn't really "new" I know) city until I talk to my sister, who is more restless. But she has kids so I think she compares what we got to do with what things are like for them, and worries. We grew up on a quiet, kid-filled dead-end street one house away from an enormous oak-studded park. It had a forested train trestle on a hill on one edge and on the other an adorable elementary school, where we hit tennis balls for endless hours against the outside-of-the-gym wall. We didn't think we were particularly lucky then -- we were oblivious, as most kids are -- but that neighborhood and the park have taken on mythic proportions in our respective adulthoods. The school's not even there anymore, but the park has been remodeled. Will you take a picture of it, Hillary?

Kitchen1_2 I'm incredibly lucky to live so close to my sister now, though we are 2,000 miles away from where we all started. I can't imagine living far from her and her family anymore. We were not particularly kind to each other as children or teenagers, though we have been very close for the past ten years, around when life started throwing beyond-average sorts of challenges at us, and we were far from home. We started our businesses at about the exact same time, though the genesis of each was completely independent. We had been privately working on our ideas, only to find the other was well on her way to something similar by the time we each admitted them.

Kitchen2_1 Our preferred mediums are very different, however. What we're good at is usually different. I'm a scheduled, extremely habitual person; my sister never has two days alike. My sister is a researcher; I'd rather rip my own head off my body than know too much about anything. My sister has always been extremely athletic and coordinated; I am famous for falling face-first into things like ice and gutters, and have the scars on my chin to prove it. I love to cook; my sister doesn't. When I open the door to this little spice cabinet, I say, "Okay, go get me a vintage apron to hang off this door."

Her: "I don't have a vintage apron."
Me: " . . . " [Staring at her in confusion.]
Her: " . . . " [Staring at me in ______ .]
Me: "What is wrong with you."

So that is a dishtowel.

Basement1_1Parlez-Vous is entirely my sister's creation, with technical and conceptual help from her husband. From the art to every aspect of the business, they have invented it for themselves. Michael is an artist, too. They have known each other since high school. Conveniently, he and Andy are best friends and still, after knowing each other for over fifteen years, engage in exchanges of such enthusiasm and energy we just all sort of stand back and marvel that anyone in the family likes each other that much. I always think of those boys like two adolescent puppies, barking. They are not quiet ones.

Basement3_2 I like taking pictures of spaces. You'd be surprised at how much stuff I moved around and set up to take these shots. I do this at my own place, but it was a lot easier to have an assistant to pouf up pillows, move chotchkes, and clean up all the little messes I made as I went through (at least it was only some of) the house. Julie said she would've taken about four pictures; I took probably 50 or so. But it's so nice to have these little periodic glimpses of what life looks like. I wish I had more of them from my old life. This was the Smiths', April 24, 2006.

"Squares" of Color

comments: 30

SquaresblankieI've always really liked circles and squares more than ovals, rectangles, or other more organic shapes. What I am loving about the Faded Tulips blanket is the I-don't-have-to-think factor that working with squares sort of implies -- making them all actually look square is challenging enough (and, honestly, it's not much of a challenge, since you would never look at a blanket flat out anyway). But since I'm using a few different kinds of yarns, I have had to play with a few hook sizes in order to keep things happening equilaterally. Anyway, here's my progress so far.

This stitch is one of my favorites, mostly because it feels more drapey and less clunky and chunky than most sort-of fabric-making-type stitches in crochet. It's a simple (sc, dc) repeat across an even number of stitches, turn, then again (sc, dc) across. You wind up sc-ing into a dc, and vice versa, and it adds up to a zig-zaggy stripe that I find strangely satisfying. I used KFI Angora Extra for the white borders to give it sort of a modern-ish feel -- I sc-ed an equal number of stitches on each side, then added one more row in the round. I had added three rows, and it just didn't feel right. So, these are the first five squares, and I'm thinking there will need to be thirty-five -- so it's five by seven squares big. The squares seem to be measuring about ten to eleven inches square. I haven't blocked anything yet but I'm hoping they do get a little more square than they seem right now.

SquarehankiesI was talking to a woman in the shop this weekend and she said that she gives presentations about the history of aprons. I almost, almost begged her -- okay, I think I actually was begging her, if saying "Oh! Oh! Puh-leeeeez!" sounds like begging -- to call me later this summer and consider giving a little presentation to interested peeps at Ella Posie. She brings a bunch of great aprons and lets people try them on, etc. I'm not sure how keen she was to do it -- didn't seem particularly keen, but I think it would be so much fun. I have a big collection of vintage aprons, and a very small collection of vintage handkerchiefs that our conversation reminded me of.

Squaresignature I really like the printed hankies from the '40s-'60s, especially the ones by Pat Prichard and Billie Kompa and Kit Ann -- so adorable. I love this idea from Martha, though it seems prohibitively expensive to have glass cut to size, since most hankies are all different sizes (and usually aren't even completely square!). I've never had glass cut, so maybe it's not that bad? I would definitely want to see all the edges of the hankie, and not crop it or wrap it. Urban Outfitters has album frames that might work for smaller pieces -- the dimensions are 12" x 12". But wouldn't a wall of them, like in the hallway or something, be adorable?

The Back Yard: Phase 2

comments: 23

Yard2ndphaseNever let it be said that Mr. Paulson has no follow-through. Take that, color quiz! Or this, rather. This evidence of two long, hard days with shovel and other, very loud sorts of machinery. This is Phase 2 of the back yard, with its under-layer of biggish gravel. On top of this will go the "pretty" gravel, I'm told. Then, you know, the fluffy stuff -- containers and a few raised beds. But not much. Oh, and where the table and chairs are, eventually a flagstone patio sort of thing.

Yard2ndphase2The dog's all "What in the hell and the hootenanny'd those loons do now?" I'd like to go out and play some four-square on the thing, personally. It takes some getting used to, I must admit. But honestly, I'm relieved, and looking forward to having something that we can actually manage. A few giant pots of lavender and, my favorite, English box. Another seating area. Some climbing stuff up the walls. A ring of perennials around the plum tree. My poor little apple tree against the back fence -- I tried to pleach the thing, or espalier it or whatever you call it. Andy thought it looked absolutely crucified so we took it down, but not before it got all wonky and tentacled.

StonybirdnestI don't know if I've mentioned that I am fairly hyper in my sense of responsibility toward my little house and property. I feel the privilege of home-ownership keenly, and am motivated by a lifetime's-worth of longing -- what's stronger than "longing" -- yearning -- desperate, tear-streaked yearning for a home -- to take care of our space. Andy indulges me in this completely, since, you know, all I do is sit around with my foot on a pillow and come up with the honey-do lists while he does the hard labor, etc., all without, you know, spending any money. I can't believe how much he got done in the past couple of days. Thank you, Andy, and also Coldplay and Radiohead and whatever incredibly bad British heavy metal I heard coming out of the kitchen. I think he actually enjoyed the whole experience. He was actually whistling contentedly at 10:00 p.m. last night. If I'd done any of it I would've still been marching around the place sighing dramatically, groaning with aches and pains, ranting "And then I had to do this, and then I had to do that, and then I had to do this -- again --and it was so hard! Is anybody even listening to me?" But that is not his way. His way is just to whistle.

Ella Posie Looks Pretty Now!

comments: 33

Shop2_2 I love the light in our shop. For a room that only has one very high transom window, we get an amazingly sparkly sort of warmness. Lots of our new spring things are in the shop now, including new paintings by a local painter named Robin Carlisle. I am in love with her work. I have a huge crush on every single painting she brought in. I couldn't have dreamed up paintings more perfect for this space.

Robincarlisle1I want this one, the big huge one, for my hallway. Bad. It's 3' x 5'. It's so pretty I keep being distracted by it. Robin is originally from Santa Cruz, California. Her work has a light, luminous touch that reminds me of that warm, light, magical state. These are acrylic-painted panels -- 1' squares, 2' squares, and the big 3' x 5', from $120 to $800. We have about fifteen of them and as a collection -- all houses -- they just sing to me. It's a pleasure to sit in here today, surrounded by all this lovely light, and the tiny houses.

Robincarlisle2I had such a good day yesterday, full of busy-ness and lots of visits and good work and fun. My friend, the illustrious Andy Greer, came and hung out with me for the morning, and reminded me of how much I miss him, and my Missoula friends -- it's been ten years since we all finished our MFAs at the University of Montana, and that just seems impossible, somehow. Andy is here as part of Wordstock, a voluminous literary festival I'm now wishing I was able to attend today (but I'm here in the shop). Readings, workshops, a book fair, author dinners, and various speaking engagements are happening all over the city, with over two hundred and fifty authors (including such luminaries as Joyce Carol Oates, Gore Vidal, Dave Eggers, and Ira Glass) hanging out for the weekend in P-town.

Shop3 If you're headed out to the festivities, go see Andy read this afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Benson Hotel. He'll probably be talking about or reading from his book, The Confessions of Max Tivoli. Tell him you know me -- he thinks I know everyone in Portland, but really it's just that he happens to have met the exact twelve people I actually do know. But now that he's so big and famous I don't tell him that.

Yesterday I was happy to meet the lovely Laura and her boyfriend, another Andy, who are from England, here traveling around the Northwest. I was introduced to Laura through our mutual friend Megan, who, as you know, really does know everything. I've been thinking about Megan a lot, because of my crocheted blankie project (which is going well, and oops I forgot to say thank you to everyone who made color suggestions -- going to print that out and take some of the finished squares to the LYS and decide about halfway through, I think -- you'll see), which has been fun in no small part because I got to reorganize all my crochet hooks in my sweet little vintage fabric holder from The Organized Knitter, Megan's business. I love Megan. I met her years ago -- I don't even remember how -- and her presence always upgraded the offerings of the Holiday Bazaars we used to do at Ella Posie. Laura brought me these beautiful paper lanterns, which are going up in my bedroom, or maybe my kitchen, tomorrow. So, so perfect for me. Thank you, Laura!

This One's for You, Martha Pedersen

comments: 30

Yard4Yup. When we say "mud," we mean mud. Here's the back yard yesterday. Andy took out the deck that was too small for even four people to eat dinner on ("Please pass the salt, and don't fall off the deck!!! "), and started eliminating the top layer of sort-of grass and mostly mud and often moss. We are just unable to grow grass in our back yard. We should have been tipped off when we bought the place -- the previous owner had every inch of the back yard covered in bark dust. We waited a year for it to decompose, then hired some guys to take the rest of it away, smooth out the bumps, and replant grass. It looked nice, for about five minutes. Remember this? This was taken during that five minutes. We are Midwesterners born and bred, and we do like a nice green lawn. There is a reason why Japanese rock gardens are big in the Northwest, however. Oh, man. Let's go in the front yard, quick.

Yard5_1 Ah. Okay, that's better. This is my little tree peony. This bud is seriously like two inches around. Can't wait to see this. I'll show you. That muddy brown color behind the bud is the front porchy thing of the house. But anyway, in the back yard, the grass very quickly ceased to come back. In the winter, most of the yard turned to mud. In the summer, the mud turned to dirt. There is a huge tree back there which blocks the sun. No grass will grow under the canopy of the tree. Under the tree there are only tree roots and dirt.

Yard3This is more (sunny) front yard. The parkway, with its new coating of compost/mulch. (Every spring, Andy and I have great conversations about the difference between these two things. They go like this: Me: "Hon, can you get a load of mulch for the front yard and do it, please?" He: "You mean compost." Me: "Er . . . " He: "Mulch and compost are the same thing." Me: "Err . . . " .) Something black goes on the parkway and beds. Roses there. No grass. See that purple tree in the background? It's a plum, the exact same kind that's in the back yard, too. It drops its little plums all over everything and then people step on them and track them into the house. Bees are everywhere, feasting on rotting plums. No grass under that tree either. Someone once looked at it and said, "Oh, but you can make plum jam!" I had to kick her off the property. I was inches away from throwing plums at her. I am utterly conflicted about these trees.

Yard6This is a climbing hydrangea. It's attached to one side of the front porchy thing. It climbs in the shade and doesn't need support, having those little hairy graspers. My friend Nancy, who actually knows what she's doing in the garden, says that this was a bad choice, as it becomes absolutely monstrous and rips off your gutters. When people say things like that I'm like, "Hm? Wha?" I pretend I don't understand what they are talking about, and busy myself with some pruning, or pull out a weed or two, or pick a flower and tuck it coquettishly behind my ear to distract them. Because I love my climbing hydrangea. When it starts ripping stucco off the house I'll reconsider, but until then I'm all Hmm? [Eyelash bat.] Wha? Did you say something?

Yard7The dogwood. In my opinion, there really just can't be too many of these sweet little prom dates in the world. I so love the dogwood tree. We have another one, a pink one, in the back yard, but it almost never flowers. I don't know why. Probably because it's the back yard, where nothing works. Don't you love this color of creamy-ish yellow? I think I'd like to paint everything in the house this color and then make some buttercream frosting and sit on a stack of pillows, eating the whole bowl.

Yard8This rock is cool. My bro-in-law made it for us, but I haven't the first clue how he did it. He knows how to do all sorts of cool, professional-looking things like that. He also helped Andy build the pergola thing in the back yard. Soon after the back grass went away, the dog came. She wore a patch along the back fence which will never recover. The back yard is going to be covered in gravel, except for a little rectangle of grass which actually grows. I saw a garden in the first issue of Domino magazine last fall that inspired me. It's a square garden, covered in gravel, with raised beds. This is our plan. We just need a place for our hammock and the table and chairs. We need flat surface so I can walk on it, and we need no mud.

YardIt's taken six years to get the front yard to be good. The previous owner apparently didn't like people, and he planted many scary and unappealing plants to create a fortress-like barricade not just around the property but all over the property. I'm not great in the yard -- I mean, it always looks pretty in the spring but then I sort of forget about it and again it's like -- Goldilocks Theory. Too many things to take care of make me want to weep with exhaustion. So, gravel, and containers in back. Andy does all the work and I wring my hands supportively and practice my empathicalism -- it rained last night so there is some serious water back there, since the place doesn't drain very well. He's got a long day ahead of him, poor sweetie.

Martha [landscape architect/college roommate/East Coaster who has never seen the yard in real life but heard all about it], we tried. We really tried.

More Little Cabinets Get Cleaned

comments: 23

Geishabook Isn't this the prettiest little box? It came a few days ago from Julie, Arthur Golden's personal assistant, who is a secret blog reader. I'm embarrassed that I am, as I told Julie, probably the only person alive who hasn't yet read the book or seen the movie, but that makes the treat all the more sweet. She also tucked in some beautiful French soaps and some Memoirs of a Geisha tea. What a gorgeous canister. That's on the windowsill in the kitchen now. What a lovely surprise -- thank you, Julie! Honestly! Delightful.

UpstairscabinetThe soap is in the upstairs bathroom cabinet -- perfect timing since I was just sort of cleaning up and reorganizing both of the bathroom cabinets, as you saw yesterday. This is upstairs. You saw the other side of the room a few months ago. I was inspired to primp this cabi once again by Lisa, as well, because she gave me that pretty blue box of Italian soap on the very top, and now the jasmine one sits in the middle shelf. You can never, ever have enough fancy soap. That diamond postcard came a couple of days ago from Hillary -- apparently, my friends are now able to read my mind. Did you know how happy these treats would be in my little shelf? So it would seem! Thank you!

Upstairscabinet2I love the way cosmetics look, though I am very picky about them, about what's inside the package. I have the littlest, teeniest-weeniest ever-so-under-control addiction to Kiehl's products. Yes, my eye is twitching, but really, I'm okay, it's okay. Um. I'm supposed to save them for my guests -- my friend Linda in L.A. stocks her guest bathroom with Kiehl's (and probably her own bathroom, come to think of it) and when I stayed with her I'd just be in the bathroom forever. Just standing there in the shower, soaking in all that Kiehl's goodness. People waiting for me to come out so we could go to Universal Studios, and I'm washing my hair twice. I returned from my visit to her last year and promptly went out to stock my upstairs shower (which guests use but I really don't) with Amino Acid Shampoo (which smells like coconut) and Vanilla Body Wash and other stuff. I was so touched that she would offer these luxuries to her guests, whereas all I had for my own were the castoffs and rejects and scuzzy half-filled bottles of generic suds. I have ambitions to be a better hostess than that, I really do. So now there are beautiful little bottles of Kiehl's in the upstairs shower, and occasionally, when I feel the need to be extra-nice to myself, I use them. Though sparingly. (Linda's a lawyer.) If you come visit you can stay in the shower as long as you want, and wash your hair three times if you want, and I will be so totally cool with that! Really! Seriously! I'll be downstairs with the Suave, but you, you should be absolutely reckless, just crazy wanton with the Kiehl's, dear. It's worth it. I completely understand.

By the Dawnzer Lee Light

comments: 25

BathshelfDo you know the Ramona books, by Beverly Cleary? I always think of them in the morning, when I remember Ramona telling her father to turn on the "dawnzer" so he could see what he was reading. She got this from what she heard in The Star-Spangled Banner -- "by the dawn's early light" -- and thought she'd impress him with her new word for "lamp." The fictional character of Ramona grew up a few miles from where we live now, on Klickitat Street, which is a real street in a real, very charming neighborhood in Portland, near Ella Posie.

Bathsink2 I wanted to show Lisa what I wound up doing with the shelf I showed her on Saturday. I put it in the bathroom. Along with this soap dish that I got while shopping with her. I always have aqua blue bathrooms, some shade of aqua. You can't tell it's aqua in here from the lighting, but it's just a pale, watery color, almost like the color of water in a full bathtub. Though of course our walls are freckled with mildew. This room goes way more to the shabby side than the chic. But the aqua was a no-brainer when we moved in because the room actually has a turquoise blue tub (which I think I'm practically standing in to take this picture). I always live in places with weird bathrooms. Once I lived in a house with a square toilet seat. ??? This bathroom actually doesn't have a window that leads to outside -- it has a window which leads to the mud room/pantry, which was built as an addition. Hence, it always has a sort of dawnzer-y glow, even in the middle of a bright afternoon.

Oooh, I can see it's gonna be hard to stay inside today. Even from in the bathroom, I can tell there is sun out there. And just a note to anyone who's waiting for a Cagelet, Alice Apron, Friendly Bird, or Sock Puppy to show up on the Posie site -- there will be more soon, so please stay tuned. I'm working on putting together a gallery of images of things past, just for fun.

About Alicia Paulson


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




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.