Posts filed in: March 2009

First, daffodils.

comments: 44


'Bridal Crown' and 'Barrett Browning', planted for me by Andy last fall. I love them.




I thought I'd gotten pink daffodils, but it must have been pink tulips, which will come later. Right now we just have pink plum petals.

Busy Little Blossoms

comments: 39

Clover and a Hellebore

I have springtime dogwalk photos for you, but no time to post them today! Spring has sprung in Portland and, oh my. Oh. My. Petals everywhere. Can't wait to show you.

Things are crazy-busy here at the house (still), but I am trying to get caught up. Bookwinners, I have not forgotten about you, I promise — I will be in touch (hopefully later today). My to-do list is voluminous but I have high hopes. xoxo

Two Dogs, New Carpet

comments: 95


Hmmm. We've already torn around the house like a small tornado for the past two hours, bonked heavily into the coffee table fourteen times, permanently scared both Cats into the basement, pawed at the back door four seconds after being Let Out, tripped The Lady at every step and knocked over her tripod, fought over who gets to go first (repeatedly) up and down the stairs, and gone mental with jealousy every time one or the other Gets Petted, making it basically impossible for either of us to Get Petted at all.


What should we do now? I know. I'll impress My Friend with My Rollover.


Whaddya think? How awesome am I?!!!!? PRETTY AWESOME!!!!!


Hey, her eyes are closed! She wasn't even watching!


Tough Crowd.

Our Favorite Funniest Engagement Stories

comments: 55

Guys! I'm sorry I've been gone so long. You would not believe the chaos here this week. Carpet is in, bird kits are out, house is in shambles, and Remy (a.k.a Mumsie) arrives in five minutes to be dogsat for five days, so this will be quick. But here are our favorite funny engagement stories!  It was sooooooooo hard to pick -- there were so many great stories -- but in the end, after we each had read them all separately and then told each other the ones that made us laugh out loud, for whatever reason (sometimes it's the story, sometimes it's the telling, what can I say?), these were our ten faves. (But honestly, thank you for sharing them -- we really loved them all.) Be warned, some of them are a little bawdy! But without further ado, and in the order they were received, here they are:

1. You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up

3/25/05 was good friday and my family (in NY) goes to this rustic buckwheat pancake house every good friday. it's my favorite tradition. ben flew from CO to NY to surprise me, and stayed with a family friend who is disabled. I was really confused because we got priority seating because of our disabled friend. We've always had to wait 1-3 hours for pancakes and never got priority seating. I thought my dad was cheating (because he often does)and I yelled at him as we were being seated. Then my dad handed me 6 plastic easter eggs. While drinking my maple milkshake (and later choking on it), each egg included a note from Ben which got progressively sweeter. The last egg said to turn around for my real easter gift and he was there! hiding in the kitchen! I didn't know he was proposing, and bent down at his level when he got on his knee, giving him the wrong hand. Everyone cheered and we got heart-shaped pancakes and they remember us and have a picture hanging in the restaurant- it was a great day."

Posted by: Emily | March 16, 2009 at 01:58 PM


2. Hotel robe: $60. Puppy shampoo: $4. This kind of romance: Priceless.

Ok - our engagement story was a night and morning we will never forget.
I refer to these memories as "doodle-gate"
Ben took me to a beautiful chalet in the hills and we had a romantic meal. It rained, we had a fire, chocolates, wine - the works.
Ben and I got into the one size fits all white fluffy robes. I soon discovered that one size doesn't fit all, as when I opened my eyes (after my hubby told me to close them) there was my soon to be hubby on one knee with his weener hanging out of his gaping robe. Of course he did not know this and went into a beautiful, heartfelt will you marry me monologue and I was trying not to laugh, or stare.
The next morning we went home to see our new puppy. Hank had been with us for exactly 4 weeks and this was his first night unattended.
Ben went out into the yard and I was on the phone calling my Mum to tell her our news. Mum wanted to speak to Ben, so I handed him the telephone and Hank ran in to greet me.
I was patting Hank and giving him kisses and while I was doing this I was saying to Ben "why is he all wet?" and Ben was waving madly at me from the phone.
When he finally hung up, he said "I pee'd on the dog. I was out in the bush and the dog ran between my legs".....
You can't buy this sort of romance.

Posted by: Toni Brockliss | March 16, 2009 at 04:22 PM


3. Andy Said, "Yeah, Pick the 'Popcorn Bob' One. I Don't Know Why, I Just Like It."

My (now) husband and I had been dating for a while and I knew we were going to get engaged because we had looked at rings together. I'd actually already been planning the wedding, but he hadn't actually asked.

So you would think that there is no way that I would be surprised, right? Ha! You just don't know how slow I am.

I was living in a house with my little sister, on the other side of a tri-plex (yes TRI-plex, that's a whole other story) from my honey and his roomie. We spent all summer, the four of us, working in our garden like some tiny commune. I worked at a preschool during the day and when I came home I'd make dinner for everyone while they all hoed and pulled weeds and hung the laundry out (what can I say, we were in college) in the backyard.

I'd had a particularly bad day at the preschool and my sweet honey took me to a place we'd been on one of our first dates, but it was closed. I still have no idea why they were closed on a Thursday night. It should have been my first clue, because he was terribly disappointed. Instead we went to another restaurant, that was very nice and then we came home. I asked him to let me go change clothes and then I would meet him to go for a walk. While I was in my room changing, Josh went out into the backyard and lit about fifty tea lights all around the backyard and into the garden, leading to our scarecrow, Popcorn Bob. There was a reason why we named him that, but I can't remember what it was now.

Just as he finished lighting all these candles his old roommate drove up and flattened a few. He didn't stay long because he caught on pretty quickly as to what was going on.

Josh left a note outside my bedroom door (like I said, I hadn't caught on so I was taking my time) and called me after I didn't come out for a while. I read the note and it was a poem about all the weird names of people we knew and it instructed me to come outside to our scarecrow (the aforementioned Popcorn Bob). I came outside (still clueless) and found all the candles and my sweetie standing in the middle of the garden next to the suspended overalls. He gave me another note telling me to look in the pocket of the Bob's overalls and I did. And I dropped the ring in the dirt. In the dark. After some scrambling we found the ring and Josh proposed.

Posted by: Chara Watson | March 16, 2009 at 09:23 PM


4. "I Do," but First a Little Profanity

Ok, so this is the story of my little sister's engagement (just happened on New Years Day!)

My sister and her boyfriend had been dating for about 7 years. He had joked around with her numerous times about getting engaged without ever proposing (example, a few months back her boyfriend's brother was planning on popping the question to his girlfriend. The ring was at their parent's house. My sister and her boyfriend were over there visiting when he opens up a drawer and throws a ring box at her. She opens it up and gasps and says "what's this?" he says "well, what do you think it is?" she's about to ask if it's an engagement ring for her when he tells her that it's his brother's ring! How mean!)

Anyways, New Years Day - we have a family tradition of eating Chinese food and getting excited about our fortunes. My sister's boyfriend gets up to help grab the fortune cookies and passes them out to everyone. Everyone is cracking into their cookies when my sister says "oh, look I've got two fortunes" then she yells (in front of our parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandpa) "#&%* Off!"

It turns out her fortune cookie said "Will you marry me?" and she thought her boyfriend was playing a trick on her!

Lo and behold, he wasn't this time, she turned next to her and he was on one knee!

The only regret of the night was that my brother wasn't able to get to the video camera fast enough to witness the cursing!

Posted by: Michelle | March 16, 2009 at 10:07 PM


5. Note to Self: Check Calendar First

We got engaged after my exams at the end of second year and phoned home all excited and giddy to let my mother know our good news. She had a strange reaction - was not pleased at all. She told me to stop with the joking around and that it was not funny. I insisted we were serious and she said,"So this is not an April Fools joke?" and I thought,"OMG is it April 1st ?" and then I turned to my boyfriend and said, "April Fools"? feeling suddenly sick and that maybe he was pulling a joke on me. He mistook my reaction and said April Fools!!!" looking stricken, thinking I was telling him that my acceptance had been a joke. But then I really thought he was pulling a very unfunny joke on me. Both of us thought the other was fooling around. It was terribly confusing, sort of like an Abbott and Costello routine. We sorted it out eventually, but everyone we told also thought it was a joke. No one believed us...Do not get engaged or tell people about it on April 1st. But most people know that don't they!!!

Posted by: Karen | March 16, 2009 at 10:17 PM


6. When You Forget There's Been No Proposal . . .

My husband and I had been together for a few years, had been cohabitating for 6 months or so. We had talked a little bit about staying together forever. I apparently used to bug him just a little bit "when are you going to ask me to marry you?" etc. In fact, Christmas 2004 I had said out loud, while in the presence of his entire family "It's odd that I married someone who isn't a miner, given my family history of doing that" and he said "Uh, Donna, we're not married." Right. . . .

(Editor's note: They did get married later, but I just busted out laughing when I read this paragraph :-)

Posted by: Donna | March 17, 2009 at 05:07 AM


7. When the Crazy Old Drunk Lady's Husband Is Just Too Slow . . .

Matt proposed to me on top of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis after a gorgeous dinner. It was a starlit night, ducks were quacking, and Matt got down on one knee.

I could tell that he'd worked so hard, saving money for the ring (we were poor, slightly insane 20 year old college students) and picking the most romantic engagement setting he could find.

He gazed into my eyes, popped open the ring box and then... before he could say anything an older woman reaking of beer came out of no where, grabbed his shoulder and leaned into my face.

"Is he PROPOSING???!!!!"

Everyone on the roof stopped what they were doing and stared at us and the elderly drunk woman with blue hair.

I stood there with my mouth gaping and Matt (bless his heart) said softly, "Well ma'am, I'm trying to."

It was so awful it was funny. Drunk lady's husband came running across the roof, apologized profusely and led her away as she yelled, "They're gonna get marrrriiieeeed," to anyone that would listen.

Matt shrugged, looked at me and said, "Well?" I said, "Ok." And that's our engagement story.

Posted by: Liz | March 17, 2009 at 06:26 AM


8. Napping, but With One Ear Open

Larry and I had been together for nearly a year. One afternoon I was "napping" next to him. I heard him ask if I was sleeping, but just didn't feel like talking so I did not answer. I was too exhausted. Next thing I hear him say is "Marsha, will you marry me?" "What?" I immediately said as I was sitting up. He said he was just practicing. Who practices that with the person right there? Of course who "fake sleeps" too? Needless to say that was my one shot at a proposal and I took it. We have been happily married 12+ years and are the proud parents to 5 wonderful kids.

Posted by: Marsha Roberts | March 17, 2009 at 11:16 AM


9. Aw, thanks, Dad -- but what are you talking about?

My engagement story: my long-time, cohabiting boyfriend decided to propose to me, but thought it would be polite and old-fashioned to tell my parents about it first. My dad, being a pretty modern guy, naturally thought that Michael was telling them AFTER the fact, since why on earth would he tell them that he was GOING to propose before asking me? [I'd have to insert a long paragraph here about how soft-spoken and, well, shy my spouse is to make it more clear how this misunderstanding could have happened]. Anyway, I was at home, wondering where on earth Michael was, when my dad calls and says, "Oh, my little baby, we are so happy for you!" Then I hear my mom in the background saying, "JAY! Hang up right now!" (apparently she hadn't misunderstood). There was some rustling around, and then "click." It didn't take me long to figure out what was going on, and as soon as Michael got home I told him about it--he ended up "proposing" with a red face, and now almost ten years later I love to tease him about how romantic it was when my dad proposed to me!

Posted by: Katie | March 17, 2009 at 11:23 AM


10. What Happens If You Wait Too Long

Okay, here goes. My boyfriend and I came to the mutual conclusion that we wanted to marry each other at about the same time. It was about Christmas, 2006. We went ring shopping together, which (admittedly) did take some of the element of surprise out of things, and picked my ring out sometime in early January.

What ensued was three months, that's right, THREE MONTHS of torture! I knew he'd picked up the ring, I knew he had it, I just didn't know WHEN he was going to finally propose! I was dying to share our good news with our family and friends! During this time, we would have a game we played:

Me: Sure would be nice to be engaged...
Him: Oh yeah? What makes you think I'd want to marry you?
Me: Well, we picked out the ring...
Him: Mmmm, yes. About that ring. Where do you think I could've hidden it? It could be anywhere... I could be looking at it RIGHT now!
Me: Aarrrggghhhh!

It was March before he finally got around to things. On a nice, sunny Saturday, completely out of the blue he made a suggestion to head up to a state park where we'd gone on our first date. Patrick is not the type of guy who typically suggests plans for a day, so my suspicions were roused.

I said, "That sounds like a great idea. Actually, I'd been thinking about how nice it would be to go to [insert name of state park here] and get engaged."

He immediately deflated, and I realized, shoot, he's actually planning on proposing.

And of course, that's exactly what he did.

Posted by: Kristina | March 17, 2009 at 02:57 PM

Still reading . . .

comments: 28

Camellia japonica 'Ave Maria' and Nicole's earrings

Just wanted to let you know that Andy and I are still reading the comments from the other day, but our day (his day off) has gotten crazy busy so I think we'll take the weekend to finish them all and post our faves on Monday (CARPET DAY). Thank you again for sharing them! So good to be reminded how much love (and humor) is out there in the world. xo

Sunday Dinner

comments: 42


We had a wee St. Patrick's Day party on Saturday night and it was so much fun! Andy made a corned beef brisket, potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and leeks. A smorgasbord of boiled . . . things. He used this pot, which my dad had given him many years ago. He pretty much only uses it for this meal, which he makes every year. It's very sweet, since this was another one my my "dad's only" meals, which he also made every year, and only on St. Paddy's day, while watching Irish movies like The Quiet Man.

On Sunday afternoon I made another Ieronemo family meal, my mom's beef stroganoff. I had never made it before, but I suddenly had a craving for it. My mother almost always cooked heavier, more traditional dinners on Sunday nights in the colder months. For us, it was things like ravioli or stuffed shells or lasagna (stuffed shells is still, to me, the fanciest and most delicious dinner I can imagine in the whole wide world — it was my favorite as a child and still my favorite today), or chicken and dumplings, or beef stroganoff, or . . . what else . . . maybe Mamaghetti (an enormous amount of carrots, celery, and onions put through a grinder, then simmered into a meat sauce for several hours and served over thin spaghetti), or maybe roast chicken. Chicken and dumplings and beef stroganoff were always served over dumplings — little blobs of flour-and-egg dough, boiled in salted water, then fried in butter and breadcrumbs. For beef stroganoff, you have to juggle a few pots and pans here, but c'mon, it's Sunday, it's worth it.


Beef Stroganoff

1 1/2 lbs. beef tenderloin, cut into 1" strips
1 10.5 oz. can beef consomme
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large sweet onion
16 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
1 cup sour cream

For dumplings:

4 cups flour
5 eggs
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup plain breadcrumbs

First make the dumplings: Mix flour and eggs with fork until just combined — do not overbeat. Add splashes of cold water until dough is wet and sticky. Drop by small teaspoonsful in a large pot of boiling, salted water (you must work quickly here) and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and leave in collander while preparing the sauce.

Season beef with salt and pepper and brown it in a Dutch oven in a little butter and olive oil. Drain off any fat. Add tomato paste and consomme and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, saute onions in a tablespoon of butter until they are translucent but still firm. Remove from pan and set aside (Mom doesn't like it if the onions get too mushy). Add the mushrooms and a bit more butter and saute until they are however you like them — I like them pretty well sauteed. Add the mushrooms to the beef sauce.

Add a stick of butter (I know) to the saute pan, and melt. Add breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Turn up heat and add dumplings. Toss them about, but not too much — you want them to get a nice brown crust on them. Salt them a bit if you like.

Add sour cream and onions to the sauce, and stir to combine. Serve sauce over hot dumplings, enjoy, and diet on Monday.

My Lucky Little Four-Legged Clover Meadow

comments: 74

Last night after dinner, around 6:45, I was seriously wondering how early was too early to just go on up and get in bed. I felt like a loser and forced myself to decide that 6:45 p.m. was probably too early. I looked around to see if the dog wanted to sit on my lap on the couch. (That's usually what we do after dinner.) She wasn't in the living room; I looked in the studio, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, and couldn't find her anywhere. I went upstairs.


And found her.


With her head on the sweater I wore that day.

[Melt melt melt melt melt.]

So, yeah: 6:45 = not too early. 'Round here. I hopped right in with her, naturally.

* * *

I got up early this morning and sat on the couch with my coffee and read all the comments that came in yesterday (and, if you didn't know, late yesterday afternoon I got the idea to have a contest for the funniest engagement story, so see the end of yesterday's post for details on that, and tell us yours). I about fell off the couch laughing. There is absolutely no way we'll be able to pick one. We'll have to pick a few, we'll just have to. Keep 'em coming (but please keep them on yesterday's post so that they're all together, 'kay?). I'll re-post our faves. Collectively they are possibly my favorite comments ever ever. Great, great stories.

My Dress

comments: 387


Andy and I got engaged on March 16, 1996. I was 28 years old and Andy was 25. We'd been dating for three and a half years, and had already known each other for close to seven. We're slow. I told you the story of our engagement a couple of years ago. I love engagement stories, especially ones where someone's acting badly (and I really was [often am] ). I'm fond, too, of the memory of the day we took our "engagement" picture, which is totally incongruous with the photo of us at the church on the wedding day itself. For Stitched in Time I took the picture above, and told the story of what it was like to make my own wedding dress.

You'll have to just buy the book to read that one. I can't give away the farm here, people!!! [Kidding. I'm really just too lazy today to retype it.]

*Update: An idea [bounces on chair]: How about a free copy of Stitched in Time for the funniest engagement story! Doesn't even have to be your own story. Andy and I will judge. Just leave it in the comments on this post and we'll decide on Friday!

Spring Cleaning Begins (and Not So Much)

comments: 53


Thank you again for all the thoughtful and generous comments this week! So nice. I am gonna take the day off and maybe just totally lounge about this weekend, and recharge, even though there's some spring cleaning that really needs to start taking place around here. But I don't feel like it. I'd actually like to climb back into bed right now.

We are getting new carpet upstairs in TEN DAYS. Well, it's been nine years and TEN MORE DAYS that I've been waiting, and the carpet guy said the carpet we have looks like it's about twenty-five years old. Gross. I can't wait. This is my first-ever carpet buying experience. We are getting a really pretty color of wool, sort of a pale-but-warm beige, from Marion's (and they have a 10% off coupon for all materials through March 31, if you're in the market). It looks like little blobs of orzo pasta. Andy met Carpet Carl yesterday at Marion's and he was pretty excited. I was just excited that we were getting carpet in ELEVEN MORE DAYS (that was yesterday). I think I'll do a jig.


comments: 152


Thank you for all of your kind comments yesterday, and for just indulging me, in general. Talking about your process is sort of like telling someone about the dream you had the night before: You're sloshing through, explaining as much to yourself as to anyone else, trying to put your finger on exactly what it was for a moment, in case there's something there you might need to know. . . .

As I've been scoping out the house for locations—almost all of the photos for this book, like my first one, will be taken here in our house, with our own paint colors and furniture (with all its nicks and scuffs), with our own stuff propping shots, with our own beds and chairs and cups and pup in the background—I've been noticing how much the paintings of Swedish artist Carl Larsson have influenced our home, and my sense of the spaces I try to create.

Brita's Little Nap

I first encountered the work of Carl Larsson (1853-1919) when I was a freshman at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, the small liberal arts college that both Andy (and his mom, his dad, his sister, his aunt, his grandparents, his great-aunts and uncles, and maybe other relatives I don't even know about) and I went to and where we met, almost twenty years ago now (egads).

(I should pause here to say how much we love like LOVE loveour school, and what a special, awesome place it is in too many ways to count, if you're looking for a great school to go to or to send someone to.)

Tucked into the hills on the east bank of the Mississippi River, Augustana was founded in 1860 by Swedish settlers, and its Scandinavian heritage is keenly felt in every aspect of place, from philosophy to decor. I was raised in an Italian-Catholic family, but my father was a Scandiaphilehe maintained a lifelong interest in Norse legend and culture (our dogs were named Odin and Loki), and his childhood best friend (my godfather) was a Swede, and it was my dad's idea that I go to school at Augustana. I just wanted to go to a small, pretty school in a small town. But people said it was a good school, and when I visited it seemed very nice, and it was very pretty, so off I went. One day, early on, in the bookstore I found a postcard:

Flower Window

Though I had never heard of the artist, I thought it was such a sweet painting, and for years I had Flower Window hanging on my bulletin board. (Years later I realized that if anyone has seen one of Carl Larsson paintings, there's a good chance it's this one!) At Augustana, I wrote my senior thesis on the painters Arthur Rackham and John William Waterhouse, and in that I explored how the domestic detailsthe calicos and cups and saucersin those artists' paintings contributed to the realism part of the magical-realism they evoke. I was always interested in this notion. I need to look for that paper and see if I still have it. It was a year-long research project that I really loved writing.

There was a big bay window filled with geraniums at the south end of the hall on the first floor of Old Main, and that's where the English Department was. I worked as a student assistant for all four of my years there. I loved the department secretary, Joan Robinson, light as a bird, full of nervous, flitting energy and a million belly laughs. She had been there for many years, and was older than my own mother, but we hit it off fantastically, and my friendship with her and many of the English department faculty was a huge part of my happiness at school. Grinning, twinkly eyed Dr. Tweet (who looked like a character in one of the folk tales he loved, and who once, when he was cleaning out the garage, gave me the best three-speed bicycle I have ever, ever had) held court most afternoons on the sofa outside the departmenthe had a huge fan club of students and professors alikeand he tended the ancient geranium collection, and taught me that the plants liked to dry out and then be given a nice, long drink. I see now that he was probably conjuring Larsson's painting. It was always warm there. It was always quiet, and friendly, and filled with laughter, and learning. When I think of some of my happiest times, I think of that bright corner, and those flowers, and those friends, and how my life changed then.

Lisbeth Reading

Though the years, and especially now that I am so far from that time and that place, I see that Larsson's paintings have heavily influenced the kind of home I have tried to createthose delicate, clean colors; the many blues and greens, always punctuated by red; the windows; the tiny details that seem to matter; the people and pets given space to linger; the warmth and calmall those things so vital in Larsson's paintings seem to guide my vision of homemaking.

Lazy Corner

Papa's Bedroom


Ingrid W.

Lisbeth with Yellow Tulip


By his own account, Larsson had an atrocious childhood, filled with poverty, neglect, and hardship. At age 30, he married artist (and skilled needlewoman) Karin Bergoo, and five years later her father gave the couple a small house, Lilla Hyttnas (Little Furnace), in the country. I love this description of how the house came to be the Larssons. Carl and Karin would have eight children of their own, and go on to lovingly design, add on to, and decorate the house for the next several decades, making it one of the best-loved artist's homes in the world. In hundreds of watercolors, Larsson documented the everyday domestic activities of his family and homelife against the backdrop of Lilla Hyttnas, and in those happy images it's clear that the house is both his canvas and his muse. I love this ideathat place, and space, can change your lifeand I know it is true for me, as well.

In the Garden

I didn't really realize I was doing it, but when I looked at all of the photos from the shoot, I could see that in some way I'd been channeling, and pulled out my Larsson books to look. Sure enough. I see it, and am pleased. All those influences surface, like watching a photo in the developing tray: I come from places, and people. I see them there.

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.