Posts filed in: August 2011

A Journey

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Tomorrow Andy and I will board a cross-country train as our adoption journey takes us to a place I never in a million light-years thought it would take us: back home, to Illinois.

That we are going to Illinois now and that we came from Illinois then are total coincidences, and not even as strange as so many other things that have happened in the past three weeks to bring us to this point. The situation is still fluid and uncertain; at the center of it there is a very brave and beautiful young woman and her baby who need all our love and prayers. I will hold Andy's hand tightly as we watch the mountains, then the forest, then the prairie, and then the fields roll by, as we have done so many times together already. Though this journey is so unique, and its territories so unknown, something seems familiar. I feel a sense of destiny, and deeply trust that no matter how things turn out, they will turn out exactly as they should.


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Twilight is coming earlier to the back yard these days. It's very obvious. Fall is in the air. I saw a man raking his front yard. I keep thinking about apples. And orchards. I'm thinking about so many things.

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My beautiful little sister Susie is visiting all the way from Charleston, South Carolina, this week. We have been so busy I haven't had a second to post here. Back soon! xoxo

Clackamas County Fair 2011

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We wait all year. And then the best day of the summer arrives. The one where we go to the Clackamas County Fair.


I love the fair. I love everything about the fair. I love getting a chance to peek in on this lifestyle I have always, always wanted to be a part of. I love how incredibly friendly everyone is. I love how the kids have this great air of confidence and authority, resting their heads on the rumps of their resting cows, tugging on their stubborn goats (and they really are very stubborn), cudling their bunnies, wearing their fancy new Western shirts. I love how totally nonchalant they are when they win a ribbon. I love how they sit around in the barn in camp chairs playing cards and eating elephant ears and gossiping. I love how serious and proud they are.


I love how willing they are to share it all with us.


I grew up horseback riding every weekend at a suburban Chicago stable. Every Sunday, one of my very generous parents would drive me to the stable, almost an hour away from where we lived, and hang out as I learned what a curry comb was, how to post on the correct diagonal, how to pick hooves, how to canter and jump (and jump and jump and jump). Sometimes I would get to hang out in the barn after my lesson, and that was my very favorite time. I was a city girl with a country heart.


I don't think that's ever really changed.




Especially when I see liquid noses, giant pink ears, and baby-cow eyelashes. [Squeeeee!]





I have to admit that some of the birds scare me, though. Good thing I have a macro lens. Don't peck me.






Awwwwwwwwwwwww. Bunners.


They don't call it kettle corn for nothing.


The lead singer said to the crowd of us watching the band, "So, tell me — what's y'all's favorite food to eat at the fair?" Andy and I without hesitation [and in unison, I might add] yelled out "KETTLE CORN!" which we were, at that very moment, stuffing into our mouths. For some reason, we were the only people who answered. She scanned the crowd and asked again, "Anything else?" And a smiling kid a few picnic tables away yelled out "LAMB CHOP!" Which was pretty much met with total silence. The singer said, "Lamb chop. Okay!" And then she gave up on us all and cued the band.


We saw the kid a few minutes later, having a great time on the mechanical bull.






One of the best things about the fair, besides just getting to walk around holding hands with Andy at the fair, is the Pioneer Village.






There's a circle of pioneer ladies spinning and embroidering.





What I really wanted to do was make a candle.


But it was a little too crowded.


I might get a book and try to figure out how to make one on my own, though. I've never made one before. It looks incredibly relaxing. Andy said he used to make them at summer camp and it was really fun.


Inside the pioneer cabin the afternoon light is golden.



We went back through the goat and sheep barn on our way out. I really didn't want to leave.



We said goodbye to the Grand Champion dam (that's her).


We watched one more round of sheep judging.


And then it was back to the city. What a fantastic day at the fair.

Peachy Grunt Convo

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Last night I was on the phone with my sister when my call waiting went off. The caller ID said it was my neighbor, so I clicked over:

She: "I have grunt. Do you want some?"
Me: "YES!"
She: " 'Kay, c'mon over and get it."
Me: "Roger that. Be there in a sec."

I clicked back over to my sister:

Me: "Hold on, I'm going to walk next door to get some grunt that my neighbor just made."
Julie [sounding alarmed]: "What's a grunt?"
Me [walking down the street]: "Um, it's like a pandowdy?"
Julie [sounding bewildered]: "What's a pandowdy?!?!?!"
Me: [Busts out laughing.]

I almost told her then that it was like a slump, just to be funny, but I thought she'd probably hang up on me.




Thank you for all of the nice comments about the kitchen! I promise I am going to rent some lenses and take more photos from some other angles. For those who were wondering, the paint color in the kitchen is called Terrazzo Gray. But I can't remember who made that paint and when I searched it (because we needed some more for touch-ups; this room was painted six or seven years ago now) it didn't seem like it was made any longer, so I had to have it mixed (and even then it did not match). A few people mentioned that it looked green, but it's definitely a blue-gray. It is a very nice color that looks really pretty in the afternoon, and I like it with the white and the black and the wood details. Thank you also for the advice about the knives! The responses were surprisingly mixed, but gave me something to think about, so I might revisit that little magnet strip. Thank you!

The above photo is the peach grunt my neighbor gave me (taken pretty much in darkness with only my little counter lamp to light it, but you can still get the idea). We put vanilla Haagen-Dazs on it and it was delish. I'm not sure what recipe my neighbor (who is a former pastry chef) used, but I found these recipes for similar fruit desserts for you. I'm thinking one of them will be on the menu this weekend. I love stuff like this. Anything that resembles a dumpling smothered in stewed fruit is welcome here. Call it anything, I'll say yes.

Happy Kitchen :-)

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I'm sorry it it taking me so long to get some redecorated-kitchen pictures taken for you! Everything is taking me so much longer that I expect! I don't know what my problem is. I guess it must be summer. I seem to be moving awfully slow, and things around me seem to be moving fast. I keep moving slow. Maybe that's okay. It sure feels right, at least.

I know this picture is huge! Kinda fun, though. The lenses I have for my new camera (in addition to the macro I also have the 18-200mm kit lens) aren't exactly right for shooting interiors. The kitchen is also so small and skinny it's pretty hard to get a good angle on it. But I'm going to experiment with that a bit. Oh, how I am LOVING the camera. Thank you for all of your kind comments about it. I am still really intimidated by it but I am just trying to learn a little bit and experiment a little bit every day until I feel more and more comfortable. I am really having a great time.

The kitchen: It's such a nice little spot now! Pretty wood floor (ours is hand-rubbed oiled oak); a fresh coat of paint on all of the (original [ancient plywood]) cabinets; new oil-rubbed bronze handles, pulls, and door hinges; new ceiling fixtures (from Rejunvenation). New faucet and sprayer thing. Everything else pretty much stayed the same, except, of course, that there is a door going outside [cue trumpets heralding]. I will take more photos from the other angles and try to look at my notes for sources, too. A question: Are those knives on the magnet strip supposed to be pointing down or up? I always point them down in case they fall off (which they never actually have). I was thinking they are like scissors that you're supposed to pass with the blades pointing down. But whenever I see photos of these in other peoples' kitchens they have the blades pointing up and the handles pointing down, for ease of grabbing. I suppose that makes more sense.

Still jonesin for a butcher-block counter top, but ran out of budget/mojo/tolerance for any more commotion right now. Maybe that will be this winter's project. Or next summer's.

***The paint color in here is Terrazzo Gray.

Slow Morning

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It was supposed to rain this morning, but I don't think it actually did. It seemed like it was going to, though.

We have had exceptionally gorgeous weather here lately. Absolutely perfect. Prettier than I have ever seen, for days and days on end. What a gift.

I feel extremely disorganized lately. I have got to get my act together. I guess.

I'm sitting in an open window as I write this. When I was a little girl I was fascinated by things like window seats, dumbwaiters, butler's pantries, breezeways, and laundry chutes. My house didn't have any of these things, but I knew what they were from books. I was quite sure that when I grew up I would have a house that had a dumbwaiter. And shrubs that were cut into the shapes of animals (I was majorly into those). I think there is a scene in Harriet the Spy that involves a dumbwaiter. I read so many books about girls from New York City when I was little. There were a ton of them in the '70s and '80s, wasn't there? Or maybe those were just the ones I liked to read, having never been to NYC. Those were so cool. Can't remember the titles but I remember the books. I know I thought that if I ever did get to NYC I would know exactly what to do and where to go. Just like if I ever got to Walnut Grove. Not a problem.


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Cottonwood seedpods floating. Watersounds. Quiet conversation. A cedar-scented after-dinner walk.

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Mornings on the deck-dock are about as good as anything ever gets in life, I'm sure. We get up eeeeeearly. I LOVE COFFEE. It's been really cold. This morning the Bee bounced out of the ether and decided to keep Clover and me company. Usually when C and I are out there in the morning the Bee perches somewhere across the yard and stares at us. And I really do think that she thinks, "Isn't this nice, just us three girls, all hanging out here together!" Even though she's twenty-five feet away. I giggle. This spring she turned eleven years old. We've had her since she was no bigger than a bird. She's such a funny, weird, sweet little creature. Clover-dog and Violet-cat are two of the least self-conscious animals I've ever known. They will each splay themselves on top of just about anybody within reach, and look at them with big trusting eyes, and roll over for a belly rub at the slightest invitation. Not so our socially awkward, chronically skeptical Bridget (a.k.a. the Bee). The Bee, though she looks like a fluffy baby bunny, is made of rubber-bands about to snap. Every once in a while, like this morning, I'll find myself the object of her rather fraught and twitchy sort of interest. It's both very flattering and super nervewracking. Suddenly she's there (she's spring-loaded), prancing around (she's tiny) on the arm of my Adirondack chair. She tries to figure out how to get her head petted and almost falls off the chair. She hot-foots it back and forth across my lap a few times as if walking on glowing coals. She stands with all fours on my lap for a minute, kneading me with her ten tiny needlelike claws. I hold my breath and do everything I can to keep from moving — it hurts — but I can't stop myself: An involuntary "Eeeeeeeeeeeouch!" squeals out of me, and boing!, she is over-and-out, halfway across the yard before I can even blink. Being a Beekeeper is occasionally scary. She's so unpredictable you're never sure if she's going to be nice to you or punch you in the face. I think today she was trying to be nice, if you call suddenly tattooing someone's inner thigh as they're sitting quietly outside at six o'clock in the morning wearing absolutely nothing but a thin white nightgown while trying to drink coffee and mind their own business nice.

In other fauna news, the hermit crab I am babysitting for one of my little neighbors across the street looks like it has almost finished eating its own exoskeleten that it shed last week, the thought and sight of which has made me want to throw up about seven times a day every day that he's been here. But I still kind of love him.


Quiet Cloudy

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I worked on new ornament kit designs all weekend and it felt really good to get my hands back into felt and floss. Two of the ornaments are finished, and I am stitching the third today. I rode my bike up to the grocery store early this morning and have started some pizza dough for dinner tonight. The cool, cloudy weather we have here seems to bring with it a cool, lazy sort of quietness right in the middle of summer, like another quiet Sunday (except that it's not Sunday). It's odd, and feels like some sort of weird vacation from summer vacation. Personally I cherish cool-cloudy, because I don't like hot weather. But it does feel unsettling to know that half of the country is wearing sweaters, and the other half of it is scorching.

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