Best Weather Ever

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Mid-70s, sunny, gentle breezes. Perfect, rare, delicious weekend days. Best weekend weather I can ever remember in my entire life. We harvested beets and potatoes from our wee garden plot on Friday afternoon. It was silly exciting — you stick your hand in the ground and come up with a bunch of gorgeous Yukon Gold potatoes. Cube them up, add a couple of the tender onions you also pulled out of the ground, add one of the teensy heads of garlic you also pulled out of the ground, splash on some olive oil, shower with pepper and sea salt, bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes, add some butter when they come out and you have the best dinner ever. Oh, and do the same thing (without the butter — or are they good with butter?) to the beets. That you pulled out of the ground. The best dinner to go with the best weather. I almost cried. To think there are probably twenty-plus more potatoes still out there? Oh my stars. Next year I may just grow potatoes, onions, garlic, and beets.

The wee sidewalk garden has been such a good experience. I have loved it all so much this summer. I was sitting out there on the stairs last night, watching the beautiful twilight come on after such gorgeous weekend weather. I thought about how the butternut squash and the cucumbers are now trailing up the teepee where the peas grew last month. I thought about the day we put the peas in, months ago. Having a vegetable garden makes the summer seems different, somehow. I've never noticed all of it, or appreciated all of it — the ground and the water and the sun and the season — quite so much as I have this summer. Cliched but true. I like sitting out there every morning and every evening, watching it all change. I like fussing over the tidy little squares of rows. I don't really know what I'm doing at all but the stuff still grows. It's much different and a lot more satisfying to me than growing flowers and shrubs. I love the flowers and the shrubs, but the vegetables are different. Maybe because it's just a smaller area, with defined boundaries, and it feels like the right size for me when the rest of the yard feels too big and like too much (even though it's really not all that big). The vegetables also appeal to my utilitarian nature. I have always liked to make things that get used.

Also, it's just still so bewildering to me that it all worked. We put it in the ground and then it just worked out. I'm not used to that.

Something's blooming in the woods right now that makes allergic people go crazy but makes me happy. It's some kind of weed that I like the smell of but I don't know exactly what it is. I'd like to bottle the scent. Speaking of, I was thinking of buying some perfume. I haven't bought any in years and years. I want something that smells like the summer woods. Any recommendations?

On Thursday night we went to Edgefield with friends. I sat on the quilt and knit while listening to Steven Martin and his bluegrass band. He was hilariously funny. Our friend's eleven-year-old niece was visiting from Texas. She sat next to me and watched my hands while I knit. She asked me questions: Is it hard? How many things have you made? What's your favorite thing that you've made? Who taught you? We talked through the night and I won't deny that I hoped she might go back to Fort Worth with the spark of an idea about little sticks and string.


Donna Bell says: July 30, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Your garden is lovely, mine kinda fizzled out on me this year but last year was great. I'll be starting my fall garden soon so I am looking forward to a big harvest at that time (fingers crossed).
I started something new this year and began implementing some Biodynamic farming practices. My favorite practice is to harvest my veges first thing in the morning before 8am (you're actually supposed to do this at the crack of dawn but that's too early for me), by doing this the vitamins are up in the vegetable as opposed to down in the roots as the day progresses. The veges taste better and last longer then if you harvest later in the day or at least that has been my experience. I also get most of my food from a local organic farm and notice that my veges are more flavorful than the farmer's who harvests after 10am.
As far as perfume goes, I am very allergic so I usually only use a little Dr. Bronner's Patchouli Lime Organic Lotion which is a very woodsy scent. My husband says it reminds him of the 1970's, very hippy!

I'll bet that wonderful fragrance might be privet hedge! It smells heavenly, but stuffs me up so I can barely breathe!
Beet greens are wonderful--my favorite beets are the golden variety, roasted til they are almost carmelized--maybe they ARE carmelized--anyway, they are delicious!
Enjoy your mild summer, we are roasting away here in 110 degree weather. It's scortching and my grass is crunchy to walk on with extreme drought and wildfire danger! Send some rain our way!

Wow Alicia, what a lovely feast from the ground!
If you plant your garlic in the fall, you harvest the following summer and it should get bigger for you. I have grown it for easy. My brother-in-law actually got me started and sent me his careful directions. Let me know if you want a copy of them. I harvested mine two weeks ago. I love the fascination kids have with knitting, especially if they have never seen it before. It must look like magic.

Mary Claire says: July 30, 2012 at 12:39 PM

I would like to throw in my wholehearted support for Jo Malone products. After using her fragrance for a while, many others seem very produced and almost chemical-ish to me. Highly recommend 'Nectarine Blossom & Honey' layered with 'Amber & Lavender'.

My very favorite summer scent is Fresh Basil from Thymes, but, alas, they don't seem to make it anymore.

Have you been to the Perfume House on Hawthorne? I haven't but a friend buys her perfume there, she says there is a guy there that is a "nose" (one of those that can distinguish between scents).
Beautiful pics and words, as usual.

Beautiful pictures as always; I don't comment here much, but I always read. Thank you for letting us complete strangers read about your life, I find your blog and the natural colours of your life very soothing.

Perfume - Issey Miyake L'Eau D'Issey. I don't know about your woods, but something about it reminds me of our British woods :)

Thanks for sharing your beautifuly bounty and simply delicious recipes! When the knitters in our family discover someone who is interested, we immediately offer up our yarn and needles with a free lesson! Our Knit and Gab family females meet on Saturday nights, first to eat a homemade dinner, sometimes potluck, then to pull out our knitting and gab! Our ages are 17 to 85 with many in between.

Susie Sears Taylor says: July 30, 2012 at 01:29 PM

Here's advice from an old mom who is tired of paying a fortune for a bottle of perfume. Go to your fav drug store or dollar store and get some body spray of a fragrance you like. That way you can change without too much lost $ should it not be what you think. Scents good for one person may not be good for another person depending on body chemistry. It makes good sense not to pay too many cents for your scents, since you would probably rather spend your cents on yarn or fabric. Sorry, I just got out of control there for a minute.

Beautiful Veggies . . . .

and I'm so happy that you took the time to answer the mini-knitter-wannabe's questions! My granddaughter is 4 and is so intrigued by it. SHe takes a pair of wooden knitting needles and gives it her best try! She's not there yet, but she will be soon. "Mimi, I JUST WANT TO KNIT like you and MOM!!"

Inspiring little knitters is the best!!!!!

Chanel 'Chance' for summer and 'Coco' for winter. Do try them.

mlle patty says: July 30, 2012 at 01:41 PM

superyum for those beets and potatoes! It might be Acacia that smells nice but makes folks sneeze. I like the Demeter fragrance line (they have a website) - lots of odd scents but that's what's good about them. Also they'll give you your $ back if you don't like it!

I believe you have the hang of it.

Everything looks so delish! I'm in Georgia but can I please come over for dinner? Your weather sounds PERFECT! We have been frying here with the temps in the HIGH, hot-as-a-oven temps. My garden is looking quite pitiful except for the zinnias & the herbs that are shaded by them. Love your site! Hope you have a lovely day~ Ivy Jane

I want your backyard! And your ability to knit. I'm not good at all. :(
And I want to see Steve Martin in concert. I got a little green reading that you did!

Yummy looking beets and potatoes! I don't have any perfume recs (don't wear it, though on the rare, rare occasion I do, there's a roll-on one I like from new season's that's in one of those tiny cylindrical bottles 1 1/2" tall). Gardening book recommendation: A Mystic Garden by Gunilla Norris. I love it, it's a magical little book:)

Vegetable gardens are so inspirational. So are "older" friends who knit. I keep waiting for some young girls in my family to ask for lessons...

not sure if you're looking for something really natural but if so, Maine Perfume from MCMC in Brooklyn is very good.

I love the description: Maine is inspired by a day spent on the island of North Haven off the coast of Maine, falling in love. – Anne McClain

Bulgarian rose absolute, local clary sage, wild Somalian myrhh and French seaweed absolute convey the fresh scents of sea, air, sun, pine, and the discovery of a single perfect beach plum rose. Dries down into the musky scent of sensual skin coupled with sun-dried grass.

It's like beachy woods. I buy it here:

You make me want to knit and to befriend 11-year-olds. I love that age. In the meanwhile, you are clearly doing something very right (*and magical) with your garden that I am not doing b/c my beets are the size of rabbit turds and I wasn't smart enough to grow onions or potatoes. What was I thinking? In any case, I'm not jealous of you. I'm happy for you and moreover, thrilled to know that gardening can be a smashing success even for a newbie here in Portland. here's my "success story" of today:

Your photos are stunning as always Alicia. I too find that growing fruit and vegetables makes me appreciate and experience the seasons as never before.

You're the only person who has ever made me want to plant a garden. Next year, remind us early when to start thinking about it again, 'kay? :) 'Ppreciate it.

Love the gardening. I have been at it since I was a child. My dad was the best gardener I ever knew. He passed away last summer and I miss him so, but this summer my garden is dedicated to him, and it is doing wonderful. He taught me well. Gardening is good for the soul.

You are so right about growing vegetables - how their growth and progress captures time and the passing season. I can stare at my veg patch for hours. Something earnest and profound...and yummy.

Yes, butter on roasted beets.

We made a souvenir salad last night - Speckled Trout Back and Crisp Mint lettuce from Portland (Mississippi Ave), Mizuna from the north shore of the Big Island of Hawaii, Merlot lettuce from Victoria, Spicy Greens from Vancouver. I try to bring veg seeds back from wherever i go. New Red Pontiac potatoes - they can be a meal all on their own.

Beautiful Photog's.

You might get a kick out of looking at Demeter's fragrance library. They have a giant collection, some simple, some unusual, some even weird. One of my favorites for summer is Tomato--it smells like the green leaves, not the fruit. And Earl Grey Tea is great for fall. More "scent," less "perfume," if that makes sense. You may not find summer woods exactly but worth a look!

Oh, and yes, butter on beets. Butter on everything. :)

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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.