Posts filed in: June 2013

Flowers and Fruit

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My favorite part of summer is now, I think, when everything is still green and plump and hasn't been frizzled to a hollow. Barbecues with old friends, and baby is crawling. We spend our time together walking, or I ride my bike on the sidewalk so we can go as far as we want without my foot getting angry. Up and down the streets, past house after house and garden after garden. This is my favorite thing. The winding. The talking. He says we can go anywhere — and as far as — I want. Ending up at a restaurant, the bead store (yep, working on a new ornament kit), a pie shop. On and on. Amelia is so game. Amelia goes everywhere, does everything, and takes it all in with this placid, happy-go-lucky way she has. There's a sparkle in her eyes, but she is mellow yellow. There are no moments where I do not marvel at this quality. Knawing on her kitty, waving her foot up and down, she's watching. She shows me her bottle cap, her little deer. I like it. I kiss it, her. We rub noses. I ride in front, zig-zagging, about to fall off going two miles an hour and trying not to crash into everyone's rose bushes. Mommy the goofball. Andy buys a guitar made out of a cigar box and puts it on top of the stroller. Can't resist playing it while he walks. We're the ragtag parade, carrying a ten-pound sweet-cream raspberry pie and a stolen daisy.

By the way, brunch at the Woodsman was a delight in every possible way. I had pancakes and very strong coffee and I was about as happy as anyone's ever been about anything, I think.

I told you I'd tell you about Amelia's midsummer dress. It was inspired by a traditional Norwegian bunad, or folk costume. Each region has its own style of dress. Amelia's birthfather is three-quarters Norwegian, and his family is from the Dovre region of Norway. The dovrebunader, like this one and this one, are just so gorgeous. I have always loved these, so I was ridiculously excited to make her her own baby version. I made the pattern by tracing the bodice pieces of one of her basic little dresses from H&M, and then added a skirt that was 10" long by 44" wide. For the embroidery, I used the traditional dandelion-like design on the dovrebunader, and then just chose two other random designs from one of my clip art books. I traced everything onto copy paper and made a copy onto a special paper called Transfer-Eze. This stuff is VERY COOL. When you peel the top (printed) layer of the paper off of the heavy paper behind it, the top layer has a sticky backing. You press that smoothly to your fabric, then hoop it, and embroider away, right through the Transfer-Eze. (See the photo of my embroidery-in-progress in this post.) When I finished the embroidery, I cut out the bodice (adding a seam allowance) and then soaked the whole thing in cool water for just a few minutes. The Transfer-Eze dissolved and disappeared without any problem at all. It was wonderful to use, especially since transfering is kind of a pain, especially on dark colored fabrics. This was my first time using this and I will definitely use it again. The only thing I noticed is that my hand and fingers were a little bit sore after I worked these pieces; you do have to push the needle a bit harder as you stitch, but it's not too bad. I was doing a lot of satin stitch in a pretty short span of time. I haven't really looked into who manufactures this product but maybe I will try to carry it in my web shop because it is pretty awesome. I'll let you know if I do. Anyway, I thought the little dress came out very pretty and it was really cool to make something by pulling together parts and pieces of inspiration.

I also finished her midsummer sweater, and just have to put the buttons on. I think this is the first time I've ever done anything in reverse stockinette. Kinda cute. I think the yoke looks too deep, but maybe I'm wrong. I'll put the buttons (covered, I think, in Liberty lawn) on today and try it on her and see. It's cold and chilly today, so this will be good.

In our yard the rose mallow is blooming, and the hydrangeas are just starting. The apple tree had three tiny green apples but they all fell off already. We built a little teepee (using this tutorial — really easy, really fast, really inexpensive) on Saturday afternoon when it was still sunny and gorgeous. She played in it for a while, though it got kind of hot; there was no breeze, especially in the teepee. After Amelia went to bed, I sat out in the yard and ate pie and watched the darkness arrive and pretty much became infatuated with the teepee at dusk. So far we haven't really used our backyard lights that much because it stays light so late right now, and I can't stay awake! But I stayed out Saturday night and it was worth it. Oh, how I do love a good ambient light source!!! It's sooooo romantic back there now. We had the lights done by this company. I basically told them what I wanted — two strands of light bulbs crossing over the seating area, hardwired into a dimmer switch on the garage wall — and they did the whole thing (even more romantic). I don't fool around with electricity, and I knew we wanted this to be permanent. Neither do I have the details about the cord because Chris the electrician provided that, but it was twisted black and brown, and what I liked about it was that he was able to put the lights into it only and exactly where we wanted them — right over the chairs, and not down the entire length of the cord as they stretch from the corners of the garage to the pergola thing, and then across to the fence (they added a little 2" x 2" board so the cord would connect at the right height). The bulbs are 40 watt clear appliance bulbs. The dimmer is fantastic. I'm really pleased with how this came out. Now we just need to drink some coffee after dinner so I can stay awake and enjoy it.

Oh, and the other outdoor wicker pendant we have over the table we've had for several years, and it just plugs into an extension cord. I think it's like this one.

I did wind up ordering a battery-powered lantern for the teepee, too.

What else. I'm playing catch up today. I sincerely apologize to anyone who is waiting for me to answer an email. I am not good at this and the email just keeps piling up and up.

Wimbledon starts today. Yippee! Does anyone know the name of that little daisy-like plant (feverfew — thank you!), and the pink frothy one (spirea — thanks!)? Those were out in the neighborhood somewhere, but I'd love to plant both of them. Pretty.

***My tablecloth is from Powell's Books for Cooks; the teepee cover cloth is from eBay or Etsy; our bedding is from Pottery Barn; I made my skirt several years ago from cotton calico (don't know the name of it — I'm sorry); and I think the pillow cover was from Pottery Barn a few years ago, too.

Midsummer Magic

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Oh, in the midst of summer! What a lovely weekend it was: glorious weather, great fathers and grandfathers, a festival, lazy mornings, good company, good food, tiny lights, sun spots, a picnic on the hill, cool breezes through the pine trees, ukelele songs, a wedding in the distance, baby singing, bright nights, rose mallow blooming, a sleepy kitty in my spot on the chaise, a baby bunad, a band playing. Birds singing. A blue jay that visits us in the back yard lately, making me feel like little Mary Lennox. I was buzzed by a hummingbird. Oh, June. You've been so good to us, June.

***I will definitely tell you about the dress and the lights when I have a minute more to write. And to make the daisy chain you just pick a bunch of little daisies that grow in the grass at the park, keeping their stems as long as you can. Braid the stems tightly together (with the flowers at the top), adding new daisies in when you have about an inch or so of stem left on the previous daisy. The stems are flexible so just tie the end of the chain gently to the beginning flowers when the crown is big enough. Place on baby and kiss one thousand times.

Rainy Day Cooking

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Oh, it was nice: A rainy day, and just us girls here. We walked up to the grocery store and bought chicken and mushrooms and spinach and egg-roll wrappers, and a fancy magazine. We worked on making this lasagna through the afternoon, and then napped, and read, and sat in the rocking chair and cuddled. We played with the new toys and my earrings and my nose. I ate the lasagna (good, except every time I use anything other than cooked lasagna noodles [in this one I used egg-roll wrappers] in a lasagna I always wind up wishing I had used cooked lasagna nooodles), and she ate acorn squash and oatmeal. I knit and she traveled (she does something that looks like a dog paddle on dry land, almost crawling, but it works) the four corners of the room.

Occasionally it occurs to me that, although I love what I do and it's perfect for me, there might have been a few other jobs that, maybe in an alternate universe, would have equally suited. Beach bum/surfer/surf-shack owner (yep). Paint-chip color namer (I know I'd be good at this). Pioneer-village re-enacter (still hoping to do this one someday). Stonemason (not even kidding). Royal watcher (totally). Just sayin. There are a few other things.

Does it help to rinse the egg-roll wrappers in water before putting them in the lasagna, so they steam in the oven? I think I layered them too thickly, so the ones in the middle were still a bit dry and floury. . . . Other than that, the lasagna was fantastic, and the wrappers were delightful to use, so I wish they had tasted better, really. But I think it can be remedied. Just not sure what would be easiest, so as not to defeat the purpose (which is to make life easier) of using them. (I've used the no-boil lasagna noodles before and I think they go too mushy for me.)

I found buttons at Fabric Depot for the Multnomah Falls sweater that reminded me of the cow parsely (I'm pretty sure it's cow parsely) on the side of the road everywhere up in the Gorge. Cute little buttons that sweeten the sort of Classics-[with-an-emphasis-on-epigraphy]-major-study-session feeling of this sweater, the same way those sweet, pretty flowers lighten up the rather Gothic nature of the old highway with their frothy fronds. I'll get it on her this weekend, I think. My sweet, sweet dear darling. Aw, girl. I love you so.

***The magazine is an Us collector's edition I got at the grocery store :)

Home and Away

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I like to stay home but sometimes I really like going out. On Friday we had a super-fun time up in north Portland at Tasty 'n' Sons, Spielwerk Toys, Ink and Peat, and Ruby Jewel. We love to eat out. We take Amelia to a lot of restaurants. She's been going out to eat since she was very wee, and she's always down with it. I take her out to lunch with me quite frequently by myself, but it's really fun when it's the three of us together (and easier, too). Now that the weather is nice it's just so nice to walk around and do stuff all together. The weather on Friday was gorgeous. We bought fancy soaps and a couple of darling little new toys. She had her first ice cream (brown-sugar sour cream — yummmmm). Really great day. I need to remember to take her to different parts of town just to walk around, even if it means driving to get there first. We're getting a bit bored with our own neighborhood day after day after day, and there's just so much else to see.

I finished her Multnomah Falls sweater (except for the buttons) and it's on the blocking board now. I think it came out really pretty. The color is so hard to capture and I don't know why? (Greens are the hardest for me to get right.) It's kind of a classic, dark-moss green. Next on the needles is this one. Reverse stockinette, but in worsted weight. It's already going so fast (being worsted, instead of sport). The yarn I'm using is crazy-gorgeous. Feels like butter compared to the Nature Spun. Amelia's goes to bed between six and seven every night (she is a great sleeper, and has been doing this since she was two months old), so I have several hours of uninterrupted knitting every evening. It's kind of the time where I'm too tired to do anything else (I used to try working, or sewing, or answering emails at night, but it just didn't work well — I am so totally not a night person), so it's really nice to just sit with my feet up and knit (or embroider — I'll tell you about that  little navy-blue dress I'm working on, I keep forgetting) and relax. It's such precious time to me. I'm really lucky for it, I know.

We're having some light-bulb strands installed over our seating area in the back yard, so that we can just turn them on at the garage wall with the flick of a switch. I'm hoping that happens in the next week or two. Summer is here and I just want to be outside before the weather turns scorching and I have to go in and cry in front of the air-conditioner vent. Bah.

***The kitty doll is by Maileg and is from Ink and Peat; the little mouse is by Moulin Roty from Spielwerk Toys (and the mushroom is from Spielwerk, as well). Such adorable toys at both of these places.

Twilit Cricket

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My finished Cricket, photographed at twilight on the back porch. It's too big for Mimi right now (I think it's a size 2T), but oh how I love love love love this sweater. Isn't it classic? I think it looks very Narnia. It was sort of the perfect knitting experience: Not complicated, but interesting enough to stay interesting. But not so interesting that I ever got stressed out. Enough stockinette that I could chill (while watching Real Housewives of New Jersey [don't tell Andy; he cannot stand it when I watch RH]) and not so much 1x1 ribbing that I went cray-cray switching between knit and purl. I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off for the bottom, but I wish I hadn't (though this is an awesome bind-off, it probably is not necessary here, I don't think, and it's a LOT of visible bind-off, AND I did it in knit, not in pattern, which was dumb). I bound off normally (but loosely) on the neck edge and the button bands and I think it's much prettier. I also added a grosgrain ribbon to the inside of the button band (this is in the directions) and I'd never done that before. I think it came out really cool except that my ribbon should have been a little wider. But I was impatient and they didn't have a wider ribbon in that color, and I wanted that color.

Enough about me. But oh wait, if I can say one more thing about blocking your knitting: If you've never done it before, you should really try it. That first photo, without the buttons? That's the same sweater, finished but unblocked. The three photos further down were all taken after blocking. That's the only difference, but isn't the difference amazing? Maybe you have to be a knitter to think so. But blocking will make your sweater (and, I daresay, you) very happy. I block everything, even bunny sweaters. I wouldn't miss a chance. (I'm easily entertaintained. See above.) And as far as hand-washing and re-blocking sweaters (because yes, you do have to block again after you wash, and I only hand-wash handknits), it really doesn't bother me at all. I figure if I can find that much time to put into knitting a sweater, sparing a few minutes to take care of it is kind of a drop in the bucket, and also well worth it. I actually love the process of blocking and I look forward to it a lot during the process of knitting. I think that one of the truly fun things about knitting is just that sense of discovery — what's this thing really gonna be? (That's why knitting the second sleeve and the second sock is such a pain — you already know what it's gonna be.) But blocking, in addition to finishing your piece off really nicely, just ultimately finalizes things, and that seems to provide [to me, at least] that one last element of transformation and surprise (albeit, it's not like a surprise twenty-first birthday party; it's more like a "Surprise! There's a dollar in my pocket I didn't even know I had! Snap!" sort of mild, pleasant surprise) that I think is one of the best parts of making anything.

Chicken and rice pilaf? From Nigella, who I'm in love with again. I wish someone would write a new biography of her. The pilaf was a bit dry, but good. And pancakes, thin and topped only with a bit of sugar the way I like them, for dinner last night, with the leftover strawberries and a banana blended into a Greek yogurt (leftover from Nigella's chicken marinade) smoothie for breakfast. Double snap!

My College Roommate Ann's Swedish Pancakes

4 eggs
1 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 c. milk
a little bloop of vegetable oil

Whisk eggs, flour, sugar, and salt together into a smooth paste. Slowly whisk in milk until just combined, then add a bit of oil (just to keep them from sticking) and stir again. Ladle or pour the batter onto the griddle over medium heat, and tip pan to swirl batter into a thin circle. Flip when edges look dry.

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Andy's birthday, and our favorite place for sweet birthday lunches, this time made so much sweeter because there were three. Go to Multnomah Falls on the old Columbia River Highway and be enveloped in green. If it's raining, so much the better. Green grass, green mist, grey rocks wet with rain, rocks everywhere, green trees. Everything smells of mud and rock and water and green things. Wildflowers and weeds that flower. The falls are high, and there's vertigo. I've been up on the bridge one time, long ago, and I didn't like it. It's as high up and close to the water and as disorienting as it looks, and I was scared. The shingled peaks of the roof of the lodge, however, just please me so much. Our lunch was delicious. The view from Crown Point: Oh, Oregon: This must be one of your best. (Years ago I splurged on this crewel kit. I was so charmed by it, and every time I go to Crown Point I remember that I never started it, and I mean to. Now it'll be for Amelia's room.) We ended the day with a candlelight bath (oh how she loves the bath!), and I started a sweater for her like the lodge rooftops, and the green forest, and the far-off hills, warm like her dad's arms, soft like his big, soft, sweet heart. Happy, happy birthday, my dearest, darling love. Xoxoxoxo

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