Posts filed in: October 2014

Same Old, Same Old

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I'm still trying to cook. Remember when I used to cook? Oh, those were the days, those were the days!!! My fragile mojo for cooking has left me again. This is getting to be a thing. My people need to eat. I think I feed them pretty well, but I'm not inspired. I don't seem to care so much about what I eat. I slurp the dregs from Amelia's discarded mango-peach pouches, eat the second half of a toddler-handled banana that I catch in midair as she hurls it toward the table, and lick raisins off my hand — that's breakfast. Lunch — I don't even understand what people eat for lunch besides pad Thai. Dinner: Okay. I like dinner. I search the archives of my mind, remembering that I used to cook dinner, and if not cooked then surely I assembled it, at least. Roasted chicken from New Seasons, shredded and turned into tacos with avocado and black beans. Swedish pancakes for Sunday breakfast, with most of the pancakes saved to make spinach crepes for dinner. Vegetarian mushroom sauce? I can do it. Serve over pasta with a small mountain of ricotta cheese.

Mushroom Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cups mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey

In a large pan, melt butter and saute onions until soft. Add mushrooms, garlic, and spices. Cook until mushrooms are soft but still have a bit of bite to them. Add tomato paste, tamari or soy sauce, and honey. Simmer ten minutes. Add pepper (and salt, if needed) to taste.

This was my friend Ann's recipe, and I've had it for over twenty years. Very simple, very tasty, not very tomato-y, just how I like it. I'm quite sure it probably came from a cookbook but I don't know which one. If you recognize it, please let me know.

Rainy days, rainy days. Rain in the forecast as far out as I can see. It's soup-making weather if ever there was, and now I'm on a mission to pull together a freezer-full of it. "Don't touch Daddy's phone, Amelia; it's very, very important to him and he loves it more than anything," I say as she reaches for it sitting on the landing railing, about to throw it down the stairs. "That's because I don't have an iPad," says he, wryly, scooping the phone out of her reach as I (in the dark, in my nightgown) surf Pinterest on my iPad like a hungry bat, looking for good soup recipes. Ha! Well played, sir! It's 6:00 a.m., a rainy, still-dark morning, and I'm seeking inspiration in pictures of steaming soup bowls and crusty bread. My new plan is to plan better. I'm actually going to plan dinner before dinnertime. No, really, people actually do this! It's like a real thing that people do! Today I'm going to make black bean soup. I've decided that, and it's only 10:30 in the morning. Winning.

What's your favorite soup? Would you link me to an actual recipe so I can put it on my soup board?

I'm setting the TiVo to start recording a season pass of Barefoot Contessa. I used to watch this all the time but not for cooking inspiration, necessarily. It was more of just a general stress reliever. Cooking shows in general, but especially Ina's and Nigella's. Ubiquitous but so appealing to me. They are the right pace for me. Their voices and methods sooth. Even the way Nigella massacres things with that mezzaluna (the woman will not cut even the simplest things with a knife, I swear) I now find charming and encouraging. I have so many of their cookbooks. Perhaps I should start reading them instead of Anderson Cooper's memoir, which is (I'm only halfway through) unbelievably depressing (though, don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of AC).

Knitting: Knit knit knit. For that, I'm onto this garter sideways sweater (that photo is the sleeve — see where you fold it down?) which I should get cracking on as Amelia could be wearing it right now (though I can't resist buying her Zara coats — ack). I plan to line it with some Liberty, or something lightweight and flowery. The sweater-coat I made her last year turned out to be an awesome thing, and it's too small now (sniffle). Also, very pilled. (Alpaca.) That's okay. Clothes too small? Music to my ears! I'll make more!

Also: The sweetest bunny mittens, made for Meems by my dear friend Gillian. Amelia would not take these off this morning, though it made it hard to pick up every leaf and stick on her walk as she likes to do. No matter, such cuteness is worth the extra effort. She was delighted. Man, I love age two.

And: Wee Chickadee. My first Ysolda pattern. Inspired by kimlynn's version. I love the single color against the blue. I'm using a very, very pale pink (though it probably just reads as a rosy white against this blue). Fingering-weight yarn, am I nuts? Once I finish the yoke, though, it's just gobs of stockinette, so I think it'll be fine. I always think that. Until, of course, I get to the sleeves. By the way THANK YOU for all of the bind-off suggestions. After reading through them, I think on my next ribbed bind-off I'll try a tubular. I'll let you know how that goes. I did wind up finishing the second sleeve of the Bloomsbury, so thank you so much for the inspiration to get that done. I needed it.

That Second Sleeve

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Is there a stretchy cast-off that doesn't flare? Lately I have been making stuff that doesn't fit over anyone's head. Paranoid, I'm now stretchy-casting-on and -casting-off, though I find the look of it quite inelegant. Am I right in thinking the wrong side of a Jeny's stretchy cast-on looks better than the "right" side, or did I not turn it properly? And I don't like how the cuff is flaring (on my Bloomsbury Kids sweater, the terra cotta one above, which was inspired by this pin). That's too big, and I went down a needle size, too. If I weren't so lazy I'd start the second sleeve and get it over with. This sweater's construction is pretty rad. There's a lace panel down the center of the back, too. I think everyone says, this but I am so in love with Quince and Co.'s Lark yarn. I used it for the Dogwood Lottie (the pale pink sweater, also above) and it's just so squishy and soft and yummy and bouncy and makes you feel like you could knit all day (and night?). Until you get to the second sleeve, which not only is the second sleeve but also has a lace panel. . . . Bah. I watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix (yippee!) and knit as if in a trance. The lace isn't hard but it's still . . . lace. How awesome is it that a new season of Railroad Alaska starts on Saturday? I'm tempted to re-watch the entire season of Ice Lake Rebels. Now if I could only stay awake past 9:00 p.m., just think how much more knitting and TV-watching I could get in. Alas, now that the cold, dark, rainy nights are here there's so little incentive to stay downstairs and not crawl into my wonderful, lovely bed to wait for Andy to get home from work. At least I've limited myself to one mini-Snickers per night. That's one of the only things I like about Halloween. Mini candy.

Garter stitch is more my night-time speed, and night-knitting is all I have these days. Garter stitch also just . . . what's not to love. Knit knit knit. Then knit knit knit. Then knit knit knit. Etc. That's what I can handle. We've talked about this. When will I learn this? Apparently never. I finished the pom-pom flaps hat (which was inspired by this pin) by actually making and attaching the pom-pom. A couple of people asked me about the pattern that I used, which is in French. I used Danielle's translation, and I'm sorry I didn't put that on my Ravelry page initially. I'm not very good at adding notes to that thing. The hat was knit with Rebecca's gorgeous, gorgeous acacia-dyed alpaca-merino-silk yarn from Camellia Fiber Co. You've gotta be fast to get this stuff before it sells out. Her yarn is such a delectable treat. I spoil myself.

Clover Meadow had a very hard day yesterday. Thunder, pouring rain, and then later, once she had finally settled down, fireworks. The trifecta of canine misery.

Do you like caramelized butternut squash?

I'm on an organizing tear. So far I've gone through all my clothes, all of Amelia's clothes, all of the books in the master bedroom, the living room toys, and I'm about to hit the hats, gloves, and scarves next. I donated a lot of clothes and books. Now I have nothing to wear. I'd like several of these dresses and tunics, particularly this one and this one and this one. But they're too expensive. I went to the fabric store and bought some similar patterns and fabrics. I also got an idea for a gathered calico skirt. Now, I actually have to make the effort to sew. And start the second sleeve. But there's time. There's time now. I'm glad it's October. I feel much more like myself than I ever do in July.

Pumpkin Morning

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At the pumpkin patch with the Montgomeries. Dearest friends on a misty morning. Watching the kiddos navigate a field of pumpkins. I could stay forever, listening to them talk pumpkin to each other and seeing them slog through the mud without reserve. Everything smells like it's been stomped and then rained on. I love it out in the country in the morning. It's hard to get out there in the very early morning if you don't already live there, but it's the feeling I long for — languorous autumn morning, stubbled fields stretching out and away, no sound but birds coming and going, the rain heavy in the air but it's not raining. The gray mist washes out so much color, rendering everything tentative and faint, and I like that. I like being cold and snuggling my nose into the crook of a toddler neck to warm up. I like eating bratwursts and caramel apples with our friends and their babies. I like the mud and the smell of mud. I love the bath at the end of the day. Mimi comes in with me at the end, crying a little as she draws.  Scribbles on the tub with the soap crayons. Warm water pouring back and forth between little cups. No hair washing, and quiet conversation. Candles in the late afternoon. Soup for Sunday dinner, and I'm done working for a while. It's the season of resting for me, and I am relieved. Everything slows, and feels heavy and warm. I needed this.

Green Gold

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A walk in the woods. Just a little one, just off the beaten trail. She's an adventurer. A most gorgeous afternoon: cool, crisp, crunchy — the way it almost never, ever is. October, living up to my wildest expectations. This is my new favorite month. Very good.

***Thank you ever so much for all of the sweet wishes for Mimi's birthday. You are all just so incredibly kind. Thank you. Xo

You Are 2

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Oh, what a weekend it was. Amelia's little party was truly wonderful. She had such an awesome time, and so did we. Yesterday was her actual birthday, and the three of us drove out along the old highway to Multnomah Falls for lunch, then came home and made lasagna and had cupcakes for dinner. She insisted on wearing her party hat at all times. It was a perfect day (except for the couple of times she snapped the elastic from the hat against her cheek and started bawling). She went to bed an hour or so past her bedtime, and had no nap all day. She is a partier!!!

So many toys, so many beautiful presents from everyone. Andy and I worked on ours for most of the summer — that's turning into such a sweet tradition for us. Andy's mermaid (from this pattern) — it was an epic experience. He worked on it every lunch hour for two months, and pretty much every waking free hour he was home. I tried to help him with a little bit of it and the hook was so small and the yarn so shreddy I seriously thought I was going to scream every time I picked it up. I truly don't know how he did it. He also made her a crocheted Clover doll. He is incredible. The mermaid's name is Ethel Shirley. She'll get her hat and her life-ring for Christmas. :) The doll I got for her was one I'd been coveting for years (from Happy to See You) — major splurge, couldn't resist. I made the beddy-bye-basket from this pattern (more or less, I had to add a lot more rounds because my yarn was thinner), her dress from this pattern, her nightgown from this pattern, and her sweater from here. I made the pillows and mattress and little quilt for the basket just out of some little pieces of fabric and trim that I had. Naturally, she is vaguely indifferent to both of our dolls. Naturally, Andy and I both prop each of our dolls up in front of her several thousand times a day. "I think she likes mine better." "No, she likes mine better." "No, mine." Etc. Her birthday dress and pinafore I made from a 1972 Simplicity pattern, #5277. I used a brown vintage calico I had, and some Liberty Betsy Ann in gray for the pinafore. I have to take pictures of the totally rad play food my sister Susie made for Amelia. It's incredible, and I will find out where she got the patterns, too. She also received some other really excellent presents I will photograph, too.

I had the best time over the past few weeks gathering ideas for her party. The balloon/lantern collection is ubiquitous, but oh boy did it please a two-year-old who went out for a walk with her grandma and came home to find it suddenly and magically floating above the dining-room table on Friday afternoon. That was cool. Andy and I made it together, and it was so much fun to do. Once it was up we decided it needed something distinctly "2"ish. He cut the number out of a thick piece of styrofoam, and then I covered the edges with fabric tape and the front and back with glued-on fabric (I just traced the styrofoam number and cut out the fabric — super easy). Her cake I copied from this adorable cake that I just couldn't get out of my mind (I think I pinned it ages ago). I used this cake recipe and my mom's frosting recipe (I call it Cloudburst Frosting). One of the best parts of the day was the rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday to You" sung by all of us just before she blew out her candles — it really sounded like a chorus to me; it was truly awesome — and she looked around in complete wonder and delight at this big, bustling, beautiful family, fabulously doubled in size with her amazing birthfamily. All love. We are all just so blessed in this. I also loved watching her feed her little deer some coffee out of a wee teacup after the party as we sat quietly together and played and talked. Oh, how I love it all. I absolutely love it. Two. The best two years ever. Darling, wonderful, greatest girl. I love you so.

Pre-Party Prepping

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* * * T H A N K      Y O U     E V E R Y B O D Y ! * * *

so very much, for all of the orders!!! I am so thrilled that you like the new kits. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I am beyond pleased. We are shipping at lightning speed because

s o m e o n e  is having a little birthday party tomorrow. Someone is turning two! My dearest darling, already two. Preparations — and present making and finishing — are seriously underway. Details to come. But later! Right now it's bake, wrap, sew, fuss, fiddle, blow up balloons. My very favorite things to do. Oh, girl. I just love you more than I can say.

A Cold Day Outfit Kits and Pattern (and Ornament Kits, Too!)

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If your Little Animal Family is getting chilly, you might want to consider making them a duffel coat, stripey sweater, jeans, boots, and a scarf this fall. Introducing A Cold Day Outfit Kit, available in two colorways. One is with a blue coat, butterscotch-stripey sweater, and an oatmeal-colored scarf:



Or with a pink coat, blue stripey sweater, and a pale pink scarf:



Yay! I'm excited about these!

Each kit includes a printed pattern with stitching instructions and photos, an embroidery tutorial,  knitting patterns, and all full-size pattern templates. Each item page also contains a detailed list of what materials are included in each kit and what else you will need to have. You can choose your colorway from the drop-down menu. Each kit costs $30 each, plus shipping. Fabrics and yarns are not interchangable between kits, nor do we sell yardage of or individual pieces of felt or fabric.

If you would prefer a downloadable PDF pattern only for the Cold Day Outfit, please get that HERE.

Please note also that the Cold Day Outfit kits and pattern do not include instructions or materials for making the actual animals themselves. Please see the whole collection of animal kits or animal patterns for individual animals and their original outfits.


And now I want to say that I'm really happy to bring back last year's kit, NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. The Night Before Christmas collection sold out too quickly last year, and I felt bad that some of you who have been collecting my ornaments for a long time now did not get a chance to purchase one. So we have reissued a limited edition of this kit this year, and it will be in the shop until it sells out. 


It has a Nestled Child, all snug in her bed with her kitters . . .


There is a mouse we call Notevena, and she is definitely stirring . . .


And there's that everpresent little dream I dream each year: How I would love (for my baby girl) to wake up to the new-fallen snow!


We also still have limited numbers of previous years' kits, including 2012's kit, WINTER CABIN:


There is a Lighted Window, to welcome all passersby . . .


There is a Western Bluebird, to provide the winter song . . .


And there is a Whistling Tea Kettle, to make the Earl Grey . . .


And 2011's kit, SWEET HOME:


It includes a Blue Door, with a wreath to welcome you home . . .


A Glowing Candle, to light the night . . .


And a Wild Bunny to keep you company . . .


We also have 2010's kit, SNOW DAY:


It includes a Red Wool Coat, to keep you warm and dry . . .


A traditional Norwegian Selbu mitten, to keep your hands toasty . . .


And a Polar Bear, far from the Arctic Circle, peeking out from behind the trees.


 2009's ornament-making kit, WALK IN THE WOODS, is entirely sold out! I'm very sorry!!!


And last but not least, we also have the first, 2008's kit, ICE SKATING AFTERNOON, as well!


There's the Hot Cocoa Cup, to warm you up:


The Ice Skate, with pom-pon for good measure:


And lastly, the Gingerbread Girl, the sweetest of all:


Please click on the links for each of the kits above to take to you the web shop pages, which list what's included in each and what you will need to have. Each ornament kit costs $30 each, plus shipping.

About the skill level needed to complete these: In previous years I said that, while I don't think of these kits necessarily as a children's or a beginner's project, if you have some experience working some basic stitches, these ornaments take more time and patience than skill. I will include directions on transferring the designs to the felt, and basic diagrams for completing the types of classic embroidery stitches you will need to know — backstitch, lazy-daisy stitch, satin stitch, French knot, and blanket stitch — but once you are comfortable working those stitches, if you just take your time and settle in, you will be fine. Someone asked which the easiest kit is, and I have to agree with Lori (I think it was my dear Lori) who said the Walk in the Woods kit is the easiest. Snow Day is the hardest, I think.

All six ornament patterns are always available as downloadable PDFs HERE. A list of the specific felt colors and piece sizes and floss colors you need can be found HERE. You will need that list, so don't forgot to click on it (and a link to it is available on each of the product pages, as well). If you are purchasing a kit, you do NOT need to purchase a pattern. Printed patterns come in each of the kits.

I also have supplies like glue (though we can't ship that internationally; see below), sewing needles and tiny needles for adding beads, wax-free chalk tracing paper, and water-erase fabric markers that will help you make these ornaments. You can find them all HERE (and the specific items you need for each kit are suggested in the item details for each kit, too). I have a limited supply of these items, so if you are interested in them please order soon. I doubt I'll be able to restock before Christmas.

Yes, we do ship internationally, but please read the following before placing your order: All international shipments are sent via USPS first-class international mail (or Priority, depending on their weight) and are charged a higher shipping fee depending on the weight of items and the destination. Shipping fees are added automatically when you place your order; to calculate them you need to walk through steps 1 and 2 of the ordering process. Once items leave the U.S. they are not able to be tracked past their last location here. It is happening more and more often: You — especially if you are in the United Kingdom — may also be charged import taxes, customs fees, duties, or other charges by your home country when you receive the shipment; you are responsible for these. Unfortunately I can't control where, why, or how customs agents determine whether to charge you or not and, after shipping thousands of overseas packages through the years, there doesn't seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to who gets charged. Please note that the USPS does not allow us to pay any taxes or fees for you on our end, prior to shipping. I mark all of my shipments "merchandise"; please don't ask me to mark them as gifts because it is illegal to do that, and I won't. Thank you!

The only thing we cannot ship internationally is the fabric glue, because it is prohibited. If you are overseas and you do accidentally put it in your cart, we will refund that part of the order and ship the rest of your things.

Because we are shipping so quickly, please make sure that your shipping address is correct when you place your order. In some cases, we are shipping orders the exact same day the order is placed, so it's important that you check your address on your end properly before submitting your order, because once it's out there, it's out there! If you do need to change your address, or anything about your order, or add things to your order, etc., please email me immediately. I will not be able to change your original order for you (because the system won't let me), but what I will do is cancel the original order and have you place a new order with everything you need in it. This will be Stacey's first time shipping a lot of orders at once and I would love for this to be as manageable as possible for her (so that she stays with me forever). That said, of course if you do need to change your address (before it is shipped), or anything about your order do not even hesitate to email me immediately and I will help you with whatever you need!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your support of these animals and these ornaments over these many (many!) years. It has been such a great adventure for me to design these things, and the greatest privilege to make them available to you. My trusty crew (Stacey, Greta, Susie, Andy, and the amazing fabric-cutting and floss-packaging ladies, Dana and Sarah at Spooltown) and I design, write, illustrate, photograph, assemble, and ship every one of these kits all by ourselves. There are now thousands of Posie critters big and small on and under Christmas trees all over the world, and it's my true honor and sincere delight that you have welcomed all of them into your homes. I have so many more ideas I want to explore. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do that, and share my ideas with you. Your interest and enthusiasm is so very, very appreciated by every one of us here, but especially me. Thank you so much, dear friends. Thank you.

Sewing Round-Up

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No, I'm not even trying to be funny with these wrinkled dresses (but I'm dying laughing looking at them now — seriously?). This is actually the best I can do. We'll have to use our imagination to visualize what these clothes looked like before they went through the wash and then sat . . . around . . . for a while . . . whatevs. I think it's funny that while you're sewing you're sort of, I don't know, pressing every seam so carefully, etc. And then it all winds up looking like this anyway. So don't worry about it too much.

M'kay. Here we go:

Skirt = McCall's 7882, circa 1982. How cute is this with a black turtleneck onesie. I used vintage bias tape for the trim, and failed to overlap the edges. Why? I don't know. Andy asked if we were going to a poetry slam.

Salmon-Pink Coat = Dear My Kids Double-Breasted Coat, size 2. This was very enjoyable to make, until I got to the buttons. The buttons — no, I didn't even try.  In my opinion, the quickest way to mess up the double-breasted coat is to totally wonk out on the buttons. I saw a lot of examples of unsatisfactory button placement while browsing double-breasted coats. In my life, buttons are the elephant in the room. I pretty much suck at them. That's a lot of work, to get to the point in the making of the coat where you mess it up. People seemed to be putting the buttons all over the place. I had no confidence that I'd do anything but that. I bit my nails fiercely at the idea of making the buttonholes straight, let alone symmetrical. The lady at the fabric store told me to sew the buttons on the front, then put snaps behind them. Brilliant! Still, even just this took me one entire day, and I had to re-sew one of the buttons three times. Now that I've been done with it for a week, I'm happy. I can't get tooooooo worked up about it. I mean, look at the wrinkled clothes I find totally acceptable. These are first-world problems.

Wrinkled Blue Thing = Make It Perfect Mini Poppy, size 2. I shortened the hem and shortened the dress, but it still feels too long (I like short dresses, and I think they're more practical, too). All went well until it was time to try it on, and it wouldn't go over her head. GAH! The bias trim precluded an easy fix. I chose a pathetic fix, and slit it down the front. We were in a hurry. What can I say. Fail. Run out door.

Peachy Dress = Brownie Goose The Hattie, size 2. Adorable dress. Love everything about it. I had to stitch down the seam allowance to get the collar to stand better. That's our friend Katie in the picture with Meems. This dress just suits her.

Brown Dress = McCall's M5693, size 2, circa 2008. Cute. I can't resist a brown calico peasant.

More to come. I love my boo. She's such a good sport.

Guess what? Next week: New softie duffel coat and sweater kits, and Night Before Christmas ornament kits, too. Come back on Tuesday, okay? Have a good weekend, dear friends. xoxoxoxo, a&co.

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