Down Home

comments: 59




























So, naturally, all we ever do is eat now, with occasional trips to some kind of water and some kind of summer reading. NOT BAD.

It's very good.

There has been: Homemade pizza dough and sauce from one of my all-time-favorite cookbooks, The River Cottage Family Cookbook; another very excellent pasta dish with prosciutto and peas from Barilla; possibly the best pork carnitas tacos I have ever had, let alone made — done in the SLOW COOKER, to boot! My history with the slow cooker basically sucks (you might remember the Alicia-slow-cooker-disasters of a few years ago), but I'm not kidding — this stuff was beyond good. I did everything exactly how that recipe said, and served the tacos with really good thick, home-style tortillas (can't remember the brand, but I think they're new, they have cursive writing on the package), minced red onion, diced avocado, diced mango, and a few blobs of sour cream (go for Wallaby, if you can find it, oh my). Squeeze of fresh lime over all. My gosh. Reason alone not to take the slow cooker to Goodwill.

I've been so lucky with my recipes lately. I also made this blueberry custard pie. It was delicious, though a bit heavy on the streusel topping for my taste. Next time I make it I might even leave that off; it looked so gorgeous when I took it out of the oven to put the streusel on (you bake it for twenty minutes before to put the streusel on) I almost didn't add it. It kind of overpowered the more delicate custard and blueberry flavors, for me. But still, seriously not complaining, it was very good. And some of those blueberries came from our little bush.

I got a huge stack of young-adult library books for myself from our downtown library the other day. They have a ton of vintage books in the children's department. I actually had, like, a bit of an emotional moment back there. It's just trippy to see these actual copies of books I read as a kid in the 70s and 80s. They have tons of them! I've never thought too much about time travel before, but I think I just did it. . . .

I have so many library books checked out right now it's just silly. Meems and I have gone to a different branch every other week or so this summer. We've hit Belmont, Hollywood, Woodstock, NW 23rd, North Portland, and Central (downtown). Central is my favorite so far. Mimi's still a little too young — she prefers playing with the toys there, or pulling all of those plastic alphabet separator things off of the shelves, or just pulling books off the shelves and throwing them on the floor in general. Or pulling the special library tape off of the special library-book dust jackets. I've had to ask a couple of librarians to give her a little speech about not damaging the books and she takes that very seriously. When she forgets and starts to pull the tape off a cover at home I say, "Remember what The Lady said about not pulling off the covers of the library books?" And she gets this wide-eyed "oh yeah!" sort of look on her face, and stops, remembering what The Lady said. But she's also at the great age where we can now pretty much read any book and she will sit still and listen, and help finish sentences. (Isn't it incredible, what they remember?) We read five or six and sometimes up to nine or ten books a night. For a long time she would reject half of any new ones I introduced, preferring to read the same ones over and over. But now, at almost three, she's down with all of it, and my heart trills with joy. I could read all night.

Speaking of books, try Hemp Masters: Ancient Hippie Secrets for Knotting Hip Hemp Jewelry (I say this with a straight face) if you want to make a micro-macrame necklace like mine. I got it a few years ago and made myself a necklace then (here's a picture, no pattern). I wore it so much it broke (they eventually break). I've wanted another one ever since but just never around to it, even though I still had all of the hemp and beads and stuff. I used 42 feet of 10lb hemp cord (like this) and some small wooden and stone beads for one necklace. I pretty much looked at the book to learn how to do the knots but I couldn't seem to follow the patterns. So I just started going, figuring that when I got down to about 8.5" I would place my center bead, and then mirror what I had done (square knots, switch knots, pretzel knots, half knot sinnets — these are all in the book). I've done most of it at night while watching my favorite show, Ice Lake Rebels. I'm almost finished (probably tonight) and I'll add the lobster clasp (bites nails — a little nervous about finishing it off properly, stay tuned).

And, yeah, I'm also making a plastic needlepoint canvas log cabin for my daughter's third birthday. Because I cannot help myself.


What a perfect way to spend the summer! And very similar to hours save that our water has been coming from the sky! I think a log cabin birthday present sounds absolutely wonderful- my 2 1/2 year old would think it the most exciting thing ever!

I love trips to the library with my toddler son, Reed. Plus I always spontaneously grab a few random books off the shelves for myself as well. Heaven, happy cooking. You are off to a solid start!

Love all the pics! I used to make jumpsuits for my girls like the one she is wearing in the bring back so many memories for me♥
Last summer my daughter joined a book club w/ Noah who was 6..they read 100 books..she has never missed a book since he was in her tummy.
Your cooking a baking are top notch..comme tout le reste.

Michael Payne says: July 31, 2015 at 03:32 PM

Ah, you went to my old stomping grounds, the main library downtown. Worked there for six years before heading out to Gresham. Gads! That was 30 years ago. I started working there when Beth started Kindergarten. Just about Mimi's age now. Beth was 5. 1986. Whoa that was a long time ago.
Just watched Big Hero 6. What fun! So cute. Beth warned us to have kleenex handy and I second that notion but it's really worth a watch if you enjoy that kind of thing.
Knitting away on a shawl using my spun fiber and it's coming out great. Our friends from Sweden have come and gone and we had a great visit. Fortunately for them they were here when the weather was reasonably nice and still in the 80s. They just missed the heat for which I am glad but man it's hot! The problem with summer is you can't shed enough clothes to get cooler. In winter you can add layers but summer you just can't shed enough. If it weren't humid too it might be better.
So stay cool and enjoy being back in your kitchen. me

Um, we tried the Wallaby greek yogurt (vanilla) and it was so incredible that we all dreamed about it later that night. I'll have to try the sour cream. Please promise me you'll try the yogurt. It's ridiculous.

I love the library, and my girls are such readers, readers, readers. If they get nothing else from me, they've gotten that and I'm a happy camper.

Nancy Hart says: July 31, 2015 at 03:42 PM

Oh my, my heart did a pitter patter at the 'vintage' books, my era also, and the absolutely stunning children's sections in the libraries!! I remember those wonderful days of being dropped off while mom ran an errand, safer back then too, and roaming through the rows of books in the basement! Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon and even vintage books back then, Judy Bolton! Might have to head to our new library this next week. Sadly it is now just in a city owned mall and has no library smell and memories of an innocent time. Your daughter is amazingly beautiful and your food is making my tummy grumble. Thank you for this post!

Troy Louise says: July 31, 2015 at 03:46 PM

Oh my! You have been very busy in the kitchen. Will try the pork carnitas, they sound yummy. Love your library story. I was just at the book store and couldn't believe how many children's books are out there. I had to buy the new Dr. Seuss even though I'm 60 & have no little ones around! So happy that your little one enjoys being read to - it's so important - I miss that with my now grown up son. Big Hugs & have a wonderful weekend.

Troy Louise says: July 31, 2015 at 03:53 PM

Oh and I'm now reading Anne of Green Gables & loving it!

Oh I'm super intrigued with that needlepoint plastic canvas log cabin!

Those wonderful toddler days of library visits and stacks of magical books ... I will always cherish their memory. It's lovely to read of another mother enjoying them too. And, as always, your food looks incredible.

Michelle says: July 31, 2015 at 06:27 PM

Those library books! Made me remember the sound of the plastic wrap crackling when you opened them and the seemingly now elusive library book smell. The Paris one looks delightful (from its cover).

So glad the food is going well. And thank you, thank you for all those photos of Central Library--such wonderful memories. I wish I was still a member of the Multnomah Library System--I would go to Central (a rare treat) rather than our home branch of Midland specifically to check out books from series I was reading that Midland didn't have (I'm not sure holds existed then). I wanted to read *all the books* at Central. They were vintage then--Lenora Mattingly Weber, I'm looking at you--and I still read them now. The children's librarian in our coastal town has slowly weeded out almost all of the vintage here, and I miss it so--sometimes I can request an old favorite from a less progressive branch, but I've started my own collection via thrift stores and the Internet to keep those old books alive for my own kids. I'm writing down some of your choices so I can find some new favorites.

Oh, and I just saw the horse book is by Betty Cavanna--another one of my vintage faves!!!

Oh, I just have to tell you that we had not one, but TWO new libraries open near us within the last two weeks. To imagine how wonderful this is you have to know that we live about 20-30 minutes from just about anything. Physical therapy, 25 minutes. Costco, 25 minutes. Whole Foods, 30 minutes. You get the idea.
I made a quilt top for the occasion. It's the Olallieberry Ice Cream quilt in a series of blues, reds and whites. One of the libraries has grounds (GROUNDS!) to lay a quilt and just read for hours.
We check out about 50 books each visit. When the weather cools off and I finish the quilt beyond the top, I look forward to reading on the lawn.
Good for you, Mama Alicia, for reading so much to sweet Meems. There is almost no better gift we can give our children, and isn't is wonderful that we can all give that to them, no matter our wealth, their age, or our abilities. Reading to a child is always free (with the help of a library), yet priceless.

oh. my. the library photos took my breath away. i grew up in chicago and we would take the el/subway to washington street. the main library was at washington and michigan avenue. the tiffany glass was/is so beautiful. michelle is right about the "smell". books used to have the best smell. (kindles will never smell like that!) the dome shot reminded me of marshall field's tiffany dome also. daisy sour cream is also very good. the tart looks really good because i'm a streusel person. lovely post, as always, alicia. thank you.

So wonderful to see a post from you two days in a row . . .
The Log Cabin three year birthday treat looks AMAZING . . .
Oh my, can't wait to see it finished . . .

👍🏼 on the tacos!
👍🏼 on that blueberry custard pie too!!
My BEST, fondest, MOST treasured memories are of my Dad taking me to the library every week-always on a Saturday.
It was THEE best feeling. To just sit on the floor/rug and read, pick, choose a stack of books to take home and read. What a great feeling...walking out of that library with a stack of books, on a sunny day, with my DAd by my side. I mean I alwAys felt like a million bucks, ya know?
❤️ Belen

What a lovely summer you are having with your precious daughter. Your food looks yummy and I'm at that stage where I love re-reading books from a previous life and find my response to them is completely different.

It all sounds lovely. I loved reading to my two and they both would happily be read to now, even Abi at 18!! I love the look so far of the little log cabin! x

It all started with reading books together and trips to the library and book shop. Now she will be shortly starting her literature PhD. It's about fun and enjoyment and the wonder. It started with the pleasure, and it is still about that for my daughter. Never any pressure. 'Just one more', was the cry I used to hear every night, no matter how long I had been reading and how many books had already been read. She didn't read before school either, or even know her letters but just ran when she did start at school.

It was all about the stories. It was v special for us both. To want to read books there needs to be a reason why. Many children can read well but don't. What you are doing is showing her the why she might want to one day - which will happen either sooner or later, no matter. Also, your reading with her helps with comprehension. Some children read without understanding the words a lot of the time. Being read to, gives them a head start on this and what a book is and how it is. Mostly the valued secrets that books contain.

Treasured memories of cosy together times persist with me to this day. Cuddled up while we set off on a magical mystery tour. I never did 'hard' or 'easy' books just books and they were always just there for when my daughter grew into them. She just 'found' them waiting on the shelves from when I had seen them and was unable to resist their purchase, perhaps from the thrift shop or sometimes old library books being sold off.

I share your excitement when discovering books from my past are still around to be enjoyed today. So evocative. It is amazing how many there still are. Sometimes the copies of books my daughter read had the same covers even. Libraries are still wonderful places. I loved this post and the way you spoke about your sharing with Amelia and the lovely pictures in the library and of the books.

Please take Mimi to story time at NW 23rd library. Susan, the children's librarian is magic. She changed my trajectory as a mother. Seriously. And it's more of a party than a story time: bubbles, books, songs, toys. It has given my girls a passion for the library (and Susan) that continues.

My favorite blog: Posie Gets Cozy.
I mean really, what else can be said, except... Thank you.

Check out The Knitted Farmyard by Hannelore Wernhard. It would go well with that log cabin you are making.

Aren't slow cookers amazing? Who knew? I just recently started using mine after years of it sitting on the shelf gathering dust. Your pork carnitas tacos look delicious. Heck, all your food looks delicious. jonni

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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