Sweet Summer

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Our lives seem to have this small circumference right now. I'm not sure exactly what I mean by that but I've felt a sort of pulling in. When deciding what to do I'll choose the easiest, most do-able option, treading ground that's familiar and simple, staying in the slow lane. It feels like an instinct, some primitive reaction to the world at large (while trying to process the large, often terrible things in it, and failing, failing) making the same recipes over and over, cleaning the house, going to bed early. My days alone with Amelia are long and light and sweet; suddenly toddlerhood feels different, less about mitigating meltdowns and more about true communication, shared emotions, playing at so much make-believe, doing drawings of things ("This is a house, laughing; this is a flower, going down the stairs"), giving and getting the sweetest kisses and hugs. I've listened to almost all of the Janet Lansbury toddler-parenting podcasts in the past couple of months and they've added a lightness to my heart and sharpened my perspective on what's important to me, parenting-wise (and Andy; we see pretty much eye-to-eye on all parenting stuff). Watching Amelia play her days away is so fascinating and funny and just excellent. Listening to toddlers talking to each other is just about the sweetest thing in the world. She is no wallflower, and gravitates toward the slightly older girls, four or five years old. She walks up to them and says, "Hi! I'm Amelia! What's your name?" Then she'll look over to me and shout, "Mom! I made a friend!" Huge smile. Heart explosion into a thousand pieces of salt-water taffy, every color of the rainbow. I pray for peace for our children. All of them, everywhere.

When I've had some free time, I've been sewing a bit. The pink dress is the Hattie from Brownie Goose, and the pocket dress is Simplicity 8087 from Ashley of Lazy Daisy Jones. Super cute, and reminds me so much of the house-dresses that my grandma used to make for herself — also calicos, always simple A-line dresses with patch pockets, short sleeves, and bias-tape bindings. I don't think I ever saw my grandma in anything but a dress like this, though she preferred black and navy calicos. The fabrics were always worn so soft. I can picture them now. I wish I had a couple of those dresses now. I bought the Ann Carolyn smock pattern by Odacier for myself after seeing some really cute versions on Instagram so maybe I'll have some cute clothes too, one of these days.

Here is a meltdown: Yesterday Amelia was putting on a cute pair of mint-green jean shorts from Baby Gap and she freaked out. "Mom, the tag is in the back but the pockets are in the back! Why are the pockets in the back, Mom? Nooooo! Whyyyyyyyy? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?" Tears streaming down her face, very Nancy-Kerriganesque. Apparently the child has never seen a pair of jeans before. This is how you know you're a serious home sew-er (of mostly dresses).

The weather here has been, dare I say, practically perfect in every way. Cool. Bright. Sunny. Cloudy. Not too hot. Not too cold. If Mary Poppins and Goldilocks had a baby it would be the weather in Portland lately. Thumbs up there.

I'm starting to collect reading material and knitting projects for our cross-country train trip later this month. Cozy mysteries, and a fair-isle sweater for Amelia's birthday. Recommendations for cozy mysteries appreciated (they need to be reeeeeally cozy, and not too scary)! ***Oh, and yes, I've read almost all of Agatha Raisin! :) Love curmudgeons! Thank you!


It almost scares me to see how grown up Amelia is! My little boy is a year younger and I am trying to savour every moment, just as you are. Slow time is good time so enjoy and don't feel guilty.
As for cosy mysteries, not sure how easy you want to go but if you want a very light weight British mystery (set in the Cotswolds) try the Agatha Raisin series. I think the first in the series is "Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death'. That title should give you a clue about how light weight it is!

Kathleen P says: July 07, 2016 at 02:13 PM

Cozy mysteries: Susan Wittig Albert's Darling Dahlia's series. Set in the 30s in Georgia. She is a wonderful writer

I really enjoy the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. They're wonderfully cozy, set in a rural English village in the 50s or 60s, and the main character is a young girl who's obsessed with chemistry, poisons, and solving crime. (They're adult books, though Flavia is about eleven when the series starts.)

Sweet summer for sure..I want to hear her tell you about the shorts..LOL..
Love her hair♥Mine is way too long..looks great on her though:)Her sweet freckles are precious.

Patti S. says: July 07, 2016 at 02:26 PM

Go to cozy mystery.com They have so much it will make your head spin. A wonderful website. Amelia is getting so big and is a cutie.

oh. my. goodness. so many things. the freckles. soooo cute. the pool. so inviting. the dress and flowers matching. i stopped reading at "mom, i made a friend" because my heart did a tiny sparkler-like explosion. thennnn, i read what YOU wrote! yikes! same thing pretty much. the nancy kerrigan reference made me bark a laugh. very funny because some of us watched that over...and over...and over again when it happened. agatha raisin. hah!! why does she always "howl"? so does hamish mac beth. wear flats agatha. it wouldn't kill you. lovely lovely lovely post, alicia, as always. this one in particular. *sparkler* emanation. thank you. *mwah*

Your account of the meltdown and your conclusion of what prompted it made me chuckle...the world though the eyes of a child can be delightfully enlightening! I'm glad you asked about cozy mysteries. I don't have any to suggest, but plan to check up on the the suggestions of the commenters above me.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday...I'm looking forward to a week of family camping near the ocean during the last week of July! xxxxxxxxxxx

I second the Flavia de Luce series! I love them and gobble them too fast.

She's getting so big so fast. :) I love the toddler years, but, with my youngest, we're still in the meltdown phase ALTHOUGH she is starting to become more a little lady each day. (Today, while I was cooking dinner, she insisting on bringing her toy plates into the kitchen to serve ME.)

I can't wait to see the fair isle sweater. :) And the adult smock.

I don't know whether Dorothy L Sayers counts as cosy enough but they're brilliant reads - Murder Must Advertise, Strong Poison and Gaudy Night being my pick of the bunch. Also Brother Cadfael mysteries (by Ellis Peters) are definitely on my comfort reading list. If you haven't read Robert Goddard's In Pale Battalions that's less cosy but beautifully layered and well worth a read. It sounds like you're having a wonderful summer with plenty more of it to come :)

I think you would enjoy the Someday Quilts mysteries by Clare O'Donohue. I love your blog posts so much.

Cozy mysteries: Have you read Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen series? They are light yet not dumb, and oh-so-satisfying. Jane as sleuth!

I enjoyed Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series, which take place WWI to WWII in England and around Europe. And I agree, the Flavia de Luce books are also wonderful, in a very different way.

Have you tried Monica Ferris? cozy mysteries with a crafty twist.

Joanne Fluke has a great mystery series about an owner of a bake shop that solves all the murders in her little town. Each book includes some really great cookie recipes. It's light fun reading.

Tonya Hartsog says: July 07, 2016 at 03:51 PM

I just wanted to say your blog posts always make my day and put a smile on my face. I have always wanted a family and find myself almost 30, unmarried and single. For years I been collecting child/baby things and patterns in a stash box. Your blog always gives me hope for the future and reminds me to keep holding on to my dream. You truly have such a beautiful life and family my dear. Many blessings -Tonya

sort of a grown up Nancy Drew; Fannie Flagg's 'I Still Dream About You'. Down to earth believable characters, msot of whom you'd like to know as friends, and it ends well. Set in Birmingham about the time of the 2008 election.

I read through the comments and learned there is a cozy mystery we?!!!!! I will be headed there shortly. ☺ I loved everything about this post: Amelia is getting so big, she is baking with you and will soon be wanting to stitch and sew---wonderful times ahead! I want to put a plug in for the Aunt Dimity series--very light feel good mysteries.

I almost forgot my most favorite mystery series of ALL TIME!! The Tea Shop Mystery Series by Laura Childs. They are wonderful!

I second the Laura Childs Tea Shop Mystery series...I also enjoy her Cackleberry Club series...and then the are the cheese shop mysteries by Avery Aames

Aunt Dimity for sure.. sweet! Also the Simon Brett Feathering series, there's a curmudgeon for you. Sweet and not scary, older ladies. The Laura Child series are great too, but Dimity would be perfect for a train trip.

I love all your photos. So sweet. that IG post today with grammie and the cute killed me. I couldn't stop looking at it. Little kid talk. Their little faces.. those moments.

M. Michael Payne says: July 07, 2016 at 04:37 PM

How about Donna Andrews? Crouching Buzzard Leaping Loon. She writes some pretty hilarious mysteries. I read this one and laughed so hard in some places...well, you know that adage about women who multi-task...cough, fart, pee and sneeze at the same time...it was a sad time and a glad time. I enjoyed her characters and prefer a character driven story but hers were very funny. Especially if you enjoy observing people's reaction to the weird, the off beat, and the strange.
How long does it take to travel by train to Wisconsin?
I had the windows open the doors and can smell the rain. Cars passing by let me know just how wet it is out there and I love it!! Deep breath and sigh. Smells so good.

How pretty that faire isle sweater is. I love the pattern you have got for yourself too. I think your fabrics will look beautiful made up in it.

I did really enjoy the books by Anna Dean starting with 'A moment of silence'. The second one is even better. There are 4 all together and have a very likeable find-outer called Dido Kent. The action takes places in 'Austen' England and are an easy but very involving read, with romance thrown in alongside the tales of mystery and intrigue.

I really enjoy the Faith Fairchild series by Katherine Hall Page - really cozy and not scary! And another great series (although not mysteries) are the Jan Karon books - small town life thru the eyes of the pastor. Really lovely books and very funny, sort of Garrison Keillor-ish but sweeter.

The photo of Amelia by the pool! So darling!

Have you read the Isabel Dalhousie books by Alexander McCall Smith? They were originally billed as mysteries, and they kind of are, but not really. There is always something to solve, but not in the traditional mystery way. However, they are extremely cozy, and some of the titles are so scrumptious, such as "The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday" and "The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds." If you read them, you must read them in order, so start with "The Sunday Philosophy Club" (not a scrumptious title, to be sure). They take place in Edinburgh, Scotland. Isabel is an independently wealthy early-40ish woman who lives in a gorgeous house and ruminates on the human condition while editing a philosophy journal and lusting after a gorgeous young oboe player and helping out occasionally in her niece's delicatessen (which is never, ever referred to as a "deli").

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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 aliciapaulson.com