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!


Have you read Dorothy Sayers? I wouldn't say cozy so much, the early one's maybe are cozy adjacent? Anyway, intellectual, funny in that arcane British way, if you make your way to the the really weighty ones, where Lord Peter and Harriet Vane fall in love, you know what, just read Busman's Honeymoon, that's probably the coziest one. A honeymoon, a cottage, there is murder, but it isn't too gruesome. It's really one of my faves.

Amelia has such a wonderful wardrobe, I want adult-sized versions of all her clothes! :-)

I accidentally responded to the post before this...my own long day with two little ones! Please try the mystery series by Louise Penny...delightful and not the least bit frightening! Start with book 1 and have fun...you'll fall in love with the same characters who are in all her books - and I would move to the small town that's the setting for all her books in a nano-second!

I'm glad you're enjoying the weather.. we're in for some rainy days I hear. I've been devouring books written about Nantucket Island. Nancy Thayer's new one called "The Island House" and two before that, "Nantucket Sisters" and I'm almost finished with "The Guest Cottage". All great summer reads. I descend from Tristram Coffin who bought the island from the indians long ago with 2 other guys. Loved seeing Any and Amelia enjoying the creek. Have fun on your trip! We leave for our family camp at Waldo Lake in 4 weeks! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Tamara King says: July 07, 2016 at 06:02 PM

Have you read the Kate Atkinson Jackson Brodie books? SO good. Such a good character and such good writing.

Laura Barnes says: July 07, 2016 at 06:23 PM

Love your blog and Alexander McCall Smith has a great series Isabel
Dalhousie. Have you ever read anything by Barbara Pym? Have a great vacation.

Mimi Craft says: July 07, 2016 at 06:40 PM

I love cozy mysteries, which are not the easiest to find, so I was thrilled last year to find the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. There are quite a few in the series now (maybe 11?) and I voraciously read them all in a row. They take place in Quebec, Canada and center around the quaintest little town of Three Pines. The coziness is a part of the story line, it's just dreamy. They are mostly all murder mysteries, and they're mostly all really great and not too gritty. Enjoy your trip and reading and knitting and toddler wrangling!

Have you read The Beekeepers apprentice? That is the first book in a great series!

Heather Leigh Fuller says: July 07, 2016 at 06:48 PM

Thank you for the podcast recommendation our Nina is 16 months old and we are not quite at the communication phase of toddler hood but do so love to watch her in between the meltdowns.
I never thought about the cosy mystery genre but add soon as I read the phrase I realised I am already a huge fan of that genre. I whole heartedly recommend the Gamache series by Louise Penny. They are set in Quebec and I read them slowly so I don't run out!

I like the China Bayles series by Susan Wittig Albert (http://www.abouthyme.com/China/index.php) - better written than a lot of genre fiction and overall not gory.

I say read ALL of Louise Penny's Inspector Armand Gamache mysteries. Don't think you'll be disappointed. Have a great trip.

I sooooo agree on the Mary Poppins and Goldilocks weather...it is delightful right now.

Light and lovely but not technically mysteries - Alexander McCall Smith's "Isabel Dalhousie" series. The first one is called "The Sunday Philosophy Club". They are set in Edinburgh, there are ten in the series so far, and they are delightful!

Maisie Dobbs mysteries by Jacquelyn Winspear are very cosy and not scary! There are quite a few of them. They take place in England in the early 1900's.

I second Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series. I'm about to read #12 and am devastated that it's the last one, though her book "The Care and Management of Lies" is lovely. Rhys Bowen writes The Royal Spyness and Molly Murphy series and those are so much fun. Lots of period detail (the former set in England in the late 20's and the latter in turn of the century New York City). Ohh, and Jane Thynne's Clara Vine series. :o)

Luanne Graham says: July 07, 2016 at 08:32 PM

Read anything by Martha Grime, but her Richard Jury mysteries are the best!

Luanne Graham says: July 07, 2016 at 08:32 PM

Martha Grimes, that is!

My favorite cozy mystery authors are Bailey Cates (she writes the Magical Bakery Mystery series and has a new one coming out this month; she also wrote the Home Crafting mystery series under the name Cricket McCrae), Jenn McKinlay (I adore her Library Lover's series and very much enjoy the Hat Shop mystery series, but really did not like her Cupcake Mystery series), and Amanda Lee (the Embroidery Mystery series).

Your story about the meltdown reminds me of something that happened when I was a kid. I must have been 6 or so--pretty young, but old enough to remember--and my mom had bought these cotton shorts with pockets, and the tag was in front. I could not wrap my child brain around putting the tag in front, so I insisted on wearing them tag-in-back, even though that meant the pockets were backwards. It must have been Thanksgiving, because I remember standing on my Amma's porch while my uncle tried to convince me to turn the shorts around, pointing out that then the pockets would work. I could not be persuaded. That's my only memory of those shorts, so I'm pretty sure my mom returned them in frustration. :)

I must recommend the Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Child too! Recipes are included at the end. Wonderful and fun! Your daughter is lucky to have a mom who can sew and knit wonderful and timeless clothes for her.

Those dresses are seriously awesome!!! So so beautiful and fun! She is so lucky to have you. I LOVE the photo of her peaking in while mixing the batter. So sweet! Like a commenter above, I smile every time I see a new post from you. You spread joy and I'm grateful!

Have you read The Girl on the Train. It's a bit thrilling (not at all cozy)but worth the read. :)

Dorothy L. Sayers, absolutely. My favourites are Strong Poison, Clouds of Witness, Busman's Honeymoon, Gaudy Night, and Murder Must Advertise. Intelligent, excellent writing, wonderful characters, strong plots. The same can also be said for Laurie R. King's series about Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell. The first in the series is The Beekeeper's Apprentice. Highly recommended. Thanks for asking for suggestions: I've got some new leads to follow up from others who've commented here.

I love the C.A. Belmont books. Very light, mystery, romance, no violence, French villa, London townhouse, fun! http://www.cozy-mystery.com/c-a-belmond.html

Amelia is such a personality. This is a super fun age!

How beautiful it is down by the stream, and how lovely in your garden as well. Peaceful and welcoming, it looks like a real sanctuary. Is that a field full of beehives? Summer days are the best. How is the community vegetable garden looking? Full of good things no doubt. Agatha Christie is always a nice read, and if you pick a Miss Marple one there's knitting too. Hope you have a wonderful trip. CJ xx

May I suggest the Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen ? Also the Royal Spyness mysteries by the same author. The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith is also wonderful. The Flavia DeLuce novels my Alan Bradley are NOT cozy, calm mysteries. They are actually quite serious and horrific in places. I do like them a lot . Just not at all what I would consider cozy mysteries.

I know she is adopted, but I think Amelia looks allot like Andy in some of these pictures---it is her expressions!

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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




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.