So Nice

comments: 70














I had the nicest birthday. Every minute of it was so nice. It's wonderful to have a birthday fall on a Sunday! I loved it. I had a plan to make my birthday cake (I decided, after all, to do the usuals) and then make bolognese sauce and stuffed shells (from Craig Claiborne via my NYT cooking app). Stuffed shells have been my favorite food since childhood. Andy and Amelia went grocery shopping and got some very fancy ingredients, including handmade ricotta cheese, which was delicious. I made the sauce (but forgot to add the basil and cream at the end) and then my back was bothering me from sitting in the wrong chair for too long at lunch at our neighbor's the day before (it seems fine now) so A & A took over and made the cheese filling and assembled the shells for me while I knit and watched ice skating. It was great. Outside it was cold and gray but inside it was warm and cozy. I got sweet presents and cards and texts and talked on the phone a lot. Before we ate the cake, we put the big camera on the tripod and took some timer selfies of the three of us, which was so much fun. My mom had been reorganizing some things in her house and found a picture of my grandpa with me when I was a baby. She found it in his passport, where he apparently kept it for years and years. I was really touched, and I don't think I've ever seen exactly that picture before. The other picture is of my dad holding me above his head while my sister watched. He used to do this with us all the time. We're standing in front of his teal blue Cadillac. My dad passed away on my birthday, eighteen years ago. It's always a bittersweet day. But I was surrounded by love and family and friends and food and animals and light and warmth, which was the best present in the world.

Here's a delicious present for you:

Stuffed Shells from Craig Claiborne/New York Times

Bolognese Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup (2 ounces) bulk sausage
1/2 cup onion chopped fine
1/3 cup celery diced fine
1/2 cup carrot diced fine
1/2 pound beef ground fine
1/2 pound pork ground fine
2 chicken livers, chopped fine, about 1/3 cup
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt to taste, if desired
Generous grinding of black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups imported canned Italian plum tomatoes
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup heavy cream

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy saucepan or casserole and add the sausage, onion, celery and carrot. Cook, stirring, until onion is wilted.

Add the beef, pork and chicken livers and cook, stirring down with the side of a heavy metal spoon to break up lumps, until meats lose their raw look. Add the rosemary, nutmeg, salt, pepper, wine and tomato paste. Stir to blend.

Puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender or crush them by hand. Add the tomatoes and the broth. Bring to a boil and let simmer, skimming the surface of fat, 1 1/2 hours.

Stir in the basil and cream and remove from the heat.


Ricotta Cheese Filling (stuffs about 18 large shells)

2 cups (1 pound) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup finely diced Mozzarella cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup finely chopped prosciutto
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Drop jumbo shells into boiling water and cook about 10 minutes or until tender but not overcooked. Drain.

Spoon layer of sauce over bottom of casserole large enough to hold stuffed shells in one layer.

Fill each shell with equal portions of ricotta cheese mixture. Arrange shells stuffed side up in casserole. Spoon remaining sauce over shells. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake 25 minutes.


My mother was buried on my birthday, but my children took me out to eat and gave me a cake and tried to make me feel a little better that day. Happy belated birthday to you and may you have many, many more. Have loved your blog since the first time I saw it.

I just want to add that our family has made this sort of frosting for years and years (I love that it isn't as sweet as most frostings, or as heavy), but our instructions mandate beating for the butter mixture for 5 minutes and then beating the entire mixture for another 5 minutes! It turns out beautifully.

Georgia Inskeep says: January 10, 2018 at 01:46 PM

Happy Birthday! I love the photo of the three of you. It is always special to eat your favourite foods on your birthday, even if you make them. I am thankful for you because I love Posie Gets Cozy. Happy birthday and many, many more!

Happiest of birthdays to you, Alicia! I adore the family photos...and the one of Mimi in her cowgirl hat stirring away is a keeper for sure!

Happy Birthday! May this year be easier and more magical than you can imagine!

Happy Birthday and thank you very much for that recipe. As soon as I saw the picture I said to myself, I have to have that!

Beautiful celebrations - all of those photos are so lovely. Wishing you a wonderful year ahead.

Michele Holmes says: January 11, 2018 at 06:05 AM

I always get so excited when you post something new!!! Thanks for sharing your life ... any update on earlier tentative plans to relocate your shop to a space separate from your home?

Happy happy birthday dear friend. How odd we have never ever met and yet I feel the joy in my heart of calling your friend after all these years of the sweet glimpse you so generously share. A beautiful day for a beautiful person.

Thank you for the recipe! It looks amazing. Glad you had a great birthday, and I love the vintage photos. It almost looks like your father was keeping you from your sister, kind of like, "Unless you behave, you won't get your sister back," but not in a menacing kind of way, of course. Here's to a fabulous new year for you!

Happy Belated Birthday Alicia! I love your pretty table and the picture of your cake. The photos of you with your dad and grandad must be real treasures for you. Happy New Year too!

Happy Birthday, Alicia! It sounds like a wonderful day. The photos of the three of you at the table are some of my favorites I've ever seen here. You all look so happy and full of love, and the one with Amelia's huge smile radiates pure joy. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your family and you life. I find so much peace and hope here!

Happy Birthday . . .
Sweet, Sweet, Sweet . . .
Love the old photographs . . .
with you high in the air with your dad
and the one with your grandpa . . .
Oh my, saved in his passport . . what a treasure and memory!

AND . . .
LOVED the threesome selfies . . .

One more . . . Amelia in her hat and stirring up “Birthday Something!”

Happy Birthday!! Precious pictures - especially of your father and grandfather. You are blessed.

Jo Quatannens says: January 12, 2018 at 01:43 PM

What a beautiful family!

When I want to share precious happiness with friends and family, I send them a quiet link to your most recent blogpost. Thank you for sharing your comforting home with your blogging community. I have two wild boys and its so calming to step into your sewing, stewing, snowing, simmering world, even for a few minutes. <3 Peace and joy to you and yours in the New Year.
Following since the beginning... Laura

Loved the old photos, actually made me cry! It sounds like you had the perfect day, weekend birthdays are the best aren't they! I saw your cake on Instagram and thought it was the most beautiful cake i'vr ever seen. Your cakes always look amazing. For my birthday, on Monday, I had half of a brownie left over from my son's birthday 😂

Happy Birthday, sweet Alicia! Such lovely photos of you all. Sending birthday love x 💝💞💕

Happy birthday!! Everything looks soooo cozy!!

This has become our official birthday cake too!! I’ll be making it for myself next month :)

Sounds like the perfect birthday. :)

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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




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.