Start the Season

comments: 42























Oh, Happy Thanksgiving to you! I've been laaaaaaazy this week. We had a nice Thanksgiving here, and I hope you did, too. People brought stuff to our house and Andy and our nephew, Perry, cooked a bunch of sides so although we had dinner at our place, I think this was the first year ever that I haven't cooked a single thing. I kind of missed it but at the time I wasn't complaining. I was tired. I really had no mojo. We'd gotten all of the advent calendars mailed by Monday the 19th, and then I sort of collapsed into a deflated little balloon-like shape, with just a small puff of air keeping me three-dimensional. Amelia was off school from Wednesday through Sunday and oh my lordy it was so wonderful having her home every day. By today, we were all ready to get back to our routine, I think, but having a long weekend was bliss. She and I went to an ice-cream place for lunch and then a birthday party at a play cafe on Saturday, and it added the perfect amount of sparkle to the mostly gloomy weather we've had. I got to knit and catch up with old mom-friends of mine, which was so nice. Yesterday Mimi and Andy baked cookies and made turkey Tetrazzini and I took a bath and read soap-making books. Usually Andy and I have gone to get our tree immediately after Thanksgiving, but this year the house feels too messy, the legs feel too tired, the weather feels too rainy . . . and so we put it off.

I feel like I have so much cleaning to do. I've started so many new hobbies lately and have gotten so much new equipment for all those things, and I haven't really cleared space, proper space, for these new things. Consequently, it's seriously starting to bug me now. I just literally haven't had time to completely reorganize. I keep talking about it but I haven't done it. I'm hoping to do it in the new year. It feels like a huge project. Everything goes so fast, somehow. I frequently feel quite overwhelmed.

At night, before bed, I watch soap-making videos. Has anything in the history of the world ever been more relaxing? No. No it hasn't. I don't know what it is about them. I like to hear people ramble on about stuff, I guess, and I like looking at the texture of soap as it's poured. I love these ones and these ones. Also, these ones. If you want to learn how to make soap you watch these ones. I don't know, there are a ton out there. Just start poking around. YouTube keeps suggesting things and then I find myself engrossed. I have so many ideas now. You need a LOT of supplies to get started. I'm waiting for one more shipment of stuff (including new goggles and some blackberry seeds) and then I'm going to make my first official batch. I'm pretty excited. Andy is going to help me make space in our pantry for soap curing. I can't wait.

I took Amelia to WinCo yesterday to get a big bag of cinnamon and some applesauce and glue to make cinnamon ornaments. I don't usually shop in big grocery stores like that, and I definitely don't shop in stores like that with a kid who no longer rides in a (absolutely enormous) cart. It was seriously stressful. She kept wandering away to look at things despite my admonitions to stay with me, and I was looking for things because I'd never been in that store before and I didn't know where anything was, and the combination was lame. It's a weird age where they're too big to be contained but too little to totally stay in control of themselves where there is candy and toys and all sorts of junk all over the place. She was loving it, I was stressed. I was in a neighborhood that I don't normally go to, either, and it's just funny how all of those things added up to being something I doubt I'll repeat. Especially now that the holiday season is starting, I think this was a good reminder to me to really pick and choose how to interact with the world over the next month or so. I never really think about stuff like that, to be honest — I usually just bust my way through any and every situation as required, and it's mostly fine — but I think I'm going to actually try to be intennnnnnntional this year. I hear it's recommended. . . .

Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to making the ornaments. I've never made them before. I usually have a theme for our mantel but I don't really have one this year. I think I'll just try to do something pretty and simple.

I noticed people ordering my ornament patterns over the weekend (thank you!!!) and I am going to put together a post with all of my winter stuff in it this week so it's easy for you to find it all together if you are interested. I probably should have done all this before, but I've moving slow lately. Also, I will start revealing all of the advent calendar presents daily on December 1, so you'll hopefully be seeing me more. I'm breathing a bit easier now that it's all in the mail (and, actually, hopefully, at its destinations . . . ).


Thank you for the lovely post. Your beautifully polished silverware is an inspiration! I love the cinnamon ornaments, I'm going to make a batch this weekend. I hope that you, Andy and Amelia have a wonderful holiday season. Thank you for sharing your life with your readers all year long.

ok so with all what's going on in the world, i feel INSANE for even mentioning this but speaking of mantels....there were these dark indigo bottle brush trees at target - I hesitated not once, but twice, and then of course they were sold out the 3rd time I went to Target. WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF. My friend keeps telling me - GET THE THING! You can always return later if it doesn't work out. I want to do a whole mantel of bottle brush trees one year. This year I leaned in hard to silver and gold. I'll change it all out into a more 'winter' look after Christmas. I do two mantel themes during the winter because.....WINTER.

Mona Rodrigues says: November 26, 2018 at 02:14 PM

Long, long time reader here.
One comment about the cinnamon applesauce ornaments. My sister in law made them years ago and laid them out to dry in her living room. She went out for the day and when she came home they were covered in ants and she had to throw them away. That was fall in the Bay Area, so not sure what your Portland ants are up to now, but it's a cautionary tale.

I'm glad you had such a nice Thanksgiving. We produced the whole kit and kaboodle, I posted photos of it all. Our son and DIL and grandsons bought their own home so it's going to be a lot quieter around here. :-) We don't have any trendy grocery stores in Gresham, it really is dreadful. So, we HAVE to shop at WinCo. Have fun with your soap-making! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

That soaking yarn is my favorite shade of pink. I was wondering, in your future Secret Garden “box”, will you be giving ideas on what to use the mini skeins for? Or pattern(s)? Very fun idea! I can’t wait to see the daily reveals of the advent boxes. I will be living vicariously! Hopefully, I will score the Secret Garden one - it’s one of my favorite books! You know how you said soap videos were your calm therapy? That’s your blog for me. :)

Smiled through your description of shopping at WinCo with a little girl. Sorry it was stressful for you but you made it an entertaining story to read.

Thanks for the link for making cinnamon ornaments. I don't remember why I failed in the one attempt to make those years ago. The Kitchn instructions make it sound easy, so I will wait to see what you do! And then give it another go.

Love your silverware pattern! It's like it has an elegant floral calico print on it! So wonderfully you, I thought!

Happy holiday season!

Now I wanna make soap! Or at least watch the videos. I love all your cozy photos.
My box of goodies arrived safely in NY. I'm having a hard time not tearing through all the little parcels.

Michaelanne Neal says: November 26, 2018 at 04:08 PM

Thank you for sharing such beautiful posts! I look forward to reading your blog..Its a gift EVERY time! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season..

I can't wait to see how you decorate your mantel for Christmas! It will be lovely, as always. Are you enjoying the Hallmark Christmas movies this year? They've been quite lovely and a great distraction from all the craziness going on in the world. Enjoy this wonderful, holiday season with your family.

There's no need to rush through the season, take it easy. Whenever your legs are back under you and you're feeling the energy flowing once again you can do all the things that need doing.
Thanks for the soap making recommendations. It's fun to make soap for gifts and for yourself. I love the fragrance of rose soaps and will be making up a batch just for myself.
So happy we'll all get to see the advent calendar you created. But most of all getting to hear from you more is the biggest gift of all.
Take care & hugs ~ Lacy

Susan Michelle Campbell says: November 26, 2018 at 04:59 PM

Yay - my Advent Calendar box arrived and I look at it each day with anticipation - I am so curious and excited! Yay again!

Your Thanksgiving sounded lovely! I'm so glad you and your fan had time to relax this past weekend. Sometimes that is hard to do during this busy time of year. Your pictures are beautiful, thanks for sharing!

Winco bagels are the BEST!

My mom has made those cinnamon ornaments at the senior place she goes to sometimes. If you hang them someplace where they are warm, like in your car or from a lamp, they smell divine. We live in Iowa, and have never had a problem with ants. If you make them in the winter, it is too cold.

Well, HELLO!

I have been trying to be patient until the "Great Reveal" begins. I am asking myself how folks that were able to purchase an advent calendar are they making their way thru waiting knowing all the lil' daily treats are all just in reach. I'd feel like a child on count down mode before Christmas Eve...

I was so glad to see your new Post this morning. It is always such a treat. I can imagine how relaxed you must have felt getting the last of the huge job done. I do admire your stamina with so many projects going at the same time.

Have fun with the cinnamon ornaments... I am looking forward to your comments and pix hopefully without ants. As Brenda says I believe, too, it is much too cold now to expect any help from them ;-)

Ps... Page is still loading sloooowly and I am wondering if it is just my PC?

Xs and Os

I arrived home from traveling today, Alicia, to your advent calendar box on my porch. I opened it carefully, took everything out and lined the gifts all in a row--holding and admiring each individually wrapped package, box, and envelope. I've tucked everything back into the box and am patiently awaiting December 1st. Then, I will find a quiet moment each day to savor the surprise you have in store. Thank you! You've given me a lovely idea for Christmases to come for gifting special family and friends. I'm already planning what I'd like to include. Blessings of the season to you and your family.

I made homemade soap for years and it has recently fallen off my radar and I have gone back to buying it. I think I went for a 12 year stretch without buying soap! I need to put that back on my list of "things to do" this coming year. Have a jolly season with your family. Thank you for the blessing of your delightful blog!

I enjoyed making those cinnamon ornaments with my girls well over 10 years ago and I still have lots left. The dog did eat quite a few when she was younger! No problems with ants here. Looking forward to the advent reveals.

Amanda Hall says: November 27, 2018 at 05:27 AM

I, too, am so excited about the advent yarn calendar. I am trying to decide if I will leave the sweet little bundles in the box, or if I will display them somehow in a basket, or? What is everyone else doing? Saturday will be here before we know it!! :-)
Again, thanks ever so much Alicia! This is going to be such a treat!

Is it me, or is it typepad? When I open your blog post, the words are there but the photos are represented by a rectangle with a question mark in the middle. When I click on that, it goes to rosyliittlethings & one photo is shown. I should be enjoying "unwrapping" each of these photos. You truly are an artist & there are times I simply lose myself in the picture. But the fact is, I'm so greedy for your blogs & want to see it all at once while reading your post.
It worries me to hear that you are tired, Alicia. You do so much & I suspect that your mind is always full of the next idea, your current work, your dear family...I wonder if meditation would help? Or something entirely physical & non-creative, like swimming, or yoga, or serving in a soup kitchen or sitting at the information desk at the hospital? There are ways to adapt to your own special requirements. You are such a gift to so many. Do take care of yourself. Huge hugs for you....

Thank you for posting. My life is a bit out of control right now and reading your blog always centers me. You have a calming way about you and I always feel inspired when I read you words and look at your pictures. Thank you for being real and open.

I totally get it about the videos. I recently got into watching acrylic-pour-painting videos. I'd find myself sneaking them in while waiting in line at the grocery store or during my lunch break, and definitely as I was trying to go to sleep. So addictive yet soothing! Same with cake-decorating videos. It's like art within art!

Oh yes, my advent calendar box arrived and I am so excited to start! I feel like a little kid. You inspired me to create a advent calendar box for my great nieces (ages 2 and 4), I delivered it at Thanksgiving. It's full of children's winter books and activities to do along the themes of the books. I wish I was a mouse in their house to see them open their packages each day. I wonder if you feel the same way having sent out these beautiful boxes of delight! Can't wait - thank you.

Soap making is so much fun, endlessly creative if you are into essential oils, botanicals, molds - I like rustic wooden molds, etc. I've been making and using handmade soap for years and its the best. I think I have all the books, even one from the 1890s. So many nice oils to try - almond, unrefined hempseed, castor, avocado, beeswax. I've been making smaller and smaller batches - so I can have more variety. It can be super simple like plain oatmeal or very fancy. One year I made frankincense & myrrh with a bit of gold leaf for gifts. Simple Chamomile is my favorite. Super smelly patchouli is nice too. I made transparent rosin soap once with thyme, cedarwood and lavender - very complicated, a bit like a meth lab (i imagine), but it was amazing - just like Pears, but nicer. I recently splurged on some Oak Moss EO (very thick), and need to design a woodland soap with it.

Your blog inspired me to visit Portland a few years ago - we took the train from Vancouver BC, and had a really fun time - I would like to go back. And now i'm a PNWer too, having moved to Victoria a year ago. Quiet here, lots of time for nature, crafting, beach combing, cooking. I'm still on the search for a small place with a big garden (I miss my acre back home). Cheers.

Ooohh! Soap making videos. Now why haven’t I thought of that? I’m definitely going to check the videos out. And this was my first time making the cinnamon ornaments as well. I had trouble rolling the dough out but it was totally worth it. I added nutmeg and allspice to mine and the house smells terrific! Today we’re dehydrating oranges to make garland for the kitchen window. I just love this time of year!

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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