Posts filed in: January 2019

Winter Warming

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Oh, the days of January, I love them so. I love that the weather is cold, the garden is sleeping, the skies are gray. I love that. I love hibernating, and flannel sheets, and flannel nightgowns, and hot tea, and pretty tea mugs. I love yarn, and knitting, and television at night, and dark. I'm tired, and getting over my cold, and wanting to go slow, and wanting to go upstairs early. The house is frowsy and soft. I'm gearing up to Marie-Kondo everything in sight, but not right now. No, not right now. Right now everything is a bit droopy, and needs fresh paint, and to be vacuumed for hours. I sit and make lists, stab at the taxes, pick up take-out Indian food, read picture book after picture book after picture book at bedtime, and listen to a thousand six-year-old hopes and fears. Her warm body beside mine, we listen to the wind and rain, and talk about going to Great Wolf Lodge someday, where they have an indoor water park, and water buckets falling on your head, and pool after pool after pool of warm water. I'm in. Take me there. Let's go now.

We went to a conference with Mimi's teacher the other day and it's like . . . I could just sit there and talk about my kid all. day. long. I love her two teachers and I love her school, and love how she is thriving there. I don't love the commute, but I'm trying to learn to like it. It's long, and can be ugly if I take the busy way, which I usually don't, and then it's just plain long and slow. I've been listening to The Secret Garden audio-book (read by Finola Hughes) while I drive, but it's almost over. I think I really need to get into podcasts. I don't even know what I want in a podcast, honestly. I'm not sure where to start. And can you download them so you don't have to use data on your phone while you're listening? Or . . . how does that even work? I don't seem to know anything about anything that everyone else knows lately. Thank you in advance.

I've been thinking and working a lot on the Secret Garden projects and the bath boxes that will go with them. What I think we will do is offer two different craft projects -- one is an embroidery project (not cross stitch, just regular free embroidery, of the robin, and the key), and one is a knitting project. The embroidery project is small, about 5" in diameter and will fit and be framed in a 6" hoop (which will be included with the kit). The knitting project will include a pattern for a pair of simple handwarmers decorated with with duplicate stitch, and will include hand-dyed fingering-weight yarn for the main color of the handwarmers and also all of the small amounts of yarn you will use to duplicate-stitch the designs on top. Then, if you'd like, each project can come with the Secret Garden–inspired bath box, which will include a bar of our handmade cold-process soap, a lotion bar, a really pretty apothecary jar of bath soak, a wax sachet, and a little candle.

You may order either of the kits with or without a bath box, or you may order just the bath box. We are going to take pre-orders for all of this in the next couple of weeks, and then it will take at least six weeks for us to ship everything. It will take this long because we don't know how many orders for everything we will get and we want to make sure we can include everyone who wants any of these items. So, since the soap takes six entire weeks to cure, we will continue to make soap almost every day in anticipation of orders. We also need to order the hoops I think I want to use for the framing of the embroidery project from Europe, and they have a long turn-around time (also about six weeks after ordering). So that puts us shipping around the beginning of April, and if you've read The Secret Garden, doesn't that seem kind of like the perfect time for this? I definitely will put together a post that shows you my inspiration for all the things we're working on for this, like I did for the advent calendar. I love making those collages so much and will start working on one later this week. I can't wait.

I've watched a few of the Tidying Up episodes on Netflix. I honestly get choked up every time they thank the house. It's weirdly emotional. I would've never thought to do that but it feels very poignant. It's a really beautiful moment in the episodes, I think. I also watched the documentary Three Identical Strangers last night and that was so incredibly intense. Did anyone else see it? Man. I don't even know what to say about that. As an adoptive parent, especially, it chilled me to the bone to think that they separated those babies. Unrelated, my sister Julie got me the British TV Field Guide for my birthday and I am psyched. I should do a run-down of my favorite British TV shows (mostly mysteries and thrillers) this past year. I love Shetland, Vera, Happy Valley (OH MY WORD crazy intense), Last Tango in Halifax, No Offense, Striking Out, Acceptable Risk, and Keeping Faith. Should I tell you about those or do you already know them?

I took that moon photo during the Super Blood Wolf Moon lunar eclipse! Josh was over and he and Andy were gonna go out to the garage to play video games; they went out on the back porch and flipped out because the eclipse just happened to be almost total at that moment and we had an awesome view of it from the porch. I grabbed my tripod and put it on the back table and got a few photos of the moon right before the clouds moved in. So that's almost total eclipse right there. It was just so totally cool to see that. I'm so glad they just happened to be going outside at that moment or we would've missed it!

The sweet winter field painting is the print I bought from Jo Grundy and had framed a few years ago, and I love it so much. And that beautiful watercolor of Amelia riding the rabbit? The sweetest gift from the most lovely Emily Winfield Martin several years ago. I absolutely treasure it, and it hangs over Mimi's bed.

Advent Calendar Wrap-Up

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Oh, hello! How are you? Guys, it's been kind of a sloooow start to the year here. . . . I'm trying to get caught up with 2018 and I feel like I'm treading molasses. We've all had colds, me the worst. Feeling better now. Andy is downstairs making Autumn Woods lotion bars (which were sold out — now back in stock, if you need). We were both looking forward to having a quiet day at home working (he just got home from working four-twelves in a row at hospital) but woke up to a text from the school saying there was a major water leak at school and it's closed. Sooooooooo. They'll probably go out and find somewhere to play today. I'm going to try to play catch-up and try to collect myself, now that I can actually breathe through my nose (kind of). Such is January. It's okay.

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What I've been wanting to do is show you the rest of the treats that were in the Northern Light Advent Calendar.

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There were lots of pretty, fingering-weight mini-skeins in light, icy, starlit colors. I painted some original watercolors and sprinkled them with salt to make starbursts. Then I scanned the paintings and created some little gift tags. There were six of these, with tiny glassine envelopes.

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We made a mini lotion bar we called Pomander Ball, scented with orange and cloves. It smelled so bright and fresh, like a winter kitchen. I'm still using mine daily. Especially on my nose, which is smarting because I've been blowing it every four and a half minutes.

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There were eight rustic, lovely mother-of-pearl 1/2" buttons. With lots of blue, purple, and gray lights, I thought they would be perfect on any winter cardigan. These were nice and chunky. I love how they feel, all uneven and rough and smooth at the same time.

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I couldn't decide whether to have you open this tiny honey jar before you opened the tea or after, but we ultimately chose to make the honey December 12th's present, hoping you would guess that the 13th would deliver delicious tea. This sweet little bee-skep jar of creamed honey came from Bee-licious Honey, a local bee farm here in Portland. And the gorgeous, fragrant tea was Inland Grey from Winterwoods Tea Company. Inland Grey is an organic Earl Grey tea with bergamot oil with dried orange peel and pretty blue cornflowers. It's a pretty as it is delicious, and together I thought they made such a nice treat.

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On Christmas Day, there was a full-size skein of fingering-weight single-ply Merino. I loved dyeing these yarns for the 25th. Every one of them was different, but most were in a range of pale blues, aquas, and lavenders with splashes of pink and bright yellow. (And, unrelated, but I just wanted to show you the sweater I am working on for myself with yarn I dyed on my Merino-cashmere-nylon base. It's the Wool and Honey sweater by Andrea Mowry and it is such a fun knit:)

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Anyway, okay. So, let's get on to this: some things that were in the advent calendars that I have made more of that are now available to order in my web shop.

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Firstly, handmade stitch markers. You might remember that I showed you these from the advent-calendar reveal I did a few weeks ago. For the calendar I included five of these little rings: four non-tarnishing silver-plated markers and one brass (to mark beginning of round). My thinking was that you'd have four markers for a raglan sweater, with a special one for beginning of round. For my web shop, I'm making these in bigger collections of ten silvers with one brass. The rings are all handmade by a jeweler in the Midwest. I purchase them directly from her and decorate them with various kinds of pretty glass beads. The beads are in a random assortment of colors that I will choose for you. They fit up to a size 11 (8mm) needle. You can purchase them right here. Depending on how many get ordered, it may take me a week or so to get them out to you.

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Also in the advent calendar, I made sweet little botanical wax rings and discs like these. While I was researching lotion bars and candle molds, I kept running into several Japanese designers who were making these and I thought they were so beautiful I really wanted to try them. I love making them. Each one is unique, though sometimes I try to make several that look the same if I like what I did. Generally I would add essential oils but for the advent calendar I did not — because there were edible treats in the box, I did not want any scents from the wax rings to affect the flavor of the marshmallows, etc. (There were essential-oil-scented candles and lotion bars in the box, but they were in capped jars and tins, so the scent stayed in.) I've now made some of these lightly scented rings and discs for my shop. These are made with local beeswax, soy wax, essential oils, dried flowers and other botanicals. They have brass eyelets and are tied with various colors of French gingham ribbon. You can choose whether you would like a ring or a disc, and you can choose your scent from Lavender and Mint, Bergamot and Grapefruit, Ylang Ylang and Jasmine, and Cedarwood and Fir, or Natural Beeswax scent (no essential oils). They are $22 each. They are available here. I have three of each already made. If more than that sell, I will take pre-orders and make more next week. These would make such sweet little Valentine's presents, especially if you've recently cleaned out your closet. . . .

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Steel cut oatmeal at home. Sugar cookies. Snowy branches. Cozy quilts. Lacy legwarmers. Winter lights. My favorite part of the advent calendar was this: a collection of eight 5" x 7" postcards (and eight plain white envelopes) of my favorite original photos that evoke my love of winter days here at our place.

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It's been quite a while since I've had new postcards made and I could not be more pleased with how these came out. I took all of these photos myself, and they are professionally printed on 15 pt. satin-matte-coated paper with rounded corners. The back of each postcard is blank pale green except for my copyright line at the bottom. If you haven't written your holiday thank-yous yet, these would be perfect. They are $20 per set of 8 cards/8 envelopes and they are ready to go! They are available here.

Thank you for all of your enthusiasm for this calendar, and for your patience with me as I've strung out this reveal. I swear I meant to post these every day of December! Well, that didn't work. I truly hope that those of you who received the treats in real life enjoyed them as much as we enjoyed making them for you. We have so many new plans for 2019, and I am excited to share all my ideas with you, and so grateful that you hang out here to see them come to life. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Xox xox x o x, A.

Weekend Away

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Aw, helloooooooo out there. I feel like it's been so, so long since I've had time to be here. The holidays are so busy. New Year's always stresses me out. It was my birthday a couple of days ago. My brother-in-law's is today. My mom's is tomorrow. My sister-in-law's is the same day as mine. My other sister-in-law's is in a few days. It just goes onnnnnnnnnnnnnnn and on! Andy, Amelia, and I went to Skamania Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge for the weekend. It was really, really nice. It's about an hour east of Portland. We got there on Saturday afternoon and left Tuesday morning. It's a nice place. We splurged on a fancy suite with a fireplace. There isn't a whole lot to do there at this time of year — we took a hike on Sunday and it poured cold rain the entire time. But it was nice. We spent hours and hours in the pool and hot tubs both Sunday and Monday. I think my favorite time was floating around in the outdoor hot tub on Sunday when it was cloudy and rainy and foggy and freezing. It felt like we were in some medieval hot spring. We had it all to ourselves on Monday, literally. We were the only people in the pool all day. It was so weird to just have so much time to do nothing. I clutched a big rubber ball and just floated around aimlessly. Paddled here and there. I thought about my life and the new year and the new decade for me, thought about all the things I am happy about and all of the things I want to change about myself, all the things that worry me, all the things I want to accomplish this year. I never think this way at length but I was thinking this way in the pool. I was making lists in my head. I have so many ideas and things I want to do.

At night, we always turned in early. Andy was fighting a cold. We watched Nickelodeon shows that we never watch and it was a blast. All these kid sit-coms. I laughed out loud at every single one. Mimi stayed up late. We snuggled in the bed. The wind howled outside. It's very windy there and the wind whistled in the fireplace and against the windows. On Tuesday morning, the morning we were to leave, it was basically starting to rain ice and I couldn't see across the river we were in such a cloud . I flipped out and hustled everyone into the car because the weather report seemed to indicate things might get worse. I really did not want to get stuck out there. And honestly, I was ready to get back to regular life. Turns out that right where we were at the lodge was the worst — the road was fine. But I was still ready to go home. We drove back through the gorge through the rain and the pines, listening to Woody Guthrie singing about the Columbia River. Amelia had learned the song at school and we sing it around the house often now. When I asked her if the river was what she expected, she said no: She said she thought it would be "rolling," and made big circles with her hand. It was so adorable. Roll on, Columbia, roll on. When we got home, we found this gorgeous cake that my sister, who had been house- and pet-sitting for us, made for me. I squawked with delight. What a treat. Andy and Mimi went to the grocery store and bought stuff to make individual lasagnas and they spent the afternoon making them. We had such a nice dinner, and such a nice weekend. I feel just beyond blessed in so many ways. Andy and Amelia are literally two of the nicest, sweetest people I have ever met in my life. I love them so much.

Today it's been back to school and work for all of us. When I got home after drop-off, I realized I hadn't been alone in the house for weeks. It was quiet and clean. Luckily I had done a lot of cleaning before I left, and we'd put all our Christmas decorations away. Everything was nice. The studio and office are not nice because we're in the process of reorganizing them. But everything else was nice. I felt my shoulders dropping. I photographed all of the advent calendar treats I just haven't had time to show you yet. It felt good to get a little bit caught up. I made some things I want to put in my web shop next week. I watered my plants. I drank a cup of tea. I ordered a 2019 calendar. Then it was time to go back to school for pick-up, and then ballet, etc. But honestly, I'm so happy to be back in the routine. Hello, January. Here I am.

P.S.: I have done a lot of knitting that I need to photograph and get on Ravelry. But I did finish a little hat for Mimi and it is the Faded Splendor Tam. It actually matches her plaid coat perfectly, but she didn't bring that one on the weekend. All of the yarns I used were various fingering yarns that I dyed myself. This hat is supposed to look like a beret (we were trying to make a hat that looked like the one Annabelle wears in Mary Poppins Returns [which we've seen three times now, and it is awesome] but I think I need to block it on a plate to give it that beret shape. Alas, it's cold here and Amelia doesn't really want to take it off! I'm so pleased by that I can't bear to swipe it from her for the time it would take to block and dry it right now. But I really want to see if it can be a beret! :)

About Alicia Paulson

About

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

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Photography

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.