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In the afternoon I ride my bike down to the mailbox a few blocks away. It's sunny and quiet, so quiet. I pedal slowly, looking around. Aimless. Unusual. It’s empty. I could ride right down the middle of the street. My old bike makes all sorts of noise, things clicking and squeaking, and they're the only sounds I hear. House. House. House. I roll past. My street has a few bungalows and a lot of houses that are called "English" by realtors here. They were built in the 1920s and have steeply pitched roofs, gables, dormers. Mock Tudor. Pretty. A lot of them are tastefully painted stucco. Mine is, too.





I ride down my street. A block away the houses are nicer and more stately, set further back on the property than ours, with long driveways and window boxes and ancient magnolia trees now in bloom. This part reminds me of the neighborhoods in old Disney movies, The Aristocats, maybe, or Lady and the Tramp, the blossoming trees frothy and pink and the houses old-fashioned and mouse-colored, with borders of lemon yellow tulips just starting to bloom. The street, strangely, has the exact same sort of set-up as the quiet suburban street I grew up on — it's long and stops at a T-intersection at both visible ends, and I'm often reminded of Forest Avenue here. I remember how many thousands of times I rode my bike up and down Forest Avenue, canopied by oaks and elms. Literally thousands of times over twenty years. I don’t know this street nearly as well as I knew Forest, though I’ve also lived here for twenty years. I’ve probably only ridden my bike here a few dozen times.



My brakes squeal as I go down the hill. I see Scott in his UPS truck. My buddy of many years. We're the only two around for miles, it seems. I've been out here for a half an hour, riding alone around the blocks, and he's the only person I've come across. He sees me coasting past and shouts through the open driver's door, "Whoa! Watch out! Everybody STOP!!!" I'm grinning like an idiot and I pretend to wobble, shouting back, "It's been a long time since I've ridden! You're right to worry!" My smile is huge and loose, my voice sounds crazy, and suddenly I'm crying, tears catching in my throat, a hot bubble of sorrow and stress. He's still out here, doing his job, and so will my husband be tomorrow. I should get back. It's too quiet, the sun is too bright, there aren't even any airplanes overhead, and I feel scared and small. I miss the world. I miss what it felt like to not feel like this.







It's been a hard few weeks all over the world. My heart is broken, aching and sore with stories of so many others' losses and pain, and the ache never leaves. "Every day feels like Sunday," says Amelia when she wakes up one morning, and although I smile and agree, I hardly know what day it is, what month. Maybe it is Sunday. I look at the expiration date on the bagels. They're weeks old, though the kitchen counter has been bleached countless times and everything else is spotless. Time has blurred into a long, strange ribbon of worry and grief and distraction, punctuated by so much cleaning and so many, many conversations. My phone is lit almost constantly, and it's exhausting. During the day I make tons of mistakes on intricate (for me) quilt blocks and sew face masks to donate out of the scraps.



We are all finding our way here, taking comfort in soft things, moving slowly. I am reading the book September by Rosamunde Pilcher and I am loving it, at least. Usually my go-to crisis-novels are by Mary Stewart, but a kind blog reader sent me September many months ago and I am grateful now. A steady stream of Lacey Chabert movies plays on the TV every evening, though we did splurge and rent the new Emma (for $20!) last weekend, and Andy and I both loved it. I actually watched it once by myself and then literally started it over again. I found it very moving, and man, this song, at the end. We just sat there listening to it and staring at the credits. I love that song. That song is so good. Occasionally we watch Italian Grandma making gravy, lasagna, pizza fritta. She cooks everything I remember from childhood and reminds me so much of my grandma Ieronemo. I Googled her and found out she is from Foggia, Italy, which is exactly where my grandparents were from. How amazing is that! I shouted with disbelief when I read this. Oh I love her so much and I feel better, hearing her voice. You must watch. You will like it.


I hope you are well and finding grace during these difficult days. I made a little pattern for you for free if you would like to do some easy cross stitch, or have a youngster who would like to learn. It's called Homeschool Sampler. I've been challenged by some teenage boys to make something way cooler than this for them, so I have accepted that challenge. If you have any suggestions on what to include, please offer them up. I don't want them to know I have literally no clue how to be cool.


Wishing you good health and all the good things these days. Thank you for all of your kind words and I send sincere gratitude to all of you who are staying home right now, and all of you who absolutely can't. I salute you and thank you from the bottom of my heart.


You must read the Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. Excellent!!!

As always thank you for always sharing your beauty with us.
Ahh i just watched Italian grandmom, she was making Easter bread which I’m going to make tomorrow, today was hot cross buns for the first time.
I swear all Italian grand-moms have the same hands! Reminds me of my grandmothers hands... guessing my hand will looks the same some day and if they do i will look at them with love and memories. Though i hope not with the arthritis 😕 My grandmothers hands made so much for us but not without pain. Pain the one thing non of us is immune too especially now. I will share words from a teaching i received this week from my teacher “war, pain, hunger can not sustain but beauty always can sustain us”

Thank you for the beauty during this painful time 🙏

Stephanie says: April 11, 2020 at 05:30 AM

As always, I feel comforted and seen after reading your words. Thank you for being so faithful to share with us over all these years. My teenage boys spend lots (LOTS) of time in the woods, mountain biking mostly. I think they would find something woodland- or mountain-themed very appealing.

ELISABETH BALESTRERI says: April 11, 2020 at 05:42 AM

Thank you very much for this sweet crossstitch .Merci beaucoup ,et prenez soin de vous .Amicalement ,Elisa .

Love the woman Gardner cross stitch. Your design?
I also love your style-in your house, life, and projects.
I love seeing all the pictures on your blog and whatever you write about. It always brings me inspiration and comfort to see and read about your part of the world. Thank you!

My husband and 12 year old son both like to cross stitch! My 12 year old has done an emoji pattern and also video game characters . . . So that might give you some ideas. You could do an emoji sampler, lol. 😊

thank you -- your photos are so soothing!

Dear Alicia, you always find such beautiful words! Thank you for those and the beautiful pictures and your art! I have found great comfort and joy from romance novels now and actually for the past year. If you are interested, I would recommend starting with the Wallflower series by Lisa Kleypas. All the best for you and your family!!! Eva

I have two teenage boys. They suggest Rick Astley holding a flamethrower. Hope that helps.

Caroline Pestka says: April 12, 2020 at 04:33 PM

Hello. I completely understand all of your emotions. My husband is an ICU/Hospitalist physician here in Boston and we moved him into a hotel three weeks ago because he sees COVID patients every single day. He hasn’t seen his five children, but through a window, in three weeks. He stops by and picks up the dinner I make him from the bench in our deck each night. It’s so bizarre. And there is no end in sight. The worry is insane. The constant single-parenting of five kids - all stuck in a house all day - is exhausting. It’s lonely. Even though I am constantly surrounded by small people. Your sweet posts are such an uplifting moment in my day. I continue to cross stitch and sew to stay sane. Blessings! May your husband stay safe.

This is a tough time for us all. I'll continue to pray for Andy and you.

As for cross stitch for teenage boys: the internet is full of pixelated images of icons, symbols, and characters from various video games; those translate easily into cross stitch. I made a Star Wars pattern myself that way! And a Minecraft quilt.

Oh Alicia.
You’ve meant so much to me for so many years now, even though I’ve only read your blog.
This post of yours had me in tears. Thank you for so bravely sharing your vulnerability and heart with me, with us, during this, the strangest of times.

As I sit here on a bright, cold, windy day in central Iowa, I could feel the freshness of spring and flowers from Portland. My son and daughter-in-law lived there for a few years, and I was always overwhelmed by its beauty and lushness. Your words and photos brought deep breaths and quietness to my soul. Thank you for sharing.

Lovely neighborhood! Your pictures keep me calm. Sending you love from a follower based in the Philippines. Stay safe always.

Thankfully things aren't quite as bad here in Australia but I have been working from home for nearly a month now. Schools are closed and learning is online but for my 5yr old that means he is learning from me as he cant read yet. Very thankful for our essential workers whether they be nurses, doctors, cleaners or the postie. I'm trying to help others by posting what im doing on my blog, lots of ideas for activities and ways to save a few $$ if we can. But I still love coming here to your blog, your street and house are just so comforting.

Lovely post - I really enjoyed reading it and seeing your beautiful photos. The cross stitch pattern is delightful and I have ordered the threads locally. Quick query: the pattern states that the linen colour is pewter, but when I looked at this online to order, it looks like a dark gray whereas the linen in the photo appears to be off white? Can you cast any light on this please?
Many thanks for making the pattern available free. I am a key worker and will appreciate the calming influence of doing this very much.

I love your quilt blocks and your choice of fabrics
are always so cozy. Is it a certain pattern you
are doing?
Thank you for your posts, it's nice to stay connected
to the people afar who bring beauty into our days.

I hope that you and your little family are safe. I caught a sob in my throat reading about yours when you greeted your UPS guy. It really does sneak up on you. :(

Thank you for the sweet homeschool pattern. I enjoyed doing it so much. It will be a positive reminder of this very interesting time in history. I loved the individual pictures on this pattern. I was able to complete one in most sittings. It just brings my heart so much joy. Good luck to you and yours. With love.

Hi, not having teenage boys, but loving some of the ideas... I like the idea of dragons, but also the nature themes! Bugs and moths, ferns and toadstools/mushroom studies, or even small scenesl like camping or mountains, ...fishing things... I know a fair number of women are interested in naturalist topics as well. Nicole Dupuis who is the Gentle Knitter and has a youtube podcast... she works in a Canadian museum as a curator and is a naturalist. She just shared some of her favorite books and some were about natural history, trees etc...they might also give you some ideas.

I love the couple with the sheep, and went to see of that was a for sale pattern, but didn't see it. Is it yours? Or is there another lovely embroidery artist out there I do not know about?

I hear you too re the world as we knew it. I find myself struggling with anxiety, so the crafting helps. Also my garden!

Best wishes, love, Lynne

Alicia, long time blog follower who loves your photography and beautiful way with words.
I saw this post today and instantly thought of you. Enjoy.

What a wonderful and comforting post! Such crazy and unsettling times. I hope we can weather this storm and come out changed for the better.
I LOVE Grandma Gina Pettitti's YouTube channel, Buon-A-Petitti! She's such a gem. I love when she says, Hello, I'ma Gina, I also love when she sings in Italian. She reminds be of my Italian grandma too!

I find myself constantly marveling at this beautiful spring here in Portland, juxtaposed with all the loss and sickness going on around us. Strange times. I don't have any teenage boys (yet--mine is only 4), but I'd go with Baby Yoda, the Mandolorian, or maybe dragons. Ninjas? Oh, who am I kidding--I'd love all those myself! I've been sewing a bit, making masks and dresses, and find a certain comfort in the calm at home that I usually don't allow myself, so there is a certain peace inside this weird storm. Stay safe, all!

As always, beautiful post. I love the sampler.

I have made my son a few cross-stitch pictures. One is of R2D2 and a robot from Dr. Who (dalek?) and the other is of a few characters from Adventure Time. Sons are fun to sew for when younger but more challenging in the teens. I’ve been relegated to Halloween costumes (though Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes holds an important place in our home), curtains and pillows.

My son is 16 and his interests include Star Wars, Legos, tennis, piano, theatre, his cats and video games. A little younger and I would add magic and origami. I hate to be cliche, but sports balls and video game controllers, cars, cell phones are generic boy interests. However, there are boys into woodworking, reading, dancing and singing, birdwatching, biking, hiking, skiing, baking... How about a few conventional boy things and some of the less talked about hobbies? Video game controller, cell phone, footballs, cats and dogs, birds, hammer and saw, books, fishing pole, bicycle, soda can, violin, space ships, building bricks, theater mask, and reptiles.

My son just strolled in and said: Star Wars, sports, video games, cars

For the teenage boys: robots, a computer, a boy manga-style face, food, a car. What a great idea to think of the not-quite-grown-up boys! I have a grandteen and another coming up.

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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