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I mean, look at her expression, as she's walking back and forth across all my newly hung hanging clothes (I cleaned my closet). Naturally she's giving me the stink eye. She walked back and forth across here several times, wobbling, meowing, knocking my clothes of their hangers, and looking supremely annoyed by it all every minute, even though she’s the one who put herself up there somehow and chose to stay. Alicia. Why would you put a clothes' closet here where I'm trying to walk?” Ah, we humans are such idiots, I know. This morning I went down to my office and was bewildered by the presence of dried flower petals all over my work island, which I'd literally just cleared and completely wiped down the night before. Looking up, I saw all my cute dried flowers hanging from my cute little driftwood ladder suspended from the ceiling. And now I know what Agatha did last night. Generally she likes to break into my yarn cabinet and drag skein after skein of worsted all the way up the stairs to the second floor, and then drop them all over the hallway while we sleep. But I also cleaned my yarn-cabinet area up and put all the yarn away AND locked the door on it with a twisted rubber-band so apparently she had to find something else to do to wreak Aggie-havoc. She finds things to do that I didn’t even dream were things to do.

For yes, it's been chaotic around here. I've been scrambling to get a handle on it all but no, my taxes still aren't done, my driver's license is expired, the back yard looks abandoned, there are magazines all over the bathroom, yarn all over the house, and, even though my new assistant Ivy is leaving for the summer on June 1, I haven't started any of my summer designs yet.

Nevertheless, I do say to myself every single solitary day, Girl, you did the best you could. I do say that. I say that to the pile of coats, boots, and shoes piling up in Amelia's outerwear corner of the dining room; and Andy's Snack Central bags of chips, salts, and popcorn seasonings scattered on top of our red Ikea cabinet and on top of the cookbooks up there (bags of Funyuns, on top of the cookbooks, good lord); and of course detritus from my own fourteen new hobbies (resin, polymer clay, pottery, and, naturally, metal-smithing among them) covering any available surface. I look around and I say that to all of those things. Girl, you did the best you could today. For what it's worth. Someday I'll get there. Meanwhile I sit on the bed with a giant breadboard on my lap, making soap dishes out of clay and re-watching season 1 of Keeping Faith because Where the hell is Evan??? Season 2 just came out so I will soon know!

THANK YOU thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your orders of my new spring designs and all of the soap and lotion bars and yarn I released. I sometimes cry in the studio and I did cry while packing all of these things, from gratitude and maybe just a little bit of exhaustion but mostly gratitude for all of you and your generous orders and patience and interest in and support of my ideas. Thank you. It means more to me than I can say. My words feel so awkward and hard to find anymore so I don't write often. But I thank you for being here still.

I wrote on my Instagram that Andy and I have been making soap together again, and this, too, takes up much of my sunshine daydreams, thinking about soap and planning for new soap. Milk soap, aloe soap, baby soap, pink soap. We've made two 3.5-pound batches every weekend for the past four weeks. I must say, oh my, I don't know why, but the soap is coming out SO GOOD. Something is good! Maybe we're finally figuring it out. We made an executive decision to stop using anything but natural ingredients in our soap, so no micas or synthetic fragrance oils at all — only natural colorants and essential oils and perhaps pure botanical oils for fragrance. So far we've made a beautiful, creamy pale-pink scented with Ylang Ylang; a pretty seafoam blue scented with Clary Sage and Bergamot; a dull, chalky lavender scented with Bulgarian lavender and peppermint; and the one I'm calling "Dreamsicle," which is a pale rosy orange with cream, scented with orange, pink grapefruit, and balsam Peru (which smells like vanilla), like our Summer Day lotion bar. The bars are cut to 1.5 inches wide, or about 7.5 ounces each, and they are whoppers. They’re huge. And there's just something so beautiful about the big soap. It's so creamy and has these sort of creamy waves on the top that I just smoosh on with a spoon. The consistency of the soap when it's wet is like pastry cream or pudding, but even smoother. It's so satisfying to just mush a spoon through it. It's so pure and beautiful and it smells so good. It plops into the molds with such a ploppy, puddingy sound. I love it. After we put it all in the molds I just lean on the counter and stare at it for a long time. It takes six weeks to cure.

I was thinking about something I think I've written about before — I'm sure I've written about this before but I don’t remember when. I was thinking about this little jewel-box of a store called Essence that used to be on Lake Street in Oak Park, next to the Lake Theater where I worked as a candy girl when I was in high school. Essence sold Crabtree and Evelyn soaps and stuff and all sorts of pretty apothecary stuff, perfumes and soaps and potpourri sachets. The store was the shape of a rectangle with a center entrance and had wooden tables in the center and dark wood shelves on all the walls, and it just smelled so good in there. I used to spend so much time in that store, usually before work at the theater. I still think about it all the time!!! So weird! I also remember this other store that was in Galena, Illinois, on the Mississippi River, where I went for a weekend with my family when I was in high school, because my parents were thinking of buying property out there. There was an apothecary store there, too, and I think it was in an old barn? Maybe? It had dried flowers hanging from the ceiling and it sold herbs and soaps and bath stuff, I think. It was dark and warm and fragrant, like a Tasha Tudor sort of place. And I always remember that because my dad said to me that day that I should own a store like that when I grew up. And I was so flattered. Usually the things he wanted me to do only ever royally pissed me off (I won't get into it, but let's just say I did not want to learn to do martial arts — not judging martial arts but I had zero interest) and he also usually did not say very nice things in general. I remember the few that pleased me, and this was one. Another was that he told me, at my cousin Michele's wedding, before I was dating Andy, that he thought I should marry a hobby farmer and have a rural life (I would've done that). Another one was that I reminded him of Sigourney Weaver, and I will never forget that. I remember those three things. Those things aligned with how I saw myself or wanted to see myself and that was rare for us.

Anyway, I have this vision, those visions, of those places, around these soaps and I don't know why. I don't know if it is tapping into some childhood dreams of mine, or a fiercely beloved version of what I wanted my room to look like in high school (white, with whitewashed siding, and lavender-blue stuff, and dried lavender hanging from the ceiling, and rafters, and a little window, and slanty ceilings, and I swear I got this from an old Laura Ashley catalog I had and can no longer find even though I literally bought all the ones from 1983-1987 on eBay several years ago, I had such a longing to see whatever picture it was that I was "remembering," though I never have found it. Did I make it up?), or something sweet and beautiful that is just literally soothing me right now, in these days. I don't know. I spent a long time looking at '80s calicos again on eBay the other night, thinking this time of how they would look in little strips wrapped around soap. So I guess I haven't gotten it all out of my system. Maybe I'm just homesick. I don't know. I don’t know what it is. Or why it’s happening now.

What's your favorite kind of soap and do you use handmade soap? Do you think about this?

Oh — and also — I went to my P.O. box for the first time in over a year, and thank you very much for all of your kind notes and gifts! I am so sorry it has taken me so long to pick them up! I have not done a good job responding to emails and other contacts this year, and I hope you'll forgive me. I sincerely thank you and am hoping to respond personally soon. XO


Thank you for this post. I’ve loved and followed your blog for years & every post is delightful but this post in particular hit home. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’ve also been wrapped in nostalgia lately. My family too. We have long conversations or text threads about small “remember when....” things. And I’m also telling myself “It is okay. You’ve done enough.” a lot lately - similar to your “Girl...” phrase. I guess it was nice to hear I’m not the only one. So that’s my comment - Thank you for sharing this and, also, you’re not the only one. :-)

I've always loved hand soap. I usually buy a bar when I travel as a souvenir, and when the pandemic hit I was sure the world would run out of soap so I bought bars from my favorite place ever. The scent is called "milky rich" by the brand Sumbody and it's the most luxurious smell and feel on skin. I'd always been refraining from buying it and patiently awaiting sales, but the pandemic taught me to really enjoy the small things. I'm so glad I stocked up and now use it for every shower.

It seems like you are able to write my feelings, even though I'm not really clear about what I'm feeling these days. I see so much about people wanting to get back out into the world and resume a "before" life. I still want to cocoon myself in my house with my crafts. I love that you make your soaps with only natural ingredients. My daughters and I all have sensitive skin and get bad reactions to soaps and lotions and detergents. I'd love to try your soap when it is available. Keep up the good work and stay safe.

Karen Durfee says: April 28, 2021 at 10:38 AM

I love hand made soap. Right now the one in my shower is lemon, hand made by a policeman in WY. I have enjoyed it immensely.

Some kittens are just really crazy and yes although dearly loved it can be a bit much sometimes. I've had a lot of kitties and only one literally climbed curtains. One day she just grew up a little bit and started being a little less 'extra' and became very very special to me. She is gone now but she was a very lovable and much calmer little cat than I ever might have imagined when she was very young. I'm sure Agatha will calm down too.

Take things easy, and have the rest you need. Creativity is not to order and things have been very stressful which takes it's toll. Hormonal changes can be really tough too. Hang on in there and prioritise lots of tlc for yourself. I do so little - my most active hobby is watching and reading about all the stuff other people do. Be kind to yourself, stress and anxiety of the kind you have had (more than most with Andy's job) is a big deal. Combined with hormones it can all be a bit like wading through treacle. You don't have to do it all, prioritise your health and well being at this transitional time. Things will be better.

Just checking in to see if you are okay. It has been a long time since your last post so I hope you and yours are well.

Like Alice, I am just checking in on you. Lately, I have been reminded that "blog" friends are dear, and too, the realization that they can be no less meaningful, and significant than the friends that live nearby, that we have met in person.

Leslie Weldon says: May 12, 2021 at 07:19 AM

For doors that open out you just get a retractable screen door. I just had one installed they are great!

Your house sounds so much like my house, and I have to give myself the same kind of pep talk all the time. Except, I desperately wish my house had Funyuns in it, and it never does (I would eat too many and gross out my husband, but maybe during my next week off work I'll treat myself to some regardless). I use handmade soap in the shower and at the sink for handwashing, and I like it to have just a little bit of grit throughout it - dried flower parts, oats, whatever - to help with friction/scrubbing. I really don't like to use washcloths or scrubbies except maybe once a week. So that's my soap deal.

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This post was a delight. You make all the everyday sorts of topics so engaging and fun to read.

I'm always afraid to buy fragranced soaps because for years, every fancy soap I got was drying. Someone suggested if I got anymore, to tuck them in my lingerie drawer or in the linen closet to scent my things and I have been doing that ever since and I love it.

Your handmade soaps are the loveliest I think I've ever seen and I am sure, because they were made by you, they are quite wonderfully moisturizing as much as they are pretty.

I once worked in a darling shop that carried Evelyn & Crabtree. The smell was wonderful and I always enjoyed their pretty packaging.

In case you haven't watched it yet, Keeping Faith season 3 has been on Acorn TV for about two months now- it is by far my favorite of the three and I LOVED the first two 💙

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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.