comments: 58


I'm in a brown study today. I'm not sure exactly why. Just so many things feel so hard. Everything still, for so long, feels so hard.


I was supposed to have lunch with a friend today, my old neighbor, who retired to a beautiful condo on the river a few years ago. I haven't seen her, probably since the summer of 2019. She cancelled today because she has pink-eye. :( Pink-eye is wretched. I got it for the first time when Amelia had it at age two or three. I feel like my eyes haven't been the same since, to be honest. (Well, now I have thyroid eye disease and Grave's disease, good times, yay.)


Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of the orders last month. I truly and sincerely thank you. I am so grateful for your orders. It was a pretty unusual thing for us to make all that soap. I honestly do not know if we will ever do it again. It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I don't know!


I'm getting into making jewelry now. Still trying to find myself somewhere. Boy, I've started a lot of new hobbies lately. Doing things I've always wanted to do. We'll see if any of it sticks. My head is a swirl. I don't understand the creative impulse. It comes and it comes. Then I leave off and another one comes, and I follow. Here I come, beads! Jump rings! Cord ends! Chain-nose pliers! I'm here now. I'm like a zig-zagging runaway. Try to catch me!


I took Amelia to the Reed College canyon yesterday. We hiked around half of it under a lovely cloudy sky. Amelia says she wants to go to Reed College. She wants to go to the closest college so she can always be close to me. I didn't tell her that she'll have to be a super-genius or win the lottery to pay for it. :| I like to walk around there, though. Campus was closed to the public all year and only recently reopened. I love campuses. This one is very, very quiet. I don't know if that's Covid or typical for Reed. I've been here before Covid and it was also very quiet.


A team of student and professors were putting a recently banded bush-tit back in its nest when we were there. I love bush-tits. Gosh, they're the sweetest little birds, like baby mice. A flock of them were in our yard a few days ago. You never see just one. The whole flock — maybe thirty — swoops and flitters, only for five or ten minutes at a time. I have a special bird feeder for them (the kind with the outer cage around the suet cage — they like to be in a sort of enclosed area while they eat). For a long time we had a nest (it look like a gnarly old sock) hanging in our plum tree. Eventually it fell out, long after it had been used, I think.


One of Amelia's favorite things to do, she says, is "eat snacks while looking at a pond." When she saw the perfect log to sit on she excitedly sat herself down and pulled out the little cup of trail mix she had packed for herself. Agh, she's so adorable. We sat and watched a family of five raccoons climb off of a log, cross the water, and play on the edge of the pond. Also, insanely adorable.


It was strange to see so many raccoons just right out there in the middle of the day, no?


Just hanging out. They move very quickly, like kittens playing. I heard their noises and realized I've heard noises like that in our neighborhood. I've seen a giant, hump-backed, more scary-than-cute raccoon walk right into my neighbor's backyard (also during the day). These babies at the pond were so sweet, though. I think there were two parent and three babies all together. They were actually pretty far away and I had my big camera completely zoomed in, with just the kit lens on, so I couldn't get better than these.


Tell me what you're up to. Are things hard for you right now? What is hard? What is helping? What are you looking forward to?


It IS hard right now. I think any of us with little kids are feeling a bit like things are moving ahead without us, without knowing really what risk there is to our kids with new variants and fewer restrictions around. I imagine you are impacted as well by your husband working in healthcare.

I am finally *finally* feeling like my brain is starting to function more like it used to before the pandemic. There was something about focusing on work and kids and staying healthy that used up all my mental powers - leaving time only for binging tv shows and scrolling Instagram and once in a while reading. Lately I've been able to focus long enough on other tasks like writing papers or tackling bigger projects. Maybe that's what you're feeling.

Asking what's hard was sort of like an invitation! For me, I'm always wondering about my several times daily recurring headaches is it perimenopause, or is it Long Covid? Wondering when people will come back to the office (I'm now at three days a week and wondering why no one else wants to come back).
I love bushtits too. We have had nests built in our yard several times but sadly the crows always steal the eggs.
Though I rarely comment I'm always enjoying you here (for a million years) and on Instagram (I'm Sunflowerrae).

I hear you. It's so hard for everyone, and if it's not, then you're not taking all of this seriously!

School closes next week for the summer break and I think we're all ready for some downtime. Sadly all the normal summer activities that the children attend aren't available this year, so I'm planning lots of outdoor walks and finding safe spots for wild swimming and picnics.

I find that I still can't go to crowded places. I wasn't good with them in Before Times, I just can't now. And I'm ok with that.

We made some life changes over the last year...there are more to come. We're just staying home, making and cooking and holding our loved ones close.

Hoping you and your lovely family keep safe.

Ever since I had heart trouble and had a pacemaker put in, everything sees hard, even getting dressed in the morning. I have to force myself to get out of bed and make it and start the day. Some days are better than others and I get a few things done. Other days I just seem to be a vegetable sitting in my chair knitting socks. Today I managed to weed part of a flower garden. Hurray! But I'm not complaining. Many people have it much harder than me. Love that you can get out into nature with Mimi and see things like the racoon family. How amazing and wonderful.

I was treated for Graves and things haven't been the same since. Eye issues, although they say it's not TED. I feel you!!

Michelle says: July 15, 2021 at 02:42 PM

Some days I spend all day in the craft room quilting and then all of a sudden I don’t even want to look at another piece of fabric for weeks…ebbs and flows which we need to allow into our lives these days. Many times it’s reading about your next project that gets me going again. Thank you for the snap shots of your life, I particularly enjoy your forays into nature which has the power to heal many ills.
You’ve probably had lots of advice about your Graves/thyroid - that doesn’t stop me: find a good functional medicine practitioner (unfortunately we don’t have such a thing in Canada) and check out this website: https://autoimmunewellness.com/ If nothing else, their stories of recovery keep me going on tack with my own Hashimotos journey.
Peace to you and your beautiful family.

Thank you for saying it’s hard. I’m finding it hard too and that makes me feel guilty. Some days I’m full of thankfulness and hope. Other days I just want to sleep. I make art dolls and watch British tv and that somehow helps me. Maybe I was a British doll maker in a past life, lol. I so enjoy reading your posts, both on here and on Instagram. (I’m @ibotlinn) Your beautiful crafts make me happy. Thank you!

Wow..and I thought I was alone, neurotic and not getting a grip...Thank God I have company...Thank you for the post

Sweetheart. So happy you posted today! My daughter and I had a conversation yesterday about how bummed out we are - it's because for so long we felt like the vaccines were going to Make Everything All Better - we could SEE that light at the end of the tunnel - and now with the variant and people refusing to get themselves vaccinated - it seems like the light just got further away. My poor teen feels like her youth and high school years are going to be consumed by this. It's been rough around her - 6 months of nonstop stress - moving and downsizing my elderly mother, sick animals, not sleeping - led to some serious burnout/exhaustion symptoms in me. And I let my blog domaine lapse which I am SO upset about. My husband is trying to get it back up and running for me. Ok so that's the whining part. Here's the good part - I am FINALLY doing some home project things I have meant to do FOREVER. Repaint my daughter's room using some Farrow & Ball paint. My husband was like, are you going to have the sample matched? I was like NO. I am using Farrow & Ball for once and probably the only time in my life lol. I am going to have a bit of wall wallpapered. I waited 6 years and finally a wallpaper decision has been made. I am taking more time to READ, instead of talking about reading and photographing books lol. I am taking time to REST, which is something I haven't really let myself do in about a decade. As a stay at home parent, I didn't think that was allowed. RIDICULOUS I know.

Marcia L Love says: July 15, 2021 at 07:00 PM

So good to see a post from you. I worry about you folks on the other end of the country! So much craziness floating around. Your photos are so calming somehow. I really enjoy seeing them.
Thanks for that. I think everything is still unsettled for everyone.
So many additional uncertainties in our lives now.
I think of you and your lovely family often. Sending good thoughts your way.

Its always so good to read your updates and see your beautiful photos! Glad you are getting out and enjoying summer. My husband has 2 weeks holiday and we were looking forward to doing the same, nice long walks in the woods 😌 but our daughter (back from uni for the summer) has just tested positive for Covid, so we won't be going anywhere, sigh.I'm feeling like i want to make one of your animal softies too pass the time...

Thank you for keeping this blog all these many years. It is always a comfort to read a little about your life/family. Blessings.

Your jaunt to Reed College sounds so peaceful! You have a way of capturing adorableness, especially those little raccoons. (My niece is terrified of raccoons, and my brother calls them trash pandas because that sounds sweeter.). I can relate to your crafty rabbit holes, although my husband points out that I don't make any money from them :) How wonderful that you are able to turn your passions into something that benefits your entire family!

Things in my area are mostly back to normal, which has actually been challenging. I am not ready for a full schedule and am already dreading the fall. I had a chance to spend the last week with just my youngest daughter, though, which was a super special deep breath before our vacation and mid-August when All The Things begin again: college applications for my oldest, sports for my teen son, after school activities for everyone, homeschool for my youngest three, and sleepless nights. May your plans and endeavors this season be blessed!

I had a big ankle ligament reconstruction done in November (after a 46 years of sprains and rolling it -- my ankle just wasn't doing it's thing). They told me it would take a year to heal, and they meant it. It's been slow and hard, and painful. It's discouraging to feel limited and slow physically. I can't take any painkillers any more b/c of the damage they've done to much stomach. So I am learning to endure. And it's hard. I have felt like a toddler who is having a tantrum of just wanting to throw things and fuss. I am also trying to lean into patience and trust I will get better (that is hard b/c it has been so long) Knowing there is a larger hardness in the world that is perhaps a cosmic hole in our buckets -- this is a comfort in a weird way.

Well if things were not hard for everyone right now I would think that everyone was super weird. Truly. We have all been through something really exhausting, scary and yet it still seems to be rearing it's ugly head.
I just focus on what is in front of me and drift off thinking of what might be in a good way. I think of health and safety for family, grandbabies, friends and people like you who I think I am friends with in my mind, and me. In other words I'm just keeping my shit tight!

Michelle H says: July 16, 2021 at 06:04 AM

What a beautiful day you all had!
You know...I'm all the way in Ontario,Canada and everyone I've talked to feels the same "Brown period" that you do!! It's very strange...we all feel kinda...'blah'.

I'm the same kind of creator as you lol...I want to try so many different things and then I never really get too many completed!

Ohhhh...Racoons roam during the day, it's normal. Everyone thinks they are nocturnal but when a raccoon has babies that are always hungry...they hunt for food. Now...if a Racoon is over friendly, that's when you worry.

I hood you have a lovely, productive day and that all of our "Brown Days" end soon.

Welcome to the Graves and TED Club. So sorry you have joined it but it will get better as you get your levels in order. I've been successfully doing "add-back" therapy which allows me to continue the methimazole at a low dosage long term (by adding back Synthroid as the levels go hypo after a while). The long term methimazole helps push the Grave antibodies into remission. After several years, I'm almost there! Good luck, the first couple of years can be a bit of a roller-coaster as you flip from hyper to hypo, etc. But in the whole scheme of things, it's a controllable disease.

I am not someone who has improved their character with my own chronic illness and I struggle every day. I feel mostly like an inactive cabbage. Yes, there are always people worse than ourselves, always, but that is a given. We are going to have bad days.

What helps? Nature but I can't reach it much so I have it virtually. I enjoy pictures - like yours, beautiful vlogs like The Cottage Fairy and others as well as lovely podcasts which show walks and outings etc. Social media - while I am mostly passive is a godsend to me. I visit places there which I would just never get to see otherwise. Real nature like birds singing, rivers flowing and doing their thing, leaves in the soft breeze and pretty flowers are all grounding and feel good.

Music, from classical (like my favourite Bach who is very balancing), to meditational, to folk or world music is all harmonious rather than sad or emotional, no sad stuff required. I am easily stressed and made anxious which has a huge effect on phyical symptoms. I have no means of getting rid of the stress itself (often external factors) so need to manage it but too much stress management causes anxiety in itself, so I keep it all simple.

I like to doodle, literally doodle nonsense or I make simple drawings where I get lost in the moment and have fun. I don't care about the end result which is sometimes nice, someimes not, the colours and processes are absorbing and distracting and just feel nice to do.

I read, but I no longer read the literary stuff I used to. I read distracting and happy stuff. Can't always do this because of eyes.

I avoid news and curent affairs now; I used to get quite engaged and upset. Not as beneficial as I hoped but still helpful.

I engage with people doing the crafts I love, sometimes I do manage to do some, often I don't. I try and accept that, but it is hard.I peruse pinterest looking at pretty things people have made and watch youtube listening to people talk about their creations and admiring their makes.

The final thing I will mention is flower essences. No there is no reason that they should help, but they do. My daughter can tell if I have taken any or not. I like Mood essence by Vogel's Jan de Vries range, but even better is chosing according to your own needs.

Anything to do with thyroid is horrible so I do hope you find things to help you, as well as useful medication. Be kind to yourself above all. Menopause is also exacting. You deserve kindness, peace and to give yourself whatever you need. All best thoughts to you xx.

In a brown study--I've never heard that expression! Surprising since I find myself in one often.

I wish I can eloquently state what life feels like right now but I can't. I'll blame perimenopause for that. (It's my go-to explanation for everything right now.) I dreamt about the pandemic last night (2 nights in a row, actually) and have had a headache since the end of March. I have 2 root canals scheduled and I'm really hoping that'll fix it. Been feeling like life is a slog and you have to find beauty and joy and magic where ever you can, knowing that it's fleeting and that that's ok.

Keep us posted on your health (if you feel comfortable with that).

Sending love...and kisses from Edie!

Golly Alicia, I think we are living in such an epic time of reckoning...and it certainly takes huge amounts of energy to process where we are and where we may be going.
Your questions are good ones, and have made me pause and consider then.
I firmly believe that just because we have 24/7 access to "the news" does not mean we need to know everything all the time. And I'm reminded that just as I'm overwhelmed by the problems in the world, I can work to make my own little corner of it a wee bit better. If we are called to help this world in any way, we can't do it on an empty battery. Eat well, rest as we are able, retreat to nature. Find sanctuary in meditation, good books, working with our hands. Spend time with loved ones, even it is "just" virtually, send snail mail, be curious and learn new things. The list goes on...
I wish you could "disappirate" your way over to our place here in Vermont. We could sit with the Green Mountains spread out in front of us, sip some iced tea and chat about so many things...and here's a gentle reminder...your cozy spot here on the internet is such a lovely spot for many of us to gather. Thank you for being here. Sending gratitude and comfort. xo

Cassandra says: July 16, 2021 at 01:37 PM

Thank you for mentioning how you're feeling. I really have taken this covid time in stride...until now. Suddenly I feel really weird. Exhausted. And paranoid. Hoping it will pass and that it's just part of the process we are going through with this unreal slice of time. I read an article about creating personal mantras today that seems like good medicine.

Your blog is a little ray of sunshine in these odd times! Thanks for keeping it up!

sharon pierce says: July 16, 2021 at 03:48 PM

Alicia, so sorry to hear about your health problems. I hope for the very best for you. May I also thank you for your blog posts all these years; I have read every single one and look forward to hearing about your family and your crafting. Your words always make me smile and feel happy. I love the soap I ordered and look forward to seeing your jewelry designs.

Everything is still hard. The pandemic wrecked my oldest's mental health. My second got a new diagnosis. My youngest is cute and exhausting. And I keep flitting from project to project, when I really need to just finish something already.

Hi Alicia:
You've hit the nail on the head because since the beginning of the year I felt really out of sorts. Going from one thing to the next without really accomplishing anything. My to do craft list is enormous and when I start something I get so tired I have to stop and say "let's finish this tomorrow" and you know what tomorrow comes and nothing gets done. I am so grateful that my local library is now open for pick-up on holds and general browsing -- the hours are limited but you don't need to dress up in a HAZMAT suit to pick-up your book and film holds.

I too have Graves with the ophthalmology eye problem. For 10 years I lived with Graves without being properly diagnosed. All the medical professionals said that my BMI showed that I am obese and that I should try exercising to loose weight. The doctors never considered that I had developed an autoimmune disease. I finally landed in the hospital with heart failure (and A-Fib), that's when my thyroid levels were tested. I am on Levothyroxine, however my thyroid levels fluctuate even on the medications. I hope that you have a really good Endocrinologist and that he/she will take the time to listen to you as the person who you are and not just a patient the doctors have to deal with. I did have radioactive Iodine treatment to kill the thyroid (hence the Levothyroxine). I had a lot of problems with my health since having the r-Iodine. I really don't recommend it -- only if all other treatment options have failed. I know that Andy will help you to find the best treatment.

I also have had 3 major panic attacks this year. After each one I was afraid to leave the house thinking I might never find my way home again. After one attack the University police came to straighten things out -- I was so embarrassed. To calm myself down I will seek out my two cats and play with them until they get bored. I read a great deal (actually any thing I can get my hands (or eyes on)), the composers set of CDs (Philips)-- the one I am enjoying now is Bach for Book Lovers, knitting and spending time in my garden.

Take good care of yourself. I love visiting with you and enjoy so much your willingness to sharing your Portland life and family with your followers.

Carrie Lynn says: July 16, 2021 at 09:27 PM

I love that you are writing under your pictures lately! I have been enjoying your blog for many many many many many years. I just love it. Last year my son graduated from college, he lived in Portland for four years so it was a joy to have a connection to him by seeing your beautiful pictures. Your daughter is truly a reflection of you and your husband!) You are a wonderful Mama! Thank you

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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