January Morning

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Cold and rainy this morning. Dark. Sloppy muddy outside. Most of the kiddos are having trouble with Zoom this morning. I feel sorry for the teacher. He is trying hard to suss out the problems (we're suddenly having problems, too) and the kids are totally helping and agh, you know there are other skills being learned right now: patience, perseverance, cooperation, listening. The teacher methodically asks each one whether making the copy is working for them, and what kind of computer they have. School-issued Chromebooks like ours aren't working. And then: A kid just figured out how to get the copy to work on Chromebook and explained it to everyone, and then it worked for Amelia. My god, I secretly feel like crying! Success! Success! This moment was successful, and they all got there together. Over and over and over again. January. We can do this.

Thank you for all of your comments on my last post. I so appreciate them.

Meanwhile, Agatha does what Agatha wants. Agatha sits on the table. Agatha sneaks onto the counter. Agatha methodically drags every loose ball of yarn up the stairs overnight, meowing like a lunatic. In the morning we wake to a dozen skeins tossed around the upstairs hallway; she works hard. She has her own sweater (it's this one) and it is so disgusting, felted and stained and full of holes, a mere rag now, when, in its day, it was so beautiful. She drags it around, too, and every half a day it's in a different room, crumpled up on the floor. Agatha, since her spaying, now that her belly fur has just started to grow back, has reverted to type. She won't let you pet her, won't sit on your lap, will only really let Amelia pick her up consistently while she moans resignedly, plaintively (fifty times a day, until I have to say stop because I just can't take it anymore). We finally filled our neglected bird feeders and she spent two days perched with her front paws on the windowsill and her back paws on the chair, staring with wild eyes at all the squirrel, sparrow, and chickadee action, her pupils down to paper-thin shards. Mesmerized. Mostly what she likes to do is eat, and the vet says she's at the top end of her recommended weight at 8.5 pounds. If she has no food in her bowl, she will come down and try to beat up Clover. You'd think all the dragging-of-things-upstairs would burn a few calories for her. Apparently not enough.

I do love her so, though. My goofy little kitters.

Amelia has joined the chess club after school. Isn't that cool? I am so proud of her. Her teacher runs it, every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 until 4:30. They play on a digital board that looks fun, and she really likes it. She plays with her dad on a regular board in real life occasionally. I've never learned to play. Andy is good at games and so is Mimi and they play stuff a lot. I was never that good at them, even as a child, though I remember I really liked Mastermind and Battleship. I don't think we even have those right now. We should get them. Maybe she's too old for them now. We probably have thirty games we should go through and pass on. I know I should be reorganizing my kitchen cabinets right now, too. Cliched but true. They're a mess. I've got teetering towers of baking pans stuffed into every shelf, forty-five little bottles of desiccated cake sprinkles stuck to the bottoms of their jars, bags of Andy-chips and popcorn falling off of piles of cookbooks on the top of the freestanding cabinet. It's not terribly terrible, but neither is it nice or helpful.

Continuing my cat obsession I got this adorable paint-by-number for my birthday a few days ago and I worked on it a little this weekend. I have always wanted to do one of these. The areas are small. It's perfect for me because I like that. My next-door neighbor, Gretchen, gave me this delightful book and I finished it in one day (probably the fastest I've ever read a book in my life). When I was done I wanted more like it and remembered I had this book which I'd never finished, so now I'm reading that. I sat in the cold car waiting for Amelia to do ballet class (they don't let parents inside anymore, and although it's only five minutes from the house it doesn't seem worth it to go all the way home just to come back in an hour) reading it yesterday after going to four coffee shops to get a chai to keep me warm (luckily it was this brand, my favorite) before I found one in the neighborhood that was open. Life. At night, I watch documentaries about the Windsors or mountain climbers or gardening. Just when I thought I'd watched everything ever made!

I'm not sure why but in some strange burst of energy I designed the first of a new series of embroidery patterns, even though I literally, in December, said to myself that I was done doing seasonal stuff (the deadlines!) for a while. Classic. So now I'm going to do one not only every season but every month. I'm not kitting it โ€” it's only available as an instant PDF download. It uses Kona cotton in Fog and DMC 6-strand cotton floss (and one Appletons crewel wool, but you could easily substitute DMC floss for it).

The series is called A Tender Year, and this is January:

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It wraps around a 5" x 7" (13cm x 18cm) stretched canvas and is tacked on the back. I should do a tutorial on that for you, but I haven't yet. (It's easy, but let me know if you'd like to watch me do it.) You can get canvases pretty cheaply. Here's a pack of five for $5.99 but there are lots of places you can pick them up. It's kind of a cute way to finish a piece without a frame or without putting it in a hoop.

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The pattern costs $6 to download and there will be a new one every month. I have February's stitched and I will be better about launching the next ones on the first of the month. (I got this idea pretty late, so I apologize that it's already the second week of January, but it goes quick. You can probably finish it in a couple of days.) The product page has a list of supplies needed and details what is included in the pattern. I really enjoyed doing this and I hope you like it. If this isn't in your budget just shoot me an email and let me know and I will send it to you, on me. I want everyone who wants to be able to do this to do it. XO, a

Edited: I think Shopify is having some problems right now so the web site might not be working properly. Their status report says they're investigating, so I'll update when it's solved. Thank you! Update, 4:30 p.m.: Looks like they fixed it! Sorry about that!

18 comments

I hope you had a wonderful birthday and wish you a wonderful year!

I haven't visited in such a long time . . . it was delightful and I enjoyed all the photos from around your cozy home. Especially your embroidery stitches, I had forgotten how amazingly talented you are.
Stay warm and cozy . . . that's what I'm trying to do . . . I'm staying home as much as possible and staying off the icy roads and outside walks. That and trying to keep up with the paw prints that keep smudging my clean floors. "Clean Floors" is that an oxymoron . . . around here it is, LOL.

I cannot tell you how excited I am when I discover that a new blog post is up! I read it several times. I had to laugh about Agatha. Our cat has changed her personality after 11 years with us, my son thinks she fell on her head. From a "don't touch me", nervous little thing she now wants to be petted all the time. And talks to us in a purry voice! We have my husband's favourite Battleship game from when he was a child, and he is 64! I absolutely love the paint by number set that you have (happy belated birthday!). And the shipping to Australia is free! And I love your new series!

I am very happy to see your new post for a few reasons - I look forward to them (like everyone else), love to hear about what you and your family are up to, and I love your pics! Truly, love your new idea for embroidery for each month - it's sooo adorable and I like smaller objects vs. making a big pic. I've never used canvas and it would be great to have a tutorial on that. I usually frame my things, but this may be a nice change. My cat is crazy too - she's older and was a feral kitten. She's only nice on her terms. Always wants to attack my leg/feet. I guess they are all different. I never was (or am) good at games, but we've recently found "Farkle" and it's fun - you all should try it. Kind of like Yahtze, but with dice. Enjoy this first month of the year - I'm still organizing...

Happy New Year Alicia and all the family! And a Happy Birthday too, I remember you have yours sometime around orthodox Christmas.
I'm so glad you are back here and with a new wonderful design, it's so calm and cozy, I would love to do it and I need a tutorial for wrapping it. I try to do each of your embroidery designs, but some are really special. This year I made your AUTUMN WREATH as a new year gift for all my family (somehow it looks wintry to me), this was super-easy, relaxing and wonderful project. For a few years now, you give me great ideas for handmade-new-year-presents for my loved ones.
Our holidays were full of snow (literally non-stop snowing for 2 weeks), long walks with hot tea in thermos, meeting family and friends, reading and knitting socks. Now it's frosty and the sun is so bright it gives you hope that everything would be fine, eventually, all this mess would be over and the world would be back to normal again.

I loved Battleship and Mastermind as a kid. I still have my childhood Battleship game which my kids played with and my 21 year old daughter still likes to play - probably because she always wins!

Two suggestions for you - a game for Amelia that involves strategy. It's called Dragonrealm by Gamewright. We play with our grandchildren who are in 3rd and 4th grade. Book idea for you - have you read the Maisie Dobb series by Jacqueline Winspear? British detective in the years following WWI. I think you'd like based on your recent readings. Thanks for your posts and photographs!

Kristen from MA says: January 12, 2022 at 08:58 AM

You're never too old to play Battleship, Alicia. ;)

Happy New Year to all of you and good wishes for a lovely birthday Alicia (whether recent or still to come). Lovely embroidery design, the little mouse is so cute! Embroidery is lots of fun.

I enjoy simple games and puzzles, Mastermind was fun. I was quite good at Battleships, despite applying no logic at all. With just two of us to play, a lot of games are not that much fun which is a shame. I like things like snakes and ladders or ludo and also want some jigsaws of up to 150 pieces at most,as not good at them but really enjoy (v elusive as most people are looking for a challenge). We are hoping to buy some games to play next year.

A YouTube channel you might enjoy is Miranda Mills books, she is quite charming as is her mother when she is on it. The are both quintessentially English in their tastes and live in delightful surroundings. Miranda spent a lot of her youth in the US though. They like cosy mysteries, 'old fashioned' and classic books, girls stories from yesteryear and nature reads in general. They also sometimes bake delicious cakes to eat when chatting,as well as take you on outings to lovely scenic places.

Another you might enjoy is The Last Homely House. (not that you asked for recommendations but I thought you might like these.) Kate is somewhat of a quilter and lives in a lovely big house in England's cold north. She knits a bit and is generally quite crafty but mostly her channel is a bit of a natter. The older posts are better I find.

Agatha is adorable but yes sometimes even much loved kitties can be a little 'too much'. My own little tabby girl is so lovely, but she too does not like being picked up. Nevertheless, she wants to sit on me the whole time and needs me to be around.

Seeing Amelia's maths made me squeak. Oh no, equations!

Lynn Marie says: January 12, 2022 at 10:15 AM

Loved hearing about the animal antics. They certainly do liven things up!

Oh I look forward to your photos so much and am so excited with every new post! It really does bring joy to my day. And as always, I come away with more new things, book ideas and a new garden show. I

I'm feeling you with the rain and the mud, this is such a hard season in the PNW but it is also so nice to drink coffee and tea, bake, read...its definitely a mood and a different one every day.

Thinking of you and all the school stuff, I'm just waiting for the email from the High School that they are going remote, I hope not but staffing is getting precarious. My 15 year old was able to get his booster last week, so grateful, wish they would get it going with the younger kids.

Thank you again for all your lovely sharing.
Adrienne

Oh my, that crocheted sweater is stunning! I absolutely love it. Stopped in on your blog for some peace and inspiration and wasnโ€™t disappointed! That new pattern is so sweet too.

Hello Alicia,
Whenever I check your blog and see that a new post is up, it gives me a little boost of joy - thank you! I have two recommendations for you:
1) Book series - the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny. A genre I believe is called "cozy murder mysteries" - takes place in a tiny village in Quebec. Lots of lovely characters and food descriptions. The first book is called "Still Life"
2) Short documentary - Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees https://youtu.be/rjnv_AevX4s - one hour of pure loveliness

Our puppy Pokey has the most adorable/maddening personality. He'll move out with my son sometime in the next few months and I will be equal parts devastated and relieved.

Happy New year and belated birthday wishes! I loved your description of the school Zoom issues. I almost celebrated myself when i read how it was resolved. How awesome is that, great team work and yes certainly many skills learned that day!
Agatha, what can i say. Animals can be both a delight and a horror!! She certainly seems full of personality that one๐Ÿ˜‚
I'm excited to start sewing the new embroidery and yes please, I would love info on framing if you have time.

Happy belated birthday. We've always had male cats and they are always so loving and cuddly. We have a 3 yo female right now and she is a cuddly lapcat on HER terms. Don't you dare think about picking her up when she isn't interested. Still, I love her so and can't imagine my life without her. Laughing at your sweet kitty being busy at night with her balls of yarn. We have one kitty that drags his feather wands to bed each night all while yowling his head off. It's a wonder he doesn't sleep all day long after those shenanigans.

If you think you donโ€™t get into games because of the competitive aspect, cooperative board games might be more your speed. Gamewright makes lots of good ones for kids that are fun for adults to play too.

The look on Agatha's face in the first photo says it all. I am mad, my humans eat whatever, whenever they wish, but I have to cut back ~ not fair. ๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿ˜พ
Animals are like little children and so very clever. Hang in there Agatha, humans are only doing what's best for you. ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ’•
It's been a very, very, long time since I've visited your blog. I can't believe just how grown up Miss Em has gotten. Playing chess with her papa.
Happy Belated B-day ๐ŸŽ‚๐ŸŽ‰ Sending wishes for a wonderful New Year to all the Paulsons . . . even Agatha ๐Ÿ˜˜

Yes please, I would love to see how you put the project on the stretched canvas. I'd love to have another option besides hooping (not everyone likes it/doesn't work for every project) and framing (pricy!). :)

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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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