Posts filed in: He Makes Things

Lining an Envelope with Ease

comments: 50


Here's my good idea for the . . . decade. It will help you line your envelopes with cool paper, if you are, as I am, so inclined. (And yay Portland! We are finally getting a Paper Source whoot whoot!)

When Andy made me this stationery last year, I bought really fancy wrapping paper from Kate's Paperie to line the envelopes. But I must have forgotten how much I hate to deal with heavy paper that has been rolled into a tube, because if you are trying to trace an envelope template onto a huge piece of paper that wants to curl into a big tube, you really won't enjoy it that much. At least I didn't. So many of the envelopes remained, for the past year, unlined.

Last week I wrote about ten notes to accompany the book galleys going out this week (and then I mailed them to my editor via USPS and they got lost in the mail, still not to be seen — agh — so I'll be doing this again and next time sending FedEx — oops) and I had the idea to simply cut a piece of vintage fabric in the shape of the envelope liner template (and I see from the picture of my first attempts in that link above that I seem to be using the wrong template now, so presumably I've lost the correct one, too, my GOSH I am a dingdong) and make color copies of it.

This is a total cinch if you have a printer/scanner/copier — I've had one similar to this one for only about a year and I seriously don't know how I lived without it before. It's inexpensive, prints beautifully, and just having the ability to reduce or enlarge anything I want with the touch of a button is awesome. It's just a great tool for all kinds of crafting. In the photo above you see the fabric piece all the way to the right, the color copy on a piece of not-even-very-nice white paper, and then the envelope, lined. And you can barely tell the difference between the copy and the real thing!

So anyway, what's cool about this is that it's cheaper than buying wrapping paper, or even scrapbook paper to cut the liner out of, since you end up with a bunch of waste for every sheet (depending on how big your envelopes are), and since you are copying a copy of the template, you don't have to trace the template for every envelope! Yay! You just copy it, cut out the shape, add a dab or two of glue from a glue stick, and pop the liner in. And what's really cute is that the copy really does look like fabric — you can just make out the grain. I used fabric from a vintage pillowcase here, but it would be cute to play around with scale, and reduce or enlarge different fabrics, maybe make a coordinated set as a present or something.

There were a few other things I was going to tell you today but now I've forgotten what they were. I DO know I want to tell you that the Tanglewood Suite will be available in my web shop on Tuesday, July 15, at 9 a.m. PST. There will be a downloadable PDF pattern/tutorial available (with a full-size pattern template so that, in case you don't have a copier yet, you can just cut it out and paste it together directly after printing it out), a Precious Bundle of carefully curated, pre-cut fabric patches gleaned from my secret sources, and a few finished bags (not many, but I'll make more, now that the pattern's done and I have a bit of time). I can't tell you how excited I am about this. I've been working on all of it for so long I am just so anxious to get it out there, and I really hope you like it!

Pretty and Her Pillow

comments: 64

Did you see it, there at 0:24 in the video yesterday? A latch-hook pillow designed, hooked, and stitched by Andy Paulson (whose latch-hooking phase you might remember from last winter). This pillow is a present for our little graduate (doesn't this look like a senior portrait?).


Yes, she has a 4.0 in bone-chewing and pretty-looking. Valedictorian and homecoming queen in a class of one.


We requested a speech but she declined. An occasionally subtle communicator, she insisted that one look said it all ["You peeps are cracked"].


Uh oh.

My cute meter just exploded.

Clover and Dolly, and the Cavie Creek Scramblers

comments: 58

Did you know that Andy and his sister, Jen, an incredibly talented musician and accomplished violist, have a band called the Cavie Creek Scramblers? No, neither did I! In December, Andy went to Chicago for a few days and, sitting in the waiting room while Jen was at the dentist, he wrote a very cool song about the fair called "County Fair." Jen had just gotten a banjo, so she is playing it here. Andy is singing. I seriously don't know how these guys do it, so I wish I could offer you more information about how one writes a song, and the music, and then records it. But I have no idea. I just walk by occasionally and he hands me some earphones and says, "Wanna hear what me and Jen did?" I know: No big deal, we just, you know, wrote a song. It's flabbergasting, such nonchalance!

On Sunday he set the song to this video of Misses Clover and Dolly, our friends Elizabeth and Stacy's golden retriever puppers who is the exact same age as Clover. I love this, especially when they take turns sitting on each others' heads.


I'll see if I can get Andy to send me the lyrics. They're too good. Oh, and you will get a sneak peak at the present Andy made for Clover in there, too. See if you can tell what it is. :-)

Okay, got the lyrics:

County Fair

Well, there's a little place down south of here
It's not too far and not too near
It's called the fair.

The kids'll take their cavies, sheep,
And goats and judge them
By the color of their hair.

The mamas and the wives and sisters,
knitting needles, pies, and scissors,
Show off their crafts.

The men will meet the grocery
Butchers, sell off all their livestock
Mostly cows and calves (eww).

(Refrain:) Let's go to the county fair
Oh, we're almost there.
Sittin' on a folding chair,
Cowboy hat on if you dare.
Even though we're from the city
The locals don't treat us bad.
The cows and horses look so pretty
Even the drive makes me giddy!

(We always) say we're gonna sign up
For the 4-H leaders line-up,
But we never do.

We'll eat some curly fries, we'll play
Some games, I'll win a prize
Or maybe three or two.

That Country/Western singer
On the stage is a dead ringer
For old Bill Monroe.

Maybe we'll get up and dance
Depending on the circumstance
If he plays nice and slow.


Tonight we'll hit the round-up,
Bleachers measure from the ground up
Only twenty feet.

We're so close to the broncs
It's, frankly, totally redonk.
The view just can't be beat.

My favorite part is the penning, cowboys
Mounted, up and running,
Shouting loud and clear

At the cattle with their numbers,
Horses hooves as loud as thunder,
Almost spilled my beer (that's okay).


Pleasant Kitchen Silkscreen

comments: 90

Silkscreen3 It's still morning here in my south-facing pleasant kitchen so the light is dim, but I found a home for my Valentine's Day presents made by Andy. Aren't these so awesome? They're silkscreened images on canvas of my Pleasant Kitchen drawings. I love them so much. Can you see the glitter coming out of the Dutch oven?


You may remember the stationery he made for me last year? So beautiful. These canvases were a surprise. I put them in the corner of our little kitchen nook, where I keep my favorite cookbooks and a few little things on this little Colonialish hutch. The little shelf has been there for a while and holds an ever-rotating little still life of whatever I happen to like at the time. This little flower-and-gingham-rimmed pasta bowl was Grandma Ieronemo's. The egg cup and gray-and-yellow pitcher are thrifted. And you can just make out the pancake mold in the pitcher. What a sweet present. Thank you, my dear love. You are just so good to me.

And thank you to all of you for the compliments on my bulbous, poufy, and weird-looking bottom! I NEVER get compliments on my bulbous, poufy bottom!!! The smocking continued throughout the weekend. It is so much fun. I seriously recommend it. I did the smocking for another bag and the Polish-pottery apron I mentioned last week two weeks ago (time flies), now just need to put them together.

The sun is shining today! It's a President's Day miracle. My friend David sent me an email last week about why he is voting for Obama and I asked him if I could share it. I think it beautifully articulates how I and many of my friends and family are feeling. Andy has the whole day off and I am determined to put together a plan for fun that involves us actually leaving the house. He and the puppers are out right now, having a little walk in the woods. I am going to cook up some oatmeal with strawberries and blueberries, red, whitish, and blue.

I just noticed that most of my house is painted the same color. The last three posts have photos from the kitchen, the bedroom, and the dining room, and it's all blue. I really like blue. I'm about to paint another one blue, too.

This is How We Roll, or Andy Are You Okay, or What it's All About, or Summertime Rolls, or Vegetarians Look Away, or A Blogger Taking a Picture of a Blogger Taking a Picture of an Ice Cream Sandwich, or The Best Day (Again)

comments: 74


Hi again, peeps!! It's Andy. Alicia's not the only one around here who loves summer. I mean, who doesn't love being outside? Not us! Take right now, for instance. Audrey is scratching at the gravel (no, corgi), Violet is on the hammock (how does she get on there?), Ali is drinking her coffee pensively in the shade, the birds are singing sweetly, and here we are (you and I) sitting outside enjoying it all. One of my favorite things to do outside (aside from the obvious golfing, skateboard riding in a 7 foot deep 8 foot transition concrete bowl, frisbee golfing, floating in an innertube, riding bikes along the river and stumbling upon Oaks park for the first time, going to outdoor Wilco concerts, walking the corgi along the river, reading Chaucer while looking at Blue Lake, hitting the volleyball with your wife, and visiting with friends from out of town) has got to be cooking and eating under the sky blue sky. This is a cooking-outside story that involves Lisa, tattoos, a corgi, a barbecue grill, some side dishes, a blogger taking a picture of a blogger taking a picture of an cream sandwich, one "Yahtzee!" (courtesy of Alicia), and one "Yahtz... awwwww four of a kind" followed by one "Are you okay over there, Andy?" from across the fence (neighbor). I should warn you that it also involves a rather large pork roast. So, as above, the day started off with peeling some apples for the applesauce and a visit from the Franz family. They brought breakfast which we ate, of course, outside. Orangette's scones vs. Martha Stewart's scones in a throwdown that O won. Melissa, Paul, Sam! We love you!! Lets do it again. I promise not to play any more heavy metal when the girls are in earshot.




So the applesauce is basically 3 peeled grannies and 3 peeled golden dees, chopped into 1 inch chunks or so, sprinkled with 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinamon, the juice of a lemon, and 1 1/2 cups of water nuked for 5 minutes, stirred, and then nuked for another 5 minutes. This is from The New Basics cookbook. Put it in the fridge.





I smoked a pork shoulder according to the instructions from How to Grill (which I highly recommend). I actually put the rub on the day before, so that is a posed shot. The rub is:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup paprika (kinda a lot)

3 tablespoons of black pepper

4 tablespoons of coarse salt

2 teaspoons of garlic powder

2 teaspoons of onion powder

2 teaspoons of celery seeds

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

This large (and not very photogenic) roast will cook/smoke for about 3 hours in my grill, which likes to be at about 300 degrees. You add hot coals and soaked smoker chips every hour or so. I think babysitting the grill is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. It gives you time to get the yard ready, have a few beers, and make the rest of the food. I like to put coleslaw on top of the finished sandwich (which also doesn't photograph well - I know because I tried). A package of the pre-shredded stuff mixed with 4 tablespoons of mayo, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 1/2 of a sweet onion graded with a cheese grader, and paprika sprinkled on top.





This is the part where you see how dangerous I am. See how I mix in the chocolate chips with the mixer instead of a wooden spoon? That's because I am a rebel and I just don't care! Tollhouse cookies from the recipe on the package are the best. Throw in a little bit of vanilla ice cream and then throw these babies in the freezer. I can hardly wait!!




Tablesetting3 Honestly, I don't see what is so funny about my place setting. It gets the job done.

This is how we party, people, hey...







Bloggertakingapictureof_2 That's what I'm talking about. And in case you are wondering if Lisa enjoyed it, these are her words:

"Andy's slow cooked pork is the meat du le centurie. Sweet and spicy, tender and flaky, it melted in my mouth like an ice cube on Mercury. Topped with creamy homemade coleslaw and chased by real Coca Cola, this pork sandwich was the best I’ve ever had."

This is what summer is all about. Heck, this is what life is all about, I think.

More Printed Paper (for the Equestrian Set)

comments: 60

Horses1 There was a bit of horsin' around here over the weekend. A sleepover with our eight-year-old niece on Friday night went better than the last one (the barf-o-rama) if only because no one threw up (even at or immediately after dinner at Chuck E. Cheese's, which I always think would do it, if nothing else would). When Arden's around, a herd of model horses trails her. She gets a lot of exercise going up and down the stairs, bringing all the model horses up with her at night (two at a time), then down with her (two at a time) in the morning, until they cover the closest flat surface. This little piebald is the Breyer Clydesdale Foal named (by Breyer) Bluebell (awwww!). He's my favorite.

Actually, some of the horses are mine, now twenty-five years old but still as familiar to me as they were when I knew every detail of each; kissed plastic muzzles goodnight and godspeed; waited, twitching, for Saturday mornings when I would have my real-life riding lessons. My niece and I are horse lovers, and both of us have lots of models. When she comes over, my herd (pulled out of the basement a few years ago when she started exhibiting signs of horse fever) and hers (brought each time in her rolling suitcase) convene happily on the coffee table.

I was invited to be the guest judge at the model-horse show she intends to host this spring. Be still my heart, yes: I would be honored. Saturday morning I pulled out my bag of old "show" photos of my models (this post explains) and she noticed the stickers on the back of them that indicated my farm name: Autumnbrook Farm. When you have a stable full of model horses, you need a name for it. I asked her if she had a name for her stable, and she said no. Then she thought for a minute and said, "Dogwood. Dogwood Farm." (At which point her old auntie went "SOB!" and passed the torch.)

And oh, how the silkscreener's wheels started turning, then. . . .

Dogwood1 Because every model-horse stable needs its own letterhead, for, you know, professional correspondence.

Dogwood2 The Dogwood Farm Spring Invitational. It promises to be quite the event.

I Never Call, I Never Write

comments: 121

Screening6 Andy and I are pretty lucky, because we both like to make things. And sometimes the things we like to make coincide. For instance, I bring him my ideas and some line art, and he gives me a huge stack of gorgeous silkscreened personalized stationery. (He also made some for our niece, which I'll show you tomorrow.) Goodness gracious.

This stationery, my fancy stationery, has been in the process of happening for about a year. That's how long is took me to figure out what I wanted. I've had the paper and envelopes since last spring, when I intended to do something gray and yellow, with daisies, similar to an invitation that was in Martha Stewart Weddings summer 2006 issue. But I really wanted to find paper to line the envelopes that was white with tiny yellow dots, and I couldn't. So then I wasn't sure what I wanted, and I stuffed the cards and envelopes in a drawer and waited.

Then I saw the winter 2007 issue of MS Weddings. (I buy all of these, and have saved them for almost ten years. I really don't know where to keep all these magazines anymore. It's getting crazy. But I won't give them up. Did you know you cannot find any back issues of Kids or Baby even at the library, or even through interlibrary loan? The librarian said that once most magazines are gone, they're gone. I did not know that. I have most of them, but I'm missing a few here or there — and now it seems I always will be missing them.) Anyway, I went totally mental over this issue. It's just so beautiful. I love everything about it. Somewhere in there is an envelope lined in this paper, from Kate's Paperie. And I was relieved, because although this paper is expensive, I could finally "see" my stationery. I ordered a few sheets to line about fifty of the envelopes and had them shipped from New York, which just seemed so ridiculous and decadent, but I was not disappointed. (No doubt someone is going to tell me they just saw this down the road at Oblation or something.) When I'm excited, I'm excited. I don't wait. And if you stretch the cost of your stationery out over a year, it doesn't seem so bad. . . .

Screening5 So I found my clipart in one of my forty books of clipart, designed my page, and placed my order with my personal silkscreener. He is so obliging. He really loves to silkscreen things. He is quite perfectionistic about it, too, which, I must tell you, is just how you want your silkscreener to be because did I mention that this paper was expensive? I think I did. For those of you interested in learning how to silkscreen, he recommends one of the Speedball kits, probably the value pack — that's all he used. Anyway, he had a lot to do yesterday, what with making about fourteen items for our Superbowl menu. (So sorry, Bears! I think I actually watched more football and football-related tear-jerking biographies yesterday than I have in my entire life put together. And I must say that the bios were a lot better than the game.)

Screening2 Can you see the little lurker up there, staring worriedly from the top of the stairs? She's not big on the basement. I can't blame her. Remember Calico Balloon?

Screening3_1 Someone wrote to me the other day and asked me where it was. Er, right here. Here it is. I swear, if no one had invented the enormous plastic stacking box, I think I'd be a lot more accomplished. As it is, these all sit nicely on top of each other, creating a tidy if impenetrable wall of "vintage things that need to be photographed" behind the laundry table. Isn't it terrible. Well, I'm slow, but eventually I get there. Don't worry. It's still happening. I'm learning how to pace myself, and stay balanced. This is new for me, so we'll see. I must say that when you are pacing yourself, and staying balanced? SO MUCH LESS gets done. Have you noticed that? You are exponentially happier, of course, but — less (quantity-wise) gets done. Oh well. I'm okay with that.

Eeeenyway. Eventually he came up. And look what he had for me.

Stationery4 Oh my gosh.

Stationery2 Time to get those Christmas/birthday thank-you notes out. It will be pure pleasure now.

Thank you, sweetheart. I love it all so much, so much much much much. I love it. Thank you.

keeping her in eggrolls

comments: 108

Eggroll6 Hi, girls (and boys)! It's Andy again. Alicia has been working on some stuff over the weekend and I have had it pretty much off, so I promised to "keep her in eggrolls." She thinks that sounds obscene, but I vaguely recall the priest saying ". . . in sickness and in health, through crochet patterns and in eggrolls, through the Superbowl if the Bears ever go again . . ." I could be wrong.

Eggroll1 Eggroll2

Eggroll3 Eggroll4

These are from The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook that Ali got me for Christmas. The book is already in heavy rotation. One of my favorite parts about using this book is making the trip to the Asian supermarket. I am fascinated by all the crazy seafood and strange cuts of poultry. The recipe, thankfully, doesn't call for chicken feet, but if you need those they have them there. The main thing that you need is barbecued pork, eggroll wrappers (from the freezer section), sweet-and-sour sauce (the stuff we got is called "Thai spring-roll dipping sauce"), and Chinese cabbage (though regular cabbage works, too). So here is everything you'll need:

1–2 cups of Chinese cabbage, chopped up
2 stalks of celery chopped up
about 4 inches of that barbecued pork (they, like, shrink-wrap it), cubed as small as you can
about a half a cup of cooked, baby shrimp, chopped up really small. Who are we kidding, use the whole package.
a can of bamboo shoots, chopped up
half of a can of water chestnuts, chopped up
3 tablespoons of oil
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
large pinch of salt, small pinch of pepper
the white of an egg

First, get some water boiling while you are chopping these things. Then get your eggroll skins out of the freezer. They thaw amazingly fast; by the time you need them, they'll be ready. Once the water is rolling, blanche the cabbage and celery. I throw it all in until the water starts boiling again, then drain it into a colander. While it is cooling, I chop the other stuff up. Keep the shrimp and pork separate from the veggies (which can all go together). Squeeze as much moisture out of the cabbage and celery as you can, then roll it up in a dish towel. It is important for these to be as dry as possible.

Get the oil going over medium-high heat and add the pork and shrimp, enough to get them hot. Then throw in the veggies, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir fry to get them hot. Pour this stuff back into the colander. Go check your email or something while the mixture gets cool, because you will be handling this mixture. After 20 minutes or so, it'll be ready.

Eggroll7 Next is the extremely fun part, rolling them. See the pictures above for how I did mine. You take a bit of the egg white and use it as glue, to keep the eggrolls, uh, rolled. I haven't had one break open in the wok yet (knock on bamboo). You know, you should really buy this book. It tells you all about these things and how to make all different kinds of fillings. And they have hand-drawn pictures of lots of crazy seafood and strange cuts of poultry.

Eggrolls8 Next, get the oil going in the wok. I just use vegetable oil over medium-high to high heat. Fry them like this, four at a time, on all four sides. You'll know when to turn them. When they're bubbly and brown. Use tongs instead of your hands. Trust me on that. I have experience with that.

Eggrolls10Then transfer them to a cooling rack with a paper towel under it while you fry up the rest of them. So good.

Eggrolls13 Here ya go!

Eggrolls11 Now for the hard part, finding a spot for this food on her coffee table filled with crafts in various states of completion. Goes well with that sweet-and-sour sauce from the Asian market. Oh, and I know how everyone loves the corgi, but look at what she did while we were out, see that coffee splattered all over the pattern? Picture her with her back legs on the couch and her front legs on the table drinking Alicia's coffee while looking over her shoulder to see if we're back yet. Audrey, it isn't that you aren't cute, it's just that some of the things you do aren't cute. Thankfully, she hasn't discovered eggrolls yet. (By the way, for those reading the magazine article, we don't give her any scraps!!! She is strictly a dog food/coffee dog.)

Have you ever made eggrolls? Any tips for me?

Candy: Super Good

comments: 51

Sarahs1Oh, I was so happy yesterday. I felt free as a bird. It was amazing to have a whole day empty of obligation, full of friends and family and fun. Super bonus: I didn't even realize that Andy had the day off, so he, I, and even Audrey were all invited over to Sarah's for lunch and merrymaking. It was wonderful. Audrey was in heaven, happily munching her rawhide beside the fireplace while we all ate our soup. Little did she know that was just the beginning.

When we got home, our niece arrived and the graham-crackers, candy, and icing came out. "Gingerbread" cottages rule. One girl was so excited she couldn't wait for her cottage to dry properly before loading the roof with 47 Necco wafers and collapsed the entire structure into a heap of cracker-crumbs, broken wafers, icing-glue, and tears — so Uncle Andy kindly gave me his cottage and I stopped crying. I LOVE THAT MAN SO MUCH!!! Aghhh. He RULES. I love him.

Cottages2Actually, he made a grocery-store run, too, to get more graham-crackers because we were using leftovers from S'mores made at the beach last summer. If you're going to make these houses (do it), I would recommend having lots of extra crackers and icing only small sections of the house to decorate and let dry before proceeding to others. But we were being cautious after that first collapse.

Ta-da! Welcome to Arden's Place!

Cottages3 Isn't it just adorable?

Here's Uncle Andy's. His had a back porch and a grill.

Cottages4And those tiny candy canes around the roof? Amazing sprinkles from sweet Blair. Thanks Bee!!

You could say I was a teensy-weensy bit overly super-excited about my house.

Cottages5Those little red and green gumdrop-bits are Christmas lights around the roof and window.

Cottages9 When we were finished with the houses, Arden and Andy made some pinecones covered in peanut-butter and birdseed for the feathered friends in Grandma's yard. Then Arden made a saddle blanket out of paper, icing, and mini-gumdrops for her diminutive Clydesdale. I forget his name. That's what happens when one has about twenty model horses. Her old auntie just can't remember what we call all of them.

Fun fun fun. Super fun. Even if we didn't get that snowstorm we got last year, this year was better because Andy was home, too. Loved yesterday.

New Stationery

comments: 34

Stationery1It's so nice to have a silk-screening husband! If you have one, he will make you your own stationery. The problem is picking the design. It's practically impossible to decide. I went through about a dozen clip-art books. But you have to pick one. This one's from a book called Graphic Ornaments. I think we'll be very happy together. Now, for the right paper. . . . Decisions, decisions!

Thank you for all the bloggy love yesterday — how kind you all are. Thank you. xoxoxo

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




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.