Posts filed in: Movies and TV

Hot Summer Soup

comments: 100


Thank you very much for all of your gentle and truly kind comments on Tuesday's post. I got choked up reading so many of them, as I always do when people talk about love, and animals. I have been in love with one animal or another my whole life, it seems; even when I had no real-life pets, I rode an imaginary horse through my neighborhood, or I named an imaginary puppy, or I dreamed about getting my very own cat. It's funny how some people are like that, and some people aren't. I wonder where it comes from. When I was really young, I decided that if I was ever lucky enough to have my own dog, I wanted a corgi, and I must have only known about corgis from the lovely, gentle Tasha Tudor, whose books I had as a child and whose life and work has influenced me in too many ways to count. If I couldn't have a 13.2-hand dapple-gray Connemara pony with a black mane and tail named Musette (specifically), I wanted a corgi. When Andy and I have a disagreement, no matter what the topic, I just eventually say, "Well, fine, but I was the one who wanted a corgi!!!" and then, y'know, that's it: I win, hands down. It just works that way.

Shall we talk soup? Let's. This is my creamy corn bisque, modified over the years from a recipe that originally appeared in The Oregonian a long time ago. We made it last night and ate it with fresh garlic bread.

Creamy Corn Bisque

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large leek, white portion only, rinsed and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup corn kernels (you can use frozen corn here, if that's what you have)
1/2 teaspoon salt or more, depending on how well-salted your chicken stock is

Sour cream
Hot sauce

Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add leeks and carrots and cook over medium heat for five minutes. Add herbs, chicken stock, and potatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low; cook, covered, for ten minutes until potatoes are just tender. Stir in half-and-half, corn, and salt. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for three minutes, stirring. Serve with a dollop of sour cream with a few shakes of hot sauce stirred in.

I am going to a potluck party on Saturday. What is your favorite summer potluck dish that doesn't have vinegar, olives, or salmon (I don't like those things) in it? And I know this is sacrilege, but I don't really like tomatoes, either, so forget those. I almost always bring Ina's Pasta, Pesto, and Peas to summer potlucks, and I love love love it, but I really need something new.

In other news, I am completely obsessed with watching Anthony Bourdain's show No Reservations lately. The Montana episode is coming up on Monday night and I am so excited.

*In answer to the questions about half-and-half, it is half cream and half milk, sold already blended in the U.S. Be careful adding milk to hot soup because it will separate and curdle if it boils. Heavy cream won't, so if you don't have half-and-half, I'd probably add half cream/half chicken stock or water.

My Christmas-Movie Screenplay Plans

comments: 118


I've almost convinced Andy to write a Christmas-movie screenplay with me. Not an awesome movie like Elf, or Prancer, or The Family Man. But a made-for-TV one (what's not awesome about these!) like Boyfriend for Christmas (pictured above), Christmas Do-Over, or Holiday in Handcuffs. I've told him that it's easy: All we need to do is pick out and incorporate about ten of these Christmas-movie must-contains and we'll be set:

A character named Holly, Mary, Merry, Chris, Kris, Christy, Kristin, Nick, Nicholas, Rudolpha, Carol, Noel, Noelle, or some diminutive of Ebeneezer.

A widow.

A widower.

An orphan.

A soldier, sailor, or marine.

A homeless person who is, it is suspected, actually Santa/God/an angel.

A soup kitchen.

A workaholic corporate suit who schedules meetings on Christmas Eve and has clearly forgotten the reason for the season.

A cottage industry/family business in danger of being put out of business by big-box store/urban development/greedy coporation.

A character who pretends to be someone else.

A blizzard that knocks out all forms of transportation or communication.

Two characters who hate each other forced, by the blizzard, to spend the night in a cabin with no utilities and who wind up in love by the next morning.

A stinky, drunk department-store Santa. Who hates kids.

Someone in a Santa suit who stole something who is now being chased by a hundred other people in Santa suits. Through Manhattan.

Santa who falls ill/is too old/has lost hope, and Christmas is in danger of being cancelled.

Santa's son or daughter who must take over his job reluctantly, or with difficult conditions (must marry today by midnight, e.g.).

A child who knows more than all of the adults combined.

Stupid adults.

Toy freak out: not enough toys, wrong toys, toys lost, toys not able to reach their destinations.

A character who absolutely hates Christmas due to some past loss. Loss occuring around Christmastime.

A character who loves Christmas when everyone else around him/her hates it.

Overworked elf. Lazy elf. Cranky elf. Naive elf. One nice elf.

A character who returns home to find that things have changed. And, in a weird way, stayed much the same.

A character, unlucky in love, who returns home to find their high-school sweetheart conveniently unmarried.

A deer. Could be reindeer. Could be Rudolph.

Miracle snow.

Right? Now, which ten, which ten . . . Hmmm.

Why my muscles have atrophied.

comments: 71


Wow, that movie list yesterday was awesome! Who knew how many of us out there not only watch movies for the interiors, but watch the same movies for the interiors?

I think I will put a list together out of the comments, and thank you so much for those. There are two reasons that the list comes at the perfect time. The second reason I'll tell you about soon, since I think the contract is in the mail (hint, hint); the first reason is that after today I am going to need something to watch other than CNN for eight hours a day!!! I've forgotten how to watch anything but CNN!!!

Here're my convos for the past two months:

Someone: "Would you like to go out to dinner?"
Me: "Would, but I'd miss my show."
Someone: "What show?"
Me: " . . . Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull."
Someone: "But you have TiVo. "
Me: "It's not the same."

Someone: "Can you go to the store and get some groceries?"
Me: "Would, but I've fallen onto the couch in front of CNN and can't get up."
Someone: "Jeez."

Someone: "Didn't [the candidate] just say that same exact thing in the same exact way yesterday?"
Me: "He's actually said it eight times already today."
Someone: "There he goes again."

Me: "I'm gonna miss Roland Martin and David Gergin and Paul Begala after election day!"
Someone: "Maybe then you can make some real friends, though."

So yes, thank goodness it's November 4 so that maybe now I'll be able to get a life! I will miss The Situation Room, though. And AC 360. And what will Campbell Brown do now that the election is over? She's pregnant again, so that's exciting. I'll miss Dana Bash and John King's magic map! I now know more about retirement funds, luxury sedans, the potential side-effects of Celebrex, and why it's important to get AARP supplemental insurance than I've ever known before. At least we'll still have The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. What a marathon it's been. I wonder what's going to happen! What an exciting time for our country. How wonderful it's been to feel like we're headed, no matter what happens, in a different direction.

Vote today!

(Almost) Ten Movies I Watch Over and Over Again Just Because I Love What the Inside of the Character's House Looks Like

comments: 629


1. The Holiday (Ooo, check this out.)

2. Green Card

3. Something's Gotta Give

4. Under the Tuscan Sun

5. Passion of Mind

6. Nanny McPhee

7. No Reservations

8. Kiss Me Goodbye

9. Seems Like Old Times

10. ____________________

Any suggestions?

Great Pumpkin Pasta

comments: 77

Did you watch that show on PBS last night about the people who grow giant pumpkins? Oh man! It was emotional! I had no idea. I almost cried, myself (and let me just say, there was much discussion of crying). That lady who named her pumpkin Shasta? Oh, my heart. So good. I love shows like this. The best kind of TV. And it really did make me want to try to grow a giant pumpkin. But apparently you need a yard the size of a football field and absolutely no life, since you have to spend about four or five hours a day out in the garden taking care of your pumpkin and miss your daugher's soccer games. Since the 'kin can grow up to forty pounds a day. I have the no-life part (at least lately, since I never leave the property), so I could do that, but I don't have the yard for it. And let me tell you, if you, like me, thought growing a giant pumpkin seemed like "fun," you've got another think coming. Because when you watch this show, you will see that it looks like about the most stressful undertaking ever. Mice, woodchucks, beetles, hurricanes, and PATCH SABOTAGERS are all enemies of the great pumpkin. The lady describing her husband running around screaming and chasing the woodchuck was just hilarious. Sort of.

After I watched the show, I went to bed, and early this morning I had the weirdest dream that I was growing a secret giant pumpkin in the bathtub behind a white frosted shower curtain. This was in my old bathroom in my old apartment in the "brown box" in Rock Island, Illinois, where everything in the bathroom was bright white. I would never look at it, and then one day I did look at it and it was pale orange and bulging out of the tub (not attractive — giant pumpkins are actually pretty gruesome-looking, the poor beasts). I got very nervous and started to worry how I was going to tell Andy about it, and was wondering if the bathtub and 'kin was going to crash through the floor, and then what would the landlord say (I am terrified of landlords and whenever I had one would live in constant fear of getting yelled at by the landlord), and how would we get it out since it seemed to be sort of encasing the tub in its own warty folds. And then I woke up. THANK GOODNESS!!! Phew. Close one.

I woke Andy up and told him about the pumpkin show and the dream. It was hard to explain how obsessed I had become with the pumpkin in the past twelve hours just like the people on the show said would happen. Disturbingness!!!

I asked Andy to dictate one of the recipes he frequently makes in the fall. He has a few seasonal recipes in his repertoire that he makes, and I never make them. Because they're better when someone else makes them for you. This is one of those. Serve this with a big spinach salad and crusty French bread. Super great.


Great Pumpkin Pasta, as told to [me] by Andy Paulson, but originally from a recipe from Country Living magazine a couple of years ago

1 c. whipping cream or heavy cream
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
20 leaves of fresh sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 links of mild Italian sausage
1 lb. rigatoni

The first thing you should do is find a little 9" x 9" . . . glass [metal] . . . thingy. So you can broil your sausage in it. Put the sausage in your pan, and put it in the oven and turn the broiler on.

Grab a [medium] pot. Pour your cup of cream in it, put your pumpkin puree and Parmesan cheese in, mix it together, and chop and add the sage, the salt, and the pepper. What I do is get the cream and stuff going and then I go out to the garden and cut myself some sage. Put that all on medium heat, bring to a simmer, then turn it down and leave it on a low simmer.

In the meantime, get the water boiling. When the water's boiling [please salt it, says Alicia], put the rigatoni in and stir. Look at the sausages and see if they're browned on top. If they are, use tongs to flip them. When the pasta's done, drain it, and return it to the pan. Add the cream sauce and stir it [gently]. Remove sausage from broiler and slice it into bite-size pieces and add it to the pasta. Sprinkle a little more Parmesan cheese on top and serve!!!

Pastitsio Weather (Except It's August)

comments: 43


Weather weirdness. Thunder, lightning, rain, big clouds. Good stuff, stuff we don't get a lot of in August. Cold. Wondering if I should close the windows because it's cold. Instead I splurged and made the pastitsio from Falling Cloudberries, because what else warms up a chilly summer evening than a hot oven and a bubbling casserole.


I have so many things to tell you about, but I am so behind in stuff like that. I will say that I have finished reading almost everything on my summer reading list, plus a few. I saw Get Smart and loved it. I saw Kit Kittredge with my niece and that was really cute. I saw Brideshead Revisited and the second half of it was so disappointing I complained loudly about it in public for a half an hour afterward. The first half was awesome, the second half just completely disintegrated for me. But I still love you, Matthew Goode. If I didn't, would I really watch Chasing Liberty for the seventh time and then watch the Mandy Moore–Matthew Goode commentary version again immediately afterward? No. I would not.


Just sayin.

Star Sighting. Almost.

comments: 131


I bought a few handled baskets at Marshall's (my very favorite store) this summer, and they had pretty cotton liners in them. It reminded me that I'd been wanting to line this big basket shoulder bag that I got from Land's End last summer. So I made this calico liner a few weeks ago. The dog's leash is hanging up there for a sort of scale, but still, the basket is about eighteen inches tall and however many inches wide, and I now take it with me everywhere, for groceries, or any kind of shopping where I can use it instead of taking a plastic bag. The liner splits into these separate little flaps to go around the handles, but otherwise it's just a solid liner inside. Good. Cool. Keep reading, this gets better.

So. Though I usually use a big plastic box, I stuffed all my orders into the bag the other day and took it to the post office for the first time. The post office was, for only the second time (and the first time at this particular location), empty. Empty. EMPTY.

You know how my head starts spinning around on my neck when that happens. And no, I have no idea why this phenomenon sends me into such a state. I cannot explain it.

I raced to the front of the non-existent line, looking around wildly, and exclaimed to the three post office clerks, "Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!!! There is no one here! I am the only one here! Wow wow wow!" I hefted my bag, bulging with dozens of Precious-Bundle padded envelopes, onto the counter and managed to say, between exclaimations, that everything was already labeled and ready to go, as usual (I do this almost every week, so they are used to me). The post office clerk, my favorite guy — early 60s, loves jazz, very nice hair — took the bag and promptly and dramatically turned it upside down and dumped the contents into one of those big, wheeled, canvas P.O. bins. Out flew all of my packages — as well as the fabric liner, several pens and pencils, my Taco del Mar punch card, the mail I'd just picked up from my P.O. box, a dog bone, my sunglasses, and three Super Plus tampons. I apologized. Other customers had since arrived. My clerk was diving repeatedly into the big canvas bin to fetch my tampons and punch card out of it. It should have been embarrassing, but I was still jabbering away excitedly about being first in line. Suddenly I heard a familiar voice say to another P.O. clerk:

"Thank ya very kindly, ma'am."

And out of the corner of my eye I saw a tall, thin guy in jeans and a jean jacket walking away.

Then my P.O. clerk said, "That was Sam Elliott!!!"

"Yeah, he comes in here all the time! His mom lives in Parkrose!"
"Oh man, I love Sam Elliott! He's in one of my favorite movies!"
"Which movie?"
" . . . "
"Wow, Sam Elliott. . . . Cool."

Okay, it didn't get that much better. But you have to admit, Sam Elliott is pretty cool. It was almost awesome.

Wild Strawberries

comments: 63


This beautiful photo is from the June 1995 issue of Martha Stewart Living. I was thumbing through my back issues the other night and my breath caught when I saw this. So simple, so beautiful. They call this a vacherin — two discs of meringue layered with whipped cream and an assortment of tiny berries. They used red currants, red and golden raspberries, and fraises des bois, or wild strawberries. I have no idea what the difference is between a pavlova and a vacherin; amazingly, thirteen years on, they still have the recipe for this here. If my birthday were in June you can believe that I'd be asking for this, maybe with just one of those really tall, skinny candles to make a wish on. . . .

There is something so lovely about tiny strawberries with their stems still attached. At the farmer's market I bought some yesterday, intending to make this today. I spread them out on a paper towel and put them in the fridge, but when I checked on them this morning I saw that they were already ruined, blotchy and runny. Should've just eaten them out of hand yesterday, when they were delicious and perfect. Sigh. Live and learn.

I have been obsessed with watching Jamie Oliver's newest television show, Jamie at Home. It's frowsy, earnest Jamie, planting peas, picking onions (the one where he was crying while cutting the onions just cracked me up), cooking outside on his awesome wood-fired oven, puttering about in his cool little Anthropologie-looking kitchen. I wish I could show you how cool the production on this show is if you can't watch it yourself. The titles all look like a hand-drawn, taped-together scrapbook. I keep rewinding it (TiVo) just to get a closer look at the details. On his rustic estate he seems really happy, as if he has finally settled into his best cooking self, the emphasis (as always) on both quality and simplicity, where the food is as close as possible to its source, and then prepared with sincerity and passion. It's hard not to feel inspired watching Jamie. I think he is an amazing person. It's kind of incredible how many things he's done already, and only 33. It might be easier in the U.K., but in the U.S. it's a bit hard to keep track of him; over the years, I've always tried to watch his shows whenever I can find them on cable here in the states, but he seems to come and go, showing up on different channels or out of the blue. I found the shows about Fifteen and his Italy trip (which I just stumbled upon one day) pretty poignant, actually. I only have two of his cookbooks (the companion cookbook for Jamie at Home comes out in the U.S. in September; it's already out in the U.K). So though, through the years, I have always really rooted for him, I must say that this new show has utterly won me over. The beauty of it, along with his energy and enthusiasm, is really inspiring me this summer. I hope he does an episode on berries.

This weekend has been wonderful. On Thursday I took the day off. But I did not answer emails, I did not sit in the yard, I did not make iced tea; I sewed. I had the urge. For seven hours. I got a pattern, shopped for fabric, pinned, cut, ironed, and then stitched an entire dress in one fell swoop. Of course, the result was the ugliest dress in the whole wide world, but still. It was all fun until I tried it on (it had a circular yoke which you attach at the very end, so there was no trying-on until it was finished, at which point I screamed at the top of my lungs and stomped outside, and gave my Adirondack chair, in which I was supposed to be sitting and sunning and drinking iced tea, a very dirty look). On Friday I made a cotton lining for my straw bag (that went fine), sewed two wrap skirts (that went fine), and bought some new clogs (fine), and all of it made up for the dress disaster (I'll try and take a picture of it tomorrow because you will laugh, and I'll show you my wrap skirts, too). We made it out to Blue Lake at the end of the day where Andy fell asleep on the grass and I finished Nine Coaches Waiting, which was good (though I can't for the life of me figure out why it is called Nine Coaches Waiting or what that means?). Yesterday we had a really fun traveling potluck with two groups of neighbors (I had the entree, and made Tyler's chicken enchiladas again = good party food). And today is more organizing of cabinets (not fun, but so nice when finished) and kickball league later this afternoon. Good, relaxing (four-day) weekend. Just what I needed. Hope yours is going great!

Missy Blue Eyes

comments: 63


I love Zooey Deschanel. M. Ward, too, but mostly Zooey, the prettiest girl in the whole-wide world. And she can sing. Which we knew(ish), from Elf, but still. Heard this song on the radio yesterday just as I was driving by the record store and immediately pulled over and bought their album, She & Him: Volume One, which is lovely but does not actually include the song I was listening to, which is a cover called "When I Get to the Border." Because that's from a movie. More info here and here. And how cute is her dress here. I've played the Border song about fourteen times. I think I'll go play it again.

Cranford on PBS Sunday Night

comments: 94


If you come to visit me for longer than a day I'll probably try to make you watch my favorite movies, including Wives and Daughters, my absolute favorite 19th-century BBC period-piece, based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Sunday night PBS's Masterpiece series will begin airing three episodes of Cranford, based on another Elizabeth Gaskell novel about a small English village struggling with the effects of the looming Industrial Revolution.

I think this aired last winter in the U.K.? Was it good? It seems like it's gotten great reviews. I'm excited for it, I must say. If you aren't able to watch it Sunday night, they're making it available to watch on-line for a limited time starting May 5. Can't wait.

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.