Now You Are Six

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Six whole, big years old. My goodness. I never really have words for these things. The week has been a whirlwind of swirling leaves and party streamers and birthday cakes and fancy things, wonderful and bright and filled with fun and family. We have a big family party every year, and this year there were some people who couldn't make it because of traveling and fighting colds and some new family we'd not yet met. Andy's parents flew in from Chicago and they're here until Wednesday. It's my absolute favorite time of the year when everyone is together, celebrating this lovely young lady, who grows more beautiful inside and out every day, and every year. Mimi and I drove her birthmama home after the party on Saturday night, and Bethy told us the story of Mimi's birth, about the Pitocin and the water breaking, the nurse we all really liked and Bethy's long torso and the Lord of the Rings soundtrack cranking, the seven pushes and then the ease with which she slid into the world, eyes bright and tiny fingers ready to hold. I remember it all and I don't — it is a blur, even though I was there for every minute. It was 5:42 p.m., dark and raining. In my mind everything was golden. I remember all four of us, her birthparents and Andy and me, huddled around tiny, tiny her like big, thumping hearts. It was by far the most profound and exquisite and utterly overwhelming moment of my life. I think about it all the time, any random Wednesday, watching her do plies at ballet, running down the hall at school, racing me up the stairs to bed, climbing into the car for the millionth time, every average and forgettable thing — how grateful I am for every single minute of this, all this ordinary beauty that started in such a extraordinary way. My darling girl, you are six, and every day of your life, even before you were born, has been such a dream come true.

Today, Monday, the sky is brightest blue. The sun is low, the air cool and crisp, just like they say. We kept Amelia home from school today so she could have more time to play with her grandparents while they are here, and in a while we'll go up to her favorite park and play for a while. We're about three-quarters of the way finished shipping kit and lotion bar orders, and I hope to be caught up by the end of Wednesday, speaking of Wednesday. It's been mildly bonkers trying to keep everything going while having a party, etc., but it's all okay. We're feeling really good about what we have left to do to catch up, and that's its own reward. I love working, and tree outside my office literally looks exactly like the tree on my kit, so it just all feels right and fine. Watch your mailboxes, and let me know what you think of everything when you get it!

Now, Halloween. "Owl Princess" costume request is next on deck. I can get on board with this!

Sweater Weather!

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Good day! Hello! How are you? Hellooooooooo! It's me. I've been bonkers busy and I'm so happy I finally have time to sit and write. Hello! [I'm waving.]

* * * T H A N K   Y O U   S O o o o o o   M U C H * * *

lovely, lovely people for all of your orders over the past couple of weeks. I'm so excited about the new kits and lotion bars and it's always just so nice to get your feedback after scurrying away behind the scenes for so long. Things are coming together and it feels great! Kady (new assistant) is sitting across the room writing postcards to go into orders in the next weeks, and yesterday she packed up our little business card packages, and Andy is about halfway done pulling floss. Next he'll start cutting fabric. Kelsey has an infant so she's at home in her kitchen making hundreds of lotion bars for me. Amy's darling daughters are wrapping and date-stamping mini-skeins for the advent calendar at their house. Kady and I dyed thirty new skeins of yarn on Monday, and those will be mini-skeins for the advent calendars soon. It's truly like a hive of activity around here, and I like it. It feels as if we are squirrels ourselves, industriously preparing for first frost. School has been awesome. At home, there are new railings on the front stairs and new scents being tested in the kitchen. Yarn is being wound, and there is lots of knitting, and I'm teaching myself to make candles. Amelia has been drawing and writing and creating little books constantly. Andy's been cooking for us and there have been park visits and neighborhood adventures. We're getting ready for his parents to visit, and for Amelia's big family birthday party in a few weeks. Everyone is excited! I'm doing that embroidery (from this pattern from Florals and Floss) on a bodice for Amelia's birthday dress that I need to finish. It's go-time.

Pictured above is the Sorbet Mini sweater I'm knitting for Amelia. The kid's pattern is only in Danish, so I'm using the English version of the adult pattern (which I made for myself but apparently haven't photographed yet; I will do that) and plugging the kid's numbers in. She saw my sweater and wanted a mini version, so I had to cast on immediately, as you will when your child shows even the slightest interest in your knitting. I have so many things I need to get up on Ravelry that I haven't yet, so don't bother looking for this from me there. But I will do that soon. I have a basket full of WIPs, it's crazy. All I want to do is knit. I splurged on some yarn from Churchmouse Yarns (along with a candle and a bar of soap) and I'm planning to make Amelia a Volo sweater with that after seeing Kyrie's on Instagram the other day. (That picture just literally destroys me. It is so gorgeous.)

Amelia was home with the sniffles yesterday so we made applesauce muffins, which is one of my mom's recipes from my childhood. They are so delightful.

Applesauce Muffins

2 cups Bisquik*
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
1 slightly beaten egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

*If you don't have Bisquik (I don't have it but my mother always did, and this is her recipe) you can use 2 cups of all-purpose flour plus 3 teaspoons baking powder and then add in 2 tablespoons of melted butter, as well.

Mix ingredients together until just combined. Fill 12 muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake 12 minutes at 400 degrees F. Let cool a bit then dip top in melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar.

And here is the recipe for applesauce that Andy always makes for us and it is wonderful. I know it seems odd to use the microwave but this applesauce has a really fresh taste that is so much nicer than cooked applesauce on the stove top, in my opinion:

Applesauce
from the New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins

2 McIntosh apples
2 Granny Smith or other tart apples
1 cup water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Halve and core the apples: peel them if you like. Cut each one into 6 wedges or 1-inch chunks. Combine the apples, water, and lemon juice in a deep microwave-safe 2 1/2-quart casserole. Toss the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and add to apple mixture. Cook, uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir, pressing apples into liquid and return to microwave. Cook for another 5 minutes. Using a hand blender, mix apples into applesauce.

Would you also like to make carnitas? We used this recipe from The New York Times and it was absolutely scrumptious.

Pictured above is the rainy afternoon bath I was taking last weekend. I was in the happiest spot — perfect water temperature, vanilla bubble bath, bath pillow that my dear mother-in-law gave me for my birthday, reading Little Women — right before Andy almost cut the tip of his thumb off (thank you for saving it, fingernail) and Amelia went outside to talk to some people (?!?!?) and the dog started barking her head off and running down the front steps to the sidewalk (never, ever does she do this, but naturally she picked that time to do it, and it turns out she was talking to/barking at a fellow neighborhood Cardigan corgi named Mulberry). Andy howling, then wandering out with a bloody dishtowel on his thumb and his face white as a sheet and not explaining anything, Clover losing her mind, Amelia talking to strangers. It was full-on Donnybrook. Naturally, by the time I had hauled myself out of the tub and dried off and put my clothes on the situation came back under Mr. Paulson's control (he's okay, and Clover came back up the stairs, nonchalant, as if nothing had ever happened). I should've gotten back in the water but I didn't. Nevertheless, that tub and that book and I are going to need to reschedule. I want to make my own soap and bubble bath, too. I got one of those things that covers the drain on the tub and lets the water get really, really high and it is literally life-changing.

Oh, and also thank you so much for all of the kind words and inquiries about Amelia's portrait from a few weeks ago. I painted it myself. It was a total fluke, I literally don't know how I did it, and I'm pretty convinced it was magic, so naturally I haven't tried to paint or even thought any more about it since.

***The cowl is an advent calendar sneak peek . . . :))) More on this soon!

The Leaves by Hundreds Came Now Available for Pre-Order

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THE LEAVES BY HUNDREDS CAME Cross Stitch Sampler Kit is now available for pre-order. Please CLICK HERE to order.

So, it's really fall. It's still kind of sinking in. Amelia's first week of school went blissfully, thrillingly by in a flurry of new shoes and new routines, long drives and books on tape (thank you for the recommendations). It's been nothing short of extraordinary, for all of us. She seems to have, literally, matured before our very eyes, all in the span of a week. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. I went from having zero time to myself during daylight hours to having six entire child-free hours a day, and I'm still getting used to that, and now am missing her profoundly. In a good way, but still. These milestones. I mean, everyone says this will happen and then it does. I remember this so well four years ago when she first started going to a lady-in-the-neighborhood's house for two mornings a week with three other little kids. Leading up to it I was really excited to just have a few hours of time to myself, and then a couple of days before it was time for "school" to start I totally lost my nerve and got profoundly nostalgic/sad/happy-in-a-sad-way/generally emotional about everything and nothing at all. It was like my body, unleashed from its constant, real-time diligence, sort of blobbed out and puddled in the road. I feel like that today, heightened, perhaps, by the morning's golden light, and cool breeze, and suddenly red leaves. I don't know. Her tap shoes came in the mail yesterday when we got home from school and she hastily pulled them on, and had me tie the bows. Immediately afterward her grandma drove up, bringing with her two big pieces of big bubble wrap, and Amelia's glee as she tap-popped every cell in her new black-patent shoes and her turquoise tights almost brought me to tears. Fall. I get choked up. She loves everything so much. And I love her.

Here is The Leaves by Hundreds Came, a piece I stitched earlier this summer in anticipation of just this lovely, fleeting season. Autumn is the shortest and most precious season we have here in the Pacific Northwest, at least in my opinion. It starts off warm and bright, gets cool and crisp by October, and sometime in November, once the rains and wind have whipped the trees bare, it is quickly over. The title is taken from a line from a George Cooper poem:

October's Party

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came —
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly "hands around."

Vital Statistics:

Finished Size of Design Area: 6.25"w x 8.5"h (16cm x 22cm); 100 stitches wide x 138 high on 32-count fabric

The kit contains:

One 14" x 16" (36cm x 41cm) piece of 32-count evenweave embroidery linen in Milk Chocolate (color 95) from Wichelt
(46) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
Stitching instructions
Full-color cross-stitch chart with symbols over color blocks
One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer

You will need your own:

#24 tapestry needle(s) for cross stitch
Embroidery scissors
4" (10cm) embroidery hoop
Frame and framing supplies

If you are new to counted cross stitch, or need a refresher on the basics, please see my "how to do counted cross stitch" tutorial here.

This kit is designed to fit in a ready-made 8" x 10" frame. All you need to do is make sure the frame is deep enough to fit a piece of foam core (and glass, if you want to use glass. I never use glass. I don't like it. I have my embroidered pieces hanging all over the house, and I don't feel that they suffer appreciably for being exposed). What you will do is wrap you embroidery around a piece of foam core, and stretch it with the help of about a million sequin (about 1/2" long) straight pins. You can read my tutorial about how I've done that in the past (though I finished the rest of the framing with custom frames at a frame shop). But with an 8" x 10" piece you can even buy the pre-cut foam-core at the craft store (JoAnn's or Michael's, or easily online) for just a couple of dollars. A frame store can also cut foam core for you for just a few dollars if you ask nicely.

This kit will be shipping sometime around the middle of October. We have the fabric and floss on hand right now and I just have to send the pattern off to the printer this week. We will assemble and ship as soon as possible, if we can manage it sooner than mid-October, and I'll keep you posted on our progress here.

The pattern-only option will also be available separately as a downloadable PDF, but not until sometime in the next couple of weeks. I'll post here when that is ready, too.

This kit is done with two plies of DMC cotton embroidery floss on 32-count linen. That means it has sixteen stitches per inch. If you are interested in waiting for the PDF because you're worried the 32-count linen is too small, I think you'll want to read this post about cross stitch that I wrote a couple of months ago. It will help you determine what supplies you need to purchase, particularly fabric.

And, as always, I carry my favorite embroidery supplies in my web shop, should you need lovely, high quality tools. These are the exact ones that I use every day.

I also have put together a new lotion bar for fall, and it is delighting me enormously. Here is Autumn Woods:

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As I mentioned when I first launched lotion bars this summer, when I started dyeing yarn earlier this spring my hands started to get really dry from all of the washing and rinsing of yarn I needed to do. I got interested in making lotion bars with my own customized essential oil blends. Lotion bars are great because they have no water in them, so they last for ages and a little goes a long way. I've been really pleased with how they well they work and they smell absolutely amazing! Autumn Woods is made with beeswax from local bees; coconut oil; unrefined shea butter; lanolin; and essential oils of cedarwood, fir, balsam Peru, and a drop of cinnamon. It's such a nice, light, earthy, spicy smell. I totally love it. By the way, thank you to all of you who provided feedback on the first round of lotion bars. Everyone was so nice and happy with them that it made me feel so great. I'm so glad you like these, and, in addition to this new one, I'll also have a new one coming for winter, as well (probably sometime in November). These don't sell out; as I develop new scents and source new molds all of them will be available indefinitely in my shop, so keep them in mind as stocking stuffers as we get closer to Christmas, because they make perfect little gifts. We'll make as many as we can sell.

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To use, just hold the lotion bar in your hands for several seconds until it starts to melt a bit, then rub lotion into skin and cuticles, or anywhere you need some TLC. It also works great on feet, elbows, and knees. 

All bars come in a reusable tin, as pictured. Please note: Lotion bars are solid at room temperature but can start to soften in very hot weather while in transit. Your bar will be packed in its tin with absorbent paper, but shipping it at this time of year may result in the design appearing a bit soft by the time it reaches you. This won't affect its qualities. Many people did say that they received their summer lotion bars in very hot weather and they looked absolutely none the worse for wear, so I feel pretty confident that yours will look great. But I did want to mention it just in case.

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We do ship overseas! To place your order, you will be required to read this information, which contains details about international shipping and customs fees you may incur when ordering outside the U.S. (If you are overseas, the shipping cost charged by Posie does not include any further charges you may incur when importing goods.) To see the shipping-only costs for your order and location, just place the items in your cart and choose your location (or enter your zip code, if you are in the U.S.) and it will tell you how much the shipping is. As usual, I have a sincere request: Please check on and update your shipping address correctly in your Paypal preferences so that there is no confusion when we go to ship. If you do need to add things to your order or change your address after you've placed the order, just email me. I will cancel your order and you can place a new one with all of the things you need, etc. I used to try to combine orders manually for people and it has just gotten too complicated for me, so I'm going to go back to my original policy of just one order per person if you want everything you order to ship all at the same time. If you place two orders, I will assume that you want me to ship them separately unless I hear otherwise.

Please note that all supplies, and anything else you order at the same time, will be shipped along with your Leaves by Hundreds Came kit and lotion bar. If you need other items before the kits or lotion bars go out, please place a separate order that will ship right away.

Whew. THANK YOU everyone. I am very excited to get into my new routine and have more time to work. I have so many ideas coming up and I'm really looking forward to sharing them with you.

With love and gentle thoughts for this most tender season of change,
Alicia

And Now, School

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Amelia started kindergarten this week. This is her picture from just before we left the house on the first day. The mix of emotions on her face just melts me into a puddle of love and hope and excitement and pride. Oh, what an intense time! Everyone says this, and it really is, especially when you're starting a brand-new school. But it's been absolutely wonderful. I find myself smiling constantly. Partially because I have some free time now, I won't lie (it's amaaaaaaaaazing). But also and mostly because school is just thrilling. New people, new places, new routines, new activities, new opportunities (tap dancing!), new expectations. And not just for her, but for all of us. We have a new commute, too, and it's long; please recommend kids' audiobooks we can listen to on Libby, or podcasts for my drive home. . . .

So yes. Now that I find myself with more free time — like, exponentially more free time — than I've had in months, and actually even years, I'm outside in the yard with my camera, taking pictures of raindrops on apples. It's incredible what doing that does for the soul, and everything else. I've missed it. I've missed writing more often, too. But I honestly need quiet to write, and there just hasn't really been much quiet in my life. I have a lot of things I need to get organized around here. I remember this from last year, too. It felt like literally every drawer and every cabinet needed cleaning and reorganizing. The refrigerator and freezer need major emptying and scrubbing. The pantry looks like a jumble sale. Amelia's tiny dresser is stuffed, literally stuffed full, of clothes that don't fit her anymore under all of the new clothes that do fit her. The basket that holds all of the hats and mitten and scarves now also (I notice) holds five outgrown Amelia sweaters, and a couple of new ones.

Speaking of clothes, I don't know if I've mentioned that for the past two years I've bought almost every single thing Amelia owns (that I didn't make) used on eBay. For years before she was born, I sewed clothes for her like crazy (you knooooooooow that). But I only sewed up to about a size 4, because everyone warned me that she would start rejecting everything I made or picked out around then. Well, when she turned four, she still didn't care what she wore, and she basically had no clothes. I was still very picky but I didn't have time to sew like I had before she was born. So I started browsing eBay regularly. Occasionally I would go to kid's resale stores or Goodwill but I don't have a lot of time to do that, either. So I do spend a lot of my nighttime free-time in my nightgown surfing my iPad for stuff that I like that I know she will like and that is also very affordable. I'm pretty cheap. I make offers constantly, and they get accepted pretty regularly. I have a firm cap on what I will spend. I'll splurge on things like coats because for some weird reason I really care about coats, even my own coats. But in general, I look for the nicest clothing brands that make good quality clothes and I tryyyyyyy to find the absolute cheapest price that someone is willing to let it go for, plus postage. This is still generally so much more affordable than buying anything new (though not as cheap as Goodwill) and it keeps stuff out of the landfill for longer. I've always loved clothes, ever since I was a little girl, and for some reason I find browsing used clothes and vintage patterns extremely fun and relaxing. I was selling her baby clothes on eBay for a little while but it was a lot of work and I stopped pretty quickly after I started. I need to go through Amelia's clothes again and decide what to keep and what to do with the rest. The topic of clothing production and consumption is very fraught with tension and I'm trying to learn more about it and educate myself about the issues. I do want to get back to sewing more for Amelia again, as well. I did make her first-day-of-school outfit, above. The blouse was from Simplicity pattern #9091, circa 1970. And the skirt was a simple elastic-waist skirt from Simplicity pattern #8623, circa 1969. Both pieces were size 7 (though she's only going to be six next month) and made from vintage fabric and trim. She requested a shirt and a skirt and this is what we came up. Sweetest darling, ready for anything.

***

Typical conversation with Amelia Paulson:

Me: "Hi!!! How was school???"
Her: "It was great!!!"
Me: "Yeah? That's awesome! What did you do?"
Her: "I don't know!"
Me: "Oh! Well, did you play with someone?"
Her: "Kind of."
Me: "What was their name?"
Her: "I don't know."
Me: "Ah. Did you learn how to do something new?"
Her: "I don't think so. I don't remember."
Me: "Hmmm. Well, what do you do all day? What's the schedule? Like, what do you do in the morning? Do you have a rhythm to the day like you did in Waldorf school?"
Her: "Yeah, we have rhythm of the parrot, it goes squawk, squawk, squawk."
Me: "Okay."

Or:

Her: "I don't like school."
Me: "How come?"
Her: "Because it's too long of a day!"
One minute later:
Her: "Mom, why am I going home so early today??? [wailing] You said I could go to aftercare!!!"

***

As for me, I have so many new projects cooking and no assistant. Aaaaaaaaagh. Things keep not working out, and the girls keep moving out of state or getting other jobs. I'm mildly freaking out. Kelsey will start working with me this fall until her house sells and she moves back to Idaho. It's good, because in addition to launching the new fall cross-stitch kit (the last one in the seasonal series, and a bit bittersweet for me, I have to confess — I have loved these so much) and a new fall lotion bar, we ARE GOING to do a hand-dyed-yarn advent calendar. YES! I'm twitching. I am excited. It's going to be so pretty. It will also be pretty pricey, as there's a lot that's going into it, including lots of special treats. I will have more details for you soon. Because we are only going to do fifty of these, I might release them ten at a time, at all different times and on different days, so you have a couple of chances to order. I think we are also going to limit these to U.S. orders only, because the boxes will be pretty heavy and we will be shipping pretty close to December 1 (because there is so little time for me to work on these; but I really want to do them). Anyway, if these go well and people like them my plan is to do seasonal advent calendars, like "countdown to spring equinox,"  or "countdown to Midsummer," etc. But in a gentle, whispery way, not like a COUNTDOWN! [shouting] kind of way. We'll see. I have plans. Stay tuned. And watch for new cross-stitch kits and lotion bars in the next week or two!

Has anyone ever hired a professional organizer? I think I might need some help. I need to redo the storage and functionality of my office, and I'm feeling overwhelmed by where to start. I feel like a lot of what I'm storing in my office is stuff I used to use but am not using right now, though I do plan to use it in the future. I don't know. I just want to start this new phase of life with a bit less spatial chaos than I have right now. I feel like I've been totally jerry-rigging every process for a while.

Every thought and prayer is with North and South Carolina right now as you brace for a monster storm. . . .

***My new obsession: baking donuts from this recipe. Sorry I forgot to mention.

Wind in the Willows

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Ohhhh, I want to go back. Three days at the river. It was short but felt long, in some ways. You follow the sun, there, moving chairs and blankets to stay in shade or face the river, from morning until dinnertime. The day passes in quiet arc of meals and trips down to the river and trips back up the hill to get out of wet, sandy swimwear and rinse off the sunscreen. Bald eagles circle lazily above. Ducks splash and dive and surface. It's absolutely incredible to be in a place where there are no roads, no cars, no other people. Where there is complete freedom to do whatever you want, for as long as you want, for Amelia to just wander around and find things to do, or not do. For me to be able to hear her wherever she was, even when she was out of my sight, building fairy houses or stacking dominoes or taking a bath. At dusk, the crickets come out and their chirping is the loudest sound around. Each night, after Amelia went to bed, Andy and I sat around eating bowls of cherry ice cream and watching a Christmas movie on Amazon. I don't know why we watched that but it just felt like a vacation thing, and required nothing from us in any way. I read (I did not finish my book, nowhere near) and knit (I ran out of yarn) and none of it bothered me one bit. I spent countless hours just watching the river roll by, and watching the light change, and watching the birds. The air smelled like mud and green things. Amelia saw a snake in the brush — twice — and screamed the house down. Andy pulled her up and down and across the river in her raft, going ashore often to explore, looking for the beaver carcass they found last year, finding a beaver den, finding crayfish claws, gloopy seaweed, snail shells soft as fingernails. Families of ducks flew up and down the river roadway from morning until night, landing with a collective sploosh. We rolled around on quilts on the grass and took long showers. We all slept so late that we missed the mist rising off the river in the mornings. We cooked and ate and let the house get so messy you would've thought ten people were living there instead of just us, just us three. It was just wonderful.

On the way home, we stopped off at Amelia's new school for her first meeting with her new teacher. As the teacher led her around her beautiful new classroom, and introduced her to the class bird, and showed her cursive letters and told her she was going to learn how to write them this year, Andy and I sat off to the side and whispered quietly to each other, talking about the room and the teacher and Amelia and everything, and feeling so full of hope and nervousness and pride and a thousand other emotions I don't know how to name.

Send Rain

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Ahhhhh, August. It's you. You with your parched-out lawns and your afternoon dust-devils, your back-to-school shopping lists and melancholy swimming pools. The air is hot and dry. The light is languid and golden-red from the smoke of faraway forest fires, and my heart has been heavy for California these many weeks. In the afternoon our yard is littered with the detritus of a kid with nothing to do: a baby pool filled with cloudy water and grass and Lego people. Two umbrellas (neither of which are the one pictured here, naturally). Several glasses filled with iced tea from three days ago. A Star Wars bike helmet. Playskool houseboat. "Welcome to Margaritaville" lawn chair. Lawn chairs (sans greetings) that I will sit on, and tired, sun-faded hippie pillows. A dozen desiccated former bouquets, left everywhere you look. Silly Putty (dehydrated). Dozens of colored paper clips that got taken out of the house for some desperate purpose, only to be scattered around and forgotten, minutes later. I wonder what lawn mowers make of paper clips. . . . Not that there's any cause to mow the lawn. It's completely dead, just like everyone else's. I've kept the flower beds alive; the lawn and the parkway garden are fried up and gone. All gone.

Summer is hard for me. It's been HOT most of the time, like literally too-hot-to-go-outside hot, at least for me. I'm a mushroom who looks like a roasted ear of corn, in spite of everything, everything. I try to go to the parks, playgrounds, run errands, all that stuff, before lunch. At lunch I drag Amelia around on my never-ending quest not for the best food but for the most-air-conditioned Thai restaurant in Portland. My questions, when considering what to eat: How far do we have to walk from the car to the door? Will they let me sit next to the AC vent? And do they consider 80-degrees an acceptable indoor temperature (I don't)? I can't believe I am this type of person. Amelia eats Pra Ram with tofu and I have my fried rice or green curry. She draws with ballpoint pens on napkins or on printer paper that the waitresses bring her because I never seem to have these things, or she stabs anything she can with toothpicks, or she makes pictures with toothpicks, or she snaps chopsticks apart. Sometimes I read my book (right now, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and I can't put it down) and she finds tiny plastic animals in a basket and makes them talk to each other. We frequently bring stuff home for dinner because it's just too hot to cook. We still have a month until school starts. Almost every single kid we know is in day camp, so it's been hard to make plans. Consequently, she tends to play with an ever-rotating cast of unfamiliar kids at an ever-rotating series of playgrounds. She's good at this, and will walk up to any kid anywhere and introduce herself (occasionally to be met by the other kid's sheer terror at being approached, or their indifference, or their outright rejection, which always makes my mama-heart secretly shatter into a hundred million pieces). But, in general, as Only Children need to do, she makes friends quickly and easily, and always, eventually, finds at least one little kid to pair off and run around with. Nevertheless, I think we both dearly miss the consistency of seeing our school friends (the same friends) every day, day after day, and having a routine, and staying more scheduled in our daily lives. Ironically, when we have gotten together with our old friends, the same kids who used to spend hours and hours every day together at preschool playing their various made-up games with unknown-to-anyone-but-them kinds of rules, they can barely manage to give each other the time of day. I've seen this happen almost every time! And now it makes sense — as easily as they make friends, they easily forget them. Because they live in the moment. And that moment, the old moment, has passed. I, however, am looking forward to being part of something again, and having that sort of regular interaction with people. I know I've said this before but one of the most shocking things about parenthood to me is how many people you get to know and then leave behind, never to be seen again. Moms (mostly moms, some dads) at school, moms at ballet, moms at swimming lessons, moms at the park (to a lesser extent, because you rarely see the same people twice, but sometimes you do). I honestly had no idea that so many mom-relationships are so temporary. I mean, I have mom friends in the neighborhood and in my life that don't change, etc., and that's good. But I'm talking about the people that you get to know a little bit through the various activities that you're there doing temporarily, and then when those things are over, it just goes poof! I think that's so weird! I mean, I'm not saying I really want to change it — I'm as pathetic at staying in touch with people as they come, and anyway, these aren't really those kinds of relationships (the staying-in-touch-kinds) yet, honestly. They're the pool-deck kind, and the park-bench kind. But I just have never had this kind of experience so often with anything or anyone else in the history of my life. It must be a bit like being a camp counselor, or traveling a lot for work, or running a bed-and-breakfast — you're constantly saying hello and then, very quickly (in the scheme of things), saying goodbye. And I'm just saying that I am ready for some consistency and stability myself, and more hanging around and less departure.

Back to the book I am reading (points above). I want you to know that I found the link to that for you all without really looking at the computer screen because I do not want to know what ratings this book got or read a single spoiler about it or anything like that. Nothing. I barely read the flap. I'm on page 200ish of an 800-page book and I believe it's going to get me all the way through our vacation at the end of the month without me wandering away. And that's more than I can say for the probably twenty other library books I have checked out and returned, unfinished, this summer. I know it's me, not them (probably), but what can I say. Nothing's been sticking. Until now. Fingers crossed. I do live in constant fear that I'll get really into a really big, fat book like I did with The Goldfinch only to get to the end and have the world's biggest hissy-fit, which is what I did — I hated the way that book ended so much. I was furious. My roaring anger at it (and I mean, I really was shouting when I finished it) was in equal and direct proportion to how much I had loved it while reading it, and the whole experience was just waaaaaay too radical and insane, even for me, and I'm not looking to repeat that right now. So, you Luminaries, CONSIDER YOURSELVES WARNED. . . . Don't you let me down or things will get ugly. It’s hot here.

Now. I have finally gotten my Summer Storm PDF up in my web shop. I need to finish the pattern for my autumn cross stitch — I finished all of the stitching and the floss and fabric have been ordered, but I need to finalize the actual chart. Then, just as I woke up one morning thinking, "Hey! I should do some kind of hand-dyed-yarn advent calendar!" someone wrote to me and asked me if I was going to do some kind of hand-dyed yarn advent calendar. And then all hell broke loose in my brain and I started hammering ideas at Andy Paulson while he was trying to wrangle a small child and a small dog (paybacks). So all day today I've been sketching out ideas for what this would look like from me. In case you've never heard of this concept (it's pretty trendy in the hand-dyed-yarn community, but until I started dyeing yarn I'd never heard of it before, to be honest) you would basically pre-order this special box of goodies that I would ship to you sometime in November, so that you were ready to start opening on December 1. In the box would be twenty-five separate little packages, all wrapped up and labeled with numbers 1 through 25, and, just like a regular advent calendar, you would get to open one package each day. Among the packages would be mini-skeins of yarn, along with a full-size (100g) skein of yarn (for Christmas morning, of course), plus a special full-size lotion bar, plus various other luxurious little winter- or knitting-related presents for you, picked or designed or made by me. I don't even want to tell you what the things are yet because I'm too excited and my ideas aren't fully baked yet. But all day I've been thinking of ideas and running numbers and looking at clip-art and researching prices and sourcing packaging and calculating shipping costs, etc. Nanny Katie will be leaving the Posie studio to return to her full-time teaching position in the fall, but one of her friends may take over for her here, if everything works out. I know I can't do this alone, but if everything does work out, I seeeeeeriously want to do this, because it would be so much fun. I would do a very limited run, probably fifty max, just to see how it all goes. These can get kind of expensive because I can already see that they are a lot of work to put together, but people seem to like to buy them. What do you think? Have you gotten one before? How did it go? Tell me everything.

August

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I'm having a lazy day. Andy and Amelia are at the zoo with friends and the house here is quiet and calm. The sky is overcast, the air cool. All of this, every single thing, is so different from how it's been around here lately, how it's been around here usually (hot, loud, chaotic, bright, messy, frantic). I'm looking outside and there's not even a breeze to ruffle the leaves. That's how quiet it is, and how still.

We finished swimming lessons for the summer yesterday. I get very, very nostalgic as each thing finishes lately. Last year swimming lessons seemed to go on forever. This year, July flew. Is that how everything's going to be now? Fraught with flight? Swimming lessons, by their nature, go too fast. There's so much preparation: getting the kid to stop doing whatever she's doing to go potty/put on bathing suit/put on sunscreen/fill up water bottle, then hustling out to car with swim basket in tow (clothes, underpants, towels, goggles, sunscreen, etc.), then driving twenty minutes up to the lesson. Then going to the half-hour lesson. Sitting on the lawn chair, watching, I remark to anyone within earshot that I wish the lesson lasted three hours. I would like to sit there on the lawn chair with my feet up in the shade, listening to the pool sounds, watching people play in the water, watching people play with my child, for three full hours. That would be a good start. But before I know it, it's over. Amelia, dripping, beaming, comes toward me. I hold the towel open and gather her into it and she climbs on top of me and lays her wet head on my chest. We lay like that for as long as I can get her to stay, just resting. But then she wants to take her shower so it's up and to the locker room where the girls stand there, trance-like under the running water. We try to get them to share the space, to rinse off, to wash their hair, to rinse out the shampoo, but they're zombified by the warmth and the spray. We moms fuss, wringing out wet suits, collecting goggles, looking for brushes in bags, encouraging our daughters to make room for incomers, and perhaps even move along. The girls stand and stare into space. Finally, one of us: "Okey dokey, let's go, ladies." Reluctantly they come, shuffling out. Again, towels. Peeling off suits, dropping dry clothes onto the sopping floor, picking them up, stuffing damp arms into dry sleeves, all in slow motion. Getting dressed literally takes a forty-five minutes. The half-hour swim lesson, which goes by at lightning-speed, winds up actually taking half a day, when all is said and done.

Nevertheless, I will miss it all. But it's August, already and finally August, and now we get to be lazy. There's nowhere to be every morning at 10:40 a.m. anymore. I couldn't care less what time it is. I let Amelia take an entire bag of tortillas into the studio and eat four of them along with half a bag of frozen blueberries in front of the computer, watching Tumble Leaf for three hours. The weather last week was so relentlessly scorching hot that I literally felt cooked. Deep fried. One night the air conditioner stop working and I bleated in panic, and thought about dumping a glass of freshly poured ice water straight over my head. July was just so busy, and so hot. I feel like I'm in recovery from it, somehow, and just want to lay in front of the open windows, drinking iced tea straight from the pitcher while surfing pictures of unicorn cakes on Pinterest. That feels like plenty to do now. A good day's work. 

Surfacing

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Oh, hellooooooo. Hello! It's me! How are you? How is your summer? I hope it is going well!

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The weather this week has been fairly cool in the morning and blazing hot in the afternoon. I'm finally coming up for air after the past few weeks, which have been overrun with lotion bars and cross-stitch kits. I was really behind. Finally Andy and Katie and I got everything done. It was a great feeling. I literally felt my veins flood with relief when I dropped the last package off at the P.O. Thank you so much to everyone who has been so patient, and thank you to everyone who has written to me and told me that you are pleased with your orders! That makes me feel absolutely great!!! I have a lot of emails to answer and I really am hoping to get to them soon now that I am getting caught up.

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The photos are from our front yard. My echinacea is blooming and it is my absolute favorite. Agh. They're such lovely flowers. They seem so emotional. They seem like soulful poets, weary and brave and hopeful. In the very early mornings, I sit in the cool air and wait for the birds to come to our flat feeder. I drink coffee in my nightgown and hope that anyone walking past with a dog, getting in their car to go to work, pushing a grocery-cart full of cans, or jogging down the middle of the street just pretends I am not there. I hear train whistles and birds. Eventually Amelia and Andy come out. Amelia climbs on me or climbs her tree. Andy drinks coffee and pets Clover. Mornings are the nicest. If I ever have a trail name, it's going to be Morning.

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So, six weeks of summer left. There are lots of things I want to do and lots of time I just want to spend hanging out. I have lot of things I'm working on that I want to show you. Amelia's been in swimming lessons every morning and will be through this week and next. We'll spend some time at the fountains and the pools and the parks and the river. We're planning to go to the river house we go to every summer for a few days. I have a stack of library books I'm working on. I've designed the fall cross stitch and am starting to stitch it. And I found some delicious soft-serve ice cream with strawberry dust. It's all really been so nice. I have more pictures but I'll save them for another day. I'll have more time, now, to write so you'll see me soon. I hope you are having time yourself to do every summery thing you love. What are those things? Tell me about them. I'd love to hear.

Strawberry Moon

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The picture I took of the strawberry moon, above, was actually taken in the early morning. The moon was so bright the night before I couldn't even look at it. And I saw two planets, one way to the left and one way to the right. I think I read that one of them had to have been Saturn, Amelia's favorite planet (thanks Little Einsteins). It was so beautiful.

These pictures go way back! It's been a bit of a scramble lately. I'm still making and shipping lotion bars at all hours, and now we're waiting for more labels to come from the printer, which is taking forever. They are supposed to arrive on Tuesday, now. Next time I launch anything I'm going to do it as a "pre-order." I should've done that with these but . . . I don't know why I didn't. I've been doing this long enough to know better, I would think. But anyway, thank you again for your patience — I've written directly to people who are still waiting for bars to let them know where I'm at. All is still on-track for Summer Storm kits (and the lotion bars that were ordered with them, as well) to ship, probably in the third and last weeks of July by the time we get it all together. Andy has pulled all of the embroidery floss, cross -stitch fabric is supposed to arrive today and then it will be cut, and I sent in the pattern to be printed yesterday. Nanny Katie, who used to help me with Posie years ago (seven years ago now!) is a high school teacher these days. She is on her summer break and is going to be working with me again until the fall. She started this past Monday and it's been so great to have her hanging around again. Love it.

And by the way, we are planning to do 600 Summer Storm kits so there are still tons left if you would like to order one. And the PDF for that pattern will be released as soon as I get caught up with all of this shipping. I'll let you know when it's ready to go.

Other than that, we've been hanging around the house quite a bit, going here or there when it's possible, otherwise just hanging. It's been really, really nice. Since Amelia got out of school several weeks ago, we've literally had nothing at all scheduled. I thought that would be stressful, but it turns out that she is just at the absolute perfect age to simply hang around. It's kind of amazing. We were at the park with some preschool friends the other day (which took, let me tell you, about twenty emails between ten people to find two hours when three of us could get together — ridiculous — this is why I miss school!) and she was just able to play, and play, and play, for hours, completely in flow and absorbed in her sand castles and sand balls and water sourcing. Watching stuff like that, watching them just be so occupied and lose all track of time, and not care where their snacks are, or what's happening later, or who's around or not around, etc., is one of the absolute greatest joys of parenting for me. Hands down. Isn't it just incredible that they do that? Is just so . . . human. Humans just have that capacity to find things so interesting, even really small humans. I mean, I don't know. I really do only have one life-goal for Amelia, and that is that I hope she finds something in life that she just loves to do. That's really all. I think everything else can come from there. I know people who don't really have that and I think it's hard for them, and then lots of other things are harder. . . .

I've got many sweaters happening at night. The white-ish sweater is one I started, honestly, months ago now. It's Alfred's Sweater by Petite Knit for Mimi, on size 3 needles in single-ply fingering, dyed by me. It is a sloooooooow knit. So slow. Basically, it's an entire sweater done in ribbing. It's so pretty but I'm ready to move along. The greenish one is the Rose Sweater by Knit by TrineP in 6-12 month size in single-ply Merino fingering, dyed by me, that I made for the @knit_beyond_borders auction on Instagram. The pinkish one is another Rose Sweater, this time for Mimi, in single-ply Merino fingering called Antique Rose, dyed by Lichen and Lace. I've been terrible about updating my Ravelry page with the things I've worked on this spring and summer, but hopefully I'll get my act together an do that soon. I'm super anxious to start a #sorbetcardigan and my yarn for that should be arriving any day. That one's for me. I wish I was a notebook-keeping type of person because I feel like I have a lot of things that I see that I want to keep track of and make in the future, or color combinations that are pretty, or someone's yarn that's sold out that I want to remember and try to get next time, or whatever, and instead all of these things just scatter through the air around me like dandelion seeds, or something. I'm incredibly disorganized about my inspirations. I have Ravelry and Pinterest boards and IG saves and all of that. But I don't really have my own personal method of keeping track of anything, anything at all. And I want that. I think it would help me lower my shoulders. I keep a lot of things in my head and I'm not sure why.

I did just treat myself to this lovely sounding book box and I can hardly wait until it gets here. And now I think I'm going to go get some fancy ice cream to bring home to Andy and Amelia. Summer. I'm gettin' on board. It takes me a while, but it's happening.

Work in Progress

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InProgress

Thank you so, so, so much for your orders! Seriously, thank you! I haven't had a minute to jump back in here this week and the days are just flying by. So, I am in the weeds with lotion-bar orders that came in without a kit order, meaning they need to ship ASAP. I am trying to pour and package and ship over 200 orders just for the lotion bars right now, so I promise I am doing my best. I've shipped a hundred so far this week, but I really underestimated this one, I'm sorry! I've ordered more stickers, more tins, more supplies, everything, and I have the next two days while Andy is home to make and ship as many of these on their way as I can. So if you were among the first to order last week and haven't already received your advice of shipping, please watch for it over the next couple of days. Other people who ordered lotion bars to ship with Summer Storm kits, I am still planning to ship yours with your cross-stitch kit in July as discussed.

I've gotten a much higher number of emails with order amendments, requests for additions, etc., this time and I do answer those as quickly as I can. But, for the record, if you didn't add a lotion bar to your kit order and you would like to do so (and your first order has not shipped yet), the best way to do that is to place another order for the lotion bar (and anything else you would like) and leave me a note to combine your open orders on the order comment-box itself, and not sent in a separate email. I use a separate shipping app (ShipStation, which is awesome) for all of my shipping and it does a brilliant job of combining orders. But I must do that manually within the app itself, and I have a better chance of getting it right if you leave me a note within the order itself, where all the information is. Please know that I do not have access to credit card or PayPal information, and I cannot automatically add things to anyone's order, and I do not send invoices for extra items. Placing another order through the web site and leaving me a note is the best way for me to combine your open orders. With a volume of orders like this all at once, things always get a bit tricky to manage on my end, so thank you so much for your orders and your interest and your patience, and I promise you will be hearing from me soon.

Thank you, you sweetest people!
XOXOXO,
Alicia P.

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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Photography

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.