Summer Season

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Amelia's in a morning day-camp down the street three days this week. I drop her off and water the garden. Today I filled the bird feeders. Then I emptied the dishwasher, made myself a bagel with avocado, cleaned up, answered emails, and now I'm sitting down for an hour to write here before I go back and pick her up and we go up to the library. I'm having groceries delivered in time for dinner. In between things, I ship orders, etc. I'm working on a new cross stitch pattern. My mom was here yesterday afternoon and I got to work on it a lot, and I love it. My mom took Amelia to the grocery store and then made dinner for us (chicken and dumplings, my favorite) and then Mimi and I read all our library books for the last time and then I put her to bed, and then I got to play with my cross stitch pattern (it's for Christmas) for several hours before Andy got home and then I went up to bed. The days are busy. They just are. They're wonderfully busy, but they're busy.

Thank you so, so much for the Scarborough Fair skirt pattern orders and the fabric orders! I'm so excited that people are going to make that skirt. Please send me photos when you do, or tag them on Instagram (#scarboroughfairskirt, maybe?). I've heard from several people who've made it already and, I don't know, it's thrilling. I haven't heard of any problems with the pattern but if I do I'll correct it right away and send out a corrected version automatically. Please let me know if you have any questions about it, or comments, or anything.

Standing by the veggie garden, Amelia is posing as a flower. We watch our squash and pumpkins and cucumbers take over the raised bed. It's been fun and also mildly heartbreaking. So far there are only two cucumbers and two big tomatoes, and two pea pods and about seven strawberries. There are some Roma tomatoes coming, and hopefully an eggplant. The broccoli and cabbage look terrible today. Tiny, tiny white bugs all over the cabbage. I blasted them off with the hose. Need the soap spray there, I guess. It's shocking how much money and how many hours I've spent to get two cucumbers, two tomatoes, two pea pods, and seven strawberries. Sigh. Well, as they say, it keeps me out of trouble. Having a little chair to sit on between the beds sort of changes everything down there. I mean, it's just a little gardener's bench, and I don't keep it down there or anything because it would get ripped off in about five minutes (our beds are about a foot away from the street), but I drag it down there from the porch every day and sit and contemplate the squash blossoms. It's a completely different experience sitting than standing. I know I keep saying this but it's true.

This year we need 1) railings on our front stairs down to the sidewalk (if anybody has recommendations for iron railing installation, let me know) and 2) a new tree to replace the half-dead plum tree in the parkway, which has just begun its yearly assault on me personally by dropping inedible plums by the millions all over the sidewalk and stairs and making me shriek with frustration daily. The thing is so gnarly and bad. It's listing so hard it looks like it's about to fall over. It never does, but one by one its big branches just stop producing leaves and get covered with some kind of lichen and completely die off. This doesn't stop plum production, however, and they are the sourest, darkest purple plums in the world. The tree is probably original to the house, which was built in 1928. We've had several arborist dudes come out and look at it and they trim it and charge us a ton of money and it basically just looks worse and worse, not through any fault of theirs, I don't think, but it's just a troubled tree. I'm loathe to lose the shade it provides so we've been dragging our feet on this. One guy recommended we plant a Katsura tree, and that is a gorgeous tree. He also said there was a book that lists where a bunch of different trees are planted around Portland so that you can drive around and go and see them in neighborhoods and stuff but I can't remember the name of the book. Anyway, these things are on my list of stuff to get done this fall, among forty-five other things. Plant new tree and install railings. Who has the time? Insert chin-scratching emoji guy here.

Anybody reading any good library books lately? I need a page-turner that's not depressing. Anybody watching Grantchester on Masterpiece? We're only halfway through season 2 (it's on Prime, FYI) so don't tell me anything, but man. I love that show. I got the first book but I didn't like it as much as the show. The show is so good. I watched season 1 when it first came out and then I lost track of it, but recently found it again. I keep thinking about it during the day.

Scarborough Fair Skirt Pattern Now Available!

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***Update: THANK YOU so very much to everyone who ordered this skirt pattern and fabric. The fabric is completely sold out, and I am hoping to have a bit more to offer next month. Thank you beyond words for your interest in my work. I am so grateful. XOXO

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Oh, now I'm happy. My Scarborough Fair Skirt Pattern is now available! Please click here to go to my web site to purchase it!

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You can make this skirt in any size and length you'd like. Just take your waist, hip, and skirt length measurements and plug them into the formulas I've listed in the pattern and you're good. All of the pieces are cut with a rotary cutter and ruler, so there are no patterns to print out and tape together, etc. There are step-by-step illustrated instructions for making the skirt and it is really quite easy. I really hope you are going to love this and I hope you'll send me pictures of your finished skirts in action because I want to see them! I really love the skirts that I have made — I've made five of them now and I wear them almost every single day! For better or worse!

If you have any questions about the pattern let me know. (***Update: Yes, it is pull-on and has elastic in the back only.) It's an advanced beginner pattern. You need to have a basic understanding of sewing, including how to gather, sew around curves, and sew pieces together carefully to make this skirt. It's not difficult but might be a bit challenging for an absolute beginner, as the construction and method are a little bit unusual. But overall it's pretty straightforward and simple to make.

Should you need fabric, I am offering some of my vintage '80s and '90s calico in 2-and-1/2 yard  (2.25 meter) pieces. This fabric is quite precious, and it can be hard to find vintage fabric in continuous pieces that are this long. This amount will make a skirt that's up to about 30" long (the one pictured is about 25" long) so if you're not looking to make one longer you'll be good; if you'd like you're skirt shorter, you'll have some extra to make a hat or quilt patches or something else. I decided to offer this fabric in skirt-sized pieces rather than selling it by the yard, or by the half-yard, because there are a lot of different prints and I wanted to get it all cut and folded ahead of time. If you're looking for a smaller amount, you might want to pass on this; we will not cut these pieces down, and they are already packaged.

I hope you like them! Click on each photo to take you to the web page where each fabric can be purchased. There are only between two and seven pieces available in each print, so if you miss out this time, I will have a few more coming later in the summer. But in general this is a very rare stash, and one it is gone it is gone. I'm using most of it this fabric for quilt kits, but some of the bolts I recently purchased had upwards of 25 yards on them, so that was more than I needed and I wanted to make some available for skirts! All fabric is 100% cotton unless otherwise noted and 44" (112cm) wide.

 

Ecru with Morning Glories

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Steel Blue with Garland

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Gold with Grapes

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Blue with Roses and Daisies

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Pale Brown with Roses and Daisies

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Navy with Blue, Gold, and Pink

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Tiny Autumn Mix

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Green Gardens

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Spring Garden

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Violet Riot

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Tan with Garland

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Mauve with Tiny Blue Flowers

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Dark Green with Roses

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Mauve with Blue Flowers

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Early July

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Good morning. How are you? I'm sitting here. The fan's whirling above me and Amelia and Andy are out for a walk with Clover Meadow. It'll be in the 90s today. I'm anxious to go out and patrol my garden. No sooner did I banish the katydid nymphs that were chomping my verbena than we've had new pestering. Since these pictures were taken, big fat green worms have gotten into my cabbage and broccoli. I tried plucking a few off yesterday but I literally almost threw up. I was surprised that I had this reaction. Scream-gagging in the street. Lovely. Amelia was mildly alarmed. I tried to blast them off with the hose. Unsuccessful. I'm not sure why I think I could live in the country. . . . Thank you for all of your kind and poignant comments on my last post. I was very moved by them. I'm really trying to take it slow and steady. Summer destroys me with longing, somehow. It happens to me every year. I don't know. Summer always feels hard in ways I can't even explain.

Meems and I have been rollicking through the days, nevertheless. Andy worked Sunday through Wednesday this week, through the holiday, but she and I kept ourselves busy with friends and fun stuff. It was hot yesterday afternoon, so we slowed to a crawl and laid around and did all the puzzles and watched kids' shows on TV after we got home from swimming. It was nice. I read a library book (The Headmaster's Wife — don't tell me what happens, I'm not done yet) while eating curried shrimp and pineapple and peas (weird combo, I guess, but it was good) and she ate a dozen enormous strawberries for dinner on the couch. At night I've been knitting miles and miles of stockinette on my Birkin sweater and that thing is shaped quite oddly. I think it's going to funnel-neck pretty badly on me. My tension looks pathetic, alternately too loose and too tight. I really can't do three colors in the same row. I can knit with both hands but dropping the second and picking up the third color just messed me up I guess. Usually my colorwork looks pretty good — I'm pretty loose — but this yoke (not pictured among the four thousand pictures above, naturally) looks positively smocked. I did try it on, though, and it fit, in a way, but I can see that it wants to ride up. The armholes are quite low. There is no increasing over almost the entire depth of the yoke pattern, so the yoke is pretty tube-like to begin with, almost poncho-like. I have about eleven inches left to do of straaaaaaaight stockinette, in fingering, in size XL. Soooooooo I'm going to be there for a while before I get a chance to block it out. I'm gonna block it hard and hope the yoke stretches. Or should I take it off the needles now (I'm about three inches into the body, after separating for sleeves) and block it and make sure it's going to be wearable without tragic funnel-necking before I keep stockinetting for hours of my life? OH such problems. Well, you know. I knit while watching the news so I should probably go up about four needle sizes in general, actually and in all things, to counterbalance the inherent tension of . . . oh, everything, everywhere.

My skirt pattern (second-from-top photo) is done and I'm going to release  it next week, along with some of the extra yards of calico leftover from cutting strips for quilt kits. There is not a ton of fabric, but I do want to make some of it available, so I'll probably do it next Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. again. The pattern is a PDF download and it will only be available as a download (not printed). I'm vaguely nervous about this as it's my first-ever clothing pattern, but it's pretty simple and I know you'll write to me if you have any problems. More quilt kits should be coming in the next few weeks or so — I just got a new box of fabric from West Virginia yesterday, so that will hopefully be cut next week and then I'll start designing kits again.

I've been thinking a lot about the various teachers Amelia has for her school and different lessons and stuff that she does. Isn't it incredible how certain teachers really are totally life-changing, in the best of ways? I'm just starting to watch this happen, and am learning what it means for my kid. It really moves me, watching her bond with and trust and love some of the teachers in her life. It really is like watching a flower bloom right before your eyes.

Here's a cute video that Andy took of Meems at Ryan Adams last week. Xo

Midsummer

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The middle. The greens have deepened. The sun is hot and rich. If there were cicadas here they'd be humming in the afternoons, but instead they hum in my memory of them humming. It's a Midwestern memory, one of many. There was a scent in the air the other day as Amelia and I got out of the car to have our lunch at a Thai restaurant I've only just started going to, needing a change. Something was blooming but I don't know what. It was the smell of a field, or a meadow, though we were nowhere near one. Far from, in fact. A sob caught in my throat. Our neighborhood feels urban in the worst of ways, lately. Overcrowded, filled with cars, crime, and a general crustiness that has me world-weary. I long for a Queen-Anne's-lace-lined gravel road, birdsong, a lake with a pier I could sit on and dangle my toes, a rowboat with which I could row Amelia into the shade to nap. No noise but nature's noises. I long for these things. Everything feels so far from them, somehow. I don't know why. I can't seem to find the right place for us to go to find them. It seems like just a small, quiet, ordinary place but I can't find it. It must be more extraordinary than I thought. Sometimes I wished we lived in the country.

Instead, I tend my little garden. It's not doing very well, actually, and seems rather stunted. The gourds and cucumbers seem stressed, their lower leaves turning yellow and getting brown splotches and falling off. The broccoli leaves, those beautiful, leathery, spruce-green lobes, are getting eaten by something. I guess everything else is actually doing okay, but it just doesn't seem to be growing very much. I've been watering every day and this is the first time I've been so diligent about doing anything in the garden for years, since before Amelia was born. It feels good and I feel ready to do it again. I mean, I'm still terrible at gardening. I learn things and then I forget them immediately, or I don't learn anything at all. I'm super into it for a while and then I'll get totally neglectful (and, well, busy) and won't water for a week, usually right when it gets super hot and the plants need it most. Well, we'll see. So far I'm doing okay with it, and it feels good.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your orders during my quilt kit sale the other day. I am so incredibly happy that these are selling, and yes, I have more coming. I have at least twenty new fabrics that haven't even been cut yet. I'm working on my skirt pattern — and yes, to those who've asked, it is the skirt hanging next to my basket on my post last week — and I'm going to be selling a limited amount of yardage of these vintage calicos to go with my skirt pattern. The pattern has no pieces for you to print out or cut out or anything like that — the skirt is made entirely of rectangles cut with a rotary cutter and ruler, and you can make it any size you'd like. I've literally made five of these skirts in the past few weeks as I've been working on the pattern, and I've been wearing one or another almost every single day. I put my phone/wallet in one pocket and my keys in the other and I go. So practical. I'm haaaaaaappy with this particular summer solution. It's good.

Andy Paulson. The kind of dad I wish every child in the world could have. Happy Father's Day, my dear, dear irrepressible, darling love. XOXO

Even MORE Calicozy ComfyQuilt Top Kits Available at 4 p.m. PDT! SOLD OUT

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***Thank you to everyone who ordered! I will be shipping tomorrow (Friday) and will have more coming in the next month or so. Please stay tuned and thank you SO MUCH to everyone who likes these. I sincerely appreciate it more than I can say. Thank you! :)))

 

Welcome to the third installment of the Calicozy ComfyQuilt Top Kit sale! I'm cutting and pasting the general information here directly out of my old posts, since the information has not changed. Please scroll down to see the new kits!

Recently I decided to make myself a throw quilt out of my very favorite calicos from the 1980s and 1990s — tiny, charming floral prints from my childhood and early adulthood that remain, for me, the epitome of fabric sweetness. It turned out to be so pretty that I began collecting similar vintage fabrics so that I could offer quilt-top kits, along with a pattern, to make a quilt-comforter like mine.

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This quilt is set on-point, so the square patches actually display as diamonds. It is designed to be turned inside out instead of bound, tied at each patch intersection, and filled with a poufy, inexpensive comforter from Ikea (though you can use batting, if you like). The Ikea comforter can be purchased both at the Ikea store and on-line.

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Please note that these sizes are smaller than standard quilts or comforters. Modeled after old-fashioned eiderdowns, this quilt is meant to sit mostly on top of your mattress, and doesn’t have a long overhang.

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The approximate finished sizes are: Toddler 42" x 58" (107cm x 147cm); Throw 58" x 58" (147cm x 147cm); Twin 58" x 80" (147cm x 203cm); Full/Queen 80" x 80" (203cm x 203cm); King 101" x 80" (257cm x 203cm).

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To make the Calicozy ComfyQuilt, you will need to purchase the Calicozy ComfyQuilt PDF pattern, available only as a digital download, HERE.

And then if you are interested, you can purchase a quilt-top kit (please note that the kits are for the TOP ONLY) in one of several colorways, shown below. Click on each image to be taken to my web shop where you may purchase a kit for one of five sizes.

 

 WENDY DARLING

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STRAWBERRY FIELDS

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SWEET JANE

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MARY ROSE

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BISHOP'S GATE

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GERANIUM WINDOW

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WILD LILAC

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Please note that the virtual tops shown here are an approximation of the prints and solids you will receive with this quilt-top kit. The kit you receive will include vintage cotton calicos and non-vintage cotton solid fabrics already cut for you into 4.25" (11cm) strips. Because these print fabrics are vintage and available in limited supply, you may not receive every fabric pictured, but you will receive 15 unique fabrics that are consistent with the overall colorway presented. Each kit includes enough fabric to make the top for each quilt size as described. I believe that all of the print fabrics are vintage, and 100% cotton, but I can't absolutely guarantee it.

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 and we'll figure it out, no worries! I just like to remind people of this ahead of time, because it's a bit easier.

Thank you, as always, for your enthusiasm for and interest in my work and in these kits. I will keep making these as long as there is interest, so if you miss out this time, more will be coming.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will get back to you here. Thank you!

Calicozy Preview III

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Helloooooooo, dears. I was trying to get this posted on Friday but, life. Here is the third installment of the Calicozy ComfyQuilt Top Kits preview. Once again, I will have two different sale times for people who live in different parts of the world, or have different schedules. The virtual quilts that appear below are for your preview purposes only. The quilt top kits, in all sizes, will be available for sale here on Wednesday, June 21, at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and then again on the same day at 4 p.m. PDT.

These kits are the first batch from a purchase of new old stock from a quilt shop in West Virginia that closed in the '90s. This is literally just the beginning of me dipping into this incredible stash of fabric, more of which arrives every week or so. Because the quantity of fabric that I now have is HUGE, I had almost all of the fabric I'm using for these kits cut by an enormous and sophisticated laser cutting machine by the crew at Spooltown, a small-run sewing factory down the street who cut tons of the fabric for my animal kits a couple of years ago. I still can't believe I have a resource like this literally down the street, and I can't even say enough about how much I love working with Dana and Sara. Please read about them and see how cool this place is. I will have one of each size of every colorway pictured below, with three of each size for the colorways Wendy Darling, Strawberry Fields, and Sweet Jane. And, once again, if you miss these, more will be coming at the end of the summer, especially now that Andy and I are not doing all of the cutting ourselves.

For more information on these kits, please visit this post from the first time they were on sale. And I would also suggest that, now that the pattern is available, if you are interested in shopping for a kit when the time comes, either purchase the pattern ahead of time (or later), or even just put it in your cart so you don't have to do that when you're trying to get a kit.

Okay, see you Wednesday! I will have a new post with live links to my web shop where you can purchase. Also, in the next couple of weeks I will have some of these fabrics on sale by the half-yard to go with the any-size-skirt pattern I am almost finished with and will be releasing soon. Thank you! Xo, a

 

WENDY DARLING

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STRAWBERRY FIELDS

Strawberry Fields660

 

SWEET JANE

Sweet Jane660

 

MARY ROSE

Mary Rose660

 

BISHOP'S GATE

Bishop's Gate660

 

GERANIUM WINDOW

Geranium Window660

 

WILD LILAC

Wild Lilac 660

Cold Start

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The weather here has been absolutely freezing. Apparently we're just going to be hurled from one extreme condition (scorching) to another (freezing). I had the heat on last night, and the flannel sheets. I'm not really complaining (much) as this has been perfect knitting weather. All the knitters I know are surreptitiously knitting as fast as we can, trying to finish stuff to wear before the next heat wave. Because honestly, we need sweaters right now. And probably scarves. It's that cold.

Something really, really cool happened to me the other day. I came in from watering out back and I heard this very loud birdsong, and found that there was a chickadee sitting in the dining room. We don't have screens (or mosquitoes), but a bird has never flown into the house before. Birds have been in the house before, brought in in a state of mortal crisis by The Bee. But in this case, she, Old Lady Bee, was sleeping on a chair on the porch, literally right outside the window above which the bird was sitting and singing its heart out. She continued to sleep. The bird flew from curtain rod to pendant-lamp cord to picture moulding, singing and stopping to look around. He didn't seem in distress. My heart started racing a bit. I opened all of the windows as wide as they would go, and threw open the front door. I went outside and watered the front, hoping he would find his way out. I talked to my neighbor for about an hour, and we could hear him singing in there the whole time. A friend of his was flitting around outside, frantically calling for him, but he continued to sing his way around the dining room and didn't come out. I went back in and talked to him a bit. I really needed to come in and go to work (in the back of the house) and wanted to shut the front door. He did more flying from thing to thing. I stood still and talked, very quietly. He tilted his little head, listening. Suddenly he flew down to the lampshade on the entry table. I walked over very slowly and he stayed on the lampshade. I seriously could not believe it. I was two feet away. We stayed like that for minutes. I don't know how many minutes. I lifted my arm and held my finger out to him, moving a bit closer. He tilted his head again and sidestepped away. I stayed like that, with my arm out, until my arm started getting tired. Then I propped my other elbow on the entry table and started holding up my right arm with my left hand. We stood like this for a long time. Still, he didn't fly away. I inched my hand closer. I put my finger up to his feet, holding my breath. He was so small. He put one foot on my finger and then took it off. I kept my finger there. Suddenly he put both feet on my finger and started pecking at the tip of my finger. He was so light. He pecked at the tip of my finger some more. I was smiling hugely, afraid to breathe. Slowly I walked over to the open window, him on my finger, bobbing nervously, the whole time. When I got to the window and moved my arm outside he started to walk up my arm, toward me! I moved my arm further out the window, afraid he would fly off and back into the house! But then suddenly he was off, flying up into the sky.

It was, honestly, one of the most awesome, most amazing things that has ever happened to me in my whole life. It was so, so, so cool. I still cannot even believe it! It was so cool!

I forgot to say that at some point, Bridget did hear me talking and she came into the house through the door and started sauntering back and forth through the dining room. She knew something was going on but she couldn't figure out what, and she never saw the bird. She kept coming back into the room in mild confusion, like she thought she should definitely be involved in something. And she mostly just wanted to go back to bed. The old girl is seventeen years old this summer. She's mostly a wild cat. An old wild cat, now. She's never really sat on my lap, in seventeen years. That's not to say she hasn't been on my lap, but when she gets on my lap (once a year or so) we are both so totally freaked out that it's about as far from a lovely or relaxing experience for us both as it gets. She acts completely bewildered to have suddenly found herself on my lap. She skitters around on my legs as if her paws are on fire. I freeze in place, trying to avert my eyes lest I be caught looking at her (because she will punch you in the face faster than the speed of light if she catches you meeting her eye). It's like having a cross between a squirrel and a goblin for a pet. But she comes home every night, she loves us in her way, we love her in ours, Clover Meadow intelligently tries to give her wide berth (although occasionally she will walk up to Clover and try to head-moosh her, and Clover's entire body stiffens in terror, and we all hold our breath, too, until it's over), and Amelia screams like a banshee every time Bridget comes flying through the room like a fruit bat trying to get out of the light. Little Bee. Our little alley kitten. Doing pretty well for an old girl.

I told Andy I don't think I've ever taken a picture of Clover that more accurately captures her than the one above. Sweetest heart ever. Drives me insane on a daily basis. But I love her so much. Dear love. That face.

I've been ridiculously busy. Andy had the week off and I've just been working, working, working. I drafted a skirt pattern for you. And bought half of the remaining inventory from a quilt shop that closed in the '90s. Not even kidding. More on both of these things soon. New quilt kits coming! Next week! They're really pretty. I can't wait.

Tilt-a-Whirl

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29Oaks11

29Oaks11

29Oaks11

29Oaks11

Whirlwind days, going every which way, and a long weekend filled with friends and family, and a birthday for my love. Andy Paulson turned forty-six and had a very sweet birthday. I went old-school with the cake I made for him, and returned to my old classic, chocolate cake with butter-roux frosting. This time I made the cake in three 8"-round pans, and baked them for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. I doubled the frosting and piled it on. Highly recommend.

A Variation on Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa (I actually use Cacao Barry, which my sister turned me on to)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup steaming hot (brewed) coffee*

*Original recipe calls for boiling water but coffee brings out the chocolate flavor a bit without actually making it taste like coffee. I usually reheat whatever was leftover in coffee pot that morning.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour (using cocoa powder so it disappears) two 9" round cake pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer for 2 minutes. Carefully stir in boiling water and coffee (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans (see above).

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes (see above) or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks and cool completely.

As I've posted before, the frosting for this cake is my mom's old recipe for something we in our family called "the milk and flour frosting." (I later learned this is called a "butter-roux" frosting.) When I first put it on the blog several years ago, I renamed it more romantically and called it Cloudburst Frosting because it is really light, fluffy, and not-too-sweet . This frosting also had a long history in our house of being very temperamental but it is totally worth it. We think we have it down now, but you have to do it exactly this way. You just do. Don't ask me why. We really do not know.

Cloudburst Frosting

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup WHOLE (it has to be whole) milk or half-and-half
1 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

In a small pan, gradually add the milk to the flour, whisking them together into a totally smooth mixture — you don't want any lumps here. Simmer (barely) until thick over low/medium heat, whisking constantly so you don't get any lumps. (Do not walk away from the stove for even a minute — trust me. If you do get lumps, just push it all through a sieve.) You want it to be the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat and let it cool completely but NOT in the refrigerator (Mom says if you put it in the fridge it won't work). Let it cool for a few minutes, and then push a piece of plastic wrap down on the surface of the mixture (so a skin doesn't form) and let it sit on the counter for an hour or two or three until it's completely cool. (Update: My sister says it's totally fine to put this in the refrigerator, so . . . ) Cream together the butter and almond; add the confectioner's sugar and beat on high for several minutes until it is very fluffy. Add the milk/flour mixture and beat until it is super fluffy. The frosting will sometimes appear to separate when you add the milk/flour mixture, but just keep beating it on high until it whips up into smooth, fluffy clouds.

            After frosting the cake, chill before serving for maximum deliciousness. I like this cake very cold.

 

The news of the world and of our city in particular has been so troubling and heartbreaking it has brought me to tears several times this past week. Today Amelia and I went past the memorial at the transit center where two brave men lost their lives. It is absolutely covered in flowers and chalk-drawn messages of love. I send my prayers out to all of the fallen warriors and their families who have given everything to protect us. I truly appreciated all of your comments on my last post. I long for advice about how to live in these troubled times.

We planted our little vegetable garden in the parkway raised beds this past weekend. We don't really have enough in it yet, I don't think. The weather is all over the place — some days in the upper 90s and some days, like yesterday, absolutely freezing cold and raining. We planted the back-porch planters with veggies and herbs, too — tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, corn, basil, lemon verbena. These I'm hoping Amelia will take care of, as it will be easy for her to water them out there. She spends a lot of time on the back porch, so I think it will be fun. I had absolutely no plan with regard to anything that I bought — I just grabbed a bunch of veggie starts randomly and we put them all over the place, in front and back. This is not how I usually do things but hey, stuff's in the ground, at least. I feel like maybe some of it is not supposed to be together, but I've never really understood what that means or why certain veggies aren't supposed to be planted near one another. . . . Feel free to enlighten me, honestly. Is it like a nutrient thing or a pest thing or . . . ? I could Google this, I know.

I'm working on a Birkin sweater, a pattern for which you can only find in the second issue of  Laine magazine. This will be a size XL sweater knit in fingering-weight yarn, with lots of complicated colorwork (three colors per row in lots of cases) so it should keep me out of trouble for a good loooooooong while is what I'm thinking. . . .

My girl dances and twirls, spinning from one thing to the next, riding bigger little-kid amusement-park rides by herself for the first time, pulling all of her bravery from somewhere deep inside her, waiting in line and getting on the rides by herself, waving to us from the tiny plane, the tiny car, the tiny speedboat, us standing on the sidelines filled with so much hope and joy and admiration. She inspires me beyond words in these moments. I can see all of her fear and all of her fearlessness in her face, can see her weighing the risk of participation with the anticipation of just how exciting it will be when that thing goes up in the air, or bounces around the track, or bangs up and down on its metal octopus arm, and she wants to go. She is serious and deliberate and even nervous, but she always moves forward, standing in line on her own, asking the other kids around her if someone will ride with her, racing to the purple car, changing her mind and going for another one, losing nerve a little bit and starting to cry when it all gets too bumpy, then pulling herself back together and smiling hugely on the final round. When she got off the speedboat (the scariest one) she raced into my arms and collapsed, all tension in every muscle gone and making this loud noise that seemed to come from her soul, like an enormously relieved sigh but one that wasn't only relieved but also amused at herself and proud of herself and also just purely delighted at the world. It is hard to describe the noise but Andy and I both knew exactly what it was (we talked about it as soon as she went to bed and we both thought it meant the exact same things). She made the noise for a long time and I held her in my arms for all of that time and could not see through my own quiet, proud, and, yeah, relieved tears. This child, this braveheart. On my shoulder, limp and heavy and soft. Big and small. These moments sneak up on me so. I never knew about them before motherhood. I can't imagine what they are called. What are these called? There have been a few of them now and they are the most moving, poignant experiences of parenthood, for me. I can't even really describe, and I don't think I'll ever forget, but I just wanted to write this so that I could remember it again right now.

Slowly but Surely

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I've been moving slowly lately, sort of mildly melancholy, even before the news of the terrorist attack in Manchester last night, which is just shattering my heart every time I think of it. A lot of people I know have been cleaning lately — straightening and organizing and dusting and fussing with the little things, and I have been the same, apparently trying to bring order to a world that feels so disordered and disorienting. I dusted off all of my earrings and twenty-year-old perfume bottles, got new low-light houseplants and some new pots, a little chair, moved the pictures. Moved them again. Sat in the chair and did nothing but sit for a minute. I'm trying to make a safe spot. I hold my daughter close under the galloping blades of the big ceiling fan — it was 90 degrees yesterday at bedtime, and we laid on top of the clean white sheets in the dim room, shades pulled against the evening sun and the world outside, talking about baby chicks and rising moons and silly songs and swimming lessons. It was almost too much to bear, her restless feet and her soft arms and her butterfly kisses and my weary heart, all jumbled and wilted from the heat and the news, and my throat felt so raw and sad I could not speak, so whispered. My heart and thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims and their families and the first-responders of Manchester.

I wish you all peace. I wish you everything peaceful and soft today. XO, a

Peek-A-Boo

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Oh, de-dear, dear, dear, as we say here. My little head is busy with little things. Thank you for all of the waffle recommendations! The sour-cream waffles we made twice last week were delicious, if not exactly crispy. I think I'll make one of your recipes for breakfast tomorrow. Today is filled with errands and chores. It's raining, windy, and cold. This comes as a slight relief after the 80-degree temps and relentless sunshine we had this past week. A little of each feels nice. Mimi says she doesn't want to go anywhere today. I think she would be happy staying in and watching Bookaboo in her underwear while cutting pieces of paper into confetti with embroidery scissors, which is what she's been doing for the past hour, but alas, errands call. Blah.

I've been doing such weird things. I'm not even sure what. I wrote to somewhere (can't remember who you ask for this) to request a copy of the original Social Security application that was filled out by my great-grandmother in 1951, when she was 61 years old. It has her parents' full names on it, names no one in my family or extended family has ever known. Turns out I'm at least partly Polish on my mom's side, if the name Gorzinski is any indication. This was really exciting, somehow. I have one of those mysterious family histories on both sides. My father was adopted and knew nothing of his birthparents. My maternal grandmother's father died when she was little, and she never spoke of it, or him. She had a French last name, so we've always assumed she was partly French, or French Canadian, but we know nothing beyond that. Her mother remarried (or, as it turns out, married — she wasn't married to my grandmother's father) and essentially abandoned my grandmother, and all we ever knew was her (my grandmother's mother's) married name, not her maiden name. There's not much information, even on Ancestry.com, but I have literally spent hours and hours looking and have found some stuff. I don't know why I'm looking. I guess I'm one of those people who wants to know these things, but I think I'm actually motivated by my own love of researching mysteries as much as some kind of personal neeeeeeed. I think. I'm not sure. Maybe I need to know more than I think I do. There's just enough information to sort of piece something together, but who knows? Who knows what the real story is when everyone who knew the real story is gone? I'm still waiting for my DNA test to come back. Well. Amelia's maternal birthgrandma and -grandpa have done a ton of genealogical research, and passed all of that on to her on her first birthday, the most beautiful present, I thought. I'm so happy that she will have things like this in her life. Recently I traced (well, others had traced, but I just discovered the tracings) her birthfather's maternal grandfather's family all the way back to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1620. It was such a cool moment. Jamestown! Virginia! Her birthfamily is all coming for Birthmother's Day on Saturday (did you know Birthmother's Day is Saturday?) and I can't wait to talk about this stuff. Obviously, now I want to write a young-adult novel about Jamestown, Virginia.

 

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.