Sunshine Sprout

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Um, the weather? Sixty-three degrees yesterday? Me oh my. We spent hours walking along. Everything is burgeoning. I tucked a sprig of daphne in her hair. I put it on my nightstand last night. Sweet smell of springtime. When I was a teenager, I worked after-school and weekends as a candy girl at the Lake Theater in Oak Park. Next to the theater was a store called Essence, and it was a gorgeous little shop that sold bath and body products. Inside it was all dark wood shelving and glass cabinets, baskets of dried flowers, bars of hard-milled soaps, Crabtree & Evelyn stuff, vanilla and violet perfumes (I had my bottle of vanilla perfume forever, and kept it long after it was empty — frosted glass with a little vanilla-colored ribbon tied around the neck). I used to haunt the place after school and before work started. The same lady worked there forever. She looked like the lady who sang back up for Stevie Nicks on The Wild Heart. She was always there. She was never friendly to me and I was very intimidated by her. I thought she was possibly the coolest person alive. I loved all of those soaps and flowers and lotions and perfumes so much. I would go in and figure out what things I could afford to buy and what things I had to save for. I saved for a long time for a bottle of lilac perfume (which I still have). I was trying to tell Stacey the other day about the Spring Rain scent (and packaging) from Crabtree & Evelyn. This scent was discontinued several years ago, and then I guess they brought it back, or something. I bought some two or three years ago and it was NOT the same at all (and didn't have the pretty packaging). The scent was so different I actually threw it away. Amelia's dress (which I made a few years ago, and is Liberty Tana Lawn, but I can't remember the name of this colorway) reminds me of the old Spring Rain packaging. I also mourn the discontinuation (?) of Crabtree & Evelyn cherry soap. That was my absolute favorite soap ever. It reminds me of taking a hot bath one night in our little hotel room at the Crofton Hotel in London after walking all day in the rain all over Hampstead Heath and arriving at Highgate Cemetery just as the ancient lady was locking the ancient gate with an ancient key (that's how I remember it, anyway). It was November, then. I had walked all the way there, from Kensington. I can't imagine how many miles that was. It took me all day. I was alone. I took the tube home that evening, in the rain. When I got back to the hotel, I ran the hottest bath in the world, and had a new bar of cherry soap. There was a casement window that opened — no window screen — above the bathtub. It was inky black outside, and drizzling. I could hear Londoners outside — it was Friday night. I was so incredibly tired and happy that night. For some reason, I just always remember and think of that day, and that night. I think I knew, even then when I was twenty, that there would only ever be that one single November day that I would spend walking for miles and miles across London to Hampstead Heath, stopping at John Keats house, grabbing Indian food on the way home, counting how many pound notes I had left to see if I could afford the tube after eating dinner (this was before such things as debit cards). Ah, well. A very strong '80s-era Laura Ashley-vibe will always be alive in my heart. My friend Martha told me she is sending me a bunch of fabric from her stash of Peter Pan and other '80s calicos. That she has a stash (gifted from a friend's mom) at all is so exciting sometimes I actually fall asleep thinking about it. I love little flowers. I made this little style board on Pinterest a few years ago that reminds me of all of this (because I think about it often), or something. I'm so excited to get the fabric. It's weird how things come full circle sometimes. The circle's always there, but sometimes it comes all the way around.

Do you have a little bundle of memories about something, several things, that all sort of converge (sometimes, some days) in a smell, or a picture, or a color of sky, too?

Made three little dresses for Meems this week (two pictured above, one with a Mina vest). Will photograph with details once they come back out of the wash. :)))

Rings of Spring

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* * *  T H A N K   Y O U,   E V E R Y B O D Y ! ! ! * * *

Thank you, thank you for all of your orders and kind words about the new spring things.
I am so so so happy that you are excited about these. They have been a lot of fun for me to design!
If you ordered Spring Rings before last Friday, your packages are in the mail.
We are still waiting for yarn to arrive to ship yarn packs, but it should be here any day.
Thank you again for your support. It is humbling to watch orders come in, and I feel so incredibly blessed every single time.
Thank you! XOXO

Ah, and spring has indeed sprung 'round these parts. I need to look back to see what day our pink plum tree normally blooms, but I think it's a bit early this year. This is the week that it looks nice. The rest of the year I wish it were (almost) any other kind of tree. We have been ridiculously runny-nosed and coughing like one of those old-fashioned car horns that go "Ah-HOOG-a! Ah-HOOOOOG-a!" Just gross. Thank God Stacey's here to do all the work for me. It goes: Amelia gets sick, I get sick, Amelia gets well almost immediately, I stay sick, I take bagfuls of remedies, I wash my hands approximately seventy-five times a day, I continue to be sick, I insist I'm not still sick and am feeling better, I feel worse, Amelia gets sick again, Amelia wipes her runny nose on my face, I feel even worse, Amelia gets better, I shiver on the sofa drinking peppermint tea and beg to be allowed to go to bed at 7:45 p.m., I finally feel better (after a month). Amelia goes, "I'm coughing, just like Mommy." Ah, well. February. Today is the first day in a long time that I have felt really good, and it is thrilling, absolutely thrilling.

I have not had a chance to make ANY of the chicken recipes you provided, though I did make chicken stock from the Silver Palate Cookbook, one of the first cookbooks I ever owned and still love. I also realized that Amelia has almost no clothes that will fit her this spring and summer, and set about pinning a jillion things onto my Pinterest board, and sifting through my patterns, and thinking about color palates (rose-gold, salmon pink, gray sky, minty green, plum blossoms, milky whites, rainy blues), and shapes (peasant, peasant, and more variations on the peasant).

Do you recognize Amelia's navy gingham dress? I cry just now, re-reading that post. It's from almost exactly six years ago. 2010. I had so much time. Actually, I can't even talk about myself as I was then, laid bare, quivering with hope and dreams, sewing for survival (as I had sewn several times before. So I recognized it). I'm moved by what I wrote back then, and I remember it like it was yesterday, remember every dress I made, every fabric I washed, every little piece of rick-rack or eyelet I chose, every pocket I trimmed, every pattern I cut out. Every one of those things kept me believing, even when I wasn't sure (and trust me, I wasn't sure a lot). Occasionally someone would (gently, always gently) criticize a choice I'd made — those buttons up the back look like they'll be uncomfortable when she's strapped into a car seat; that wool's gonna be hell to wash when it's thrown up on — and instead of being hurt I'd be amazed and think, "She [dear commenter!] actually thinks a real kid is going to wear this! She really believes it's going to happen!" And the specifics of the advice only barely registered with me. I would happily wash wool by hand every day, if only a kid would come and barf on it, if only the dream would come true.

Waiting to be chosen to be someone's mother (or father) is a state of being I still don't really have words to describe. Maybe you know it; maybe you can't even imagine. I think all of us adoptive parents probably carry around this same inability to describe the experience. And I would bet that most of us, in the end, wouldn't trade it for the world.

(That's just a guess. It's certainly true for me, though living it was one of the hardest things I've ever done.)

Of course, once it happens — and, oh my, it happens — (and I do pray that it happens for you, I truly, truly do) — the fact that anything just gets washed, somehow, some way, let alone washed by hand (hahahahah!), is the new dream. Those carefully pressed French seams and hand-stitched three-inch hems wind up in the laundry basket along with the milk-covered onesies and the Velcro-closured (gah!!!) sleepsacks and the Old Navy leggings. That you are able to say, while laughing, "Oh, poo! There's barf on the smocking!" and blithely toss a Bishop dress into the washing machine is just one of the great benefits of being a parent who had to cry a few tears into your needlework to get here. I have such tenderness in my heart for all the little dresses now. Watching Amelia wear and then outgrow them fills me with nothing but astonishment, and gratefulness, and pure joy.

That said, sewing for me now is different. I'm still dreamy. I still love it beyond reason. I still love the planning, and the picking, and the thinking, and the sketching. I love going to the fabric store with my girl, and pushing her through the aisles of fabrics, and watching her touch them (and grab them, and pull them off the shelf, etc.). But the sewing itself has to happen like lightning. And although I am a romantic, the actual sewing itself is just all business-practical now. Because they grow out of it all so fast. And, I'm sorry to say this, but the details don't really matter in practice. You gotta do what you like, and skip what you don't like to do. Stuff like buttons? No. I just don't want to do buttons. I don't want to do buttonholes and I don't want to sew on individual buttons. Set-in sleeves. NO. Just, no. I can count the number of gathered, set-in sleeves, in thirty years of sewing, that I have gotten in correctly on the first try on one hand. Zippers? Maybe, but not really. She gets her hair stuck in them anyway. Elastic casings? Meh. Too much work, as well. Snaps? YES. Continuous placket back opening? YES. Ties? Yeah, okay. Self-lined patch pockets? Yep. Raglan sleeves. YES. Elastic stretched and sewn directly above a sleeve hem, and not threaded through a casing? EVERY TIME. Simple, unfitted shapes that let her run and move? Obvs. Saving my energy for those few designs that really make me work for them? Mmmmm, okay. Yeah. Yes. I can do that. Stay tuned. I'm sewing for Meems again.

Honey Bunnies, Lovey Lamb, and a Spring Ring

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I just couldn't pick a favorite. Have you ever tried to do a product photo shoot with a three-year-old? It's a free-for-all. You get FIVE MINUTES. Maybe four. Then it's total chaos and stuffed animals are flung hither and yon, the phone is ringing, the dog is trying to get on the bed, the toddler is under the covers "napping" with all the stuffed animals (that she drags, alarmingly, by ears or tail out from under the dog), and then she's up and out looking for "their friend," the prototype bunny who did not make the cut, who differs significantly from the finished bunnies who did and who will just confuse people who see it who think they're getting a pattern for it but won't get a pattern for it, because there is no actual pattern for exactly that bunny. I dare you to try to explain this (even to yourself) while she's looking at you with her bunny-rabbit eyes, hugging and kissing only her prototype (new best) friend that you don't actually want to photograph before she's off, and down the stairs to get some juice. I never want to forget these days. I love it all. It's pandemonium, but I love it.

Meet the Honey Bunnies and Lovey Lamb softie crochet patterns! They are now available for your after-hours very-relaxing crocheting enjoyment.

The Honey Bunny Crocheted Softie Pattern has two color variations (greens for a boy bunny and pink/white for a girl) and is available HERE.

The Lovey Lamb Crocheted Softie Pattern is available HERE.

 

We also are offering yarn packs that include all the yarn you need to make one critter, along with the plastic safety eyes and nose, and a length of embroidery floss to stitch the mouth. Details about the specific yarns are included on the web pages for these packs (as well as on the pattern pages).

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The yarn pack for the BOY bunny is available HERE.

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The yarn pack for the GIRL bunny is available HERE.

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And the yarn pack for Lovey Lamb is available HERE.

Please note that these yarn packs do not include a printed copy of the pattern. You must purchase the pattern separately and print it at home (you'll have an option to purchase it from the yarn pack pages in the web shop, as well).

Also: We will be taking orders for yarn today and then ordering quantities directly from Brown Sheep Company tomorrow (and we'll keep doing that this week, and next, etc. — so we definitely won't run out). Since this is my first crochet "kit," I really wasn't sure what the sales would be like, and I just didn't want to guess and run out, or guess and get stuck with a whole bunch of yarn in colors that weren't best sellers. This yarn, Lambs Pride Superwash sport is technically machine washable, though I personally wouldn't ever throw one of these critters into the washing machine. But you can easily spot clean them, which I thought was important for a kid's toy. This sport-weight yarn, which is manufactured in Nebraska, is not the softest yarn in the world but it is really durable and it resists pilling very well, in my experience, and I just love it. Brown Sheep Company is one of my favorite companies that I work with. I have carried one of their other yarns (Nature Spun Sport) for years, and designed all of my Little Animal Family knitwear with it, and I love that yarn, too, but it isn't a superwash. Lambs Pride Superwash Sport is almost the exact same yarn as Nature Spun Sport, as far as I can tell, except that it comes in different colors and it is (as I mentioned) washable.

So, because we will have to wait a week for the yarn to arrive, we won't be shipping these yarn packs lickety split, as we usually do. But we will ship them as fast as we can once the yarn arrives so you will have plenty of time to make everything in time for Easter! I would expect to have everything ordered today out by the end of next week.

And if you don't want to crochet a lamb, maybe you would rather cross stitch one?

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Do you wonder how I have time to do these things? So do I, mamas. So do I. But I've got mouths to feed, people, and my honey bunny can eat a six-dollar container of organic blueberries faster than you can say 28-count Cashel linen by Zweigart in Smokey Pearl.

This is my Spring Ring. It's just a little counted cross stitch design that can be finished with a 4" (10cm) hoop. It's got fifteen colors and is done on 28-count Cashel linen. It will come as a kit and as a pattern.

 Kits include:

  • One 7" x 7" (18cm x 18cm) piece of 28-count Cashel linen by Zweigart in Smokey Pearl
  • Sixteen DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss in 24" (61cm) lengths
  • One 5” (12.5cm) square piece of wool-blend felt, for back
  • One 8½" x 11" (22cm x 28cm) piece of white chipboard for making floss holder
  • Stitching instructions and full-color cross-stitch chart

But you will need to get your own:

Note that a full-color printed copy of the pattern is included with this kits, but the hoop is not included (but is available for purchase separately here).

 

The Spring Ring Cross Stitch KITS are available HERE. They will be shipping at the beginning of next week.

The Spring Ring Cross Stitch PATTERN is available HERE. It is available as a digital PDF for immediate download.

 

Thank you for listening and thank you for shopping! Tell me if you have any questions — I'll be home for the rest of the afternoon and evening! I'll be sprawled on the sofa, but I will rouse if you need me! OVER AND OUT. And happy almost-spring, loves. Xoxo

***Oh yes — forgot to mention, temporary bunny tattoos (see Amelia's hand) go out with every order. :)

***Also: The link to digital patterns that appears on the screen after you finish checking out doesn't seem to be working properly. Skip this link and look for an email that will come (immediately) to the email address you used to place your order. That email will contain a link to your patterns for you. Sorry about that. I have a query into SendOwl and will hopefully have a fix soon. Problem solved. Sorry about that!

Bluebird Days

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No new snowfall lately, but my gosh, the sky blue sky. It couldn't be prettier. It was definitely in the 60s in town today, and up at the mountain on Sunday you really didn't even need a coat. Spring is bursting at every seam in our neighborhood. It's been another busy week. We're shopping for preschools and it's strangely draining — exciting but also stressful, trying to keep track of everything (this one's a co-op, this one's neo-humanist, this one's two mornings a week, this one's three mornings a week, this one's Waldorf, this one's Montessori, this one's immersion [or wait, did he say "emerging"?], this one feels too big, this one's too radical, this one's one's got a rad outdoor space but I don't love the teacher, this one is perfect but there's no outdoor space, this one's too expensive, this one's too far from home . . . etc., etc., etc.). What I love is watching Amelia go into every space we visit and just check it out. She loves everything. This is just such an exciting time. She's growing and changing so much.  I absolutely love age three. I mean, it can be exhausting, and it can be maddening, and it is intense, but it really is just . . . awesome. I don't know. I'm tongue-tied. I wish I could explain.

I would've liked to have been a ski bum, and I'm strangely happy in stinky ski lodges with snowboarders and snow machines and powdered hot chocolate and beer and ski gear falling all over the place. I sat in a little snowdrift by the outdoor fire pit and watched Amelia slide down a ten-foot snow bank twenty times in perfect happiness. She's a willing snowbunny. Andy is a great snow dad. I can't believe it's almost Valentine's Day. Winter is waning. The snow felt soft and soggy. Our tulips are three inches out of the ground. Daffodils are blooming and it's still light out when we start our bedtime routine.

I took photos of my new crocheted bunnies and lamb, as well as my new little embroidery sampler. I think everything will be available in the next couple of weeks. I'm very happy with all of it! I'll tell you more about everything when I get all of the photos ready and have the patterns completely proofed and ready to go. It's all coming together. That's sort of stressful, too.

Can you help me with dinner? I want to make some kind of chicken breast thing, and a vegetable side. Any ideas? I can't think.

Hello, February

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It's been a vaguely exhausting few weeks. Colds and coughs and chicken soup. The days sort of blur together. Last night I sat on the sofa after Amelia went to bed and before Andy got home and strung 24" of the tiniest seed beads in the world into a necklace while watching Fixer Upper and drinking golden milk (steam 1 1/2 cups of milk with 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1 teaspoon of honey) and felt like I wished the moment would last for hours and hours. I've been squeezing work into every free space I've had lately, finishing all of the big crocheted critter samples and patterns and sending them out to the tech editor, designing a new little cross stitch pattern and kit for spring, thinking about whether we are going to reissue any animal softie kits this spring (we aren't; get them while you can [and yes, to those who've asked, patterns will always be available]), thinking about what's next, wanting to do new things, wanting to make some things that aren't actually kits. I have a million ideas and very little time. I guess that's life. That's my life right now, anyway. The stay-at-home, work-at-home mom. And now for my next trick. . . . I pull dinner out of a hat. I wish.

For some reason, I like to paint stuff in February. I did the same thing last year and I think the year before, too. It's weird. Amelia prefers to paint her hands, face, and bare legs rather than paint on paper, or beads, or anything else. Her attention span is very short. I like painting little wooden beads. Winter colors: mint, pale-sun gold, lavender hellebore, gray sky. The sun, when it's out, absolutely glares. It's such a strange time of year. Spring is coming here. Tulips are poking up, daffodils are already blooming, trees are budding, and yet most yards are still covered in fall and winter debris, mud, things that are dull and fast asleep. It takes Amelia and I a half an hour to walk two blocks home from the the playschool. She's busy going up driveways, "planting" sticks in Al and Peri's yard, checking Holly's mailbox, getting caught in her open umbrella she drags along the sidewalk upside down, shouting goodbye to her friend. Oh I love her. Sometimes we walk up to the bakery or the ice cream store and it's an all-afternoon venture, a mile an hour. But I love the time. I love the cold. I love the cold, wet yards; the purple clouds; the fat, cold buds. The raindrops on tangles of branches. The rosy dawns. The plaintive crows. The black trees. The violet sky. The quiet, cold morning frost. There's a small, local circumference to our life right now, in winter. A sort of resolute burrowing, slightly nervous and not quite ready for longer days. Spring is coming here. It comes in February now.

***They put the January Golden Rose recipients' stories up on the web site. They make me cry. So many amazing people, doing these things every single day, everywhere.

January Ends

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Amelia's portrait of me is as accurate as could be, IMHO. I'm wearing my glasses and my hair is sticking out.

My computer — and I — are in a state of semi-function. Computer is more or less working properly, loaded back up with its stuff, though everything is different — different email program, different photo transferring software, different mouse pad thing (that I hate), different Photoshop (I'm on Creative Cloud now, after using old CS3 forever), different color calibration, different lots of stuff that is making life on the computer both easier in some ways and harder in others. I'm trying to figure out how to reset my defaults to where they had been, or something. . . . It's really amazing how automatic my old processes were to me, for better or worse. This has been one of the harder transitions to new equipment for me. I'm getting old. And googly-eyed.

Also, I have a cold. I'm still just not quite up and running.

Andy's home today. I'm hauling my basket of yarn upstairs to watch House Hunters International and crochet. I'm working on my new patterns, which will also be kits. There's Honey Bunny (a pink and a blue version) and Lovey Lamb. They've been the perfect January projects — very simple, and very long (well, the lambie, at least, has been almost tediously long, which has, strangely, been also quite perfect). Kits and pattern will be ready in the spring. I'm sad that January is almost over, I really am. I was sitting on the sofa the other day, doing absolutely nothing. Amelia was completely confused. "Mom, what are you doing? Mom, are you okay? What are you doing?" Me: "I'm sitting here doing nothing." Her [bewildered]: "Why, Mom? What are you doing?" Me: "I know this is very strange for you, Amelia, as it's quite possible you've never seen me sitting down and doing nothing in your entire life, but people actually do this. I'm going to do this, and then Daddy is going to bring me some cinnamon rolls. Isn't that wonderful?" Her [uncertain]: "Yeah!"

I'm not even kidding, we literally had that conversation.

Thank you for all of your kind words on Andy's award. We were both very touched by your kindness. Thank you. Amelia and I were back up on the hill on Wednesday to see Andy be presented with another award at the OHSU Golden ROSE (Recognition for Outstanding Service Excellence) awards ceremony (another one!). This one is awarded every month to several different OHSU employees who are nominated by someone else at the hospital. Each nominator stands up and reads their nomination to the roomful of people while the nominee stands next to the podium. The stories were amazing. I wish I could remember all of the details of each of the stories, but I know I'll get them wrong, and the January recipients aren't up on the OHSU web site yet. I will link over there when they are. (Update: Here they are!) I couldn't be prouder of Andy, or to be a part of OHSU, both as a patient and an employee spouse. It's such an exceptional place.

Today, the sun is shining as bright as could be. The angle of the sun is low, and glaring — a winter sun. Everything is soaked and glinting. Keep warm out there, friends. Stay slow. Let's drag it out as long as we can.

***By the way, that's Andy's view every day at work. And that picture doesn't even capture it, really. Isn't it amazing?

 

Winter Days

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I don't have much to show for the past few weeks. Things have felt alternately rushed and then slow and then rushed and then slow — hurry up, wait, hurry up, wait — depending on what I'm doing and who I'm with. Days with Amelia are long and lovely and also generally mildly exhausting, as life with three-year-olds in wintertime must be for most people. We don't stay home much. With her, it's truly harder to stay home. She gets bored. We go to our usual places to play, take hours to eat lunch at various Thai restaurants and brew pubs and sandwich joints from one side of the city to the other, visit Daddy at work and see him be presented with a very special award (so proud of you, babe), go to potluck suppers with all the neighbors and neighbor-kids, wander around Ikea for most of a day, splash in water rooms and pound clay in kids' museums, linger over ice creams in empty ice-cream shops, watching the rain and talking, talking, talking. My girl. I like the quiet days, the rain, the lack of a certain kind of expectation. When I'm not with Amelia, I'm going as fast as I possibly can, wrestling with two computers — one old, one brand new — trying to get the old one to work long enough for me to get the new one up and running, and no matter how much you back up, there is still just a ridiculous amount that you have to do (or at least I have to do, and no, I don't really know what I'm doing) to get the new one working. Well, not working, but properly functioning — get all my files migrated, and my software installed, and the updates installed, and the fonts installed, and all the stupid passwords transferred, and get new software to replace the obsolete software, and the printer drivers, and the email, etc., etc., etc. Apparently there are People who can do this for you, but apparently I don't believe it, or something, because I haven't taken my computer to anyone, anywhere. Blech. How bored are you right now, seriously. I'm sorry.

I'm also trying to fix some things on this blog — well, I myself am not trying to fix those things, other people are, thank goodness. Hopefully when all is said and done 1) the monthly blog archives will look like the home page, so there aren't those little thumbnails where you have to click on every single post to read the blog (hate that), 2) I'll have some sort of way to occasionally respond to comments (which I can't do easily now because my template is customized, and the code just isn't there to easily turn this "on"), and 3) I'll have a new subscription service, so that if you want to subscribe to this blog (which you don't now, because of the boring) you can get updates in your email inbox (instead of through feed readers).

Stuff like that. Etc., etc., etc.

I guess this, too, is what January's for, in a way.

At night I've been buying vintage cotton voile saris on Etsy with the intention of making kaftans for summer, and crocheting a woolly lamb. I'm glad January is thirty-one days.

 

Slow Lady

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Hello! How are you? Happy January! It's been quiet around here. I'm relieved, and I might even say thrilled. The house is disheveled and so am I. I had a birthday last week. It was lovely. We went swimming over the weekend at an indoor water park and it was awesome. We were there for three hours and Amelia didn't want to leave (and that's a first — usually she's ready to go and they have to drag me out). It felt like a little mini vacation. At night I've been crocheting a little bunny guy. It's time to get back into a regular routine (apparently) but I'm gonna try to hibernate for as long as possible. I'm just not ready to get up and at 'em yet, you know? New books, hot baths, and plenty of yarn. Thumbs up, January.

***The bunny is a pattern I am working on. I'll let you know when he's done. :)

 

Happy New Year!

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Best New Year's gift ever: We woke up to snow early on Sunday morning, and Andy had the whole day off! Nothing can compare to this, for me. I dream of it. To watch our daughter playing in the snow in her own yard, on her own street, and in her own park is just beyond-words wonderful. It was so much fun. It was just one day, but oh, it was the best day. I'll never forget it.

***Yep, she's a sled dog. :)

Starlight, Starbright

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Sweet days, and a rush, and and now, hopefully, a hush to the finish. Christmas was so nice. A bit of a whirlwind, really. I must admit that as it speeds up I just try to hang on for the ride. I'm better at downtime. I'm good at January and February. I feel accomplished if I manage one thing a day, then.

With my smidge of remaining energy, I had a cleaning fit on Sunday and donated our extra blankets, coats, and toys to make room for some of the new ones. (Amelia's amazing dolly was made by Hillary. Isn't she so big and cool? Thank you, dear friend! I need to get a picture of the crocheted giraffe [Raffy] that Andy made, too. She is awesome.) On the way home from the shelter, it snowed. I was possibly in the least romantic of places when it started — driving on Halsey and NE 122nd (not particularly picturesque) with a sleeping toddler in the car who missed the whole thing. By the time we reached the house (I'd planned to hustle us inside and start heating up hot chocolate as fast as I could) it was over. Just big, fat, cold drops of rain. That's okay. In December I did nothing but drink Burgerville chocolate-peppermint milkshakes and make appetizers for everyone I've ever met and clean the house fifty thousand times. In January I plan to devote myself unflaggingly to breaking in my new flannel sheets, reading actual books, and wishing for snow. I think that's plenty.

So, house and brain are disheveled and fluffy, which feels kind of nice. We have no plans for New Year's Eve, thank goodness. Andy works both Eve and Day, and Amelia and I will probably make shrimp cocktail and I'll see if I can get her to watch Snow Buddies (which has actual dogs and not cartoon dogs) and we'll be in bed with the new flannel sheets by 7:00 p.m. Should you lead a more exciting life have need for some party food, I can highly recommend everything that I made from your appetizer suggestions a few weeks ago:

Smoked salmon dip
Onion and bacon marmalade (spread onto goat-cheese smeared crostini)
Snowman cheese ball!
Shrimp with cocktail sauce
Badenjan dip
Olive cheese spread on English muffins
Jezebel sauce over cream cheese
Taco dip
Bar nuts
Spinach dip

Forgive me for not also mentioning each commenter who made these suggestions! Many of them were repeated so I took that as hearty endorsement and I will say that all of the food got eaten — the olive cheese spread most of all! I thought the homemade shrimp cocktail was amazing, myself. And, to note, I was looking for mostly cold appetizers to serve; the list above was a nice mix of mostly cold with just a few things that needed to be heated up. It seemed like the perfect amount for about twenty-five to thirty people (who were all going on to eat other courses elsewhere). It was a really fun night. My favorite part was when Amelia shouted, "C'mon, everybody! Let's go to the next house!" (and then, naturally, walked to the McNeil's front door and opened it herself and tried to leave). The girl loves a party.

That said, now that I've paid my Appetizer Dues, I'm seriously rethinking this cooking-for-parties thing. I love having parties but it is such a ton of work to make all of that food. I've had four in the past three months, including Amelia's big birthday party (also lots of appetizers), and you know what? I'm having at least that party catered next year. I swear it costs practically as much to buy the groceries, and then you still have to, you know, make everything yourself. With a toddler running (and climbing) around and a galley kitchen, it's just too much. And I don't have the storage space to do anything ahead of time. I'll make one special thing myself, the birthday cake, or maybe crab cakes for a holiday party, but otherwise I'm going to start saving up a little Catering Fund so that I don't wind up sprawled in a chair, hoping someone will bring me something to drink and hoping someone else will keep my kid from touching every single thing on the table. (As if that were even possible. That's not possible. But that's why I have to save my strength.)

The day after Christmas we went outside. I felt like I hadn't been outside in weeks. It was cold and clear, and that's unusual lately. I could've walked all day. Resolution for 2016: Find a flat, wide trail in the woods along which it is possible to push the stroller for the walk back. Like a logging road, but flat. I only need it to be about a half a mile. Anybody know of one like that? You'd think this would be easy, but it's very hilly around here. Wide and flat is pretty rare. Meems is great on the way in, not so great on the way out. The woods were so green, like a fairy tale. They got me thinking about gardening again, in a dreamy kind of way.

Two seed catalogs have arrived in the mail. Wintertime is for dreaming. I think I might make a list of things I want to do in the new year. I've never actually done that before. I wonder why I haven't. I'm in the mood for it now. It might be nice to write some things down.

Happy, happy almost–New Year to you! I hope your days this week are slow, and sweet, and filled with light and quiet and peace as we roll into 2016.
Xoxo, a

***Lots of questions in the comments I'll try to answer here: The snowflake mobile is many years old, from Pottery Barn Kids. All the knitting on the table is detailed on my Ravelry page here. The little deer was at my sister's house and I'll have to ask her where it's from, I don't know. I got the Territorial Seeds catalog (local) and one other one from Iowa I can't remember, and can't seem to find now. All of my electric (well, battery) candles I've bought locally at American at Heart in Sellwood, and I know they don't ship, so I'm sorry I don't have a source for out-of-towners. They're wonderful; I'm sure you can find something similar on-line. And my Swedish pancake recipe is here:

Swedish Pancakes

4 eggs
1 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 c. milk
a little bloop of vegetable oil

Whisk eggs, flour, sugar, and salt together into a smooth paste. Slowly whisk in milk until just combined, then add a bit of oil (just to keep them from sticking) and stir again. Ladle or pour the batter onto the griddle over medium heat, and tip pan to swirl batter into a thin circle. Flip when edges look dry.

 

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.