book giveaway: alicia paulson’s magic garden

I CAN BARELY SEW ON A BUTTON, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling a kinship with Alicia Paulson, whose needle and thread seem as natural an extension of her hands—and more to the point, her spirit—as a pruner or long-handed shovel are to mine. With them, she cultivates a charmed botanical world I love getting lost in (lately, she’s making a real garden in her Oregon back yard, too). Meet a treasured pen pal of mine—and maybe win one of two copies of her delicious new book, “Embroidery Companion,” that I bought to share with you:

From the first time I landed on her popular blog Posie Gets Cozy, I knew there would be a connection—again, though I was the hopeless (and embarrassed) girl who hemmed her junior high school dressmaking project right onto the lap of the skirt she was wearing, and when the bell rang for next period had to go there “wearing” both.

Alicia (self-portrait, left) welcomed me into her sewing circle, anyhow, charming me in the funniest Alicia-style ways. I mean, what’s not to like about a woman you don’t even know who says, “I want to be a gardener. Like Margaret.”

A woman who emails you—though you are still total strangers, really—and asks you about the potato she has planted in a smallish flower pot, and how to care for it? (Answer: Get it out of the confines of that pot, a.k.a., my curriculum of How Not to Grow a Potato 101.)

A woman who sends you links to funny cat trick videos? (And who understands when you send her back jpgs you took of your Jack the Demon Cat’s ultra-pink paws?)

A woman who with counted cross-stitch, traditional embroidery and crewelwork skills created places I want to go and flowers I want to put my nose into, like these:

A woman who writes things like this, about the months following her very serious accident—at 29, Alicia was literally hit by a truck, and almost lost one foot, undergoing many surgeries:

“Embroidery was my best travel agent—and doctor,” she says. “Through almost every moment of almost every day of my recovery, I stitched a wonderland of hearts and flowers. Each morning I set about creating the world I wanted, so different from the world I was in. Every night I fell asleep with a tiny garden in my hand.”

In other words, she gardens within the confines of her embroidery hoop for exactly the reasons I dig and plant and prune inside my deer fence. In order that I may thrive. Sound familiar, anyone? Tell us about it, and win the book.

How to Win ‘Embroidery Companion’

ALICIA PAULSON’S LATEST BOOK includes 30 of her own designs—from an entire alphabet adorned with petals, to a crewelwork Tree of Life wall hanging, and pillows bordered with strawberries or blooming with stylized dahlias. There are fanciful animals in Alicia’s garden, too—the “place” she conjures just teems with color; it lives and breathes.

To enter and have a chance at winning one of the two copies of “Embroidery Companion: Classic Designs for Modern Living” that I bought for this latest book giveway, all you have to do is comment at the end of this post by doing this:

Tell me how you are transported—whether it’s pruning or mowing or maybe something other than gardening altogether—in the way that Alicia describes. (Or if you’re shy or perhaps otherwise feeling speechless, just say hello, and we’ll count your entry anyhow.)

I’ll pick two commenters at random after midnight Friday, September 3, when entries will close. Good luck!

More about Alicia

  • Wander through Alicia’s world at Posie Gets Cozy, her bountiful blog featuring much more than needlecraft.
  • Browse the assortment of craft kits and patterns (free and to buy) in her shop (products are listed down the right column…scroll!).
  • Want a copy of “Embroidery Companion” right away? Buy it here.

(All photos here and in the book by Alicia Paulson.)

  1. I’m a florist and I like to think all my bouquets and arrangements are little indoor gardens for people to enjoy. Making quilts always takes me to a happy place. My sewing room overlooks the garden Or I love to sit outside and sew, either way I can have a bit of both. I’ve followed Pozy Gets Cosy for a while now. She really has a beautiful view of the world through her amazing photographs and words.

  2. Ali says:

    Gardening gets me outside breathing in cool morning air and seeing how another life form is doing before anything else. It’s my own little jungle!!

  3. MoniCue says:

    I rescue old vintage embroidered linens and marvel at the work that goes into them and wonder how to do it! I’m better with real flowers–I’ve created tidy lavender hedges at the front to greet and a tiny secret garden that is a riot of sunflowers, birds and butterflies for dreaming in the sun in back.

  4. Leslie Cryan says:

    I, too am inspired by Alicia and her amazing needle skills. However, I am only “transported” by my yard, and am thrilled ever year when the weeds finally come so I have something to help me quiet my mind. I live in Colorado, so half the year is only a yard- fantasy, and hand quilting, which I must do in front on the TV to make both more interesting!

  5. Delilah says:

    Say the word Garden and I think of my Grandfather weeding and hoeing his vegetable garden. His garden soil reminded me of chocolate cake and it’s plants were a sight to behold. He would talk to and weed his masterpiece the way he did everything, with a calm and gentle voice. If I get to heaven I want to either work in Grandpa’s garden or do watercolor paintings of Him in his beautiful garden.

  6. Jenn says:

    Blowing the yard is AWESOME. I have three young children and two dogs and everything I do gets undone almost immediately. And that is okay. But, when I beg my husband to let me blog the yard, and he agrees, I slip in my earphones and cover them with his protective ear wear, and the blower is loud and the children and the dogs steer clear and it’s just me. And I love that. And the progress is immediate. And I love that. And when I am finished, I sit on my neighbor’s steps and look across at our home and I smile. Because it’s beautiful. And then i see my children’s faces against the living room window and I smile even bigger because they are beautiful. Life is hard, but it is good and it is beautiful.

  7. Adrienne says:

    I have a small container garden on the balcony of my apartment. My favorite part of growing things is seeing the plants emerge from the dirt. Look! There are tiny plants where four days ago I stuck some dry seeds in the dirt! It’s the most amazing thing.

  8. Patty says:

    When we bought our house 11 years ago, the back yard was all grass. Not very inviting to a gardener at heart. Finally, 4 years ago, we were able to have it magically transformed into a beautiful, parklike area. Our landscape designer really listened to what we wanted: patio areas for entertaining, relaxing, eating; vegetable, herb garden areas; natural plantings; ornamental grasses; trees and a waterfall. It’s absolutely beautiful! Unfortunately, the installation did not come with a gardener on staff. As work as a home stager and interior decorator has been slow in the Portland, Oregon area, I have spent countless hours in the yard pulling weeds, pruning, planting, watering, deadheading, etc., all with the company of our two very loyal garden dogs. I absolutely love the time spent out there–watching all the birds who have come to call–especially enjoying the waterfall, listening to the neighborhood children playing in their yards, watching with joy in the spring as plantings erupt from the soil, eventually filling in the yard. When not working in the yard, I’m usually doing hand stitching, knitting, quilting or reading. I LOVE Alicia’s blog–she paints such beautiful pictures with her words…

  9. Nancy says:

    For the first time in my life I have a row of sunflowers towering over my head when I go out to survey my latest garden project. I am in bliss and can’t stop smiling as they bob above me stretching towards the sky. The sunflowers make up for the tomatoes that still haven’t turned red or the lack of cucumbers and squash that were decimated by the beetles. My new experiment in the largely neglected back 40 was half success and half failure but the sunflowers stood tall through it all and I plan to invite them back next year as I try again to till the soil. Failures not with standing, I love to garden and receive great solace as I water and weed and dig into mulch as I try to enrich my soil and my life. Life is good. Your words further enrich my time establishing my new garden.

  10. Nancy S says:

    I actually grouse and grump my way through the garden in the spring. I look doubtfully at all those tiny seedlings and will myself to remember that, in the span of a very short time, these seedlings will provide great beauty and bountiful food all through the summer and fall. It’s a reminder of my place in the world and how much plants really do provide for all of us.

  11. Oh, thank you for sharing Alicia’s lovely book!!! I am a hopeless gardener, the kind that plants perennials and just prays they don’t die. My garden is overgrown, full of buttercup and all falling down heavy with seed pods. Really, I just need my poppies so that I can spend hours taking photos of their lovely, papery petals and running my fingertips across the luscious, velvety radial patterns that emerge on the top of their seed pods. Then I cut them and stamp them on fabric so I can admire them all winter http://poppyprintcreates.blogspot.com/2010/07/poppyprinting.html
    Cheers! Krista.

  12. andrea says:

    Stitching or embroidering flowers is the only way I can garden…because I have a seriously brown thumb! I envy you gals that can grow anything, and so beautifully, too boot! But I can and do stitch pretty gardens and flowers with my needle and thread :)

  13. My earliest memories are of gardens. I am told my first word was ‘flower’. When I smell mint it takes me back to visions of my grandparents’ gardens. I feel this way about needlework and working with textiles. From the time I was very small I had a fascination with fabrics and love to combine my love of gardens and textiles. Alicia is an inspiration!
    Jamie V in MT

  14. Deb says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to win Alicia’s wonderful new book! I’ve been visiting her blog for years (before I even had my own) :-)
    This past Spring we put in a little garden pond ~ it had been on my “garden wish list” for years. Just sitting next to the trickling water with my lab Ernie beside me, a book and a cup of tea ~ this lovely little spot in the garden completely transports me ♥

  15. Oh, I’ve been waiting so long for this book to come out, ever since that first embroidered A appeared on her blog. I’m sure I won’t say this in a few years, but I love picking up my toddler’s toys and the rest of the living room when she’s peacefully in bed. It’s the space we spend all day in and it’s covered with laundry, books, loose crayons, crumbs, dolls, and wooden animals by bedtime. I love to put the dolls in their bed–how sweet and loving they look! To line up the books–hey, these are really wonderful books, I can’t wait to read them with her tomorrow! To arrange the little wooden world, to feel the imaginative potential it contains. I feel so thankful, really seeing the bounty that was there all day under my nose, and anticipating the joy we will have tomorrow. I feel the same way when I review pictures for my blog, or fold the laundry–suddenly aware of how blessed I am, and how surprisingly close I already am to living the life I wish for myself.

  16. Amanda says:

    Embroidery and gardening are both very similar in that they allow you to create something beautiful yourself. And in that process of creation you find that you can meditate (unless you’re going nutty trying to fix a problem), appreciate, be creative.

  17. Michael - Innkeeper says:

    wow. what a great oppurtunity.

    i’ve been such a fan of alicia for the longest time! she’s the one that got me blogging. always inspiring!

    i’d love to have a copy of this book! thanks so much for the chance.

  18. Barb says:

    i’ve been embroidering for years! this book would inspire me to starting doing more of it! and i love posie gets cozy … she tells the best stories!

  19. Marie says:

    I love to ‘lurk’ in Alicia’s world.

    I once took the time to embroider and stitch and sew but am now spending my time creating a formal, raised-bed potager. My husband is doing all the heavy work, but I am right along side him, helping him bring into reality what I have been dreaming about for over 40 years. (We are celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary in this month!)

    I seriously dream about the day when I will be able to sit under my arbor, surrounded by fragrant climbing roses, herbs and buzzing bees, sipping tea and embroidering tablecloths and napkins! Oh! I can hardly wait!

  20. Julie says:

    I have never yet had a calming gardening experience, as I keep getting gardens which have been neglected for 10 years or more. I still get out there every chance I get, but it isn’t calming… all that weeding, treading water, is not so calming for me quite yet. My dahlias look great though!

    Cross-stitch, though – cross-stitch is amazingly relaxing. You have to pay attention to your pattern just enough to dream. I go so many places while I am cross-stitching, in my head. It’s true love. Embroidery is the same… I embroidered many articles of clothing for my babies, and could hardly breathe for the love that I felt for the yet-to-be-born babies at the time. And seeing my babies in clothes I embellished for them – it’s just been incredible.

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