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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. Concha says:

    I’ve had my very own first garden since January and I cannot tell you how I love to pick flowers in the morning – I was lucky to inherit a very established garden – and then arrange them in vases, cans or lab containers. I just can’t let those flowers die out there!

  2. Annie says:

    Hi there!
    I am a native of Southern California and growing up around mature orange trees and flowers all year long made me aware and appreciate plants at a young age. I’m happiest when I am out of doors, hands in dirt, working as one with mother nature to provide for all our wonderful creatures we share the world with. I lose track of time and become focused only in the present. I am thrilled to give and receive cuttings of any plant that will grow here in our clime. As a fine artist the flower has been many a subject of mine. I also sew and would love to have this book as a reference for a jacket I plan to embellish. Thanks for the opportunity to win such a lovely book! I also enjoy your garden blog, Margaret. Thanks for all the info and insight you provide.

  3. Missy says:

    I live in NW Florida and we are plagued by an awful vine that I’ve always called a potato vine, but I think it’s a smilax vine. I hate these vines so much that I get carried away digging them up. I lose mornings and weekends to pursuing these awful vines. Every time I find a “colony” I promise myself just one more and then I’ll quit, but it’s so hard to quit when I know there are more lurking. When my neighbor moved out next door, I lost no time in climbing the fence so I could dig up the vine tubers on that side of the fence line before the new family moved in. I may lose a battle to the vines, but I’m determined to win the war. With the days getting shorter, I’ll need something else productive to occupy my time since I won’t be able to be on vine patrol … I think Alicia’s book and her beautiful embroidery ideas is just the ticket.

  4. Jennifer Fox says:

    I have planted a full english garden with perennials and herbs and I get out there every day, think of my English grandpa who shared his love of gardening with me when I was 5. My garden is a copy of his garden that I loved so much with a lot of my own special touches thrown in and with the addition of my constant gardening companion, my hen Alice! She stands follows me the entire time I am in my garden and she helps me think of living simply.

    Thanks!

    ~Jennifer

  5. Beth says:

    Oh my, how can you not be transported by anything Alicia does or talks about in her blog.

    I do not have a huge garden, but what I do have is plentiful. I delight in watching seeds grow to seedlings and then into full fledged plants. I am amazed in the fact I took the time to tend to my plants, mainly herbs, every day and enjoy them as they grow and flourish to the point of beckoning you to enjoy them more. I somehow think the food I prepare or the bath items made by my hands along with the herbs I have grown is just better. Makes my family smile a little more. I know it does for me, which is why I probably keep with it through the good and the bad….. even when trying to grow lavender in 100 degrees with 15 more degrees added on there for the humidity.

    Thank you for the amazing giveaway!
    Beth

  6. Mary S. says:

    Looking at my lovely zinnias reminds me of the glorious colors in my floss box. Each await “picking” to show off their beauty!

  7. I have never thought too much about the connection between my love for embroidery and my love for our garden. The flower part is obvious, but now you have me thinking about what else it brings to me, and I see how either one, even if it is only a few moments spent, brings me such joy and peace.
    And Alicia is so great I can hardly believe it. I love her new book based just on the cover, I can imagine how wonderful it is inside!
    And hello Margaret, nice to visit your blog, and thank you for the chance to win the book! (I’m shy but I talk anyway…)
    Renee :)

  8. jamie says:

    threaded handwork and having your hands in the dirt have many beautiful and therapeutic things in common. it can be an extra link between generations as well. my father and i love talking over the phone about our gardens: his on the west coast, and mine on the east. now at home, when i get wildflowers catalogs in the mail, my little daughter and i pour over their pages, reading the names and choosing our favorites.

    i’m glad alicia linked to your blog and thank you for the giveaway! i’m looking forward to exploring your site.

  9. RaeJean says:

    I read Alicia’s blog and live through her in a incredible, crafty beautiful place.

    She is amazing and I feel as though I have a friendship with her….although she has no idea of this friendship….it would mean the world to me to win this book…as when I have enough money…I was going to purchase it….I will keep my fingers crossed.
    thanks for your generous heart.

  10. Karen says:

    I love to hang out in Alicia’s world most every day. I look forward to a cup a tea and her wonderful world. I’m a new sewing girl and find it very rewarding – most of the time. As far as gardening goes – my husband and I plant a three acre field with sunflowers every year and I look forward to enjoying their sunny yellow faces :)

    We also craft some crazy scarecrows throughout the big sunflower patch.

    Thanks for chance to win a fab book.

  11. Lori says:

    I have always loved to garden and sew both. I think it is the creating that I like about them best. First, of all, with gardening, it’s amazing to me to put this tiny little seed into the ground, then with tender loving care, some sunshine, some water, some weeding, and then, eventually, it’s a tree…or a blueberry bush…or a beautiful dahlia. Something from, seemingly, nothing. Sewing to me is the same way. You can take some seemingly useless, unattrative by itself bit of thread, a length of fabric with no real use by itself and with a little cut here, a stitch there, you’ve created something beautiful and useful–again, something out of, seemingly, nothing. I just love to MAKE things, to create things with my own hands and look at my handiwork. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be mine, you know? My own little talent, my own work, which makes it so meaningful to me.

    Thank you for the giveaway. It’s very nice of you.

    Lori

  12. Kristi says:

    I once left a vase (water bottle from the recycling bin with the top cut off) of dahlias and zinnias on my Grandmother’s back porch while she was out. I had more than I could use and I hated to see them go to waste (sort of like zucchini). She was so thrilled, I try to do it once or twice a season.

  13. LauraF says:

    Every morning I get up before my kiddos and water my flowers and veggies.It’s just me,strong coffee and my garden.It’s a great way to start my day before homeschooling.

    Thank you for the generous giveaway.

    Laura F.

    p.s. so glad I found your beautiful blog!

  14. michelle says:

    The day may be sweet, light, sunny or dreary but my disposition is at odds with the world – things simply are not going my way, my little slice of the world is in chaos. I can immediately restore order by … weeding.

    I am in control of the destiny of the weeds – by ripping them out! How dare they intrude on my happy, vibrant zinnias? laughing little buds of lavender? crinkly faced Knock Out roses?

  15. Tina Knezevic says:

    I am transported into my Shangri-La Garden which includes a butterfly bush, magnolia tree, primrose, yellow alexander, geraniums, African daisies, and blue and songbird columbine. I had a vision of what I wanted my garden to look like, and what started as a simple project turned into something more amazing. I also erected a birdhouse that attracts not only birds, but bees and butterflies in my garden. Over the years, with hard work and determination, I now have a showpiece in my yard where I can relax. It’s my little escape into peace and serenity…

  16. Jill says:

    I’m actually entering for my 14 year old daughter, who both gardens and embroiders. A few years ago I came home from work to find her already home from school (grandma met the bus) and weeding and watering her little patch of earth. She’d had two days in a row of standardized tests, and instinctively knew that after the stress and exertion, she needed garden therapy. I was so glad she knew how to repair her own soul, and grateful we had a patch of earth for her to do it in.

  17. ann c says:

    A corner of our backyard sat wiltingly neglected for years. The idea to enclose that space with a pretty picket fence and to grow organic vegetables came about as a way to keep our very spirited retriever puppy out of trouble. Because of Berkeley ( now two years old and still as curious as ever! ) we have also added a wonderful greenhouse to that corner which is now a beautiful and relaxing garden area.

  18. Sabine says:

    I love Alicia’s blog and I would love to have a copy of her book!

    I was an avid gardener but had to give it up due to health problems. I transferred my creative energy into sewing. Alicia’s book would probably give me some great ideas and patterns for embellishing my sewing projects.

    Now, I must have a look around your blog…

  19. Luana says:

    I can smell the sweet potatoes when I’m digging them up. I am in my own world when my hands are in the dirt. My backyard, front yard and side yards are in the cultivation stages. One day my yard will be a mini rain forest — then I will be content that I am in a divine place.
    Truthfully, I don’t know if I would use Alicia’s embroidery book now — but when I was a child I loved to embroider and make pictures with the needle and thread — perhaps I should teach my daughters those unique creations that empowered me.
    : + )

  20. Heather says:

    I have been reading an Edith Wharton novel called “Buccaneers” that makes the observation that Americans buy mass produced flowers in the winter for holidays, while the English fill their gardens with cutting flowers for the summer. This has had me thinking for days of the flowers I love best and want to surround myself with. Feeling my hands in the soil has the ability to transform my mood and bring me a sense of calm and stillness. I think filling my home with flowers would be such a beautiful extension of this.

  21. Jennifer says:

    We did some gardening this spring & summer, my 3 year old and I . He loved eating the beans and tomatoes and totally munched the basil while playing in the garden :) His sisters are 1 and have definite appreciation for all things green and dirty so we are hopeful they will join us next year! I love my naptime gardening but it’s extra sweet when I have my little helpers :)

  22. Beth says:

    Recently we’ve been deconstructing our backyard “garden.” We’ve got bamboo. The project is an analogy for my life. As I dug and clipped and followed the runners and dug and dug and stood back wiping the sweat from my brow I wanted to crawl in the hole I had just dug and cry. The bamboo is so hard to dig up. It is interwoven into many other things in the garden (most of which I had to dig up and try to transplant). I have a son with Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning autism) and we are trying to dig into his brain to really sort out what is missing for him. By figuring out the missing pieces I hope to be able to teach him what he needs to succeed in life. It is overwhelming. The bamboo and the autism. I was struck with the similar feelings I had for both. So, instead of crying, I continue to dig. I know that hard work and love will accomplish both tasks, helping him and making my garden a beautiful spot someday.

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