31.10.11

costumes, carving and cupcakes

Dear Annie,


Happy Halloween! Just like you, we've been busy carving pumpkins. I took S to the greengrocers to pick them out and he chose a big one ("for me, because I am the big brother") and a tiny one ("for my baby"). D was in charge of carving, and of saving some of the pumpkin flesh to bake with later.

I was busy up in the attic room, sewing. The boys have been invited to a Halloween party this year. S and I were chatting about it the other week. "What will my costume be, Mummy?" he asked. "What would you like it to be?" I replied (somewhat bravely, given my limited costume-making skills). There was no hesitation. "A dinosaur!"

Thank goodness I had read this post by the lovely Lou, a fellow Bristol blogger. She's also the queen of Halloween - check out her last year's pumpkins! Anyway, I digress. Armed with a tail tutorial, I had a rummage around on Pinterest and found a hat that I could adapt to match. S and I went to the fabric shop together and he picked out the colours for his outfit. My sewing machine was not keen on the fleece and polyester, so it was a bit of  battle for a while but we got there in the end.


This was the trying-on session. For the Halloween party, I'll dress them in red, and perhaps even give some facepaints a whirl for S. A struggle as always trying to photograph my children- they move too fast!






Finally, the leftover pumpkin was used for some pumpkin and ginger cupcakes, decorated with very rustic spiderwebs. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry would not approve, but thankfully my hungry boys are not so particular.






Love from,


Laura 


PS: I hope that you are feeling better. Lots of love, as always, winging its way across the Atlantic to you. xxx

29.10.11

Americans vs British

Dear Laura,

At wedding recently an American friend of mine got up and announced to a fairly heavily British crowd that she was going to sing. Having lived in England for sometime she fore warned the crowd and reassured them it was going to be ok. I am still very British, on halloween this year I will have lived here in the US for three whole years. I can't do an American accent, but I do say awesome a lot. I still quietly seethe when people push into queues or are rude or generally behave badly.  I of course would say nothing. Not only that but I am also terrible at telling my friends when they have hurt me or that they are the best people ever. A stiff upper lip and all that.

So I surprised myself somewhat the other day when talking to my boss I burst into tears. Now this was a mixture of tiredness and stress (and having gone in there without having had my morning coffee) but it took me by surprise. Obviously my boss let me get myself together and we talked about what was wrong. But now I have that nagging doubt that I should have kept it together for a couple more minutes and quickly headed into the loo to release that emotional build up in private.  I am not sure if this is a sign of becoming more comfortable with showing my emotions to people, or whether I am just losing the plot. Anyway, needless to say I haven't had much time for the crafting so I am going to show you what I am looking forward too and hopefully soon I'll get to get back to it!

Here are my socks...

Well yes they look rather like they did before but I can assure you I got to the ankle and decided that they were all wrong so unraveled up to the stretchy bit again!

Here is what I want them to look like
Also I am going to finish a dress for my niece that is made from the leftover material of my Hibiscus dress.

And because Halloween is just around the corner we are hopefully going to crave a pumpkin this year. So lots of lovely things to do, I can't wait, the nights are drawing in and the rain is back so knitting a cup of tea and a roaring fire would be just about perfect right now.

lots of love

Annie

22.10.11

a birthday giveaway - CLOSED


Amazingly, we have been blogging for a whole year now. A little over a year since the conversation whilst driving back from a Devon beach in which we decided that it might be fun to have a try at creating a blog together. Neither of us realised just how much blogging would enrich our lives and how many lovely people we would meet along the way. What began as a dialogue between two friends about their crafting endeavours has expanded to include comments and inspiration from crafters all over the world. We really would like to say a huge thank you to all our readers over the past year. Every one is truly appreciated.



Not only is it our blogging birthday, but this week we reached the dizzy heights of 100 followers. 101, in fact. Two friends, two crafts, two cities and now two fantastic reasons for a giveaway. It goes without saying that we have for you two prizes, one from each friend and one for each craft.

From Laura:  
 

A copy of The Knitted Home. Recommended in the latest issue of Mollie Makes, this book is filled with lovely things to make for your home (including several crochet projects). Personally, I'm very taken with the tea cosy and matching mug cosy! Also included in the prize is a pretty skein of organic wool and some matching vintage needles and buttons. 

From Annie:



A copy of Scandinavian Needle Craft, I love the idea of embellishing sewing projects with embroidery and this book looked perfect for that. I have included a fairly random selection of material from my stash and some vintage buttons. All the material is cotton except for the pink spots which is oil cloth.

If you'd like to enter, just leave a comment on this post telling us which prize you'd like to win and letting us know either:

1. Which has been your favourite Nimble Fingers and Steady Eyebrows post so far?
and/or
2. What would you like to see more of on the blog next year?

If you feel like sharing the love by mentioning the giveaway on Twitter, or adding the button in the sidebar to your blog then we'd be most grateful! If you do, pop back and let us know and we'll give you an extra entry.

You don't have to be a follower to enter, but if you'd like to become one then we'd love to have you.

We'll keep the giveaway open for two weeks and draw a winner on Saturday 5th November. Good luck!

Love from,

Annie and Laura

20.10.11

chocolate & beetroot brownies

Dear Annie,


Did I mention that it was National Baking Week? Of course I'd be lying if I claimed to need that as an excuse to bake twice in a week. This time, it was Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies. I know that you're not a beetroot fan (apart from R's Borscht, which D informs me is delicious) but you don't taste it as such, it just lightens the brownies (and makes the batter a fabulous colour!)

I used the Riverford recipe, substituting plain flour for the rice flour. Cake that counts as one of your five-a-day is always going to be a winner in my book. 


Love from,


Laura


PS: Check back in on Saturday, everyone - it's time for a grand celebratory   
 G I V E A W A Y day!!!

19.10.11

Dress a Girl Around the World

Dear Laura,
A little while ago a friend of mine recommended a post on Peggie's Pickles to me. It was all about "dress a girl around the world". This was just the best idea to me. I love the idea of being able to use sewing to do something which might be useful. It is of course a wonderful idea, basically turn a pillow case into a dress for a girl somewhere around the world.


I love sewing for people, I like trying to guess what they would like and I like being able to give something which I made, all the time thinking of them. Sometimes I get it right sometimes I get it wrong (a certain jumper for a certain young man is a good example of this) but it is always met with happiness, sometimes just laughing off the awfulness.


So this time I didn't know the person but I did have an idea that as a girl I liked to run around climb trees and generally cause mischief. I also liked big colours and patterns so with this in mind, I trawled the remnants bins at G street fabrics and found this awesome yellow 100% cotton fabric for $2.99 a yard (a bargin).
I also had this brown owl fabric which I haven't had the right project to use on yet. 

I knew I couldn't use my pillow cases as they are all thread bare and would break in an instant.


The pattern is ridiculously easy there are some on their home page but I used the one suggested on Peggie's Pickles which was written by Little Big Girl Studio. I also made sure my sewing was good because I wanted to make sure it didn't fall apart the moment it was worn. I hope she likes it whoever it is. 


 (sorry for the photos, they were taken just before work to catch the light, they managed that just not the focus)
So if you fancy making one too here is the website: Dress A Girl Around the World
Here is the address you can send the dress to:

Hope 4 Women International
2115 E Cedar St #3 
2115 E Cedar St #3

Tempe AZ 85281 
I am going to pack it all up and send it off on Saturday, I can't wait.

Lots of love

Annie

17.10.11

♥ queen of hearts ♥

Dear Annie,

The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts, all on an Autumn day;
The Knave of Hearts he stole the tarts and took them clean away. 


A batch of jam tarts to mark the start of National Baking Week. I used my homemade plum jam and followed Jane Brocket's recipe from The Gentle Art of Domesticity. When the 'knave' returned home from pre-school, he was more than happy to steal them clean away!

Love from,

Laura

16.10.11

Socktember

Dear Laura,
You tweeted me whilst I was on holiday telling me about Socktober. After my success with the Cranford knit a long, I have alsorts of confidence. Having a good deadline to finish to and you knitting along with me, as well as a multitude of other people really spurred me on. So I thought yes, I want to do this as well. It is most likely going to be socktober moving into socktember, but with the leaves turning and the suns weaker rays pouring into the house, I am really in the mood for knitting (which is good because I don't think you are going to be knitting along with me on this one are you?). I wanted to use the wool I bought on holiday but I wasn't too sure what needle size to use. 
So I went to my local wool shop only to find, crushingly, that they have moved to the other side of town. I was devastated of course, that wonderful place down the road has now disappeared. After a bit of a sulk and a lot of disappointed faces, I persuaded R to stop at a chain crafting shop on our way home from the supermarket. There I matched my wool with the wool they had there and came to the conclusion that I would probably need an 8mm or 9mm needle. So I bought both. The 9mm was a circular, the 8mm was 5 double pointed. It was quickly obvious that the circular was too big for socks, so now I am using 8mm, it seems ok.
I am not using a pattern, I will make it up as I go along and write down the steps so that I can make the second one in the same way. I am definitely going to include cables. I saw these socks on ravelry the other day and love love love them. So I will certainly take some inspiration from those. 

There are still a few blooms in my garden so I will leave you with a picture of one of my zinnias. They are great, long lasting bright coloured blooms and require very little care and attention. 
and one of our roses which fit in so well with the autumnal colours that we have right now.
lots of love

Annie

15.10.11

WIP

Dear Annie,



Work in progress.  I have rather a few knitting and crochet WIPs on the go at the moment. Five, in fact. I am definitely starting projects much faster than I am finishing them. Perhaps it's the Autumnal weather.

I've been building my little pile of crochet flowers ready to make a garland for the yarnbombing project. Last week, I went along to a Wooly Wonderland meeting with some of the lovely local knitters. Rosee was there with her magic bag of freebie yarn so I was able to leave behind some  balls of stash yarn and come away with the above two balls of 4 ply to be made into flowers.



I'm not sure that I would have chosen to combine these colours, but as they were all scraps and freebies, I'm sure they'll work well enough to cheer up the cemetery railings.



My knitting fingers have been flying, working on my cowl. Addi Turbo needles really do seem to speed up knitting... that and the fact that I'm very keen to complete it and start keeping my neck warm, particularly since I saw this similar cowl in the Hush catalogue.



Love from,

Laura

13.10.11

The Wild West

Dear Laura,
I am going to be a little self indulgent and post some holiday pictures today. Our trip was so much fun this country certainly has some scenery. We drove around and around and around, over 2000 miles, that is twice up and down from England to Scotland. We started in New Mexico, drove across and through the top of Arizona, up into Utah, over into Nevada dipping into California, back into Nevada through Arizona and then New Mexico. It was quite a trip.  I give you some taster photos here so as not to bore you too much.
 Shiprock a volcanic core (New Mexico)

 Monument Valley (Utah/Arizona boarder) near where Dr Who was recently filmed

 A quilt pattern and colour I liked

The Grand Cannon south rim, I felt sick from the shear cliffs when we were climbing down, mostly it was rainy but the rainbow and breaks of sunshine made up for it.

You don't only get a bible in your hotel room in Utah

 A natural arch in the Grand Staircase Escalante national park (Utah)

Bryce Cannon (Utah)

Over the mountains in Nevada to the gold mine

On the way to death valley a rather disturbing sight (Nevada)

Dust devils in Death Valley (California)

 Oh, that's right we took a surprise trip to Vegas due to severe weather warnings at yellowstone, we had to divert (Nevada)

Well now it is back to the grind. I have a photo album here if you feel the need to see more photos of my trip.


Lots of love


Annie
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