31.12.11

happiness is..

Dear Annie,


:: Something to nibble (this Rocky Road, with some added festive sparkle)


:: Something to drink ( a new favourite tipple, involving homemade blackberry vodka, creme de mures and lemonade)


:: and, luxury of luxuries, knitting in front of the fire (happy sigh).

Love from,

Laura

28.12.11

gifts given

Dear Annie,

The gifts have now been given, so I won't spoil any surprises by showing you the handmade ones. Time was short this year, so there were just a couple, for two of the loveliest chaps in my life.


:: For my (cricket mad) brother, cast off at midnight on Christmas Eve - truly a last-minute knitted gift- a cricket jumper tea cosy to warm a vintage Woods ware teapot. Ravelled here.




:: For D, some homemade pinecone firelighters, scented with essential oils for a heavenly blaze. Tutorial here. The boys and I have already been out foraging for more, so I think this may become a regular make in our house.

Love from,

Laura

24.12.11

Christmas Eve

Dear Annie,


A happy Christmas to you too, my lovely.

Love from,

Laura

22.12.11

Happy Christmas

Dear Laura,


Happy Christmas




Can't wait to see you


lots of love


Annie

16.12.11

making our way towards Christmas

Dear Annie,

 

:: Cranberry garlands on the Christmas tree

:: Christmas knitting- in progress but behind schedule!

:: Secret present-making

:: A sheep costume for the preschool nativity

:: Some Christmas stitching by S, for us ("and I used a REAL needle, Mummy!) 

Love from,

Laura  

15.12.11

Early Presents

Dear Laura,


I received a package in the mail yesterday, and because I am impatient and easily excited I couldn't resist but open it. I swore to myself that if it was wrapped I would leave it to christmas. Lucky for me it wasn't wrapped! 




Ksenia who guest posted for us here, sent it and it is the most beautiful scarf. She has talented fingers that one. I am jumping up and down with joy and showing it off to everyone who I see. "look at this beautiful scarf" I say, mostly people humor me by saying "lovely" and such like, but I know secretly they are jealous and want one themselves.






So much much thanks to Ksenia for an awesome early Christmas pressie. She is definitely the bestest right now and I love it soooooooooooooo much.


Lots of love


Annie

12.12.11

this year's wreath

Dear Annie,

Would you be surprised if I told you that this weekend was filled with festive preparations? I thought not! We took a trip to the farm shop to choose our Christmas tree, which we decorated as a family whilst accompanied by the glow of the fire. All the other decorations came out of the box too. I found last year's wreath, which I was pleased to hang up on the back door, but I felt that a new wreath was needed for our first country Christmas.



For the princely sum of 89p, the florist furnished me with a wire ring. A forage in our garden and the nearby woods provided the greenery. Add in some garden wire and a red ribbon, and our homemade wreath was complete and ready to adorn the front door.


It was also a weekend for present making. For grown ups, hot chocolate in a jar, adapted from this recipe. For children, playdough- also in a jar and inspired by this post and by this one.


Finally, there was time for just a little more paper doily crafting with the boys. This angel is now adorning the top of our Christmas tree, singing her little heart out.



Love from,

Laura

11.12.11

Christmas Pajamas

Dear Laura,


Yesterday I got an afternoon all to myself to sew, yippppeeeeee! It was Christmas present city, well kind of. Anyway I am going to show you one, as I am not sure if I will be able to get this present to the recipient before Christmas so I figured it won't spoil the surprise. Also the recipient is 4. 


For the longest time I have been trying to figure out what I can sew for little boys. When they are very young I can make them dungarees out of awesome material for them but after about 6 months that doesn't really work anymore. I knew he liked planes (a lot) and this material was just screaming out to me to make something for him. 




Finally I figured it out. Pajamas, Pajamas can be made out of any material, they are fun and often the sillier the better. The only problem was that I didn't have a pattern for trousers, and I am not that confident making one up as I have never sewn trousers before. 


A google search later and this awesome site came up... http://www.craftandfabriclinks.com/pj/pajama_pattern.html, The great thing about this pattern is that they really explain what each piece is so resizing the pattern is pretty easy. Although I might have gone on the big side as I don't really know how big a four year old is.







Lots of Love

Annie




9.12.11

a flurry of snowflakes

Dear Annie,


In the last few days, there's been a flurry of snowflake-making activity around here. As I showed you in my last post, I started crocheting some about a week ago, using this tutorial. Addictive is not the word! My little pile grew, and grew and the yarn ran out well before my inclination to keep hooking!


I blocked them using spray starch, so that they would be nice and stiff, ready for hanging. Some were paired with some buttons to make snowflake bunting, some hung on a door and that leaves several for the Christmas tree with a couple left over to be used as decorations on extra-special presents.


With snowflakes on the brain, it's no wonder that I felt compelled to make a few Kat-inspired doily snowflakes too...


I wonder if any actual snowflakes will be heading our way.

Love from, 

Laura

7.12.11

'tis the Season for Eating Mince Pies

Dear Laura,


I love mince pies, I mean I really love them. Christmas food is the best. The trouble is I live in America now, and if you can believe it, they don't eat mince pies, in fact they don't even seem to know what they are! It seems that the name puts people off, even in the English section of the supermarket where I can find Jaffa cakes, Iron Bru and Weetabix doesn't have mince pies. In fact last year I had to buy a very expensive squashed packet of Mr Kipling which I think might have been from the year before. 


So this year I decided to make my own. The lovely Gil, who guest posted for us in May provided me with a recipe for mince meat which I adapted a little and I used my recipe for the pastry. Here is the recipe:


Mincemeat 
(makes about two small jars 35 small mince pies)


100g (4oz)    Raisins
100g (4oz)    Cranberries
100g (4oz)    Cherries
25g   (1oz)    Almonds
75g   (3oz)    Honey
100g (4oz)    Grated Suet
1 Orange (peeled and chopped)
The zest of one whole orange
1/2 tsp    Cinamon
1/4 tsp    Nutmeg
1/2 cup of brandy (or more if you like boozy mince pies which I do)


Mince up the dried fruit, crush the almonds. Add everything together and mix. Put in Jars and leave overnight (I left it in the fridge because of the suet)


Pastry
(makes enough for 24 shallow mince pies)


125g (5oz) Butter
150g (6oz) flour
50g   (2oz) Sugar
a splash of milk
1 egg


Sift the flour into a bowl add the sugar. Chop the butter into the flour keeping the pieces apart by putting the flour over them. The butter is best if it is a little soft, but not to soft we want to avoid it melting. Rub the butter and flour together to make an oat like consistency. Make a hole in the middle of the mixture and add a splash of milk (a capful should be enough). Bring the mixture together into a ball, it will be a little wet. 


Compiling the mince pies, this was my favourite bit it was so relaxing and made me feel all christmassy! Anyway I rolled the pastry out and cut out circles, put them in the baking pan, added a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat to each of them, then seal them with christmas trees, stars, angels, or just normal lids. break the egg into a bowl and mix it up. brush the egg on to the top of the pies and then sprinkle some sugar. This will make them come out nice and golden brown. I baked them in the oven at 350F for 20 minutes.




Then eat fresh from the oven, nom nom nom




Lots of Love


Annie





5.12.11

preparations

Dear Annie,

I sometimes wonder if the preparations for Christmas aren't actually the very best part of it. This week, we have been...


:: Foraging for natural decorations. rosehips, old man's beard and holly. We also bought some mistletoe from the Christmas Fair.


:: Making mincemeat, in preparation for mince pies. I used the suet-free recipe from How To Be a Domestic Goddess.


:: Indulging in some festive crochet. These little flakes need to be blocked and starched, and then I will be able to show them to you properly. The pile keeps growing- they are very addicitve!

Love from,


Laura

3.12.11

Time to say a Final Farewell

Dear Laura,

Yesterday I sold my house. My first ever house, now I haven't lived in that house for a very long time, nearly 3 years so really I shouldn't be so sad. In some ways I am relieved but I loved that house. I built a wall in that house, I spent hours with a piece of wall paper falling on my head time after time as I tried to paste it up again and again late at night. I woke up one morning to find the kitchen cabinet lying on the floor all crockery and glasses smashed on the floor.

It was the first time I was all on my own, just me, my own house, my own bills, my own life. As much as I loved my house I think really what I miss are the amazing people that I met in Nottingham. A city which is rough and scary sometimes brings with it amazing people who are fun and friendly and super supportive. 

Over time I have gone back to my house and it  has seemed sadder and sadder, it didn't help that the recession has hit Nottingham pretty badly and more shops were boarded up every time I came back. Finally in the summer I managed to persuade some of my friends to help me clear it out and I said goodbye. So although I am sad to see my little house go, it is good to say goodbye finally. I hope the next person that lives there likes it and looks after it. 

As a tribute to my little house and to say a final goodbye, here are the before and after photos.
The Kitchen


if you look carefully you can see the tile backsplash we put in together

The Living Room

 

The Garden



The Master Bedroom





The second Bedroom
I don't have an after picture of this one, but I can assure you it was rebuilt beautifully!

Goodbye little house

Lots of love

Annie

p.s. the photos of me in "about us" is of me in front of my house

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