30.1.12

beach in winter

Dear Annie,


Muted tones with splashes of colour. A refreshing sea breeze. Paddling in the shallows and making long shadows in the sun. Sandcastle making  and pebble collecting.

We all came home happy.

Love from,

Laura

28.1.12

It Started With a Tweet

Dear Laura,


I have a bit of a strange relationship with twitter, I feel like when I comment on someones tweet I am interrupting a conversation by shouting in their face. I do love it though, I love hearing what people have been up to, catching up on news stories and looking at all those granny squares which inspire me to keep going on my own. Now it turns out that it is also an awesome place to barter. When you sent me this tweet I was over the moon.


I have always wanted a pair of hand knitted socks, they are such a luxury and I have tried a gazillion times to knit them myself but I have never got anywhere. I was a little nervous at first but once I started chatting with Susie (@knittingKnoobie) my worries were eased. Neither of us had bartered before so we came up with our own strategy. I sent her lots of material choices and a million questions about what design she might want, which she calmly avoided and sensibly chose the material, gave me the dimensions and sent me a link to a swift bag she liked. She asked me for some colours I liked and wanted to know whether she should make it a surprise or let me know what pattern and wool she would use. I opted for the surprise.


Luckily that Monday was Martin Luther King Jr day which meant I had the day off to watch Sherlock and sew up the swift bag (best day ever!) Here is the result...






Originally Susie wanted some sheep or yarn themed fabric, unfortunately I didn't have any in my stash so I made a little sheep to keep the yarn swift company.



Then before I knew it this tweet came swishing through cyberspace




I was so excited, I quickly put the finishing touches to the bag and bundled it into the post as soon as I could. Then I waited... I knew Susie had sent the socks so everyday I raced to the post as soon as I could but nothing. The next day I ran home excited and asked R 'is there any post for me, is there?'. Still nothing, my heart sank, I was sure she might have got the address wrong and my lovely hand knitted socks were sat in someone else's house. I took a deep breath and thought ok, it hasn't been that long they will arrive soon, patience patience...


The next day I came home from work, "is there any post for me, is there, is there?" R had a sneaky smile on his face and said, "I don't know you'd better look in the kitchen". I ran in my heart singing, and there it was, the package I had been longing for. I ripped it open and inside there were these beautiful socks.











I love them, they are so expertly made and fit perfectly, Susie also has a blog and wrote about the barter on her blog "Knitting Knoobie"It started with a tweet and ended with a pair of beautiful hand knitted socks 


Lots of love


Annie


p.s. After the success of this barter I am happy to barter some more if anyone would like to. I can sew pretty much anything (I think!) so let me know if you are interested.

26.1.12

marmalade cake

Dear Annie,


The marmalade is made. This year's batch was rather a good one, as it turned out. I combined a couple of different recipes - I followed the usual Riverford recipe but added in an overnight steep for the peel and reduced down the initial boiling time. The marmalade had a lovely voluptuous wobble and a delicious flavour.Time to bake a marmalade cake...









This year I replaced the usual orange water icing with a marmalade buttercream. A little extra sweet comfort for a cold, hail-ridden January day.



Marmalade Loaf Cake


175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
a large orange
75g marmalade
175g self-raising flour
3 eggs

250g icing sugar
80g soft butter
25ml whole milk
two heaped teaspoons marmalade

Heat the oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4
Line a loaf tin 25x11x7cm


Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Zest the orange and juice half of it.
Break the eggs into a small bowl and break them up with a fork. Add them to the butter and sugar a little at a time, beating well in between additions. Beat in the marmalade and the orange zest.
Fold in the flour with a metal spoon, slowly and firmly.
Finally, stir in the juice of half the orange.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the top.
Bake for forty five minutes, checking it after thirty five. You may find that you need to cover the top of the cake with some tin foil towards the end of the cooking time if it browns too quickly.
Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.


To make the frosting, beat together the icing sugar and butter. Pour in the milk and beat until soft and fluffy. Stir in the marmalade. 


Spread the icing over the cooled cake. 

Recipe adapted from The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater




Love from,


Laura


PS: Visit Silverpebble's Making Winter bloghop for more cosiness and comfort.

25.1.12

Hello Mr Doggy

Dear Laura,


There is someone I would like you to meet.
He likes to lie by doors, he doesn't like drafts coming into the house
He is very friendly. I think he will like it by this door.


Lots of love


Annie

23.1.12

getting ready for marmalade

Dear Annie,


It's that time again. My seville oranges have arrived from Riverford and I'm all ready for an evening of marmalade making. This year, I'm aiming for a thin cut... well, thin-ish anyway.

The best thing is that once the marmalade is made, it will be time to bake my annual marmalade cake. Just like last year and the year before that...

Love from

Laura 

21.1.12

Owl Arm Warmers

Dear Laura,


Christmas is a distant memory now, but as I was going through my Christmas holiday snaps, I realized that I hadn't shown you these Owl hand warmers I gave my sister and nephew for Christmas.






The wool came from Arizona, more about that here. I originally wanted to knit it into socks for me, but couldn't quite find the motivation. As I was knitting what I thought were going to be socks I realised they were probably going to be too small. So instead I copied the owl on your mug cosy and set to work making leg warmers for my nephew. When I saw him before christmas he was still not too keen on wearing trousers so my sister would put him in leg warmers. His parents were teenagers in the 80s after all! 


But how large is a child's leg? Well a child's leg is probably the same size as an adults arm I thought to myself, therefore, as my brain is likely to process, why not make leg warmers for him to wear at home then transfer them to arm warmers for my sister when she is out and about. Genius I hear you cry. Well that is what I thought, unfortunately, it seems like my lovely nephew has decided that trousers are a good idea now, so it looks like they are just going to be arm warmers.









Lots of love

Annie

20.1.12

a granny a day

Dear Annie,



Last year, when we began work on our blankets - as one of our new year's resolutions for 2011 (ahem!)- I decided that I would try to make a granny square a day. Given that the blanket is still far from finished, you can see that I was not entirely successful.




However, my granny blanket has recently been given a new lease of life. First of all, you reminded me of it when you visited with your own crochet grannies. I dug out my own bag of squares and was reminded of how much I loved the colour combinations and the gradual building of a whole.


Then, I read on Twitter that Mollie Makes were starting a granny square a day project. This was the push that I needed to bring my blanket out of hibernation. Along with Claire, Amy and of course your good self, I have been diligently crocheting one granny square a day and sharing it with the #agrannyaday hash tag. A little camaraderie and moral support goes along way (thanks, ladies!) and I'm now eleven squares closer to a completed blanket. Hopefully my dedication will last at least long enough for me to complete a lap-sized blanket, even if I don't manage a king-sized one.






Love from,


Laura

18.1.12

Patchwork Quilts

Dear Laura,



You might have seen this quilt before. It is of course the one I made for little S lots of years ago. When little S came in to play I asked him about the blanket. The conversation went a little like this:


"I made this for you before you were born"
"Why?"
"Because I thought you might like it"
"Why?"
"Because it has a lot of colours,"
"Why?"
"I didn't know which colours you liked then so I put lots in, do you like the colours?"
"I like blue and black and brown, because they are boy colours, and orange, orange is a boy colour too."


So that's cleared that up!





Little R seemed much keener though ... Whilst I was playing fighting dinosaurs or some such game little R ran over to the box in your living room and was trying to open it. Obviously the box is about 4 times as big as him and he was unsuccessful in opening it, so I helped him. I was a little confused about what was in this box, but there it was the patchwork quilt I had made all those years ago, little R even pointed to it. Well that pleased me no end, so we got it out and played on top of it. (top marks for little R). 










Lots of love


Annie

16.1.12

outside

Dear Annie,


This weekend, it was gloriously sunny here. Time for us to go outside...


When we were finally inside again, there was only one thing to do:


Love from,

Laura
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