30.4.12

honey cake

Dear Annie,


Weekends are the perfect time for baking, particularly because the boys' daddy is at home to distract them. I do love baking with them, and we do so often, but it just cannot be a relaxing experience when you have two small and enthusiastic assistants. Last week, I left a bag of cake ingredients unattended on the work surface whilst I answered the phone and came back to find R, surrounded by eggy mess, knocking eggs together and saying "tap tap!" So on Saturday, I declared that I would be doing some baking alone, with just the radio for company.

Years ago, I tore this recipe out of the Guardian and put it in my recipe file. It remained there until last week, when I read about Hugh's Honey Cake on Flossie Teacakes and decided that the time had come to bake it.


It is a recipe for a rich almond cake which is drizzled liberally with honey as soon as it come out of the oven. The honey gives it a glossy sheen and a subtly resonant flavour. It really was one of the most delicious cakes that I have ever baked. The boys loved it, and I couldn't possibly tell you how many slices D had! Given that you and R are urban beekeepers, you must have plenty of honey in your kitchen. If you ever fancy a spot of baking, I urge you to give it a try.



I found the honey pot in the top picture at a local vintage shop. I love it, but I rather wondered if you might like to have it? Perhaps you could fill it with fresh honey- such luxury!


Having so enjoyed their honey, it seemed only fair to do something for the bees in return by planting these bee-friendly wildflower seeds which are available free from Friends of the Earth.

Love from,

Laura

29.4.12

Volt

Dear Laura,


Your blanket is lovely, I am super impressed with your lacy knitting. I have had a pretty awesome Saturday. We went off to Fredrick, an old town, full of pretty brick houses and antique shops. It also happens to have a restaurant that I have been dying to go to for ages. We are big Top Chef fans in this house (it's like master chef but better lighting and faster camera cuts) and our favourite ever contestants were the voltaggio brothers. Well it happens that one of the brothers, Brian, is the chef at Volt in Fredrick. 


Much to my delight everyone was up for going and it was awesome! I started with the Ravioli, the waitress was lovely but I did laugh out loud when she told me my dish contained sage air. 
I am assuming that was the foam and they didn't just wave some sage over the top before bringing it out. It was delicious, the pasta was black and the filling was goats cheese so when you cut into it, it looked amazing. The mushrooms were by far the yummiest thing on the plate though. Then came the rockfish...
It was by far an away one of the best things I have ever eaten, I had to use every ounce of restraint not to pick the dish up, drink the last of the broth and lick the plate (luckily they provided a spoon so I could get most of it). I was, it turns out, far to excited and relaxed to remember to take a picture of the desert but it was equally as beautiful and tasty as the rest of the meal. I came out happy, refreshed and relaxed. I LOVED it so much I could have eaten the meal all over again straight away given half the chance. They even gave us some cake to take home and have. 
I can't wait to go again.

Lots of love

Annie

27.4.12

blanket after blocking

Dear Annie,


I promise that this will be the last post about my Hap Blanket before I move on to knitting pastures new. I just had to show you the finished article, now that it has been blocked. 

I am a fairly reluctant blocker, but on this occasion I feel positively evangelical about blocking. Knitted lace seems to improve immeasurably for being gently washed and carefully pinned out. The scallops on the edging are now neat and defined, and the whole blanket seems smoother and silkier, with a lovely drape to it. 





The project details are on Ravelry. It's raining in torrents here, so I'm off to the sofa, to snuggle under my blanket with my knitting and a cup of tea!

Love from,

Laura

26.4.12

The Animals Went Marching Two by Two

Dear Laura,


The animals went marching two by two
Hoorah!
Hoorah!
The animals went marching two by two
Hoorah!
Hoorah!
The animals went marching two by two
So many animals the ark became a zoo
And they all went marching down into the ark...


I won it on ebay. I love it so much, I am going to make a child's duvet set with it.


Lots of love


Annie

23.4.12

tiny achievements

Dear Annie,


It has been a quiet and rather monotonous weekend for us. Little R was poorly, the poor mite, and so -despite various plans- he and I have stayed at home. There has been a lot of sofa-snuggling and watching of Thomas the Tank Engine. On days like these, it helps to take pleasure in tiny achievements. This weekend, they have been the potting of some herbs for my kitchen windowsill (thanks, S and D!) and the blocking of my blanket.
Sometimes, it has to be just the little things that count.



Love from,

Laura

21.4.12

Thumb Sweat Bands

Dear Laura,


I have been having a little bit of an 80s revival of late, I recently rediscovered the classic flock of seagulls song, I ran (so far away), which I have been listening to on repeat and annoying my fellow office workers by humming along to it under by breath. To make up for it, I made some commissioned thumb sweat bands/thumb warmers (I think I need to work on the name) for one of my fellow office workers. She has a terrible habit of picking at her cuticles (gross) and so the idea was to put something over her thumbs to stop her from doing it.




A strange commission but it turns out that it isn't too difficult to make tiny little tubes. I got out my double ended needles and attempted, fairly successfully, rib stitch in the round. I chose some multicoloured wool to make them more interesting. 






Kindly my lunch was bought for me as thank you, lovely korean tacos, yum!
So what do you think, a new trend for spring/summer 2013, taking your thumbs back to the 80s. I think so!


Lots of love


Annie

19.4.12

violet: for spring lovers

Dear Annie,


I couldn't resist this little box of sweets. Partly because I have a real fondness for parma violets, but mainly because I am easily swayed by beautiful packaging and I loved the tagline. Violet: for Spring Lovers. Whether you are a lover of the springtime or a lover in the springtime, these are evidently the flowers (and the sweets) for you.

When I think of Spring flowers, I don't always remember violets, but this Spring I have been noticing their shy little faces hidden in the churchyard and the woods, or down beside the stream. They are such sweet and pretty little flowers. 

It also got me thinking of the colour violet, which is certainly one of which this particular spring lover is inordinately fond. Once I started looking, I saw it all around me.




Of course this is not violet, but lilac. To my unbridled delight, I discovered a lilac bush in our new garden. It is still partially in bud at the moment, but I check every day to see when it will fully, gloriously and fragrantly bloom. I shall be sure to show you when it does.

Love from,

Laura

PS: Thank you to Ellen at A Pile of Sheep for the blog award. We appreciate you thinking of us! xx

18.4.12

Swarming Bees and Space Shuttles

Dear Laura,


I have had quite an exciting week, first there was the swarm of bees. It turns out our hives are doing so well that one of the hives swarmed, they do this when they don't have enough space. A new queen is produced and half the hive flies away with the old one to find a new home. Luckily for us the bees swarmed whilst R was at home.

Here they are swarming




They settled in our very patient neighbours cherry tree which R climbed to rescue them and put them into their new home.






Here they are settling in. So we have expanded and hopefully both hives will thrive this year. We're keeping our fingers crossed.


Today, as a goodbye to the manned space program, the space shuttle discovery did a flyby of DC. I was sitting at my desk to hear cheering from outside. Running to the window I saw the shuttle on the back of a 747, it was awesome. The picture is less good as only my phone was to hand.




Sometimes living in the city is magic. 


Lots of love


Annie

16.4.12

blanket

Dear Annie,


I have finally cast off my Hap Blanket. I think it is actually the largest item I have ever knitted. Which isn't to say that it is huge- just a lap blanket - but still, an achievement. I have all the ends left to sew in, and then I too shall be busily blocking to ensure that the lace edging is made up of neat scallops. In the meantime, it is keeping me nice and snug. The baby Alpaca yarn is amazingly soft.




Of course in this house, a blanket can't be left unattended for more than a few seconds without being appropriated. Today, it was used to wrap my old doll, who is unaccountably loved by both my boys. They rejected her original name (Julie) in favour of the rather avant-garde 'Bicarb'. Yes, as in bicarbonate of soda. No, I have no idea why.




I will let you know how I get on with my blocking. I am so looking forward to seeing your crochet squares joined up.


Love from,


Laura
 

15.4.12

Blocking?

Dear Laura,


I have been making squares from circles. It's like magic. Well I hope I have. I have attempted blocking for the first time ever. I read Truly Murtles great summary of different blocking technics. I wasn't completely sure what to do, but it seemed that if I made my squares wet, then pinned them out I could make my circles square. So that is what I tried. First  I gave them a bath...



I knew I had to be gentle with them so it was cold water and I kind of swished them about a bit. Then I made a swiss roll with a towel and the granny squares to dry them off a bit before I started to pin them.




 And then magic began...




 It totally worked! here is my before...



and after


I am pleased as punch, joining them is going to be a breeze. 




Only two more batches to go!


Lots of love


Annie
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