Max’s Blanket

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Believe it or not I have been busy busy busy with endless projects.  Colour schemes whizzing around in the deepest canyons of my mind.  I have balls of wool lined up like little fat soldiers on the floor in my studio (spare room!) waiting to be plucked and picked for duty!  Decisions are hard to make.

So, finally managed to get some photos sorted and gorgeous stripey blanket sent off to baby Max.  It was a joy to make and even more of a joy to give it away.  Hopefully he and his lovely mum Jess, will get as much pleasure from it as I did.

  

As you can see I felt a lovely single prink stripe was required – just to keep Max in tune with his baby lady friends! 
  

  

  So, I’m now onto the next one.  Different colour scheme, different baby (hopefully)!  More photos soon.

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I smelt Summer today!

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Today was such a perfect day – for me it was the first day of real Spring but Summer was definitely in the air.  I walked into my local park and they were mowing the grass.  It’s such an evocative smell and brings so many memories back for me, mostly of my father as he was always the gardener in our family.  Long may it last!

A Book to inspire

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Some books we pick up and read from cover to cover in a matter of days and there are others that we dip into and love, share and read over and over.  These books are some of my favourite, like old dear friends they are special and hold a little place in your heart.  One of my absolute dearest books is ‘The Gentle Art of Domesticity’ by Jane Brocket.  This is a Pandora’s Box of a book – every chapter a different subject covering everything from Colour, Travel, Comfort and Texture to Baking and Sewing.  Jane Brocket describes her need to really love the colour and texture of the wool or fabric that she is using.  If you love working with it, you will love the finished product.  I completely agree with her – if you buy beautiful fabric to make a quilt with then make sure you love the backing too.  This book is also full of beautiful photos – a real feast for the eyes.

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A Really Good Read

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Just finished a wonderful book by Barbara Kingsholver called ‘Flight Behaviour’. She is probably most well known for ‘The Poisonwood Bible’. Flight Behaviour is essentially a story about climate change and a family in the depths of chaos and sadness. The novel explores the contentious subject of global warming and those non-believers and those of us who seek to make a difference to our world. The book opens with Dellarobia, a mother of two, married to Cub, (a somewhat lazy, laconic part-time farmer) on her way up the mountainside in the wrong shoes, wheezing from too many cigarettes, to meet her part time lover. What she sees across the valley changes her life and those of all the people around her. It is an unusual subject matter, addressed extremely effectively by Kingsholver. I discovered a great deal I didn’t know about climate change and a lot of it has got me thinking, indeed even scared me somewhat. I won’t give any more away but have a read and tell me what you think.

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Christmas Gift Tags

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Being ultra organised and with recycling top of the agenda at the moment, I am making the most of all the old Christmas cards. When you have ticked off all the names of the people you received cards from decide which pictures are worth making into gift tags. A lot of them are either the wrong size, or quite frankly not nearly beautiful or cute enough. You need to be pretty picky in this department. So, having made your choices, cut off the picture part and then if you have a handy guillotine, cut card small enough to use as gift card. Use a hole puncher to put hole in one corner, add a piece of seasonal ribbon and hey presto you have ready made gift tags to be put away till next Christmas. Of course you can do exactly the same with old birthday or anniversary cards.

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The best Christmas tea towel I bought this year is this one the cards are displayed on – thanks Emma Bridgewater!

Sticky treacle toffee

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Despite the annual January push for the ‘post Christmas get back into what we were wearing last summer’ in every advertisement going, I have had quite a few requests for Toffee. Lots of great comments on the fudge post, so here goes. It is the perfect accompaniment to a good movie, hot chocolate and a warm winter fire. Just beware if you have false teeth or small children!

4 tbsp water
100g butter
300g demerara sugar
2 level tbsp golden syrup
1 level tbsp black treacle

1. Put all ingredients into a pan.
2. Heat sugar slowly, stirring until butter melts and sugar dissolves.
3. Bring to boil. Cover pan and boil gently for 2 mins.
4. Uncover, continue to boil, stirring occasionally for 10-15 mins or until a little of the mixture, dropped into a cup of cold water, separates into hard and brittle threads. Temperature on a sugar thermometer if used, should be about 149c/300f.
5. Poor into greased 15cm square tin. Leave until hard.
6. Turn out onto a board and break with a hammer or rolling pin.

Makes approx 500g toffee

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Image courtesy of Lyles Golden Syrup

Fabulous Fudge

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Delicious fudge, perfect for dinner party gifts, stocking fillers. Packaged in small cellophane bags, Christmas ribbon and a brown label.

Fudge

450g caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp golden syrup
150g butter, cubed
150ml double cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Grease and line a 22cm square baking tin
2. Put sugar, syrup, butter and cream in a heavy based saucepan and heat gently, stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Stop stirring, put a sugar thermometer in the pan and heat until the mixture reaches 116C. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer then test the fudge by spooning a small amount into iced water. If it forms a soft ball, it is ready. Take the pan off the heat and leave to stand for 10 mins.
4. Add vanilla and beat vigorously until the mixture thickens and becomes slightly grainy. It is quicker to do this bit with an electric whisk.
5. Tip into prepared tin and leave to cool. Mark into squares, refrigerate until firm.
6. Store in an airtight container until either ready to gift or eat! Enjoy.

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