Friday, 30 March 2012

More Ladybird Nostalgia and a Friday Fabric Fest

As I cut up another couple of Ladybird books (I feel bad saying that, but they were not going to grace anyone's bookshelves again, given their outer state, and at least they haven't been pulped!), I couldn't help but think that some of the images beg for new captions.

Peter couldn't contain his excitement on seeing it was cornflakes for breakfast again.

As Mother and Jane departed for some 'retail therapy', Father  smiled bravely and waved goodbye to both them and his bank balance.

What do you think for this one?  Note sinister-looking lady at shop door, holding large wodge of cash...

This week has seen quite a bit of fabric arriving in the house.  (Well, Mr U-t-B is away - what would you do?)   You can see some of it in the background up there - perfect for this year's spirit of patriotic fervour and London-love.  It's from Makower's 'I Love London' series - I got mine online at Cotton Patch, just in the nick of time as it is currently mostly out of stock with them.  (Creative Quilting - who I've only just discovered via the marvels of Google, seem to have a big range still, however.)

Here are the others I indulged in (just a lickle bit of each, Mr U-t-B, if you're reading - cost less than a couple of bags of cement...)

And they combine so well...

You get the picture!

I also bought some fabric to create outfits for Miss U-t-B and me for the vintage fairs.

Polka dots and cherries for her...

Plus more polka dots for the contrast...

And this for me (from 'The Eternal Maker' with the same super fast delivery I experienced last time I used them!)

This also seems to have sold out now - I'm such a trendsetter!

I got this pattern for Miss U-t-B...

McCalls 6332

...with the intention of making the dress, which I think she'll actually get some use out of in the summer (if we have one this year.  That's the problem about having such lovely weather now - sometimes we end up looking back at the end of winter and thinking 'Oh, THAT was our summer!')

I got this pattern for me - it's quite 'suity' in the main picture but I hope it will work with the fabric I've got.  I thought the assymetric detail would look nice and vintage.  We'll see!

Butterick 5281

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Formative Power of Ladybird Books

 Yonks ago, I was in one of my favourite charity shops looking for some Thomas the Tank Engine books.  Thomas was curiously absent, but there was a bag of books spilling onto the floor that I assumed were about to be put out on the shelves, and which included a good number of old Ladybird books.  

Seeing an opportunity to snap up some childhood memories before everyone else did, I chose a small selection of favourites and took them to the desk to pay.  I was then told that they were waiting to be collected for recycling, and that I couldn't have them! 

My downcast face must have prompted the sales lady to add that they get paid for them by the recycling company, which made it clear that she thought I was expecting to take them away for nothing. So after a quick offer of better money than recycling prices, I walked away with a few books to recycle in my own, hopefully nicer, way.

Today I finally got round to returning to them.  They'd spent a considerable time in a bag of cat litter, getting 'de-smellified'.  This had worked a treat, as originally they had smelt of a curious mix of stale cigarettes, musty dampness and dust.  

The books were in a pretty shabby state - stained, drawn on, torn and taped - no longer really fit for reading.

But I wanted some bunting to decorate my stall at the two vintage fairs I have coming up, so they seemed perfect for that.  

As I snipped and shaped and chose the best bits for the pennants, I became away of just how the images (all by J.H. (Harry) Wingfield) must have seeped into my mind, moulding my likes and aspirations. Just two books yielded these desirables:

Cute-sy cottages with eyebrow windows and picket fences,
Starched, linen-topped wicker baskets,
Hooded cloaks and gingham dresses...

Roaring fires and ranges, topped with steaming kettles...

Proper tablecloths and tables set for high tea...

Crockery-laden dressers...

(Not so sure about the candlewick bedspread though...)

Hollyhocks and lupins by the door...

Tyrolean costumes...

(I haven't got one though, but hey, it's never too late is it?)

 Cuckoo clocks and scrubbed wooden tables...

Spotted kerchiefs and simple meals...

(Handsome men in silly hats?)

Anything Bambi-like...

 Leaded lights and floaty curtains...

Plaited hair...

Old-style swimsuits...

Red shoes...

I think Mr Wingfield even influenced my choice of men.  Peter bears an uncanny resemblance to one of my old boyfriends!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Babies, Bumps and Barbecues...And a Giveaway Winner!

Hard to believe it is still March, with the weather being better than a normal day in the school summer holidays, and us having celebrated yesterday with an altogether unheard-of-in-March barbecue.  

All of Mr U-t-B 'babies' were there - that's his four children, plus associated partners and of course, Sophia...

The 'bump' was there too, prettily hidden beneath a pretty, vintage-style teadress, third from the left.

Sunglasses, short sleeves or sundresses were almost universally adopted. 

Mr U-t-B was having a bit of bother with his glasses...

Time for a new pair, methinks!  (AGAIN!)

Sophia managed to maintain her good humour, in spite of being parked down the path by the bins!

She was clearly of a mind to acquire herself a decent pair of sunglasses...


Sophia's Daddy seemed to be contemplating a new career in hair design...

Anyhow, we had a lovely, impromptu time, even if it was preceded by a little bit of hard graft in the garden to tidy up the bits that had come back for the allotment and pieces of wood that came from our roof when we had some of it re-done around Christmas.  Those bits of wood are likely to be recycled into another shed - watch this space!

In the evening I was going to draw the Giveaway winner.  

But those little minxes - Millie, Tilly and Posy - had got themselves so over-excited with the outdoor-sy weather, the visitors, the barbecue and the anticipation of the 'Dancing on Ice' final (them being big Jorgie fans) that after I'd rounded them up from the garden...

Millie from the tub of rather sparsely flowering grape hyacinths,

Tilly from the dizzying heights of the ornamental vine on the shed,

And Posy from my 'Boxy Box', which she'd climbed right through and popped out the top of, like a meerkat out of its hole...

...That they were all packed off to bed early (And no 'Dancing on Ice' final for them at all!)

They were in a contrite mood this morning, so meekly   got on with the task in hand.

 Posy and Tilly in the hat,

Millie commanding from above.

Soon two names had been drawn...

Jill who wins the main bundle, and Jooles for the runners-up prize and surprise.

Thanks to everyone for entering - I wish I could send you all a little something!  
I'll try and wish you all some of this wonderful sunshine instead!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

I did a 'Technical Challenge'...and failed!

Inspired by the Spring sunshine and this book...

...which was a lovely Mother's Day present from Miss U-t-B
(even if I'm not sure where on the groaning shelves I am going to put it)...

I decided to do one of Paul Hollywood's 'Technical Challenges' from the last series of The Great British Bake-Off.

At least I wasn't going to have to do it under the watchful and steely gaze of the piercing blue eyes!

I fancied something a bit physical, so settled upon the hand-made delights of 'Iced Fingers'.
How hard could it be - after all I had the full instructions in front of me, and all the useful 'fail-safe' tips that the contestants were deprived of.

I carefully weighed all the ingredients and settled to the task of 'massaging' the ingredients together for four minutes.  I made the disastrous mistake of massaging with both hands (not the one, as shown in the photo) so that I very soon had a yeasty-smelling gloop all over my hands, which was then transferred to nearby door handles and containers as I had failed to have flour ready for the kneading stage!

My mixture, even after ten minutes kneading, was a lot wetter than that shown in the photo.  I'm beginning to question my digital scales.  I proceeded with the proving and knocking back the dough, then weighed and shaped the buns.  Given the fact that the recipe was meant to make 12 x 70g buns, and I had 14, I think my scales may be for the bin!

I did not manage to make each of my buns the requisite 12.5cm long, and once in the oven they browned somewhat unevenly.  Had I been on 'The Great British Bake-Off', I think the lack of uniformity would have counted against me.  

And the fact that I decided that I couldn't be bothered to get a piping bag out and fill each bun with some left-over whipped cream, and pipe a line of strained strawberry jam down each one, instead adopting a 'do-it-yourself-if-you-can-be-bothered' approach, would have sealed my fate, and my future in the programme would have been doomed...

But my!









PS Drawing my giveaway tomorrow at 7pm!