Saturday, 29 September 2012

More Milly-Molly-Mandy Sweetness

I love the Milly-Molly-Mandy books by Joyce Lankester Brisley. Clearly I am not alone in this, as a post I wrote nearly two years ago shortly after starting my blog, is still my all time most popular one according to Blogger stats. (You can read it here!) 

I was lucky enough back then to have found 'utility' copies of the first two MMM books, both published in 1949, reprints of the originals published in 1928 and 1929. 

 Now I have managed to find another to add to my collection...

This one is from the 1960s, originally published in 1948.

The first story tells of how Milly-Molly-Mandy's dress got ripped to shreds by an over-excited Toby dog.  Our poor heroine has to head home to tell Mother, and is greeted by Uncle who cheerfully says, 'Now you'll catch it.  Tell Mother to send you out to me if she wants you to get a good spanking.  I'll give you a proper one!' 

Fortunately, Milly-Molly-Mandy was not reduced to a quivering wreck by this - she 'knew Uncle was only joking'.
Mother, along with the other womenfolk of the household, were very understanding saying that it wasn't going to last much longer, being faded and outgrown.  

Mother and Milly-Molly-Mandy head to Miss Muggins' shop to buy some 'stuff' for a new dress - something quite different from her usual pink and white stripes.  There they meet a girl called Bunchy, also buying 'stuff' for a new dress, with her Grandmother.  In the end there is only pink and white striped fabric or one with daisies and forget-me-nots to choose from.  And there's only enough of the daisies and forget-me-nots for one dress, so dear little Milly-Molly-Mandy gives up her desire for something quite different so that Bunchy can have the flowery fabric.  Ahhh!

Here's Milly-Molly-Mandy still wearing her pink and white stripes whilst sledging.  Brrr!

But do not fear, for Milly-Molly-Mandy does get a different dress at one point in this book!  Mr Rudge, the blacksmith, marries his sweetheart, and Milly-Molly-Mandy and Little-Friend-Susan are bridesmaids in pink dresses nearly down to their feet, with bunches of roses in their hands.

But life was not all sweetness and light, even back then in the little village where Milly-Molly-Mandy and friends lived. 

 For one of the stories is worryingly entitled...

The gang in question take pleasure in knocking off people's hats, setting chickens loose, leaving field gates open and undoing washing lines.  

Milly-Molly-Mandy, Billy Blunt and Little-Friend-Susan form a gang of their own to un-do all these misdeeds, meeting secretly in an old cycle shed to make up rules and such like. In the end, the real 'gang' seem to tire of their naughtiness and, in twos and threes, ask to join Milly-Molly-Mandy's gang.  Then they all have fun playing rounders.  

If only modern gang culture could be cured as easily!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Going to work on an egg

A couple of weeks ago, LovelyGrey featured a great stew photo.  (Only in the Land-of-Blog does one read about 'great stew photos', eh?)
I remembered how thrilled my sister, brother and I used to be when our Mum presented us with dishes of rice with pools of tomato soup in the centre complete with parsley faces and was reminded that I had 'pinned' some eggy-cleverness on one of my Pinterest boards a while back, just in case I ever have to work a little bit harder at food presentation in order to tempt Sophia or Dylan to eat.  

So here, because I have nothing else to post about today (though I will return with a Liberty Lifestyle Fabric Suitcase Tutorial very soon!) 
and because the whole alliterative title thing was beginning to get tricky-stroke-annoying are some of the cute photos I found.

Then I roamed wider.
Hallowe'en Party Treats?

Bento Boxes

I might have to get this book -Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches...

Could you eat this banana now?

If someone you know is crabby in the morning, here's the breakfast for them...

Who could resist this?

From 'Funky Lunch' by Mark Northeast

Too cute to eat, methinks...

Back to stew...

And finally, 
look away if you're easily shocked...

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

What's-Making-Me-Smile Wednesday

Remember this?

 ...the free-from-the-dump suitcase,

and the inspiring magazine photo...

With your help, dear bloggy friends, I chose Liberty 'Lytton' - 

though in this colourway, 'Magenta Teal'...

..rather than the 'Rich Red' I had looked at previously...

( I do still love the red!  I just wasn't in a red and blue mood when I arrived at 'The Village Haberdashery' in search of a metre of Liberty loveliness.)

I saw Monday as my last chance of doing something crafty for a while, so decided to get on with it.  It was only going to be a quick job, after all.

Several hours of fiddly cutting later, this is what had been achieved...

(I had prised off the little badge... it could be put back in place afterwards.)

Luckily the inside was still in great condition - a bit of light sponging got rid of a couple of stains.

These were the bits that caused the most grief...

All in all, for less than half a metre of fabric - so less than £7 - I'm pretty pleased with it!

Have you been watching 'The Great British Bake-Off'?  Well, needless to say it is required viewing in this household.  It does make me chuckle at times, and last night I followed a Twitter link to the website of James - he of the Fairisle tank-tops and trendily large glasses.   Though I would never condone mad drinking games, this really did make me hoot.

Let's face it, if you watched an episode and played along with the game, you'd be likely to require the ministrations of  Danny, the intensive care consultant/baker!

Hope there's lots making you smile today!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Tuesday Try-Out - Creamy Oven-Baked Chicken with Garlic Potatoes

Right, for my second try-out, I have a recipe I followed in spirit if not to the letter.  Some of the quantities I felt were not quite right for the hungry chaps and chapesses sitting down to dinner at my table, so I upped amounts.  I will give you the quantities from the recipe, but will also let you know how much I actually used.

This recipe is meant to serve six.

Begin by peeling and thinly slicing 2 medium baking potatoes. 
I actually used about 8 small to medium sized potatoes as that was the size of the potatoes in the cupboard, and I wanted more filling, potato-ey goodness.

Put half of the potato in a layer on the bottom of a lightly buttered oven-proof dish.
(The recipe calls for a 2.4l one.)

Pour over 600ml, or a good old-fashioned pint, of white sauce.  The recipe, for speed and ease, suggests bought but I am far too tight-fisted to be forking out about two quid for something that costs not much more than a pint of milk.  I use a cheat-y, quick way, which makes it easier to make it lump free. I simply dollop my 50g of plain flour on top of my 600ml of milk, and balloon-whisk till all the flour lumps have disappeared...

...then I dollop in my 50g of butter or margarine, and then bring to the boil, whisking most of the time.  Add seasoning and it's done.

So the white sauce goes on top of the potato layer...

...and then sprinkle over half a 390g can of 'Eazy Fried Onions'.  I did not have this, not because I am a purist who would rather fry my own onions, or a cheapskate who is not prepared to spend 69 of my pennies on a can of onions (when raw ones are about half the price), but because I can't bear to see those kind of spellings in my cupboards!

So I fried one (I'd have done two but what lay in the cupboard, that I thought to be an onion, was actually a rather small and strangely shaped butternut squash) and sprinkled away.

Then 250g of frozen peas were strewn on top, followed by 450g of cooked, shredded chicken.  I used 4 chicken breasts, but this would be a great recipe for using up leftovers after a roast.  

The rest of the potato is then layered on top...

I was in a bit of a rush, so it was a little haphazard...

20g of garlic butter was dotted over the  potatoes, and the dish was wrapped tightly in foil.  

It was then placed in the oven at 180 degrees/160 Fan oven/Gas Mark 4 for an hour, then the heat was notched up to 200 degrees/180 Fan Oven/Gas Mark 6, the foil was whipped off and the bubbling dish was left to get all golden and toasty for a further 20-30 minutes.

I got a wee bit fed up with waiting for ours so I may have hoiked it out a little before it was golden all over (though this may be partly down to my oven).  Anyway, the potatoes were soft, and those so-very-nearly-burnt bits were completely irresistible, so I dived in and served it.

It did not disappoint!

It was even worth the mess in the oven as my dish was too small!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Monday's Musing

After a busy weekend, this will be a very quick post, as I have lots to do before I get back in the classroom tomorrow, for the first time since June.  It's a bit of a gulp moment - somehow that start-of-a-new-school-year feeling (crisp uniform, new haircut, shoes that rub and butterflies in the stomach) has never quite left me, in spite of fourteen odd years as a pupil, four at college and more than twenty-five (Yes! That many!) teaching.  

So this seemed apt.  

It's a 'design' (I use the term loosely) I came up with myself, and the words were pinched from that well-known source of advice for life, 'Top Gear', by none other than 'The Hamster'.  I hope he doesn't mind that I stole his words  - can you steal the spoken word?

I will now go and throw my all into lesson planning and preparation, reminding myself that seven, eight and nine year olds really aren't that scary and thanking my lucky stars that my school got OFSTEDed last week!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Flippin' 'eck Friday

Something that made my jaw drop yesterday..

(Please follow the link to the BBC News website, it's really worth it!)

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012

Thanks Mr U-t-B for leaving it up on the laptop! Just amazing...

I think a trip to Greenwich is on the cards.

(The best images are on show at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, London, until 5 
February 2013. Admission free.)

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Wallpaper Sample Coasters (a bit of a fail...)

Thank you first for all your kind comments about the bedroom revamp!  It certainly has been worth all the hard work, and this morning I actually got a cup of tea in bed!  

Now you might suspect from this that Mr U-t-B had read my blog and decided to surprise me, but no, it was only as he was drinking his own cup of tea that he switched his laptop on, told me that he'd started reading my post yesterday evening but had fallen asleep half-way through, (Oh they know how to wound, your nearest and dearest, don't they?) and hooted with laughter when he saw what I had written! It was a good thing I was still in bed as otherwise I might have fallen over!

One of the things about having decorated is that things that I previously didn't notice (because there was much more clutter, and things were an unholy mess  not quite co-ordinated) now grate on me.  Or on my eye, to be more precise.  So something as small as a coaster, in a room with fewer knick knacks, can look out of place.  I tried to tackle this by exchanging a few of these rather scratched and tired coasters...

...for these (which were a Christmas present last year)...

But the rosy ones look nice in the sitting room (and the gift-giver gets to see that I love them that way), so I wanted to come up with an alternative.

When I had been trying to decide on wallpaper, I got a good number of samples (as I'm a bit of a ditherer!)
The other day, Mr U-t-B had gathered them all up and put them by the back door to go in the bin, so I had to quickly spirit them away.  I'd had to pay for some of them, after all, so I wasn't going to just chuck them away!

So I thought I'd use some of them to give the old coasters an uplift.  Some PVA glue and a sharp craft knife, plus some matt varnish would be all I would need - stuff that I already had.

Soon I had created these...

Zoffany  'Meadow' wallpaper


Sanderson's 'Marney' wallpaper


Harlequin 'Iola Rose' wallpaper

...and this, which made use of a pretty birthday card I couldn't bear to part with.

So the Zoffany ones are now in our room, looking pleasingly 
co-ordinated and useful.  May I emphasise 'LOOKING useful'. But - oops - this is the problem we have...

Not so useful after all!  
A craft project to file under 'Needs Improvement'...
Probably NOT one to try at home.

If you know the solution to tacky varnish, do let me know!