Monty Mcvitty goes to work

Our little Monty has settled in beautifully at Mr Sharp’s office, and he takes his role very seriously indeed! Every morning he fills his little head with a dose of caffeine, nibbles on a biscuit (or three), and sets about helping Mr Sharp with whatever the day has in store:

Montgomery McVitty the accountant

Montgomery McVitty the telephone operator

Monty just loves manning the telephone lines. He sure does rock that headset! Hang on a minute….. Is Monty talking with his mouth full?! I will have to have words with him about that, how very rude……Tsk tsk!Mr Sharp and little Monty make a fabulous team, and I’m sure that if Monty had arms those two would be high fiving each other all day long. It’s wonderful to see them becoming such good friends, bless ’em! Between the two of them they manage to consume an extraordinary amount of biscuits, which gives me a fantastic excuse to get my bake on, something I get great pleasure from. And, as all the biccies get eaten by Monty and Mr Sharp, I am saved from the temptation of those calorific little blighters while it’s bikini season, phew! I can bake and stick to my bikini diet all at the same time, huzzah! Monty’s favourite biscuits by far are my Vanilla Shortbreads, which is lucky because they are also my favourite biscuits to bake! They are so ridiculously easy to make, and are completely fool-proof, so I urge you to give them a try, you won’t be disappointed: 

Ingredients:

  • 325g plain flour
  • 200g chilled salted butter
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large free range egg yolks

Method:

  • Tip the flour into a food processor. Cut the butter in to small pieces and drop them into the bowl, then whizz together until the mixture looks like bread crumbs
  • Add the sugar, vanilla and egg yolks and whizz to until it comes together as a dough.

OR

If you haven’t got a food processor, rub the butter in to the flour in a large bowl, then add the remaining ingredients and mix to a form dough with your hands.

  • Roll the dough in to a sausage shape approximately 5cm in diameter. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30mins.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180c/gas4/fan 160c.
  • Once the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge and take off the cling film. Cut the dough in to slices 1cm thick and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  • Bake in the oven for 18-20mins. Once cooked, sprinkle the shortbread with golden caster sugar while they are still warm.
  • Eat and make yummy noises, for they are darn tasty biscuits. Nom.

I hope you are all enjoying the fabulous weather we currently having here in old Londinium. It’s so good to see the sun again, I had almost forgotten what it looked like. Fingers crossed it will be here to stay for the duration of the Olympics! Today I shall mostly be making bunting, for bunting is awesome and I love it so. It’s impossible to be miserable in the presence of bunting, it’s just too darn jolly! xx

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The Adventures of Montgomery Mcvitty…..

My Mr Sharp works very hard, very hard indeed! I wanted to give him a little something to make him smile; something he could have on his desk at work to cheer him up when it’s all getting a bit stressful. I pondered a while. “What does Mr Sharp like when he is feeling a bit overworked?” I wondered…..”Tea!” thought I. “And what is better than a mug of tea?” I asked myself….”Tea with biscuits!” I replied! I thought and thought of how I could combine the two to be a permanent fixture on his desk at work. And from my pondering, Montgomery McVitty was born.

Biscuit mug!

Montgomery McVitty is no ordinary mug… oh no. Not only does he sport a well-groomed moustache and a distinguished gentleman’s monocle, Montgomery the mug has a mouth. “A mouth?” I hear you cry. “Yes, a mouth” says I. “But what use does a mug have for a mouth?” you ask. I agree, it’s quite obserd. But then again, it is actually a very useful thing for a mug to have. Our chap Monty simply looooves biscuits. He can’t get enough of them! When you fill his head with tea, biscuits are what he craves. So pop some tasty biscuits in his mouth and he will willingly share them with you whilst you sup tea from his brow.

"Nom!" says Monty as he stuffs biscuits in his mouth.

I do hope he will enjoy his new home at Mr Sharps office. I will be sending him a fresh supply of biscuits every Monday to see him through the working week. This week, Monty had Double Chocolate Chip Shortbread, and he decreed that he liked these very much. They really are truly delicious. So delicious in fact that the batch I made on Sunday to last all week had been devoured by Monday evening – oops! I’m now hurriedly baking another, much bigger batch to hopefully last Monty and Mr Sharp until Friday.

The recipe is very easy to make with just a handful of store cupboard ingredients. Here’s the recipe incase you fancy baking some too:

Ingredients

  • 175g butter, softened
  • 85g golden caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g chocolate chips (milk, white or dark)

Method

  • Mix the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon. Stir in the flour and cocoa, followed by the chocolate chips – you’ll probably need to mix it together with your hands at this stage. Halve the dough and roll each piece into a log about 5cm thick. Wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hr or for several days. Can be frozen for up to 1 month.
  • Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Slice logs into 1cm-thick rounds, transfer to a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 10-12 mins. Cool on the tray.

Shortbread is definitely one of my favourite types of biscuits to bake at home, but I always feel guilty eating them when I have seen just how much butter goes in to them. I wonder if there is such a thing as a healthy, low-fat biscuit that actually tastes good? If you have such a recipe, I’d love to hear from you!

Biscuit mug

While Monty’s face would cheer the most solemn of folk, he does look rather sad whilst bobbing around in the washing up liquid…. His happy little face suddenly looks a bit panicked. Fear not Monty my friend, we won’t let you drown, it’s merely bath time dear chap! You need to look smart for your first day at the office.

Hope you are all having a wonderful week so far folks 🙂 TTFN! xx

Mmmmm, Onion Marmalade!

Why is it that whenever there is something that I HAVE to do, I end up doing something completely different? I had set aside this Saturday to write my UCAS personal statement (I’m applying to study costume production next year, yay! I really, really hope I get accepted…eeep!) but instead I ended up making onion marmalade. Ooops! How on earth did that happen?

The Urban Goblin (aka Lucy) had presented me a beautiful plait of onions as part of my payment for knitted Dennis, and I decided to put them to good use.

Armed with my River Cottage Jams and Preserves book (which, by the way, I highly recommend it if you like that sort of thing!), I set about making me a batch of onion marmalade.

I made my own labels using a great programme called Avery Design Pro5 lite which is available as a free download from here. It works very well with any self adhesive address labels that can be put through your printer. I was really pleased with how they turned out and had a lot of fun making them.

One of the jars is in my fridge and is encouraging me to eat far too much cheese…..  A toasted cheese and onion marmalade sandwich is absolutely divine! I’m going to stash the rest away to make some christmas hampers for my friends, and of course Lucy will receive a jar this week by way of thanks for the onions she gave me, thanks Lucy! xx

My babies!

I am now the very proud mummy of three adorable babies!

Ahem…..three baby chickens that is…..

And this is them! Awwwww! They are so unbelievably cute! Well, I guess I’m biased what with being their mummy and all.

While visiting my Laura in Hereford we popped along to Newland Poultry, the most lovely poultry farm I have ever seen! I highly recommend them and I will definitely be going back there again in the future. They have a wonderful range of beautiful hybrid and pure breed chickens. The people who work there are exceptionally friendly and helpful, the chickens are very well looked after and the farm is absolutely gorgeous!

When we visited they had a selection of 8 day old chicks of various breeds. I fell in love with my three as soon as I saw them!

This little one is called Fozzy:

He’s/she’s a baby Frizzle Cochin. When its feathers grow they will be all curly!!

And this little one is called Dexter:

He/she is a Frizzle Cochin/Jersey Giant cross! Gunna be a big bugger that one! It’s feet are massive compared to the other two and it’s got a lot more meat on its bones!! Oo-er!

And this beautiful little thing is Willow:

He/she is a Buff Orpington, a breed that originates from my hometown of Orpington in Kent.

Little old Bob the Dog is very intrigued by them. He likes to bundle into my room every evening to pay them a visit and give them a good old sniff.

My wonderful Mum agreed to sacrifice part of her beloved flower beds for the chickens to live on, and my wonderful Dad helped me to assemble the new chicken coop and constructed a fabulous run for them. While my new little babies won’t be able to live out in the garden until their feathers are fully grown, I will be getting some rescued battery hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust this weekend and they will move into the new coop and run straight away. It’s all so very exciting!!

A new chapter.

I’m a teensy bit excited…

Well, maybe more than a teensy bit….

Maybe I’m a whole lot of excited…

Yes, I can hereby confirm that I am redunkulously excited (that’s a whole lot of excited I can tell you!)

I…..*wait for it*….have…..*are you on the edge of your seat?*…an….*giggle*….allotment!! Yeah baby!! That’s right, you heard me, a frickin’ allotment!! Me! Who’d of funked it aye?

Ok, ok, so that might not be very exciting news to you my dear reader, but I have been bouncing around with happiness ever since I found out! Feel free to mock and point and brand me a loser.

Inspired by my friend the Urban Goblin, and after watching back to back episodes of “Beyond River Cottage”, I decided to find me a piece of land. The waiting list for the local allotments was years long, so I clicked on the River Cottage Landshare Website and was almost instantly matched with a lovely lady called Jane who lives 5 minutes up the road and was willing to give me the end of her garden to have as an allotment!

I have to confess that I am a but crap with growing things, it doesn’t always end well for the plant poor thing (I am hoping to get better though with a little practice).  My real love is for  keeping chickens, and lovely Jane said she was perfectly happy for chickens to move into her garden. Yaaaaaaaaay!

When I lived in South Africa I kept chickens in my garden. I loved those little chickens, they were a constant source of entertainment to me and they provided the tastiest eggs I have ever eaten. I was devastated when I left South Africa and had to say goodbye to them, and ever since I’ve been back home in Blighty I’ve been desperate to get some more, but there  just isn’t room in our garden.

My chicken Margaret with her 11 chicks!

I kept a different blog when I was in South Africa and I documented some of the adventures I had with my beloved chicken friends. You can find it at bettybrash.blogspot.com if you would like to have a little peek. Be warned though, the post about Rocky the baby bantam might bring a tear to your eye, and the pictures of snakes and spiders may terrify you! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

RIP peace Rocky dude....

I have ordered a very lovely chicken coop which should arrive next week, and I’m going scouting for some chickens while up in the shire of Hereford visiting Laura this weekend. *Giggle* I can’t wait! Watch this space for my new adventures with my new little chicken friends.

(P.s. I welcome suggestions of names for my new pets)

Monkey business

I was recently comissioned to knit a little toy Monkey for a little girl called Isla, who is 4 years old and completely monkey mad!

And here she is, cheeky Miss Monkey, all finished and ready to meet little Isla.

 She’s even got Isla’s name on her dress so there will be no mistaking just who this monkey belongs to.

Knitted kitty portrait

This adorable, fluffy little kitty belongs to my good pal Lucy, the Urban Goblin.…..

…..and Dennis is his name. Oooooo I just wanna snuggle up to him!! He looks so very cuddly! I miss having kitty’s very much, they are so very ace.

Lucy and I met a few months ago when we both enrolled at the local adult education college to do an Etching course. On my first day I sat anxiously and wide-eyed in the unfamiliar room, surrounded by medieval looking printing presses, my nose being tickled by the smell of acid and ink. I surveyed the room, checking out my new classmates, all of whom were on the side of elderly, working in a respectful calm and quietness. I have to confess my heart sank a little. I love getting the chance to meet new people and have a bit of banter and a good old natter while  learning a new craft, and it was quite evident that the people in this class were there to etch in peace and not be disturbed by a young whipper snapper such as myself. And just then, when I had resigned myself to the fact that no new comrades would be found in my fellow etchers, Lucy walked in and I could tell straight away that we would become partners in crime. The nattering between us two quickly commenced and we soon discovered that my Mum had been the librarian at Lucy’s secondary school and that she knew my brother from the pub. We had both quit our tiresome, life draining jobs to find inner happiness, and we both had a love of retro cartoons, zombies, warcraft, children’s books, growing veg, creating things, randomness, weirdness and general giggling.

So, anyway, back to Dennis the cat…. Lucy had commissioned me to make her a knitted version of her gorgeous kitty for her dad’s birthday. I happily obliged, I love any excuse to get knitting!

And here he is! Ta da!! Little knitted Dennis. Tee hee! His little daft face makes me chuckle!

I tucked him up all comfy cosy in a box and posted him off to Lucy to give to her dad. I hope they (and the real Dennis the cat) all like little knitted Dennis! Enjoy your new home dude, I know you will be very happy there. xx