The Owl and The Pussy Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful 'red and white'(!) boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, 'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are!What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Edward Lear

Monday, 30 May 2011

Books and my photo booth

purple linen covered book

I've been taking photos of the books I've finished recently.

Do you like my photo booth? The adjustable tripod is particularly neat I think, and clothes pegs can be handy things!

I'm working on getting the images onto my book website and/or in my picassa web album if I can work out how to use it and how other people can get to see it, so much to learn...

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Making bread

Bread dough in tins waiting to rise (I cover it with butter wrappers to stop it drying out)

I've made bread on and off for most of my adult life, and over the last 6 months or more I've been making it so regularly that it's become a normal part of life and doesn't seem a big deal.
I tried a bread maker once (someone elses, when I was in my house sitting phase), but found I have to measure everything accurately ...not me at all. I tried using a kenwood mixer but I had to add things in the right order...oh yes and it worked better if I measured things fairly accurately. So now, in true Nina style, I just throw the relevant ingredients in a bowl in roughly the right ratios, add enough liquid till it looks like the right consistency, let it rise...then let it rise again... and then bake it.
It doesn't seem to takes much actual 'working' time. Most of the time is waiting time.The first rise I leave for as long as suits me, all day to bake in the evening, all night to bake in the morning. Somewhere warm if I'm just leaving it to rise for a few hours, somewhere cool if I'm leaving it all day. Then it's gets a kneading and put into tins and I have to be around to keep an eye on the second rise and pop it in the oven when it looks as though it's risen enough. Next I have to remember to take it out when it's done. I have one of those little digital timers that sounds like an alarm clock when it goes off...horrible noise but I'd have SO many burnt things if I didn't have it as I always wander off and get engrossed in something else! Sometimes the breads a bit doughy, sometimes I burn the top a bit, mostly it comes out well. I think it's only once been inedible..even the hens weren't very keen on it. I always put loads of seeds in, a mixture of sunflower, sesame, linseed, and poppies which I save from poppies on the allotment.
Fresh from the oven, yum.
 I know that one day I'll think, oh I'm fed up of making bread, and I'll hardly make any for months. But that's how I am and I'm used to it now. I do things, sometimes almost obsessively for a while, then I get bored, burnt out, and move on to something else. Some things I may never or rarely do again, but there are a lot of things that will always keep recurring, - writing, singing, playing the guitar, keeping chickens, growing veg/fruit/herbs, drawing, sewing/patchwork/embroidery, making books, recycling, chopping/stacking firewood, and now..blogging!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Getting back into singing

Our dusty guitars

Up until about 6 months ago Vince and I used to go to folk clubs occasionally and sing a song or two. We'd usually have one or two new songs in the pipeline at any one time and when we felt they were good enough we'd give them a public airing. But neither of us has sung or played much for months. Yesterday, while making some books I was listening to an Eric Bogle CD, a songwriter who's work I love, and I felt the stirrings of wanting to sing again.
We have been doing some singing. We belong to a group of friends who meet most Fridays at each others houses and drink tea and wine and eat cake and sing songs (in that order). We sing mostly just for the pleasure of it and when we started, several years ago, I think it's fair to say that we were all convinced we were terrible singers and none of us would have wanted to stand up and sing in public any more than we would have wanted to jump off a cliff!
Over the years many of us have gradually gained in confidence. As a group we've sung at small village events, at a wedding (of two of the members), and some of us have sung a few solos and duets at folk clubs. On Friday evenings we mostly sing songs together and some of us do solos. 
Ever keen to try new things I did this recording of the group singing. Actually it's a video as I don't know how to record stuff to put onto a computer yet. The camera is just pointing at the wood burner so no one gets embarrassed. It was the first song we sang in the evening so we take a verse or two to get warmed up. I've just put a link here rather than embed the video so that it doesn't make the whole blog take ages to download.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Busy on the allotment

I've been experimenting with image re-sizing. The first three are a bit small, the last one is HUGE!
my allotment, well half an allotment technically
                                                                                                                                                                     I'm busy at the allotment these days, but it's never a chore as there is so much excitement and hope in the spring. I'm leaving the overwintered kale and broccoli plants to flower as long as they aren't in a space I need for new crops.

if you look closely you can see a bumble bee!
 The bumble bees love them, if you look closely you can see a very blurred image of a bee (roughly in the middle) I have a very basic camera, and the bee wasn't hanging around waiting for me to photograph it and I got a lot of pictures of where the bee was a few seconds ago.

 The rainbow chard is shooting up to flower. It has provided us with bags full of chard all spring, having struggled through the winter. Don't the stems look fabulous. It's a shame they look at their best just before it all needs pulling up, but I've now cut all these stems, picked the leaves off and stuffed the stems into a vase, who needs flowers?

 The bluebells down in the woods are breathtaking still. They've been like this for weeks now, and I just had to stop and roll about on the ground to take some photos of them a few days ago.
 I'm excited about a lot of book stuff at the moment so go over to to see bookey stuff.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

 The wedding was a very lovely day. A few friends and family at the registry office, lots of shuffling and laughing while informal photos were taken, then off home for a  few hours of friends and neighbours pouring in through the front and back doors, thrusting cards, including some wonderful handmade ones, into my hands, lots of chatting, eating, drinking (I didn't do much of this, I had my hands full of cards all the time) and happy vibes. The rooms looked lovely with my bunting and jam jars full of wild flowers, added to by bunches delivered and brought along by others. A friend made us a wonderful cake, which has inspired the title for this blog.                                                                  And my dress, which I bought at a jumble sale and altered a bit, was much admired. I got courage and inspiration to alter the dress from this website junkaholique . I think I might have been influenced by her bunting too.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The day before the first day of the rest of my life.

Where do I start? From here I guess is as good as any. And 'here' right now is preparing for my wedding tomorrow. It's a low key affair...and I've had several lovely days, preparing food, making very simple paper bunting, picking flowers - some lilac, bluebells, cornflowers, and tomorrow I'll pick bunches of cow parsley as I'm not sure how long it will stay fresh. The photo above is fairly poor, I'll do some better ones. I've also, in the last few days been splitting logs, making bread and pottering down the doesn't get much better.
I'll post later about my 20p dress and 50p shoes..