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

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Terrible pictures

I have a new (well, it was new at Christmas) laptop with a built in camera. When I first got the laptop I had a play with all the gadgets. The built in camera takes the most terrible pictures ever. How can such an all singing all dancing piece of equipment take such dreadful pictures. 

I am fortunate that 'how I look' is not one of my many hang ups.

These pictures are so bad they make me laugh.

I guess I'm sharing them in the hope that they will make you laugh too.

Because laughter is a good thing!

Don't tell Vince he's on here too!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

My favourite herbs

I had a very enthusiastic response to my suggestion that I might blog more about gardening, so although I felt a bit overwhelmed at the idea initially I've been taking photos and have decided to just tackle one little subject at a time. That's obvious really isn't it?!

So, I though I'd start with a few herbs. These are the ones (that I took photos of) that are currently growing away at the allotment.

Lovage has a strong celery-like flavor and is wonderful in soups and stews and chopped up with other herbs in an omlette. It tends to end up growing huge and flowering, and is best cut down to the ground to get some fresh growth during the growing season. I now have two plants so that I can cut one down hard and still have greens from the other one. I also freeze it for the winter. I simply chop it up small and freeze it on a tray, then when it's frozen pour it into a tub so that it comes out loose. It is possible to dig it up and split the roots in the winter, but it has a big tap root and will often sulk a little after being transplanted, and will often take a season to recover fully.

 Sorrel belongs to the dock family and is related to wild sorrel, which can also be eaten and has a stronger flavour. I use sorrel in stews (actually I use all my herbs in stews, so that might get a bit boring!), but it also adds a bit of zing chopped up and cooked with spinach or chard. There's also a wonderful sorrel soup recipe, which I could look out, but basically is fried onion, potatoe, nettles (or spinach) all cooked up with a load of stock and then a handful of chopped sorrel added 5 minutes before the end. It's a wonderful budget meal as it's mainly potatoes and onions. Sorrel can be dug up and split in the winter and any bits of root left behind will often grow. Split it and give some to your friends every few years, good for the plant and good for your soul...
 Marjoram is possibly my favourite all time herb. It's great in stews (!) and when I used to be mainly vegetarian it was particularly useful for adding a good meaty flavor to vegetables and pulses. It's also wonderful in omlettes. My favourite omlette is just an egg or two and a big handful of fresh chopped herbs. I love the golden marjoram because it's so bright and cheerful in the spring. I have been told the flavour isn't as strong as the green marjoram, but it grows so vigorously I think I can just cut more of it.  If allowed to flower it's always covered in bees and butterflies. I cut great handfuls of it in the summer and dry it for use in the winter. In fact that reminds me I need to go and cut some if it ever stops raining.
Golden marjoram
The only other photo of something herb-like, which isn't a herb, at all are these radish. I sowed them in the autumn as winter radish but most of them didn't get big enough to be worth eating. If radish are left to flower and set seed they produce small pods which are lovely and crunchy in salads if picked green. I'm leaving these to flower to see how many pods they produce.
Other herbs that I can think of that I have at my allotment are garlic chives, horseradish, chives and fennel. I'll do another blog about them. I've also got lots of seedlings coming up...
Anyone got any particular subjects they'd like? It's such a big subject I don't know where to start, I suppose just what comes to mind really?

I've got a Facebook bookbinding page where I tend to do more regular booky updates if anyone's interested ...

Saturday, 11 May 2013

New books in my new workspace

 My work room back in action, still got some furniture painting to do... not yet though..

I've been playing with new book structures with a view to teaching workshops and creating some book art.
Little books that fit in matchboxes
Matchbox book

A bit of printing with some handmade stamps. I stuck bits of foam onto slices of wood with double sided tape, they work really well.
 And some wierd and wonderful folded book ideas

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Wedding anniversary

Back last weekend when the sun was still shining we walked along the river to this lovely local pub and had lunch.

Two very happily married people..

Monday, 6 May 2013

Painting furniture

I've been building up to doing this for ages, months, possibly even years (well, a year maybe). I have an emotional block about painting stuff. A voice inside my head tells me I shouldn't do it because I'll make a mess of it and ruin a perfectly good piece of furniture/room/whatever. I watch people in blogland, and sometimes in real life bring about wonderful, beautiful transformations, but I've never been able to bring myself to do it. I think it revolves around perfectionism (that's other peoples, not mine), and me being too lazy to do things properly. I've been gathering, in the room that is my workspace, some of the worst furniture in existence so that I can feel ok about painting it. 
The table below for example. I'm actually very fond of it because it was given to me by someone I like, and it had been their kitchen table for many years. It may have been lovely once but the top, which is made from two big pieces of wood has a huge gap down the middle, the whole thing is riddled with woodworm holes, no longer alive I believe and the legs have been used by cats as scratching posts and are in various stated of shredded-ness. I am telling you this because I had to tell myself these things over and over while I painted it in order to not be completely traumatized by the process!

Table before painting
 I was really pleased with the result. The paint is some I bought several years ago from our local recycling centre, so it didn't even cost me much. I didn't bother with any sanding or stuff, just slapped it on!
Table after painting
 Fuelled by my success I set about this hideous and dreadfully bodged cupboard. Again, it may have been a nice piece of furniture once, but those panels in the doors for example are just held in with nails. It looks like someone like me bodged it!
Horrible cupboard before painting
 On with the paint...
Beautiful cupboard

There's no stopping me now. All the other wood coloured things you can see in these pictures are destined to be painted. There are some really awful shelves that I dragged out of our damp and dusty stables, much to Vince's horror, the big table that has to have a board on top of it because it is so incredibly warped, and also a chair (not the one in the photo) that I also dragged out of the damp and must stables. I'm so excited.
This isn't earning me any money of course, but my workspace will look fab when Country Living come round to photograph me. That's a bit of positive thinking by the way, they aren't actually on their way yet!