Thursday, August 28, 2008

Slaving over a hot stove

The Pickle Factory is in full swing once again chez Moog.

First off, I returned from Mother-in-law's on Sunday with a 5lb bag of frozen plums from her friend's garden - free :)

A trip to the forest on Monday yielded a couple of pounds of blackberries - free :)

Together these freebies yielded 10 jars of jam and just cost me about £2.50 for the sugar.

This morning the Moog woke me (but oddly not Moogsdad who carried on snoring!) at 5.40am with a bout of woofage.

After a cuppa and half an hour with a good book I wandered into the garden.

The slugs have been making free with my tomatoes so drastic action was required.

All the dangly down tomatoes - mostly green ones - that were most in danger of sluggery were picked and well washed.

Result - 3lbs green tomatoes - almost free (cost of a few teeny plug plants) :)

A third of them were reasonable and are now on the windowsill ripening. The other two thirds were duly chopped and turned into 8 jars of green tomato chutney.

Having gotten my pickling mojo I then moved on to a 50p marrow from the farm shop - which yielded 5 1/2 jars of yummy Marrow and Ginger chutney.

You will notice the rather motley selection of jars I used. I have been so tempted to buy some of the pretty jars available from this ebay shop but talked myself out of it in the interests of being green!!

In amongst the pickling action a wee bit of baking got done too - one to eat and one to freeze.

With all this lovely inspiration that I bought home from the library yesterday I daresay there will be plenty more kitchen fun to be had.

I also picked this up at the Works yesterday for a fiver and am looking forward to trying out some of the yumminess within.

I can feel the first hint of autumn in the air and I'm looking forward to the change of seasons....not that we'll notice it after the awful summer we've had!!

I love autumn. We get the forest back after the summer hoards have gone. Long walks with the Moog are in order...and hopefully some foraging for some more free food....I have a yearning to make sloe gin...can't imagine why.....

The chickens have gone into full production too.

For the first time yesterday all four girls laid - Minx was so excited that she managed to drop one of the eggs!

Here's today's offering :)

Bless their fluffy little drawers :)

I found these two chaps whilst tomato harvesting:

'Quick...hide...or she'll turn you into chutney!!!'


Tuesday, August 26, 2008 I go my...tra la la la laaaa la..

I feel sick.

Quite sick.

In a good way.

I have witnessed all of you delightful bloggers discussing the fabulousness that is Mamma Mia.

I was feeling quite left out, I can tell you.

The situation has now been remedied, for this very day...this very wonderful Abbatastic day - I have been, with my Abbamanic Minx, to see Mamma Mia!!!

Oh my.....oh my.....I loved loved loved it, as did the Minxy :)

D'yer wanna know what I loved most of all?


Do yer?

Those fabrics.

Those walls.

The furniture.

The sea.

.......and of course the fabulously fabulous music!!

I felt sick with the gorgeousness of the whole thing and will be pitching my tent outside the nearest purveyor of DVD's as soon as it goes on general release.

Going now... to bask in the glow of post Mamma Mia loveliness....with the help of a brand new Partylite stinky waxy melty thing.....dreaming that one day I will live right there in that there house...with Meryl and Pierce....

Just thought you'd like to know :)


Monday, August 25, 2008

Homegrown goodness

Usually, when we get home from a holiday, the cupboards are pretty bare Chez Moog.

This time it's different.

Deliciously different.

Thanks to my little veg plot and our lovely feathered friends we have come home to this little lot:

The chickens and Moog were superbly well taken care of while we were away, by our lovely neighbours - even though Moogsdad left it until three days before we went to ask them! (This was the one job I asked him to do...or rather nagged him to do for a month!!)

We came home to a very happy Moog and four chirpy chickens who had laid a magnificent 28 eggs while we were away. A dozen were given to our chicken-sitters, leaving us with a lovely lunch today and more besides :)

I can't get over how wonderful it is to have home-grown veg and home-laid eggs. In fact, plans are afoot to grow even more next year. I anticipate a winter of cosy evenings with my gardening books.

As if that home-grown goodness wasn't enough to come home to, I also got a lovely blog award - twice!!

A huge thank you to Louise and Jane for my lovely award :)

There are rules to this award and the main one is to pass the award onto seven of my favourite bloggers. Having perused Jane and Louise's blogs it seems they've nominated just about everyone I would have...and if I miss anyone out they'll no doubt be covered by the other awardees!!

So - as per usual - I will say 'here have an award' to anyone who reads my blog and thank you for making blogland such a great place to be :)


It could rain later!


Only meeeeeeee - back in the land of the living :)

We've just got back from the annual Moog family exodus to north Cornwall.

We had a lovely time with mother-in-law and father-in-law, staying on the farm that we've been to for the past 6 years.

Someone forgot to put in an order for good weather this year but we didn't let that dampen our spirits. How could it with places like this to visit:

Cotehele House and Crackington Haven.

Sandymouth and Widemouth Bay.

There really is nothing we Brits do so well as enjoying a beach whatever the weather. When more sensible folk might stay indoors keeping warm and dry, there we will be, erecting our ineffectual beach shelters, hammering our windbreaks in with huge pebbles and building sandcastles with the rain pouring down our necks, all the while scanning the sky for a tiny hopeful patch of blue.

Perfect :)

Moogsdad spent any free time chatting to the farm residents....

....and soaking up the beautiful view from the pigsty.

Whilst I was taking photos of the handquilted throw on our bed!!

(Don't be fooled by the photo - this bed is nowhere near as comfy as it looks, as my aching back can tell you!!!).

All in all a rather lovely week.....but it is so good to be home in our cosy little castle, with our chickens and the Moog (and a very comfy bed!).


Thursday, August 14, 2008

My big day off

After an early start thanks to my lovely husband who fell asleep downstairs last night and then barged upstairs like an elephant at 3am, fell on the bed and was asleep again in nanoseconds I was feeling a little tired and jaded today.

However, this was my one and only day off this summer, pre-arranged with Moogsdad, and I had some serious sewing to do.

So, whilst the man himself took the beasties to the zoo I blew the dust off the sewing machine and got cracking.

We are going to visit one of my cousins next week and I thought she deserved a little something:

...with a vintage tablecloth lining....

....and for her two little folk a couple of these....

.... a very much simplified version of the pencil roll from this book.

I chose not to make them with rainbow-coloured patchwork pieced fabric and instead of a tie closure I stitched one of Minx's hair bands into the side seam and stitched a button on. I just thought this might be a bit less fiddly for a 3 year old and 5 year old to cope with.

After a 3 mile round trip - walking, might I add as he had the car!!! - to the hairdresser for a much needed trim, I returned home to find the family had returned from their trip to the zoo.

I suppose 5 hours off is almost a day...give or take the odd 19 hours....

This evening the man of the house is out on the razz and I shamelessly parked the mini-beasts in front of a DVD to enable me to squeeze just a bit more sewing into my 'day off'.

Some secret sewing for someone's upcoming birthday :)

Unfortunately I have run out of time and umph to make a start on my gorgeously gorgeous
purchase from Jodie's etsy shop.

Now right at the top of my to do list...along with the red and turquoise (currently being studiously ignored) quilt!!

In lieu of more sewing action, here's an interesting entomological find. A very pretty little moth on my tomato plants.

If you are a bit of a whizz on British moths and can tell me what this is, it will be much appreciated - my book of butterflies and moths has let me down and this little chap is a mystery.

Being a girl of a scientific bent (as it were!!) - I do like to give things a name :)

I would now like to excuse myself from blogland for a wee while. We have a busy sort of a week ahead and I need to be a part of it.

I'll be back soon with tales to tell :)


what shall we do today then?

With all hopes for long sunny days on the beach dashed by the great British summer, we resorted to Plan B for filling a wet and chilly Wednesday.

A day trip up to London to introduce Monster and Minx to the wonders of the Natural History Museum.

The world and his wife and gazillionty children all had the same idea. As a result the day involved a fair smattering of doing what we do best in this country.....queueing!

To do this wonderful museum justice we really need to spend several weeks there - preferably without children! There is just so much to see and read and we barely scraped the surface.

Monster and I had great fun imagining a night spent there alone a la Night at the Museum.

Mind you - I'd have to get my duster out!!

It's a fascinating glimpse of the weird and wonderful creatures that have inhabited this planet.

At times quite shocking when you note how many are now extinct.....and how recently they have gone.

This case really struck a chord with me. A big display, from one (Victorian) man's collection.
Full of hummingbirds of every type imaginable - complete with tiny nests and eggs.

Is it any wonder with such avid 'collecting' that so many beautiful creatures have become scarce or worse?

Shocking as it is, it does serve as a timely reminder of just how fragile life on this little planet of ours is and places such as the Natural History Museum are invaluable as an educational resource.

Oooh - look at me getting all philosophical at 5.24am..... can't beat a bit of insomnia for helping you ponder the great questions.....

....such as - Is it time I put the kettle on for my third cup of tea of the day?

Mmm - I think maybe it is :)

Sleep tight xxxx

Monday, August 11, 2008

Twenty four hour holiday

We've been away on holiday!!

A couple of weeks ago we visited friends staying at Durdle Door campsite. Whilst there I booked a night for the Moog and family.

Yesterday morning - once Moogsdad finally got moving (!!) - we packed the tent and headed west.

Once pitched we walked along the coastal path to Lulworth...

...and spent a happy hour or so on the beach looking at boats, rocks and water...

...and some of the most amazing rock formations in the UK.

All rounded off with some downhill rolling....

....very yummy ice-cream....

....and photographing trees.

I love this garden. It is on the road down to the beach and the owners have hung their yew tree with buckets discarded on the beach.

They also have chickens :)

Fab :)

Once back at camp the Monster and I took the rickety old Moog on an evening walk on the cliffs.

Then it was back to the tent for a night of blissful sleep for the whole family...except for yours truly who turns into an insomniac every time we camp!!

This morning we struck camp and headed to Studland to utilise our National Trust membership in the South Beach Car Park.

Moogsdad was hungry so we went in search of a full English breakfast at Middle Beach and discovered some very well- preserved World War II pillboxes and gun-implacements on the way.

We took the Sandbanks chain ferry and journeyed home via the millionaires community of Sandbanks.

So now we're home, not necessarily well-rested physically but most certainly mentally relaxed.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mini wardrobe revamp

When your brand new white cotton vest top develops black oil stains......

....and the jeans that still fit your daughter so well look like this at the bottom.....

.....there really is only one course of action.....


First the vest.

A favourite image is chosen from your favourite scrapbook paper.

Scanned into Photoshop.

Enlarged and printed.

Traced onto freezer paper and very carefully cut with a scalpel.

Then ironed onto the offending article....

....and stencilled with fabric paint.

To produce your very own designer t-shirt.

Now for the jeans.

Cut the grotty hems off as far as necessary to remove holey and frayed bits.

Give your daughter the choice of some of your favourite fabrics.

Replace said hems with new flowery ones.....

.....and for good measure add some groovy patches to cover grass-stained knees and pen-marked thighs!

Your daughter will, of course, have her own ideas so hearts may need to be appliqued to the second pair :)

Then you will need to get up at 6.30 on Sunday morning to blog about it!!!

Here are some more freezer paper stencilling links:


.....and now I need to go through both our wardrobes and do this to all our clothes!!!

I also quite fancy embellishing a bit with embroidery, sequins, seed beads and buttons....

....oh deary deary me....what have I started....