Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Full circle?

Things on the work front are still unclear but the more we hear, the more likely it is that our contracts won't be renewed at the end of March. We should know a little more before Christmas.

This uncertainty, coupled with all the usual life stuff and then a stinky heavy cold (and a MASSIVE scare when I thought I might be pregnant! - I'm not!!!), has forced me into my shell a little of late.

When I started this little blog, I'd just gone through a very unexpected life-changing year and was spending time at home. I was lucky enough to have a whole year at home discovering and exploring my creativity, inspired and supported by my new-found 'imaginary' friends in blogland, until I found a great little job and returned once more into the big wide world of work.

Now, I feel things may be about to come full circle. With the knowledge that my job may end, I've been exploring the jobs market........and the stalls seem to be pretty bare and uninspiring or at least not conducive to family life as we like it.

Once the initial panic wore off, my naturally positive inner voice took over and I'm slowly but surely formulating a plan. A working for myself type plan. A working for myself doing what I love type plan. A plan which, when explained to Mr Moog met with a most unexpected thumbs up!

So, if the new year does see the end of my job, I'll be ready with my plan.

In the meantime, I'm getting through notebooks at a startling rate!

Now for a little bit of a Moog family update.

- After worrying us all sick, my Dad seemed to rally again and is a little better.

- Mr Moog is going through the motions of organising wrist surgery, hampered by much to-ing and fro-ing with insurers. Grrrr.

- This little-old-lady Moog had a visit to the V.E.T, thanks to problems walking. Arthritis has set in and her back legs were starting to give way. At the grand old age of 15, these things are to be expected and up to now she's been a remarkably healthy little puppers.

She's now on anti-inflammatory drugs and, as of yesterday, has started having swimming lessons....or 'hydrotherapy' as it's otherwise known. She did brilliantly and did five whole laps of the pool, surprising not only herself but also the hydrotherapist! Everyone at the pool fell in love with her and no-one could believe how old she was, so she also got a much needed ego boost and a kiss on the nose :o)

Today, she is mostly snoring.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Imaginary blogging

Just like Michaela, I've written this blog post almost every day for about two weeks - it's just taken this long to get it out of my head and onto the page. Lots has happened since my last post, so maybe a quick run through would be in order:

- I managed to squeeze a little bloggy meet-up into a working day, last week, when I met the very lovely Quiltygal and her equally lovely daugther for coffee and fabric shopping down by the sea. So good to meet you Claire - hope the long trip home went without a hitch!

- One of my colleagues gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, giving me the most perfect excuse to break out the sewing machine and whip up a quilty playmat with all my favourite boyish fabrics...

......including a very sheepy reverse side......

.....and of course I couldn't resist a bit of baby knitting.

- An evening spent with The Girls and a big pot of glue led me to this:

which then led to some soapy action and this:

- Mr Moog received the results of a wrist scan and it's good news. The reason he's been in so much pain since his accident is that he has a fractured wrist!
Good news? Yes, because now he knows the pain wasn't imaginary and it takes us one small step closer to getting the whole thing settled with the insurance company. Still waiting on an appointment to get his befuddled brain looked at and then there'll be open surgery to pin his scaphoid bone back together in his wrist. Nice.

- My poor old Dad is fighting a chest infection and is showing signs of his brian tumour progressing again. Off to see him on Monday.

- Work has been busier of late and has even taken up my beloved Fridays off. Ironically, with three separate reviews being done by the powers that be, there seems to be a pretty good chance that my contract will not be renewed next year. I can feel a crossroads approaching.

- The beasties and I are now off school/work for a very timely half-term break. Chance to kick back, catch up with friends and family, and start to ponder the future.


Monday, October 4, 2010

My brother - the craftsman

My lovely brother has done something he thought he'd never do. He's gone on the webs!

In fact, he has his very own, very grown up website. The things this wonderful man can do with wood have to be seen to be believed.

Here he is - go increase his traffic people!

Oh, and check out the dragon chair here.

Happy carving xxxx

If crochet was an aerobic activity, I'd be so fit!

Every little moment that hasn't been filled with home, family and work just lately has been spent manically hooking. Hooking like my life depended on it. Hooking like I'm in training for the London2012 Crochet Olympics and am striving for a gold medal!

I'm hoping someone will soon discover that crochet and knitting are the best forms of fat burning exercise. Sadly, my increasingly ample proportions would seem to dash this hope - unless I'm just not doing enough of it yet, of course.......

This is my roundabout way of showing you yet more pictures of stuff made out of yarn.

First, there's a frilly ruffly scarf for m-i-l's Christmas present, started and finished in a few hours, using just one ball of the strangest yarn - a net-like ribbon of yarn. You need to open the net/yarn out as you knit and only ever have seven stitches on the needles, and it's a completely different way of knitting.

Then. there's the beast that has been dominating my life. The Flowers in the Snow blanket.
So far, I've made 150 of the centre circles and have crocheted 30 of these into the beginnings of a blanket. To date, a teddy bear sized blanket.

You may recall I planned to make this into a kingsize throw for our bed. I may have been a little rash there.

We'll see.

Luckily, it's prettiness is keeping me going for now.

Anyway, that's enough blogging for now. I have to get back to my training schedule.


Friday, September 24, 2010


It would seem that knitting has taken a bit of a back seat this past week. I had an overwhelming urge to finish my big-granny blanket and when I get an overwhelming urge things tend to happen.

In just four days (evenings) I went from 9 completed squares, each comprised of twelve rounds of grannying, to 25.....all sewn together and with a border of five more granny rows!

The colours were chosen with the help of my favourite Cath Kidston handbag and although my squares are not entirely square this little blanket makes me very very happy indeed.

Of course, one thing tends to lead to another and I decided I should finish off my hexagon blanket that has lain neglected for months.

Somehow I just couldn't face making another hundred or so hexagons to make it bigger, so made a management decision to leave it as a small but cosy lap blanket with a few rows of pretty edging to make it look a bit more 'done'.

This is also making me very happy indeed.

Naturally, with two 'big' projects finished there was nothing else for it but to start another.

Flowers in the snow.

I could be working on this one for some time.......the plan is to make a cover for our kingsize bed. Forty circles done so far, of which four have been made up into squares.

I reckon I may need about 400.

Like I said.......this could take some time!

Before I head off to make the most of the children being away at a stayawakeover, I must point you to Trashy's blog. If you fancy getting together for a fabulous sewing retreat with a whole bunch of lovely bloggers next autumn, then please let Trashy know right now.

She's looking for enough of us to make it into a fabulous northern hemisphere version of Sew It Together that our southern bloggy buddies enjoyed this year. So go over to Trashy's blog right now and say 'yes please' on her poll!
Happy weekend :o)

Friday, September 17, 2010


I couldn't think what to call today's post but finally decided that the wonderful word 'Friday' just about sums it up. It's been a mad busy week all round so there's a certain amount of relief that today is indeed Friday.

In between the madness I treated myself to little moments of calm, most of which were spent in the kitchen.

The sloes are now in a lovely big jar, getting to know the gin and the rosehips have been turned into four small jars of cough-soothing syrup.

I've never made rosehip syrup before and it was incredibly easy. I used a recipe from my River Cottage Handbook. Here's the recipe I used if you fancy having a go.

Monster has had a bit of a week, which started with minor surgery for a very poorly ingrown toenail, followed by a return visit for 'wound dressing' and then a whole day out with his year group to the Southampton Boat Show. He had his first full day of the term in school yesterday - just eight days behind his rather disgruntled sister.

He's been in need of cake all week and somehow I just didn't get round to baking until today. Poor child has had to have fruit or yogurt instead. Can't wait to see his little face when he gets home and sees a tin full of rock cakes :o)

I've enjoyed a visit to the farm shop to stock up on some wonderful seasonal veg. I couldn't resist a beautiful red cabbage and came straight home to try out a recipe from the Abel & Cole Cookbook - red cabbage braised in balsamic vinegar. Very very easy - all you need to add to the shredded cabbage is half a mug of balsamic vinegar, half a mug of sugar and a mug of water. Bring it up to the boil, then simmer it gently for an hour - making sure it doesn't boil dry. Absolutely delicious!

I also bought one of these - mainly because it's so pretty - but I'm not sure what to do with it! Answers on a postcard please.

I needed a very simple knitting project to relax with in the evenings this week. I trawled through all my patterns and mooched through all my lovely sock wool and still hadn't a clue what to do.

Then I unearthed my basket of scraps.

Yarn held double and 4mm needles led to some very satisfyingly quick sock knitting. Sock 1 took a few hours. Sock 2 is well on it's way but this is secret knitting, to go into Minx's Christmas stocking, so finding time to knit it without old eagle eyes about is proving a challenge!

We're discovering the harsh reality of life that is later bedtimes for the beasties. Mr Moog and I get all misty eyed and nostalgic for the days when we actually had an evening - babies fed, bathed and in bed for 7pm......



Sunday, September 12, 2010


I have a secret. Something I've learned to keep to myself after years as a 'northerner' living down south.

Having been met with sheer amazement, nay abject horror, when mentioning this particular quirk of mine to the native southerners, I now keep my mouth well and truly shut when it comes to the mention of that very dirtiest of words......


It's not so much the word itself that causes folk to step back in fear, more the statement that I happen to love this season more than any other.

How could I love the end of summer? The cooler days? The darker evenings? The damp mornings?

Well I do. I love all those things about autumn and more but by far my favourite things are these:

We reclaim our forest from the summer crowds.
We can take poor old Moog out for forest walks without her wilting in the heat.
We don't have to sit in queues of summer traffic for hours on end.
Foraging for freebies from Nature's larder.
The unique smell of the forest in autumn.

Today, Mr Moog was adamant that we should not waste a glorious autumn day at home, so off we headed to a very secret bit of the New Forest where we knew from past experience there were treasures to be found.

We came home laden with rosehips - now steeping in readiness to make rosehip syrup; sloes - a bit early but now in the freezer to immitate an early frost, ready for turning into sloe gin; and of course, blackberries - now bagged up into five generous portions and sitting in the freezer, ready for winter puddings.

Naturally, we had to test some of our harvest just to make sure.

Blackberry and apple crumble, made with homegrown dessert apples, and served with delicious Mackies vanilla ice cream ( BOGOF at the Co-op right now!).

So now, I'm going to say it. LOUD. AND. PROUD.....



Thursday, September 9, 2010


....or as it's sometimes known, Thursday.

This blog post has been ready in my head since Monday, it's just taken four days to hit the interwebs.

Monday was back to school for the naughty ones and back to work for me. My tiny babies have gone up into Years 5 and 6 and to mark the start of his last year at Junior school, my lovely Monster went straight off for a week away on an outdoor activity residential trip.

My week started in the best way possible, with a beautiful swap gift from my totally talented wonderful bloggy buddy Mrs Silverpebble. Just look at this fabulous necklace from the House of Pebble:

I can't even begin to tell you how very much I love this and so many people have commented on it whilst I've been out and about this week. To make a perfect present even more amazing, Emma included some of this delicious goodness:

Thank you so much Emma! This really has made my week :o)

In between schooly stuff and worky stuff, there's been a spattering of crafty stuff over the past week or two. Let's start with the nasty......the August Stashbasket and Moogsmum Sock Challenge.

I'd loved the pattern - Nutkin - for ages and was really pleased to be knitting it. The first attempt was doomed as it was coming out super skinny and had to be frogged.

The second attempt was better in terms of guage. The pattern is lovely to knit, very easy to remember and very effective.

However, even I couldn't ignore the fact that it was twisting like a b*gger. I tried it on and it still twisted. I tried it on a sock blocker and it still twisted. I had a choice to make.

I consulted my partner in crime, Mrs Stashbasket and found she was having the same problems. Neither of us were feeling the love for this sock any more. The decision was made. Frog 'em. Nutkin is no more. RIP Nutkin.

We've also decided to shelve the Sock Challenge for the time being to allow us a little breathing space, and to get some of those other works in progress done and dusted.

It hasn't all been fail on the knitting front. Last night I finished my second Circle Sock. I now have no socks on the needles and a decision to make about which socks will be next. Should be easy. I only have about 80 patterns and one or two skeins of wool to choose from!

A recent purchase of some lovely soft Noro Taiyo was put to good use, crocheting a Queen Anne's Lace scarf for my best friend....

....and one for me too.

I've even had a session on the sewing machine but as it's a secret for now this is all I can show you.

My daughter has now informed me that she would actually like to have something to eat this evening pleasethankyou, so I'd better be off to whizz up a culinary miracle in the kitchen - enough of this blogging stuff for me for one day!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Change of scene

For the past few summers we've spent a week with the in-laws in a farm cottage in North Cornwall. After disappointing weather last year, father-in-law convinced us all to head east this year, as (and I quote) 'it never rains in Norfolk'.

This year, we've disproved this 'fact'.

We had some blue sky. We even had sun. We also had 50mph winds and driving rain.....lots.

It wasn't all gloom. We still had fun and spent time exploring this beautiful county, soaking up a bit of history along the way.

Felbrigg Hall was well worth the visit - a fascinating 17th Century home that has undergone many alterations, extensions and improvements throughout it's life. It's final owner, on handing the property over to the National Trust, stipulated that the property be left exactly as he left it, so it's more of a home than a museum.

Another cloudy day led us to Blickling Hall, a beautiful Jacobean manor house with the most beautiful gardens and a very cute house-cat called Meg.

Of course, no day out is complete without a game of croquet.

Whilst they got sporty, I wandered round the herbaceous borders, making plans for the grounds at Moogs Hall.

I totally fell in love with the villages in Norfolk, with their flint cottages, tiny lanes leading to the prettiest houses, and lovely gardens.

Mr Moog and the beasties got active on the water at Wells-next-the-Sea.

One fine and sunny day was spent building sandcastles....

.....and catching an eel!

In all, considering the fact that it apparently does rain in Norfolk after all, we had a great week.
As if that wasn't enough, we really rounded our holiday off in the best way possible - with a visit to my lovely blogging friend, sock knitting partner in crime and knitting guru, Mrs Stashbasket.
I met the Golden Wedding blanket and the Mystery Blanket in person and believe me, they are totally stunning. We also met the very gorgeous and bouncy Harvey puppy and the very relaxed Mr Stressy!
Now, as luck would have it, Mrs Stashbasket is my swap partner in Trashy's As You Like It swap, and presented me with quite the most amazing package you ever did see. Mrs Stashbasket took my theme of Birds and Bees and just look what awaited me:

Isn't this the most fantabulous cake? Just look at all those perfect tiny flowers and those gorgeous little bees!

It was almost sacrilege to cut it but we did have a slice earlier with a cuppa and the inside is every bit as lovely as the outside. According to Monster it's the best cake ever - and he's an expert!
That wasn't all though - there was this beautiful soft and squishy Martha Posh sock yarn...

.....and Colinette 'Toucan'.....

.....and all these goodies too!!

Thank you Michaela, for the lovely cup of tea and cake and most especially for my wonderful gifts :o)
I'm now going to empty and refill the washing machine for the gazillionth time and then I plan an evening of knitting as I have a lot of catching up to do.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer fun

As always the summer holidays seem to be shooting by but so far nearly every day has been packed with fun and sunshine. Right now, the beasties are away at camp with Cubs and I actually have a little time to visit my poor neglected blog.

Last week we packed the old Moog off to stay with grandparents and Mr Moog, Monster, Minx and I headed eastwards along the south coast to Pevensey. We squeezed a lot into a few days, with early morning swimming in the sea, pain au chocolat on the beach for breakfast, and visits to Scotney and Bodiham Castles.....

......and a quick trip across the channel to French France! We had a very lovely and sunny few hours in Dieppe, admiring the window displays, soaking in the atmosphere and trying out our pitifully poor French on the locals.

With the children safely packed off at camp, Mr Moog and I had a rare day alone together yesterday. So, what could we do? Have a long romantic day out, with a candlelit dinner? Mr Moog wanted to go to 'Blast from the Past' - a whole day of living history displays and re-enactments at Broadlands, the home of the late Lord Mountbatten.

Mr Moog had a great day. Loved every minute. Revelled in the historyness of it all.

Me? Well, after wandering round for a bit, watching a load of red-faced paunchy men in costume pretend to kill each other in the hot sunshine, I took to the shade of a chestnut tree and cast on a sock!

The romantic meal? A roast pork and stuffing roll and a pint of beer.

Now, we get onto the important stuff. Today I'm home alone - for the first time in weeks and I've done something very exciting!
I've finished my 'Feeling Good' cardigan and I'm so excited! It was beautiful to knit and it fits, which is more than I dared hope when I set out on such a big grown-up piece of non-sock knitting.

I'm also one down and one to go on my circle socks and they're so pretty :o)

The yarn is ready for the next projects. Some gorgeous green Araucania sock wool for the Nutkin socks that Mrs Stashbasket and I have chosen for our August Sock Challenge, and a lovely deep turquoise for my next cardigan project - Minarets, from the cover of issue 21 of The Knitter.

I think I'll go and make a cup of tea and start casting on.

Happy knitting!