Thursday, November 29, 2012

Something from nothing - with love from me to you, part 2 xxx

I'm so glad you liked the wreath ring 'tutorial'. Next step is the really fun bit - decorating it.

Once again, I was determined to spend nothing and use only what I could unearth from my stash. I spent a while on Pinterest gathering inspiration and after a couple of failed attempts with pompoms and funny little layered fabric flowers I finally settled on fabric roses.

I rummaged in my fabric cupboard and came up with long thin scraps of quilting cottons that I bought years ago in bundles from The Cotton Patch for £1, knowing that someday they'd be useful for something.

After years of having a very traditional wreath on the front door, with lots of gold and holly leaves and berries, this is a real change but one I'm happy to make. So, without further it is....

A close up of those roses - made with long strips of fabric and a glue gun (involving swearing and burned fingers but so worth it!)...
The leaves were made by cutting leaf shapes out of scraps of the hessian and an old cub scouts sweatshirt.

And a close up of the fabric wrapping on the ring - took three attempts with the ricrac as it kept ending up about two inches too short!

I also had a quick play with making a different shape...

Strangely for me, I went for very neutral colours...

Of course, the heart still needs some decoration, which will probably involve buttons and possibly tiny strings of beads but not just yet because now I'm ( naturally) totally obsessed with making hundreds of fabric roses and have four million ideas for how I'm going to use them - but first I need to go and buy up Hobbycraft's entire stock of glue gun sticks!

Happy sticking!

Moogs xxx

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Something from nothing - with love from me to you x

We've had the same Christmas wreath on our front door for the past eight (or more) years and while it's a pretty little twiggy thing I had started to feel that perhaps a change was in order but didn't want to spend a silly amount of money or any money, come to that.....and I wanted to make it myself.
I was having a bit of a clearout yesterday and came across a roll of hessian webbing that I picked up ages ago at the Scrapstore, in a big bag of stuff costing £1.

That got me thinking and I decided I'd find a way to use the webbing but first I needed a ring and, again, I didn't want to spend if I could avoid it but it had to be suitable for hanging outside, albeit sheltered from worst of the weather.

Whilst making a cuppa I happened to look into the corner of the kitchen and I knew just what I could use. Carrier bags. Even though I use reusable shopping bags we still seem to have a ridiculously large collection of plastic bags and this was the perfect way to use some of them up.

I also thought it would be good to share - so here's a little photo tutorial if you fancy making one too.

I started by scrunching the bags into long lengths and securing them with a bit of sellotape, adding more bags in until I got to the length I wanted.

Next, I formed the long piece of plastic bag stuff into a roughly circular shape.

Then it was a case of wrapping more plastic bags around the ring to fatten it out, using plenty of bits of sellotape to keep it all together.

I decided I wanted it fatter still and happened upon a piece of bubble wrap that I'd been saving for who knows what. So, the next step was to cut 5cm wide strips of bubble wrap and wrap it around the ring, using that sellotape again.

By now it was a pretty good shape and size but wasn't very firm and strong and I was worried it would become decidedly oval once it was decorated and hung up.

I found just the thing - some plastic packaging salvaged from a recent Ikea purchase. Although if you don't have some nice firm but spongy plastic you could substitute this with gaffer tape (which I would have used had I been able to find it!). At this stage I wrapped it more firmly, pulling tight on the plastic as I wrapped, to compress the stuff inside the ring and to firm it up a bit.

I can honestly say that by the time I got to this point I was getting really rather excited - mainly because it was actually working!

Now came the fun bit - securing the end of the webbing with a couple of long pins I started to wrap the ring with the webbing. Make sure you pull it really nice and tight, because it would be such a shame to wrap the whole thing and find you're about an inch short on the webbing when you get to the end.....ask  me how I know....

To finish off I stuck a couple of pins into the end of the webbing and then stitched it securely to the webbing underneath.

Drum roll please......ta daaaah!!!!

All I have to do now is decide how to decorate it - using only stuff that I aready have of course. I'm mooching on Pinterest for imspiration and so far this is the closest contender.

To be honest my head is now buzzing with ideas for more of these. Instead of the webbing you could use fabric scraps, ribbon, old t-shirt material, denim from an old pair of jeans, felt, crochet, frayed fabric bows, buttons, little needlefelted robins, loads of baubles, pompoms.....the possibilities are endless!

I might need to make an indoor one too. Or one for every door in the house.....and all the windows.....and all the neighbours' doors......

Let me know if you have a go - I'd love to see your creations :o)

love Moogs xxx

p.s. ooh ooh - you don't just have to make round can do any shape you like - hearts, stars, letters.....I think my brain is full....

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I know some people find this time of year very hard going, with the shorter days, long dark nights and grey weather and I can fully appreciate how you can feel like that, after the long bright days of summer are a distant memory.

However, I feel each season has it's merits and something I truly love about the  transition from autumn through to winter is the opportunity it gives me to cosy down and indulge myself with comforting indoor activities, scented candles and comforting (but healthy!) food, without feeling guilty for not being out and about, dashing around here and there the way I seem to do all summer long.

This week's wet, grey, dismal days have certainly given me ample time to indulge - apart from venturing out to make sure Merlin has had a jolly good walk, I've spent a good deal of time indoors and have managed to rediscover my knitting mojo, which had been missing in action since the beginning of September.

A recent post on Yarn Harlot's blog had me scurrying to Ravelry to purchase a new pattern, just perfect for some Christmas knitting. Some might say I became rather obsessed with knitting these - three pairs were done in four days, with non-stop knitting squeezed in around work, feeding people and Moog walking. Three late nights are a small price to pay for ticking several gifts off the Christmas list.

I still have at least two more pairs of these in my head, waiting to be knitted and there's no signs of boredom setting in, which is the sign of a really great pattern.

An unexpected sleepover invitation meant that Minx was away for most of Saturday but the first thing she did when she got back this morning was make Saturday/Sunday pudding. Having two brand new cookbooks for inspiration meant, of course, that she went onto Google to look for the right recipe (!!).

This time, a very simple and straightforward but no doubt very delicious concoction of whipped cream, lemon curd, crushed ginger biscuits and blueberries, artfully arranged in layers - Lemon and Blueberry Pots. Now chilling in the fridge ready for tonight's dinner.

I'll be having a dish of fruit salad whilst gazing wistfully at my family as they demolish this rather mouthwatering summery dessert.

In other news, it's been a milestone week in Moogshouse - my lovely boy turned into a teenager. I have no idea how that happened. Surely, it can't be 13 years since I first saw that gorgeous little face. Don't tell him but I still love to gaze at him when he's asleep - he still looks like my baby boy when he's sleeping :o)

Now, while I head back to my snuggly chair for more knitting I'll leave you with a gratuitous Merlin Moog photo.....just because....

Hope you're keeping warm, dry and safe, wherever you may be xxx

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kingley Vale

It's amazing how sometimes doing something as simple as going for a family walk to a lovely place on a beautiful sunny and cold day can totally recharge the batteries and set you up for the week ahead.

We've all had a busy weekend and really should have gone kitchen shopping today but when we awoke to a glorious clear and frosty morning we just had to get out there. So, after a morning of pottering we had a quick lunch and then piled into the car and headed east.

Our destination of choice was Kingley Vale, a National Nature Reserve and one of the biggest natural yew forests in Western Europe. The trees here are incredible - some over 2000 years old, making them among the oldest living things on Earth.

These gnarled and twisted ancient trees give the place such a spiritual feel, really connecting you to the earth. These trees have stood here since Roman times, through the Norman invasion and the massive changes of the Industrial Revolution - this really fills me with awe. If only they could talk!

As we walked through the most ancient grove of yew trees we could hear the sound of chanting, and there sitting on a low branch of one of the biggest trees was a man, chanting and meditating, complete with josticks, the scent of which only added to the spirit of the woodland. I could totally understand someone wanting to meditate here - I could not think of a more perfect place.

The yew trees grow through the vale and up the steep slope to the chalk grassland at the top of the downs. We enjoyed a strenuous climb up the slope, serenaded by a pair of buzzards calling, and were rewarded with stunning, far-reaching views from the top, looking right across Chichester harbour and over to the eastern tip of the Isle of Wight.

At the top of the slope, the path takes you around the hillside to two ancient burial mounds. A large family group had laid claim to the first mound and while the parents chatted the children quite literally threw themselves into a long game of roly-polys (as we call it) - rolling down the sides of the mound, getting delightfully filthy and rosy cheeked in the process.

I was surprised my two didn't give it a go, as they usually love a roly-poly! Instead, we all stood atop the second mound and soaked in the views and filled our lungs with the fresh, clean air and it felt truly good to be alive. My very nearly teenage boy, who hadn't even wanted to go for a 'stupid walk' rewarded me with a great big beaming smile.

Our walk continued around the hill and down the other side of the vale, through younger yew woodland and then back along the farm tracks to the car. Before we set out Mr Moog had decided to pack a flask and some teabags and we were so glad he did, because getting back to the car and a hot cup of tea was absolutely the best way to round off a truly special afternoon.

Then, as the sun started to sink, we took a gentle drive home and arrived back to a delicious dinner all ready in the slow-cooker. We were treated to a fabulous pud too, as Minx had opted to make Saturday pudding on Sunday - white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake. Delicious. I had to try a bit, for quality control purposes.

Hope you've had a lovely weekend.

Moogs xx

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's the little things

What started as a bit of play, thinking of something to make at a Christmassy craft night with friends...

tiny robin ny me

turned into a surprise evening of crafting with my children.....

tiny mouse by Minx

mini Oddish by Monster (always a Pokemon theme!)

wee Oshawott by me, at the Monster's request

All that stabbing of fluff is excellent therapy. All that stabbing of fingers.....not so much.

Moogs xxx

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Pudding Minxy style

My Minx loves nothing better than being busy in the kitchen, preferably baking something sweet and involving as many bowls, spoons, trays etc etc as possible.

I've mentioned before that our kitchen is tiny (but not for long - hoping for news on this soon!) and more than one person in there at a time makes it severely overcrowded and that, coupled with the fact that I invariably get left with a huge mess to clean up, means I'm not always as willing as I really should be to indulge her desire to crack out the contents of the store cupboard.

However, last weekend whilst staying at M-I-L's we picked up a couple of fabulous new bargaintastic baking books - two for a tenner at WHSmith folks!

Minx spent the rest of the weekend pouring over the pages, salivating at the deliciousness within and reading out the name and contents of virtually every recipe. She wanted to go straight home and cook every single one but I suggested she choose one a week to bake, to make it more special (and cheaper for me!), and got to telling her about the wonderful Saturday Pudding blog posts that my dear friend Mrs Stashbasket used to tempt us with - and which are sorely missed, Michaela...hint hint!

So, we hit upon a plan. If she agreed to actually read the recipe properly (!) and clear up properly after herself (!!) I would willingly provide ingredients for a weekly dessert of her choosing and her making.

Armed with her two new recipe books Minx set herself down to choose her first attempt....and promptly decided to cook from a different book entirely that my good friend Maggie gave to me ages ago! I have no idea where my girl gets her fickle nature......

She chose White Chocolate and Raspberry cupcakes and, if I say so myself, she made a fantastic job of them. So, without further ado I give you 'Minx's Saturday Pudding #1':

I've had a tiny tiny nibble for quality control purposes ( still sticking to that diet like glue!) and I have to say they're pretty tasty, although we all find the actual cakes from this book a bit dense for our liking - due no doubt to the higher than normal proportion of flour. Minx's verdict: will do them again with a lighter cake mix.

According to Minx next week's offering will be from the Green & Black's book - unless she changes her mind :o)

I've been plodding on with the Granny Stripe blanket and have now managed to do 32 colour stripes. This really is a perfect mindless project for hooking along to a good film and it keeps my knees lovely and warm. I got three stripes done during The Hunger Games last night....

....about 70 more stripes to go, I reckon!

In other news, do take a look at Ali's new blog for her Compound Word Project. I'm playing along and it's a great reason to crack out the camera for something completely different. Starting on Monday Ali will be posting 10 diptychs over the course of the week and you can guess the answers and win prizes!

love Moogs xx