Sunday, December 16, 2012

On the doorstep

Mr Moog and I moved here, to Southampton, way back in 1998. In that time we've explored, and come to love, so much of the beautiful countryside around Hampshire but somehow, have not spent so much time exploring our home town.

The in-laws have been here for a pre-Christmas Christmas weekend, starting with a trip to a proper panto at Ferneham Hall, in Fareham. Cinderella, starring Madge from Neighbours, no less.
Buttons was my favourite. Especially his John Travolta number. Awesome.

 Lovely mother-in-law happened to mention that she'd seen an advert for a Victorian Christmas event at the Tudor House in Southampton. We had seen nothing about it but a quick Google search sealed the deal and after a hearty breakfast, we took a short drive across the bridge into town and entered a Southampton that we never knew was there.
The Tudor House has undergone a major restoration programme over the past few years and reopened last year as a very 21st Century museum. The exhibitions and interpretation were so well put together and all of us found something to engage us.

There's an incredible history behind the site, parts of which date back to the 1100s - and that kind of history blows my mind.

We discovered today that Southampton was once an important spa town, with folk (including royalty) travelling from all over the country to take the waters.

We discovered that the city walls were constructed to order by King Edward III after an attempted French invasion. A small part of these once extensive walls (and nothing of Southampton Castle) remain, most being lost to centuries of change and the ravages of the World War II bombings when Southampton was heavily hit.

We discovered that several hundred years ago the city walls, that are now well within the city centre itself, were actually right on the waterfront, with a beach!

We discovered that the Tudor House was at one time occupied by a dye-works, an architect and a milliner in the midst of an area of terrible slums and that Jane Austen lived nearby.

We discovered that this is a beautiful peaceful little haven in the middle of the bustling, retail-driven city centre.

I discovered that I need to be more careful taking photos with my phone, just in case it looks like Mr Moog is peeing in the courtyard of an important historical building (he wasn't).

We decided that next time we go shopping in town we will come here for lunch.

Nothing whatsoever to do with's a pretty cow (bullock?)...

.....we saw these beautiful beasts on our 5 mile walk up at Selborne last weekend, and discovered this evening - thanks to Countryfile - that they are in fact Park Cattle, first brought to these shores by the Romans, and now used at Selborne to manage the habitats of the nature reserve.

This one even had a cow bell. I loved that - made me think of Heidi and I just knew you'd appreciate that :o)

You may be wondering what happened to this weekend's pudding. Well, there was one - or two, but they were baked and supplied by mother-in-law and have been eaten (unphotographed) by us. A beautiful bakewell tart and an apple pie. Minx was unexpectedly given the weekend off pudding duty but will be back next week with a host of sweet delights.

We're now looking forward to the last few days of term and getting fully into the Christmas spirit, including 'Verastonbury' at our local park on Thursday night.

Bring it on.

Moogs xxx

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thank Crunchy it's Friday

It's been a funny old week.

After being thoroughly coughed and sneezed on, by a very poorly looking little girl, in one of my school visits for work last week, I wasn't in the least bit surprised to find I was starting a cold over the weekend.

I was totally unprepared for a whole week with a very very sore throat and resulting disrupted sleep - plus feeling generally very sorry for myself. I don't do feeling poorly and self-indulgent very well. I get extremely cross and bored with myself.

It has meant that I've made a little more headway with the WIP targets. Two more pairs of socks were ticked off the list.

A pair for Minx....

...and a pair for the big-footed teenage Monster (these are my favourites and I'll be claiming them when they get too small for him).

Both pairs made from leftovers. Both pairs needed a ridiculous number of ends sewn in. Minx's pair alone involved the weaving in of 87 ends!

I'm now dithering between several WIPs and need to refocus. It might be the crochet blanket this weekend as that'll both keep me warm and see another tick off the list.

There was pudding last weekend. Minx did this one with very little help (interference) from me.

Kiwi pavlova.

I had some for medicinal purposes - delicious.

I'm now playing catch-up, writing Christmas cards, wrapping presents, getting the house ready for the in-laws visiting this weekend and a trip to the panto.

Sunday pudding is planned. The pastry is made. I'll be back with photos.

Moogs xx

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Well, so far so good. I've managed to finish off two WIPs since my last post.

My first priority was some lovely Ellie mitts for my girlie in rainbow striped yarn (Knitpicks Felici in 'Boardwalk' colourway). They used less than one 50g ball of yarn and are so soft and cuddly, with little flower buttons at the wrist. Perfect :o)

Next it was down to some seriously tedious knitting. Way back in August, with a good three weeks to spare, I cast on some socks to give to Mr Moog as a special surprise on his 40th birthday. He's never seemed keen on me making him handknit socks but I vowed to change his mind. After all, handknit socks....what's not to love?

However, after boring myself to tears knitting on and on and on with these greeeeeey boooooooring socks I totally lost interest and they'd been sitting untouched for months. He'll now get them for Christmas...

.....and I kind of hope he doesn't like them because I don't know if I have it in me to ever make him another pair!

Monster now has the same sized feet as his Dad (only size 9 so not colosal) yet I still enjoy knitting socks for him. Even though they now seem to take forever to knit, Monster's socks are much more fun as he likes them as bright and bonkers as possible and that is just enough to keep my knitting mojo ticking along row after row. Mr Moog likes them dark and plain. Yawn.

I think five pairs for a tenner from Tesco sounds like a plan.

I've done something pretty drastic and have frogged two of the WIPs from my previous post - the fluffy jumper and the black/rainbowy socks. I decided life was too short to be knitting things that don't make me happy.

Right, onwards with the WIP-busting.

Happy knitting!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

No pudding!

My lovely daughter pointed out to me yesterday that we hadn't done a Saturday Pudding this weekend. She's absolutely right.

We did, however, have an incredibly naughty chocolate fudge brownie cake as Monster's second birthday cake to share with his (very tall and deep voiced!) friends, who came round on Saturday for his birthday 'do', which involved much playing on the XBox. No photo of the cake though....cos we eated it (I eated far too much of it!).

Due to an unfortunate accident with an uncovered razor that someone's Darling Husband had put in the toothbrush pot (my fault for not seeing it, according to the man himself....ahem) , there's been little by way of 'making' going on over the past few days. To stop me going completely barking I've been having a good old sort out - tidying up ready for Christmas, and putting some thought to where my crafting will take me in 2013.

This has involved reading a couple of copies of Craft Seller magazine cover to cover twenty times and treating myself to a subscription. I've picked up lots of useful, sensible information and have a head full to bursting with ideas and possibilities for the new year. I've also been chirping about on Twitter, following all sorts of people, and have spent my non-knitting/non-crocheting/ non-spinning/ non-sewing evenings catching up on some of the beautiful work happening out there in the world of blog.

So, I now want to get cracking on making lots and lots and lots and lots of beautiful things.....however, the bossy person living in my head has told me I cannot possibly start anything else until I finish what I've already started. No 'pudding' of nice new crafty things for me until I've finished my 'dinner' of WIPs

I knew I'd got a few bits and pieces sitting next to my comfy chair, waiting to be finished, but as none of them have a deadline (other than Mr's 40th birthday socks that should have been done by 3rd September), and some (ha!...all) of them were started on a whim and all of them involve having a healed-up poorly finger (my current favourite excuse), not to mention none of them are as exciting or sexy as whatever it is I decide to make next, I was managing to maintain my happy state of denial.

All that tidying up for Christmas, however, led to me unearthing them and has made me face up to the pile of WIPs that might be holding me back from achieving my next big crafting dream (whatever that may be)....and I took a photo.

In the cold light of day it doesn't look soooo bad - I've seen some folk on Ravelry with such enormous numbers of WIPs that I'd be having terrifying woolly nightmares were I in their shoes. For me, though, this is quite enough:

7 socks in progress - three of which are total no-brainers that I should be picking up in any odd moment but, for some reason, they've sat there for three months or more.

1 pair of rainbow fingerless mitts - only cast on a week or two ago for Minx, with a Christmas deadline so not making me feel too guilty just yet.

1 jumper - another easy peasy knit as it's just stocking stitch, knit in one piece from the neck down and I'm making it up as I go along....which seems to be why I stopped as I need to work out a bit of shaping.

1 fluffy waistcoat thing - have knit the back. It grows really quick. Not sure I'm feeling the love enough to finish it. Don't think I'll ever wear it. Might have to frog it and reuse the yarn.

1 owl motif towards the eight needed for one of these bags. Not as easy as I thought it'd be. Not as excited as I was when I first started it. Was planning on making four of these bags for Christmas presents. Have changed my mind. Now have ten balls of brown cotton yarn to do something else with.

1 crochet shawl - not loving it - may be off to the frog pond.

1 simply enormous yarn eating granny stripe blanket - worked a bit last night but got bored as stoopid sore finger made the going very slow.

1 simple patchwork quilt - middle panel done  (months and months and months ago), needs sashing, backing, binding and hand-quilting. I can see the finished quilt in my head and would quite like it out of there and on the sofa.

The next bit makes me a little nervous. I tend to avoid setting myself targets, if at all possible. That seems to be a recipe for failure and disappointment as far as I'm concerned. I'm the person that looks at you blankly during my performance review when asked about my five year plan.

I prefer to think of myself as a take it as it comes sort of a person, living in the now, not big on the old long term plan and target setting bit....not great on the short-term plan thing either, if we're being really honest here.... but maybe, just maybe, setting myself a bit of a target, with you as my witnesses, might be just the thing to help me clear the decks ready for all the backlog of crafty inspiration that's currently wedged in my poor tired brain to be allowed to come spewing forth in readiness for a truly craft-tastic 2013.


So here's the target. Amid all the usual happy chaos of life in the run-up to Christmas I am going to throw myself headlong into that there pile of WIPs and before the bell tolls to ring in the New Year I will have finished (or frogged) every single last one of them.

I promise.

Did I also mention I wanted to knit Monster some new fingerless gloves? Maybe I should cast them on right now and add them to the WIP pile?

Moogs xxx

p.s. I will not be including two huge sacks of raw alpaca fleece waiting to be spun or some funny crazy patchwork sewing that I've been making for the past three years in this target. That would be silly.

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