We interrupt this broadcast…

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a run-of-the-mill, common-or-garden post on its way.

We interrupt this broadcast, however, to bring breaking news of great magnitude. The content of this post has been brought to you thanks to the watchman-like duties of the Monkey who tonight saw the fruits of his diligence.

This is one of those times when voices should be stilled and the images allowed to speak for themselves.
Yes readers. We have fledgling beanstalks. Of the purple kind.

I will leave you to digest this information within the walls of your homes and the arms of your families.

A beanstalk to call our own.

In the past we’ve been known to dabble in the world of growing our own food with, admittedly, varying degrees of success.

Over the years there have been potatoes (a success), sweetcorn (less so – it was just too cold for them to ripen), carrots (wonky but tasty), leeks, shallots, sprouts and more.

It’s been fun but I wouldn’t say that we’ve reaped a harvest that has recovered the cost of outlay. Not in volume certainly, but maybe in taste.

Our greatest success however has been with beans.

So when spring started poking her head around the corner, the Monkey and I got all excited about growing some vegetables.

After the success of last week’s costume there was, of course, only one vegetable of choice for the Monkey to grow and that was beans!

Even more excitement was found with the discovery, in our local garden centre, of purple beans. Surely if any bean was going to grow a magical beanstalk it would be a purple bean?

And so here we are at week one of the Great Purple Bean Growing Adventure!


And here they sit, soaking up the springtime sunshine.

Bless him the Monkey prayed last night that his beans would grow and ran downstairs in the morning to see how they were doing. This may be an interesting lesson in patience, for all of us!

Simple pleasures.

I love birthdays. Yours, mine, anybody’s.

And today was mine.

Over the years I’ve found all manner of ways to celebrate my birthday from fancy meals out and trips away to parties with friends.

But this year’s birthday, with its preceding night of interrupted sleep, inevitable school runs and a baby’s schedule did not have the makings of a birthday to remember. In fact, I started the day with very few plans and yet it turned out to be one of my best birthdays yet.

You already know about my start to the day, with a family breakfast, lovely gifts from my children and husband (and presents, equally loved but not mentioned, from further-flung family members).

The Monkey was at his best as he skipped to school chatting away to his Dad.

Which left Little Pumpkin and me and the quandary of what best to do on a glorious day like today?

Well the Pumpkin is still on the mend and, restricted as she is in her ability to move under her own steam, has limited appreciation of the joys of playgrounds or museums.

And so we headed out to our local cafe, which happens to reside in our local garden centre. Because Little Pumpkin is already more than able to appreciate the joys of a cafe even if she is still meant to be recovering from illness. Why it’s practically medicinal.

Little Pumpkin could barely contain her excitement upon being placed in a highchair and, after closely following every plate of food that left the kitchen, was finally rewarded with more than her fair share of a toasted teacake.

She is really turning into a little girl, babbling away to me, grabbing the plate if I don’t give her some teacake quickly enough, waving to anyone who looked in her direction. A real joy to be with.

On our way out we couldn’t resist the field of yellow spring flowers swaying in the breeze.

And now have our very own piece of spring sat on our dining table.

And someone else who made his way home with us.

We took the long way home. It’s really not that much longer, but the views more than make up for it, I’m sure you’ll agree.

And then before we knew it, it was time to collect the Monkey and to make our way home from school, stopping by for a very welcome cup of tea and slice of cake at a friend’s house.

Who could ask for a better birthday? And a timely lesson for me of the peaceful satisfaction to be found in the appreciation of simple pleasures with family and friends.

Reasons to be grateful

So many reasons to be grateful today…

For beautiful blue skies with fluffy white clouds, the bright spring sunshine warm on my face and the soul lifting sound of the return of birdsong.

For Little Pumpkin recovering from her nasty tummy bug.

And for all the effort that my family put into making me feel special on my birthday and the beautiful creativity that went into their efforts.

A jar full of sweeties and a home drawn card. Perfect!

Vouchers for treats in the future and a treat for now too!

A chocolate pig eventually released from ten month old fingers in return for wrapping paper to play with.

And breakfast together, laughing and eating. Sharing that pause in the day before we all go on our different paths. The sun streaming through the window. The Monkey telling me about all of the different sweets that he chose for me. Little Pumpkin relishing pain au chocolat and the return of her appetite. My wonderful husband blessing me with a mug of my favourite coffee and breakfast served to me.

I hope that everyone reading this has a day filled with reasons to be grateful.

World Book Day Costume…

So the Monkey, being Very Big Indeed (or so he says) is now in the throes of his first World Book Day at school.

Did I mention that he thinks I can make any costume he can dream up?

I thought I had.

Did I mention that he has a well fed imagination?!

Well it turns out that last term’s project at school of Jack and the Beanstalk really captured that wonderful imagination.

And so, without further ado I now reveal…..

The Beanstalk Costume!


It’s not quite as polished as I intended to be, I had a few more tweaks I’d have liked to have done, some tendrils on the trousers that sort of thing. Unfortunately our family has been in the grip of a nasty tummy bug, and indeed little pumpkin is still fighting her way out of it. So time has been very much at a premium.

I wanted bean pods but the Monkey was most insistent that there should be NO BEANS MUMMY!

And yes he knows that strictly it isn’t a “character” but he had set his heart upon it. And as a mother it is my privilege, for an all too brief time, to be in the business of making his dreams come true.

He has asked every day this week “is it The Day yet?! Can I wear The Beanstalk?”.

Of these days are memories made.

Mending rips and tears…

So, take one five year old boy, add a non uniform day and mix with his favourite jeans.

Bake for about six hours.

What do you get?

Yup – you guess it – ripped jeans and a five year old’s tears.

But this wasn’t quite the disaster it seems. A while ago on pinterest, images of monster themed patched up jeans were doing the rounds. I don’t know where these originated from, but if you do then let me know and I’ll give them credit for a fantastic idea.

Now it’s not as if I haven’t had a shortage of ripped trousers and jeans to try this on. On the contrary, there has been a painfully ready supply, but most of the rips have been far too extensive to patch up in this way.

Time was of the essence so that the Monkey could wake to mended jeans and so I took only a few photos.

And the result?

One happy monkey, all tears forgotten, and favourite jeans restored to his affection.

Well loved jeans.

I don’t know how long the mend will last as the Monkey is hard on the knees of his trousers, but for now all is well.

The infamous Gruffalo Costume…

Well, now you know who I am, it seems appropriate to introduce a few of the things I’ve made in the past. I can be fickle with crafts, a bit of knitting, a dab of crochet but there’s always a sewing project on the go and the Monkey realised a long time ago that he could use this to his advantage.

For in the Monkey I have a little person who seems to believe that his mother can make anything he dreams up. Whilst very sweet it’s not strictly, or in fact remotely, true. But I do love a new project!

Now the costume that most of my friends remember is the Gruffalo costume, so it feels fitting to make this my first creation to share with you.
Gruffalo Back
For his third birthday I had agreed to a Gruffalo party. Now I had seen Gruffalo costumes available to purchase and agreed to the party theme on this basis. What I didn’t allow for was the fact that in those early days the only costumes sold were far too long for a three year old, and lacked the necessary stomach padding that a skinny pre-schooler really needed to pull off the role with conviction.

And so the great summer of Gruffalo sewing began.

Now the Monkey is at best a fidget and at worst a mere blur and, looking back at his third birthday party, the photographs of him in the costume are a case in point.

Having now sadly outgrown his costume I have had to commandeer the services of an absolutely adorable replacement to model the costume.
I’ve already agreed with the Monkey that Little Pumpkin should be allowed to inherit this costume when she is big enough, but that’s a long way off.

In any case, I’m not making another Gruffalo costume.

Not for all the chocolate cake in the world…
Not for all the chocolate cake and good wine in the world…
Not for all the chocolate cake, good wine and sedatives in the world.
Gruffalo Tail
One hot summer sewing thick fur is enough for me!


Well, so now I’ve invited you in, I should probably introduce myself.

I’m Susan.

Now there’s not a great deal to say about myself that you won’t see replicated in millions of homes across the world.

I’ve worked in the past whilst a parent but, for the time being, am a stay at home mum to two beautiful children. This is a new path that I’ve recently set off on. It’s exciting, sometimes daunting; leaving the world of work and taking this risk, but we think and hope and pray that it’s the right path for our family.

After all, don’t all the best adventures start with a certain amount of uncertainty and risk?

So then there are the little people who make sure I’m not wearing too much of a groove in the sofa!

There’s the Monkey. He’s five and is in the first year at school with its ups and downs. Mostly ups but it’s a tiring life setting out on such big adventures.

Then there’s his little sister who is currently charging up towards her first birthday in April. Now the Monkey has been “Monkey” for as long as I can remember, he answers to it in the streets, he knows it’s his nickname and it will be a very sad day when he grows out of it. It’s a special name, term of endearment, between him and me.

His little sister is another matter.

It feels wrong calling her Monkey Two (or ‘Too’) as she is neither second fiddle to her brother nor the updated version. I’ve tried out a few nicknames without complete success so far.

She is my ‘Angel’ certainly, but I’m guessing that name won’t have the same longevity as soon as she learns how to be naughty!

When I was pregnant, the Monkey was most insistent that his little sister be named “Little Baby Santa Claus”. Thankfully the agreement of pre-school big brothers is not required when naming a child and it was soon forgotten when she arrived. I don’t think that we will be resurrecting it as a nickname.

I’ve used ‘Pumpkin’ more consistently than anything else, but I think I’ll have to see whether it fits. Because this one… this child… whilst adaptable, sociable and an absolute pleasure to be around, also has Opinions and I suspect that they will be inflicted upon us (loudly) many times in the coming years, including her thoughts on her name.


So for now we will run with Little Pumpkin or Pumpkin, but forgive me if it changes along the way. This will no doubt be by order of the Pumpkin herself. Immediately! This second! Without further delay!

Now it’s my intention to share with you, along this path, not only some of the things I create, but also how I’ve made them. But seeing as we are really at the early stages, I will get together a few things I’ve made in the past by way of introduction. They won’t have tutorials, certainly not for the time being. Some of them (yes I’m looking at you Gruffallo costume) were so much more complicated than anticipated when I originally agreed to make them for the Monkey that I’m not sure I can bring myself to walk that particular journey again. There isn’t enough therapy in the world for that.

But that’s for another day.


Who am I?

My home is my heart and my family is the beat that pulses through it.

When I’m not playing chase, cosying up with a book and a child, changing a nappy or making dinner then you’ll find me planning, plotting or doing craft. After my family it’s what makes me, “me”.

So why “Hoogally”?

Many moons ago, before there were nappies or school runs (was there ever such a time?!) my husband and I travelled over to visit some new friends in Denmark. While there we came across the words “hyggelig” and “hygge”. Please, all of Denmark, forgive my poor second hand explanation.

Hygge, I’m led to understand, is about togetherness and cosiness. It’s a warm space to enjoy life together; hanging out under thick blankets or sitting around a table sharing good food. Good conversation with good friends.

It’s oversized blankets, thick scarves and candlelight when it’s cold, picnics in the park or barbecues with friends when it’s warm.

So take a Danish word, pass it through a native English speaker on to us and hyggelig became hoogally. If you say it out loud it’s a little more understandable, and forgivable – I hope!

And that’s my heart for my home and my family – that space, when the day’s challenges have been faced and met, when wrongs have been righted, mountains climbed, lessons learned and all the fun possible squeezed out of the day.

To return home, take off our coats and to be with one another.

An intimate space of acceptance. A place where we can put down the day, stop, pause and live in the moment alongside one another. No to do lists, no clocks, no judgement. Just hanging out, sharing our hearts, sharing food, sharing laughter, dreaming dreams.

With blankets. I really love blankets!

But the guest list isn’t limited to my family of four, friends are welcome too and you, you out there, you’re welcome too.

So kick off your shoes, put down your day and hang out for a while. Let’s share some Hoogally!


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