Monthly Archives: February 2015

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Something For The Weekend Sir?!

Heading For The Oven, Rocking Dog

Heading For The Oven

I have decided that Rocking Dog Fashion Week has ended early! I am definitely no Gok, though there were some pretty unbelievable colours in M &S today. Who does look good in muted tangerine one wonders? Other things to report are that some linen has hit TK Maxx (Cribbs, Bristol) together with some great Joules, Crew, Paul Costelloe and Moschino pieces. Good stock of Hunter wellies there too- though expensive they last and last- I wear mine every day for walking Real Live Rocking Dog.

I’m finishing the week with a culinary post to inspire a delicious weekend pastry making session. Click the link for the recipe for Dried Pear Frangipane Tart. It’s simple to make, especially if you cowardly decide to use a shop bought pastry. It can be served warm or cold and it’s delicious served with creme fraiche, ice cream or clotted cream. Although the recipe asks for the pears to be soaked for 24 hours I quite often forget, so I just cook the pears for a little longer in the pan with the Armagnac (I used Schnapps, but use what you have at hand). The dried pears maybe a little difficult to source but Waitrose always stocks them, after all the recipe is one of their recipes! Fresh apricots, raspberries or fresh figs would also work well. Lastly I scattered my Frangipane with some blanched almonds prior to baking. Incidentally, always use metal to bake pastry, using china or glass flan dishes give a less crisp result. Baking beans or coins also help when baking blind because they conduct heat well.

I have been busy sewing for spring, whilst watching the Great British Sewing Bee. LOVE IT! I’m rather hoping my son watched last nights episode so that he can make his Ferguson clan kilt for his wedding! I was sat there feeling rather smug, because I managed to make a pretty spectacular kilt in an hour two years ago. However, it was dog sized… fancy dress for Real Life Rocking Dog. I have got to come up with this years outfit in readiness for the Fox Terrier Rescue fun day. Strange but true!

Whatever your weekend holds have a really lovely one, and hope the Frangipane Tart proves truly spectacular.

Spread And Scattered, Rocking Dog

Spread And Scattered

Wrapped, And Ready To Go, Rocking Dog

Wrapped, And Ready To Go

Wedding Cake Inspired By Fashion Design

Rocking Dog Cake, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Cake

This wedding cake was made last year for friends by Rocking Dog, and its colours were influenced by the work of designer Kaffe Fassett.

I have long been a fan of Kaffe, and when I had better eye sight and more patience I completed four of his needlepoint cushions. Embarrassingly, I have another on a frame which has been waiting to be completed for the last 17 years or so. Maybe this is the year I find the time to sit in an old fashioned deckchair, in the sun and finish the pea-pod design.

There was a brilliant exhibition of Fassett’s work at The American Museum, Bath, last year. If you are someone who likes neutrals and clean straight lines this wasn’t the exhibition for you. There were walls painted in the wildest fuchsia, magenta, and citric yellow, whilst exhibits were diverse and eclectic. There were examples of Fassett’s knitwear, tapestries, fabric design and design processes. I don’t know if anyone else feels like me than when they see something so inspirational and eye-popping that it almost becomes edible! Yes, I know i’m bonkers!

One of the loveliest parts of the exhibition were some outdoor installations. Lamp-posts and a garden bench were enrobed with brightly coloured striped knitted covers. Oh how much lovelier the high street would look with embellished street furniture! By far the most dramatic installation was a huge tree in the grounds which had been dressed with pom poms and lamp shades covered with Fassett’s extensive fabric collection. It was truly magical.

Regarding the cake, it had layers of fruit cake, coconut and lime, carrot and a gluten free orange. I had to assemble and decorate it at the venue (Bristol Zoo), all rather nerve racking as there was no steadfast plan. It was however quite entertaining frou’ing to the sound of exotic birds, apes and big cats!

Fashion really is much more than a browsing clothes rails, it influences paint colours, home decor, gardens and even cakes!

Kaffe Magic, Rocking Dog

Kaffe Magic

Magical Tree, Rocking Dog

Magical Tree

Cushion Magic, Rocking Dog

Cushion Magic

The Dog Concocts A Tipple For Fashionista’s !

Raw Ingredients, Rocking Dog

Raw Ingredients

This won’t be ready to serve up to front row London Fashion Week goers, but in 40 days time this Vin D’Orange will be ready to quaff!

I couldn’t resist the very last of the season’s Seville oranges, especially as they were reduced. With enough Marmalade to see us through the year, these oranges are for a blush coloured tipple and a robust Orange and Apricot Chutney.

I haven’t tried Vin D’Orange before, so it’s a little bit of an experiment. Very easy to make I hope it will taste simply divine. Perhaps when it’s been filtered and bottled i’ll serve it up with little fragments of gold leaf in sparkling antique cocktail glasses, put the gramophone on and attempt the Charleston ….or not!

This post harks back to the heady days of the 1930’s when life was a blast as long as you weren’t affected by the Great Depression. The Savoy Cocktail Book was printed in 1930 and an exciting find in my Mother in Law’s garage. It was originally destined for the bin, and now resides in a cabinet with other coveted historical food books. I love its wonderful Art Deco illustrations and unlike my contemporary cookery books this one is perfect with no splashes or splats!

As for the tablecloth, I bought that from a shop in Clifton Arcade and it’s an original Deco cloth which I in fact usually wear as a scarf. Meanwhile the photo of the wonderful bathing beauties are of Andyman’s Grandmother Nancy, and relative Chrissie. Probably taken on a shiveringly cold Scottish beach the 1930’s image exudes the era with parasols, modest swimsuits and swim hats. The clock is powered electrically, and with its jade green and cream colour it is typical of the period. Unfortunately I couldn’t lay my hands on my Deco cocktail shakers, no doubt they are bundled up very unceremoniously in my stupendously untidy cellar!

Lets hope these oranges do their magic over the next month and that we find something lovely to toast.

Cocktail Time!, Rocking Dog

Cocktail Time!

Golden Days, Rocking Dog

Golden Days

Seville Orange Magic, Rocking Dog

Seville Orange Magic

Rocking Dog Fashion Week-it’s Rocking!

Embellishment For The Woman In Black! ,Rocking Dog

Embellishment For The Woman In Black!

As promised, to celebrate London Fashion Week Rocking Dog is having her very own Fashion Week!

Here follows a sneaky peak into my wardrobe, I wonder what Gok would say about some of the items it contains. In the words of Clarke Gable “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn”, because I don’t want a wide belt, or to be overly accessorised or have my bangers Gok-handled!

As you can probably ascertain from one of the photo’s below there is an abundance of black, which is my winter “uniform”. In the summer the space will be given over to a predominance of white linen. In all probability this isn’t the most flattering colour against an ageing non-tanned skin! However, I LOVE white and I’ll intricately embroider myself a white shroud when the time comes!

Many of my clothes are very old. I’d rather pay a little bit more and have something i’ll love wearing for years rather that throw away done in a season fashion. The majority of my clothes are sale buys, but after numerous bad impulsive purchases I use a tried and tested formula. Therefore, I pick up a bargainous item and ask myself “if money allowed and the item was full price would I buy it?”. If the answer is no, I simply put it back on the rail, whilst a yes answer gets me running to the till!

Apart from one woollen tunic (which I only purchased two weeks ago) everything in my wardrobe has been worn- so no swing tagged hope to be worn space cloggers! Quite honestly my wardrobe is not very capacious so I simply can’t afford the space for clothes which “don’t pay their way”.

My winter black, and summer white uniforms are accessorised with jewellery, vintage scarves, a colourful coat, jacket or cardigan. These items ring the changes to three black skirts/ tops and 5 white linen skirts/trews and tops. Voila! A capsule wardrobe. Obviously there are other garments in a range of colours, these have usually been bought for special occasions. They are usually purchased because of delicious fabrics, detail, embroidery and unusual shape.

The places I love to shop are wide ranging. Kilver Court is great for it’s Toast concession with very reduced prices. Going shopping with my girls I realise there are some lovely pieces in Top Shop and H&M, but obviously give the playsuit and sculpted dress rails a wide birth! Recently, I bought a Top Shop dogtooth linen coat and tweaked it by adding some Norwegian floral braid that a friend had given me. I like a bit of customising to make things my own. If I find something I REALLY like i’ll try and buy in multiples, thus, I have three wool coats in different colours bought on an Italian market stall. At £50 each we struck a good deal doing a multiple purchase!

Zara is great for statement jewellery and scarves, and of course John Lewis is a good bet, especially during their winter and summer sales. I have bought unique vintage coats and scarves in charity shops and love the fact that no one else will have anything similar. Rag Trade, Bristol and other second hand dress agencies have been great over the years, both to buy and sell clothes. I particularly love a pair of shoes that I bought a few Christmas’s ago from Rag Trade. Never before worn, they are beautiful hand embroidered mules with the tiniest of stiletto heels. The shoes’ shape reminded me of the wooden clogs in The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck. I bought them for a smidgen of what they would have originally cost. I have worn them somewhat uncomfortably….but I love them for their workmanship.

Regarding online shopping, i’m a bit of a dinosaur. I simply love feeling fabrics, trying on, and not having the hassle of sending things back. However, I have bought items from ebay and will look out for certain makes if I’m having an ebay moment!

Most of the time I am sadly in dog walking garb, anything to keep the chiselling winds and rain, mud and cold at bay!

So folks.. a few secrets of my wardrobe, have you anything to tell?

Black Overload, Rocking Dog

Black Overload

Scarf Stepladder, Rocking Dog

Scarf Stepladder

To Ring The Changes, Rocking Dog

To Ring The Changes

Embroidered Mules, Rocking Dog

Embroidered Mules

Yummy Button, Rocking Dog

Yummy Button

Customised Coat, Rocking Dog

Customised Coat

LOVE! Recycled Window Dec’s -Selfridges

Fantastical Plastic Flora, Rocking Dog

Fantastical Plastic Flora

Wow! How I loved seeing this eye popping window display in Selfridges, Birmingham at the weekend.

Andyman and I were en route to the Barclaycard Arena to watch the Indoor Athletics Grand Prix, when this window display literally stopped me in my tracks. I wonder whether it would have stopped Mo Farah in his!

The huge curved glass window display was filled with these giant lampshade structures, all bedecked with amazing fantastical plastic flora. Made from plastic bottles, tops, straws, beads and other plasticised beauties, the display really did fill me with tropical summer cheer.

I had previously seen similar decorations in Anthropologie, Regent Street but I loved the way Selfridges had solely given the space to nothing else but the decorations and gleamingly clean glass.

As you can probably now appreciate I adore shop windows and have amassed quite a collection of window photographs over the years. My favourite window’s are those at Barney’s of New York. Simon Doonan does a brilliant job, and I adored his “Sex in The City” windows one snowy Christmas. Somewhat incredibly I hadn’t seen any of the series when I was dazzled by the window artistry, and thus became a fan of the show as a result of the windows!

These glitzy expensive windows are a far cry from the windows of the shops I grew up with in my village. The little Post Office in particular with flagstoned floor and old fashioned bell had a window that barely ever changed. Lined with crepe paper which would bleed in damp weather and gradually fade from crimson red to salmon pink, it was the backdrop to equally faded merchandise. Perhaps there’d be a lined pad of Basildon Bond, some yellow Bic biro’s, utilitarian envelopes and a card or two that never really sought buyers. Silver Jubilee there’d be a patriotic flag added, and at Christmas maybe a thick garland of 60’s tinsel. With festivities done and dusted the window would return to “normal”. Notices would appear from time to time for lost dogs, babysitting rates (my sister and I), Whist Drive dates (prizes of half a dozen eggs, pack of bacon and the like) and other village events. No one seemed to notice or ever mention the mouse poo which adorned the faded crepe, though I know it was a topic around our kitchen table on a not infrequent basis. Even at the age of ten I wanted to be a Simon Doonan and tackle the Post Office window- though my Jackie pop posters wouldn’t have been nearly as charming! I have lovely memories of collecting my Mum’s Family Allowance and my Grandma Nellie’s pension there together with listening to village gossip….it all feels so very long ago.

Gleaming Glass, Rocking Dog

Gleaming Glass

Tropical Summer, Rocking Dog

Tropical Summer

Village Post Office, Rocking Dog

Village Post Office

Homalocephale In Search Of New Home!

Orphaned Homalocephale, Rocking Dog

Orphaned Homalocephale

Another post for the little folk before school reconvenes. So this is an S.O.S. Yesterday I found this little fellow staggering around on Hambrook Common whilst walking Real Live Rocking Dog.

As all you budding Palaeontologists will no doubt know, this little dinosaur is a Homalocephale (Level headed lizard). Strange but true he first roamed the planet 70-80 million years ago. He looks pretty scary but he likes eating fruits, plants and seeds. Homalocephale’s don’t grow much bigger than the average six year old and has a much smaller brain than the average six year old. Grown up Palaeontologists think that the Homalocephale had wide hips because they gave birth to live young rather than laying eggs like many other dinosaurs.The experts also think that the Homalocephale used their wide hips for flank-butting. It would be like dodgem car bumping for dinosaurs! This little dinosaur would also use its flat head for ramming any enemy. Now being so well mannered you would absolutely never ever flank-butt or head ram would you!

Back to this poor little orphaned Homalocephale, he really has been through the wars. I rather think he has been attacked by some very terrifying creature and certainly not Real Live Rocking Dog. The Dog much prefers playing football and being curious about cats. No, I think it may have been a Tyrannosaurus Rex who took a liking to this little orphan, or more scarily a teething toddler! He has lost an arm -the Homalocephale and not the toddler, and hasn’t got very good balance. He may need a little blob of Blu-Tac to help him stand or he can simply be snuggled under your pillow (please ask your mummy first)

If anyone would like to give this tiny little fella a caring new home, please send Rocking Dog a message with a suitable name. A distinguished panel will choose a winner and little Homalocephale (who will have been put through a 90 degree dishwasher programme) will be posted to you together with some yummy goodies.

Please Care and SHARE this post!

Normal service will be resumed after the weekend, with my adult head securely screwed back on, promise! It’s London Fashion Week next week according to my darling fashionista daughter. She’ll be photographing some of the style icons at Somerset House. Not to be outdone we’ll be having our very own exclusive Rocking Dog Fashion Week. I’ll even be letting you peek inside my wardrobe, what a scary prospect!

Have a great weekend and I hope the sun shines.

Searching For Mum, Rocking Dog

Searching For Mum

Do I Look Like a Dinosaur Nibbler? Rocking Dog

Do I Look Like a Dinosaur Nibbler?

Poor Hannah Eaten By a Tiger In Wiltshire!

Truly Unique Epitaph, Rocking Dog

Truly Unique Epitaph

As it’s half term a gory little story for any little folk! I know how much one of my nieces loved the tragic story of Joan of Arc. Any gloomy French churches with statues, carvings or murals of poor Joan were a real hit with Cress’!

Are we all sitting comfortably, with I Pads and X Boxes off? Well then i’ll begin. There was once a lady called Hannah Twynnoy. She lived over 300 years ago in a little market town in Wiltshire called Malmesbury. She worked at an Inn called the White Horse and served frothy beer and pies, but no crisps, alas they were invented much later. One day a man bought a travelling collection of exotic animals into the yard at the White Horse Inn. In those days there were no televisions, no zoo’s, no internet and no planes to go on holiday. People had never seen creatures apart from farm animals, cats and dogs, together with wild creatures such as foxes and badgers, pheasants and toads. So, can you imagine just how excited they would have been to see peacocks, parrots, monkey’s, zebra’s and a real live growling tiger! Therefore, this man and his menagerie (that’s what you call a collection of animals) came to this little town one cold October to amaze and delight the townspeople. People paid money to come and ooh! and ahhh! at these amazing creatures, and their eyes would simply pop out on stalks! Of course Hannah was especially lucky, because she worked at the Inn and was able to see the animals every day as she hung out washing and brushed the yard. However….. Hannah who was 33, and of course old enough to know better, was VERY silly and teased and taunted all the animals. For a few days the poor animals put up with Hannah pulling silly faces, blowing raspberries and wiggling her finger through their cages…….BUT THEN…..one day… something truly terrible happened. The tiger simply had had enough! He managed to wiggle HIS paw through the bars of his cage to tease Hannah. As we ALL know Tigers have terrifyingly sharp teeth and even more terrifyingly knife like claws. Knowing that you are very, very, clever I expect you can imagine the gory rest!
So if you ever go to Malmesbury which you might find frankly a little bit boring, go in search of Hannah’s grave. It has a little poem on it called an epitaph which goes like this, In bloom of Life, She’s snatchd from hence, She had not room To make defence; For Tyger fierce, Took Life away, And here she lies In a bed of Clay, Until the Resurrection Day. I sincerely hope you will never ever tease tigers!

Incidently on the 300th anniversary of Hannah’s death, all girls going to primary schools in Malmesbury with the name Hannah each laid a simple flower on her grave.

Malmesbury is a lovely little market town, not the least bit boring, that’s unless you are ten! It’s got great little bakeries, a fantastic butcher, independent cafe’s and a helpful ironmonger.The Abbey is very beautiful and majestically imposing, Malmesbury is thought to have been the first capital of England. You can even find the tomb of the first King of England in the Abbey, King Athelstan the Glorious. To make it just a bit more interesting for 10 year olds the Abbey hosts an amazing annual Skate event within its hallowed walls. Witnessing it today was surreal and wonderful…especially if you were 10!

The Butcher...Rocking Dog

The Butcher…

.......The Baker......., Rocking Dog

…….The Baker…….

...The Happy 10 year old Maker!, Rocking Dog

…The Happy 10 year old Maker!

Sun Kissed But Dusty Kitchen Shelves

Sun Kissed Kitchenalia, Rocking Dog

Sun Kissed Kitchenalia

Cold outside but sun kissed inside!

This afternoon I managed to return into the garden to continue with dismantling the stone flower bed. Today saw a further six wheelbarrow loads of Pennant stone for my mountainous stone pile and more frustratingly a sizeable mound of previous owner, Mr Dursley’s rubble (sure the pile can be seen from the moon!)

It was easy to get rid of the lurid Greek mural in the bathroom together with the hideous mink brown suite and coordinating firework carpet. It was easy to chop up Mr D’s orange box bookshelves and even fairly straightforward to strip fireplaces of paint effects and crinoline ladies! Even felling fifteen or so life sapping conifers was a doddle compared to this rubble…..AGGGGGGHHHH! However somewhat thankfully the rubble contained no ancient prosthetic limbs or medical appliances. Many years ago a friend was greeted with a variety of rather macabre rubble when she cleared the overgrown garden of her Welsh cottage.

Grabbing my breath and a drink indoors I loved the warmth and beams of the winter sunshine. My kitchen shelves looked very spring-like with their eclectic collection of heirloom china kissed by the sun. I always find it amazing that we can live with furniture and things, often forgetting the beauty of some of the possessions we own. The blue and white Spode china sprigged with rosebuds belonged to my grandmother Emily. I have loved it for as long I can remember and continue to love it. There’s a little antique earthenware jug that was a housewarming present for our first home in Cardiff over thirty years ago, there’s a jug that was the family custard jug when I was little, and many charity shop finds.

The little glass “jars” are medical cupping glasses. These are of questionable age but in the past were used to treat conditions such as Pulmonary Tuberculosis. They are still used extensively in Chinese medicine. My set of glass cups are more likely to have Belgian chocolates under them rather than being applied to skin for some painful affliction.

The shelves themselves have not escaped Mr Dursley’s eccentric approach to DIY. To get the levels sorted he has used a dessertspoon for propping a shelf, its handle exposed for posterity!

So while I was readying myself to return to the unenviable task of Mr D’s rubble I admired my sunny shelves and tried not to focus on the cobwebs!

Spode and Charity shop Finds, Rocking Dog

Spode and Charity shop Finds

For Belgian Choc's, Rocking Dog

For Belgian Choc’s

Spot The Cobwebs, Rocking Dog

Spot The Cobwebs

Working Lunch- Fridge End Soup!

Working Lunch, Rocking Dog

Working Lunch

I need to go food shopping but I cannot find the energy or inclination! Therefore yesterday’s lunch was a Lazy Liz favourite, Fridge End Soup.

Fridge End Soup generally consists of any vegetables that still look vaguely edible, cooked and whizzed to make something that is warming and rather delicious! The type of vegetables lurking in the fridge will ultimately determine the type of soup I concoct and its tasty outcome. So if it’s tomatoes, peppers and aubergines rather past their best i’ll generate a Mediterranean inspired roast vegetable soup, whilst ropey beetroots will be put to work in a Moro style beetroot soup.

Monday’s Soup consisted of the following, a large forgotten about butternut squash, a wrinkled piece of root ginger, a large papery red onion, two sad sticks of celery, and a forlorn looking piece of fresh lemongrass. If you want to try this at home with your fridge end vegetables i’ll give you the gist of this Rocking Dog soup. This will serve approximately 6 people or a working lunch for one over a few days! Store in a lidded container in the fridge and reheat thoroughly.

Peel, de-seed and chop your squash into dice sized pieces and roughly chop the onion and celery * Melt some butter or heat oil in a large deep sided frying pan or saucepan, add the squash, celery and onion, together with finely chopped lemongrass, grated ginger a teaspoon of cumin seeds and 1/2 teasp turmeric and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes or so * Add in a tin of coconut milk and approx’ 500ml stock (homemade, or water and a stock cube), bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes (the squash should be tender and mushable!) Take off heat* Using a stick blender or processor blend to a smooth and glossy consistency * Taste and season * Serve piping hot with a sprinkling of fresh coriander or a scattering of seeds* Voila!

I love to have an empty fridge before doing a bit of restocking so using up odd vegetables in soups, tagines or casseroles is a great way of dealing with these sad solitary bits of green grocery. A soup like this is so economical compared to commercially made soups, tastes so much better and is very quick to put together.

Sprout soup anyone!?

Seed Of Goodness, Rocking Dog

Seed Of Goodness

Happy St Valentine’s Day, Love Rocking Dog !

Lots Of Vintage Love. Rocking Dog

Lots Of Vintage Love

Just to wish all those who have found true love, Happy Valentine’s Day. For those who haven’t yet found their kindred spirit, here’s hoping that Cupid shoots that glittering silver arrow sometime very soon.

Wishing you all whoever & wherever you are, a wonderful weekend.