Monthly Archives: July 2015

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Heavenly Diamond Anniversary.

Newly Wed, Rocking Dog

Newly Wed

Today would have been my parents Diamond Wedding Anniversary. Alas, they barely made their 30th wedding anniversary on earth, but nevertheless I am thinking of them today.

I’d like to think that they are in orbit somewhere enjoying a Dubonnet and a neat Scotch together. Mum will be entertaining other heavenly friends and relatives. Athenian Mince, Beef Stroganoff or a home made Chicken Pie could feature on the menu together with a sweet trolley laden with Apple pie, Black Forest Gateaux, Scandinavian Peasant Girl with Veil and a Cheese board (naturally featuring Cambazola). Dad will take charge of the drinks, but woe betide anyone wanting anything non alcoholic, soft drinks really do not enter Dad’s vocabulary! I expect Mum will have insisted on a no gift invitation- not for her any crystal paperweights, cut glass champagne flutes etc…There will undoubtedly be the usual arguments about my Dad’s mismatched garments and the cross firing of whether something is beige or grey, clean or grubby! Reluctantly he will climb heaven’s staircase to change into a further something greige! There will be an eclectic musical background “fuzz” on a pretty awful record deck. Dad in musical meistro control will select Mantovani or Glenn Miller, and my Mum A-ha (Take on me), Dawn (Tie a yellow Ribbon), Charles Aznavour (She) and The Manhattan Transfer (Chanson D’amour). Though she loved Leonard Cohen even she will draw the line at playing any of his tracks for an upbeat party. Mum was a great host and Dad very convivial and cheery whilst serving extra large measures of everything. So, I expect this heavenly party will be no different. I’m also certain that Mum will want to get the dishes and glasses washed before retiring to bed!

Their wedding day is assigned to a large brown paper envelope and their honeymoon snaps stuck into a thick sugar paper album. A newspaper article beautifully describes Bab’s and Doug’s wedding day and gives a real flavour of a 1950’s wedding.The description of the dress tells us that it was made of nylon tulle over taffeta, with lace flower and bolero detail. The article also describes the going away outfit, flowers, bridesmaids gifts, and hymns sung during the service. I know that my mum later dyed her wedding dress and wore it as an evening dress. I love the fact that my oldest girl, Sorrel was delighted to don her grandmother’s wedding ring when she got married in 2011.

As for the honeymoon they went to Austria and it was the first time my mum had ever flown. I remember her talking about her wedding trousseau (French- meaning bundle), pretty full skirted cotton sundresses and the like. After the honeymoon there were several years of hard graft and penury doing up a house before we little lot (me and two siblings) came along. They loved Seefeld and returned a few years before my Mum died in 1985. I wonder if my Mum smoked a pipe on that holiday and whether dad packed his kilt!

I wish we were celebrating this anniversary on earth with them. Instead we’ll raise a glass to them and hope that their heavenly celebration is simply raucous!

Wedding Day, Rocking Dog

Wedding Day

Pipe Smoking Mama!, Rocking Dog

Pipe Smoking Mama!

Kilt & Cows, Rocking Dog

Kilt & Cows

After The Honeymoon!, Rocking Dog

After The Honeymoon!

I’m All Mixed Up With Planter’s Punch!

Fruit For The Slaughter!, Rocking Dog

Fruit For The Slaughter!

My oldest girl asked me about a recipe yesterday- a Fruit Salad in a Planter’s Punch. It got me a thinking about this old family favourite… so I looked in the fridge and I foraged in the garden to rustle together fruit components.

I loosely based my boozy fruit salad on Delia’s Tropical Fruit Salad in Planter’s Punch. Delia’s recipe starts with making a sugar syrup flavoured with cinnamon sticks and lime zest. Leaving the syrup to cool and infuse, the fruit can be prepared. Fruit which is particularly lovely for this lots of your 5 a day dessert include mango, lychees, pineapple, and passion fruit. Alas in my fridge I only had the pineapple, and a rather battered one at that! My fridge fruit were combined with white currants and raspberries from my unkempt veg patch.

With fruit washed and cut neatly, it was back to the cooled syrup. I added in lime juice, some tropical fruit juice and Pimms. My version of Planter’s Punch was born! It is not known where Planter’s Punch originally originated but a recipe first appeared in print in the August 8th 1908 edition of The New York Times. Planter’s Punch typically includes, a sugar syrup, Grenadine, rum, fruit juices and bitters. Many believe that this rum based drink first came from Jamaica. Romantically, it is said that a Jamaican planter’s wife concocted the drink to cool down workers. Other reports are that the punch originated from hotels in Charleston and Saint Louis. When I started styling my photo’s I came over sort of Hawaiian. What a Mix Up!

After combining the fruit with the syrup put the fruit into a pretty serving bowl or individual dishes. Sprinkle over a little freshly grated nutmeg and some fresh mint leaves. For a dramatic centrepiece top the fruit filled serving bowl with the spiky pineapple top, that’s unless it’s a battered example like mine!

Buy British!, Rocking Dog

Buy British!

Lime Zest Syrup, Rocking Dog

Lime Zest Syrup

Prepared Fruit, Rocking Dog

Prepared Fruit

Pretty Fruit, Rocking Dog

Pretty Fruit

Liquid Components, Rocking Dog

Liquid Components

Fruit Finale!, Rocking Dog

Fruit Finale!

The Week That Simply Came & Went!

Yes It Went!, Rocking Dog

Yes It Went!

Do you ever have weeks that simply came and went? I realised that nine days had passed without posting anything on my Rocking Dog blog.

Last weekend we were at a Fox Terrier Rescue Fundraising Fun Day in Hertfordshire. Real Live Rocking Dog and pal Zac dressed up as the Sushi Boys in blazing sunshine. It was great fun and the Sushi Boys had the company of another seventy or so fellow Fox Terriers. There were grumpy ones, feisty ones, old ones, Cruft’s winning ones and ones that needed new homes.

Sewing resumed on the patchwork quilt and it is coming along slowly but surely. It should be a finished project by the weeks end. I have also been starting to think of lovely things to create for Christmas 2015. The elves will worryingly be working in the Rocking Dog workshop very soon!

A lovely morning was spent with my lovely neighbour Laura and her gorgeous boy Noah at St Werburgh’s City Farm, Bristol. It’s a great place to take children with its rustic playground and range of farm animals. Beware of the butting nanny goat! The farm also has a great cafe with truly delicious cakes and coffees.

An afternoon was spent teaching some young carers to make pizzas. I was told off by the youngsters for not bringing in olives, such are the cosmopolitan tastes of the group. The washing up session was epic!

This weekend Andyman and I travelled by train to London with Real Live Rocking Dog by. The plan was to walk him across London through some of London’s parks and the embankment to my sister’s house. The weather unfortunately had other plans so RLR Dog ventured onto the tube for the first time. On Friday we were at the Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium. Nearly full to capacity there was a great atmosphere in the stadium, especially with the appearance of Usain Bolt and Mo Farah.

On Saturday I was with my girls in Maltby Street, a thronging Saturday foodie haunt. It is also the location of a branch of Lassco, a fantastic Architectural salvage place with truly gorgeous furniture etc… but usually with equally fantastical price labels! After a brunch of the most amazing Reuben sandwiches by Monty’s Deli’ we headed to Victoria to see Billy Elliot. The show was tremendous and it took me back to evenings spent as a child scrabbling around for candles during the frequent power cuts of the 1970’s. There were the meals cooked on a gas camping stove and the constant uncertainty of when light and power would resume.

Looking back on the week, although it simply came and went it was packed with quite a lot!

The Sushi Boys, Rocking Dog

The Sushi Boys

Perseverance Patchwork, Rocking Dog

Perseverance Patchwork

Caring Cooking, Rocking Dog

Caring Cooking

Farm Food, Rocking Dog

Farm Food

C Word Planning!, Rocking Dog

C Word Planning!

Anniversary Games, Rocking Dog

Anniversary Games

Don’t Ask! Rocking Sews Giant Sushi.

Stupendous Sushi, Rocking Dog

Stupendous Sushi.

Yes, Rocking Dog has been sewing Giant Sushi! All will become clearer in the course of time but The Dog has been busy with various fabrics from the Material Mountain.

Nori, Japanese edible seaweed has been fashioned out of a speckled hand towel, there’s some cotton batting to simulate rice and various scraps for the butterflied shrimp and sprats. Greenery has been provided by a pack of Lakeland vegetable matting, whilst support for the structures is given with cushion fillers and flexible/fusable Vilene.

The purpose of these large inedible sushi will be revealed on Monday.

Hoping that you have a truly wonderful weekend.

…..Now back to making chopstick wrappers!

Kibinago, Rocking Dog


Marvels Of Lakeland, Rocking Dog

Marvels Of Lakeland

A Clutch Of Cards From Rocking Dog

Clutch Of Cards, Rocking Dog

Clutch Of Cards

Rocking Dog has been making a clutch of cards for a variety of occasions. As ever the cards are very inexpensively and simply made. Armed with some card blanks, a Pritt stick, glue gun I started work!

On Saturday at the wonderful Rangeworthy Vintage and Handmade Jumble I picked up some Bingo cards and counters from the everso lovely Jayne Soule. I had no idea what I would do with them, but knew they’d come in useful one day. Sooner than expected these bingo cards formed the basis of cards for two friends with big birthdays. I Googled bingo language and voila two simple but effective cards were created. Because of the bulky bingo counter I somehow think i’ll be clobbered on the postage, but ah well!

Another card is winging it’s way to my son in law who successfully completed walking Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis in little more than 24 hours over the weekend. Needless to say his feet are rather sore. An old charity shop medical book provided a great 1930’s snippet on dealing with blistered feet. Another card mastered.

Two food related cards for a birthday and an overdue supper thank you were conjured up from colourful freebie M&S paper stock. I also crafted lovely envelopes from food printed copy and flocked Indian paper. A wonderful gift from a thoughtful friend allows me to whisk up envelopes in a jiffy from paper and fabric etc… The wooden template is my latest crafty gadget and I LOVE it!

Cards done and dusted it was time for a bit of gift wrapping. A Rocking Dog laundry bag was wrapped in a map from a long forgotten British map book. I chose a page with special relevance for the recipient. It was finished with string, map printed ribbon and chalk board label.

With a little effort, and a lot of thought £12-15 or so worth of cards and gift wrap were made for a fraction of the price. What will you be conjuring up?

Bingo Birthdays!, Rocking Dog

Bingo Birthdays!

Sushi To Go!, Rocking Dog

Sushi To Go!

Yummy Gratitude!, Rocking Dog

Yummy Gratitude!

Blistered Hero!, Rocking Dog

Blistered Hero!

Fab Template!,Rocking Dog

Fab Template!

Map Wrap!, Rocking Dog

Map Wrap!

Being Quintessentially British- Flower Shows

Good Gooseberries, Rocking Dog

Good Gooseberries

How often have you been overseas and been envious about the festivities hosted by the destination you have been visiting? Snowy Christmas Markets, their air infused with the smell of Glogg, gingerbread and sweet chestnuts, Beer festivals with the swell of throaty oompah bands and the sheer spectacle of countries delighting in donning their national costumes to celebrate religious and historical events. Several years ago we spent two holidays staying at The Old Monastery in Lapta, North Cyprus. Residing opposite the little market square we were warmly invited to join the villagers for some truly lovely star lit parties. It took several parties and numerous glasses of retsina to realise that these parties were to celebrate circumcisions!

It is sometimes easy to wax lyrical about celebrations witnessed overseas whilst forgetting that we as a nation also have much to be proud of. What could be more quintessentially British than the village flower show. What a lovely site to behold- the white guy roped bunting clad marquee sited on a village green or playing field.

The Frenchay Flower Show was very much part of my childhood summer calendar as it was for my own children. A jam jar of wild flowers, handwriting, painting, four small cakes and my favourite- a miniature garden in a seed tray (instant disqualification if the garden was put in any other vessel!). My father meanwhile would enter vegetable classes and my mother the flower, baking and preserve classes. I remember the stress both as a child and as a parent of getting items organised for the Friday deadline visit to the tent to register exhibits. Saturday, it was the early start to deliver Victoria Sandwich (made to an exacting recipe and in the correct sized tins) already slightly wilted flowers, freshly scrubbed vegetables and neatly labelled jams. There were the sideways glances to check out the competition, and then banishment from the tent until the official opening of the show at 2pm. The return to the tent saw a rush of eager competitors to discover whether their entries had the red, blue or yellow prize certificates. As parents there were also the tears and disappointment to deal with (together with dealing with sibling euphoria!) All this work and all this emotional fall out for a first prize of about 40p!

Flower shows however are about much more than the serious business of prize winning rhubarb sticks, rustic breads and handicrafts. They are about brass bands, plant stalls, Morris Men (and women!), traction engines, bee keeping, WI cream teas, ice cream vans, swing boats, donkey rides and a community coming together. They are about warm summer days, Pimms, the backdrop of cricket and tennis, verdant English countryside and celebrating being quintessentially British!

Tetbury Flower Show is worth a visit and this year happens on 9th August, I hope the ferrets will be there!

Ravishing Redcurrants, Rocking Dog

Ravishing Redcurrants

Pimped Vegetable, Rocking Dog

Pimped Vegetable

Cake Table, Rocking Dog

Cake Table

Tetbury Roses 2013, Rocking Dog

Tetbury Roses 2013

Mother Of All, Rocking Dog

Mother Of All

Tarnished Prize, Rocking Dog

Tarnished Prize

Rocking Dog’s Best Ebay Buys

Wedding Stuff, Rocking Dog

Wedding Stuff

Rocking Dog’s best Ebay buys are catalogued here. It doesn’t include the cars we’ve bought (and indeed sold) on this global auction site. Of course along the way there have been bad buys ( I wince at some rather dodgy watches that Andyman purchased in Ebay’s early days) and items we were outbid on (an Airstream caravan sorely comes to mind!) However over the years we have bought some great things and Andyman always enjoys the thrill of the chase!

A few years ago we bought some lovely items for Sorrel and Pete’s wedding. The list included a long string of fairground style lights, seed labels (for place names), Alexander McQueen green satin shoes (£50) and 1950’s American tropical fruit shoe clips. We also bought a large batch of Babycham glasses, though that didn’t turn out to be the bargain it should have been. Unbeknown to each other Andy and I were bidding against each other! Doh!

One summer with no holiday booked we found a last minute weeks B&B staying on a rustic fishing boat in Barcelona’s marina. It was great to eat breakfast out on the sunny deck and be so close to Las Ramblas. It was a really memorable holiday.

Purchases for our house have included a bargainous bed and base, already painted in a subtle Farrow and Ball paint. It arrived so well wrapped that it took a morning to undo the cardboard, tape, bubble wrap and string. We also bought our lovely French wood-burning stove on Ebay at a third of it’s original cost, despite only having been used a couple of times. I also spotted some unused fabric produced by Laura Ashley from 1986. It had found it’s way to Arizona and I brought it home! I remember it came packaged in local newspapers, I therefore enjoyed reading the obituaries, gossip columns and news reports of a small Arizona town.

More sentimental items have included a Chalmers Gelatine packet, complete with its sachets dating from about 1940. This Gelatine factory was set up by some ancestors close to Niagara Falls.I wanted to own a piece of nostalgic memorabilia and so again this item “crossed the pond”. One day whilst having a little Ebay trawl I experimentally typed in the Yorkshire village where many of my maternal ancestors lived and worked. Somewhat magically there was a brown envelope containing the typed account of a woman who described living in the village in the early 1900’s. I was really hoping there may have been a mention of my farming relatives, but alas not. Nevertheless it gives a brilliant snapshot of rural life in Darrington. On a separate occasion I found some transcribed parish records which detailed births, marriages and deaths of relatives living in Knottingley.

Other purchases have included vintage Christmas baubles, clothing, shoes, a painting and my beloved Bernina sewing machine.

How I love a good bargain. Happy Hunting!

Alexander McQueen, Rocking Dog

Alexander McQueen

Bargain Bed, Rocking Dog

Bargain Bed

Beloved Bernina!, Rocking Dog

Beloved Bernina!

Boat B&B, Rocking Dog

Boat B&B

Fabric Of Life, Rocking Dog

Fabric Of Life

Christmas Stash, Rocking Dog

Christmas Stash

Winter Warmer, Rocking Dog

Winter Warmer

Ancestry Trove, Rocking Dog

Ancestry Trove

Jellied History, Rocking Dog

Jellied History

The Paper Girls Make Billionaire’s Shortbread

Let Them Eat Cake! Rocking Dog

Let Them Eat Cake!

The Paper Cut Out Girls have been baking Billionaire’s Shortbread. Every now and again Andyman likes to take a little something into the office to acknowledge colleagues who go the extra mile, everyone loves to feel appreciated. So today they’ll be treated to gilded chocolate caramel slice. Those on calorie controlled diets or have diabetes will unfortunately need to give this plate a wide berth.

The recipe comes from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics (book 2). It is the easiest and most delicious recipe I have found. Unlike many shortbread recipes which require you to laboriously rub in the butter, for this recipe you simply pour in melted butter to the dry ingredients. The shortbread includes coconut which gives a lovely texture to the base. Meanwhile the caramel is made partly on the hob before being poured onto the shortbread and put into the oven to bake until golden brown. How I loved The Stranglers in my youth!

Dark chocolate completes the decadent tray bake and I love to add a little gold leaf for extra glamour and crowd pleasing!

The Paper Cut Out Girls love baking- but aren’t so keen on the washing up- they’re so afraid of turning to papier mache!

The Naughty Recipe, Rocking Dog

The Naughty Recipe

The Ingredients, Rocking Dog

The Ingredients

Golden Brown, Rocking Dog

Golden Brown

A Bed Without A Quilt………

Selection Made, Rocking Dog

Selection Made

“A bed without a quilt is like a sky without stars”. The bedroom I am looking to decorate with the fabulous Curators Gallery wallpaper will hence have a lovingly made quilt. I am not the worlds greatest sleeper, so this project will keep me sewing joyfully into the wee hours over a few nights.

The fabrics are all ones from my own notorious material mountain. I have chosen to use a plethora of William Morris and vintage Sanderson prints, all of which came from charity shops, flea markets or are nostalgic family remnants. I am including a Liberty print that was an off cut from curtains made by mum for the family kitchen. There are also squares of Designers Guild Geranium fabric which came from curtains that hung in one or two of our lounges along the way. The colour tones are subtle and the patterns influenced by nature, perfect for room scheme I have planned.

In the past I have been helped with simple patch-working using a You Tube tutorial from Professor Pincushion. It is a great resource for anyone making their first quilt and the instructions are clear and easy to follow.

So far I have selected my fabrics and cut the selected fabrics into 22cm squares using a rotary cutter (dressmaking shears are fine). I have then gone onto lay out the squares onto a clear flat surface to achieve a good pattern mix. The rows of squares have been carefully gathered up and each row bulldog clipped with a row number.

Tomorrow the sewing will begin sewing the squares into strips and ultimately sewing the strips together. Cotton batting will be added together with a backing fabric, decorative buttons and edging bobbles. Voila!

I make it sound so easy!

To see some wonderful patchwork quilts take a trip to The American Museum in Bath.

Past Patchwork, Rocking Dog

Past Patchwork

Fabric Stash, Rocking Dog

Fabric Stash

22cm Square, Rocking Dog

22cm Square

Neatly Piled, Rocking Dog

Neatly Piled

Pattern Mix Up, Rocking Dog

Pattern Mix Up

Ready To Sew, Rocking Dog

Ready To Sew

Something From Nothing- Spec’s Case

The Process Begins, Rocking Dog

The Process Begins

A little weekend “something from nothing” make project from the Dog. I have got to the age where reading glasses are an essential, especially when reading numbers. Many the time I have mistaken 3’s for 8’s (there’s quite a difference between £30 and £80 or more frighteningly £300 and £800!). So often reading glasses are sold without a case, and they grub around in the bottom of my bag with uncapped Lippy’s, Post It Notes and all manner of girly bag detritus! Scratched and greasy lenses together with bent spec’ arms are often the unfortunate consequence.

Here is my cunning solution, spectacle cases made from fabric swatches. The lovely multi-colour velvet swatch and green spot swatch came in a goodie bag from the launch of Whittaker Wells. Well worth a visit if you are ever in Bristol and want to experience gorgeously delicious fabrics and friendly knowledgable service. Other swatches reside in the Rocking Dog house. Married to a Scot I inevitably always have a stash of tartans. There’s a large plaid sample from a fantastic shop called Anta which I always visit of i’m ever in Edinburgh. Other samples have come from kilt maker Kinloch Anderson. I am ashamed to say that on my last visit I walked into their plate glass door. After ensuring I was indeed living, I heard a shop member make the call to an emergency glazier!…Ooops!

This sewing project is pimpsy (ooh! haven’t used that word since I was at school!) In fact it would be a great introduction to machine sewing for a youngster, with fabrics that are free and something that can be run up in super quick time. When our youngest was at uni’ she hadn’t got much money to buy Christmas presents one year (all those Starbucks coffees me thinks!) so she made all her presents for next to nothing. I will share some of those ideas in the coming weeks.

I think the photographs for this project are fairly self explanatory, so I won’t complicate the process with over embellished instructions. The only thing I may need to clarify is Fig 7’s wooden spoon! If you have chosen a fairly heavy weight fabric you may find it difficult to turn the case out. I find a wooden spoon helpful in pushing the fabric through, and then using a chopstick (or similar) to “sharpen” up the corners.

Incidentally the backdrop for the “finished article” is a page from the book Pieces of Pattern- Lacroix by Lacroix. Truly yummy!

Poor Andyman and I are always scratching around for glasses and I remember an occasion last year when he resorted to wearing my scarlet diamante studded cats eye specs for an appointment. Seriously, would you put your trust in a man wearing such frippery to invest your life savings?!

Whatever you are doing and in whatever hot or cold (bliss!) part of the world you’re in, have a lovely weekend.

PS. If you enjoy my blog PLEASE spread the word and care and share! Thank you.

Fantastic Fold, Rocking Dog

Fantastic Fold

Hem No 1, Rocking Dog

Hem No 1

Press That Seam!, Rocking Dog

Press That Seam!

Hem No 2, Rocking Dog

Hem No 2

Well Turned Out!, Rocking Dog

Well Turned Out!

Stylish Protection!, Rocking Dog

Stylish Protection!