Monthly Archives: September 2015

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The Colours Of A West Country Autumn

Daring Charlotte's Locks, Rocking Dog

Daring Charlotte’s Locks

Ahhh! the Colours of a West Country Autumn. Over the weekend I have bravely, or some would say madly brushed some autumnal cheer to the Rocking Dog Kennel!

Oh! when I opened that F & B tin I rather did think “what are you doing you stupid woman!” I really didn’t have very much time to contemplate, as very soon I was having a lovely phone call with a friend. I managed to paint the entire staircase from floor to low dado rail, with phone balanced on my shoulder. We talked life patchwork, sewn patchwork, children, vintage stuff, dogs, holiday, garden etc… Thank you Stephanie for your valuable life coaching- how much do I owe you?!

Being preoccupied with phone chat I had no time to dither, stand back, or sigh heavily about the hallucinogenic paint decision. I think it will possibly be one of those jolly colours which will have a brief moment of autumn/ winter glory, before being forsaken for something a little more conservative. I sincerely hope it is more 70’s vibe than being reminiscent of that nasty 90’s phase of terracotta. I was quite amused that Andyman on his return from a weekend in Dartmouth took a little time to notice the change from white to orange!

It was such a glorious weekend, cold dewy blue skied mornings and still star studded and full mooned nights. In between, welcome warmth, sun, trees laden with fruits to be harvested and the changing colours of hedgerows, fields and woodland. It really is something worth cherishing.

As we head from September into October I wish you a very happy autumnal week.

70's Party Vibe!, Rocking Dog

70’s Party Vibe!

Pumpkin Plot, Rocking Dog

Pumpkin Plot

The Apples Are Ripe, Rocking Dog

The Apples Are Ripe

Autumnal Blue, Rocking Dog

Autumnal Blue

Bountiful Crab Apple, Rocking Dog

Bountiful Crab Apple

Pick Of The Crop, Rocking Dog

Pick Of The Crop

Prototype – Masculine Aromatic Spice Sachets

Masculine Prototype, Rocking Dog

Masculine Prototype

I put cleaning on the back burner (that often happens, i’m ashamed to say!) and decided to make a crafty prototype. Having previously made pretty vintage lavender stuffed hearts I wanted to make a masculine alternative. Men get moths too!

I decided to make a little stack of mini pillows made from masculine fabrics. I chose a ticking, dog tooth check and toile de jouy. The toile curtains were a lucky charity shop find many years ago. I deconstructed the lining fabric and heading tape, leaving lots of lovely monochromatic fabric to use for a host of interesting projects. Pin stripe suiting, tartan and tweeds would work equally well.

If you want to make these simple aromatic spice sachets, here’s how I made them.

1. Choose some fabrics which complement each other. I selected three in tones of black and white.
2. Make a template. I find when cutting small swatches of fabric a template is great to draw round quickly. My mini pillow template measured 20cm length x 10cm width. I also made a template exactly half these measurements to make the strung square sachets. Cut out your fabric pieces. I created 2 mini pillows and 2 strung sachets for my finished package.
3. For each sachet put two of your fabric pieces right side to right side. Pin if wished.
4. Start sewing by lining up the fabric to give you a 3/8ths seam allowance ( your sewing machine stitch plate should be marked to help with this). Begin stitching approximately 2cm in from the bottom of one of the short sides.
5. Continue sewing right the way around the little pillow until you get to the original short side. Do a small amount of stitching, before stopping to leave a gap to fill your pillow.
6. Cut each corner diagonally close to the stitch line. This will help give you some sharp corners when the fabric is turned out.
7. Turn the pillow right ways out, using a pencil end or chopstick to poke out the corners.
8. Press with a hot iron (remember woollen fabrics will require a cooler iron).
9. For the strung sachets, machine stitch a loop of ribbon to the corner of your small sachets.At this stage you can stitch a pretty (oops! manly) button at the point where you have stitched your ribbon.
10. Stuffing begins! I used a mixture of English Lavender, Allspice Berries, Cloves, Juniper Berries, Cinnamon Sticks, Star Anise and a few drops of Lavender Oil. Create your own concoction. I fill my sachets using a dessert spoon to pour in all the goodies, but you could use a funnel for the smaller elements. This fiddly stage can take a little while so enjoy a sing.
11. Very neatly hand stitch the open seam. Cut any loose threads and give your sachets a gentle squish.
12. Stack your sachets neatly, and package. I used a band of fine corrugated card, twine, Ikea blackboard label and a cinnamon stick.
13. Voila! a wonderfully aromatic stack of manly spice sachets to keep any sock drawer smelling sweet.

I might just do a little batch of these, the smell is simply intoxicating!

Enjoy your weekend whatever it brings. I’m going to get busy with a tin of Farrow & Ball – so i’ll be sporting a whole new hair colour next week!

Feminine Sewing, Rocking Dog

Feminine Sewing

Material Mountain, Rocking Dog

Material Mountain

Choices Made, Rocking Dog

Choices Made

Simple Sewing, Rocking Dog

Simple Sewing

Scented Stuffing, Rocking Dog

Scented Stuffing

Fairy Pillows, Rocking Dog

Fairy Pillows

Taking A Moment In The Twilight Garden

Garden Mannequin, Rocking Dog

Garden Mannequin

Life has been a bit stressful over the last few days, so taking a moment in the garden at twilight was calming, heart slowing and magical.

On Saturday evening our boy managed to get his finger stuck to some barbed wire, just as Andyman and I were heading to Bath. A phone call from Alex’s girlfriend Kylie, bought us swiftly home. By the time we arrived back, we had a paramedic’s car in the driveway, and close by, on a public walkway Alex was indeed harpooned to a fence post! Andyman was summoned to try and find a neighbour with wire cutters, meanwhile Alex was “enjoying” some nitrous oxide. In amongst all the mayhem Real Live Rocking Dog felt short changed in that he hadn’t had his walk. Thus, the lovely paramedic was kicking the ball for convalescent dog in-between treatment of shocked boy. It all seemed like some far fetched “Casualty” script! Alex went off to the new super hospital at Southmead with barb still embedded and so the long night began.

It is very funny to be handing over the responsibility of our son to his future wife, and she coped brilliantly despite not liking blood, gore and sleep deprivation ! Finally, with barb removed everyone got three or four hours sleep. A minor op’, lots of waiting and a tiny sticking plaster Alex arrived home on Sunday evening. It literally was 24 hours in A&E! We joked as to whether the couple had put a First Aid Kit on their wedding list. Believe me Kylie with Alex you’ll need it!

Yesterday, because of the swollen stitched finger I drove Alex to a prearranged meeting in Alton, Hampshire where Channel 4 were conducting an interview with World champion para athlete Georgie Hermitage. What an inspirational woman with the most adorable toddler. It was lovely to spend time with my son, but he really didn’t “get” my enthusiasm for Stonehenge as we passed it by.

After lots of stressy stuff it was great to venture out yesterday evening to enjoy the peace of an autumnal woodland garden. The whites of open conker shells and foxgloves almost luminously glowed in the twilight. The garden took on an air of mystery, magic and romance. The very best bit was that the weeds went unnoticed.

Imposing Inula, Rocking Dog

Imposing Inula

Chelsea Digitalis, Rocking Dog

Chelsea Digitalis

Artichoke Ancestor, Rocking Dog

Artichoke Ancestor

Garden Guardian, Rocking Dog

Garden Guardian

Thriving on the Wood Pile, Rocking Dog

Thriving on the Wood Pile

Conker Harvest, Rocking Dog

Conker Harvest

Rocking Dog Advent Calendars All Sewn Up!

Counting The Days, Rocking Dog

Counting The Days

The Rocking Dog Advent Calendars all sewn up! Very labour intensive, I am pleased to have completed the first of my jolly 2015 festive makes.

I set up a production line of fabric pieces on the kitchen table and to get me into the festive mood I worked by fairy light! I love my kitchen “chandelier”. The large twirly metal lamp fitting came from a car boot sale years ago (£5). For years it moved from shed to garage to shed etc… with the looming threat of Andyman “skipping” it. Finally a few years ago I did a 5 am makeover, spraying it with gold paint and adding a collection of antique sugar tongs, dessert forks, and crystal chandelier drops. Fishing line is brilliant for a project like this as it is strong and transparent. Fairy lights were then twisted around the frame. At various intervals of the year the chandelier has seasonal additions, baubles, glass gnomes and lametta at Christmas and kitsch bunnies and painted eggs at Easter etc… Last weekend my girls bought me a string of battery operated light bulbs from the Christmas department in Harrod’s. These are currently providing extra light and character on my chandelier

Back to the production line, I didn’t quite put Michael Buble or Wham on but I did work like a busy elf… measuring, stamping, snipping, positioning and pinning. I really enjoy working with gingham and striped fabrics because apart from feeling quite Scandi’ they are useful for keeping me to a straight line! Laura Ashley, Ikea, John Lewis and Ian Mankin all have great stocks of squares and stripes.

Finally I made it to the fiddly sewing on Beloved Bernina. I have got a funny feeling she’s pining for a bit of a service. I will need to book her in for a Bernina spa treatment. Well deserved with all the quilting, hemming, zig zagging etc.. she endures with me at the helm.

Finally the Calendars were sewn, poles were added and strung with rustic twine. The final touch was a sweet felt mouse to move from pocket to pocket for when the advent countdown begins. VOILA!

Real Live Rocking Dog still quietly convalescing, a tip run or two to do, a collection of vintage lights being fitted and a lovely girly afternoon tea are all on the weekend calendar. Whatever is on your calendar this weekend have a really lovely time.

Working By Fairy Light!, Rocking Dog

Working By Fairy Light!

Production Line, Rocking Dog

Production Line

Pinned To Sew, Rocking Dog

Pinned To Sew

Pocket Mouse, Rocking Dog

Pocket Mouse

Pocket Detail, Rocking Dog

Pocket Detail

Love Of Gingham, Rocking Dog

Love Of Gingham

Real Live Rocking Dog Recovering Well

Our Mr Dog, Rocking Dog

Our Mr Dog

The house is quiet, horribly quiet. Real Live Rocking Dog has been away having an operation on his large intestine. Hopefully I will go and collect him from the vet’ hospital today, and the house will feel whole again. It makes me realise just how much I talk to the four legged member of our household!

Hamish is eight years old and was a welcome addition to our changing household 8 Octobers ago. The nest was feeling empty with two Ferguson’s having gone off to Uni, and one very lonely little Ferguson left. Hamish filled a void. Now there are are just two adult humans and one needy canine remaining.

Dog ownership has brought so much to our lives, especially our love and appreciation of walking. We adore observing the changing seasons, love foraging and meeting other walkers and dog owners. When it is pouring with rain we sometimes dread the dog walk, but we always feel better for having ventured out.

Having Hamish has meant we have got to see more of England, Wales and France (Scotland yet to be explored). I am absolutely convinced that he can smell the sea while we are still a considerable distance from the coast. Many of his favourite words start with the letter B. Beach, Ball, Bed and Barking come to mind.

Owning a pet is something not to be taken lightly. Insurance, vet bills, food, grooming, flea and worm treatments, kennel & doggy daycare, wear and tear on furniture etc…all need to be considered. Time required for walking etc.. also need to be evaluated. HOWEVER… the benefits of having a dog I feel are immeasurable and inexplainable.

Come home soon Real Live Rocking Dog, you are so missed.

Bed...., Rocking Dog


Bed....., Rocking Dog


And More Bed!, Rocking Dog

And More Bed!

Brook, Rocking Dog


Ball, Rocking Dog


And Place To Bark!, Rocking Dog

And Place To Bark!

Apple Harvest- Let’s Make Cake!

Apples At The Pig, Rocking Dog

Apples At The Pig

Apples are for a picking!

I love the simply made apple cake recipe that follows. It comes from a 1998 copy of Homes & Gardens and is a firm family favourite. It can be scaled up and made into a large tray bake to feed a hungry crowd.


250g Self Raising Flour
50g Ground almonds
100g Caster Sugar
200g Butter
450g Dessert Apples (peeled & cored, half roughly chopped, half sliced)
2 Free Range Eggs
1-2 Tablespoons Milk, Cider or Calvados
40g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
50g Slivered Almonds

1. Preheat Oven (180C/170C Fan. Gas Mark 4). Line a Deep 9in/23cm round tin or 8in/ 20cm square tin.
2. Sift flour and stir in almonds and caster sugar. Add 175g of the butter and rub into the dry ingredients. Stir in the roughly chopped apples and the beaten eggs. Do not overmix.
3. Add 1-2 Tbsp milk, cider or Calvados to make a spoonable mixture. Spoon into the prepared tin. Arrange or pile the sliced apples on top and sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar.
4.Bake for 40-45 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter, Muscovado sugar and cinnamon in a small pan until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the slivered almonds.
6. Take the cake from the oven and pour over the butter/almond mix. Return the cake to the oven for another 10-15 minutes ubtil a skewer pushed into the cakes centre comes out clean.
7. Leave the cake to cool for at least 30 minutes before turning it out. Delicious served with Clotted Cream!

The walks with Real Life Rocking Dog are changing. The swallows that have been here all summer seem to have flown to warmer climes, mushrooms are burgeoning in the field and plump sloes are asking to be picked. Big white rabbit and a wild cousin have been busy, and there are a brood of growing youngsters populating the field. It feels like Telletubby Land! I marvel at the fact that despite the lack of camouflage and that there is a huge buzzard nesting in a tree close by, they are surviving… no positively thriving!

The Best Apple Store!, Rocking Dog

The Best Apple Store!

Ethicurean Apples, Rocking Dog

Ethicurean Apples

Harvest, Rocking Dog


The Rocking Dog Elves Are Back! Yikes!

Iconic Christmas Rhyme, Rocking Dog

Iconic Christmas Rhyme

Yes, the Rocking Dog elves are back, and have started on the task of crafting jolly advent calendars.

2015 sees the creation of some advent calendars utilising Clement Clarke Moore’s iconic “‘T was the night before Christmas” rhyme. It is said that New York resident Moore wrote it for his own family on Christmas Eve 1822.

Stripes, gingham, stamped numbers and rhyme, together with cute little mice will all come together to create calendars with room to stash little treats.

I’m sure there’ll be other advent creations along the way… but the elves have made a good start.

These calendars are for life and not just one Christmas!

Wishing you a lovely weekend when it comes about.

Rocking Dog is delighted to be returning to the Vintage & Handmade Christmas Fair at Chipping Sodbury Town Hall on 5th December. There will also be some festive Rocking Dog sales at the Hambrook kennel. Dates will appear soon.

The Cunning Plan!, Rocking Dog

The Cunning Plan!

Inky Letters, Rocking Dog

Inky Letters

Words & Numbers, Rocking Dog

Words & Numbers

Fun In Paper Bags!, Rocking Dog

Fun In Paper Bags!

Candy Cane Detail, Rocking Dog

Candy Cane Detail

Advent Elf, Rocking Dog

Advent Elf

Wrapping up In September!

Take The Host Supplies!, Rocking Dog

Take The Host Supplies!

Gifts to wrap in September and as per usual no shop bought wrapping paper to be had in the Rocking Dog kennel!

Andyman was staying overnight with a couple somewhere Up North and he needed a house gift. We decided on a jar of my Bloomsbury marmalade and some breakfast components. In M & S I gathered together breakfast tea, posh muesli, waffles, farmhouse butter and pancakes. At home I needed to decide how to best package the edibles. I wasn’t going to be there to berate Andyman when he crushed the package on the trains overhead baggage shelf- so something robust was needed!

I made a simple hessian bag with masculine ribbon handles (thank you Colin, Eastville Market). I roughly lined the bag with black tissue and assembled the foodie goodies. Lastly I added a label which was threaded with a strip of jolly red & white gingham. Obviously you could change the contents by adding in homemade muffins etc.. For an afternoon tea gift you could put together boxed tea, freshly baked scones, jam, clotted cream and cakes. The bag could be made out of pretty Chintz or Toile de Jouy tied with ribbon. The possibilities are endless!

After sorting out the parcel for travelling up North, I got all papery with the other gifts. Fairy cake cases (so prefer the word fairy cake to cupcake!) are the basis for great rosette style labels. John Lewis, TK Maxx, supermarkets and Ikea all stock good and pretty selections. Vary sizes from muffin cases through to pretty little petit four cases and Pritt your selection together. Add Ribbon streamers and stamp out card circles using a circular paper cutter or cut by hand (tricky to get a good edge). Write your greeting by hand, printing or stamping and stick your label in the centre of your fairy cake rosette. Simple, cheap and effective.

I was watching the news yesterday morning and I was listening to the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker setting out plans to try and resolve the desperate migrant crisis. I discussed with Andyman just how amazing it must be to be so intelligent, and after a quick moment of contemplation I said ” but I bet he couldn’t put together a fairy cake case rosette!

Another parcel got the doilieyana treatment (don’t get muddled with Dollyana!) I wrapped a parcel in plain tissue paper and small coloured doilies (these were reduced ones found in John Lewis). I added some Indian braid (try Colin, another market trader, or fly to Mumbai) and a stamped luggage label. Other gifts were wrapped up in the latest copy of M & S “Adventures In FOOD” together with some rustic parcel twine.

September wrapped up!

Foodie Booty!, Rocking Dog

Foodie Booty!

Bag Ingredients, Rocking Dog

Bag Ingredients

Filled & Ready, Rocking Dog

Filled & Ready

Doileyana!, Rocking Dog


Fairy Cake Label, Rocking Dog

Fairy Cake Label

Best In Show, Rocking Dog

Best In Show

Cheap Jewels Old & New!

Vintage Baubles!, Rocking Dog

Vintage Baubles!

I was on a mission to buy gifts but found myself drawn to venturing into “Top Shop” for a reccy . I know that the young ones think it’s a haunt solely for them, and true I would not look good in play-suits, hot pants, or a pleather mini ….but I love Top Shop! I have bought a great dog tooth linen coat and a fab’ textured jacket there (sshh! don’t tell my niece, she’s got the same one and it’s not exactly cool that her middle aged aunt has one too!). I never pay full price, patiently waiting for coveted items to hopefully appear on clearance rails.

This time I found jewels. You know my motto, more is more, so I layered a number of necklaces together until enough was enough! All were reduced and came to a grand total of £10. Result! They will look great on my perennial winter black “uniform” or indeed against the summer white linen (which will soon be destined for winter storage). Well chosen accessories, be it jewellery or scarf can really make the difference to an outfit, adding colour, personality and pazazz.

Other cheap jewels in my hoard are older. I am a real coward and I cannot bear the prospect of having my ears re-pierced, so, I have a collection of clip-on earrings. My girls find it quite incredulous that I will not rise to the challenge of the piercing gun when i’ve endured operations, donated my bone marrow (twice) and gone white water rafting! I love my clumpy clip-ons and particularly love my beaded knitted ? 60’s ones that I bought in Leeds. It was the same day that I was in a vintage shop with Ricky Wilson… swoon!

In the course of my recent redecorating escapade I re-found a dress which had been my Mum’s. I’m sure this psychedelic number would have been adorned with strings of 60’s plastic beads and clumpy earrings. I vividly remember my mum making this dress, originally it was ankle length with side slits and she wore it with plaited gold sling back sandals. The amazing fabric I rather think came from a shop in City Road, Bristol. We nicknamed the retail establishment the cat pee shop, it indeed did have a very overpowering characteristic odour! This was a dress for going to a 60’s party in. Think Cheese Footballs, Twiglets and Cinzano!

Holidays as a child were quite often taken in static caravans and my Mum would sometimes take her Singer sewing machine with her. She’d run up clothes, curtains and bridesmaid dresses. She must have cursed the fact that my sister and I were bridesmaids three times. Each wedding required an intricate lined dress in varying 60’s/70’s styles and hues.

Back to jewels, I am a girl of simple tastes and pleasures!

Top Shop Treasure, Rocking Dog

Top Shop Treasure

Mish-Mash Bling!, Rocking Dog

Mish-Mash Bling!

Top Shop Pearls, Rocking Dog

Top Shop Pearls

Beaded Tat!, Rocking Dog

Beaded Tat!

Now..What Jewels .., Rocking Dog

Now..What Jewels ..

French Camping 1970's, Rocking Dog

French Camping 1970’s

A Rocking Dog Hedgerow Wreath

Rustic Wreath, Rocking Dog

Rustic Wreath

Summer is slowly turning to autumn with a plethora of ripening berries in the English hedgerows. Every year I like to deck the door with a simple autumnal wreath. It starts with a bog standard wire coat hanger and thin wire to secure the foraged booty. Ribbon, raffia, string or fabric strip can be added for a final flourish.

If you like your wreath to stay fresh looking, use a well soaked moss covered oasis wreath circle. I don’t mind mine drying and curling at the edges. I am ever hopeful birds and other wildlife will enjoy the spoils of my wreath. A frost covered cobweb would be magical running through the wreaths centre!

I collected bullace branches, laurel berries, haws, rose-hips, elder berries, blackberries along my usual down the rabbit hole walk with Real Live Rocking Dog. Nearly home, I picked teasels and cow parsley seed heads in the sun dappled field. Reddening Virginia creeper, Old Man’s Beard and copper beech would work well too. Avoid using holly, pine-cones and Ivy otherwise your wreath will look a little Christmassy! Sorry I just couldn’t help myself with that last link!

To make the wreath, I bent the coat hanger into a rough circle, leaving the hook in place (useful for hanging your finished wreath). I then took the branches laden with bullaces and engineered them around the wire circle. I secured them into place with small pieces of thin wire. Always use wire snips, I have damaged more pairs of scissors than I care to remember. I would have been quite happy to hang my wreath at this point- it looked simply lovely.

I added more of my foraged flora, again wiring it as I went. Uniformity has never really entered my world so I wasn’t concerned that one side had rose-hips and the other didn’t etc.. The kids always laugh when I tell them that I want “She liked nothing in straight lines” as my epitaph! Obviously if you want to take a more symmetrical approach that is absolutely fine.

I debated as to whether to use the teasels. Dried flowers and seed heads conjure up horrible memories of seedy Bed & Breakfasts and half baked tea rooms for me! How often have you had to endure dusty wicker baskets full of well past their sell by date dried niff naff ?! The memories are interjected with Bri Nylon sheets in vulgar 70’s colours, firework pattern carpets and Variety cereal packs. There are also memories of seaside craft shops with teasels made into creatures with mop caps and floral aprons! After deliberation the teasels did end up making the harsh selection process.

I finished my wreath with a vintage brown ribbon.. nah! a green gingham ribbon… nah!… and finally I settled for a tiny strip of frayed hessian.
A little bit of primping followed and Voila!

A seasonal wreath made for literally nothing.. and something to make your door and more importantly, your visitors feel loved and cherished!

Down The Rabbit Hole, Rocking Dog

Down The Rabbit Hole

Bird Food, Rocking Dog

Bird Food

Forage, Rocking Dog


Wreath Hardware, Rocking Dog

Wreath Hardware

Bullace Beauty, Rocking Dog

Bullace Beauty

Work In Progress, Rocking Dog

Work In Progress