Monthly Archives: June 2016

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A Yummy Salad For The Weekend

Summer Yumminess! , Rocking Dog

Summer Yumminess!

Sometimes it’s very easy to get into a rut with cooking and eating. Same old, same old! Last weekend I spotted a yummy salad recipe in Saturday’s Food section of the Guardian. It fulfilled the criteria of being quick to prepare, healthy, and importantly did not have a Domesday sized list of ingredients.

Thankfully I remembered Suzanne Anderegg’s recipe for Butternut squash, feta and raspberry salad before the papers reached the recycling bin.

The gist of the recipe is roasted butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, salad leaves, broad beans, feta and raspberries. A zesty lemon and mint dressing completes this main course salad. My mother in law at times is somewhat perplexed that I am not putting meat and two veg’ in front of her son. Very probably she gets more disgusted that he often chooses to cook. Stereotypes indeed still sadly exist!

Back to this very yummy salad. As ever I put my own slant on the dish (I hate the word twist!) Therefore, I replaced broad beans with inexpensive locally grown asparagus. I am conscious of food miles and do try to buy local seasonal food where possible. It’s often cheaper and tastes infinitely better.

This salad was easy to prepare and very delicious. I think it helped that we were still able to sit in our dusky garden to eat it at 9pm. Bliss.

This would be a great salad to serve up with barbecued meats. Here I feel another stereotype coming on…. men standing around BBQ with beers in hand, women indoors getting to grips with salads, bread, pudding, plates, napkins, kids and burn plasters etc…etc…! Ring any bells?! I have to say Andyman really despises BBQ’s, he so wants to dispel the myth that it’s the only cooking that the male species is capable of!

Salad eaten, I was careful to quickly cut out the now tried and tested recipe and to file it in my trusty recipe folder. Good job!

Whatever the weekend brings I hope it’s a good one for you all, and that the sun carries on shining. Love Rocking Dog x

'Tis The Season To Be Jolly!, Rocking Dog

‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly!

The Recipe, Rocking Dog

The Recipe

Finished Result, Rocking Dog

Finished Result

Where Do I Begin? Rocking Dog Ventures Into The Jungle

Get In The Weed Squad!, Rocking Dog

Get In The Weed Squad!

Where Do I Begin? I finally ventured into my jungle of a garden yesterday. The sun together with rain spells has meant that my wild garden is even wilder than usual! Though the prospect of tackling the garden was daunting, it very soon became apparent that at least the weeds were deliciously big!

Weeding and pruning kept me busy in the heat, and I was able to release the fig tree and roses from Triffid sized weeds. Gardening is like sewing, you at least see results quickly. The play house can now be seen, its rambling Kiwi hair style severely trimmed! More borders and banks await their turn in being cultivated. It will take a while, and I hope gardening time won’t be punctuated by rain or unbearable heat.

While the brook is low I need to wade out and bale out the acrylic bath which has floated down stream. Sadly my boots are leaky, so it may be a somewhat uncomfortable task.

Perhaps when more progress has been made I can treat myself to some seed scattering and a trip to Riverside Garden Centre. I love this garden centre….because it sells….plants! There are no ghastly bloated concessions selling lap top trays, floral teapots, magnifying glasses, fudge and other nick nackery! These shops are definitely something that i’d put into Room 101.

So I have begun. I will try to keep going, I really will. Then there’s the awful prospect of the back garden…..aggggghhhhhh! Oh for a courtyard with potted plants and dribbling water feature!

Perhaps I need to organise a vintage afternoon tea event to give me something to work towards. Does tea in a vintage cup, together with home baked cakes and scones whilst sat in a blousy verdant garden with friends appeal? Let me know.

Love from a very back achey Rocking Dog x

Spot The Play House!, Rocking Dog

Spot The Play House!

Pretty Lawn, Rocking Dog

Pretty Lawn

Shady Dell, Rocking Dog

Shady Dell

Weedy Bank, Rocking Dog

Weedy Bank

Spot The Angel, Rocking Dog

Spot The Angel

& THAT Bath!, Rocking Dog

& THAT Bath!

Rocking Dog Prints A Tropical Fruit Table Runner

Childs Play Table Runner, Rocking Dog

Childs Play Table Runner

I spied some fruit in the fruit bowl and was inspired to transport myself back to childhood (link especially for Sorrel!). Using acrylic paint, some lining paper and the fruit I created a tropical fruit table runner.

This would be a great project to do with children. Undoubtedly, it is something best kept for a warm day when the paint and excited little folk can paint outside. I always felt painting with toddlers was something I should do….. but paint, brushes and painty water it all felt rather tortuous! Annoyingly children in my experience have the concentration spans of juvenile ants. It would take about 40 minutes to set them up with painting paraphernalia and to shrink wrap the house, for them to be playing with Barbie or Polly Pocket within 5 minutes AAAAAgggghhhh!

Back to the runner! I started by cutting fruits (I used lemons, pomegranate, and a pineapple top) and left the fruit to dry out for a few hours. Meanwhile I cut a length of lining paper. With the fruit now drier it was time to organise paints. I used acrylic paints for my runner, but you could use poster paints. Of course if you want to use material instead of paper you could use fabric paints (Hobbycraft) for your runner. Simply allow the paint to dry and then press with a moderately hot iron to make your design colour fast.

Acrylics dry out very quickly, so squeeze your tubes just before you need them. I used individual plates for each of my chosen colours and then dipped or brushed the fruit with paint. Press the fruit firmly onto your paper and keep going until you are happy with the effect. Leave the runner to dry. I then added a ribbon and tissue paper fringe edging. Voila! a pretty party runner for pennies not pounds!

I love fruity fabrics, and certainly enjoyed Stella McCartney’s citrus print garments which walked down the catwalk in 2011. More recently I have adored Christian Lacroix’s exotic fruits printed on velvet. Yummy! On a slightly more inexpensive scale Sorrel bought fab fruity earrings in Mango, sadly they seem to have disappeared from the Mango site.

Think tropical fruit platters, coconut & lime cake, prawns with tropical fruits, Bounty bars, Mojito’s, Pina Colada’s! I think this is a table runner for grown ups after all- sorry kids!

The Fruit, Rocking Dog

The Fruit

Painterly Fruit, Rocking Dog

Painterly Fruit

Painty Fun, Rocking Dog

Painty Fun

Fruit To Eat, Rocking Dog

Fruit To Eat

.......And Drink!, Rocking Dog

…….And Drink!

Good Enough To Eat!, Rocking Dog

Good Enough To Eat!

Another Peek In Rocking Dog’s Wardrobe

Hello Summer!, Rocking Dog

Hello Summer!

With post wedding exhaustion in full throttle, last week I settled on carrying out simple tasks that did not require a huge amount of brain boggling thought or physical capability. One job involved bringing summer into my wardrobe. I thought you’d perhaps like another peek in Rocking Dog’s wardrobe. February 2015 was the last time I opened the doors, and unfortunately not a tremendous amount has changed!

I still have a predominantly black winter “uniform”, with a switch to white for the summer. Somewhat scruffy dog walking garb however tends to dominate my everyday clothing decisions. Needless to say brightly coloured sale price “Hunter” wellies are the all year round very practical footwear choice!

Sadly, there have been no major buying splurges to report. Last weeks sort involved moving black wool, velvet and other wintry fabrics into hibernation. How I enjoy having a spare wardrobe or two now that Andyman and I are empty nesters! With all the cuddly warm wooliness huddled into its new home I could transfer the somewhat lighter brighter garments into my wardrobe. With our recent trip to Cuba the linens had enjoyed a very brief tropical encounter, but it was now time to make the brave decision that the English summer had indeed arrived!

The cream wool Toast tunic which i’d just bought in February ’15 I am sorry to say remains unworn. The winter has simply been too mild and i’m too warm blooded! Hopefully winter 2016 will bring snow and frosts. Indeed my plethora of market bought Italian wool coats haven’t been given much of an outing either! Inpenetrable suit carriers will swathe the wools and silk velvets from the destructive chomping jaws of a fleet of moths. I will add Rocking Dog crooked hearts for further protection and hopefully my clothes will escape unscathed when Autumn and the need for warm garments returns.

Summer wardrobe installed, I surveyed my colourful closet. Linen has an awful reputation for being high maintenance and to crease easily. However, I love the feel of cotton and freshly pressed linen against my skin. Textiles which include synthetic threads can make me hot and bad tempered, flushed and murderous! I can’t ever imagine a time when I won’t want to wear linen. If and when the time comes that i’m simply too gnarled and infirm to use an iron i’ll just have to employ a butler! Many of my linen pieces have been coming out for the past six or seven years or so. East, M & S, Zara, Laura Ashley and John Lewis are worth a look, especially when they have their summer sales.

Regarding buying clothes, I still don’t like paying full price for anything. I still use my hard and fast rule that if I see a bargain I will ask myself “If money allowed, would I pay full price for the item?”. If the answer is a decisive yes i’d hurtle to the cash desk, and if no, i’d leave the bargain hanging there. I’m still not an internet shopper, I like the experience of just seeing what’s out there, to feel fabrics and look at trends. A fashionista I am absolutely not, but I adore people watching and looking to see what shoppers are trying on and buying.

Now, a quick rundown of some of the images I have included in this post. We’ve dealt with the winter wools, the velvets and the unworn jumper.

The wedding coat.. my latest item in the wardrobe, and the infamous garment I made very tentatively from Christian Lacroix curtain fabric (Ebay remnant). This was the first dress making i’d done since the 1980’s and not a shoulder pad in sight! I really enjoyed the process and could there be another coat in the offing?! The Vintage Coat has a degree of man made fabric in it’s composition, and so it does tend to make me hot and ratty on occasions! However, I like the shape and colour and it’s become a really useful wardrobe staple. I bought this coat in a favourite charity shop a few years ago for a tenner. The last coat of the trio is one my sister made for me about 35 years ago. Made from heavy linen union I have always loved it. Being floral I confidently wore it to Chelsea Flower Show last year. Thanks sis”!

Ah yes.. the itchy jacket. I love this jacket, but it is itchy. I need to have neck and wrists “lined” to wear this one. I’m sure we all have an item or two in the wardrobe that we have to brace ourselves for, be it a nose tickling angora cardi’ or skirt that mysteriously rises up for some reason!

The latest Liberty buy. Whilst on my recent foray to Liberty I spotted these lovely wide legged lounge pants. Calf length and with pockets, they are far too nice to just lounge around in, I think they’ll be part of my cooling hot weather wardrobe! Uniqlo have collaborated with Liberty for this range and at £12.90 these pants are bargainous! I never discount leisure/sleep wear as something I can wear out.

Full Price Garb’. Very occasionally I do pay full price for something and this outfit was indeed one of those times. Made from Lithuanian silk this top and pantaloon trouser get up was bought in Edinburgh for a wedding & other social event five years ago. Made by Grizas I have loved wearing this. One of the best features is that it requires absolutely no ironing!

Parisian Flea. I bought this skirt a few years ago in the Montmartre district of Paris, in a secondhand clothes shop. I paid about 10 euro for it and I still love it. The draped tulip shape reminds me of the designs of Paul Poiret and harks back to enjoyable nights watching The House of Elliot! A simple black light weight jumper and quirky shoes, I can still see me wearing it in ten years time.

Poppy Love. I haven’t worn this skirt a great deal, a full length organza skirt isn’t something you can wear everyday. I bought it in Jigsaw for a commemorative event around the same time as Remembrance Sunday. I adore it, despite it being quite brown. Brown is a colour I do not enjoy wearing. Maybe it relates to the fact that I had to wear brown when I had a Saturday job at Debenham’s, and further back my mum quite often put me in brown because I had brown eyes. My sister meanwhile was dressed in the more cheery blue garments because she had blue eyes!

Back In The Box. My lovely wedding shoes. Unconventional I know, but as youngest daughter said “Mum you aren’t really Kate Middleton nude shoe material are you!”

So there it is a little whizz through the Rocking Dog wardrobe. What treasures lurk in your wardrobe and do you have any good shopping tips? Please tell all!

Hope the week is a happy one for you all. Love Rocking Dog x

Goodbye Winter!, Rocking Dog

Goodbye Winter!

Still Unworn, Rocking Dog

Still Unworn

Velvets No More!, Rocking Dog

Velvets No More!

Wedding Coat, Rocking Dog

Wedding Coat

Vintage Coat, Rocking Dog

Vintage Coat

1980's Floral Coat, Rocking Dog

1980’s Floral Coat

Itchy Jacket, Rocking Dog

Itchy Jacket

Latest Liberty Buy, Rocking Dog

Latest Liberty Buy

Full Price Garb', Rocking Dog

Full Price Garb’

Parisian Flea, Rocking Dog

Parisian Flea

Poppy Love, Rocking Dog

Poppy Love

Back In The Box, Rocking Dog

Back In The Box

Boo Hoo! The Tractor Is Out.

Hot Real Live Rocking Dog!, Rocking Dog

Hot Real Live Rocking Dog!

Boo Hoo! The tractor is out in the meadow behind the kennel. Very soon the honeyed pink clover, wild sorrel, buttercups, campion, dandelion clocks will be no more…..well for at least a little while. The thigh high swathes of grasses will be noisily cut, left to dry, and then gathered. Cow fodder for leaner days ahead, short dark days with frost, snow, driving rain and cheek nipping chills.

With the grassy haircut the ha ha, mole hills and mystical archeological mounds will again be apparent. Real Live Rocking Dog will be able to play football again, and my walking pace can step up without the impediment of burgeoning flora. The swallows will be able to swoop even lower in their nightly acrobatic courtship dances.

I will miss the flowers, the butterflies and the bees. I will miss the disturbed swathes of grasses, wondering what nocturnal animal created the mysterious hollows. I will miss the sweet sunny smell of the floral cornucopia, and the gentle rustle of grasses swaying untidily in the breeze. I love this meadow.

I am witnessing first hand the perpetual nature of the farming calendar, to make hay while the sun shines!

Flora, Rocking Dog

Flora

Busy Bee, Rocking Dog

Busy Bee

Cow Fodder, Rocking Dog

Cow Fodder

Whispering Grass, Rocking Dog

Whispering Grass

Hot Dog....., Rocking Dog

Hot Dog…..

....Cool Dog, Rocking Dog

….Cool Dog

Signed, Sealed & Well & Truly Delivered!

Smiles & Confetti, Rocking Dog

Smiles & Confetti

I was hoping that on Sunday i’d be compos mentis enough to construct some sort of blog post. Monday came with a day of washing up and putting away (just what do you do with 3ft high lanterns!?). I finally sat down at 9pm to watch The Great British Sewing Bee. There was little chance of me stringing a sentence together, even less stringing together a fitted stretch lace bra!! Tuesday, I am numb with tiredness but determined to write a blog to reflect the truly wonderful day we all enjoyed celebrating Alex & Kylie’s wedding day.

Cooking right up to the line, the girls and I made canape size arancini (saffron and mozzarella risotto balls), baby buttermilk scones and we chopped components for salads. There was bread to collect from Harts (thanks Pete) and a trip to the tipi 35 minutes away before we could get back to the kennel and put our glad rags and war paint on!

Finally, there really was no time left but to get ourselves to the darling little church at Bathampton. The church was full of friends and family, flowers, and a sense of anticipation. Finally it was time for Kylie to walk down the aisle and she looked stunning in a gorgeous Jessica Charleston dress with beautiful lace edged veil. Alex looked pretty dapper too in a Scottish sort of way, with Ancient Ferguson kilt and bespoke tweed jacket and waistcoat. The service was meaningful, and whilst the register was signed good friend Laura sang Etta James’s “At Last”. There were a few damp eyes in the house.

Bells were rung joyously as the couple left the church and then Kylie and guests were given the surprise of 20 or so pipers and drummers spilling into the churchyard playing “Highland Cathedral”. Rose petal confetti rained down on the couple together with happy greetings as they left the church. A short walk over the canal followed to where the Tipi awaited them.

Pimms was served in tiny milk bottles whilst guests enjoyed basking in the late May sunshine. Arancini, baby scones complete with strawberries and clotted cream, and dinky Melton Mowbray pies delighted the guests. Entertaining alfresco speeches followed. There was a lovely melt your heart speech from Kylie’s dad, heartfelt one from Alex and then one from each of the best men. Andyman based his speech on Alex’s injuries over the years and he presented Kylie with a comprehensive First Aid Kit and a baton, saying he was handing over the baton of responsibility to her now! Phil, a school friend of Alex’s completed the quartet of speeches, and I have to say it was remarkably clean!

Food followed – Italy meets England.

Starter: tree trunk boards with a selection of salami’s and Lonza from Italy, Pecorino, Fresh pesto, aged balsamic, “our” olive oil, sun blush tomatoes, olives and buffalo mozzarella. Hart’s sourdough with olives, and raisins & fennel.

Main: Chicken Cacciatore (Hunter’s Chicken), Farro salad with roast Mediterranean veg and fresh herbs, Panzanella (Tuscan tomato & bread salad), Jersey Royal baby potato salad with fresh asparagus and peas with creme fraiche and fried shallots.

Woodland dessert table: Black Forest Gateaux, Salted caramel and chocolate ganache mini kilner jars, Baroque meringues with gold leaf and crystallised violets, Lime and ginger cheesecakes, vanilla panna cotta’s in porcelain cups, white & dark chocolate brownie, Billionaire bars, British strawberries, rhubarb in dessert wine.

Coffee: Coffee & Tea table with soft sour cherry amaretti, Italian nougat and ricciarelli

The lovely Commonwealth long jumper medallist Jazmin Sawyers sang and played guitar whilst we ate. That girl is truly multi talented!

Food eaten, evening guests arrived, cake cut (Fruit tier, Carrot cake tier and Lime and Pistachio all encased in a zingy lemon buttercream) it was now time to dance the night away! The motown band (whose name currently eludes me!) were amazing and I am so pleased that Lionel didn’t turn up. However, I cannot believe that Gary Barlow did a “pop up” in Bristol’s Cabot Circus at the weekend…. I should have asked Gary!!!

The free bar and dancing continued until midnight in the atmospheric fairylit tipi. It was all very magical… but over all too quickly!

It really was a Perfect Day. Now that it is signed, sealed and truly delivered it’s time to say Enough, enough now!

Oscar Style Thank you’s.
A million thanks to all those who helped in any way before, during and after the big day. Thank you to retired vicar Canon Richard Hunt who led the marriage service and made Alex and Kylie “Mr and Mrs”. Rob, thank you for reading 1 Corinthians 13 so eloquently. Thanks to Ushers, Best Men and Bridesmaids together with Jovan, the cutest of kilted page boys who carried out their roles so beautifully. Further thanks to all those who sang, played or did both so brilliantly at the service, in the churchyard, and in the tipi. Music really does help to make wedding memories, together with wearing out shoe leather on the dance floor!

Special thanks to Dom, Jess and Lorraine, you were all simply amazing. More thanks go to the gorgeous waiting and bar staff, and all those folk who helped set up, and more depressingly clear up. Steve’s special recipe burgers certainly helped with the “final push”!

Thank you to suppliers who dealt with Kylie and Alex. Buffalo Tipis were brilliant – friendly, flexible and accommodating as were the staff at The King Edward’s Pavilion. Thank you. Prestige, Alex particularly appreciated the cutlery… the cutlery-phobe that he is! Hart’s, all the individual Umbrian producers, Bristol Fruit and Vegetable market and the lovely Keith at Costco thank you for your delicious produce. Thanks for the fig and vine leaves reaped from your walled garden Graeme and Scott- those little details made all the difference!

My girls Sorrel and Liv’, were culinary mega-stars, as was my lovely friend Sian. How civilised Sian to encourage us to take regular tea breaks and a proper lunch break! We whipped, whisked, chopped, roasted, simmered and planned the food for the 120 guests. It was quite a feat.

There are more who helped with the gorgeous table plan, invitations and a range of other wedding paraphernalia, thank you so much for your creativity. The florist who traded flower power for hair do’s did a great job, getting up in amongst those tipi posts must have been somewhat ladder teetering! Thank you to my friend Steph who lent me her dressmakers dummy, I felt you at my shoulder willing me on with the baffling task of coat making. I love you. Talking of creativity, thank you to Paige Courtney who took over 2,000 photo’s so unobtrusively throughout the wedding day and evening. How lovely not to have had a two hour photo session before muscling in on the canapes! You were great!

Thank you to guests who came to celebrate the nuptials and enjoy the after party. Weddings are expensive to attend, especially where long journeys, hen and stag do’s (!) and accommodation (together with a pair of Manolo’s) are involved. We appreciate your being there for Kylie and Alex.

Big thanks go to Debi and Steve who really moved heaven and earth to realise the couples vision for their wedding and post ceremony party. Enjoy your well deserved holiday in the knowledge that we all did good!!

As all those teary Oscar style thank you’s go, i’m sorry if i’ve left anyone out… it’s certainly not intentional. Lastly, the final thank you has got to go to the sun….you were truly warm and amazing… your glowing brilliant outfit was definitely the red carpet showstopper! X

Flower Boys! The Ushers, Rocking Dog

Flower Boys! The Ushers

Bridal Party, Rocking Dog

Bridal Party

Cute Kilted Page, Rocking Dog

Cute Kilted Page

Surprise Pipes & Drums, Rocking Dog

Surprise Pipes & Drums

The Speeches, Rocking Dog

The Speeches

Antipasti, Rocking Dog

Antipasti

Woodland Cake Table, Rocking Dog

Woodland Cake Table

Happy Times, Rocking Dog

Happy Times

On The Dance Floor, Rocking Dog

On The Dance Floor