Monthly Archives: February 2017

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Feathering The Nest To Welcome The Next Generation.

Feathering The Nest,Rocking Dog

Feathering The Nest

We were indeed feathering the nest to welcome the next generation. Sorrel and Pete will meet their little one in April, and before you ask they don’t know what sort they are having! Before the pushing begins at the Birth Centre a big push was needed to try and gain some kind of order in their little London nest.

The family pulled together with paintbrushes, rollers, drills, sandpaper and organisational skills. At times it felt like one of those puzzles where you have to move squares completely out of position in order to get one square into its rightful place! By the end of the weekend ceilings had been painted and walls given further coats. Another scaffold plank shelf had been skilfully drilled into place and numerous mugs of coffee had been drunk.

My girl is SOooo like me, an absolute magpie, minimalism unfortunately does not enter our vocabulary! Wrapping up about one hundred Christmas decorations I thought aloud “Sorrel certainly doesn’t need to inherit my vast collection, she’s simply doing very well on her own!” There is also the monumental sized stash of cookery books….have you heard of online recipes by any chance Sorrel?! Joking aside the couple have some lovely things to display on those scaffold plank shelves. Gradually the boxes that currently engulf what will be nursery will be emptied and the contents distributed to their final destination.

Perhaps work can then focus on the room for the new little person. I anticipate the decoration of this will be for no shrinking violet. I look forward to seeing it develop. There could be an old pram wheel, farm animals and wool pom-poms in the mix! Thankfully in amongst the chaos the main bedroom is a relative haven and there are lovely little vignettes of vintage glamour. Cushions in florals, tapestry, and zingy velvets provide pops of colour against the dramatic backdrop of Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue.

It wasn’t all about painting and DIY, some of us headed to nearby Abbey Wood with Real Live Rocking Dog. There were the remnants of Lesnes Abbey destroyed by Henry VIII, a fantastic wooded daffodil filled walk and distant views to London’s spectacular skyline. I really adored the gated garden there, the planting looked innovative and definitely worth a revisit when the sun really starts to shine. I so love the fact that London has so many wonderful green and surprisingly wild spaces.

We left the couple filling all those shelves. Another DIY onslaught next week with different family members will hopefully see tiled splash backs and skirting boards come to fruition.

Those square puzzle pieces are beginning to find their correct order. It will be lovely, and a sweet little home for welcoming in the next generation.

Thank you to all those lovely folk who helped with the nest building. It was fun.

Wishing you a lovely week. Love Rocking Dog x

Scaffold Plank Shelf,Rocking Dog

Scaffold Plank Shelf

Cook Books Aplenty!,Rocking Dog

Cook Books Aplenty!

Parlez Vous Francais?,Rocking Dog

Parlez Vous Francais?

Vintage Glamour,Rocking Dog

Vintage Glamour

Bohemia,Rocking Dog

Bohemia

Pops Of Colour,Rocking Dog

Pops Of Colour

Tantalising Glimpse,Rocking Dog

Tantalising Glimpse

Meeting His Match!,Rocking Dog

Meeting His Match!

Distant City Skyline,Rocking Dog

Distant City Skyline

Make It Up As You Go Along Cushions

Pattern & Texture,Rocking Dog

Pattern & Texture

After a long morning of very boring brain numbing admin’ tasks I needed to sew. I decided on making a pair of large cushions. These were cushions of the make it up as you go along variety. I “played with fabrics putting charity shop bought vintage needlepoints with sumptuous silks. I added in digitally printed fabric, braids, bobbles and lace. I know this melee of textures and patterns is an acquired taste but the idea could be toned down and tamed.

Once I had decided on the fabrics I wanted to use in each cushion I worked out the proportions of each fabric strip. The size of the needlepoint panels gave me the width measurement of each cushion. The cut strips were sewn together and for extra strength I chose to “stitch in the ditch”. Stitching in the ditch involves top sewing in the seams of the panels.

I then frou’d. My motto is definitely more is more! I added vintage bobbly braid, heavy lace, ribbon and glitzy floral braid.

So the front panels are complete and now they await their backings and plump fillings. Watch this space for the finished rather mad “make it up as I go along cushions!”

Wishing you a lovely weekend, love Rocking Dog x

Playing With Fabrics,Rocking Dog

Playing With Fabrics

Charity Shop Tapestry,Rocking Dog

Charity Shop Tapestry

Before The Bobbles,Rocking Dog

Before The Bobbles

Vintage Braid,Rocking Dog

Vintage Braid

& Vintage Lace,Rocking Dog

& Vintage Lace

Silk, Wool, Digital Print,Rocking Dog

Silk,Wool,Digital Print

If You Go Down To The Woods Today…

Reaching To The Sky,Rocking Dog

Reaching To The Sky

Most days walks with Real Live Rocking Dog take me along semi-wild woodland paths which closely hug the River Frome. I love witnessing the change of the seasons and the ever-changing flora and fauna.

Yesterday was mild and I was aware of the wonderful sound of birdsong. Spring really does feel as if it is on its way. There were huge splendiferous rugs of Snowdrops and budding Daffodils, Primroses, Violets and Celandines. In a month or two these wild blooms will be succeeded by carpets of bluebells and wild garlic. Later still there will be drifts of wild Foxgloves, Cow Parsley and Himalayan Balsam

On yesterdays’ walk I loved the towering bare branched trees reaching into the still grey winter skies. Such wonderfully dramatic silhouettes. Soon these giants will be cloaked with verdant lush greenery and provide nesting places for a variety of woodland bird species.

Dry stone walls were covered with impossibly green velvety moss and there were cascades of ferns tumbling down the Pennant stone “cliffs”. Everything really seems to be sparking into life, I just wish the mud would finally subside!

 

Rocking Dog Huddle tonight 7-9 at the kennel. Look forward to seeing you.

Whose Home?,Rocking Dog

Whose Home?

Abandoned Pipe,Rocking Dog

Abandoned Pipe

Mossy Wall,Rocking Dog

Mossy Wall

Cheery Celandines,Rocking Dog

Cheery Celandines

Snowdrop Rug,Rocking Dog

Snowdrop Rug

Wild Violets,Rocking Dog

Wild Violets

Primrose,Rocking Dog

Primrose

More Trees,Rocking Dog

More Trees

Tired Real Live Rocking Dog,Rocking Dog

Tired Real Live Rocking Dog

Enough. Enough Now. Christmas In February Over.

Habitat Angel,Rocking Dog

Habitat Angel

Enough. Enough Now. Christmas In February is indeed over! Saturday saw us host a special Burn’s Night at the kennel to pay tribute to Wham’s “Last Christmas”. Guests were asked to bring nothing but empty tummies and donations for Young Carer’s (Christmas in A Box 2017).

The evening started with Careless Whisper cocktails served in retro Babycham glasses. There were freshly baked haggis sausage rolls and Christmassy flavour crisps.

Guests arrived, some gallantly attired in 1980’s ski chalet wear. There was a very dodgy wig or two and leg warmers aplenty! It was time for music. The lounge was filled to the gunnels with RockPipe musicians who played a half hour set of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, Abba Medley, “Don’t Stop Believin'” etc..

The Haggis was piped in and addressed. It was hot in the kitchen- turning out turkey and all the trimmings for 50 was no mean feat! There were so many comments (mainly women!) that it was so lovely to be eating a Christmas meal without having had to cook it.

Menu- Free range bronze turkey, Bourbon glazed ham, Bacon wrapped sausages, Homemade white nut roast, Vegetarian and non veg’ haggis. Sprouts with chestnuts & pancetta, peas, Buttered baby carrots, Roast potatoes, Cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire pud’s (SO sorry son Alex not homemade versions!), gravy and homemade spiced apple jelly.

People found places to perch, we even made one of the bedrooms into a fairy-lit
private dining space. Meanwhile back in the culinary HQ it was time to clear the decks and get puddings underway.

RockPipes noisily restarted and the set included “Last Christmas” and a wonderful rendition of “Careless Whisper”. Thank you Simon for your amazing Sax’ playing… tremendous. There was also the unforgettable YMCA complete with false moustaches. Great fun.

Puddings were served.

Menu- Black Forest inspired trifles, Hazelnut Macaroon with homemade lemon curd & Mascarpone, Mince pies, Christmas Pudding, Christmas Cake. The Christmas cake was made especially for the event and given a retro snow scene.

Thank you to all who lent chairs, cutlery, lanterns, and to all those who took a turn in the kitchen sink. Thanks to cocktail shakers and all those who entered the spirit with singing and dancing.

A million thanks to those who so generously donated to our chosen charity. An incredible £515 (plus Gift Aid) will be used for making up “Christmas in the Box” for Young Carer families in particular need Christmas 2017 ( breakfast, full turkey roast with all the trimmings, tea and treats)

The £5 Ikea clearance tree is down and decorations boxed, Billy the boar who graced us with his snowbally presence is leaving Bristol for the sunnier climes of Umbria, Bon Voyage Billy! A sense of normality is gradually returning, though there is still a rather large drum kit to trip over!

Enough. Enough now!

£5 Ikea Tree,Rocking Dog

£5 Ikea Tree

Sprouty Chains,Rocking Dog

Sprouty Chains

Italy Bound Billy,Rocking Dog

Italy Bound Billy

Private Dining,Rocking Dog

Private Dining

RockPipes & Sax',Rocking Dog

RockPipes & Sax’

Cake Anyone?,Rocking Dog

Cake Anyone?

Come To The Next Rocking Dog Huddle!

The Dogs' Haberdashery,Rocking Dog

The Dogs’ Haberdashery

Yes indeedy! This is a call out for the huddlers to gather on Wednesday (22nd Feb’ 7-9 pm) for the second Rocking Dog huddle. Bring knitting, crochet, a button to sew on, or simply nothing at all! A Rocking Dog mini project can be tackled or just come to laugh and chat. Perhaps i’ll get on with my long forgotten Kaffe Fassett needlepoint, those peas have been SO patient! Needless to say new huddlers will be warmly welcomed into the fold.

There will be delicious cake. I will probably be offering freshly baked Christmas cake, mince pies and double choc’ brownie. Sorry about the slightly festive unseasonal offerings but we do have the Last Christmas themed Burn’s Night going on this weekend. I never thought Christmas decorations would make me feel quite so nauseous! I hope by Wednesday all traces of the tree, paper chains, holly and ivy will have been well and truly banished.

Today I have mint syrup to make in readiness for the “Careless Whisper” cocktails. I’m ever hopeful Tom Cruise will put in an appearance on Saturday night to shake those old cocktail shakers! I am such a fantasist. Truth be known my crush has always been Bill Turnbull (strange but very true!) I can’t really imagine Billy shaking a good “Careless Whisper” can you? I can feel a good “who is your crush?” huddler conversation coming on when Wednesday comes about.

Back to the huddle, donations into the teapot for refreshments & materials. A proportion of donations will go to Fine Cell Work supporting prison inmates to learn embroidery and other sewing skills.

Whatever you are doing this weekend, hope it’s a lovely one for you.

Love Rocking Dog x

PS. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!. Ok Michael… you can come out for one night only..after all this Christmas nonsense in February is for a good cause. (“Christmas in a Box 2017” for Young Carer’s)

Material Mountain,Rocking Dog

Material Mountain

Bookish Inspiration,Rocking Dog

Bookish Inspiration

Patient Peas,Rocking Dog

Patient Peas

Bygone Age Buttons,Rocking Dog

Bygone Age Buttons

Festive Cake,Rocking Dog

Festive Cake

Ohhhh Nooo! Mince Pies!,Rocking Dog

Ohhhh Nooo! Mince Pies!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day To One & All!

Scarlet Kitsch!,Rocking Dog

Scarlet Kitsch!

Heartfelt love winging it’s way to all from Rocking Dog x

Rocking Dog’s Lost Week

It Snowed!,Rocking Dog

It Snowed!

I am the bear that hibernated for a week, no posts, no words, no thoughts for posts. Unlike a growly wintry soporific bear I was not sleeping in a cosy den, but I was feeling quiet. I let myself forget about words and painted. Ceiling, walls & skirting boards felt dashes of Wevet, bog standard white and Charleston Gray. The changes are insignificant, yet constructive.

I sewed for me and with my lovely brave friend. Sewing is so therapeutic, I can truly recommend it, I just wish it burnt of calories like a dose of Zumba! I cooked for friends, dishes included Delia’s golden rosti capped Fish Pie and Rick Stein’s Almond Tart. Comfort food to warm the cockles! I also allowed myself time to transcribe a few more recipes from my beloved 1846 handwritten cook book. There were recipes for potting shrimps, stewing cheese, making gooseberry vinegar and a recipe for making potato yeast when common yeast was scarce. How I love my little book, I should set myself the challenge of cooking all the recipes a la Julia & Julia!

Plans on how to do the final touches to our little place in Umbria occupied me as did planning for Christmas! No not THAT Christmas, the one that is happening on Saturday to mark Burn’s Night. Yes I know its late…. but.. This year I wanted a ski chalet theme so we are paying homage to Wham’s “Last Christmas”. So .. there is turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas pud’, mince pies (groan!), trifle and retro cocktails. I suppose as it’s belated Burn’s there ought to be haggis too. The tree is going up… again, there’ll be crackers, “Rockpipes” and mistletoe… yes, I am totally mad! However… on a serious front any cash donations will be put to providing “Christmas in a Box” for Young Carer’s families in particular need when the real Christmas comes around again. It will come around sooner than we know it.

It was so lovely to see snow last week, alas only a small dusting. It never seems to snow like it did when we were children. Depressing that it’s probably all to do with global warming… and YES Mr dumb arse Trump there really is such a thing! Pretty please can I order some snow for Saturday it would make my “Last Christmas” dreams come true!

No snow today, but a wonderful restorative walk close to the Severn with one of the Rocking Dog Huddlers. Lambs, winter sunshine, good conversation (thank you Karen) and six miles of mud later I was ready to stop hibernating and to get back to some words.

Thank you for your patience. Love Rocking Dog x

PS You may just ask where Andyman was during my brief hibernation… skiing in the same resort as the Geordie Shore lot were being filmed! Hmmmm, classy!

Snowy Dessert,Rocking Dog

Snowy Dessert

Snow Sprinkled Tart,Rocking Dog

Snow Sprinkled Tart

Promise Of Warmth,Rocking Dog

Promise Of Warmth

Paint Job,Rocking Dog

Paint Job

Therapeutic Sewing,Rocking Dog

Therapeutic Sewing

Ongoing Transcribing,Rocking Dog

Ongoing Transcribing

Planning For Italy,Rocking Dog

Planning For Italy

....Ditto!,Rocking Dog

….Ditto!

& Planning Christmas!,Rocking Dog

& Planning Christmas!

Restorative Walk,Rocking Dog

Restorative Walk

Aahhh! Baby Lambs,Rocking Dog

Aahhh! Baby Lambs

...& God Damned Tired Real Live Rocking Dog!,Rocking Dog

…& God Damned Tired Real Live Rocking Dog!

Little Hints Of Spring In The Air

Bough Of Catkins,Rocking Dog

Bough Of Catkins

Looking back at the Rocking Dog blog posts of the first month of 2017 it must seem I have been tucked up in the kennel and not ventured out much. Although highly tempting to huddle somewhere warm and cosy there is an energetic Real Live Rocking Dog to walk. Through mud, rain and wintry greyness he tackles his twice daily treks with gusto. With a new pair of unleaky sale price “Hunters” my walks are thankfully definitely more pleasurable than they have been over the last few months!

Yesterday there were tantalising little hints of spring being in the air. Boughs of citrine yellow catkins swayed in the breeze enjoying a brief window of winter sunshine and blue tinged skies. I loved the branches of pretty pink blossom and vowed that “yes” I wanted one of these early flowering shrubs in my garden. In the nook of an ancient Copper Beech  someone had carefully positioned a jar of cheerful daffodils. Whilst I walked I wondered whether the lovely floral shrine had been created to remember a much loved human or pet. I pondered a lot.

Meanwhile on the swollen river a forlorn Cormorant seemed to be waiting for a mate to swoop in. I hope St Valentine lends a helping hand.

At home the snowdrops have gallantly pushed through, poor little things they have had quite a struggle to get through a thick layer of decomposing leaves. Why oh why didn’t I get around to “closing up the garden” in the autumn! With drier days hopefully in the air I can get on out there and absolve my guilt for abandoning all plans and hard grafting during 2016.

I hope hints of Spring are beginning to spring up wherever you are in the world. Love Rocking Dog x

PS. The food just keeps a comin’! Recipe tested yesterday a Courgette, Tomato & Buffalo Mozzarella Gratin and a  delicious Caramelised Carrot, Red Onion and Feta Tarte Tartin. We are being truly spoilt by talented recipe developer daughter. Thank you. Slim Fast next week me thinks and some jet propelled walking in the new boots!

Pretty Pink,Rocking Dog

Pretty Pink

Blue Tinge Sky, Rocking Dog

Blue Tinge Sky

Hardy Snowdrops,Rocking Dog

Hardy Snowdrops

Looking For A Mate,Rocking Dog

Looking For A Mate

Promise Of Spring Shrine,Rocking Dog

Promise Of Spring Shrine

The Food Keeps A Comin'!,Rocking Dog

The Food Keeps A Comin’!

Enjoying Recipe Testing At The Kennel

Towering Cake,Rocking Dog

Towering Cake

We had a crisis call a little while ago from oldest girl asking if she could come “home” to use our kitchen. With her own kitchen being refitted it was impossible to do her job, for a recipe developer she is!

My kitchen therefore has seen wonderful ingredients passing over the doorstep this week. Scales, whisks, copious notes, test batches, spoons, timers and a permanently hot stove have made my kitchen a true hive of industry. I’ve floated in at various points to help with some hot bubbly washing up and to do lots of oohing and ahhhing!

How very lovely to be invited to sit down and eat a raft of delicious dishes. Honest critiques were welcomed by the flagging cook and copious notes gained more ticks, stars and corrections in the process. My children always hate it when I sit to eat their lovely food and exclaim “This is gorgeous, and do you know what the very best bit about it is? …That I haven’t had to cook it!”

A run down of what we ate :-Courgette fritters (which will be eventually served with a dipping sauce),Chicken with Wild Garlic butter (though the wild garlic was substituted with watercress as wild garlic is not yet in season). There were also two bowls of healthy yumminess, Coconut Quinoa with Roasted Cauliflower and a Persian Herb & Beetroot Salad. Waiting in the wings was a towering Carrot Cake with Tahini frosting. Yum, Yum Yum!  We decided the colossal cake was perhaps too towering and needed scaling down a tad.

Thank goodness recipe testing daughter is packing her whisk and copious notes, and heading home at the end of the week. My poor old waistline really couldn’t cope with being a permanent food critic!

Flavoursome Bird,Rocking Dog

Flavoursome Bird

Delicious Bowl,Rocking Dog

Delicious Bowl

....& Another Delicious Bowl!,Rocking Dog

….& Another Delicious Bowl!