Category Archives: Craft

Cake, Crochet, Salsa and Atilla The Hun

NT Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake.Rocking Dog

NT Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake

A small but perfectly formed huddle congregated at the kennel last night. Crochet, cross stitch and chat went on as did cutting a freshly baked Rocking Dog cake. This months bake was from my newest cookery tome “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi (yes that old chestnut!) & Helen Goh. I love the cover of the book, meanwhile there are some truly enticing recipes beyond its jam swirled cover. I surmise that some recipes would need an afternoon of completing layers, compotes, biscuit bases and delectable ornamentation. I needed something quick, there was poor old tooth extracted Real Live Rocking dog to rescue from the vet!

Lemon and poppy seed cake was chosen for the September huddle. The cake was easy to make and rather curiously included double cream in its makeup. After 40 or so minutes in the oven a lemon glaze was poured onto its golden top and it then left to cool. Simple!

As ever I didn’t do any sewing or anything creative but I did talk about my fast approaching visits to Belgian and French war cemeteries for the Rocking Dog “Remember Me” project. I didn’t quite realise what a feat it was going to be to pay homage to the local WW1 heroes. There are now currently 22 French cemeteries to visit, together with 4 Belgian cemeteries. Looking for a place to “camp up” for two nights Andyman and I thought it may be convenient to stay in Lens. Looking at airbnb’s in the area we thought it rather strange that everything looked picturesquely alpine chalet. Ah yes the snow, the wooden cabins, pines and roaring fires belonged to Lens, Switzerland and not Lens, France! Back to the drawing board!

Keep Calm & Carry On Karen did come to the huddle and gave us the latest on the house renovation. There were photo’s of buckets catching rain water, tile-less rafters, dust, Atilla The Hun (garian) builder and general chaos. We are in awe of you Karen and your faith in that all will be well. We can all understand your concerns about the 1930’s pump action yacht toilet which eccentric husband has enthusiastically bought. Di’ gave us the grim news that Christmas has arrived in John Lewis, is it just me or does the Christmas frenzy get earlier each year? “Strictly”, “Bake Off”, my being expelled from a salsa class, hoarding relatives, extension plans, olive picking and the joys of being a doctor in 2017 all provided lively discussion subjects.

As for the cake, well it was rather delicious especially eaten with a spoonful of glorious Greek yoghurt. We bow to you Yotam and Helen.

Thank you huddlers you were great company on a dark and wet September night. Love Rocking Dog x

PS No October huddle due to those pesky olives! We will chattily reconvene in November for mulled wine infused creativity.

Naughty Bakery!,Rocking Dog

Naughty Bakery!

Recipe,Rocking Dog

Recipe

Loads Of Lemons,Rocking Dog

Loads Of Lemons

The Glaze,Rocking Dog

The Glaze

The C Word,Rocking Dog

The C Word

Vintage Appreciation,Rocking Dog

Vintage Appreciation

It’s Time For The September Huddle

Rocking Dog Vintage Haberdashery,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Vintage Haberdashery

The nights are drawing in, there is a nip in the air and it is definitely beginning to feel more autumnal. Time then to come together for the September Rocking Dog creative huddle. A warm welcome awaits any battle scarred huddlers or indeed any brave newbies. No, really you need not be afraid, we are all relatively normal and there is always cake to gobble! It all happens on Wednesday 7-9pm and as ever donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work, encouraging and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider.

I am so hoping that Keep Calm & Carry On Karen comes. I’m so desperate to hear the latest on her house renovation (or should that be demolition). Hopefully Atilla the Hun (garian), yes really, will have got the roof on. We all want to know how Karen keeps SO calm! Peppermint tea, a bucket load of Rescue Remedy, a secret flotation tank, SAS survival training perhaps? Maybe this huddle she’ll let us into her secret! I would have definitely benefitted from a dose of Karens calmness over the last few days. I have been so angry ….but that’s another story and not helped by a trip to Asda at Cribbs’. Having a supermarket that size is the devils work ….breathe,breathe,breathe! I solemnly promise never ever to set foot in there ever again. I made that promise years ago about Toys R Us, that too gave me the Asda anger effect!

I promise to not be angry on Wednesday, I will be my usual glittering charming hosting self (with a bit of grumpiness thrown in for good measure). Do please come we really are normal, promise! We even manage to do a little bit of sewing or crocheting in between laughing and eating cake.

Cosy Kennel!,Rocking Dog

Cosy Kennel!

Vintage Frou,Rocking Dog

Vintage Frou

Fantastical Bird Snips,Rocking Dog

Fantastical Bird Snips

Rocking Dog Creative Huddle Tonight

Di's Perfect Poppies..Thank you,Rocking Dog

Di’s Perfect Poppies..Thank you

Yes it’s the August Rocking Dog Creative Huddle at the kennel tonight. 7-9 pm, gentle chat, cake (hopefully homemade!) and lots of creative doingness! You’d be very welcome, please come and find out about those poppies that lovely Di kindly crocheted. They’re all to do with an ambitious challenge i’ve set myself over the next year. Other poppy makers very kindly wished for. A knitter I am not- but I will sew some. I will tell all in a future post.

It would be lovely to see you this evening. As ever donations into the rather lovely Emma Bridgewater tea pot for Fine Cell Work, teaching and encouraging prison inmates to sew and embroider.

Love Rocking Dog x

Life in technicolour in the kennel

Colourful Christmas Makes,Rocking Dog

Colourful Christmas Makes

I hope you have had a great weekend and that there wasn’t too much dashing in and out of the showers. Life has been colourful in the kennel with cheery bakes and a feast of colour on the table feeding friends. There have been batches of colourful sewing and colourful floral pickings from the garden.

I so love those blogs and magazine features which are awash with neutral linens, carefully curated whites and muted room schemes…..but I just can’t quite seem to do it! So somewhat ashamedly and predictably a technicolour post this is from the Rocking Dog Kennel.

There was a colourful lunch with a couple of tarts, naturally of the pastry variety! An old favourite was resurrected thanks to Tamsin Day-Lewis “The Art Of The Tart”. A homemade blind baked tart was spread with Dijon mustard and then simply laid up with slices of camembert and tomatoes. It was sprinkled with a good glug of herb infused olive oil and put into the oven for 35 minutes. Before serving it was given a further dose of herby olive. Simple and delicious. It was good to make time for lunch with very special friends. What a long way you’ve come darling girl, I will forever love you.

A colourful midweek evening feast for eight included Meatballs with broad beans & lemon, Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts & honey, Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio & mixed herbs, flatbreads and harissa. There was also meant to be three Lebanese salads, but I was far too ambitious time-wise doing those after a morning of mother in law, shopping and putting air in my tyres! However, I did get to make homemade ice cream and baklava in the three hour cooking slot. It all looked very colourful and the two Michelin star chefs gracing the Rocking Dog table were very kind to me! I do think I need to move on from my darling Ottolenghi, guests must groan… I’ll make it my mission to cook another genre! However… that might be short lived as Yotam has a new book coming out in September “Sweet”. I’m lucky enough to have it preordered as a gift. Any one fancy being a “Sweet” guinea pig?!

I have managed to sew some gorgeously colourful things with a batch of vintage fabric stockings. I just need someone to love them and stock them. I need to sit down and give myself an assertive marketing talk! More fabric awaits me with some gorgeous groovy 60’s vibe glazed cotton. I’m sure the designer must have been on magic mushrooms, there are psychedelic birds, butterflies, leopards and cats. Bought from a great vintage shop, RePsycho on Gloucester Road these stockings are going to be lined with ornate alphabet fabric bought in Flo-Jo. Also on the workbench is some 50’s Heals fabric which I have coveted for a number of years. It will make a great blind for oldest daughters house complementing concrete dining light, scaffold plank shelves and eclectic kitchenalia. She’s not limey white either!

More colour has arrived back in the house with the re-emergence of those Rocking Dog frou’d wedding dessert boxes. Some will be going to Young Carers families later in the year as part of “Christmas in A Box”.

Finally there were gifts to colourfully wrap and muffins to top with vibrant apricot compote, the end of a colourful week in the Rocking Dog kennel!

Hope you too will have a lovely colourful week, Love Rocking Dog x

PS I will endeavour to do a lime washed white post this week

Colourful Characters,Rocking Dog

Colourful Characters

On My Workbench,Rocking Dog

On My Workbench

Groovy Future Make,Rocking Dog

Groovy Future Make

Colourful Gifts,Rocking Dog

Colourful Gifts

Food For Friends,Rocking Dog

Food For Friends

Test Bake,Rocking Dog

Test Bake

Windowsill Colour,Rocking Dog

Windowsill Colour

The Boxes Are Back!,Rocking Dog

The Boxes Are Back!

Technicolour Tart,Rocking Dog

Technicolour Tart

A Week Of Bits & Pieces

Noddy Ready To Embellish,Rocking Dog

Noddy Ready To Embellish

Rocking Dogs week has been one of bits and pieces. I have been sewing Vintage fabric Christmas stockings. Jolly 1960’s Noddy material has been joined by small check gingham and woolly ric-rac. The stockings will be given hanging loops and some jingly bells. I made another stocking from a vintage tablecloth printed with the words and pictures for “Waltzing Matilda”. I lined the stocking with silk embroidered with images of broom. A mustard coloured fringe finishes the stocking. So now it is looking for an Aussie friendly house this Christmastime.

Whilst I sewed, tree surgeons took down three 50ft conifers in our back garden. We started life at the kennel with about 20 conifers (the work of the devil!) Shortly after we moved in, Andyman came home to find i’d sawed down about twelve of them and was in the process of chopping them up. Over the years we have removed more, and now there are just three left to go! With the tree surgeons having packed up their chain saws for the time being, we can concentrate on planning and planting a kitchen garden. There are going to be espalier fruit trees and old cast iron baths for raised beds amongst other features. I loved the beans growing in a little community allotment that I spotted whilst walking Real Live Rocking Dog. I also enjoyed eating the most voluptuous and delicious figs grown by our lovely neighbours. Definitely food for thought for our garden.

Beautiful flowers arrived through the door (thank you Ella and Josh) whist I bought a remnant heavily embroidered with flowers (thank you to The Boys That Sew at Whittaker Wells). In an ideal world i’d put it with an amazing copper bath, basin and is there such a thing as a copper loo? I’d add dramatic lighting, amazing flooring, mirrors stop,…..stop!

When not sewing I have been planning some forthcoming cooking sessions with Young Adult Carers. I have also set myself the challenge of researching all the names on the local War Memorial. I am looking for any knitters or crocheters who would kindly make me some poppies for this project. Thank you.

We have been enjoying the World Athletics Championships and last weekend saw Bolt run his last solo race. I think everyone expected him to go out in a blaze of golden glory – but alas it wasn’t to be. It was all rather flat but we did have the funny memory of a streaker ripping his trousers off Full Monty style and running down the track. He was eventually tackled to the ground by a tangle of security staff!

Whatever you are doing this weekend I hope it will be relaxing, sunny and happy.

Love Rocking Dog x

Winter Fuel,Rocking Dog

Winter Fuel

Summer Blooms,Rocking Dog

Summer Blooms

Embroidered Blooms,Rocking Dog

Embroidered Blooms

Garden Planning,Rocking Dog

Garden Planning

Magic Beans,Rocking Dog

Magic Beans

Fabulous Figs,Rocking Dog

Fabulous Figs

World Athletics,Rocking Dog

World Athletics

WW1 Research,Rocking Dog

WW1 Research

Baking,Rocking Dog

Baking

Strawberry Season- A Rocking Dog Salad

Strawberries For Supper,Rocking Dog

Strawberries For Supper

Rocking Dog was inspired to make a quick summer salad using some punnets of local strawberries. I love to use fruit for savoury salads, a favourite is sliced fresh peaches with buffalo mozzarella, basil and toasted pine nuts. Butternut squash, broad beans, feta and raspberries together with roasted pumpkin seeds and a zesty dressing is another delicious summery bowl. In late summer figs and goats cheese make a wonderful base for a salad.

Last nights salad utilised the following ingredients:- Edamame beans (I used frozen), strawberries, baby spinach, whole toasted blanched almonds, finely grated lemon zest, juice of one lemon, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh mint, creamy feta crumbled, seasoning.

Drop edamame beans into boiling water and cook until tender. Drain and refresh the beans in cold water to help retain their colour. Toast the almonds by dry frying them in a small pan ( I use this method as I am less likely to forget them rather than toasting nuts under a grill!) Make dressing with zest, lemon juice, and a good glug of olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Grind in some black pepper and salt. Assemble salad by tossing together all the salad components and the dressing. Serve with some good bread.

I loved the baubles I bought recently in the clearance section of Ikea. I knew when I saw them that they’d make good strawberries! I made strawberry leaves from tiny pieces of fabric found on Material Mountain. I used an air erasable pen to draw my leaves. After cutting the pieces out I used Beloved Bernina to sew lines of stitching to emulate leaf veins. I finally cut a small hole in the centre of the fabric to thread through the bauble wire. Voila! summer baubles to decorate gifts or hang for summer parties.

Whatever the weekend holds for you I hope it’s happy and summery

Love Rocking Dog x

PS Rocking Dog Huddle Wednesday 26th July 7-9pm. I would love to see you here at the kennel for chat, cake and creativity. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work encouraging and supporting prison inmates to sew & embroider.

Strawberry Deliciousness!,Rocking Dog

Strawberry Deliciousness!

Chelsea Strawberries,Rocking Dog

Chelsea Strawberries

Rocking Dog Tart,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Tart

Summer Baubles,Rocking Dog

Summer Baubles

Stylish Wrapping,Rocking Dog

Stylish Wrapping

Summery Rocking Dog Gift Tags,Rocking Dog

Summery Rocking Dog Gift Tags

A New Rocking Dog Quilt In The Kennel

Latest Rocking Dog Quilt,Rocking Dog

Latest Rocking Dog Quilt

I am still a deaf old bat! Holding conversations has been difficult and so I have used the opportunity to seek solace in my sewing machine. A new quilt has been started and finished in the kennel and i’m rather pleased with it!

It all started with the glorious 1930’s embroidered bolster cover bought at Bermondsey Market. For a long while I contemplated how I was going to do this embroidery justice. I started collecting together lovely floral materials and vintage linens from Material Mountain. They stayed together in a lavender scented box waiting for the day when I could give myself the time to make an heirloom quilt.

Looking at the worn bolster cover I decided to remount the fabulous flower border embroidery onto a new backing. With some intrepidation I ironed Bondaweb onto the back of the embroidery. The Bondaweb was used to help prevent fraying and to eventually adhere the embroidery to the new mounting fabric. I carefully cut around the Delphinium and Hollyhock spikes, there was simply no going back now!

I then cut squares of ticking for the central panel and a variety of floral fabrics to create my double sized quilt. I used a patchwork template, rotary cutter and cutting mat. I spent time creating my quilts layout and as in the past chose to use pattern throughout. I worry that plain fabrics can really “kill” a quilt! Some of my squares were sewn with vintage lace and embroidered coasters to add additional texture. The squares were collected up into rows and pegged together. Sewing could begin!

Rows of squares were sewn and then the resulting rows sewn together. A quilt was forming! All the seams were pressed neatly and then it was time to adhere the embroidery onto its custom made ticking panel.There followed the somewhat laborious task of hand sewing the embroidery using carefully matched threads.The quilt panel was then laid onto its “filler”. For this I used the thick interlining of a bargainous curtain I had purchased a while ago in John Lewis. I pinned the quilt to the interlining using safety pins, working from the centre outwards. I then “stitched in the ditch” sewing carefully through each seam of each square. There was a tremendous amount of fabric to feed through the machine and I found it helpful to roll the quilt to help with the manoeuvrability.

It was now time to add the backing fabric for my quilt. This time I used the actual fabric from my aforementioned Designer’s Guild bargain curtain, it continued the floral theme. Again I used the safety pins to attach the layers together. I then laid the quilt out on my dining room table and sewed vintage buttons to each corner of the patchwork squares (leaving the outer edges free of buttons). On the reverse of each button point an embroidered thread tie was knotted. I chose white and clear buttons for the ticking panel so that the beauty wasn’t taken away from the delicious embroidery. After all that button sewing I added a quote from Oscar Wilde to my quilt. On a vintage coaster I wrote in indelible ink “I have many beautiful flowers” he said “but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all” (The Selfish Giant). I Bondaweb’d and hand sewed this in place. Finally I sewed a 5/8ths line of stitching around the outer edge of my quilt before shearing away extra fabric and interlining.

I chose a deep ribbon from The Makery to provide the neat edging for my quilt. I pressed the ribbon in half along its whole length and sewed this in place with two rows of stitching. I finished each of the corners with a pretty button. Loose threads cut, remaining safety pins removed, and quilt pressed Rocking Dogs 2017 quilt was complete!

Happy footnote. I entered this and another quilt into the Frenchay Flower Show. I won first prize in the quilting class and a cup for best handicraft in show. I was quietly chuffed!

Piecing The Patches!,Rocking Dog

Piecing The Patches!

Sew The Rows,Rocking Dog

Sew The Rows

Choosing Thread,Rocking Dog

Choosing Thread

Hand Sewing,Rocking Dog

Hand Sewing

Ditch Stitching,Rocking Dog

Ditch Stitching

Fabric Roll,Rocking Dog

Fabric Roll

Pretty Backing,Rocking Dog

Pretty Backing

Button Anchors,Rocking Dog

Button Anchors

Showtime!,Rocking Dog

Showtime!

The Week That Came & Went

It's A Rocking Dog Summer Wrap,Rocking Dog

It’s A Rocking Dog Summer Wrap

Yes Rocking Dog has been a little bit quiet over the last week. A perforated ear drum in her good working ear has been naggingly painful! She has now entered a world of lip reading, shouting, subtitles and zorb like isolation. Thank goodness for antibiotics (Hallelujah!), analgesics (phew!) and TV subtitles (bliss!)

I have tried to stay calm and carry on, so my 2017 quilt is well underway. More in a future Rocking Dog blog post on that, perhaps when I have anchored the 100 or so vintage buttons to gloriously adorn it. Still on a vintage theme we were invited to a wonderful vintage birthday party and it was simply divine. Carnival glass, beaded handbags, bunting, frocks, cake and cocktails. I wrapped presents in crisp white tissue and customised Ikea baubles for summery frou! Summer Rocking Dog wrapping ideas in a blog post coming very soon.

There has been a trip to Bristol harbourside and HOW I want to stay in that crane! We ate a delicious Ploughman’s on the outside deck at Riverstation and wandered to Swoon for the best ice cream I have ever tasted (possibly some of the most expensive too!) Another trip took me to Clifton to the lovely Sahara to help choose wedding garb for my lovely friend. The staff member was just SO helpful. Thank you.

On Thursday I met oldest daughter and baby Douglas at Kilver Court. Winter wardrobe inexpensively sorted in Toast outlet and garden sorted with plant sale bargains (£1 a pot) Result! Needless to say i’ll be out in the wooded wonderland this week digging in my cut price greenery.

There has been food to cook for friends and family. Thursday Skye’s Roast chicken & bread salad with sour cherries & roasted red onions. Friday Yotams’ Meatballs with broad beans & lemon served with Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio & mixed herbs. There was Walnut & fruit crumble cream to follow. Sunday with family gathered I prepared roast lamb on a bed of baby leaf spinach with cherry tomatoes, green beans and baby roasted new potatoes. It was all drizzled with a summery mint dressing. I also cooked Toad in the Hole and a retro pud’ Pineapple Upside Down. This pudding is always the talking point of just HOW much my brother Jem hates this pudding. As a teenager I baked it twice weekly for a number of years and the mere mention of P U Down sends him into a groaning spiral. It was a good job therefore that he didn’t turn up unannounced from New York for Sunday lunch!

The week has also seen me deeply involved in menu planning, detailed shopping lists and ordering for a wedding the Dog is catering for at the end of the month. Meanwhile there are plans already underway for a Rockpipes Burn’s Night in Thornbury next January. There is the small matter of food for the masses. I rather think I have been volunteered for the task….hmmmm! Bah Haggis!

The ear is still sore and tirelessly frustrating but I hope i’ll be spreading the Rocking Dog word a little more frequently than in the week that was.

Hoping your week will be sunny and happy.

Love Rocking Dog x

2017 Quilt,Rocking Dog

2017 Quilt

Cotton Spring Clean,Rocking Dog

Cotton Spring Clean

Room In The Clouds,Rocking Dog

Room In The Clouds

Dream Ice Cream,Rocking Dog

Dream Ice Cream

Plants To Buy,Rocking Dog

Plants To Buy

Vintage Loveliness,Rocking Dog

Vintage Loveliness

Wedding Menu Planning,Rocking Dog

Wedding Menu Planning

Retro Family Food,Rocking Dog

Retro Family Food

I Hate Pineapple Upside Down!,Rocking Dog

I Hate Pineapple Upside Down!

Chocolate Roulade For The Rocking Dog Huddlers

A Taste Of Summer,Rocking Dog

A Taste Of Summer

A small but perfectly formed huddle gathered last night. We talked travel, home & abroad heat and stories of the young and of the old. Crochet was learned, calligraphy practiced, a needlepoint made to feel loved again and a wedding shopping list formulated. I also brought out my John Lewis sale buys for Christmas wrapping 2017 (I feel a Val Doonican knitted theme coming on!)

Most importantly we ate cake! This months confectionery was a tried and tested favourite, Chocolate and Raspberry Roulade. The recipe comes from a book called 100 Great Desserts by Mandy Wagstaff. I bought it in the 90’s from a cut price book shop, only later did I find that many but not all of the pages were written in German!

This is a great recipe for gluten free guests and a truly simple bake (promise!)

175g plain chocolate
5 eggs separated
175g caster sugar
2 tbsp brandy

Preheat oven 180 degrees (lower for fan oven). Line a 33x23cm swiss roll tin with baking paper.
Melt dark chocolate in microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering hot water.
Beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Add the brandy.
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then stir in a tbsp chocolate mix to loosen it. Fold in the remaining chocolate.
Pour mixture into the prepared tin and use a spatula to evenly spread the batter.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until springy to the touch. Remove from oven and cover with a slightly damp tea towel.

For the filling I used a small carton of double cream whisked together with a small tub of mascarpone and a little icing sugar.

Turn your Roulade out onto a surface prepared with a large sheet of baking paper. Remove the backing paper.
Spread your roulade liberally with good quality raspberry conserve. Spread cream mix evenly and sprinkle over fresh raspberries.
With the aid of the paper, roll the roulade as tightly and evenly as you can. At this point you can wrap it up in the greaseproof sheet rather like an old fashioned sweetie and chill. if you can’t wait to launch into the deliciousness move the roulade to a pretty plate and dredge with icing sugar and white chocolate shards. Voila!

(I used 1&1/2x the mixture to fill a larger swiss roll tin. Cherries and kirsch or cherry brandy would be a great alternative)

Thank you girls for the donations for Fine Cell Work inspiring and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider.

The Whole Deal!,Rocking Dog

The Whole Deal!

June Frou,Rocking Dog

June Frou

Little Black Books,Rocking Dog

Little Black Books

Travel,Rocking Dog

Travel

The Heat,Rocking Dog

The Heat

Calligraphy,Rocking Dog

Calligraphy

Christmas Stash,Rocking Dog

Christmas Stash

The Old & The..,Rocking Dog

The Old & The..

Young,Rocking Dog

Young

Rocking Dog Creative Huddle, Weds 28th June

Come On Let's Get Creative!,Rocking Dog

Come On Let’s Get Creative!

Yes the months are whittling away, we’ll be onto Christmas makery before we know it! You are warmly welcomed to come along to the Rocking Dog Creative Huddle tomorrow. Rocking Dog is very friendly and won’t bite, even though the Real Live Rocking Dog is just ever so slightly grumpy! Come to think of it that’s a pretty fair description of Rocking Dog if temperatures rise above 29 degrees!

Lovely homemade cake, something cold to drink, gentle chat and if you want to “make” that’s lovely too.

Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work encouraging and supporting prison inmates to sew & embroider, £60 collected thus far. Thank you.

Don’t be shy, come along. Contact me if you need further details or directions.

Love Rocking Dog x

Rocking Dog Loves Frou!,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Loves Frou!