Category Archives: Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Sewing For Little Ones

Vintage For Little Folk, Rocking Dog

Vintage For Little Folk

Rocking Dog is contemplating sewing some vintage fabric skirts and dresses for little ones. There is something lovely about doing things on a small scale, not left to worry about the often disappointing fit of sewing adult clothes. Having said that, I loved a pair of trousers I made a good few years ago which were made in the most amazing fabric which pictured sleeping Mexicans complete with sombrero’s and poncho’s. A little piece or two of the fabric has ended up in oldest daughters quilt which I made about three years ago. Meanwhile youngest daughter’s quilt features a pieces of vintage chintz which were left over from making a bed for Real Live Rocking Dog. Both quilts are sewn with their baby dresses etc.. left as intact as possible. Livi’s quilt has the quote “A bed without a quilt is like a sky without stars” Get the tissues out!

My Mum made a lot of clothes for my sister and I. It was significantly cheaper to make garments rather than go to a drapers to buy clothes for young ladies! I remember a bundle of full skirted 50’s dresses arriving from my aunt in Scotland. These were taken apart by my mum and made into various dresses for us. I rather think the little bibbed play skirts in the photo below utilised some of the fabric from one of these deconstructed dresses. I remember the fabric well, beautiful turquoise fine crisp cotton bedecked with exotic tall figures. I also remember my mum making dresses from glazed orange curtain fabric, embellished with gold braid and buttons, how very family Von Trapp! Our first grown up dresses were maxi dresses (though with growth they subsequently became midi dresses), were made in very fine white fabric with a bold black polka dot. The only rather annoying tale of my mum’s dressmaking is that if there was a choice of fabric my mum chose brown for me as I had brown eyes and brown hair, whilst my sister with her blue eyes got the blue material! I sometimes wonder if that is why I really don’t like wearing brown at all now, but more than likely my brown uniformed Saturday job at Debenham’s had more to do with it.

Obviously the finish of children’s clothes is vital to stop any rubbing. I’ll need to polish up on the neatness of my seams and get jiggy with it trying to find out what parents and children want. I think for little girls I need to be making “Frozen” princess dresses. I hear there is near hysteria for all that is Frozen, even inspiring a range of blue wedding dresses. Wonders never cease to amaze!

Patterns For Little People, Rocking Dog

Patterns For Little People

Dog Bed Quilt, Rocking Dog

Dog Bed Quilt

Von Trapp Family Dresses, Rocking Dog

Von Trapp Family Dresses

Rocking Dog Loves Markets!

Bucket of Wools, Rocking Dog

Bucket of Wools

This morning I had an early start taking Real Life Rocking Dog off to be expensively coiffured, and a trip to see Colin at Eastville Market,for haberdashery.

I am currently making some draw string bags made from some vintage table-linen. With embroidered palm trees, exotic flora, straw huts and charming little figures these bags will be perfect for packing holiday essentials for the beach.

Colin’s eclectic stall provided ribbons for drawstrings, and I couldn’t resist some extra thick bakers twine, some lovely Scandinavian inspired braid and kitsch wedding cake decorations. You never know quite what you’ll find – it depends on Colin’s latest round of wheeling and dealing! With ribbons at around 30p a metre and Indian glitzy braids at £1 metre it’s worth taking a look. And of course if you need suspender replacements, bra extenders, knicker elastic and bobbins Colin is your man!

Sewing is to resume shortly, balmy looking bags for forthcoming balmy summer days.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and Happy Birthday Colin!

Balmy Bags, Rocking Dog

Balmy Bags

Colin's Bazaar, Rocking Dog

Colin’s Bazaar

Spinning Yarns, Rocking Dog

Spinning Yarns

Button Up, Rocking Dog

Button Up

This n' That, Rocking Dog

This n’ That

Eclectic Stock, Rocking Dog

Eclectic Stock

What’s Going On On Your Mantlepiece?

Muddled Mantlepiece, Rocking Dog

Muddled Mantlepiece

A few years ago The Guardian asked readers to describe and send in images of their mantlepieces. It really got me thinking of the strange things that accumulate on mantlepieces, well certainly mine. They aren’t styled, rather more they come about as a natural dusty evolvement. Christmas usually sparks changes with the addition of putz houses, tatty decorations and Christmas cards, otherwise, my mantlepieces remain pretty constant. I do however love a jug of garden flowers or a gorgeous scented candle to ring the changes.

The photo above is of the mantlepiece in my sewing room and has simply come about. The dogs are a pair I bought as a present for Andyman (you know one of those gifts you buy by proxy!) and were on the scene long before Real Live Rocking Dog was a twinkle in his Daddy’s eye (incidentally his Dad’s name had the Pedigree name “Stand and Deliver”). An advent calendar, postcards, a graceful 1930’s bust, knitted asparagus and lots of other frou vie for space and until I write something like this I don’t really think of the cornucopia of tat that I live with.

The mantlepiece adorned with tulips, is a pretty grand fireplace for this humble cottage. It is a large ornate cast iron affair which took a lot of stripping to rid it of the green and yellow marbling effect which the previous owner had favoured. Eventually I need to inject a little more colour into the room, but the tulips give a welcome but temporary colour pop. I love the photo on the mantlepiece of the little Russian baby and its mother, both dressed in fur and finery. It gives me a Dr Zhivago moment every time I dust!

My wooden mantlepiece has obviously seen the new arrival of Toby jug, Mrs Mack and Sailor Dog (bought from the lovely Jayne Soule) but everything else is years of knick knackery! The old clock face was rescued from underneath a carpet in the house, used to stop floorboards creaking!

One Sunday when our son arrived home to be fed and have his washing done, he reluctantly watched Antiques Roadshow with me. One item featured was valued at about £6,000, that got son…… thinking! He was studiously looking around the lounge before asking me whether we had anything that could be worth that. I somewhat incredulously exclaimed “no”, but he then decided to interrogate me further. He pointed up to the clock on the mantlepiece and said “what about that then”? We are talking about a crudely made clock (possibly American) with crude mechanism and a Robertson’s “Golly” on it’s little glass door. Try again Alex!

Lastly my bedroom mantlepiece which is strangely for me, colour coordinated. I don’t have many photo’s up in the house but this is where most find their secure long term place. I love my bedroom wallpaper which has been with us for about 15 years. We could only afford to do one wall, but every morning it makes me smile, I don’t think a B&Q paper could have done that!

What’s going on on your mantlepiece right now?

Colour Pop, Rocking Dog

Colour Pop

What's it Worth? Rocking Dog

What’s it Worth?

Colour Coordinated, Rocking Dog

Colour Coordinated

Normal Service Has Been Resumed!

Remember These?! Rocking Dog

Remember These?!

Normal service has indeed been restored.

High winds came to Hambrook last week and brought down our overhead phone line. Finally this morning two lovely BT guys came and perilously scaled Ivy clad trees, waded through our brook and withstood the welcome of our eager to please Real Live Rocking Dog! Gosh I’m making them sound like the two heroic but bonkers chaps who have just completed free climbing the Dawn Wall in Yosemite!

It has been very odd living without our house phone and more especially the internet. When you’ve not got it, it makes you realise just how much you rely on it for referencing, shopping, communicating, browsing, playing music through and doing radio catch up.

However, I did not miss the nuisance calls and would you believe that a few minutes after our reconnection the first call was indeed a call stating that I had been in a recent car accident (have I? It’s news to me!) and a no win no fee offer. AAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH! These calls I have not missed and I’m ashamed to say some of my recorded responses must have been used during call centre training sessions!

Looking forward to starting up some posts again and do hope I have been missed just a little bit.

Liz x

Rocking Dog Sews For Spring

Vintage Lace, Rocking Dog

Vintage Lace

Rocking Dog is beginning to think of projects to embrace the forthcoming spring.
With a gorgeous stash of vintage lace and frou I am looking forward to make pretty things to entice those with beautiful boudoirs or with nuptials to celebrate.

With my son’s recent engagement I have yet to be given my orders regarding what they would like me to “run up”. It’s early days and I hope the lovestruck couple enjoy the planning of their special day. I am sure it will be very unique and meaningful, and maybe I need to sew some lace edged handkerchiefs for the day!

Until then I can make lovely things for other brides and grooms. I am very happy to work with couples and make bespoke decor and additionally can help with wedding styling. How I love frouing!

My advice to anyone planning a wedding is to delegate with a capital D! It is very tempting to try and do everything as a small family group but ….here’s a stark warning! We as a family sourced and did all the food, marquee flowers, setting up, made 1000’s miles bunting, sourced and bought 120 sets vintage china and Babycham glasses, baked and decorated the cake, decorated the chapel, sourced and bought all the booze, did all the wedding stationery, made night lanterns etc….etc..for lovely daughters wedding and …..felt totally wrecked! I had three hours sleep, literally had ten minutes to get ready, and had none of those tender proud parent moments as I was too busy ferreting in the fridge for 120 Panna Cotta’s and the evenings Pieminister pies! Meanwhile, Andyman was still in a towel when the white Cadillac arrived! It was mad! Though in a somewhat trance like state it was a great wedding, but I do wish I’d just been able to let my control freak nature to let go just a little and I think that goes for the bride too and we’d… DELEGATE!

On the very plus side we have some very lovely vintage china in our cellar which we have been able to use for charity events, loan to friends and groups. Rocking Dog hopes to host a charity pop up vintage afternoon tea later this year. Please contact me if you would like me to send you an invite.

Looking forward to finally putting Christmas to bed, with decorations boxed, fridge cleared of naughtiness and thank you letters written. Then I can make lovely Rocking Dog things, and watch for the first signs of spring.

Vintage Frou, Rocking Dog

Vintage Frou

Wedding Pudding Box, Rocking Dog

Wedding Pudding Box

DIY Wedding, Rocking Dog

DIY Wedding

Winter Ramble With Real Live Rocking Dog.

Let's Go Walkies!, Rocking Dog

Let’s Go Walkies!

Another frosty day on Tuesday and it was time to get out for a bracing ramble to blow away the Tarantula sized cobwebs! I love the cover of the 1950 walks book on my title picture but i’m sure the routes will have been changed with housing estates, roads and industrial developments so we used a tried and tested guide by Nigel Vile “Pocket Pub Walks Near Bristol And Bath”. Walk 3 in Viles’ pocket sized tome, a 6 1/2 mile walk which starts in Hillesley and skirts the Cotswold escarpment.

As the title of the book suggests you should end up to enjoy a pub at the end of your travels. We often manage the drink but have yet to arrive in time for last orders for food- damn and blast! This walk was no different so we ended up with Walkers Crisps (how very retro) and some rather nasty olives.

As for the walk itself, it was truly lovely with babbling brooks, frosty pasture, cottages and churches worthy of inclusion in some period drama, and lots of icy puddles to shatter. It was gorgeous to hear birdsong and heralded the fact that spring will indeed come in the not too distant future.

Real Live Rocking Dog now plonked contentedly in front of the glowing stove, muddy boots x 3 to clean, ironing not done, house still in need of “Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners”… but we all feel better for blowing away the cobwebs!

PS May just give myself the challenge in 2015 of seeing how changed those walks are since 1950, hope I won’t feel too despondently sad.

Chasing Shadows, Rocking Dog

Chasing Shadows

Winter Hedgerow Garland, Rocking Dog

Winter Hedgerow Garland

Fantastical Icicles, Rocking Dog

Fantastical Icicles

The Night Before Christmas…….

diamond star, rocking dog

Diamond Star

Can you believe just how quickly Christmas comes and goes after all the weeks of present shopping, supermarket trawls, card writing etc… etc..?! I hope your days of festivities have been enjoyable and that you have loved spending time with friends and family, together with vegging in front of “Call the Midwife” and “Downton Abbey”!

This post celebrates an all together different occasion. Our son Alex’ is now a fiancee. On Christmas Eve he proposed to Kylie at Ashton Court and we are delighted she said yes! For the last month I have been biting my lip knowing that a proposal was imminent, and if I say so myself my level of discretion surprised even me! Though I do have to apologise to random strangers (mostly shop staff) that I imparted the news to, and I thank them for nodding politely.

Alex like Black Adder’s Baldrick came up with a cunning plan, and needed a little bit of help to execute it. One of the priorities was to involve Kylie’s very lovely dog, a big chocolate labrador. Alex ordered a glass star for Cass’ to wear around her neck with THE ring. First rule Alex get your tape measure out, for the star did indeed arrive but was of a weight and size that would have strangled Kylie’s faithful canine companion. The plan had to be quickly rethought. Alex decided Ashton Court would make a lovely place to propose and a good ruse was to get out walking with Cass’ and Real Live Rocking Dog.

Sorry for all the white lies Kylie. The car mysteriously needed to be collected from the garage on the 23rd December and Alex was needed to go and helpfully collect it with Andyman. The actual mission was to do a quick recognisance mission to choose a spot for a proposal and a picnic.

My allocated mission was to try and make the spot just a little bit romantic- we are talking grey winter in Bristol and not Venetian Gondola’s or palm tree’d silver sand beach! Ikea… the list… lanterns, tea lights, chairs, Christmas tree panels, throws, and M & S….. the list….chocolates, strawberries, antipasti..Percy Pigs (!)…

There followed a secretive strategic planning offensive to sort out the detail of carrying out Code -name Diamond Star! Although I wanted to set up the picnic etc.. for Alex I absolutely did not want to be caught there… the pushy prospective Mother in Law and all that!

Thankfully on the afternoon itself I had recruited a willing infantryman -my lovely neighbour Symon to help with carrying and frou’ing, (frou’ing is my word for styling). Symon and I are good frou’ers! In between texts from Alex we had a VERY short time to set up and we didn’t even have time to put up the lovely 6ft Christmas Tree panels – but then the aged brick wall was rather gorgeous. We legged it up to near the house itself, spying from a distance and just wanted to ensure that Alex and Kylie arrived there rather than an opportunist wanting to steal a ring suspended in a glass, moss lined star! We didn’t see the boy and girl but we did see the two dogs snaffling mince pies and olive ciabatta! It was our cue to sneak away and leave the couple to their wintry picnic and their words of commitment to each other.

Congratulations Kylie and Alex. You are truly loved by your family and friends.

slightly Narnia, rocking dog

Slightly Narnia!

champagne picnic, rocking dog

Champagne Picnic

lantern light, rocking dog

Lantern Light

Circle Of Life.

lovely horse, rocking dog

Lovely Horse

This is the lovely horse Real Live Rocking Dog and I encounter most mornings when we head out on our ambles. We call it the Mr Badger walk as there is an old, long deserted badger sett as we travel through this ferny tract. I particularly love it when there is a frost or the snow which brings with it such unfathomable stillness as we walk. On occasions Dog and I have met deer, a startled fox and large birds (i’m not very knowledgable on my birds of prey I’m afraid!) In the summer the track is impassable with chest high lancing brambles, whilst autumn brings Sloes, Cob nuts and an array of exotic looking mushrooms. With sparse pickings in the depths of winter, spring along the track brings bowers of purple and white Lilac, Catkins, Pussy Willow and May blossoms.

This horse with its adorable pink velvety muzzle is very friendly, and though i’m not a “horsey” person i’m very fond of greeting this equine beauty. Until recently another horse shared the field….. alas it is a still in the field but now covered by red earth and a gentle covering of grass. I hope in the spring wild flowers will germinate and adorn this final resting place. Happily, another horse has come to the field, another equine loner, and hopefully life feels better.

resting place, rocking dog

Resting Place

ferny tract, rocking dog

Ferny Tract

Rocking Dog Christmas Cake Quick Fix!

snow dome cake, rocking dog

Snow Dome Cake

Good morning! Hope everyone is feeling cool, calm and collected. I hope presents are deliciously wrapped, fridge decadently stashed, Christmas frock selected, and coiffure and manicure booked! Yes it does sound as if i’m stuck in a 1950’s Hollywood time warp and no no no, apart from the wrapped presents I haven’t scored highly on any of the other counts!

However, I did manage to get cakes made a little while ago. We try to get down to the beach for a barbecue (Sand Bay near Weston Super Mare) between Christmas and New Year to blow away the cobwebs and to be generally very silly. We usually take salmon and good sausages to burn on the disposable barbecues, a freshly made Greek salad some French stick, homemade soup and nibbles. Pudding is usually a hunk of Christmas cake which we eat through chattering teeth! When the BBQ’s have done the business we fill them with sand and use them as foot warmers. Some of us go in search of the sea (a rare sight) whilst others play with Real Life Rocking Dog and other doggy friends. Like Zac Efron who incidentally still hasn’t been found, the beach barbecue is fast becoming a Ferguson tradition.

Back to the cakes! for a good last minute cake Nigella Lawson’s Easy Action Cake is foolproof. The majority of the ingredients are heated up in a pan, fruits don’t need days of soaking and the baking time is pretty respectable. Pictured is the way I cook my cakes – tips from my lovely Mum. So it’s lining the tin with baking parchment and then with the mixture poured in, wrap the cake in a double layer of brown paper, held in place by non-plastic string. The top of the cake also has a layer of brown paper stapled in place with a hole to let steam escape. Finally I put the cake into the oven with a thinnish layer of newspaper under it. All these papery tricks ensure the cakes do not burn or dry out. To me the smell of baking newspaper really makes me feel Christmassy. Admittedly a candle from Jo Malone is a more attractive proposition … but the newspaper reminds me of home and my mum.

To decorate or not to decorate that is the question. I like my cake served nude of almond paste and icing, personally I love it with some Farmhouse Cheddar. My snow dome cake was executed VERY quickly. I am ashamed to say I bought ready rolled almond paste and icing, gummed onto the cake with apricot glaze. Decoration… crudely piped “Oh Christmas Tree”, Indian blingy braid and some bottle brush Christmas trees….Simple!

Oh well just to get through Christmas Day to get the much loved day on the beach and the wedge of cake! PS. the nude cake is safely stashed in a tin ready to be paired with some yummy cheese.

beach cake, rocking dog

Beach Cake

brown paper packages tied  up with string , rocking dog

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

snow domed, rocking dog

Snow Domed

I’m Dreaming Of a White Christmas!

snowy real live rocking dog, rocking dog

Snowy Real Live Rocking Dog

Yes, Real Live Rocking Dog is dreaming of a white Christmas. However, the lovely Carol Kirkwood doesn’t think it’s going to be, that’s unless you are hiking on some godforsaken Scottish peak. RLR Dog comes over a bit silly when there’s been a snowfall- he doesn’t quite know whether to eat the snow, roll in it or dash around in mad circles!

Two of the photo’s here were taken in the mid sixties when snow somehow seemed deeper, whiter, crisper, gathered in huge drifts and seemingly hung around for the entire winter! My dad Doug, adored the snow, or rather sledging, and would be so excited to bring out the sledge for its first voyage on unchartered freshly fallen snow. Our infamous childhood sledge was constructed by Doug, and consisted of basically a door on huge copper tubing runners, you could seat about four on it. How it didn’t seriously maim anyone heaven’s knows! We sledged on Frenchay Moor a.k.a. The Hilly Fields and we’d keep on going until we could not feel our fingers or toes any more! Heinz Tomato Soup would revive feeling to our extremities and then we’d possibly head out into the garden to build a snowman to get cold all over again!

The Putz House folk have snow already, lucky things. I love the old 60’s kitsch village buildings, but this one is a contemporary version from Rachel Ashwell’s shop in NY. It came back with me a few years ago in my hand luggage.

Well, if snow doesn’t look likely we can  spray snow 1970’s Dickensian style into the corners of the window panes. The thought of washing windows so early in the new year  (in fact anytime!) really does make that idea so completely and utterly unappealing! I really am no domestic goddess.

Have a truly wonderful weekend- it will soon be the time to scrabble around for the last Brussels Sprout on the shelf, perish the thought!

doug clearing snow 1960's, rocking dog

Doug Clearing Snow 1960’s

snowman building 1967 isn, rocking dog

Snowman Building 1967 ish

smug putz house folk, rocking dog

Smug Putz House Folk