Tag Archives: Cake

Glitter Shoed Gardening In Umbria

Hanging The Hammock,Rocking Dog

Hanging The Hammock

Good morning from Rocking Dog. I had good intentions of continuing to garden at 5.30 am on my return to the kennel, but alas….! To escape the piercing heat of the Umbrian sun I did indeed choose to garden as dawn arrived in the garden. I was awoken by my own dawn chorus of naughty chattering birds flitting busily on the ancient olive tree outside our bedroom window. I gardened in linen nightie and glittery sandals and as a result my legs are in a scratched and sorry state! The Italian version of Sticky Willy is coarse, barbed and unforgiving.

Umbria has had no rain for a few weeks now and the land is parched. It has been unusual to have such high temperatures so early in the summer season and there are real concerns for this years olive crop. The little olives have had no chance to develop before being hit by temperatures nearing 40 degrees. For those of us who pick olives as a pleasurable hobby a poor crop is sad but not an economic disaster. Meanwhile for those who depend on the crop for their livelihood a poor harvest is a severe body blow. Of course a poor crop trickles down to whole communities (pickers,olive oil pressing facilities, bottle & can suppliers,retailers etc…) Olive oil really is a way of life in Italy.

It is not only olives which have been affected, we witnessed vineyards blackened by fire and food crops struggling in the earth for moisture. A huge field of sunflowers have been planted over the garden fence and we hope that in a months time there will be a blaze of yellow on the horizon. Sunflowers are a rotational crop, so it may be a few years before the cheery yellow field reappears so close by.

Our grass resembles cattle driving prairie land. We hope rain will come soon. It was too hot to plant anything new, so leaf clearing and tidying was the order of the day. Planting will be done in October when we will assess what needs replacing after the sweltering summer.

We hung the hammock, added pretty lights and watered the thirsty geraniums. I found the most exquisite little nest on the path. It was truly an architectural masterpiece with grasses and soft pulpy seed heads. It was so soft, so delicate and tear jerkingly beautiful. I didn’t get to sit in my oak tree’d reading nook, nor use my telescope, the swinging chair remained un-sat in .. but getting close to unfamiliar plants was enjoyable.

And Suddenly it’s Evening by Salvatore Quasimodo

Everyone is alone on the heart of the earth
Pierced by a ray of sun:
and suddenly it’s evening.

It wasn’t all about work in the garden, we managed to fire up the ancient pizza oven after some remedial internal grouting. Of course the pool provided delicious respite from the unrelenting heat, and Michele’s provided the perfect escape for Prosecci and cake!

So, it’s back to verdant woodland management back at the kennel and I think wellies may be rather more sensible than glittery shoes!

Have a good week and at least the rain is on the way here.

Love Rocking Dog x

Watering The Geraniums,Rocking Dog

Watering The Geraniums

Garden Treasure,Rocking Dog

Garden Treasure

Unpromising Crop,Rocking Dog

Unpromising Crop

Lighting to Hang,Rocking Dog

Lighting to Hang

View To The Village,Rocking Dog

View To The Village

Early Morning Dip,Rocking Dog

Early Morning Dip

Escape For Cake,Rocking Dog

Escape For Cake

Fire Up The Oven,Rocking Dog

Fire Up The Oven

Back To Woodland Gardening,Rocking Dog

Back To Woodland Gardening

The Meringue Mountain Has Been Scaled & Eaten!

Marital Meringue Mountain,Rocking Dog

Marital Meringue Mountain

After the awful terrorist atrocities in London this weekend it seems somehow superficial to blog on my meringue mountain. Life does go on, children will return to the classroom after the half term break, commuters will take the tube, pick up a coffee, meet friends. People will celebrate birthdays, give birth, date, take & pass exams, care for relatives, buy & sell homes, mourn loved ones AND get married. It is a constantly ever changing cycle of life with many trials and tribulations along the way. We will no doubt give much thought in the coming days to those caught up in the recent attacks in Manchester and London. We will also undoubtedly wonder how and when these acts of terrorism will end. We are ever grateful to our emergency services and recognise the amazing acts of courage and kindness of strangers coming to the aid of those in need.

So indeed there was a wedding on Friday. Molly & Lex dodged the showers to tie the knot in a charming garden ceremony. I loved the straw bale pews bedecked with hessian coffee sacks. Rocking Dog vintage lace bunting was strung in the trees and the scene was so romantic. After clapping and cheering the happy couple down the grassy “aisle” guests enjoyed bubbly and delicious canapes. There were some really stylish outfits, feodora hats, feathers, velvets, cravats, Frida Kahlo print, florals and jewels.

Whilst the guests feasted on charcuterie platters and paella I constructed Meringue Mountain.

To make your very own 2 1/2ft Meringue Mountain :-

90 meringues (homemade of course!)
Double cream and mascarpone whipped up with a dash of Elderflower Cordial and icing sugar to sweeten
Summer Berries (I used strawberries, cherries, blueberries and raspberries)
1 jar cherry compote (I used Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Morello cherry conserve)
Icing sugar to dredge
Fairy lights, fruit, flowers and sprigs of Rosemary to decorate
Chocolate brownie (for those souls who do not like meringue)
2ft diameter tray/board

I loved putting my creation together in situ and it looked great against the woodland background. I had two very sweet and very inquisitive little princesses “helping” me, they simply couldn’t wait for the cake cutting to happen! Lanterns were lit, and the bride and groom “cut” their alternative wedding cake. Vegan guests were treated to brownie and soya cherry yoghurt. Judging by all the oohs aahhs and yums the pud’s were creamily delicious triumphs!

Molly & Lex, together with scrummy baby Dotti have a wonderful married family life.

Wishing everyone a very happy week.

Love Rocking Dog x

Let Them Eat Cake!,Rocking Dog

Let Them Eat Cake!

Berries & Cream,Rocking Dog

Berries & Cream

Vegan Deliciousness!,Rocking Dog

Vegan Deliciousness!

Love That Suit!,Rocking Dog

Love That Suit!

Rocking Dog Vintage Bunting,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Vintage Bunting

Ceremony Pews,Rocking Dog

Ceremony Pews

Meringues For A Marital Meringue Mountain

Gilded & Violet Sprinkled!Rocking Dog

Gilded & Violet Sprinkled!

Rocking Dog has come out of “Heaven’s Cake” retirement to construct a marital meringue mountain for Molly & Lex (together with scrummy baby Dotti). 100 meringues are baked, some plain and simple, others with a sprinkling of crystallised rose and violet petals. Then of course I love a little bit of bling so there are decadent flakes of 24 carat gold!

Later today I will build the mountain whilst the guests tuck into a marquee cooked dish of paella. The guests will pour out into the gorgeous Clifton garden to see the couple “cut” the sugar rush mountain. By that time it will have been pimped with fairy lights, summer fruits, roses, cow parsley, borage, and other foraged floristry from the Rocking Dog garden. I hope it will look magical.

Wishing the couple (and scrummy baby) a truly wonderful wedding day and an amazing married life together.

Hoping whatever you are doing this weekend there is sunshine and lots of good things around the corner.

Love Rocking Dog x

Plain & Simple,Rocking Dog

Plain & Simple

Gilded & Rose Petal'd!,Rocking Dog

Gilded & Rose Petal’d!

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?

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!

Thank You To The Rocking Dog Huddlers

Chaotic Creativity,Rocking Dog

Chaotic Creativity

Poor Rocking Dog had to steady herself with a G&T last night. She wasn’t sure if anyone was going to come to the first Rocking Dog Huddle. She needn’t have worried a steady stream of lovely ladies crossed over the the kennel threshold. Thank you to all those who came. Sometimes it is all too tempting to settle in a comfy chair at home and not brave the near zero temperatures outside.

Cranberry zinger, hot chocolate and tea was drunk as we tackled projects. There was beautiful knitted bunting, a gorgeous crocheted blanket, stuffed rabbit and knitted top being crafted.There were also boring but necessary hems to be turned up and sewn. Other huddlers chose to make lavender crooked hearts.

A group largely made up of random strangers to each other, it was an evening of amazing coincidences. There were folk who had been growing up in the same Kent town and a neighbour who had been treated in the same German hospital that I had worked. Later in the evening I was talking about the dusting room at school. Yes, a room where GIRLS learnt how to dust, make a bed, lay up a tray for an invalid, arrange flowers etc.. grrrrrrr!!! It transpired that another of the huddlers remembered that same dusting room and in fact was in the same class as me at school! 1978 was the last time I saw her and here Diane was, very probably realising that me and dusting was a lost cause! It was so lovely to meet you again.

Your Abel & Cole recipe for haggis sausage rolls was appreciated by us all Sorrel. Thank you. Nigella’s cake was crumbly, chocolatey and calorific! The jury’s out on that one.

Thank you again to all who came last night and a special someone who attempted to make it but unfortunately had a little bit of a car bump. Look forward to seeing you next time.

Love Rocking Dog x

PS Mrs Mack (the present from Fleetwood) has returned to old Toby. Does this mean she saw what was under Wee Tam’s Kilt?!

Cranberry Zinger,Rocking Dog

Cranberry Zinger

Sew, Chat, Eat,Rocking Dog

Sew, Chat, Eat

Crumbly Cake,Rocking Dog

Crumbly Cake

Crooked Hearts,Rocking Dog

Crooked Hearts

Who Ate All The Pies?!,Rocking Dog

Who Ate All The Pies?!

Mrs M Back In Her Rightful Place,Rocking Dog

Mrs M Back In Her Rightful Place

Tonight! The First Rocking Dog Huddle

Are You Ready To Sew?,Rocking Dog

Are You Ready To Sew?

Last call for the first Rocking Dog Huddle! 7-9pm tonight (sorry about that very cheesy link, for a staunch Rubettes fan I truly was!) at the Rocking Dog Kennel. Come to sew, knit, chat and eat cake. Feel free to have a moan too!

This is no “Great British Sewing Bee” so you won’t be expected to make a pair of Theresa May style leather trousers or a boned bustier! Come with trousers that need hemming, knitting that has been lingering on its needles or another long forgotten project. Shamefully I have an unfinished Kaffe Fassett needlepoint that has been on its frame for the best part of 20 years! Don’t despair if you do come empty handed Rocking Dog has organised some mini projects. Beloved Berlina will be on hand, please treat her kindly!

Of course it’s not all about the sewing. Lovely warming drinks and delicious Rocking Dog cake (this month, Peanut-Butter Squares, thanks Nigella!) will be offered.

A teapot for donations to cover cost of refreshments etc..will be in situ. A proportion of donations will be given to Fine Cell Work, a charity that teaches embroidery and needlework to prison inmates. Their amazing work is sold on the website.

It would be great to see anyone who wants to join the huddle this evening. It will be very informal, friendly and fun. Please contact me by e.mail lizferg@btinternet.com if you need any further information.

Love Rocking Dog x

P.S. Wouldn’t it just be SO lovely if “Great British Sewing Bee’s” Patrick was to turn up!

Pretty Patching,Rocking Dog

Pretty Patching

Inspiration,Rocking Dog

Inspiration

Fragrant Stuffing,Rocking Dog

Fragrant Stuffing

Needle Pulling Thread,Rocking Dog

Needle Pulling Thread

Cuppa.....,Rocking Dog

Cuppa…..

& Cake!,Rocking Dog

& Cake!

Cheery Projects To Cast Off Winter Gloom

Winter Mood Board,Rocking Dog

Winter Mood Board

Rocking Dog has been doing cheery projects to cast off winter gloom. No frosts, no snow, no cold but lots of grey, damp and mud!

In between all the usual domestic dross I have been striving to complete some more constructive and pleasurable tasks. Yesterday morning I made Christmas cakes, “Oh no you didn’t, Oh yes I did!” An 80’s Christmas themed charity Burn’s Night is on the cards next month. I am going to hone my spiky snow scene icing and have plastic robin , snowman and cake frill at the ready! Incidentally there’ll be turkey and all the trimmings together with Christmas pud’s and retro’ cocktails. I’m nursing our Christmas tree carefully in the hope I can put it back up. Sad but true!

Christmas cakes baked, I moved to Beloved Berlina to creatively sew. Sewing makes me happy, especially with two or three omnibus editions of “The Archers” in the bag!

Despite the mud and greyness Real Live Rocking Dog is always up for a walk. No matter the weather it always feels great to be out. The change of seasons brings a myriad of different foliage, wildlife, noise and smells. Mossy twigs and ferns placed in a large majolica jug beautifully brings the outside in.

Very cheerily Seville oranges have started to trickle into the shops. I feel a therapeutic marmalade making session coming on!

Winter Walk,Rocking Dog

Winter Walk

Winter Vase,Rocking Dog

Winter Vase

Winter Fuel,Rocking Dog

Winter Fuel

Sugar & Spice,Rocking Dog

Sugar & Spice

Eggs To Crack,Rocking Dog

Eggs To Crack

Happy Bake,Rocking Dog

Happy Bake

Comfort Food,Rocking Dog

Comfort Food

Time To Sew,Rocking Dog

Time To Sew

The Sevilles' Are In Town!,Rocking Dog

The Sevilles’ Are In Town!

The Rocking Dog Huddle, Wed 25th January

Sew On A Button, Rocking Dog

Sew On A Button

I have felt slightly overwhelmed by January greyness and sadness, so the time has come to plot some positive things onto the new calendar. I have had a good response for starting an informal sew/knit/etc.. group and therefore will be hosting the first get together on Wednesday 25th January 7-9pm at the kennel. I still haven’t come up with a name for the gathering, so for the time being it’s the Rocking Dog Huddle. I intend to host the huddle on a monthly basis, the last Wednesday of the month.

Anyone contemplating coming please do not feel shy or intimidated, you will be made to feel very welcome. You may have a garment that needs a button sewing on, or hems that need altered. It may be a piece of needlepoint or quilting that needs finishing or indeed knitting that needs to finally leave the needles! Don’t worry if you arrive empty handed I have a shelf full of books and templates, small fabric remnants and cottons etc.. to inspire and utilise. We will have fun.

My hope is that in time we can learn new skills from each other. If there is somebody who can rid me of my zip insertion phobia that would be simply perfect!

Of course the chat, the homemade cake and warming drinks will be just as important, and I hope we’ll laugh a lot! A donations teapot will be in situ to cover cost of refreshments, materials and to help support Fine Cell Work, an amazing social enterprise that teaches needlework to prison inmates and sells their products.

If anyone would like any further information or needs directions (I am based in Hambrook, Bristol) please get in touch with me lizferg@btinternet.com.

I really hope you can come! Love Rocking Dog x

Coffee....,Rocking Dog

Coffee….

& Cake,Rocking Dog

& Cake

Share Beloved Bernina,Rocking Dog

Share Beloved Bernina

My Stash,Rocking Dog

My Stash

Haberdashery Stash,Rocking Dog

Haberdashery Stash

Choose A Project,Rocking Dog

Choose A Project

Ribbons....,Rocking Dog

Ribbons….

& Lace,Rocking Dog

& Lace

Make New Friends,Rocking Dog

Make New Friends

It’s A New Dawn, A New Day, The New 2017

But The Kid Is Not My Son!,Rocking Dog

But The Kid Is Not My Son!

Indeed it’s a new dawn, a new day, and the new 2017! Wishing everyone a VERY Happy New Year. I know it’s very rare for me to share a picture of me, I so stay away from camera’s, and please do tell me what a selfie is! So …this is my favourite portrait of the year, but the kid is not my son! Toby is my sons old school friend and we share the same wayward hair.

I am rather glad to be seeing 2016 out. It really has been a finger gripping twisty turny roller coaster ride, both world news-wise and for us as a family personally.

Who would have ever believed that we would be going into 2017 with Donald Trump soon to be residing in the White House? We are living in difficult and uncertain times. Somewhat unrealistically I hope that 2017 brings peace to Syria, a halt to terrorist atrocities and a real desire by worldwide leaders to utilise diplomacy, cohesiveness and wisdom.

Andyman and colleagues have had a difficult year, much too complicated to explain. However, with the rubbish of 2016 hopefully behind them, a new dawn beckons. I am so full of admiration for the group who stood up to bully boy tactics! We are gradually sleeping less fractiously and stress levels have subsided, phew!

There have been so many lovely things that have happened in 2016 and I am forever grateful for amazing friends and family. We have shared a wonderful wedding (Kylie & Alex), when the sun shone, bagpipes played, Motown band got us all dancing and the girls and I cooked for 120!

I loved my role as judge at the local flower show in July, though I did have to taste some rather unpalatable things. I hope i’ll be asked back, it was fun and made me giggle. I’m rather hoping in 2017 i’ll get to go to an together more prestigious flower show, Chelsea. Love it!

We visited lovely places both near and far. Cuba was a particular highlight, an amazing country where I had the humiliating experience of being kicked out of a Salsa class (my mother always said I had two left feet!). We enjoyed visits to Umbria culminating in buying some ancient olive trees with a little apartment close by to watch them grow. Incidentally if anyone fancies watching our olives ripen, it’s available to rent and i’ll post a link later this week. Feel very blessed.

The sewing machine has rattled through various projects (wedding coat, cushions, blinds, stockings etc..) and i’m about to start on my hollyhock quilt. I have fathomed that there are enough delicious vintage materials to make myself an heirloom quilt. How lovely that I have built up a few omnibus editions of The Archers- perfect!

Sewing this year has been a wonderful bonding and rehabilitative craft for a lovely friend who is currently in the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit at Frenchay. Her family have been truly amazing, and I have been humbled by their love, strength, energy and innovation. As for my friend I have no words to describe how brave and determined she is. 2017 there’ll be more sewing, fabric painting and the like with lovely friend. Wishing for progress and continued support and love for all.

Still on a bit of a sewing, crafty theme I really want to start a kitchen table group at the kennel- Stitch ‘n Bitch/ Knit & Natter sort of thing. Haven’t come up with a name- but one eve a month to bring a nodule of crafty stuff and to talk and eat cake, simple. I was thinking of hosting this the last Wednesday in the month 7-9pm ish. Anyone interested, please shout!

There is much to look forward to in 2017, as well as an absolute purge on the house and garden. Paint is flaking, weeds are a growing, damp needs to be kept at bay, a shed needs dismantling and the list keeps growing!  When most folk are in bed I hope to keep on blogging and hope the inspiration for posts keeps on coming.

Have a wonderful 2017, may it bring you and your families many lovely things.

Love Rocking Dog x

Alex & Kylie, Rocking Dog

Alex & Kylie

Sorrel & Pete,Rocking Dog

Sorrel & Pete

Our Liv',Rocking Dog

Our Liv’

Places We Went,Rocking Dog

Places We Went

Cuba,Rocking Dog

Cuba

& Closer To Home,Rocking Dog

& Closer To Home

Glamping....Rocking Dog

Glamping….

...Umbrian Pad,Rocking Dog

…Umbrian Pad

Flower Show Judge,Rocking Dog

Flower Show Judge

Maker Of Coats...Rocking Dog

Maker Of Coats…

..& Cushions...Rocking Dog

..& Cushions…

....Quilts...&,Rocking Dog

….Quilts…&

Helping Others To Make,Rocking Dog

Helping Others To Make

House To Spruce,Rocking Dog

House To Spruce,

& Garden To Conquer!,Rocking Dog

& Garden To Conquer!