Tag Archives: Fine Cell Work

First Rocking Dog Creative Huddle 2018

Sewing Kit,Rocking Dog

Sewing Kit

Yes, the first Rocking Dog creative huddle for 2018 reconvenes at the kennel tomorrow night ( Wednesday 31st January). Come for homemade cake, warming drinks and creative loveliness. Escape from the grey damp winter outside and perhaps complete any unfinished project. My Kaffe Fassett needlepoint which has been on its frame for the best part of 20 years still awaits me! All welcome, 7pm-9pm.

Donations into the jolly teapot for Fine Cell Work, supporting and encouraging prison inmates to sew and embroider. Please check out their fabulous website.

Rocking Dog is pretty good tempered (most of the time), is eager to please and does not bite!

Look forward to seeing you. Love Liz aka Rocking Dog x

Food For Friends – Ottolenghi Style.

Ottolenghi's Sweet Offering, Rocking Dog

Ottolenghi’s Sweet Offering

After cooking for 160 Haggis eating folk last weekend it was lovely cook for friends this weekend. How very wonderful it was to have my lovely friend sitting at our table, at last able to eat and enjoy food. Her journey is truly remarkable.

On Saturday evening there were decisions to be made as to just what to cook for our guests. I’m afraid dear old Ottolenghi’s tomes came out…. but I did try some new recipes as well as some old favourites.

There was hummus from “Jerusalem” together with Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio’s & mixed herbs. I substituted currants and goji berries for the barberries and totally forgot to put the pistachio’s in! I also did a Spicy beetroot, leek and walnut salad from “Jerusalem”. Very delicious.

Ottolenghi’s first recipe book (“The Cookbook”) supplied me with the main event, Harissa-marinated chicken with red grapefruit salad. There was also a citrus’y sauce to go with the chicken. Time didn’t allow me to make flatbreads, so shop bought versions were given a flash in the oven.

Dessert was Pistachio roulade with raspberries and white chocolate and this recipe came from Ottolenghi’s latest book “Sweet” which he co-wrote with Helen Goh.

All food for this lunch was easy to prepare and cook…. and tasted yummy! If you haven’t tried the hummus, it really is the best i’ve ever tasted and can be tweaked with addition of fresh herbs, a topping of crisply fried onions or toasted pine-nuts.

We drank a lovely red and delighted in the warmth of the wood-burner. However more than anything it was so lovely to share food with amazing friends.

Hallelujah Burn’s Night is over for another year! Andyman has been busy piping and being vocal with the Selkirk Grace over a number of evenings this week. I haven’t done my usual little bit of silliness with the Toby jug folk, so I hope you’ll allow me now to be just a little bit nutty to bring Burn’s celebrations to a close. If you haven’t already met my Toby jug folk there’s tankard swigging Toby who’s just a little bit grumpy and gouty. Then there is Mrs Mac who REALLY is a present from Fleetwood. Toby and Mrs Mac were bought on the same day in different charity shops. Their joining was simply meant to be. Living a peaceful and happy life with no doubt some shenanigan’s when the lights went out there was a fateful day when Wee Tam’ came to join them on THEIR mantlepiece. Mrs Mac is really superciliously fickle and shamelessly has a soft spot for a man in a wee kilt… a menage a trois has developed. What goes on after dark is anybodies guess, but we need to remember Real Live Rocking Dog slumbers there as does Luminous Mary! Enough of this super-silly twaddle, all that 36 kg haggis has gone to my brain!

Have a lovely week.

Love Rocking Dog x

The Rocking Dog Creative Huddle reconvenes this Wednesday 7pm-9pm, all welcome. Over £100 was raised last year for Fine Cell Work, teaching and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider. Thank you. Donations into the teapot to carry on the work of this amazing charity. Homemade cake, warming drinks, gentle chat and maybe a bit of sewing etc… going on!

The Best Hummus,Rocking Dog

The Best Hummus

Gift Wrap Beetroot,Rocking Dog

Gift Wrap Beetroot

Unwrapped Beetroot,Rocking Dog

Unwrapped Beetroot

Pomegranate Garnish, Rocking Dog

Pomegranate Garnish

Gorgeous Grains,Rocking Dog

Gorgeous Grains

The Main Event,Rocking Dog

The Main Event

Something Sweet On The Lips!,Rocking Dog

Something Sweet On The Lips!

Nuts For Dessert,Rocking Dog

Nuts For Dessert

Goodbye Burn's Night!,Rocking Dog

Goodbye Burn’s Night!

December Comes In With A Flurry

Celebrating The 2017 Oil, Rocking Dog

Celebrating The 2017 Oil

With the advent of frosty mornings it’s hard to think that we were harvesting the olives in sub-tropical (well almost) temperatures a month ago. November saw us making the trip home with our precious olive oil cargo. Snow had fallen on some of the Swiss mountain peaks and there was a misty late autumnal stillness hanging heavily over the slate grey lakes. Travelling through Switzerland always makes me feel as if I am part of some spectacular railway set. Truly beautiful.

November has been busy. There have been some good things and some pretty rotten things. I’m always thinking of friends and family who have had very difficult situations to withstand. Some corners have been turned, whilst for others, corners still need turning. I hope the roads straighten out very soon for all those travelling somewhat perilous journeys. X

The good bits in November were a lovely trip to London to see Future Islands at the Brixton Academy. LOVED! I also managed to squeeze in lots of Biddy (as in old) cuddles with little Douglas, because put simply grandchildren are for cuddling! Sorrel, Doug’ and I also managed to squeeze a visit to the V&A. I wanted to see the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize exhibition. The prize was brought about to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in collaboration with the V&A and The Craft Council. I was particularly keen to see the winning exhibit by Phoebe Cummings who had made a botanical fountain from raw clay. As the exhibit has not been glazed or fired the water will gradually dissolve the clay, the fountain will therefore be ever-changing. Anyone expecting the water spout at Chatsworth or the fountains at Versailles may be slightly disappointed. On this visit I was fortunate enough to witness the once daily 2 minute water feature. Hmmmmm! it’s a watery dribble, however the clay work is truly exquisite.

There were 1,500 applicants for the £10,000 prize, and the exhibition showcases the twelve finalists. I particularly loved Celia Pym’s darning exhibit. Over the last ten years she has darned other peoples clothing and feels a real compulsion to try a jumper on that has been placed on the back of a chair! On January 6th you can go to the V&A for a free workshop with Celia to discuss how to tackle a hole in a favourite garment.

Romilly Saumarez Smiths work also caught my attention. I loved the cabinet of her treasures. The artist is fascinated by stories contained within found objects. Suffering from a neurological disease, she is unable to use her own hands and works alongside a trio of jewellers to translate her ideas. Smith uses precious metals and other materials to sensitively work in with items such as Roman pins, medieval thimbles and coral. Her exhibit was like being in a rather good sweet shop and being unable to choose one piece, you wanted the lot!

November saw Rocking Dog sew a batch of 2017 “Cabin in the Wood” advent calendars and stockings utilising vintage hand embroidered festive table linen. Beloved Bernina has been busy with other sewing projects and has been joined on the workbench by a snazzy overlocker. I will sit down and embrace its neat and clever functions.

There was a sale at Court House Farm, Portishead. What a beautiful event but just why oh why do I get so anxious selling?  On the buying front I desperately tried to resist buying more vintage baubles but alas my decoration addiction got the better of me!

There has been a Rocking Dog huddle, lots of chat, a little crochet and the first batch of Rocking Dog mince pies. Thank you to all those who came and dropped money into the jolly tea pot for Fine Cell Work.

The last day of November saw us sharing a special deal lunch at The Pig at Bath with friends. The food was lovely and I was particularly intrigued by some pickled Chinese artichokes. They looked alarmingly like caterpillar chrysalis’s, but were delicious. A walk around the walled kitchen garden with the sun fading was quiet and inspirational.

So December has indeed come in with a flurry, and SO the festive madness begins!

Hoping you all have a wonderful weekend. Wrap up warmly and stay cosy! Love Rocking Dog x

PS Alright Michael it is time!

Umbrian November,Rocking Dog

Umbrian November

Umbrian Moon..,Rocking Dog

Umbrian Moon..

Hambrook Moon,Rocking Dog

Hambrook Moon

Making Calendars,Rocking Dog

Making Calendars

& Stockings,Rocking Dog

& Stockings

Court House Farm,Rocking Dog

Court House Farm

Delightful Darn,Rocking Dog

Delightful Darn

Dissolving Clay,Rocking Dog

Dissolving Clay

Little Boxes,Rocking Dog

Little Boxes

The V&A Cafe,Rocking Dog

The V&A Cafe

Biddy's Boy!,Rocking Dog

Biddy’s Boy!

Go Girl!,Rocking Dog

Go Girl!

Pigging Out,Rocking Dog

Pigging Out

Legendary Mince Pie, Rocking Dog

Legendary Mince Pie

Let The Madness Begin!,Rocking Dog

Let The Madness Begin!

Rocking Dog Huddle Tonight, Festive Creativity Perhaps?

Scandi' Inspired Creativity,Rocking Dog

Scandi’ Inspired Creativity

Do you fancy a little festive creativity? The Rocking Dog Huddle meets at the kennel tonight for the last time in 2017, 7-9 pm. BUT… by popular request… there could just be a very sneaky glamorous present wrap session a little further along the line….watch this space!

Gentle chat, warming drinks, the very first batch of Rocking Dog mince pies and of course creativity awaits anyone who wants to venture in.

As ever, donations into the jolly teapot for Fine Cell Work, providing embroidery & sewing skills for prison inmates.

Much love an insomniac Rocking Dog x

PS Is it time yet?!

Mince Pie Count for winter 2017 thus far, 4 dozen and counting!

All That Glitters...,Rocking Dog

All That Glitters…

Buttons & String,Rocking Dog

Buttons & String

Creativity In White,Rocking Dog

Creativity In White

Cosy Kennel!,Rocking Dog

Cosy Kennel!

Warming Zinger!,Rocking Dog

Warming Zinger!

First Batch,Rocking Dog

First Batch

Rocking Dog Would Love To See You At Court House Farm

Italian Twist,Rocking Dog

Italian Twist

After a quick trip to London to see “Future Islands” (LOVE that band), the weekend now beckons and Rocking Dog is sewing frantically for the first of two festive events at Court House Farm, Portishead. Sunday 26th November and Sunday 10th December. There are wonderful stalls selling beautiful things to give … or keep! You will find delicious things to eat and there is always the opportunity to drink something warming whilst catching up with friends.

Rocking Dog would love to see you there and to chat, hopefully not through chatteringly cold teeth! Kick off time 10am and end of play 3.30pm.

Come and get Christmas sorted, whilst supporting individual makers.

Have a great weekend, Love Rocking Dog x

PS To all Rocking Dog Huddlers come and enjoy mulled drinks, homemade cake, gentle chat and creativity on Wednesday 29th 7-9pm. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider. New huddlers always welcome.

Advent Season,Rocking Dog

Advent Season

Stockings Galore!,Rocking Dog

Stockings Galore!

Crooked Hearts,Rocking Dog

Crooked Hearts

Ready To Give,Rocking Dog

Ready To Give

My Scandi, Rocking Dog

My Scandi

Beautiful Bags, Rocking Dog

Beautiful Bags

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

Bake, Cook, Entertain, Oh, & Pull Down A Shed!

Sorry To See You Go,Rocking Dog

Sorry To See You Go

It was one of those weekends which just sort of organically evolved! On Saturday Andyman was busy piping and then rehearsing ready for the Rockpipes gig on Sunday 24th September. Are you coming? £5 a ticket or £6 on the night. It will be an experience like no other and I can’t believe I am here actually promoting it, because i’m rubbish at marketing myself! Whilst Andyman was blowing his pipes I packaged a batch bake of squidgy brownie, billionaire’s shortbread and sticky apple and pecan gingerbread. It was sent off in different directions for various sweet toothed friends. Some is being eaten on a beautiful stretch of beach in Pembrokeshire.

An impromptu supper came about and unusually I didn’t dally with Yotam! At Christmas we received a subscription for The Spicery and so every month we receive a box containing spice mixes together with a recipe. Voila! supper sorted. This box included all the spices for Tandoori lamb kebabs, samosas and chaat (a chopped salad). This gift is not for someone who wants a curry in half an hour, indeed I think it is for a loved up couple who want to bond in the kitchen for half a day! By the time I got onto make the samosas I was frankly losing the will to live and I think as a result my samosas were decidedly ugly. How i’d love to be one of those hosts who gets everything ready well before time, slides food into the hostess trolly (!) and takes herself off with a G & T for a long soak! The food was delicious so I was told, so it was worth the blood, sweat and tears.

Sunday we headed to Court House Farm Portishead for the monthly artisan market. It was such an idyllic setting for some lovely stalls. I particularly loved Emy Lou Holmes’s stall with cards, prints etc…Grandma Knitting was great too with gorgeous knits using the softest of “wools” including bamboo. Yes little Doug’, Biddy did buy you something for when the weather gets nippier. The farm is truly wonderful with the most lovely outbuildings. I took photographs of our morning spent there but only later realised there was a great greasy thumb print on the lens (possibly the illicit bacon sandwich!), rubbish! I can really recommend a little trip there.

After the glories of other peoples outbuildings we turned our attention to our own. Our shed sadly needed to be dismantled, it was rottoningly unsafe. Over the years the tiled roof had gained a living moss roof with clusters of ferns, bird nests and ivy tendrils. When I build my eco house it will have a living roof. Four tip runs and still more to go we are left with a rather sad space. I visualise it painted and given huge pots of enormous palms and ferns. However…it could always be an alfresco stage for a future Rockpipes gig!

Rocking Dogs weekend in a nutshell. I must just mention Real Live Rocking Dog who was 10 on Sunday. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea but we all love him so much. When I have spells of feeling sad he gives me the reason to get out and walk. He gives love and grumpiness unconditionally, costs us a fortune in grooming (much more than my barnet) and rather like a toddler has a habit of coming up to see us at night. Happy 10th Birthday Real Live Rocking Dog we’ll celebrate today with a trip to the vet for your rabies injection and to assess just what we can do about that breath of yours!

I hope you have had a lovely bank holiday weekend and that a good short sunny week lies ahead

Love Rocking Dog x

PS Rocking Dog Creative Huddle this Wednesday (30th). Everyone very welcome, homemade cake, drinks and chat…oops and sewing, knitting whatever tickles your fancy. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work, teaching and supporting prison inmates to embroider and sew.

Birthday Boy,Rocking Dog

Birthday Boy

Batch Bakes,Rocking Dog

Batch Bakes

Blood, Sweat & Tears!,Rocking Dog

Blood, Sweat & Tears!

Love Emy Lou!,Rocking Dog

Love Emy Lou!

Beaut' Bootees!Rocking Dog

Beaut’ Bootees!

Huddle Reminder,Rocking Dog

Huddle Reminder

Sad Shed,Rocking Dog

Sad Shed

Still Sad,Rocking Dog

Still Sad

Are You Coming?,Rocking Dog

Are You Coming?

My 400th Rocking Dog Post

Exquisite Setting,Rocking Dog

Exquisite Setting

Sorry that there is no Rocking Dog gingerbread house or cake with the number 400 on it. Life has been busy shopping and preparing for a lovely wedding at the end of the week. Rocking Dog is going to be pulling out all the stops! The atmospheric photo heading this post is taken in the garden where there’ll be a marquee, an undoubtedly very glamorous bride and groom and a melee of equally gorgeous guests. I am slightly worried that my own outfit is all together rather Handmaid’s Tale – I’m just needing the bonnet! The garden this morning was young, fresh, verdant and with the happy sound of little children enjoying the first day of the summer holidays, yay! The borders are looking wonderful with Bears Breeches, Agapanthus, Hosta’s and other botanical loveliness. The old warm brick walls which formerly would have had lean-to green housing for the growing of lemons, pineapples and other “showy” edibles now hosts wisteria with its scented mauve chandelier blooms. There really is nothing like an English garden and this one is truly, yes absolutely truly lovely.

It has taken Rocking Dog 7 months to leap from 350 to 400 posts. There have been times where writing has not come easily. In fact reading doesn’t always come very easily either. I am ashamed to say that in June I read my first book in two years and that felt quite an achievement. The brain is such a difficult organ to fathom.

Importantly, there has been a new grandchild this spring and in turn the nurturing of new parents. The name Biddy (as in old) is becoming a term of endearment I really love. I haven’t given up leopard print or silver wedge shoes and yes, I know I will love him unconditionally even when he’s a grunting spotty teenager!

The seven months have seen Christmas glitzily come and go, and in fact come back again! Indeed, we hosted “Christmas in February” at the kennel and raised £550 (plus GiftAid) for Young Carer’s. We can do “Christmas in a Box” for families in need Christmas 2017. Wee Tam’, Old gout ridden Toby and Mrs Mack (the present from Fleetwood) are busy conjuring up the theme for next years Burn’s Night…watch this space!

There has been lots of walking to be done with Real Live Rocking Dog with a myriad of wildlife- deer, kingfishers, weasels, buzzards, swallows and even a Russian Waxwing! The white rabbits still seem to be multiplying in the field and I never cease to think that it’s some weird scene from Teletubbies! Real Live Rocking Dog also got to walk in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany and finally Italy this Spring. Like us he likes the Umbrian way of life and he is particularly partial to the sausages stocked in the village shop!

Rocking Dog has continued to make food, sew, gallantly endeavoured to tackle two unruly gardens, volunteer, homemake, care for friends & family and always tried to be cheery (for a half empty glass gal’ I acknowledge I am).

Seven months in a nutshell! Somewhat alarmingly the next fifty posts should take me to Christmas 2017! There’ll have been Young Carer’s Christmas Boxes to pack, a charity pop up restaurant night under our belts, an olive harvest to bring in (fingers crossed), Real Live Rocking Dog having walked in the snow again and lots of happy times spent with friends and family.

Love to all those who follow my blog, I appreciate you hanging in there with me

Love Rocking Dog x

PS. Yes, another phenomenon of the 7 months is the Rocking Dog Creative Huddle. There is a Huddle this Wednesday (26th). Homemade cake (fingers crossed) creative stuff, friendly chat and you’d be very welcome 7-9pm. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work inspiring and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider.

Winter Walks,Rocking Dog

Winter Walks

Mrs Mac & Wee Tam,Rocking Dog

Mrs Mac & Wee Tam

Christmas In Feb',Rocking Dog

Christmas In Feb’

Marmalade Making,Rocking Dog

Marmalade Making

Cushion Making,Rocking Dog

Cushion Making

Creative Huddling,Rocking Dog

Creative Huddling

Field Full Of Flowers,Rocking Dog

Field Full Of Flowers

Chelsea Flowers,Rocking Dog

Chelsea Flowers

Quilted Flowers,Rocking Dog

Quilted Flowers

English Wedding,Rocking Dog

English Wedding

Spring In Umbria,Rocking Dog

Spring In Umbria

Swim In Umbria!,Rocking Dog

Swim In Umbria!

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