Monthly Archives: December 2015

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Gifts For The Three Graces!

Jazzing Up Vouchers

Jazzing Up Vouchers

Rocking Dog hopes you have had a wonderful Christmas and with not too many “left-over”meals to endure! Our house is now empty and eerily quiet, and with the realisation that there are Christmas cards that never got posted and presents still awaiting their final destination. Winging their way to London as we speak are presents for The Three Graces a.k.a my lovely nieces. Sorry girls it’s another voucher year.. thought you’d appreciate a trip to murderously busy Oxford Street! Your cruel relatives.

Now for pimping boring plain envelopes. Use fairy cake cases of varying patterns and sizes to create a simple rosette. Use Pritt to glue the layers together. Finally add a pretty rosette centrepiece. I cut these Austen age fashionista’s from an old Selvedge magazine. Voila! A simple frou in literally seconds. (P.S Thank you to my girls for my luxurious Selvedge subcription…..Love it!)

In between eating we have managed some muddy dog walks. Real Live Rocking Dog truly recommends the Bath Skyline Walk. It has commanding views of the city and takes you through a variety of terrains. It certainly blew away the cobwebs on Boxing Day.

I want to make a start on cutting squares for a quilt for Sorrel and Pete. It’s going to be very Arts and Crafts, and I hope it will grace a home of their own, sometime very soon. The Rocking Dog material mountain has been revolutionised by a deep book case, thank you to Leon in Clifton Arcade. Materials are much more easy to select and organise… Hallelujah! The other bonus is that there is floor space freed up to pattern lay and dance!

Whatever the dying embers of 2015 brings, I hope you have an enjoyable time.

Beauty, Rocking Dog

Beauty

Charm..., Rocking Dog

Charm…

And Joy! Rocking Dog

And Joy!

That Time Of Year Again To Make Gravadlax

beetroot gravadlax in the making, rocking dog

Beetroot Gravadlax In The Making

Yes it is that time of year again in the Rocking Dog household to make Gravadlax. It is becoming a little bit of a tradition now to prepare this in readiness of a Scandi’ style meal on Boxing Day. Therefore blinis, rye bread, Gravadlax, cornichons, dill sour cream, a crunchy radish and fennel salad all feature. It’s not even as if we have turkey leftovers to contemplate, for we are going against tradition and having venison tomorrow.

When does something become a tradition? Is it when a recipe or activity is repeated more than once, or does it have to be something you do over several years for it to qualify as a tradition? I wonder how many of the things we do as a family over the festive period will be continued in future generations. Maybe, making Gravadlax will be one of those hand me down traditions!

So the salmon has had it’s generous coat of grated beetroot, orange zest, horseradish, salt, dill and vodka and is currently curing in the fridge. I love Jamie Oliver’s recipe for gravadlax especially when it is accompanied by his crunchy salad. The beetroot which he recommends gives the salmon a wonderful puce colour, whilst the salad is crisp and refreshing. A perfect antidote for the carb-fest of Christmas day.

We enjoyed some Gravadlax whilst in Stockholm last year. Particularly memorable was a wonderful smorgasbord served aboard a boat. We spent a winters afternoon happily sailing Stockholm’s archipelago. The food was copious and delicious….and included in the price of the trip… bargainous by Scandinavian standards! We feasted on pickled herring, smoked salmon, cured meats, a cornucopia of salads, cheese, roast potatoes and a groaning table laden with desserts. We really want to return to Stockholm, to “do” the Blue Train trip, to revisit The Hairy Pig and The Vasa. We also missed out on The Abba Museum, Andyman the misery, really wasn’t keen!

Back to the Rocking Dog kitchen, today I am finally putting a Christmas cake in the oven, after all IT IS tradition.

I hope all your preparations are going well, and that you aren’t going to be doing battle for the last Brussel Sprout in the shop today!

the finished article, rocking dog

The Finished Article

simple crunchy salad, rocking dog

Simple Crunchy Salad

Boat Food, Stockholm

Boat Food, Stockholm

'Tis The Season To Be Jolly!, Rocking Dog

‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly!

Swedish Nativity, Rocking Dog

Swedish Nativity

Floristry The Stockholm Way, Rocking Dog

Floristry The Stockholm Way

What A Wonderful World- A Wet Zoo Trip!

Bejewelled Birds, Rocking Dog

Bejewelled Birds

What do you do when it’s blowing a gale, grey, wet, muddy and miserable? Simple, take a friend to the zoo! Bristol Zoo provided a day with driving rain, cold animals and umbrella’s blowing inside out. However……It was lovely to reacquaint myself with a myriad of amazing creatures and exotic plants.

Thankfully there is no pacing Polar Bear, Elephant, White Tiger cage or Brown Bears- all memories of my childhood visits. More sadly there are no longer monkeys residing in the 1920’s temple.

Walking around the various enclosures it was so evident just how inspirational nature is for fashion, paint colours, fabrics and wallpapers. I loved some of the corals, so fragile, such spectacular colours and shapes. What A Wonderful World. Just wish we could all look after it so much better.

The Flamingo’s seemed to pay no attention to the inclement weather- it was all water off a Flamingo’s back! Their exotic pink colour comes about from the pigments in the organisms they consume. Seeing them reminded me of a roll of wallpaper that i’d stashed away (£5 oddment). A wrap was done. OK, it’s not Christmassy … but lovely nevertheless!

The Butterfly house saw exotic butterflies coming into land. Wonderful fluttering corsages, brooches and decoration for our damp coats. Once home I reached out for my coveted roll of Christian Lacroix wallpaper and did a bit of creative wrapping. I took a page from an interior design brochure, wrapped my gift and added butterflies cut out from the wallpaper. I just Pritt- sticked the centres of the butterflies, so that my paper creatures looked as if they were about to fly.

I really must get around to Christmas and to finally writing a list!

Our Fragile Planet, Rocking Dog

Our Fragile Planet

A Real One....., Rocking Dog

A Real One…..

...And Paper Ones!, Rocking Dog

…And Paper Ones!

Tactile Nature, Rocking Dog

Tactile Nature

Water Off A Flamingo's Back!, Rocking Dog

Water Off A Flamingo’s Back!

Flamingo Wrap, Rocking Dog

Flamingo Wrap

Rocking Dog Despising Pies!

Sugar Plum Fairy, Rocking Dog

Sugar Plum Fairy

Yes, it’s true i’m truly despising pies, mince pies in particular! Having baked about 23 dozen this festive season I am determinedly hanging up my mince pie making apron!

So.. if you want to make your own pies here are some Rocking Dog pointers…

I make my own pastry (by hand rather than processor) using half the quantity of fat to plain flour (ie.. 400g flour, 200g fat). I use 1/2 butter and 1/2 Cookeen straight from the fridge, grating the fat into the flour before rubbing it in. Use egg and freshly squeezed orange juice to bind. Alternatively use a shop bought pastry– there are some good ones out there.

Handle the dough lightly and roll out carefully.

After rolling out and lining the tartlet tins use mincemeat which has been mixed in a bowl with some luxury dried fruit and a good lug of Brandy (Cointreau,Rum etc..). Top the mincemeat with some cream cheese combined with orange zest and a little caster sugar.

After brushing the open tarts with a little milk or egg, top the tarts with their tops. Use scissors to cut three V shapes into the pastry ( My Mum did this, telling me that the three cuts represented the three wise men). Brush with egg and a sprinkling of caster sugar. Bake at 180 for approx 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

I have just had a horrible thought that I will need to put my apron back on- I need to leave out a mince pie for Santa’!

Who Made All The Pies, Rocking Dog

Who Made All The Pies

Tarts With Tops On, Rocking Dog

Tarts With Tops On

Cooling, Rocking Dog

Cooling

Tinned, Rocking Dog

Tinned

Christmassed!, Rocking Dog

Christmassed!

Spiced Orange, Rocking Dog

Spiced Orange

Rocking Dog Looks After The Birds

Feed Me!, Rocking Dog

Feed Me!

With the current mild weather it doesn’t seem of paramount importance to feed the birds. However, whilst I went in search of red and tan shoe polishes I came across an empty coconut shell. Does anyone else have a rather eclectic under-sink cupboard? I had a slight light bulb moment. I could use the shell plus the seeds and nuts I had set aside (they were past their best before date) to make a seedy bird cake.

To make your own seedy bird cake-

1. Drill a hole in your coconut half and thread with a loop of string.
2. Plug the string hole with a little piece of crumpled greaseproof paper (this stops the fat melted leaking)
3. Melt approximately 150g lard or white vegetable fat in a pan over a low heat. Cool slightly.
4. Stir in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and nuts- whatever you have to hand.
5. Place coconut shell in a bowl which supports it whilst the melted fat sets.
6. Pour the nut/fat mix into the coconut shell. Cool, before transferring to the fridge to set.
7. After about an hour your filled shell should be set and ready to hang from a branch or bird table.

After my making moment, I did get around to using the red and tan shoe polishes. I love brightly coloured shoes, and recently discovered that I didn’t have any dark shoes to wear to a funeral. I sheepishly slunk into the pew wearing scarlet leather brogues. The only thing that made it feel ok, was knowing that the lady we were all remembering loved clothes and colour. Black shoes have a depression inducing effect on me, strange when black clothes are a wardrobe staple.

Later, I made food for my own boy chick, pudding being homemade windfall apple pie with homemade custard. I hope he and lovely fiancee thought it was worth the drive over!

Here’s hoping you have a great weekend ahead of you and that things aren’t too frenetically busy. One thing’s for certain we haven’t got a white Christmas (link- May The Force Be With You!!) to look forward to. BAH HUMBUG!

The Components, Rocking Dog

The Components

Fat, Nuts & Seeds, Rocking Dog

Fat, Nuts & Seeds

Coconut Mould, Rocking Dog

Coconut Mould

Fridge Fodder, Rocking Dog

Fridge Fodder

Come & Get Me!, Rocking Dog

Come & Get Me!

Food For My Chick, Rocking Dog

Food For My Chick

The Paper Cut Out Dolls Do Cranberry Zinger

Zinger Ingredients, Rocking Dog

Zinger Ingredients

The paper cut out dolls have been rather languishing in the Rocking Dog embellishments folder. Yesterday they escaped their plastic sleeve to make Cranberry Zinger. A hot mulled cranberry punch, it’s a delicious non alcoholic toddy for those who have drawn the short straw for driving home.

I’m not a great one for measurements, so maybe this should be named Slinger Zinger! The gist of the recipe is cartons of cranberry juice, peeled root ginger thinly sliced, cloves, cinnamon stick, sliced clementines and a handful of fresh cranberries (or pomegranate seeds). Put all the ingredients into a pan and put it over a low heat to gradually simmer. Ideally it’s best not to allow it to boil. You could do this a good time ahead of a party, by taking the Zinger off the heat and allowing all the ingredients to infuse. Prior to guests arriving the pan can then be returned to the heat. Taste the Zinger and it may need a little sugar or honey to sweeten it. Serve in glasses and stand around the piano singing Christmas carols.

Moving on from cranberries to hedgerow berries, have you noticed how heavy the holly bushes are with berries this winter? My mum always used to say “lots of berries, we’re in for a hard winter”. Her folklore was that mother nature supplied extra berries for birds and other wildlife if a raw winter was in prospect. Talking about wildlife the white rabbits residing in a field behind the house are proliferating rapidly, indeed…. breeding like rabbits! It is all rather surreal going out at dusk with Real Live Rocking Dog to see the field littered with luminous white rabbits. It all feels a bit like Tellytubbyland.

On a walk one morning last week RLR Dog and I literally bumped into the most magnificent pheasant striding across the road. He really was the most handsome fellow. A car driver and I just smiled at each other, recognising that we were so privileged to be seeing this creature so closely.

The paper cut out dolls are rather reluctant to return to their plastic sleeve and are rather hoping to decorate the gingerbread house. Try as I might they really aren’t interested in making mince pies…. boo hiss!

Cranberries & Spices, Rocking Dog

Cranberries & Spices

In The Pan, Rocking Dog

In The Pan

Rose Hips, Rocking Dog

Rose Hips

Abundant Berries, Rocking Dog

Abundant Berries

A Hard Winter In Prospect, Rocking Dog

A Hard Winter In Prospect

Join Us For A Zinger?, Rocking Dog

Join Us For A Zinger?

Thank you Presents For Going The Extra Mile

Heavenly Sweet Stash, Rocking Dog

Heavenly Sweet Stash

A massive thank you to all who came to my Rocking Dog Christmas Sale on Sunday. It was great to see so many of you and thank you to those who came from Wiltshire and Dorset together with those who organised babysitters (feel very honoured)! Truly appreciate your support. Thank you too for those who gave so generously for refreshments, I was able to write out a cheque for £104.50 for “Young Carer’s “. A million thanks.

The house is looking relatively calm after the mayhem of yesterday. Monday dawned with an early start, I was writing Christmas cards at 4 am… I apologise to any card recipients who can’t read my gobbledy gook! Later, I gathered cake together for Andyman’s work colleagues. A little chocolatey thank you never goes amiss.

Dorset Apple Cake, Sour Cherry Amaretti (Ottolenghi), Billionaire’s Shortbread (absolutely none for Donald Trump), Sticky Sloe Gin Rocky Road (based on Nigella’s Rocky Road) and Dark & White Chocolate Brownie (Nigella) made up this cake tray. I could not bring myself to make any mince pies. Having made 16 dozen so far this year, I am getting a bit teeny weeny bit tired of these traditional festive delicacies.

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well. I haven’t written any lists and I feel a bit out of control! One of Andyman’s favourite sayings is ” Fail to plan, plan to fail” but there again it’s not life threatening if we forget to pick up a turkey!

I Love Dorset!, Rocking Dog

I Love Dorset!

Are You Driving?, Rocking Dog

Are You Driving?

Gilded & Gorgeous!, Rocking Dog

Gilded & Gorgeous!

Gluten & Dairy Free, Rocking Dog

Gluten & Dairy Free

Ready To Wrap, Rocking Dog

Ready To Wrap

Just The Job., Rocking Dog

Just The Job.

A Little Reminder From Toby & Mrs Mac

Toby & Mrs Mac Warmly Welcome You, Rocking Dog

Toby & Mrs Mac Warmly Welcome You

Yes, A Little Reminder From Toby & Mrs Mac regarding Rocking Dogs Sale which is happening this Sunday 11-2ish. They would love to see you. Bless them they have a brilliant viewpoint from their lofty mantlepiece spot. However, they are slightly disgruntled by the amount of Christmas Crud crammed on their home turf. Life certainly feels more overcrowded. You may remember how Mrs Mac got her name – her script tells us -she is a present from Fleetwood!

So in short, lovely Rocking Dog sewn items to buy, a few bits of furniture to relocate to new homes, truly delicious homemade cakes to stash, vintage table linen etc.. and lots of Christmas slush!

There will be space to sit around the kitchen table to eat cake, enjoy a coffee or mulled drink and have a natter! All profits from refreshments will go to Young Carers.

Parking – The White Horse Inn is sadly currently unoccupied, I suggest parking in their car park and then walking the short walk down Mill Lane to Christmas madness!

A warm welcome awaits you- see if you can spot Toby and Mrs Mac in Christmas crudville.

Look forward to seeing you. Liz x

PS. If you haven’t purchased your Christmas tree yet- there are some great places to buy one close by.

Festive Hosiery, Rocking Dog

Festive Hosiery

Holiday Essentials, Rocking Dog

Holiday Essentials

Rocking Dog Banners, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Banners

Still Advent Time, Rocking Dog

Still Advent Time

Wrapping Essentials, Rocking Dog

Wrapping Essentials

Beautiful Bags, Rocking Dog

Beautiful Bags

Witness Decoration Addiction!, Rocking Dog

Witness Decoration Addiction!

Meet Real Live Rocking Dog, Rocking Dog

Meet Real Live Rocking Dog

...And Eat Lots Of Cake!, Rocking Dog

…And Eat Lots Of Cake!

Grinched Out!- R.D. Christmas Decorates.

1960's Christmas Tableau, Rocking Dog

1960’s Christmas Tableau

Rocking Dog is well and truly Grinched Out! Enough, Enough Now!

PS. After going missing last Christmas Zac is Back! Sure the girls will be pleased to see you Zac.

Rocking Dog Christmas Sale 11-2 Sunday. Proceeds from delicious refreshments to Young Carers.
Please contact me if you would like further information. Lots of…..……!

Let It Snow!, Rocking Dog

Let It Snow!

Wash-Tub Tree, Rocking Dog

Wash-Tub Tree

Shimmer & Shine, Rocking Dog

Shimmer & Shine

Cake Frou, Rocking Dog

Cake Frou

Mince Pie Anyone?, Rocking Dog

Mince Pie Anyone?

Polar Bear Prowl, Rocking Dog

Polar Bear Prowl

Naive Nativity, Rocking Dog

Naive Nativity

Baubles Galore!, Rocking Dog

Baubles Galore!

Zac's Back!, Rocking Dog

Zac’s Back!

Wrapping- Rocking Dog Style

Good Boy Gift, Rocking Dog

Good Boy Gift

In amongst seriously Grinching the house I have been trying to keep up with wrapping gifts. Too many times I have struggled exhaustedly into bed in the early hours of Christmas morning after a last minute wrapping session.

My latest wrapping offerings include my perennial favourite- wallpaper. Bargain bin exotic wallpapers are much cheaper than individual sheets of gift wrap and so effective when given bold ribbons and luggage label tags. My latest wallpaper purchase is a massively reduced roll of Christian Lacroix butterfly paper. I would have loved the blue colour way but beggars can’t be choosers! I look forward to some spring/summer wrapping using this amazing paper.

Clementine wrappers, wire scourers, Mexican matches, Christmas decorations and candy canes all help to make stylishly wrapped gifts.

Rustic Wrap, Rocking Dog

Rustic Wrap

Button Fastening, Rocking Dog

Button Fastening

 Matches & Scourers, Rocking Dog

Matches & Scourers

Wallpaper Wrap, Rocking Dog

Wallpaper Wrap

Another Wallpaper, Rocking Dog

Another Wallpaper

Latest Wallpaper, Rocking Dog

Latest Wallpaper