Monthly Archives: December 2015

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Having Fun In The Kitchen With The Kids!

Eat Your Heart Out Hotel Chocolat!!, Rocking Dog

Eat Your Heart Out Hotel Chocolat!

Yes, I had amazing fun in the kitchen with some gorgeous and very creative kiddywinks last night. This year I have been fortunate in having the opportunity to volunteer with Young Carers at the Vassall Centre.

Asked to do a cookery session, I wanted to do something festively fun with these nine/ten year olds. Mulled Apple juice put on the stove to do its magic, it was time to get icing and sweet studding ginger hearts and stars (thank you Ikea!) The group did an amazing job, some being very proficient with an icing bag. Could there be a future “Bake Off” finalist in the mix!

Cookies iced, we turned our attention to chocolate bark. Melted milk chocolate was splattered with white chocolate and sprinkled with dried fruit and sweets. Some with their mini striped candy canes were very “the Grinch that stole Christmas”. Eat your heart out Hotel Chocolat!

Cookies were laced with string hanging loops, and goodies cellophane wrapped, before mulled juice was critiqued.

I had a lovely evening and I hope these everso slightly sticky children enjoyed themselves!

Happy Christmas to all Young Carers everywhere- you are all truly amazing.

Festive Chocolatey Fun, Rocking Dog

Festive Chocolatey Fun

Iced Perfection, Rocking Dog

Iced Perfection

Cookie Faces!, Rocking Dog

Cookie Faces!

Christmas Has Tumbled Down From The Attic!

Tumbling Out Of The Attic!, Rocking Dog

Tumbling Out Of The Attic!

Yes Indeed, Christmas has tumbled down from the attic! As Andyman passed boxes and bags down from the hatch even I had to say “Houston we have a problem”! Andyman quickly changed the “we” to a “you have a problem”. However, he was kind enough to go onto say that for 50 weeks of the year the hoarding is confined to the attic.

This year we had another attic hatch installed…..handy that! Thankfully, Andyman emerged from Number 3 attic cobwebbed, dusty, remarkably composed and good humoured despite dealing with the seemingly endless haul.

Every year I look forward to unwrapping familiar festive treasures. There are decorations from childhood, travels, ones handmade by family and friends and those charity shop finds. There are decorations with previous life histories- escutcheons which would have graced doors and furniture, chess pieces, and crystal drops from elaborate chandeliers. There is no mitchy- matchy colour scheming or theming, this is all about nostalgia and kitsch!

I met with a friend last night and she somewhat guiltily confessed that she puts up cards from previous years. Kindred spirits we are, for I too have a stash of cards which come out each year. They are a mixture of vintage cards, together with ones that friends and family have designed and made. I recently bought a Christmas Card order book dating from 1961. Contained within the book were actual cards depicting holly gathering bobble hatted children, cutesy dogs, snow scenes and stocking hung fireplaces. The oddest card is one depicting a hammer and wine glass! Maybe i’ll create a 1960’s tableau this year with my cards, putz houses a couple of Babycham glasses, bowls of Twiglets and Cheese Footballs and technicolour tinsel galore!

Over the next few days Grinching will be done, and the house will look at its best. I always think this is a winter loving home.

I hope your preparations for Christmas are going well. Not long to go before the manic scramble for the last sprout begins!

Glass Dome Doggy, Rocking Dog

Glass Dome Doggy

Glittery Pickles, Rocking Dog

Glittery Pickles

For The Tree, Rocking Dog

For The Tree

Deer, Deer!, Rocking Dog

Deer, Deer!

Tissue Wrapped Nativity, Rocking Dog

Tissue Wrapped Nativity

Hand Embroidered Noel, Rocking Dog

Hand Embroidered Noel

Scandi' Yule, Rocking Dog

Scandi’ Yule

Escutcheons To Hang, Rocking Dog

Escutcheons To Hang

Every Year Cards, Rocking Dog

Every Year Cards

The Mistletoe Has Been & Gone!

Starry Bunch, Rocking Dog

Starry Bunch

A beautiful couple tied the knot on Saturday. Unbelievably they gave me free licence with choice of flowers and plant material for a wedding arch, hurricane lamp frouing and fifteen table vases. Brave folk!

I hope the photo’s in today’s blog give you a taste of my foray into floristry. The arch evolved with several voyages out onto the Frome Valley Walkway and Rocking Dog garden for armfuls of ivy. As time went on I became very picky about type of leaf etc..! Wired on to the metal frame together with battery operated fairy lights (Wilko) this formed the basis of my woodland arch. White frame covered, I wired in young eucalyptus and variegated ivy to form a bower. Hours passed. The arch was transported in three sections to the venue by two burly chaps. Job done.

Dawn arrived and after another trip to the St Philips Flower and Fruit market I filled glass tanks with mistletoe, eucalyptus, and limey green and white parrot tulips. In place of Oasis to support the arrangement I tucked lime halves into the vases. Hurricane lamp bases were arranged with sprigs of mistletoe and I loved them for their simplicity.

At the venue The Rodney Hotel, Clifton, I got back to the arch. I secured more ivy to disguise the section joins, added a cloud of mistletoe to the bower and hung further clumps from the arches’ frame. A generous bunch of mistletoe was hung from the inside of the arch ready for the “You May Kiss The Bride” moment, and silvery glints were added with mercury heart baubles. The crowning glory was a gilded pear. I Pritt-sticked (yes really!) a Conference pear before applying sheets of gold leaf, gently patting down the flakes with a paint brush. The fairy lights were switched to gentle twinkle mode and then it was time for me to simply vanish!

Life continues to be stressful, but those hours of wiring, arranging and florally improvising were quite therapeutic. I was sad that the claw-foot bath was looking quite desolate without its burgeoning mistletoe display, and sad that there was NO mistletoe left! But then….hallelujah… a bunch had been left behind by the front door. It was time for my doors to be adorned with a mistletoe spray. Gingham ribbon and some metal stars added some glory to my simple door decorations. The Christmas decorating is slowly gathering pace and I can play you know who without any guilt whatsoever!

Woodland Wedding Arch, Rocking Dog

Woodland Wedding Arch

Gilded Pear, Rocking Dog

Gilded Pear

Mercury Heart, Rocking Dog

Mercury Heart

Parrot Tulips In The Mix, Rocking Dog

Parrot Tulips In The Mix

Romantic Chalkboard, Rocking Dog

Romantic Chalkboard

Romantic Hurricane, Rocking Dog

Romantic Hurricane

A Use For The Claw-Foot Bath- Mistletoe Vase!

Use For The Bath, Rocking Dog

Use For The Bath

I ordered Mistletoe for a wedding arch and table arrangements from the Fruit & Flower Market, St Philips. A large trolley was pushed out with my order. Wow! three unbelievably sized “bunches” ordered, and a mere two absolutely filled my Mini Clubman! On reaching home the old clawfoot bath proved to be a perfect Mistletoe vase. One day hopefully soon, we will gather together four strong folk to lift the bath to its kitchen garden pitch.

The artistic floristry work starts tomorrow. I will definitely resist playing Mistletoe and Wine. A Cliff fan I am not.

Thought i’d share my bargain of the week. Taking in some bags to a local charity shop I spotted a bowl of Christmas baubles on my way through the shop. I can resist everything except temptation. Lovely 50’s and 60’s baubles an unbelievable 5 pence each. Fifteen baubles and a generous donation later, I returned home with my stash. I love old baubles and can’t stop this colourful reflective addiction!

Whatever your weekend holds have a great one.

Best Wishes to Katy and Nick (and Baby Barnaby) for a gorgeous wedding day and a lifetime of love and happiness.

Mistletoe Delivery, Rocking Dog

Mistletoe Delivery

I Can Resist Everything Except Temptation!, Rocking Dog

I Can Resist Everything Except Temptation!

Brass Polishing At Dawn!

Brassy Llama, Rocking Dog

Brassy Llama

With so much to deal with at the moment, I am finding that sleep doesn’t come easily. So at 5am on Wednesday I decided to do some brass polishing to see in the dawn of a new day. Sometimes it’s sewing, at times ironing, cake icing, and other times rubbish TV, but this 5 am I gave my attention to the new -old brass bed for youngest girls room.

It looks as if she’s coming home at the weekend, so the intricate scrollwork was polished with Brasso and a good sprinkling of elbow grease. The detail of this bed is simply lovely. Detailed finials, brass grapes, ostentatious swirls and of course a magnificent beast make this bed so bizarre and unique. So is the mythical animal a llama, mountain goat or deer one wonders. After 1 1/2 hours the bed took on a glow as the first bits of the dawn snuck in. After my black fingered labours I crept back into bed to seek just a little slumber.

Much later, the bed was given a deep sprung mattress and a goose feather quilt. Dressed with crisp white linen, I was finally able to lay out my latest patchwork quilt. It will lay in wait for the raw snowy winter nights when that extra snuggly layer is needed. I give each of my quilts a quote on it’s ticking underside, this one reads “The dank night is sweeping down from the sky and the setting stars incline our heads to sleep” (Virgil)

Sorrel has asked me to sew her a quilt, and I have been gathering together delicious vintage fabrics, including a heavily embroidered Arts & Crafts curtain. It will hopefully move into a house she and husband are hoping to buy in London. I think the patchwork quote will have to somehow reflect just how difficult it has been to enter the London property market (and I appreciate that they are VERY lucky). The speculative and greedy buy to let investors, the astronomical prices, the stressful open days, manipulative estate agents and surveys which flag up WW2 bomb damage have all taken their toll over the last year! Weekends looking for an affordable (!) place to live in, will fingers crossed soon be replaced with frenzied DIY and homemaking. Back to the quilt, I think it will be an after Christmas project. I will so enjoy piecing together fabrics of childhood, home, and scavenging forays. Watch this space for another Rocking Dog heirloom quilt!

An early start will have beckoned as you read this. I will have been down to the St Philips Wholesale Fruit and Flower Market to gather supplies of mistletoe and other wintry flora for a wedding arch I am frouing for a wedding on Saturday. I am excited and apprehensive in equal measure regarding the task which lies ahead- I so love working with flowers and foliage.

PS. It is with regret that I will not be attending the Vintage and Handmade Fair at Chipping Sodbury this Saturday. Life has been truly chaotic and I felt doing this event just a step too far. Sorry.

However, I am still confident that the sale at the Rocking Dog Kennel on Sunday 13th will go ahead, and I so look forward to seeing you. Please contact me if you would like further details.

Swirling Scrollwork, Rocking Dog

Swirling Scrollwork

The View!, Rocking Dog

The View!

 Lookin' Good Llama!, Rocking Dog

Lookin’ Good Llama!

Polished Sunrise, Rocking Dog

Polished Sunrise

From Folded, Rocking Dog

From Folded

..To Turned Back, Rocking Dog

..To Turned Back