Monthly Archives: January 2016

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Carb’ Fest Before The Famine!

Chocolatey Moreish Morsel!, Rocking Dog

Chocolatey Moreish Morsel!

Yes, I am going on the straight and narrow…… so that I can be more narrow! But before the banishment of anything which tastes remotely delicious there was just time to fit in a few lovely moreish morsels.

On a trip which saw me drop off dry cleaning, take back a rug, deliver a Christmas present (!), take the car to the garage, send post etc.. I decided to sit for 1/4 hour before more tasks sent me hurtling off in another direction. I chose to sit in Bakers & Co on Gloucester Road. A lychee and stem ginger spritz was a great reviver. I naughtily ate a delicious toasted Salichon, cavolo nero and emmental sourdough doorstep, and took photo’s of cakes which I was simply too guilty to eat!

During a wet and miserable dog walk early last week I spotted a rainswept poster. Attached to a telegraph pole (yes they really do still exist!) the poster invited women, (i’m guessing it precluded men as it was a WI poster) to a bakery demonstration. Interesting! So on Thursday I took myself to the church hall, paid my £3 as a visitor and had a thoroughly entertaining and inspirational evening. The speaker/demonstrator was Michelle Fricker who runs Crust and Crumbs from her home near to Bristol. She opens her doors one day week (Saturday) when visitors can purchase freshly baked breads and cakes. She and her chef husband typically have an hour or two’s sleep before getting up in the wee hours to bake through the night. With the couple having South African and Portuguese roots some of their bakes are influenced by their heritage. However, the Marmite and cheese loaf is definitely a British affair!

Michelle, together with two WI volunteers made some white bread dough using Shipton Mill flour. They kneaded enthusiastically and with increasing skill with Michelle’s guidance. The WI volunteers would later take their dough home, leave it to prove and then bake their loaves.

It was very obvious that Michelle was so passionate about what she does and so keen to pass on her bread making expertise. She had a plethora of delicious breads to taste together with breads, cakes, homemade Turkish Delight and marshmallows to buy. There were also local preserves and Peri- Peri sauce to sample and purchase. My thoughts were with Michelle and how she managed it all. I am guessing she would have been up in the early hours of Thursday morning to bake for the WI Session, then the session, and a days grace before getting up early hours of Saturday morning to bake for her regular Saturday Bakery. All this whilst juggling three tiny children. I felt exhausted by proxy!

Michelle’s enterprise reminded me of another home bakery which we discovered by word of mouth in Italy this year. Like Michelle, an ex potter opens her kitchen on a Wednesday and a Sunday for people to pour in to pick up artisan breads. The woman baker was German and her husband Italian, so there was focaccia, ciabatta, rye and pumpernickel, those wonderful multi-country influences, delicious!

Saturday, Andyman and I went to our first Burn’s Night of 2016- bagpipes (lots of them), kilts (ditto), haggis, and a whisky room (yes really). I didn’t do any highland reels so that haggis remains steadfastly on my waistline. Boo Hiss!

Sunday, we ventured with friends to the Souk Kitchen in Southville. Truly wonderful food – unless you’re a plain eater. Loved the halloumi with mango, carrot fritters, and pomegranate ice cream.

So, the time has come for me to be good, really, really good!

Edible Doorsteps!, Rocking Dog

Edible Doorsteps!

Chocolate & Cinder Toffee, Rocking Dog

Chocolate & Cinder Toffee

Rainswept Poster, Rocking Dog

Rainswept Poster

Chelsea Buns, Rocking Dog

Chelsea Buns

Umbrian Home Bakery, Rocking Dog

Umbrian Home Bakery

Last Supper At The Souk', Rocking Dog

Last Supper At The Souk’

Yay! Comfort Food For The Cold Snap

Anyone For Luscious Sticky Toffee Pudding?, Rocking Dog

Anyone For Luscious Sticky Toffee Pudding?

Yay! The cold weather is on its way with the hope that the Noah’s Ark style rain and grey flooding misery will subside. Celebrate a crisp white frost this weekend with warming comfort food.

Simon Hopkinson’s Sticky Toffee Pudding is seriously good and SERIOUSLY calorific! I love the puddings baked in empty syrup tins (the small ones!) Meanwhile crumbles are an easy pudding to throw together and a myriad of fruits can be used. Rhubarb and stem ginger is a gorgeous combination. Chop your rhubarb into 3-4 cm sticks and create a thick layer of fruit in an oven proof dish. Roughly chop two or three balls of stem ginger and sprinkle over the rhubarb together with some of the stem ginger syrup. Sprinkle over some caster sugar before topping with your favourite crumble mixture. Porridge oats or a handful of museli give added texture to the crumble. Apple crumble is always a favourite in our household and the boy loves it particularly if it has a dollop of Dulce Leche under its crumble blanket! Tut,tut! Large white coffee cups make great individual crumble bakers.

All this talk of hot comfort puddings and I have a handful of fresh raspberries ready to be picked in the garden together with some rhubarb. What a mad season! British asparagus is going to be cropping very early and the growers are expecting two harvests despite the cold blowing on in.

Whatever you are doing this weekend I hope it’s happy, you stay cosy and you allow yourself to indulge in hot luscious yumminess!

Apples For........, Rocking Dog

Apples For……..

...Crumble!, Rocking Dog

…Crumble!

Heart Warming Soup, Rocking Dog

Heart Warming Soup

January Raspberries And...,Rocking Dog

January Raspberries And…

...Rhubarb!, Rocking Dog

…Rhubarb!

Gushing Water Everywhere, Rocking Dog

Gushing Water Everywhere

A New Year- A New Rocking Dog Quilt

Rocking Dog Loves Pattern!, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Loves Pattern!

Yes, the new year has brought with it the quilt making bug! So, a new Rocking Dog quilt is in the making.

As ever, I am using fabrics from material mountain. Many of the fabrics I have stashed are vintage finds, whilst others have been found in the remnant bins of shops such as John Lewis. Just before Christmas I was lucky enough to find some gorgeous Designer’s Guild velvet banded silks and embroidered linens for £3.95 a generous piece! For this latest quilt I will just need to go out and buy backing fabric and cotton wadding. I love to use pillow ticking or ginghams for backing and framing my patchwork. Ikea, John Lewis and Laura Ashley all carry a good selection of ginghams.

Thus far I have selected fabrics, cut 22cm squares (using cutting mat, template, ruler and rotary cutter) and laid out my fabrics (eight squares x nine squares). I have gathered my patchwork rows together and clipped them together with bulldog clips. These neat piles now expectantly wait on my work bench. Beloved Bernina will soon be whirring away to make the quilt a reality. I will sew to Future Islands.

Some of the squares have vintage lace to attach and then I will sew the squares in each row together. Rows completed, I will press the seams of each square before embarking on sewing the rows together. It all grows very quickly. Further along the line I will enjoy sewing vintage buttons onto the quilt. These little beauties will not only be decorative, but will help secure the layers of the quilt together. One of the last jobs will be to sew a suitable verse or quote to the quilt. I hope i’ll think of something beautifully suitable.

I know many of you will worry about my lack of colour and pattern control, but after all it is horses for courses as they say!

Watch this space for the finished article.

PS. Is there anyone out there up for going to see Rick Astley in Bath 14th April? (is this a very sad request!?) x

Fabric Selection, Rocking Dog

Fabric Selection

Tools Of The Trade, Rocking Dog

Tools Of The Trade

Pieces Cut, Rocking Dog

Pieces Cut

Rows 1 To 9, Rocking Dog

Rows 1 To 9

Sew On Detail, Rocking Dog

Sew On Detail

Jumping Way Ahead!, Rocking Dog

Jumping Way Ahead!

A 2015 Quilt, Rocking Dog

A 2015 Quilt

Think Backing Fabric, Rocking Dog

Think Backing Fabric

Think New Verse, Rocking Dog

Think New Verse

Top Ten New Year Resolutions

Anyone For A Dip In The Neighbours Pool?, Rocking Dog

Anyone For A Dip In The Neighbours Pool?

I didn’t make any resolutions -I know just how futile it is! In the Family section (love it) of Saturday’s Guardian they printed The Top 10 modern New Year resolutions (OVO Energy Survey 2014). Surprisingly, slimming down to a size 10 was not one of them, nor getting fit by swimming in the neighbours pool.

The Top 10 are as follows:-
1. Declutter the house. Mmmmm- I can but try on that one
2. Save More Money. Andyman bought me a well equipped tool bag for Christmas, maybe I can fit the new toilet and basin, and while i’m about it tile the floor.
3. Try new places instead of relying on the same old bars/restaurants. Guilty as charged my lord!
4. Read more books. Very thick Nordic Cook Book awaits me, and then as a result of reading the tome no doubt a house move to Sweden.
5. Redecorate house/room. Our house is like the Forth Rail Bridge but crumblier. We keep Farrow & Ball shareholders happy.
6. Take Up new hobby. I want to write a R4 play based on my mother in law. Yes really.
7. Sell old stuff I don’t need. Strange but true, we have a bed we need to sell under the new bed we have recently bought.
8. Visit five new places I have never been. UK Hit list- Derek Jarman’s garden Dungeness, St Ives, Rye, Alnwick, Virginia Woolf’s Monk’s House.
9. Vow to be positive. OK that is until I witness rudeness,fly-tipping/littering, Donald Trump, my daughter being repeatedly gazumped by buy to let investors , Z lister celebrities & so called reality shows, together with sexism, racism or homophobia (back to Donald Trump again!). Grrrrr!
10. Stop complaining as much. Who me?!

I hope if you have made resolutions that you’ll be successful in achieving whatever goal you have set yourself. Now… I better go and find that tool bag…!

Yep! Love The Pig, Rocking Dog

Yep! Love The Pig

Decluttered... Honest!, Rocking Dog

Decluttered… Honest!

Bedtime Scandi' Tome, Rocking Dog

Bedtime Scandi’ Tome

Sell Old Stuff, Rocking Dog

Sell Old Stuff

Redecorate, Rocking Dog

Redecorate

Glass Half Full, Rocking Dog

Glass Half Full

On The Highway To The Attic.

Gathered & Ready To Pack, Rocking Dog

Gathered & Ready To Pack

Yes, the Rocking Dog Christmas stash is on the highway to the attic! It has been the weekend where I have said I need to do a more minimalist Christmas in 11 and a half months time! However, I am all too realistic in knowing that I will be there unpacking box after box of vintage baubles, Christmas 2016. I will enjoy rediscovering and loving all my decorations all over again. I think I will be coming back to this planet as a Jackdaw, for they notoriously like shiny pretty things!

I have been very restrained this Christmas with buying any additions to my collection. I could not resist a box of kitsch 1960’s bells at Green Park Station Vintage Market and some glass baubles found in a local charity shop for 5p each ( I willingly paid much more). I also received Christmas decorations as presents, so those are entirely guilt free!

So, the time has come to box up a trove of bisque cake decorations, childhood tree ornaments, French nativity santons and the like.

There are also my much loved and VERY fragile glass beaded Chinese lanterns. Bought about ten years ago for £20 ish the ten or so paper lanterns sometimes make a welcome Christmas appearance. I wonder whether similar lanterns graced a party in the early 1900’s, described in a book about Amherst, USA. An ancestor emigrated from Scotland to Williamsville in 1872 to establish a gelatine factory. The 25th wedding anniversary of James and Helen Chalmers sounded wonderful… “The house and grounds were elegantly decorated with palms, evergreens, and flowers. After receiving their guests in a spacious reception room, the Chalmers were joined for supper by their eight children and 125 guests in a tent erected on the front lawn and decorated with Chinese lanterns”

Yes, the house looks bare, but in all honesty it’s lovely to get some space and calm back!

Wishing you a good week ahead.

Bye Bye Snow Baby!, Rocking Dog

Bye Bye Snow Baby!

Old & New, Rocking Dog

Old & New

No Kissing In The Attic!, Rocking Dog

No Kissing In The Attic!

Beautiful Baubles, Rocking Dog

Beautiful Baubles

I Ho, To The Attic We Will Go!, Rocking Dog

I Ho, To The Attic We Will Go!

Lovely Lanterns, Rocking Dog

Lovely Lanterns

Happy New Year From Rocking Dog!

A Rare Pic'!, Rocking Dog

A Rare Pic’!

A very Happy New Year from Rocking Dog to one and all! This photo is VERY rare, I appreciate I have been a little bit of an enigma to some of those who have never met me and who have been supportively following my blog. Seriously, there are less photo’s of me than those taken of my Victorian ancestors over a century ago. Recently I needed to send a photo of myself for a booking I was undertaking. The only photo I could find was of me as part of a group family shot taken four years previously (less hair,less grey and less pounds!). Anyway I thought i’d start the new year with a photo to smile in 2016!

I hope you have had a lovely Christmas and New Year spent with friends and family. It is so easy to hope that you can start the new year healthily but if it’s anything like our household your fridge will be still groaning with cheese, salami, wine, beer, cream and the like! The health drive will have to start mid January at this rate.

I’m sure we all made wishes on the strike of Midnight on New Years Eve. All of us I would boldly presume are hoping for a safer world to live in. World events in 2015 have been so grim, and with problems so seemingly impossible to solve. We cannot possibly hope to personally deal with such major divides, but in some small way we can show acts of kindness in our communities. Even a smile or friendly “Good Morning” can make someone feel less invisible, and better about the day ahead.

I think everyone has a degree of topsy-turvydom in their own lives every year. My own family has been no different, with many difficult situations to try and navigate and overcome in 2015. We unfortunately required the attendance of the emergency services rather too often in the year. Grateful thanks must go to the paramedic, ambulance, and police teams who dealt with various family members so wonderfully. Despite a few niggling glitches, we as a family benefitted from excellent care from hospital staff in Bristol and London. Thank you. Even Real Live Rocking Dog required the expertise of his own medical team. We were all too thankful for keeping on going with the escalating insurance payments!

In amongst all the difficult stuff we have enjoyed some truly wonderful times. Sometimes it’s not the things that have cost a lot, indeed it’s often the things that have cost nothing at all that have made memories. We had a great game of Pass the Parcel on New Years Eve (thank you Sorrel). Who would have thought that a few layers of brightly coloured paper, hand written forfeits and a packet of frankfurters could cause SO much merriment!

Looking back on 2015 I loved my day spent at Chelsea Flower Show, still love sewing, enjoyed my Christmas Sale and liked being commissioned for various projects. Friends and family as ever make my life feel very fulfilling and happy. Thank you to all of those who have endured my grumpiness, confidence issues and the joys of a fifty something woman! Special thanks to Andyman who changed my kerb ridden tyre at the weekend without comment, and to my lovely children plus ones who lovingly accept me just the way I am.

I hope that 2016 brings all that you hope for, that life isn’t too precariously topsy turvy and with the good times definitely outweighing the harder moments.

I hope to carry on blogging regularly, and hope that you’ll hang on in there for the ride. Thank you to all those who have been so kind about my posts and who tell me to keep on going. You will never know how much that means to me.

Love and the warmest good wishes to you and your families as the new year tumbles in.

Liz (Rocking Dog)x

PS The photo of yours truly was taken at Sky Garden, London. I can truly recommend the amazing 360 views of the city. Access is totally free, but the cocktails unfortunately aren’t! Bah Humbug!

Growing, Rocking Dog

Growing

Picking, Rocking Dog

Picking

Wanting!, Rocking Dog

Wanting!

Baking, Rocking Dog

Baking

Crud Hunting!, Rocking Dog

Crud Hunting!

Learning, Rocking Dog

Learning

DIY'ing, Rocking Dog

DIY’ing

Walking, Rocking Dog

Walking

Sewing, Rocking Dog

Sewing

Caring, Rocking Dog

Caring

Restoring, Rocking Dog

Restoring

Blogging, Rocking Dog

Blogging