Monthly Archives: December 2016

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Happy Christmas To One And All

Madonna & Child, Panicale, Umbria,Rocking Dog

Madonna & Child, Panicale, Umbria

Wishing friends, family and Rocking Dog blog readers a truly wonderful Christmas. Much love from Liz aka Rocking Dog, Andy aka Andyman, and Hamish aka Real Live Rocking Dog xxx

Owning Up To A Few More Dec’s

Retro Window Ledge,Rocking Dog

Retro Window Ledge

The shops are reducing their prices on Christmas decorations, Yay! Rocking Dog finds it impossible to resist just a few little ones! There are some turquoise glass bauble pagoda’s, rusty pink glittery pine cones and shimmery toadstools. There is also a lovely tasseled banner proclaiming “Merry Jolly Happy Falalalalala”, whatever that means!

I find it difficult to restrict myself to a single festive theme, thus the table is very nordic with white plates, glass domes, reindeer and budding hyacinths. Meanwhile further up the room there is a window ledge full of childhood memories. Boxes of 60’s baubles, the fairy lights that used to trail around the Christmas tree at home and the tacky Chinese import decorations. Of course we all know that the kitchen is hung with massive glittery carrots. I’m going to miss them when they head into the attic!

When I was in Stockholm two years ago decorations were predominantly red and white, festively and tastefully beautiful. I have emulated a bit of Scandi’ by dressing some little Bay Tree plants with simple squares of red and white gingham tied with rustic string. Presently adorning the windows at the front of the house, in the Spring I will plant them in the garden. I am tempted to try my hand at creating some topiary.

Still outside, every Christmas I make a simple kissing bough out of two wire coat hangers. I twist long strands of ivy around my frame and when the wire is completely concealed by the foliage I add an apple. I use a darning needle threaded with fishing line, and then suspend the apple from the centre of the frame. Ribbon and mistletoe are added as a final flourish. Kissing boughs like this have been made for midwinter festivities from ancient times.

My door is normally decked with a bunch of mistletoe, but this year finds itself with a bell wreath. I bought it in the spring in TK Maxx for £3. The plan was to deconstruct it and add in other things….. but..!

There are a few more little decorations coming. A box containing decorations which look like pastel coloured Macaron are eagerly awaited.

I hope all your preparations for the weekend are going well and that any journeys will be safe ones.

Scandi Inspiration,Rocking Dog

Scandi Inspiration

My Scandi, Rocking Dog

My Scandi

£3 Wreath,Rocking Dog

£3 Wreath

New Pagoda & Banner,Rocking Dog

New Pagoda & Banner

Natural Embellishment,Rocking Dog

Natural Embellishment

Kissing Bough,Rocking Dog

Kissing Bough

A Quick Wrap From Rocking Dog

It's A Wrap!,Rocking Dog

It’s A Wrap!

We are talking about a Christmas wrap of the paper kind. Perish the thought of Rocking Dog attempting to musically rap!

Rocking Dog has wrapped all the presents, and not a sheet of commercially bought wrapping paper has crossed the kennels threshold! Wallpaper, magazine copy, tissue paper and photocopied manuscript paper feature heavily. Bakers twine, tree decorations and luggage labels have been used to frou the assembled packages.

Today’s parcel is a fragrant bar of soap that I decided to wrap in sheet music. Recently I bought an old booklet of Christmas carols in a charity shop for a bargainous £1. In the past I have used sheet music to make festive crowns, crackers and cards. I love it, even though I cannot read music.

I neatly wrapped the soap using double sided tape to secure the parcel. Bakers twine bought in Poundland and bristly tree from Tiger were used to prettify the package. Finally a small brown luggage label was stamped with a seasonal message. Voila!

This post was meant to be all about making membrillo. Unfortunately half way through cooking the quince paste, the gas ran out! These are the joys of living in an area without mains gas. I’m hoping a delivery will be forthcoming before Sunday otherwise Christmas lunch could be more than a little interesting. Sandwich anyone?!

Fragrant Package,Rocking Dog

Fragrant Package

Choose A Carol,Rocking Dog

Choose A Carol

Jars Of Frou,Rocking Dog

Jars Of Frou

Bristly Trees,Rocking Dog

Bristly Trees

Neatly Wrapped,Rocking Dog

Neatly Wrapped

Ready To Give,Rocking Dog

Ready To Give

Rocking Dog Has The Paint Brushes Out !

The Paint Charts Are Out!,Rocking Dog

The Paint Charts Are Out!

Are you mad Rocking Dog? Yes, utterly! I really didn’t plan to get the paint brushes out, but there again I didn’t plan to have a floor laid six days before Christmas. Being the messy painter that I am it seemed a cunning plan to get a coat of paint on the walls before said floor goes down today.

Andyman and I hoofed it up to my beloved Farrow & Ball in Clifton. Andyman thankfully didn’t snarl too much and is resigned to the fact that his wife is a total paint snob! We left with a can of Wevet for walls and Charleston Gray for skirting boards. Thanks to lovely brightly coloured F&B staff. We did a quick trawl around the village which was buzzing with shopateers. I loved “Anna” an amazing Patisserie salon. Particularly lovely was some beautiful calligraphy that bedecked the glorious cakey windows. Just along the way the stall outside Reg The Veg was groaning with seasonal fruit and vegetables. It was reminiscent of a scene from Christmas Carol.

All too soon it was time to get painting, the light was quickly fading.

Job done, we await the arrival of wooden flooring man. I am surprisingly nervous about the choice we have made and am worried that I prefer the underside of the boards. Gulp! I hope we won’t be shopping for a super sized rug anytime soon.

The furniture will be returned, the Christmas crud will revisit transiently, and hopefully in time there’ll be parties …but the question remains, will we ban stiletto heeled guests!?

Have a lovely week and I hope the mad scramble for the last sprout isn’t too traumatic!

Bloomsbury Inspiration,Rocking Dog

Bloomsbury Inspiration

Retouch Required,Rocking Dog

Retouch Required

De-clutter Now!,Rocking Dog

De-clutter Now!

Anna's Cakes,Rocking Dog

Anna’s Cakes

Anna's Script,Rocking Dog

Anna’s Script

Festive Arcade,Rocking Dog

Festive Arcade

Reg's Veg',Rocking Dog

Reg’s Veg’

Mistletoe & Onions,Rocking Dog

Mistletoe & Onions

We Will Party Again!,Rocking Dog

We Will Party Again!

Rocking Dog 350th Blog Celebration

Piggy Pud', Rocking Dog

Piggy Pud’

Rocking Dog enjoyed a lazy afternoon at The Pig near Bath yesterday. What better way to celebrate this, my 350th Rocking Dog Blog post! After a hectic few weeks it was lovely to venture out for lunch with my longest standing friend. I have known Teri since 10th March 1980. I can be certain of the auspicious date, for it was the day we met on a train travelling to Aldershot. We were somewhat nervously about to embark on our Army Basic Training. I remember her wearing an enamel Roxy Music badge. I expect she remembers the fact that I had far too much luggage!

We started this visit to The Pig with a wander around the kitchen garden. I loved the beautiful wreath’s on the doors of The Apple Shed, treatment huts and even the chicken coop. The gardeners were busily planting cabbage plants into the damp cold soil. Kale, chard, onions, sprouts adorned the large walled plot, winters’ jewels.

A Virgin Bloody Mary and Raspberry cocktail were sipped by a roaring open fire whilst we perused the menu. We nibbled on pork crackling infused popcorn. It all felt very decadent!

We ate in the lovely conservatory and enjoyed truly yummy things and reminisced about 36 years of friendship. We ended the meal with a mint infusion taken by another roaring open fire. Perfect.

The sun was descending, and we glimpsed a transient amber-pink ribbon of sky through bare ancient beeches. Such a lovely afternoon.

I cannot believe that there have been 349 blog posts before this one. I am sometimes all too ready to throw in the towel…but here I am, still blogging for all my sins! I hope that there are posts that you are inspired by and hope you’ll keep hanging in on there for the ride! Thank you x

Teri and I decided that this is to be an annual pre Christmas meet up. It’s all too easy to get overly caught up in the mayhem that is Christmas. Breathe. Breathe and eat pork crackling infused popcorn!

Antler Wreath, Rocking Dog

Antler Wreath

Fork To Plate,Rocking Dog

Fork To Plate

Fireside Drinks,Rocking Dog

Fireside Drinks

Stockholm Gingerbread,Rocking Dog

Stockholm Gingerbread

Pig Gingerbread,Rocking Dog

Pig Gingerbread

Pretty Eggs,Rocking Dog

Pretty Eggs

Pretty Pear,Rocking Dog

Pretty Pear

Twinkly Pig,Rocking Dog

Twinkly Pig

Sunset At The Pig,Rocking Dog

Sunset At The Pig

A Massive Rocking Dog Thank You!

Rocking Dog Tree, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Tree

A massive Rocking Dog thank you to all who supported my Rocking Dog winter events. Young Carers and BUST each have a cheque winging its way to them for £132.

Very special thanks to all who came and donated so generously for munching Rocking Dog Mince Pies, Sloe Gin Rocky Road and Alex’s Billionaire’s Shortbread etc… Eating such delicious fare is such a hard job, but someone has to do it!

Massive thanks too for the boys at Hambrook House for their stash of single variety apple juices. All proceeds from their orchard crop went to the charities. Thank you Graeme and Scott.

As ever thanks to my family for stepping in to bake, brew, socialise and tot up.

Thank you to everyone from the bottom of my creaky old heart for your generosity, support, love and friendship x

In The Pink, Rocking Dog

In The Pink

Kitchen Stars,Rocking Dog

Kitchen Stars

New Shoots,Rocking Dog

New Shoots

My Christmas List, Love Rocking Dog.

Are You In The Attic Zac?!,Rocking Dog

Are You In The Attic Zac?!

I should be getting on and frou’ing the kennel in readiness for Winter Wonderland this weekend. I hope I’ll get to see you then. However, I just wanted to sit down and take the opportunity to take a few deep breaths!

Have you repeatedly been asked what you’d like for Christmas? As I get older I really find it difficult to come up with anything. The things I do want are impossibly out of reach or need time. Anyhow I thought i’d just jot down my 2016 Christmas List. Are there the same things on your list ?

Here Goes-

1. Peace throughout the world. I have asked for that one for years and years (we are talking about when Ireland was in the midst of terrible bombings). Is it unreasonable to want a safer place globally for our children and grandchildren to grow up in?

2. My friend to get better. I miss her so much, but she’s come such a long courageous way. In with this big wish I want continued strength for her LOVELY family. Big love to all the staff too. You are all truly brilliant.

3. For Donald Trump to be a surprisingly good President… and that we all have to eat our words.

4. Patience and kindness with my Mother In Law. I will truly scream if I have to endure one more conversation about Bristol’s white elephant Metrobus. Just get the damned thing finished, get an operator to run it and we can all move on…. or maybe not… there’s always the weather and traffic to be gloomy about. Do you sense now why I need to sit down and breathe!

5. Love, hope, support and happiness for Young Carer’s everywhere. you are a truly amazing group of people and I love volunteering for the South Gloucestershire Young Carer’s group. Lovely friendly committed staff try to do their very best for these families. These youngsters have to grow up so very quickly and the levels of responsibility on such young shoulders’ is huge. A massive sprinkling of fairy dust coming your way!

6. Unlike Donald (Trump) I do believe in Global Warming- I hope that everyone makes small personal strives to live their life a little greener and be more respectful of the beautiful world we live in. Buy things you want to live with for the next 10 years (or even better life!) Sorry if this sounds preachy.

7. To make the time to sit, eat and socialise with friends. Time hurtles by so quickly and friends are so massively important. I’ll be ringing you to put a date in the 2017 diary.

8. Keep my family safe. I am sure I am not alone when as parents we say goodbye on the drive way to our children. They are instructed to text or ring when they get back (however relatively short the distance they are driving). Parenting really is for life and there is no switch off button to stop the anxiety and concern as they navigate life’s rich tapestry!

9. To have absolutely no more requests to make Roman Blinds… love you all that I do. It’s just a mathematical thing.

10. To eradicate fly-tipping and rubbish everywhere. Yes the kids will tell you it’s a real pet hate of mine and so unnecessary. This year there have been e.mails to Councillors, Pub management companies and MP’s. Exhausting. Finally, this seems petty but would the litterer who drops a cigarette packet in the lane on an almost daily basis please stop doing so- this simple thoughtless act makes my blood boil!

Yes I am a grumpy old woman. So there it is my wishlist and I hope i’ll be crossing off at least one or two of them in time.

Right back to the serious business of frou’ing the kennel!

Lots of love Rocking Dog x

PS another Real Live Rocking Dog would be lovely (but dogs are for life and not just for Christmas), and oh I do need a potato peeler!

Rocking Dog Still Pickling and Jellying!

Getting Pickled!, Rocking Dog

Getting Pickled!

Rocking Dog is making the most of the crab apple harvest. Organically grown crab apples have been cooked with cider vinegar and rosemary. The pulp is now being allowed to drip slowly, slowly, slowly through a jelly bag. Juice extracted, the mixture will be returned to the pan and sugar will be added. Voila – jelly will be produced. I think it’s going to be a glorious colour. The jelly would be wonderful served with lamb and a great alternative to mint sauce.

Another batch or two of pickles will be cooked up and then it really will be time to Frou the kennel. Thankfully we don’t need to go far to buy a tree and mistletoe. How nostalgic it would be to pull the tree through the snow on a sledge. I know i’m a sentimental old fool!

There will be some wonderful apple juice for sale on Sunday. Produced by the boys with the gorgeous Mr McGregor style vegetable patch, the juice is made from old apple varieties. Buy some for Christmas for those souls who are driving. They will certainly not feel shortchanged.

Crab Apple Harvest,Rocking Dog

Crab Apple Harvest

Jolly Lids,Rocking Dog

Jolly Lids

A Wedding, St Andrew’s And Planning For Christmas

Lost Menu, Rocking Dog

Lost Menu

Poor Rocking Dog is feeling decidedly old and dog-eared! Last week was a busy one with my St Andrew’s Day Celebration, and then in very quick succession a lovely wedding to cater for.

Thank you to all those folk who came out on a cold frosty evening to buy, eat and chat last Wednesday. With these colder temperatures it is all too tempting to curl up on the sofa and nestle down for the evening.Thank you for generous donations for Young Carers and BUST, the total will be given after my Winter Wonderland event on Sunday. I would love to see you then, let’s get festive together!

In between events there were neighbours to visit. Plants and eats were enrobed in crisp white tissue and snowy white bags. I don’t always need to do colour!

Sunday was spent washing a Mini full of vintage china. How pretty it all looked laid up on freshly starched vintage table linen. What a gorgeous bride and groom …..but where did they and their 50 ish guests put ALL that tea?! Four litres of milk and sixty tea bags has to be a record! Very frustratingly I left the menu’s at home – so for any guests tuning in this morning I have posted a pic’ of the lost menu! The Rocking Dog team had to work in an absolutely minuscule kitchen, but the tea pots got filled, cakes got laid up on vintage cake stands and the tiramisu’s were embellished with their raspberries! Thanks to Marie, Lara, Holly and Kylie, you were brilliant. I really do think this was my swan song regarding weddings – the stamina required is substantial and drinking Red Bull is unfortunately not the answer!

This week THE decorations will come tumbling down from the attic, and Mission Winter Wonderland will be deployed. Very worryingly it seems such a short time ago that they were being packed up to head into the attic after the festivities of 2015. Frightening.

Have a wonderful week, love a very tired Rocking Dog x

PS. Cranberry Zinger served outside whilst the venue was turned from chapel to tearoom has the following ingredients. Cranberry juice, orange juice, Spiced berry cordial, sliced root ginger, sliced clementines, fresh cranberries, sugar, cinnamon stick. Bring mix gently to boil and simmer and serve.

Bridal Brownie, Rocking Dog

Bridal Brownie

Chintzy China,Rocking Dog

Chintzy China

Cranberry Zinger,Rocking Dog

Cranberry Zinger

St Andrew's Sale,Rocking Dog

St Andrew’s Sale

Preserve Bonanza!,Rocking Dog

Preserve Bonanza!

Glittery Succulent,Rocking Dog

Glittery Succulent

Care Packages,Rocking Dog

Care Packages

'Tis The Season......,Rocking Dog

‘Tis The Season……

....To Deck The Halls!,Rocking Dog

…..To Deck The Halls!