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By Popular Request Rocking Dog Is Opening The Oven Door

Rocking Dog Loves To Bake,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Loves To Bake

Earlier this week I had such a beautifully written request for a Rocking Dog foodie fest. It came with a painterly robin and I was magically lured into saying yes to opening the Rocking Dog oven door. I am so easily persuaded! I am a creature of habit and have decided the kennel is the only place I feel happy selling my wares. So…. Rocking Dog will be doing a short but sweet “Pop Up” on Sunday 17th December from 11am -1pm (if people want to linger after this time that will be great, we’ll see how the party is going!)

Apart from a warm welcome you can expect freshly baked cakes, mince pies and other goodies to give as presents or to stash away. There’ll also be freshly made organic Seville Orange Marmalade (thank you to Abel & Cole for their 6kg box of citrusy sunshine). More will follow in a future post about my marmalade making.. all 44lbs of it! On a non edible theme pick up lovingly sewn items from Rocking Dog, including Christmas stockings and i’m hoping to bash out some fab’ cushions over the next few days.

Mulled drinks and refreshments await you in the Rocking Dog kitchen, bring friends, meet friends, make friends. Profits from refreshments are going to Young Carer’s “Christmas In A Box”. We are getting ready to make up boxes for identified families in particular need. Boxes will be filled with everything for Christmas breakfast, Turkey lunch and TV supper. A last financial push to really make these boxes special would be great. Of course if there is a poultryman (why yes…. I know plenty of those!) out there willing to donate ten turkeys ….that would be simply amazing!

Folk who have come to a Christmas event at the kennel before know just how much I love Christmas decorations and of course you can come and witness winter wonderland for yourself. It’s a pretty kitsch affair i’m afraid. I was going to go cold turkey this year and not go decoration silly, but I simply can’t do it… I’m just not ready to be a Grinch! Poor long suffering Andyman will be passing box after box through the attic hatch..in the next few days and then the frou’ing will begin!

We really hope you can come on Sunday 17th, we’d love to see you. Don’t be shy.

Rocking Dog wishes you a really happy weekend and be sure to stay cosy. x

PS. Unlike many bloggers Rocking Dog receives no payment for endorsing products, she just likes to give praise for a product or service where it is deserved. Amen.

Painterly Plea Mail,Rocking Dog

Painterly Plea Mail

There'll Be Pies!,Rocking Dog

There’ll Be Pies!

...Mulled Drinks,Rocking Dog

…Mulled Drinks

Organic Marmalade..,Rocking Dog

Organic Marmalade..

Cake To Buy,Rocking Dog

Cake To Buy

Rocking Dog Makes,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Makes

Come In From The Cold,Rocking Dog

Come In From The Cold

....To Winter Wonderland,Rocking Dog

….To Winter Wonderland

& Christmas Kitsch!,Rocking Dog

& Christmas Kitsch!

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

Come To The Next Rocking Dog Huddle!

The Dogs' Haberdashery,Rocking Dog

The Dogs’ Haberdashery

Yes indeedy! This is a call out for the huddlers to gather on Wednesday (22nd Feb’ 7-9 pm) for the second Rocking Dog huddle. Bring knitting, crochet, a button to sew on, or simply nothing at all! A Rocking Dog mini project can be tackled or just come to laugh and chat. Perhaps i’ll get on with my long forgotten Kaffe Fassett needlepoint, those peas have been SO patient! Needless to say new huddlers will be warmly welcomed into the fold.

There will be delicious cake. I will probably be offering freshly baked Christmas cake, mince pies and double choc’ brownie. Sorry about the slightly festive unseasonal offerings but we do have the Last Christmas themed Burn’s Night going on this weekend. I never thought Christmas decorations would make me feel quite so nauseous! I hope by Wednesday all traces of the tree, paper chains, holly and ivy will have been well and truly banished.

Today I have mint syrup to make in readiness for the “Careless Whisper” cocktails. I’m ever hopeful Tom Cruise will put in an appearance on Saturday night to shake those old cocktail shakers! I am such a fantasist. Truth be known my crush has always been Bill Turnbull (strange but very true!) I can’t really imagine Billy shaking a good “Careless Whisper” can you? I can feel a good “who is your crush?” huddler conversation coming on when Wednesday comes about.

Back to the huddle, donations into the teapot for refreshments & materials. A proportion of donations will go to Fine Cell Work supporting prison inmates to learn embroidery and other sewing skills.

Whatever you are doing this weekend, hope it’s a lovely one for you.

Love Rocking Dog x

PS. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!. Ok Michael… you can come out for one night only..after all this Christmas nonsense in February is for a good cause. (“Christmas in a Box 2017” for Young Carer’s)

Material Mountain,Rocking Dog

Material Mountain

Bookish Inspiration,Rocking Dog

Bookish Inspiration

Patient Peas,Rocking Dog

Patient Peas

Bygone Age Buttons,Rocking Dog

Bygone Age Buttons

Festive Cake,Rocking Dog

Festive Cake

Ohhhh Nooo! Mince Pies!,Rocking Dog

Ohhhh Nooo! Mince Pies!

 

Rocking Dog’s Lost Week

It Snowed!,Rocking Dog

It Snowed!

I am the bear that hibernated for a week, no posts, no words, no thoughts for posts. Unlike a growly wintry soporific bear I was not sleeping in a cosy den, but I was feeling quiet. I let myself forget about words and painted. Ceiling, walls & skirting boards felt dashes of Wevet, bog standard white and Charleston Gray. The changes are insignificant, yet constructive.

I sewed for me and with my lovely brave friend. Sewing is so therapeutic, I can truly recommend it, I just wish it burnt of calories like a dose of Zumba! I cooked for friends, dishes included Delia’s golden rosti capped Fish Pie and Rick Stein’s Almond Tart. Comfort food to warm the cockles! I also allowed myself time to transcribe a few more recipes from my beloved 1846 handwritten cook book. There were recipes for potting shrimps, stewing cheese, making gooseberry vinegar and a recipe for making potato yeast when common yeast was scarce. How I love my little book, I should set myself the challenge of cooking all the recipes a la Julia & Julia!

Plans on how to do the final touches to our little place in Umbria occupied me as did planning for Christmas! No not THAT Christmas, the one that is happening on Saturday to mark Burn’s Night. Yes I know its late…. but.. This year I wanted a ski chalet theme so we are paying homage to Wham’s “Last Christmas”. So .. there is turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas pud’, mince pies (groan!), trifle and retro cocktails. I suppose as it’s belated Burn’s there ought to be haggis too. The tree is going up… again, there’ll be crackers, “Rockpipes” and mistletoe… yes, I am totally mad! However… on a serious front any cash donations will be put to providing “Christmas in a Box” for Young Carer’s families in particular need when the real Christmas comes around again. It will come around sooner than we know it.

It was so lovely to see snow last week, alas only a small dusting. It never seems to snow like it did when we were children. Depressing that it’s probably all to do with global warming… and YES Mr dumb arse Trump there really is such a thing! Pretty please can I order some snow for Saturday it would make my “Last Christmas” dreams come true!

No snow today, but a wonderful restorative walk close to the Severn with one of the Rocking Dog Huddlers. Lambs, winter sunshine, good conversation (thank you Karen) and six miles of mud later I was ready to stop hibernating and to get back to some words.

Thank you for your patience. Love Rocking Dog x

PS You may just ask where Andyman was during my brief hibernation… skiing in the same resort as the Geordie Shore lot were being filmed! Hmmmm, classy!

Snowy Dessert,Rocking Dog

Snowy Dessert

Snow Sprinkled Tart,Rocking Dog

Snow Sprinkled Tart

Promise Of Warmth,Rocking Dog

Promise Of Warmth

Paint Job,Rocking Dog

Paint Job

Therapeutic Sewing,Rocking Dog

Therapeutic Sewing

Ongoing Transcribing,Rocking Dog

Ongoing Transcribing

Planning For Italy,Rocking Dog

Planning For Italy

....Ditto!,Rocking Dog

….Ditto!

& Planning Christmas!,Rocking Dog

& Planning Christmas!

Restorative Walk,Rocking Dog

Restorative Walk

Aahhh! Baby Lambs,Rocking Dog

Aahhh! Baby Lambs

...& God Damned Tired Real Live Rocking Dog!,Rocking Dog

…& God Damned Tired Real Live Rocking Dog!

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

A Lost Rocking Dog Fortnight In Pictures.

The Rabbit, Rocking Dog & The Wardrobe, Rocking Dog

The Rabbit, Rocking Dog & The Wardrobe

Where have you been Rocking Dog? Chasing my tail, yes chasing my tail! Broken sleep has meant writing my blog has been difficult to contemplate. That doesn’t mean to say I haven’t been busy, I have managed to find some creative fuel! So this post is dedicated to the lost Rocking Dog fortnight.

Last week I took my 86 year old neighbour clothes shopping in Bath. I hope I have as much style and verve for life as Molly if I’m still around at 80 plus! In between octogenarian Gok styling, I managed to nip into “Anthropologie”. I left Molly downstairs with a VERY patient and friendly member of staff whilst I legged it upstairs for knobs. Sale knobs were quickly chosen, Bloomsbury inspired ones for my Bloomsbury inspired painted doors and whimsical porcelain rabbits for a wardrobe (more on that later!) We ended our trip in Waterstone’s. Molly was so happy…with her bags of clothes and books. Good job!

Another morning was spent with another friend in Tetbury. We made a beeline for “Domestic Science” where we drank coffee and ate cake before perusing four or five floors of vintage loveliness. If I ever win money Andyman can head to the car showroom (isn’t that what every man would do? excuse the stereotype) and I would head to Tetbury for antiques. I spied a particularly lovely set of Swedish chairs, but didn’t even bother to glance at the price tag!

Other vintage moments included chancing upon “Rag and Bone” in Bristol. This just could very well be my new favourite shop. I bought a lovely set of bobbly brass curtain rings for £10, whether they’ll be used for curtains or incorporated into Christmas decorations remains to be seen. After “Rag and Bone” Liv and I headed to River station for eats. The previous evening we had eaten the first mince pie of the season, a little Harrod’s number. Sorry and excuse my boastfulness I still think Rocking Dog’s mince pies win hands down! No Michael, no, it really isn’t time yet.

Talking of pies I made chicken pies in traditional enamel dishes for a night with friends. A retro 70’s dessert followed, Chestnut Turinois. The wood burner was stoked and we celebrated the start of autumn and enjoyed the joys of friendship and the circle of life.

The daily walks with Real Live Rocking Dog have been wonderful with blue skies and a plethora of wildlife. Deer, the heron, kingfishers, moorhens and ducks intermingle with the joy of observing leaves turning to rust and copper hues. Just as Real Live Rocking Dog begins to enjoy his warm woolly coat he is destined for the dog groomers later this morning. He’ll need a sleeker cooler coat ready for his road trip to Italy later this week.

Poor Andyman is getting rather perturbed by the amount of stuff destined for Umbria. I seem to think his car is like a Tardis. Of course unlike Dr Who’s iconic Tardis, our car is not deceptively spacious! Included in the haul are oak shelves and paint, together with the rabbit handles to make a wardrobe into a larder cupboard. Is this genius or madness, only time will tell!

This week I am expecting 300 jars to arrive. At some point these will need to be filled with delicious things. Is it too ambitious to pickle and preserve this week, somehow I think so. Perhaps I can bring back prized Capri lemons to marmalade, preserve and pickle. I am enjoying the brilliant book “The Land Where The Lemons Grow” by Helena Attlee. I always thought a lemon was simply a lemon…..but it is simply not.

In December I am momentarily coming out of Heaven’s Cake retirement and am rustling up a vintage wedding for a lovely couple. Stupendous cakes, vintage china, steaming mugs of cranberry zinger and of course the obligatory pots of tea. It will be perfectly lovely, especially if there is a dusting of snow.

One of the loveliest tasks over the last week or two has been to work on a quilt with my brave friend. She gallantly cross stitched and embroidered panels to insert into a play mat. It now resides across the pond with her new scrummy little grandson. So much strength, so much love, so much care to behold. x

So there it is a potted history of the last two weeks- well the nicer bits. A John Lewis member of staff and I fleetingly talked about tasks such as laundry, cleaning, shopping etc.. being so damned time consuming and yet so annoyingly unconstructive. It always feels feeble describing how you have spent a few hours just doing domestic dross! However I am not complaining, hallelujah for automatic washing machines, dish washers and cordless vacuum cleaners, yes absolutely blooming hallelujah!

Have a great week and hope there is not too much domestic dross to deal with in your household.

Bloomsbury Knobs, Rocking Dog

Bloomsbury Knobs

Bloomsbury Door, Rocking Dog

Bloomsbury Door

New Haunt, Rocking Dog

New Haunt

Bobbly Brass, Rocking Dog

Bobbly Brass

Lovely Lunch, Rocking Dog

Lovely Lunch

Mince Pie Tasting!,Rocking Dog

Mince Pie Tasting!

Prefer Mine!, Rocking Dog

Prefer Mine!

Chicken Pie, Rocking Dog

Chicken Pie

Autumnal Daily Walk, Rocking Dog

Autumnal Daily Walk

Creative Hub, Rocking Dog

Creative Hub

Domestic Science, Rocking Dog

Domestic Science

Jars To Fill, Rocking Dog

Jars To Fill

Wedding Food, Rocking Dog

Wedding Food

Stoking The Fire, Rocking Dog

Stoking The Fire

Sewing Something Special, Rocking Dog

Sewing Something Special

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

Mince Pie Mountain

Sugar Plum Fairy

Hambrook WI gave a unanimous thumbs up to Rocking Dog mince pies and hope they liked the kitsch snow globe presentation. How I love little fir trees, red spotted mushrooms, ballerina’s and fairy lights!

Sugar Plum Fairy

Sugar Plum Fairy

Snow Globe

Snow Globe

Do Not Disturb! Baking All Day.

Trying To Make Sense Of It All!,Rocking Dog

Trying To Make Sense Of It All!

Yes indeedy, Rocking Dog is cooking all day and possibly into the night baking loveliness for tomorrows Festive Pop Up at the kennel.

Billionaires shortbread (absolutely zilch for Mr blooming Trump), Sloe gin rocky road and chocolate brownie feature on my baking list as do some Lemon & poppy seed loaves. I’m not going to tell you all my baking secrets but there will be the somewhat legendary mince pies straight out of the oven tomorrow morning.

Lovely Rocking Dog preserves have been labelled and will make divine Christmas presents for foodie friends. Make up a breakfast bag with box of granola, croissants and a jar of the Dog’s marmalade. An assortment of cheeses can be embellished with a jar of Citrus Thyme Jelly, whilst Punjab Limes can be gifted with Indian spices and airline tickets for an exotic destination! Yum, Christmas sorted!

Well folks the kitchen awaits me. Vibrant cranberry juice is dripping through a jelly bag to be made into Cranberry & Claret jelly… and there is ALL that baking. Just hope some good humoured elves turn up!

11am -1pm tomorrow. Lovely Rocking Dog edible and non edible things to buy. Mulled drinks and Rocking Dog cake to gobble around the kitchen table, and beyond. Profits from refreshments for Young Carer’s “Christmas in A Box”. I need to buy ten turkeys urgently! You will be warmly welcomed and let’s get Christmas off to a sparkling un-grinchy start.

Much love from Rocking Dog x

PS I apologise in advance if I smell like a mince pie tomorrow!

Rocking Dog Frou'd!,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Frou’d!

Labels For Limes,Rocking Dog

Labels For Limes

Jolly Jelly!,Rocking Dog

Jolly Jelly!

Legendary Rocking Dog Mince Pies,Rocking Dog

Legendary Rocking Dog Mince Pies

Our Friends Up North Cushions!,Rocking Dog

Our Friends Up North Cushions!

Don't Be Glum Chum!,Rocking Dog

Don’t Be Glum Chum!

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!