Category Archives: Christmas

Enough. Enough Now. Christmas In February Over.

Habitat Angel,Rocking Dog

Habitat Angel

Enough. Enough Now. Christmas In February is indeed over! Saturday saw us host a special Burn’s Night at the kennel to pay tribute to Wham’s “Last Christmas”. Guests were asked to bring nothing but empty tummies and donations for Young Carer’s (Christmas in A Box 2017).

The evening started with Careless Whisper cocktails served in retro Babycham glasses. There were freshly baked haggis sausage rolls and Christmassy flavour crisps.

Guests arrived, some gallantly attired in 1980’s ski chalet wear. There was a very dodgy wig or two and leg warmers aplenty! It was time for music. The lounge was filled to the gunnels with RockPipe musicians who played a half hour set of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, Abba Medley, “Don’t Stop Believin'” etc..

The Haggis was piped in and addressed. It was hot in the kitchen- turning out turkey and all the trimmings for 50 was no mean feat! There were so many comments (mainly women!) that it was so lovely to be eating a Christmas meal without having had to cook it.

Menu- Free range bronze turkey, Bourbon glazed ham, Bacon wrapped sausages, Homemade white nut roast, Vegetarian and non veg’ haggis. Sprouts with chestnuts & pancetta, peas, Buttered baby carrots, Roast potatoes, Cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire pud’s (SO sorry son Alex not homemade versions!), gravy and homemade spiced apple jelly.

People found places to perch, we even made one of the bedrooms into a fairy-lit
private dining space. Meanwhile back in the culinary HQ it was time to clear the decks and get puddings underway.

RockPipes noisily restarted and the set included “Last Christmas” and a wonderful rendition of “Careless Whisper”. Thank you Simon for your amazing Sax’ playing… tremendous. There was also the unforgettable YMCA complete with false moustaches. Great fun.

Puddings were served.

Menu- Black Forest inspired trifles, Hazelnut Macaroon with homemade lemon curd & Mascarpone, Mince pies, Christmas Pudding, Christmas Cake. The Christmas cake was made especially for the event and given a retro snow scene.

Thank you to all who lent chairs, cutlery, lanterns, and to all those who took a turn in the kitchen sink. Thanks to cocktail shakers and all those who entered the spirit with singing and dancing.

A million thanks to those who so generously donated to our chosen charity. An incredible £515 (plus Gift Aid) will be used for making up “Christmas in the Box” for Young Carer families in particular need Christmas 2017 ( breakfast, full turkey roast with all the trimmings, tea and treats)

The £5 Ikea clearance tree is down and decorations boxed, Billy the boar who graced us with his snowbally presence is leaving Bristol for the sunnier climes of Umbria, Bon Voyage Billy! A sense of normality is gradually returning, though there is still a rather large drum kit to trip over!

Enough. Enough now!

£5 Ikea Tree,Rocking Dog

£5 Ikea Tree

Sprouty Chains,Rocking Dog

Sprouty Chains

Italy Bound Billy,Rocking Dog

Italy Bound Billy

Private Dining,Rocking Dog

Private Dining

RockPipes & Sax',Rocking Dog

RockPipes & Sax’

Cake Anyone?,Rocking Dog

Cake Anyone?

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!

Cheery Projects To Cast Off Winter Gloom

Winter Mood Board,Rocking Dog

Winter Mood Board

Rocking Dog has been doing cheery projects to cast off winter gloom. No frosts, no snow, no cold but lots of grey, damp and mud!

In between all the usual domestic dross I have been striving to complete some more constructive and pleasurable tasks. Yesterday morning I made Christmas cakes, “Oh no you didn’t, Oh yes I did!” An 80’s Christmas themed charity Burn’s Night is on the cards next month. I am going to hone my spiky snow scene icing and have plastic robin , snowman and cake frill at the ready! Incidentally there’ll be turkey and all the trimmings together with Christmas pud’s and retro’ cocktails. I’m nursing our Christmas tree carefully in the hope I can put it back up. Sad but true!

Christmas cakes baked, I moved to Beloved Berlina to creatively sew. Sewing makes me happy, especially with two or three omnibus editions of “The Archers” in the bag!

Despite the mud and greyness Real Live Rocking Dog is always up for a walk. No matter the weather it always feels great to be out. The change of seasons brings a myriad of different foliage, wildlife, noise and smells. Mossy twigs and ferns placed in a large majolica jug beautifully brings the outside in.

Very cheerily Seville oranges have started to trickle into the shops. I feel a therapeutic marmalade making session coming on!

Winter Walk,Rocking Dog

Winter Walk

Winter Vase,Rocking Dog

Winter Vase

Winter Fuel,Rocking Dog

Winter Fuel

Sugar & Spice,Rocking Dog

Sugar & Spice

Eggs To Crack,Rocking Dog

Eggs To Crack

Happy Bake,Rocking Dog

Happy Bake

Comfort Food,Rocking Dog

Comfort Food

Time To Sew,Rocking Dog

Time To Sew

The Sevilles' Are In Town!,Rocking Dog

The Sevilles’ Are In Town!

Abracadabra! Christmas Vanishes In A Puff

Kitsch Tree,Rocking Dog

Kitsch Tree

Rocking Dog waved her magic wand and whispered Abracadabra! Christmas vanished in a puff. If only it had been that easy. The decorations are down after a few hours hard graft and now are waiting to be boxed. They are destined for the highway to the attic.

The attic trap-door firmly shut, it will be time to do a stocktake of DIY jobs to tackle. Room by room I troubleshoot tasks into no cost, low cost, medium cost and mega cost jobs. The handwritten job list usually gets stuck to the back of my workroom door. Andyman and I get great satisfaction enthusiastically crossing through the tasks completed. Little things please little minds! Of course the mega cost jobs linger for a long time without being crossed through, indeed they usually get transferred to the next DIY list, and the next, and the next!

Wishing you a good week and hope your magic wand works in getting Christmas 2016 vanished!

Full Table,Rocking Dog

Full Table

Non-calorific Cake,Rocking Dog

Non-calorific Cake

De-crud The Mantlepiece,Rocking Dog

De-crud The Mantlepiece

Shoo The Carrots...,Rocking Dog

Shoo The Carrots…

....The Pink,Rocking Dog

….The Pink

...The Pottery People!,Rocking Dog

…The Pottery People!

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