Category Archives: Christmas

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 Despises Dusting!

Life Really Is Too Short!,Rocking Dog

Life Really Is Too Short!

Despicable dusting! Rocking Dog thought it was time to have a little bit of a winter clean before Christmas tumbled down from the attic! Snow will blow onto surfaces, there will be bowls of vintage baubles, childhood treasures, garlands, mistletoe, holly, ivy, spruce and bling….hmmm! and I told everyone I was going to simplify everything this year!

I did clean, but didn’t get very far. It was too tempting to reacquaint myself with favourite precious things, re-appreciating glazes, patina, rust, script, and imperfection. I did draw the line at dusting the old postal shelves with their eclectic mix of found and given flotsam and jetsam. Life really is too short!

Logs were lugged to their hole in the inglenook, and the old castle was adorned with a string of sparkly lights. Material Mountain was given a little bit of a sort, and plans were made for Rocking Dog creations as linens and ginghams, velvets and silks were bundled and folded.

Bronze head man will change his Russian sailors hat for something a little more festive very soon and the window seat antlers will make way for a tree. All is calm and all is white, but in a few days festive mayhem will descend!

Stay cosy. Love bad tempered Rocking Dog and her duster x

Precious Things,Rocking Dog

Precious Things

Prickly Seat,Rocking Dog

Prickly Seat

Lugging The Logs,Rocking Dog

Lugging The Logs

Calm & White,Rocking Dog

Calm & White

Sparkly Castle,Rocking Dog

Sparkly Castle

Where's Your Christmas Hat?,Rocking Dog

Where’s Your Christmas Hat?

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!

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

Rocking Dog Would Love To See You At Court House Farm

Italian Twist,Rocking Dog

Italian Twist

After a quick trip to London to see “Future Islands” (LOVE that band), the weekend now beckons and Rocking Dog is sewing frantically for the first of two festive events at Court House Farm, Portishead. Sunday 26th November and Sunday 10th December. There are wonderful stalls selling beautiful things to give … or keep! You will find delicious things to eat and there is always the opportunity to drink something warming whilst catching up with friends.

Rocking Dog would love to see you there and to chat, hopefully not through chatteringly cold teeth! Kick off time 10am and end of play 3.30pm.

Come and get Christmas sorted, whilst supporting individual makers.

Have a great weekend, Love Rocking Dog x

PS To all Rocking Dog Huddlers come and enjoy mulled drinks, homemade cake, gentle chat and creativity on Wednesday 29th 7-9pm. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider. New huddlers always welcome.

Advent Season,Rocking Dog

Advent Season

Stockings Galore!,Rocking Dog

Stockings Galore!

Crooked Hearts,Rocking Dog

Crooked Hearts

Ready To Give,Rocking Dog

Ready To Give

My Scandi, Rocking Dog

My Scandi

Beautiful Bags, Rocking Dog

Beautiful Bags

There’s An Elephant In The Room. Deal With It Rocking Dog!

Christmas In The Cabin Stockings,Rocking Dog

Christmas In The Cabin Stockings

Rocking Dog has been busy making festive loveliness in readiness for some exciting events at Court House Farm, Portishead on 26th November and 10th December (better organise my thermals!) Yesterday I made some Christmas stockings from lovely vintage embroidered table linen. I am calling them my “Christmas in the Cabin” stockings. Though I think the linens are more than likely German I couldn’t help thinking back to a December trip to Stockholm three years ago. Pine cones, spruce, red, white, tradition and the little red cabins out on tiny islands leading into the watery city. We had such a wonderful time and everything seemed less commercialised and felt like Christmas in times gone by. Today I’m hoping there’ll be “Christmas in the Cabin” advent calendars thought up and sewn. I might go really Scandi’ whilst I sew, i’ll plait my hair and put Abba on full pelt!

The Rocking Dog workroom is bursting with delicious fabrics right now and poor Material Mountain is positively groaning with linens, embroidery, ginghams, whizzy prints and lace. There is definitely no room at the Inn! Recent purchases have been some  iconic Cabbages & Roses remnants. I have ideas to make some baby wear with the fine floral linens. There are “Moon” wool tartan remnants too and I am gradually using those to make cosy cushions. Added to vintage tapestry, old Swedish braid and cut velvet backing one tartan remnant is now a window seat cushion cover. It will be sumptuously filled with feathers and then will be looking for a good home. What could be more lovely than curling up on a deep sill with a good book, hot chocolate and a snow filled view!

Floribunda tapestry, an unfinished project by person unknown will be given bold patterned borders chosen from my stack of Designer brights. It will receive cushion pad and embellishment and i’m sure in its rejuvenated form will find love.

As for the elephant in the room…. it’s my new overlocker. I have been promised it will give me the most professional of seams and the neatest cutting of fabric…. but i’m, well frankly…. scared! It has sat looking forlorn whilst I summon the courage to … well.. simply give it a go. Deal with it Rocking Dog… just deal with it!

Stockholm Kitsch,Rocking Dog

Stockholm Kitsch

Stockholm Fairytale,Rocking Dog

Stockholm Fairytale

Stockholm Style,Rocking Dog

Stockholm Style

Cabbages & Roses,Rocking Dog

Cabbages & Roses

Designer Brights,Rocking Dog

Designer Brights

Vintage Floribunda,Rocking Dog

Vintage Floribunda

Vintage Festive,Rocking Dog

Vintage Festive

In Need Of Feathers,Rocking Dog

In Need Of Feathers

......The Elephant In The Room!,Rocking Dog

……The Elephant In The Room!

The Olives Are Picked & Rocking Dog Is Back At The Kennel!

Before They Became Oil,Rocking Dog

Before They Became Oil

Yes indeed the olives are now picked and made into divine olive oil.The nets have been put away for another year and the 1,300 mile journey back to the kennel from Umbria has been completed.The linen has been traded in for woolly jumpers and the wood-burner has been stoked. Brrrrrrrr!

It’s good to be back with fresh verve and inspiration and I look forward to seeing friends for walking, chatting and simply being with. Watch out for new Rocking Dog posts including my trip to fifteen French and Belgian cemeteries over 2 days for the Rocking Dog “Remember Me Project” It was the most incredible and poignant experience.

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY– Rocking Dog will be selling Christmas Loveliness together with other wonderful crafty and artisanal foodie folk at the seriously fandabidosi (my Italian is really improving!) Court House Farm, Portishead on Sunday 26th November and Sunday 10th December 10-3.30.

It’s now time to shut myself away like a little elf in my workroom and create some creative and very festive magic!

Love to all, and hope you have a good week. A wine fasting Rocking Dog x

Cake, Crochet, Salsa and Atilla The Hun

NT Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake.Rocking Dog

NT Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake

A small but perfectly formed huddle congregated at the kennel last night. Crochet, cross stitch and chat went on as did cutting a freshly baked Rocking Dog cake. This months bake was from my newest cookery tome “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi (yes that old chestnut!) & Helen Goh. I love the cover of the book, meanwhile there are some truly enticing recipes beyond its jam swirled cover. I surmise that some recipes would need an afternoon of completing layers, compotes, biscuit bases and delectable ornamentation. I needed something quick, there was poor old tooth extracted Real Live Rocking dog to rescue from the vet!

Lemon and poppy seed cake was chosen for the September huddle. The cake was easy to make and rather curiously included double cream in its makeup. After 40 or so minutes in the oven a lemon glaze was poured onto its golden top and it then left to cool. Simple!

As ever I didn’t do any sewing or anything creative but I did talk about my fast approaching visits to Belgian and French war cemeteries for the Rocking Dog “Remember Me” project. I didn’t quite realise what a feat it was going to be to pay homage to the local WW1 heroes. There are now currently 22 French cemeteries to visit, together with 4 Belgian cemeteries. Looking for a place to “camp up” for two nights Andyman and I thought it may be convenient to stay in Lens. Looking at airbnb’s in the area we thought it rather strange that everything looked picturesquely alpine chalet. Ah yes the snow, the wooden cabins, pines and roaring fires belonged to Lens, Switzerland and not Lens, France! Back to the drawing board!

Keep Calm & Carry On Karen did come to the huddle and gave us the latest on the house renovation. There were photo’s of buckets catching rain water, tile-less rafters, dust, Atilla The Hun (garian) builder and general chaos. We are in awe of you Karen and your faith in that all will be well. We can all understand your concerns about the 1930’s pump action yacht toilet which eccentric husband has enthusiastically bought. Di’ gave us the grim news that Christmas has arrived in John Lewis, is it just me or does the Christmas frenzy get earlier each year? “Strictly”, “Bake Off”, my being expelled from a salsa class, hoarding relatives, extension plans, olive picking and the joys of being a doctor in 2017 all provided lively discussion subjects.

As for the cake, well it was rather delicious especially eaten with a spoonful of glorious Greek yoghurt. We bow to you Yotam and Helen.

Thank you huddlers you were great company on a dark and wet September night. Love Rocking Dog x

PS No October huddle due to those pesky olives! We will chattily reconvene in November for mulled wine infused creativity.

Naughty Bakery!,Rocking Dog

Naughty Bakery!

Recipe,Rocking Dog

Recipe

Loads Of Lemons,Rocking Dog

Loads Of Lemons

The Glaze,Rocking Dog

The Glaze

The C Word,Rocking Dog

The C Word

Vintage Appreciation,Rocking Dog

Vintage Appreciation

A Week Of Bits & Pieces

Noddy Ready To Embellish,Rocking Dog

Noddy Ready To Embellish

Rocking Dogs week has been one of bits and pieces. I have been sewing Vintage fabric Christmas stockings. Jolly 1960’s Noddy material has been joined by small check gingham and woolly ric-rac. The stockings will be given hanging loops and some jingly bells. I made another stocking from a vintage tablecloth printed with the words and pictures for “Waltzing Matilda”. I lined the stocking with silk embroidered with images of broom. A mustard coloured fringe finishes the stocking. So now it is looking for an Aussie friendly house this Christmastime.

Whilst I sewed, tree surgeons took down three 50ft conifers in our back garden. We started life at the kennel with about 20 conifers (the work of the devil!) Shortly after we moved in, Andyman came home to find i’d sawed down about twelve of them and was in the process of chopping them up. Over the years we have removed more, and now there are just three left to go! With the tree surgeons having packed up their chain saws for the time being, we can concentrate on planning and planting a kitchen garden. There are going to be espalier fruit trees and old cast iron baths for raised beds amongst other features. I loved the beans growing in a little community allotment that I spotted whilst walking Real Live Rocking Dog. I also enjoyed eating the most voluptuous and delicious figs grown by our lovely neighbours. Definitely food for thought for our garden.

Beautiful flowers arrived through the door (thank you Ella and Josh) whist I bought a remnant heavily embroidered with flowers (thank you to The Boys That Sew at Whittaker Wells). In an ideal world i’d put it with an amazing copper bath, basin and is there such a thing as a copper loo? I’d add dramatic lighting, amazing flooring, mirrors stop,…..stop!

When not sewing I have been planning some forthcoming cooking sessions with Young Adult Carers. I have also set myself the challenge of researching all the names on the local War Memorial. I am looking for any knitters or crocheters who would kindly make me some poppies for this project. Thank you.

We have been enjoying the World Athletics Championships and last weekend saw Bolt run his last solo race. I think everyone expected him to go out in a blaze of golden glory – but alas it wasn’t to be. It was all rather flat but we did have the funny memory of a streaker ripping his trousers off Full Monty style and running down the track. He was eventually tackled to the ground by a tangle of security staff!

Whatever you are doing this weekend I hope it will be relaxing, sunny and happy.

Love Rocking Dog x

Winter Fuel,Rocking Dog

Winter Fuel

Summer Blooms,Rocking Dog

Summer Blooms

Embroidered Blooms,Rocking Dog

Embroidered Blooms

Garden Planning,Rocking Dog

Garden Planning

Magic Beans,Rocking Dog

Magic Beans

Fabulous Figs,Rocking Dog

Fabulous Figs

World Athletics,Rocking Dog

World Athletics

WW1 Research,Rocking Dog

WW1 Research

Baking,Rocking Dog

Baking

Rocking Dog Loves Simple Garden Blooms

Milk Bottle Flowers,Rocking Dog

Milk Bottle Flowers

With the kennel a little more ship-shape I loved bringing some garden flowers through the door yesterday. Just eight stems were required to fill eight simple glass milk bottles (large from Ikea and the small from Ampulla). Phlox, teasel, tansy, sprig of rosemary, borage, evening primrose, crocosmia and one unknown! My simple arrangements were given a spot on a sunny windowsill. Voila! I love flowers plucked from a garden or field. I am a gal of simple tastes!

After flower arranging (hardly!) I then turned my attention to the table close to the sunny window, regrouping ceramic treasures. One or two are contemporary potters seconds others gorgeous gifts. The brown glazed pot is sentimental and loved. It was made by my late mum whilst at teacher training collage in the early 1950’s. A simple coil pot, when I smooth its interior I feel my mums fingers working the clay. There is also a glazed bowl which was so thoughtfully gifted to me by the Holburne Museum, Bath. I used to cater for events there, cooking in their minuscule kitchen. I remember remarking to a member of staff that their slop bowl for used tea bags was just too lovely for that purpose. A year or two went by, no doubt with the bowl seeing its daily fill of tea bag detritus and it was time to do a Heaven’s Cake farewell picnic. The Holburne was closing for a considerable length of time for the building of its dramatic new extension. After a delicious picnic on a lovely sunblessed day the empty hampers came back to me. Within one of the baskets wrapped in white tissue and tied with a bow was the beloved tea bag slop bowl. I was so moved that someone had remembered my jokey comment. I know it’s not every ones cup of tea (!) but I truly love it.

The latest ceramic purchase are two large silvered ceramic lamp bases. I bought them at Redland Fair for a bargainous £20 the pair. They have some age, and had the tiniest round pin plugs. I kept “watching” the prohibitively expensive shades in the hope they’d go into the sale and fortuitously they did. Lamps complete. Thank you to electrician/fisherman Phil for checking their wiring.

Pots jiggled I questioned myself why I hang onto SO much stuff. I keep promising the kids that I am going to become a minimalist, but my minimalist brainwashing therapy hasn’t yet begun!

Originally the table was Andyman’s desk, that was until he’d knocked his shins on the antler base just one too many times. Result! Moved downstairs it now sees various collections of objet d’art throughout the year. Christmas sees it covered in snow, putz houses, vintage baubles etc.. which leads me neatly onto the fact I am sewing some Christmas stockings today! Bah Humbug!

Simple Blooms,Rocking Dog

Simple Blooms

Wedding Blooms,Rocking Dog

Wedding Blooms

Sarah R's Blooms,Rocking Dog

Sarah R’s Blooms

Spring Clean Ceramics,Rocking Dog

Spring Clean Ceramics

Same Table, Another Time,Rocking Dog

Same Table, Another Time

On The Workbench,Rocking Dog

On The Workbench