Sunday, December 30, 2012


Last day of 2012 today, and the Red Cardinal takes a pause to reflect.
I am so grateful to be here to celebrate the New Year,
grateful for the love and support of family, friends, relatives, and the old and new friends found in the World of Blogging!
2012 started with a big shock for me, on 2nd January, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, while still in recovery from a serious motor vehicle accident.  I was in complete denial for some time, but eventually reality hit home in quite a big way.
So much has happened since then, and I am amazed to think that a whole year has passed.  I continue to work hard on healing, on living well, on improving my fitness and eating healthily.
The Red Cardinal Garden of Neglect continues to produce the odd rose, despite our haphazard attentions ...
I went back to work at the Art Gallery, and loved the exhibition of Treasures from the Prado ..
All in good time, I began to sew again, and have a heap of projects waiting to materialise ..
Best of all, 2012 saw us become grandparents again.
The 3-year old cousins, Little Aussie and the Petit Garcon in Canada were joined by the
Little Bebe, another Canadian grandson.
Plans are afoot to make the trek and go meet this little man.
We are off to see The GlumsLes Miserables, to finish the year.
I expect to be tucked up sound asleep by midnight,
even though we are one of the first countries in the world to get there...
So I'll just say right now,
to all of you, Bloggers, Readers, Commentators,
Happy New Year, from the Red Cardinal!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


When I looked out on Christmas morn, this is what I saw ..
Very Christmassy, thank you Lorikeets!
Then I found four little pansies, the last of the season.
Despite torrential rain, weeks of 100 deg. heat, and the occasional high wind and visits from possums, these little temperate zone blooms have dedicated themselves to my annual Garden Goal.
Which is: To Keep the Pansies Going until Christmas.
I Win!!
We started the day with a delightful Skype visit to Canada, to watch the Petit Garcon open the enormous box of gifts we had sent to our Darling Daughter and her family.  The Hungry Hippos game went down a treat ..
This is the view of their garden this week.
Look closely and you can spot our cute grandson being a snow bunny.
 I wore red linen for the day's festivities.
My take on Valentino red, sewn for the Valentino Exhibition at QAG in 2010.
Accessorised with a little ebay purchase, a red bird necklace:
Mr Cardinal gave me this sweet dish, with a whole bunch of other goodies ..
and my friend L sent this painted tin birdie - cute as!
The family spoilt me - here are a few more lovely gifts ..
But enough about me, look at Little Aussie our local grandson,
 with his Pirate Telescope:
The upside down coffee table behind him has been doing double duty as Santa's Sleigh the past few days.  He puts on a Santa hat, gets in the sleigh, and sings Jingle Bells really fast (which makes it fly through the sky, don't you know ..)
I made him a pair of pirate shorts, Butterick 3475, and found a piratey T-shirt.
Now he has a Pirate Uniform.
I do hope your Christmas was fun too!
Enjoy the

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Warmest wishes from the Red Cardinal blog to all my readers and fellow bloggers for a wonderful, happy, and peaceful Christmas and New Year.
It has been a joy to meet and communicate with you throughout what has been an eventful year for me.   Thank you all for your lovely, kind, insightful, caring, and often clever and funny comments.
I appreciate and value every one of them.
 For me,  the greatest fun is in exchanging ideas, and learning about so many different countries and customs, meeting your families, pets, and seeing your local areas.  I love reading your blogs, and continue to find new blogs of interest written by clever and talented women.  It has become a new hobby for this old bird who loves a fresh challenge and meeting new friends.
  To the silent readers (and my stats show me there are a large number of you out there), thank you for continuing to drop in. 
I hope my musings brighten your day, and please feel free to comment.
I'd love that!
and, from our house to yours:
Happy Christmas to All, and to all a Good Night!
[Clement Clarke Moore, 1823.]

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Christmas Greetings!
Yesterday I baked my glazed ham.  See it fresh from the oven in its mouth-watering deliciousness!
I have tried various recipes over the years,
but the family favourite these days is Faux Fuchsia's fantastic glaze:
1 cup marmalade - lime and ginger is our fave
1/2 cup mustard
5 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup ginger ale
You know what to do next!
Chocolate chip and cherry cookies - Coles Christmas recipes, free at the checkout...
And here is the recipe known in our family as Meca's Plum Pudding,
passed down from Mr Cardinal's grandmother, and as recorded by our dear daughter who interviewed her Grandma:
375g mixed dried fruit
2 tablespoons Bundaberg Rum (a Qld. specialty)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda
1 green cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
plain flour for flouring the cloth.
60cm square of unbleached calico
Large cooking pot with handles on either side
Stand to place inside the pot, eg wire cake rack
Rubber gloves
Put the mixed dried fruit in a bowl and pour the rum over it.  Soak overnight.
Boil water in cooking pot, then boil the cloth in the pot for an hour.  Put on rubber gloves, remove the cloth and wring out excess water.  Set the wet cloth aside while making pudding, but don't let it dry out.  Retain water in pot.
In medium saucepan, combine soaked dried fruit, brown sugar and butter.  Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves and it begins to boil.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl, cool to room temperature.
Whisk the 3 eggs with a fork and stir into fruit mixture.  Add breadcrumbs, SR flour, bi-carb soda, grated apple, lemon essence and spices and mix well.
Top up water in pot, and bring to the boil.  Meanwhile, spread the pudding cloth on the bench, sprinkle enough plain flour on the cloth to cover an area 40cm in diameter, leaving flour a little thicker in the centre.  The flour will form the skin on the pudding.
Place pudding mixture in centre of cloth.  Gather cloth evenly around the mixture, avoiding any deep pleats, then pat into a round shape.  Tie cloth tightly with string, as close to mixture as possible.   Pull ends of cloth tightly to ensure pudding is as round and firm as possible.  Do not despair if pudding looks a little small, as it will get bigger.  Knot two pairs of corners together to make the pudding easier to remove.
Place the stand on bottom of pot so pudding does not stick and burn.  Lower pudding into boiling water, typing the free ends of the string to the pot handles to suspend the pudding.  Cover the boiler with a lid a boil for 3 hours, replenishing water as necessary to maintain water level.
To remove, untie pudding from the handles, and place a wooden spoon through the knotted calico loops to lift pudding from water.  Place pudding in a large colander, cut the string and carefully peel back the cloth.  Turn pudding onto a plate and carefully peel cloth completely.  Allow to cool.  It is important to remove the cloth while hot, to prevent the skin sticking to the cloth.  It should also be removed before storage, as mould can form.
When cool, wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge.
On Christmas day, boil the calico cloth again, tie the pudding in as before and boil for 1 hour.
Or do what we do, and reheat in the microwave.
Serve hot with brandy sauce, cream, custard, ice-cream, egg nog ......
My daughter tells me there has been 12 inches of snow in Ottawa, with giant snowflakes like feathers falling all day.
What a wonderful White Christmas they will have, with the Petit Garcon and the Little Bebe.
Hurrah for Skype!!
Happy cooking ..

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Third batch of cards sent.. Check -
(And who said she was cutting back this year?)
All gifts wrapped and under the tree ... Check -
Holly appears in the shops .. and is promptly brought home .. Check -
Christmas Crackers to excite Small Boy ... Check -
Pudding, wrangled into its calico cloth,
boiled for 3 hours ..
Check, and double Check -
My good friend M brought me this Festive plate and matching glass coasters.
I love them!
And the Garden of Neglect has gotten the message, and made an Effort for Christmas!
Soon ...