Tuesday, December 27, 2016


On a dewy, soft Christmas morn, we awoke to find a pair of King Parrots visiting our deck. Shy, brilliantly coloured birds, they come rarely....
and chose the perfect occasion.  They flew around, had breakfast from our bird feeder, and generally looked like part of the Christmas decorations.

 There were a few showers -
at 25c maximum, it was Brisbane's coolest Christmas in 40 years.
And I loved it...

We had a wonderful day, filled with the joy of children's excitement..
Santa had found the Canadian visitors here in Australia!

Most of my photos came out blurred, such was the action and excitement in our living room...

Little Aussie looks pleased..

Our new grand-puppy joined in the festivities..

More visitors arrived... 
 we had a big family lunch around the extended dining table.

Prawns, glazed ham, chicken and lots of beautiful salads, followed by our Christmas plum pudding and wonderful individual pavlovas made by lovely G.

Lego Ice Lady - with little silver cape. 'Frozen' influence knows no bounds.

OPI from dear V, 
and Mr C spoiled and surprised me with the latest book about Frida Kahlo.

A perfect new handbag...
well played Mr C.

Love my Canadian songbirds 2017 calendar, and gorgeous dish towel -
too perfect for washing up, probably should become a cushion methinks...

The Festival of Pink Bags continued with a delicate pale pink bag from W&G -
Love it!

Took it along on a family excursion to Southbank:

The males in our family seem impressed by 1 William Street, the recently opened  Government building in Brisbane. 
But to me it is completely out of proportion to our city buildings, architecturally ugly and unimaginative.  Will I be sent to the Tower?

Enjoy the post-Christmas lull, time for board games, leftovers, family and friends.


Friday, December 23, 2016


Sandro Botticelli [1445-1510] 'The Birth of Christ' 1476-77

This beautiful fresco by Botticelli, is located at the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, a church which enchanted me on our visit in 2014.

May I wish all of you, Dear Readers, a very peaceful and happy Christmas, filled with the Blessings of the Season, and good times with family and friends.

Thank you all for reading my little Blog.  I enjoy your friendship very much and look forward avidly to your comments and our little conversations.
The blog turns six years old in the New Year.
Who would have thought it?

With much love from
Patricia, Red Cardinal.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Tropical storms have been coming almost every day lately.
Sometimes with hail...

After so many years of dry Summers, it is like going back into the past, when a daily afternoon storm was the norm.
At last the grass is becoming green once again.

Yes, finished the presents...

Our little Canadian grandson, C2, is fascinated by kookaburras, after a real-life encounter with one in our own personal gum tree.
I put these two under the Christmas tree because they were part of my father's collection...and C2 likes to play with them.  
So glad I didn't throw them away when we cleaned out Dad's room..

Dear M sent me a beautiful Nativity Christmas card.
(They are not easy to find these days, sadly)

Another friend, also known as M, gave me this sweet dish...
Love it too.
Perhaps for chocolates on our Christmas table?

For my recent birthday, Mr C spoilt me with this beautiful fine glass cake stand and cloche.
Always wanted one of these.
The Christmas cake will look spectacular under there...

Counting my Blessings, thank you all for these special gifts.

I'll pop back on Christmas Eve, but meantime, I am off to the kitchen to cook up a storm, gingerbread, a Noel log, ham....

Be good, and Santa will come.


Saturday, December 17, 2016


Lovely Debra, The Savvy Shopper in New York, asked about the recipe for our Christmas Pudding.

Our family recipe is for an English-style boiled plum pudding, the kind depicted in the above tree ornament...

We call it Meca's Plum Pudding, and it has been handed down from Mr Cardinal's Grandmother, made by his mother, by me, and by our daughter.

This week we did it again, with the help of two little Canadian boys..

375g mixed dried fruit (or make up your own mix)
2 tablespoons rum (or brandy)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1 green cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmet
plain flour for flouring the cloth

60cm square of unbleached calico (muslin)
large cooking pot with handles on either side
stand to place inside the pot, eg a wire cake rack
clean rubber gloves

Put the mixed dried fruit in bowl, and pour the rum over.  Let soak overnight.
Boil water in the cooking pot, then boil the cloth in the pot for about an hour.  Put on rubber gloves, remove cloth from pot, wring out excess water.  Set cloth aside while making pudding, but don't let it dry out.

In medium saucepan, combine soaked fruit, brown sugar and butter.  Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, and it begins to boil. Transfer mix to large bowl, cool to room temperature.

Whisk 3 eggs with a fork and stir into fruit mix.  Add breadcrumbs, SR flour, bi-carb soda, grated apple, lemon essence and spices and mix well.

Top up water in pot, bring to boil.  
Spread pudding cloth on bench, sprinkle enough plain flour on cloth to cover an area 40cm in diameter, leaving flour a little thicker in the centre.

Place pudding mix in centre of cloth, on flour.  Gather cloth evenly around it, avoiding any deep pleats, then pat into 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 worry if it looks a little small, it will get bigger.  Knot two pairs of corners together to make the pudding easier to remove.

Place stand in pot so pudding does not stick and burn.  Lower pudding into boiling water, tying free ends of string to the pot handles to suspend the pudding.  Cover the boiler with tight-fitting lid and boil for 3 hours, replenishing water as needed to maintain water level.

To remove, untie pudding from handles, 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, carefully peel cloth completely and allow to cool.  The flour which was sprinkled on the cloth has become a 'skin' covering the pudding, retaining its moisture.  It is important to remove the cloth while the pudding is hot, to prevent the skin sticking to the cloth.  It should also be removed before storage as mould can form.

After pudding comes to room temperature, wrap it in plastic wrap and store in fridge for up to 2 months.

On Christmas Day, boil the calico cloth again, tie the pudding into the cloth as before and boil for 1 hour.  
Or you can warm it in the micro-wave.  I do.

Serve while hot with cream, custard, brandy cream, ice cream.....etc.etc.

This is my pudding as it stands at the moment, covered in plastic wrap and living in the fridge until Christmas Day.

While there appear to be a lot of instructions, in fact it is a quick, easy and economical pudding to put together, and it is fun to make something old-fashioned, using a long-ago method.  

When I was a child, my father made a whole series of these red pointsettia flowers, cutting them with a jig-saw and carefully painting them.
They were called place-mats, but I don't remember ever seeing them used for that purpose.  But they are so pretty, they have always been around.

For our first Christmas without my Dad, I like seeing them around the house...

More festive cooking today:
Cherry Ripe squares, and Mars Bar slice.

Stocking the freezer in advance...

Still keeping a watch on everything...

Enjoy the weekend, and the shopping...I do!


Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Hello Dear Reader,

Are you waiting to hear the 2017 Pantone Colour of the Year?

Thought so...

It is 'Greenery'

Yes, green as a lorikeet's feathers...

green as a gum leaf...

green as grass,

on a bright, sunshiny day..

and green as the leaves on our young Jacaranda tree, which has belatedly decided to bloom for the second consecutive year.

No, I didn't see it coming either.
Whoever heard of a colour called 'greenery'??

Remember the Great Agapanthus Massacre of a few weeks ago, when we cut them all back to the ground in the interests of snake safety?
Well, you can't keep those suckers down...
look at the stems shooting up, and two blue blooms have arrived today.
We love a hardy plant at the Cardinal Nest.

Love these mini gardenias which bloom for Christmas..

Look at the Obama girls, two beautiful young ladies now....
only little girls eight years ago when they came to the White House.
And Michelle looks younger and younger..
What a great Christmas card.

I made a Christmas cake.
Tomorrow we may make a boiled Christmas pudding.
The Canadians are still here, having a lovely time.

Have a great pre-Christmas week..