Monday, December 24, 2018


On this most precious day, I wish all the dear readers of the Red Cardinal Blog the Blessings of Christmas, Peace and Joy for you and your families.  Have a beautiful Christmas Day.

My Choir for Ladies of a Certain Age has been singing John Rutter's 'Candlelight Carol' this season, and I enjoy it so very much.
Perhaps you will like it too:

Federico Barocci 1526-1612 'Nativity' 1597.  Prado Museum, Madrid



Saturday, December 22, 2018


Christmas preparation has been going apace at the Red Cardinal nest.

Last week I made our Christmas Plum Pudding, the old-fashioned way, boiled in a calico cloth:

I had a request to post the recipe, so it will be at the end of this post.

Festive bouquets at the shoppes...

Dear Mr Cardinal put one in the shopping cart for me...

It is the time for meeting friends, and exchanging sweet gifts...
A filled this bag with her delectable Rum Balls.

We have been out in the neighborhood looking at the prize winners of the Christmas lights competition...

All is now ready for the arrival of family for the next few days...

The fridge and pantry are packed with festive food, outfits chosen for Church and Christmas activities...

Presents wrapped and under the tree, stockings hanging invitingly..



Meca's Plum Pudding, a family favourite:

Ingredients: 375g mixed dried fruit
2 tablespoons Bundaberg Rum 
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 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

60 cm square of unbleached calico (I have seen my mother in law use an old well-worn linen tea towel for this, then throw it away)
large cooking pot with handles on either side
stand to place inside the pot, eg a wire cake rack
rubber gloves 

Put mixed fruit in a bowl, pour the rum over, and soak in fridge overnight.
Boil water in cooking pot, boil the cloth in the pot for about an hour.  Put on rubber gloves, remove the calico cloth, wring out excess water.  Set wet cloth aside but don't let it dry out.  Retain water in pot.

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 mixture to large bowl, cool to room temperature.

Whisk 3 eggs with 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.  Meanwhile spread pudding cloth on bench, sprinkle enough plain flour on the cloth to cover an area 40cm in diameter, leaving flour a little thicker in the centre.

Place pudding mixture in centre of cloth, gather cloth evenly around the mixture, avoiding any deep pleats, then pat into round shape.  Tie cloth tightly with string, as close to mixture as possible.  It is easiest to do this with a friend helping.  Pull ends of cloth tightly to ensure pudding is as round and firm as possible.  Do not worry if it looks small, as it will get bigger.  Knot two pairs of corners together to make the pudding easier to remove.

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

To move, untie pudding from handles (I cut with scissors).  Place a wooden spoon through the knotted calico loops to lift from water.  Place pudding in large colander, cut the string and carefully peel back the cloth.  Turn pudding onto a plate, carefully peel cloth completely and allow to cool.  It is important to remove the cloth while pudding is hot to prevent skin sticking to the cloth.

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

When ready to eat, boil in calico cloth again as before for 1 hour.
Or do as we do and microwave it!
Serve while hot with vanilla ice cream, cream and custard.


Friday, December 7, 2018


Not a Red Cardinal, but Australia's answer, the Red and Green King Parrot, greeting me in the morning.
Perfect herald of Christmas...

December has arrived, and the last page of my Canadian 2018 calendar.
In a few days it will be a year since we last flew across to visit our daughter and her family in Ottawa.  How we wish we could go more frequently!

The snow came early this year - here is a rare sighting of our youngest grandson and his October snowman, mixed in with still-falling Autumn leaves.

Little Aussie has been visiting, riding the dolphin (best inflatable toy we have ever had, has lasted about six years)....

and working on the Christmas Village, as is his wont..

This year he asked for the books to remain on the coffee table, and they became hills and valleys.  Our village now boasts two Town Squares...

and a variety of illuminations...

He then installed all the old Santas (age 20-40 years) on the fireplace..

Little Aussie has quite a flair for the arts, so it was with great excitement we attended his first stage play with his new Children's Drama Group..

He is the one in the dark blue shirt, a tourist in the hilarious farce 'Jet Lag Tours'.  His several lines were loud and clear, and we were naturally totally smitten with it all...

It is entirely possible that I had a birthday last week..
Mr C said it with roses, so beautifully pastel and fragrant..

Dear Daughter sent a sweet textured purse from Canada, with a representation of 'Lake and Mountain' by 'Group of Seven' Canadian painter Lawren Harris:

The original is held at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

The Sewing Sisters came over for a Christmas/Birthday lunch..

D gave me an adorable little butter dish - it will have a festive time at Christmas.

and J made the Best melt-in-the-mouth Cupcakes...

A few gifts have begun to assemble by The Tree..
How is your Christmas shopping coming along?

I have been singing at a few Christmas concerts with the Choir for Ladies of a Certain Age, and always find it a great lead-up to the Festive Season.

And that about brings us up to date with the Red Cardinal Nest..

Enjoy the Season


Tuesday, November 27, 2018


'Tis the Season to be busy...
So we added in a little Cultural Trip to Melbourne, Victoria

Our hotel was located along the Yarra River, close to the Arts Precinct..

Loved this Art Deco chandelier, based on the Flinders Street Station, seen in the photo above with the green dome

Went to hear the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at Hamer Hall -
Dvorak's 'The Noon Witch' brought back memories of our recent trip to Prague, and a lively performance of Beethoven's Symphony No 5, conducted by Karina Canellakis was enthusiastically received.

Our group travelled to the Heide Museum of Modern Art, which I have long wanted to visit.  The sculpture garden was good.

Geoffrey Bartlett, Australia, 'Circus by the Sea' 1982

Mirka Mora

The current exhibition is 'Mirka Mora: Pas de Deux - Drawings and Dolls'. 
Recently deceased, French-born Mirka Mora (1928-August 2018) was a Melbourne artist and cultural identity since arriving in Australia in 1951.
With her husband Georges, Mora owned several cafes and French restaurants, introducing French cuisine to Melbourne.  Georges became an influential art dealer, and Mirka found time for her painting and textile art, while also raising three little boys.

The dolls were fascinating..

Here is a late photo of Mirka, wearing one of her designs translated into fabric.

I bought the book - the story of their lives together, with the addition of many of their French recipes.

The original 'Heide', now called Heide 1, was this farmhouse owned by John and Sunday Reed, famous art benefactors from the early Twentieth Century.
From 1934 it became a gathering place for young Modernist painters including Sidney Nolan, John Perceval, and Albert Tucker, some of Australia's best-known artists.

Now part of the exhibition spaces, the house has a permanent collection of works from that time.
Sidney Nolan, 'Head, Dimboola' 1943
Sidney Nolan 'Ned Kelly: "Nobody knows anything about my case but myself' 1945
Nolan's Ned Kelly series, about a famous bushranger of the Nineteenth century Colonial era, was painted on the large dining table at Heide.

We moved on to Coombe Estate, once the home of the famous Australian operatic soprano Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931).
The property is still owned by her descendants, and has been beautifully preserved.  The garden is stunning.

Our trip to Melbourne was completed with the Australian Opera's production of
Wagner's 'Die Meistersinger' .

Our Pre-performance talk by Prof. Heath Lees was very enjoyable and greatly enhanced our first experience of Wagnerian Opera. 
 The performance lasted six hours!  

No visit to Melbourne is complete without a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria.  They have a fun exhibition of the work of British visual artist Julian Opie:

Back to Brisbane, and another heat wave.  
Spare a thought for the many Queenslanders who are facing awful bushfires today.  Tomorrow will be another scorcher, 37C and higher in many places.

Stay cool and be well.