Tag Archives: Christmas

The End of Singing Season

Well, ‘Singing Season’  is officially over for me for this year.

Unfortunately for all those who had put in an enormous effort, the City of Darebin’s ‘Carols in All Nations’ was washed out, so I only got to do two of the three big gigs we were working on on.

I must say, though, that it came as a perverse relief not to have to go anywhere yesterday.  After the effort and long hours associated with the preparation and performances for the two events I did get to, it was lovely to just stop. I even had a ‘nana nap’ yesterday afternoon, and feel much better for it!

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The photos I’ve included are from the rehearsal and sound check at BMW Edge, prior to the first public performance of the Women’s Anthem. This was written by Kavisha Mazella, in consultation with Mary Crooks of the Victorian Women’s Trust, to celebrate the centenary of women getting  the vote in Victoria. I wrote more about this here.

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The day before the performance, the ABC TVshow Stateline featured a six minute piece about the anthem. This can be seen here, until March 2009. (For those of you who know me, you’ll see me three or four times throughout the clip – don’t quite know how I managed it with more than 300 other women there…)

This really was an amazing thing to be part of – I’m still on a high whenever I think about it!  You can get an idea of how big the choir was from the  pictures – we almost out-numbered the audience! And, we did two performances (each time singing the anthem twice) to different audiences, and got standing ovations each time.

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So – the singing is done for the year – now to the Christmas cooking! The first batch of cakes and puddings have been made, and now I’m off to do the second lot.

Enjoy your day!

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Merry Christmas!

                                                                         Christmas lights 1

Christmas lights 2

After a stressful walk to the local letterbox in Station Street, on Friday, I decided to take the dogs around the block for a little extra recovery time, despite the fact that it was almost 10pm.

Imagine my delight when I walked around the corner and was greeted by this wonderful display of  decorations and lights!

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Admittedly, this particular neighbour always puts on a good display, but I don’t ever seem to go that way at night, and had no idea just how gorgeous it would be when lit up. Just seeing the effort that these people have put into their display helped to restore my equilibrium.

This post began life as a rant about the cause of my stressful trip to the letterbox, but I really feel that that would be pointless, and could spoil the feeling that these beautiful lights gave me, so – in the spirit of the season – I will forgive and forget.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and best wishes – whatever your beliefs. Have a happy and safe time with your friends and families.

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Friday again…

christmas cakes

Today is an auspicious Friday – it is the last day of my academic year, I got my last assignment back and I made the first batch of Christmas cakes.

Of course, not all is sweetness and light – I had to say goodbye to all my study friends until the new year, and Dad is having surgery as I type. The nature of melanoma means that there will be an anxious wait for the next week for the pathology results, even though we are optimistic.

I’ll be keeping in touch with one of my friends from the CAE – Bruce Clarke– through his blog Write On!. Bruce is a really talented writer; probably the most polished ‘new’ freelance writer I’ve ever come across. You should check it out when you get the chance.

On the Christmas cake front, I think I’ve finally found the recipe I’ve been looking for! I’m so excited – all the while I was trying out ‘rich’ fruit cake recipes, and what I should have been making was a boiled fruit cake! This might not seem important to most people, but I do love Christmas cooking, and now that my Grandma has gone, it is left to me to hold the fort (a self-imposed responsibility, of course).

Due to one of those very unpleasant and unexpected things that happen when someone in the family dies (like one half of the family suddenly telling the other half that they never really liked them, and winding up the estate on their own), my Grandma’s cookbook went who-knows-where, probably in the bin. For the last six years I’ve been trying to find a recipe just like hers, and I think this is it – hence my excitement.

Cakes are one of the things I like to give as gifts at Christmas, so I’ve been saving large Tuna tins for the last couple of months. They make the perfect-sized cake tin for this. The recipe, for a boiled-fruit-cake, was one a friend pointed me to on the ABC Sydney’s website. The only variations I made to it were to omit the lemon and almond essence, and the walnuts – mainly because a couple of friends had nut allergies (and I don’t personally like lemon essence) – and to divide the mixture into smaller tins.

If you want to do this, I found that each tin takes 1 1/4 cups of mixture and that they need to be cooked for an hour and a half. The three tablespoons of extra sherry called for at the end of the recipe became four, because I put half a tablespoon onto each of the eight cakes.

Happy cooking – hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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What the…?

Pants tree

Meg and I walked to All Nations Park in Northcote this morning, taking advantage of the pseudo long-weekend afforded by Melbourne Cup Day tomorrow, and came across this tree. I almost felt like we should excavate to see if the rest of the tree man was buried below ground!

It was a beautiful morning for a walk – sunny and fine, and with enough cloud to make the sky really interesting. We took the dogs with us – it is the longest walk Cher has had since hurting her knee in August, and she is a bit sore now, but they really enjoyed it.

We even came across a duck nesting at the edge of the lake. At least, we assumed she was nesting, although we could only see  her head protruding from the rushes. She didn’t move from her spot, and was none too happy about having the dogs nearby, so it seems a safe bet. Meg and I plan to go back every day or so for the next couple of weeks in the hope of seeing the ducklings.

The afternoon was spent playing the ukulele and Christmas shopping online. Fifteen down – only about forty to go!

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Daylight saving

Suburban nightmare

Daylight saving time has started again here in Melbourne and I love it. I love the long evenings that allow time for walks after dinner, or wandering around the garden with the dogs at my heels.

I love that, the minute it starts, it feels like Christmas is almost upon us; that barbecue dinners become regular occurrences and that – for a while – I am able to get up early enough to see the hot air balloons drift overhead in the mornings.

NanoWrimo starts tomorrow, so I’m going to have to be really organised if I’m to get all of the Christmas things done, as well as writing my 1,666 words a day! I’m making myself a schedule, though I don’t know how I will go at sticking to it, with these lovely long evenings and meals with friends to distract me…

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Christmas Pudding time

Pudding Bowls

 It’s past the mid-way mark in October, and my mind has turned to Christmas. Meg and I are planning and buying components for gift making, and are well on the way to knowing who is getting what – although we still have to get everything ready in time.  I’ve given myself until the first week in December to get the presents ready for those interstate, which is the bulk of the family.

This year, because I am able to, I am spending time on presents, rather than money. At least, I am for those who appreciate it.  Not everyone sees the thought and effort that goes into making something from scratch. For these people, a gift of food seems to work where perhaps a handmade bracelet doesn’t.

So, the next thing on the list is the Christmas cooking. I’ve checked with my local nut shop owner, Ross, to find out when he will be getting the dried fruit in for the Christmas puddings, and have been assured that it will be in, in the week after the Melbourne Cup is run.

Making Christmas puddings has become a big deal for me.  Last year I made 13 – this year it will probably be 15. They are not all huge by any means. Some of them are only big enough to serve two; others are big enough to serve 12. I’ve got an arrangement with everyone who gets one, that if they return their empty bowl to me, I will refill it the next year. The image above shows the new set of pudding bowls I recently bought at Queen Victoria Market.  I love them so much that I won’t let them stray too far from home.

My Christmas Pudding recipe is a cracker – given to me by my mother-in-law about ten years ago, it originated in the Australian Womens’ Weekly, sometime in the ’70s, I believe. I make a gluten-free version for my coeliac friends, by substituting a wheat-free mix for the regular flour, and an alcohol-free version for my Buddhist friends from Tai Chi, so pretty much everyone is covered. In the latter case, I substitute orange juice for the brandy, and only let it soak for an hour or two before proceeding with the mixing. That’s the other thing I should mention: where the recipe calls for rum, I’ve always used brandy because I prefer the flavour it produces.

For those who don’t like dried fruit (though I find it hard to imagine myself),  I make various other confections, with Meg’s help: shortbread, gingerbread, chocolate balls (rum balls without the rum) – even jars of laksa paste and chutney.  Throughout November and December, the house is full of the smells of Christmas. I can’t wait.

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Christmas is coming…

Goslings

At Queen Victoria Market this morning, the egg man – who normally sells chooks and ducks as well as eggs – had these beautiful little goslings for sale.  He also had the two mature geese – honking concern from their cage –  that you can just make out in the image above.

I know the poem as well as anyone – Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat – and as soon as I saw them, my mind went into overdrive – how long is it ’til Christmas? Is there time for them to be fattened up for Christmas dinner or will they be safe for this year? 

Eggs 

I’m hoping that so few people in Australia eat goose for Christmas, that these birds will instead go home with some delighted children and be kept as pets or watch-geese. I know I’m deluding myself, but I can’t imagine eating something that I’ve had a relationship with – especially not if I’ve seen it as a baby. I hate the thought that any of these little guys will end up as someone’s Christmas dinner!

I realise that I am a hypocrite when it comes to meat.  I eat it, but couldn’t if I really thought about what it starts out as, and what happens to get it to the table. As a result, like many people, I normally do a good job of pretending that I don’t know any of the gory details.  It’s only when I’m confronted by something I can’t ignore – like cute, fluffy goslings 12 weeks before Christmas – that I seriously consider the merits of vegetarianism.

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